The Centre for Writing and Communication (CWC) invites papers for its April 2020 conference on teaching English for Academic Purposes (EAP) in colleges and universities in India.
Writing and literacy in academic contexts are dependent to no small extent on the ability to transfer and use the knowledge acquired in the classroom. In the process of this knowledge transfer, students are expected to produce ‘good’ research adhering to the rules of academic discourse, link multiple sources to their writing, use discipline-specific vocabulary and develop a ‘unique voice’, all the while writing grammatically correct sentences.
While, the production of an academic paper involves a combination of advanced cognitive and language skills, in the Indian English as Second Language (ESL) context, achieving ‘academic excellence’ meets additional hurdles, when the medium of instruction is often inaccessible.
With the general focus resting upon schools, aiming to reduce the risk of dropouts, scant attention gets paid to the university student. The absence of standardized tests in the Indian context for adult language learners has exacerbated the problem as there is no data or studies on the English language proficiency level of an adult in India.
While universities in the U.S. and U.K have recognized the importance of providing such support provision to first and second-language speakers of English, in Indian universities, many students must learn to read and write academic English on their own. This expectation from the student is ambitious when they come from economic and socio-linguistic minority community backgrounds and struggle with Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) in English.
It is important to also note that universities or colleges in India do not identify EAP as a category and often subsume it under overarching terms such as ‘English Communication’ or ‘General English’. This failure to identify EAP as an advanced course result in confusing teaching methods and an unplanned curriculum. To mitigate some of these concerns, while public universities like the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) established the Linguistic Empowerment Cell (LEC) and the Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD) set up the Centre for English Language Education (CELE), private universities like Ashoka University, Krea University and O.P. Jindal Global University established writing centers.
However, there is a lot that has to be done towards syllabi making, deciding on appropriate pedagogical practices, as well as building robust evaluative criteria, keeping in mind the varying levels of English proficiency in a diverse, multilingual student body. In the light of these developments, we believe that this conference would be helpful in weaving together theoretical and methodological studies on academic literacy, and reflecting on EAP teaching methods and practices in colleges and universities across India.
Themes to consider
Curriculum for EAP: In the designing of the curriculum, how do we think about/bridge the relation between the pragmatics of language teaching and the imparting of critical thinking and social awareness? How can ELT research inform the development of EAP courses in universities?
Assessment: How can we create valid and reliable assessment rubrics keeping in mind the plurality of the classroom: different socio-linguistic backgrounds and varying levels of English Proficiency?
Feedback: How can inputs from the classroom be productively used by both instructors and students in collaboratively designing an effective and sound curriculum? What role can standardized diagnostic language tests play in setting up the classroom? What steps can be taken to assist students who struggle with basic communication in English? What teaching methods can be adopted for a heterogeneous classroom?
Addressing the EAP student: How should we imagine learner autonomy in an EAP classroom? What can a learner’s profile reveal? How do we ensure that students bring their own experiences of meaning-making and identity when they write? How can the student’s home language be accommodated?
The Role of the Institution: How can public and private universities provide language support to students? What is the role of writing centers and other departments in supporting EAP?
ELT and EAP: Are EAP/ELT contributing towards/challenging a monolingual academic market? Can ELT methods of other countries be effective in the Indian classroom? What can be included in building an archive for EAP? How can the classroom experience and pedagogy – what worked/didn’t work – inform research and policymaking?
How to submit
Please send your abstracts (max. 300 words) and a short bio-note (300 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org . The email should bear the subject line ‘Conference abstract’.
The last date for submission is 30 December 2019.