Author Archives: Tyson Seburn

About Tyson Seburn

I blog on 4C ( as well as teach academic reading & writing and coordinate an EAP program at University of Toronto. Currently, I chair as President on the TESL Toronto executive board (

Mobile apps for academic writing

While browsing through the #eapchat stream on Twitter this evening, I came across a tweet by Alannah Fitzgerald (@AlannahFitz ) regarding a mobile app that claims to “not write or review your essays for you…[but] provide easy tips for avoiding plagiarism, conducting research, thinking critically, making strong arguments and presenting your work well.” Big talk.

My eyes opened just a bit wider. Is this part of the new m-learning golden path I’ve heard much about finally cracking its way into EAP? 

Created by University College London, Academic Writing in English (AWE) is a free app available for iPhone, iPad and Android. It claims to use authentic examples of academic writing amongst its interactive exercises. 

I’m off to download it now and see what it really offers. Do you have experience with it or any other mobile app for EAP?


Chat updates for 2013-14

Hi there –

It’s become evident over the last month that I’m just too busy on other projects to be reliably organising our regular chats.

This academic year, I teach every Monday morning. That means that I can’t be available to attend early chats (9AM EST/EDT) at least until after April. I will, however, aim to make it to later chats when they happen  (3PM EST/EDT). I am also a little overwhelmed with other projects at the moment.

As a result, I won’t be organising regular chats for the next while. If anyone would like to take the helm on this, please contact me. Otherwise, continue to use the #EAPchat hashtag for EAP-related tweets and on occasion, I’ll announce if there is going to be an organised chat for a special purpose.

I hope everyone interested in our twitter-functionality understands my situation and continues to use #EAPchat in ways that are functional for you.

To be continued…


July 15 #EAPchat topic poll

Time to vote again for next Monday’s #EAPchat topics. We’ll take the two highest from the last chat that didn’t win and add two more. Who will win this time? #nailbiter

July 1 – Creativity in EAP


What does it mean to be creative in EAP? One side of the coin is the creativity demonstrated by teachers in their flexibility regarding the widely varying needs of our students; another side is the creativity that we encourage of our students in what they do with the skills we teach. It’s the latter I find more fascinating a topic.

Key questions that came from the chat:

  • Is this creativity preparing our students for the tasks they will do in their disciplines?
  • Does it relate to successfully completing weeder courses (i.e. early year massive courses designed to weed out the weak)?
  • How do we create platforms for our students to use their creativity while at the same time keeping them grounded on realistic university tasks?
  • Is there a place for creative assessment?

Read today`s transcript here.

What are your thoughts?

July 1 #EAPchat Poll

Summer is almost here!

Summer is almost here!

I thought we’d take a vote on the first summer #EAPchat for a change. These choices are taken our crowd-sourced topic list. Topics that do not receive the most votes will remain as options for future chats.


June 17: Peer feedback on EAP writing

Photo by Adam Simpson,

Photo by Adam Simpson,

Morra & Romano (2008) report on findings regarding student attitudes towards peer feedback on ESL & EAP writing and discuss the implications of these and similar results on the pedagogy of peer feedback. A few lines I thought were poignant, the first of which is regarding training to give feedback:

An interesting tendency observed in many studies of peer feedback in ESL and EFL settings is that students’ attitudes toward their peers’ reviews and comments seem to be conditioned by the amount and quality of training and preparation they receive in class previous to their actual participation in peer-response groups; that is, the more planned instruction the students receive, the better they seem to respond to the activity (Berg, 1999; Ferris & Hedgcock, 1998; Hansen & Liu, 2005; Hu, 2005; Mittan, 1989; Rollinson, 2005; Stanley, 1992). [20-21] 

Giving students appropriate training and guidance on how to go about reviewing their classmates’ texts stands out as a crucial point when trying to generate a positive attitude toward peer feedback. [26]

And this regarding fear of giving/receiving feedback from peers:

Students also revealed that they avoided making critical comments in order to prevent conflict with their classmates. Some of them feared their writing being mocked publicly in the classroom. Teachers reported that, at the end of a peer-feedback session, most

students put away their compositions in their folders and never revised them. [21]

Together with appropriate and gradual training, the organization of small groups appears to be an effective technique to put peer feedback into practice since it might help to lower apprehension and fear and eventually lead to establishing a relaxed and stress-free atmosphere. [26]

And lastly this on combining feedbacks:

…there appears to be much to be gained from combining oral and written feedback in peer-response groups and from complementing peer feedback with final teacher feedback. [26]

Source: Morra and Romano (2008).  University Students’ Reactions to Guided Peer Feedback of EAP Compositions. Journal of College Literacy and Learning 35:19-30.

To follow along with our Twitter discussion, please read through the transcript:

Maybe you have thoughts and experiences with feedback on writing?


June 3 – Useful webtools for EAP

Photo by @grahamstanley

On June 3, we discussed web tools and other technologies that have been useful in our practice in some measure. Click to read Julie Moore and Leo Selivan‘s choices, which focus on dictionaries, corpora and other lexical tools. Others mentioned during the chat included:

Just the Word – – input a word to retrieve collocation and frequency information about it.

Learner Corpus bibliography – – includes citations to a number of books and articles on this topic (600+).

PONS Online dictionary – – online dictionary that translates words into many languages as well as shows translation of different ways of using that word

Papermachines –,  & Cobra – – corpus-based tools

Jing – – giving writing feedback to students by recording your screen as you comment

Podcasts – CBC Metro Mornings ( & Definitely Not the Opera (

Of course, there’s always ELTpics – a crowd-sourced photo gallery of usable images for the classroom.

Read the full transcript here.

Burning question: If you find a web tool particularly useful in your practice, please list it in the comments with a little summary of its main function and/or blog about it. 🙂