May 20 – Preview & prep for next chat on tech tools

As it’s Victoria Day (a national holiday for Queen Vic’s birthday) in Canada, I slept in. Add to this, our other great moderator, Adam Simpson, is ill. End result, no early chat and an unattended later chat today.

Queen Vic using her technology of the day – books and a clock.

Despite this, I started off giving some suggestions on the topic of “What tech is good tech for EAP contexts?” to myself. 😉 Eventually, it became evident I was alone and best save this juicy topic for next time.

So, on June 3, we’ll return to talk about online technology that you use with your students so that everyone can benefit from a whole bunch more tools in their toolbelt (excuse this overused expression–it’s late and I’ve been writing a paper all day long). 🙂

What would be great is if you could compile an informal list of web tools or apps you love using with your EAP students, like Leo Selivan has done here, so the sharing can quickly begin at 9AM & 3PM EST on June 3!

See you then!


May 6 – Teaching genres rather than standard essays – do we know how?

Today we discussed how writing for different genre fits into our EAP courses. Issues that arose over the two chats included:

  • What genre actually is
  • What essays actually are
  • Where we get samples of authentic genre writing from for our students
  • The relationships we have with content-course professors
  • The level we pitch genre analysis and writing at
  • If 5-paragraph essays hold any useful weighting
  • ESP coursebook authenticity in their samples and genre teaching

If you’d like to comment on any of these issues or any others related to this topic, maybe you’d also like to check out the transcripts from the chats too:

1st chat (9AM EST / 2PM UK):
2nd chat (3PM EST / 8PM UK):

April 15 – The issue of skill transferability

Photo by @escocesa_madrid via
Do students transfer skills from one activity to another?

Today’s chat involved the issue of skill transferability. More specifically, two focal questions began things off:

  • How immediately transferable to students’ actual academic study should EAP be?
  • How do we make students see the transferability better?

Read the transcript here:

The final burning question left with everyone to consider:

  • What is one activity you’ve used with students that emphasised the transferability of a taught skill to their content courses?

Feel free to blog about these topics on your own blogs (then link back here) or discuss in the comments here.

April 1 – balancing cultures of learning

This week we tried out two new times as voted on an earlier Doodle: 9AM (EST) and 3PM (EST). With Easter weekend ending today, those lucky enough to have the day off, took it.

Photo taken by @purple_steph via

Our topic today was the balance between accommodating students’ cultures of learning and the countries they plan to study in.

Transcript here:

To generate commentary, consider this question and a number of possible answers:

Please feel free to discuss your opinions in the comments below or on your blog.

#EAPchat, April 1 – New times (trial)

Hello everyone!

Yes, there were daylight saving timezone issues at our last chat on March 18, which resulted in its postponement, unfortunately. We also found that more participants would be able to attend our chats at different times.

As a result, for our next chat, April 1, we will be trialing two different times by repeating the chat at:

A) 09:00 Eastern Standard Time – Is your timezone here correct?  AND

B) 15:00 Eastern Standard Time – Is your timezone here correct?

Our topic is “The balance between accommodating students’ cultures of learning and the countries they plan to study in“.

NO! IT’S NO APRIL FOOL’S JOKE! If you are able, please try to attend. Feel free also to share this news with other interested parties! See you then.

Linear grammar

The March 4th addressed the subject of how the linear progression of grammar differs in teaching EAP to general English. This was one of the best attended and most productive chats yet. A big thanks to @JenMac_ESL, @SeburnT, @JimScriv, @Stiiiv, @yearinthelifeof, @BrunoLeys, @muranava, @leoselivan, @eltknowledge, @whistlepunch and @Lexicojules for joining in the discussion.

During the chat several themes emerged. The following tweets have been selected as the most interesting and / or the most representative of all made. Every participant is represented here. The tweets are grouped according to their relevance to each theme that emerged, rather than being a chronological representation of the chat.

