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EAP Essentials: A teacher's guide to principles and practice
Handbook with CD-ROM
By Olwyn Alexander, Sue Argent and Jenifer Spencer
EAP Essentials: A teacher's guide to principles and practice
With the increase in students joining academic English-language courses, the teaching of English for Academic Purposes is a rapidly expanding profession. There are, however, few specialist handbooks for the practising teacher in this field.
EAP Essentials: A teacher's guide to principles and practice is grounded in the authors' extensive practical experience in the EAP classroom. It bridges the gap between the theory and practice of EAP teaching, by distilling the insights from recent research into ideas that can be applied in teaching and materials development.
EAP Essentials builds confidence through a range of practical tasks and by providing case studies of real teachers and students. This enables the teacher to reflect on best practice and identify ways to develop their own teaching skills.
EAP Essentials offers original and practical ideas appropriate to a wide variety of contexts. The accompanying free CD also provides a large number of well-trialled materials that can be copied for use within the classroom.
The book contains ten chapters, each one underpinned by up-to-date research, and backed up with a list of recommended further reading.
- The latest research adapted for classroom use
- Practical approach allows teachers immediate engagement with EAP materials
- Real case studies document classroom experience of teachers and students
- CD-ROM includes original ideas and well-trialled materials for teaching in a variety of contexts
- Written by practising EAP trainers from Heriot-Watt University
Unit 1: The context of EAP
Unit 2: Text analysis
Unit 3: Course design
Unit 4: Reading
Unit 5: Vocabulary
Unit 6: Writing
Unit 7: Listening and speaking
Unit 8: Critical thinking
Unit 9: Student autonomy
Unit 10: Assessment
"...a ‘must – read’ for those new to EAP teaching but also useful for those seeking to brush up on their practice in specific EAP areas."- Michelle Evans, for the BALEAP website, August 2014
"Up-to-date, comprehensive and practical, this book is a very useful resource for EAP novices and experienced teachers alike."- Nadezhda Yakovchuk, University of Leicester
"Combines current research on EAP practice with a very practical approach that clearly comes from experience: an excellent read for new EAP teachers. I wish I'd had this book before I started in EAP!"- Karen Nicholls, Sheffield Hallam University
"This book will surely become essential reading for both trainee and practising EAP teachers alike."- Jane Brooks, Sussex University
“EAP Essentials has much to offer one who has little formal training in EAP teaching. It explains relevant theoretical aspects of EAP for less experienced teachers and delivers on its aims to link theory and practice through reflection. Furthermore, through the support and guidance of experienced practitioners, the book outlines some very practical solutions to the challenges of teaching EAP. This practitioner emphasis will satisfy experienced teachers’ desires to gain insights into other teaching contexts. Overall, the book is a welcome addition to a rapidly growing discipline that requires further clarification regarding approaches and methods.”
- Rob Higgins, for JALT Journal, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 106–108, 2012
EAP Essentials provides an excellent introduction to EAP, and is particularly useful for any teacher new to English for Academic Purposes. This book aims to provide a guide to principles and practice, and is designed to bridge the gap between theory and practice. It achieves these aims through a measured blend of rationale, practical tasks and a selection of interesting case studies.
Although there are now a number of EAP manuals on the market, this volume has the merit of addressing itself to this field in general rather than being subject specific. This is a particularly useful approach for students starting out on an EAP course in preparation for further study, and teachers teaching such courses for the first time. Having grasped the underlying principles of academic English, both students and teachers can then move onto a deeper insight into the language of specific disciplines; and how to do this is outlined int he chapter on course design.
One of the things I really like about this book is the way each chapter is independent. If faced with a text analysis task in a study skills Course Book once can simply read up on text analysis in chapter two, grasp the basic principles and apply them to the material and class - perfect for a last minute recruit to an over-subscribed pre-sessional course (and it does happen!). Another particularly useful feature which appears in the first part of the book (To the Reader) is the brief overview of the chapters, which consists of two or three sentences outlining the contents of each - just in case one isn't sure exactly what critical thinking and student autonomy involve.
