Formative feedback can have a transformative impact on learning. Therefore, learners need to interact with this feedback to develop and achieve in their studies. This article outlines how international students’ study experiences were further enhanced by audio formative feedback and how it added value to their overall learning. The small-scale case study employed a mixed methods approach (quantitative via a questionnaire and qualitative via a focus group interview) to a cohort of 16 international students and it evidenced that audio formative feedback was a positive experience. The results showed it promoted student agency, developed their listening and academic skills, encouraged them to revisit feedback to check their understanding and progression and engaged them with formative feedback. The primary message promulgated by this case study is that audio feedback re-engages international students with formative feedback as a tool for learner development which in turn will aid progression and achievement in their studies.
Are our students ready for a shift in how grammar is taught and the format in which is presented for practice?
A shift in how Spanish grammar has been traditionally taught has been advocated for some time now, thus moving from a behaviourist approach, with a focus on the form and the linguistic structure, to a communicative approach in which the communicative intention and the context are taken into account. On the other hand the use of digital tools has been increasingly applied to the field of second-language teaching. More specifically, the benefits of using online games and digital tools in the form of gamification for teaching have been highlighted in some studies. However, after years of explaining and presenting the grammar based on a behaviourist approach and by using a specific format, are our students ready for a change in the concept of how grammar should be taught as well as for a change in the way it is presented for practice? The main aim of this paper is to analyse, on the one hand, students’ reactions to different approaches to how the same grammar content is taught and, on the other hand, to find out which benefits or constraints students find in doing the activity in different formats, namely, on a piece of paper or using a digital tool. Students had to complete two different activities. One of the proposed activities was designed according to a traditional approach to grammar teaching and was presented on a piece of paper, the other activity followed a cognitive approach to teaching the grammar and used the online tool Twine to create a game and was accessed online. In both activities students were practising the difference between Spanish indicative and subjunctive modes in relative clauses, and after completion they were asked about their experience by filling out a questionnaire. Students’ mixed answers with regards to both activities raises some questions, namely, to which extent are advanced students willing or ready to shift the ways in which they have been traditionally taught, and what are the benefits and constraints of using a digital tool or a piece of paper in terms of enhancing learning.
This special issue of the Language Scholar, which focusses on content-based language education, is dedicated to our friend and colleague, Cheryl Greenlay. Before her unexpected and untimely death on Wednesday 6th of February 2019, one of the many extra voluntary tasks Cheryl had agreed to take on was that of...
This article documents and reflects on the development of an interdisciplinary English for General Academic Purposes (EGAP) course. Historically, there has tended to be a dichotomous discourse within the EAP community regarding the relative merits and shortcomings of adopting either a general or specific approach to teaching English for Academic Purposes. The arguments for both of these positions are explored and particular attention is paid to the often very underwhelming arguments for EGAP. Having explored the arguments for general and specific orientations to teaching EAP, one of the authors reflects on her experience of developing and teaching on an EAP course with an interdisciplinary focus as a means of overcoming the often unimaginative approaches to dealing with cohorts of students from different disciplines. The final section of this article critically examines understandings of specificity, interdisciplinarity and disciplinarity from within EAP, and, based on these observations, we make some tentative suggestions as to how interdisciplinarity can provide a useful platform for discussions with students on the social and ideological dimensions of knowledge production.
The twenty-first century of digital media and multimodalities demands a rethinking of approaches to languages for specific purposes (LSP) in Higher Education. This article seeks to highlight how the field of LSP has evolved over time to adapt to the changing needs of learners. It further aims to highlight the current need to develop a multimodal approach to the teaching of LSP in the Higher Education sphere, in order to respond to the linguistic, academic and professional needs of students in the twenty-first century. The current communicative landscape is deeply complex with digital technologies mediating many of our daily interactions. The rise in multimodality is a particularly striking trend in technologically mediated communication, and LSP teaching and learning needs to incorporate a wider range of semiotic resources in order to enable learners to negotiate today’s communicative landscape. Within this context, this article thus aims to advocate a multimodal approach to LSP in Higher Education, and also examines how on a practical level, this approach can be applied in the LSP classroom using digital video creation as an example. It further suggests that LSP researchers and practitioners consider integrating other multimodal teaching and learning activities in the Higher Education classroom, in order to prepare them for the complex communicative landscape that awaits them in the discourse communities for their relevant disciplines.
