Friday, 8 May 2015

BALEAP - Sunday

Here are my notes/thoughts/acts of gluttony from day 3 of the BALEAP conference.

BALEAP breakfast, part 2

The key to taking full advantage of the buffet breakfast is to sit alone. Time spent talking and worrying if you have food on your face is time not spent eating. Granted, I may have appeared anti-social but I got to eat the following:

  • 1 bowl of sugar puffs (they still exist!)
  • 1 bowl of muesli
  • 2 vegetarian sausages
  • 2 vegan sausages
  • 2 fried eggs
  • 3 hash browns
  • Tomatoes
  • 4 slices of toast (2 brown, 2 white)
  • orange juice
  • coffee
  • 3 pastries
  • yoghurt
  • banana
  • apple
Emphasising the A and not the E in EAP - Magdalen Ward Goodbody

This talk was an overview of the development of the Academic Skills Centre at the University of Bath. As such it was a nice companion talk to the one by Mark Ingarfield. Essentially, the Academic Skills Centre has moved from being a peripheral part of the university to an embedded centre for all students (not just international ones) who need help improving their ability to use Academic English. Again, fascinating from an Irish perspective to see how these centres have successfully integrated into universities.

Talk also included this slide going through what the nice people at Bath mean when they say academic skills. 

Writing your own: How to create effective EAP materials - Julie Moore

This was an excellent workshop by Julie Moore who is a lexicographer and materials writer. Despite suffering from a severe case of BALEAP belly, I found this to be one of the more inspiring talks of the weekend (incidentally, this was also the opinion of other delegates who later breached bathroom etiquette to praise the talk).

Julie started by asking how many people create their own materials. The majority responded in the affirmative, allowing Julie to make the point that despite the wealth of materials, teachers still feel compelled to create their own stuff for class. Whether it is the lack of specific, relevant materials or an urge to be creative, the fact is that for many of us, creating original material is part of our job. The workshop was about how to do that better.

I tweeted several photos of slides from the workshop here, here and here.

In no particular order, here are some of the ideas from the workshop:

  • Establish a very clear aim.
  • Be critical - do your materials achieve that aim.
  • Abstracts are a great source for intensive reading.
  • Don't overload the material. You might see a dozen things you could do with a text but you have to be ruthless and narrow that down.
  • Start with the aim and then find materials rather than the other way around.
  • Think about what students will take away from the class. 
  • Get someone to have a look at them.
  • Always acknowledge the source.
  • Think about staging your activities. For instance, adding a direction like "give reasons for your choice" adds a bit more complexity for Ss so consider at what stage to have simple and more complex tasks.
Innovating instruction: specificity and English in the disciplines - Ken Nyland

Looked at research into conventions in different disciplines. The idea that different disciplines use different structures/language/techniques and that Ss should be exposed to this, encouraged to notice the specific norms of their discipline. EAP is about equipping students with a new kind of literacy - not about topping up deficiencies in their language. This echoed the theme in many talks that EAP needs to be more specific to the discipline of the Ss. 

A very interesting talk that zipped by without me taking decent notes. Sorry. 

BALEAP packed lunch

Unbelieveable! Sent on my way with a cheese salad sandwich, crisps, fruit, water and flapjack which were enjoyed as I bounced my way back across the Irish Sea aboard this little beauty.

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