I also loved the CD-ROM for its great wroksheets, which not only print out rather nicely (well-presented and professional looking) but can, of course, be projected onto a screen if you should be fortunate enough to have an IWB (interactive whiteboard) or data projector in your classroom.
What could have made this book better? Personally, I hate CDs being in a soft envelope stuck in the back cover - mine got broken by a cat who curled up to sleep on it! A rigid plastic box would have afforded better protection. But, more seriously, this is a general book so don't expect it to bale you out of the need to know your stuff, or at least where to acess it, for discipline-specific EAP courses. It is also short on ideas for remedial work where indicated, such as the difficulty in understanding complex academic texts often experienced by students whose first language has an ideographic othrography, like many Asian languages, rather than an alphabet orthography like most European languages.
So, all in all, great introductory handbook to this area of EFL and useful resources too.
If you are recruiting inexperienced teachers for short term contracts and you don't have the time you would like to spend introducing them to academic English, make sure a copy of this book is available in the staffroom.
If you are interested in teaching EAP (and I can recommend it), read this book before you interview for your first summer EAP job, keep it around during the course, and dip in and out of it whenever necessary.- Kaithe Greene for TEFL.net, June 2010
‘EAP Essentials: A teacher’s guide to principles and practice’ by Olwyn Alexander, Sue Argent, Jenifer Spencer is a specialist handbook for English for Academic Purposes teachers. The book developed from the authors running a short professional development course for EAP teachers at Heriot-Watt University. It is written for new and experienced teachers of EAP and aims to provide both a thorough induction and on-going support for language teachers entering this specialist area.
Its ten chapters cover areas of relevance for the EAP teacher, and include the context of EAP, text analysis, course design, the four skills, vocabulary, critical thinking, student autonomy and assessment. Many of these areas will be familiar to the general English language teacher but the book examines them from the perspective of EAP. All the chapters are supported by research, identify the key issues and provide recommendations for further reading.
There are not many teacher training courses that just focus on EAP, although the new modular Delta allows specialisation (Module 3). This book is different from other EAP books for teachers because it provides both an introduction to the area and also ongoing support for the EAP teacher. While it is full of practical ideas it is also grounded in the theory, which is appropriate for the academic nature of the work.
The first chapter, on the context of EAP, outlines academic purposes and expectations and examines the implications for both teachers and students. A table comparing EAP teaching to general English (GE) teaching is of particular interest to GE teachers, even if some of the generalisations are debatable. For example, the teacher student roles in general English teaching are ‘unequal: teachers are seen as language experts and students as language novices’ (Alexander, Argent and Spencer, 2008, p. 4).
Defining EAP by highlighting the differences with general English is common in ESP literature. Streven’s four characteristics of ESP (of which EAP is a part) are meeting specified needs, related in content to particular disciplines, centred on appropriate language and finally, in contrast to general English (cited in Flowerdew and Peacock, 2001, p. 13). Dudley-Evans and St John (1988) note, as their second variable characteristic of ESP, that it is possible for ESP to use methodologies different from those of general language teaching (depending on the specificity of the ESP classes). While the general English language teacher will find similarities and familiar activities in the EAP classroom, this book highlights the differences in a clear and comprehensive way.
I particularly liked how the authors introduced and defined academic discourse communities when outlining the context of EAP in Chapter 1:
An academic discourse community is a group if academic practitioners (teachers, researchers and students) who share a particular discourse or way of representing, thinking and talking about the world. The members of each academic community share a culture which may differ considerably from the cultures of other academic communities. For example, the Engineering and History departments in a university are very different in terms of the way they pursue and communicate knowledge and interact with the real world. The differences are driven by what is being studied and have profound effects on how the communities operate. (Alexander, Argent and Spencer, 2008, p. 6)
This is in keeping with the academic literacies approach to EAP, which sees the production of texts as a social practice shaped by reader-writer relationships, student-tutor relationships and the broader values and beliefs of the discipline. To be successful at university, students must also engage in the social practices of the discourse community they seek to join. It is not enough for students to have knowledge of the mechanics of form. Writers must also know about content and practices, processes and products and the social context in which these exist (Johns, 1997, p. 2). It is in the EAP classroom that students can be helped towards this goal and EAP Essentials provides useful guidance to teachers.