Full transcript:

Emerging Language
Should we work linearly or should we allow language to emerge as and when?

‘I guess a lot depends on teaching context & [students] starting level as to how you tackle grammar in an EAP class.’

‘I think dealing with emergent [language] is the norm in most EAP contexts. I’d also say grammar & vocab get blurred.’

‘Problem with “emergent grammar” is “where does it emerge from?” Also should we rely on “random” to make a life-changing syllabus?’

‘I don’t like preemptive language syllabuses at all, not for EAP. Strong belief in emergent approach.’

‘You ask: “Why (un)cover structure/form/meaning until found needed?” Because we as [teachers] might be expected to have that insight.’

‘Agreed – we should have a good idea of what’s good for them and what they will definitely need – accelerate it!’

‘My plan is to work with teachers to draw EAP grammar out of text in the moment, not to bolt on token lessons on the passive.’

‘Emergent shouldn’t mean at random or founded on serendipity. I know Ss will not miraculously come up with new grammar.’

Grammar focus
What is our grammar focus? Do we even have one?

‘Yes, the joy of EAP is we have a clear context/aim within which to teach grammar.’
‘I find I teach less standard categories of grammar in EAP – more mixed [language] for a purpose, e.g. hedging, thesis statements, etc.’

‘Whatever the level, [students] need to see that [grammar] is a contextualised choice, not a case of just ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.’

‘Do we include vocab when we talk about grammar in EAP?’

‘Definitely – AWL, for instance, connects so well to grammar in this context (in my opinion)’

‘I think Michael Lewis made a good point about chunks, for that matter.’

‘Research has suggested, several studies have shown + become example earlier. Certain lexis attracts Present Perfect.’

‘Corpus research shows that ac genres use very few perfect tenses. They are used, just much lower priority.’
‘Yes, that’s why I’d spend more time on noun-based grammar than [traditional] verb-based stuff.’

‘Yes – get on to teaching nominalisation as a ‘somewhat’ priority.’

‘Yes! If you want to write academically, don’t passivise, nominalise!’

One interesting point that came for the discussion of grammar was SFL (Situational Functional Linguistics)

‘SFL is crucial for teacher awareness for EAP grammar (any grammar), I think.’

‘What I love about SFG/SFL is that it deals with lexico-grammar, and not just grammar…and sees it as a system. Great for ESP/EAP.’

‘SFL … deals with lexico-grammar, and not just grammar… and sees it as a system. Great for ESP/EAP.’

Something that was only briefly mentioned but is nonetheless significant was the availability of suitable published materials.

‘I wonder if in any other subject (even other languages) [teachers] would argue against selecting & teaching useful stuff [students] need!’

‘The classic corpus ref is Biber et al – Longman Grammar of Spok & Writ English – more recent work still bears it out.’

‘Biber’s ‘Real Grammar’ is a lovely book to use at upper level – highly recommend it.’

Starting point
A lot of the discussion revolved around the point at which we should start teaching EAP, and consequently what we expect learners to know about the language prior to this starting point.

‘Doesn’t this beg the question of whether High Beginner is really EAP though?’

‘I’d expect Ss coming to EAP to already have an overview of basic grammar, so would expect to review/build, not present new.’

‘I don’t think it’s about “introducing” a grammar point. It’s about addressing its need when needed.’

‘Sorry – high beginner isn’t EAP – but our curriculum is built from this level up and through to EAP.’

‘I do not think EAP is an appropriate term for beginners/high beginners, etc.’

‘How can a learner hedge, make thesis statements etc without the foundation grammar?’

‘They should have foundational grammar before an EAP program in most cases, no?’

‘Ah … a slippery argument! They don’t need G because “someone else” has taught it? Ok – if we are only talking High level.’

As we were discussing the linear teaching of grammar, it wasn’t surprising that the issue of how grammar fits into the curriculum should come up.

‘It is a curriculum that has served us well but doesn’t necessarily match any published text series available.’

