What is EAP?

bigstock-Writing-Steps-Pyramid-Edit-Wri-59394623I have been teaching English for Academic Purposes (EAP) for a little over five years now. Compared to my previous jobs teaching general ESL and Business English, I find it incredibly satisfying; I think this is partly due to the course having a clear objective: preparing students for college and university.

But an important question that arose early on in the course, was

What does it mean to prepare students for college and university?

Are we talking about having their English at an equivalent level to their peers? Or is it more about mentally preparing them with academic skills needed for success?

As things usually are, I’ve found it to be a bit of both, and I’ve tried my best to reach both sides: working on improving English skills through the context of post-secondary education.

For example

The best example of this approach is that the focus of my EAP course is on reading and writing. From my own experiences of university, I believe these to be the most important skills a student needs, so the majority of our day is spent on reading and writing classes, with students researching, planning, and writing two research essays every four weeks.

These essays help students to develop their reading and writing skills, as they spend much time either reading material I provide to them, or doing their own independent research to get the ideas they’ll write about.

Subsequently, they will spend around a week planning an essay outline, and then the next week both writing and correcting essay drafts before submitting their final copy.

At the same time, the format of the essays teaches them the academic skills of essay organization, referencing and citing sources, the importance of essay planning and editing, and time management.

The other classes in the course are

  • Vocabulary, where we work on their grammar and vocabulary, while learning key words (based mostly on the Academic Word List) that they will need for their academic futures.
  • Listening, in which students practice listening to university lectures, while practicing note-taking…
  • … and Speaking, which helps their communication skills through discussions, seminars, group work, and presentations.

I would love the chance to hear from other EAP teachers out there and hear what you’re teaching!  And for more posts about EAP, visit my fellow blogger, Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna’s post.

Hi! I’m Andrew Shedden. Like most people, I fell into ESL by accident. I was preparing to apply for my Master’s in history and decided I wanted to teach in Japan beforehand as a vacation. I got a CELTA degree so I would know what this teaching thing is all about, but one thing led to another and although I never actually made it to Japan as a teacher (or applied for a Master’s program), I’ve been teaching ESL ever since! I've been teaching EAP for over 10 years now... I love the focus on academic writing and English, since I can vicariously go back to university through my students. (I do miss it!) My other professional love is computers. I’ve been obsessed with them since I was 3, and I’m always trying to learn more about how to incorporate IT into my program and classes.

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