Fostering criticality through experiential and multimodal teaching: designing and delivering an immersive literature and intercultural communication programme
This paper is a reflection on the design and delivery of a brand-new intensive programme “Literature and Intercultural Communication” at the University of Leeds. Drawing on scholarly literature, as well as programme documentation, lesson materials and student feedback, the article identifies three elements that informed the design and delivery of the course. Firstly, the literary and cultural components of this highly integrated programme were selected with a view of dislodging received notions of identity, writing and culture. By inviting oppositional readings of the literary canon and refraining from prescriptive cultural perspectives, the syllabus aimed to foster an air of curiosity and an appreciation of difference. This criticality was further enhanced by the experiential nature of the programme, which is the second aspect of the programme the paper dwells on. Encouraging learners to incorporate prior learning into their experiences in and out of the classroom not only enhanced their engagement with new, and sometimes abstract, literary, cultural and linguistic content, but it also promoted the internalisation of content knowledge and the automatisation of subject-specific skills and procedures (or pluri-literacies), and provided students with opportunities for creative risk-taking in project assignments. The discussion concludes with a section on multimodality; foregrounding the multiple semiotic systems used in communication was not only a logically corollary to the experiential nature of the programme, but it also transformed the classroom into a more relevant, inclusive and agentive space.
Thanks to one of the initiatives at Masaryk University, a project concerning the conception and realisation of a brand-new medical French course could be started in September 2016. This article is an attempt at a description of the course design procedure. The pre-course context is also outlined, as it played an essential role in the subsequent work on the curriculum design. The article is divided into three main parts, following the planning, implementation and evaluation stages of the traditional curriculum-design process. It provides some theoretical background concerning the curriculum design of language courses in general, covering specific problems connected to the areas of content conceptualisation, the definition of goals and objectives, as well as the construction of an assessment framework in the course of language for specific purposes. In the planning stage, special attention is paid to the issues of needs analysis. The second part of the article treats the (re)evaluation and the adaptation of the course based on the teacher’s self-analysis and the students’ feedback obtained through the entry and end-of-course questionnaires. The question of students as course co-creators is approached. Finally, future perspectives on teaching medical French at Masaryk University are briefly outlined.
This paper is the second part of an assessed submission for the ODPL500IM Module: Developing Student Education Practice on the Post Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP). It was not written for a public audience. The editors have therefore added a few footnotes and hyperlinks to provide occasional clarification. In this piece, our colleague Cheryl reflects on her own teaching practice and her developing philosophy of teaching and learning.
This short paper attempts to outline some of the difficulties in designing a content-based presessional course, “Language for Law.” It touches on the notion of the novice practitioner and how this is ultimately a position of some confusion and vulnerability. It examines how a practitioner may attempt to develop expertise both through engagement with the EAP literature, and through the inheritance of institutional knowledge and practices. The paper then goes on to highlight some of the issues that can arise when surveying the existing literature, and how these, combined with the tendency for institutions to revert to skills-based syllabuses, may limit the practitioners ability to make principled decisions around language content. This is considered within the context of law, and the article aims to show that in this particular context, these difficulties are to some extent magnified by a lack of knowledge, not just of EAP, but the subject of law itself. In particular, this short piece aims to show how this lack of understanding of law makes a sound interrogation of epistemological and discourse practices difficult, and in turn hopes to encourage a commitment to professional development to address the challenge facing EAP practitioners stepping into new academic disciplines.
As part of the Modern Foreign Language Teaching and Learning curricular reform in the 1980s, grammar teaching was often replaced by the communicative approach, in an attempt to ‘get pupils talking’ (Grenfell, 2000: 4). As a result of this policy, accuracy was not a priority and errors were tolerated. However, more recent debates have led to the recognition of the need to focus on grammar. Grammar is important and learners seem to focus best on grammar when it relates to their communicative needs and experiences (Savignon, 2001: 125). This article will deal with different methods and approaches to teaching grammar based on my personal experience of teaching Italian as second language across all levels of proficiency. This part will be introduced by a short review of main approaches to teach second language (L2) grammar.