‘I like the Ken Hyland ‘get ’em going on simple pres/past active&passive’ and you’ve won more than half the battle.’

‘I like the idea of point of need but in a program where testing from level to level is standardized across multiple classes.’
‘[The] hope is to identify core needs in the curriculum doc then support emergent needs through responsive classroom teaching.’

‘If content serves to drive student desire to express themselves, this can drive [grammar] dev. We can step in to tweak at point of need.’

‘Our [curriculum] moves [students] through discrete point grammar, sentence level and discourse level as well as receptive / productive grammar.’
‘I agree that students want to know what they need to learn, what will be taught. Are we defining that correctly?’

‘The curriculum for our last level of EAP doesn’t include any discrete point grammar.’

Did we come to any conclusions?

‘Linear grammar, bad. Foundational grammar, need. Context-dependant grammar, good. Haha.’

Please add your thoughts to this chat in the comments section below. Also, please join us for the next chat on Monday, 18th March.

New or second times?

I want to accommodate as many EAP practitioners (and those just interested) as possible to participate in the live Twitter chats as well as this new blog space. One barrier may continue to be availability during scheduled chat times. To open this up to community discussion, I’m considering changing main times and/or adding in a secondary repeat time.  Please take a few moments and check off all times I’ve listed on the Doodle that you are available for Twitter chats. You can control time zone on the poll itself.

We will keep it on Mondays for the time being.

Thank you!

Using Wikipedia (or not) in EAP activities


Today we discussed the use of Wikipedia either as a teaching tool or as inspiration for wiki-related and website evaluation activities. You can read the transcript here.

Potential readings & audio

Badke, W. (2008) “What to Do with Wikipedia,” Online 32, no 2.

By Stevie Benton (WMUK) (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons (This is an interview with David White from the University of Oxford’s Department of Continuing Education. He speaks about his research related to Wikipedia and perceptions of the free encyclopaedia.)

Binkley, P. (2006) “Wikipedia Grows Up”, Feliciter 52, no. 2, 59-61. [alt:]

Geisel, N. (2011) The Wikipedia Dilemma, TeachPaperless. [blog] posted November 24, 2011.

Seburn, T. (2013) “A wiki activity to introduce insight into Wikipedia,” 4C in ELT. [blog] posted January 30, 2013.

Blog / comment points

  1. How can we use Wikipedia as a teaching tool?
  2. Do you know of any example ways other teachers have used Wikipedia with their students?
  3. Other points of view?

Does gaming/games have a place in the EAP/university curriculum?

By Chris Haines

The topic for the first #EAPchat of Year 2 is with regards to gaming within the EAP curriculum. A couple of considerations have come to mind:

  • Delta Publishing put out an ELTON award-winning title in 2011 by Kyle Mawer & Graham Stanley, “Digital Play“, which provides suggestions on how to use video games and web games in the language learning classroom.
  • Many of my male students have cited playing video games for hours into the late night/wee morning as the reason why they can’t focus on study in the morning. This correlates with a study by Pew Internet Research (2003) on college student videogaming behaviour.
  • Schools, both K-12 (“Schools use video games as teaching tools“) and college/university (“How 10 Colleges Are Using Game-Based Learning Right Now“), around the world claim benefits to using video games with their students to facilitate content learning and academic skills.
  • Adam Simpson wrote a post about using games in the classroom (“Why Use Games in the Language Classroom“).
  • Crystal Rose brought an infographic on “The Gaming of Education” into the conversation.

#EAPchat transcript is here.

For everyone reading this, in the comments perhaps you could discuss:

  • Your ideas regarding the links mentioned above
  • Video games you’ve used with students
  • Other games you use in class
  • Upsides/pitfalls/skills practiced/EAP or General adaptations

Otherwise, here’s a blog challenge for you:

Write a post about a game that you use with your classes that has always been a pedagogical crowd-pleaser! Please link your post into the comments.