While this is not a resource book to grab on your way to the EAP classroom (hopefully you wouldn’t be entering an EAP classroom unprepared), there are plenty of practical ideas and an accompanying CD, which contains materials for the classroom. The 47 activities are organised thematically and relate to the chapters in the book. My final evaluation is that this excellent book is essential reading for present and future EAP teachers.
Dudley Evans, T. & St John, M. (1998). Developments in English for Specific Purposes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Flowerdew, J. & Peacock, M. (2001). Issues in EAP: A preliminary perspective. In Flowerdew, J. & Peacock, M. (Eds.), Research perspectives on English for academic purposes (8-24). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Johns, A. (1997). Text, role and context: Developing academic literacies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.- Andrew Scott for the International House Journal of Education and Development, Issue 28, Spring 2010
This book explores English for academic purposes within a university context. While it draws on theory, it is grounded firmly in practice, and is based on what happens on an actual course. It starts with insights into text analysis and principles of course design, focuses, appropriately, on language skills taught within an EAP context, and concludes with a look at critical analysis, student autonomy and assessment. The PDFs contained on the CD provide a useful bank of photocopiable materials.
This book runs to over 350 pages and although much of the methodology described will be familiar to the EFL teacher, there are pitfalls within EAP and this book provides a solid overview of key differences in approach. For instance, there is a useful task to help teachers experience the shock of encountering a text full of specialised terms. There are also examples of how to deal with semi-technical vocabulary, such as state as used in chemistry, rather than in the sense of country. Of interest to general English teachers crossing the bridge into EAP.
EAP and ESP are very important aspects of ELT in the 21st century, yet they srill do not receive sufficient coverage on mainstram TESOl and TEFL certificate and diploma courses. There is also an ongoing debate as to whether ESP/EAP teaching methodologies are an extension of the ELT methodology or whether they have evolved to the point of becoming relatively independent of the mainstream ELT teacher-training canon.
In view of the above, it is reassuring to see the publication of this particular book, since EAP theorists and practitioners have been awaiting a compendium of this type. As the authors say, the book 'bridges the gap between the theory and practice of EAP teaching, by distilling the insights from recent research into ideas that cna be applied in teaching and materials development'.
The book is divided into ten chapters which concentrate on: the context of EAP, text analysis, course design, reading, vocabulary, writing, listening and speaking, critical thinking, student autonomy, and assessment. Chapter 1 provides a careful examination of the similarities and differences between general English Language Teaching and English for Academic Purposes, which are compared and contrasted via context, people, and the teaching and learning content. It goes on to discuss otehr crucial issues such as: 'joining the tribe', (i.e., becoming an EAP teacher), teaching and learning at universitym the hidden curriculum, student expectations, teacher expectations, teaching and learning in EAP, meeting the teaching and learning challenges, and important issues that affect EAP practice.
EAP Essentials is a very comprehensive publication that is also attractively designed: the book is clearly signposted and is very user-friendly to its direct readership. It is an excellent addition to the specialist EAP teacher-training literature, and is bound to be an invaluable complement to EAP teacher training courses at certificate, diploma and MA (TESOL or TEFL) level.- ESP SIG Journal, Issue 32, October 2008
Ancient scholars once journeyed across the Alps to study Italian law while some sailed the Mediterranean to learn Greek philosophy or examine Arabic scripts on science, medicine and mathematics. Devotees of philosophical and religious thought migrated to the Orient in search of transcendental wisdom. Today, the quest for knowledge has not changed as English-medium universities experience unprecedented internationalisation. This book is a publication for such a time as this. The authors invite readers to 'join the tribe' (Becher, 1989) and learn the specific academic discourse and culture of English for Academic Purposes (EAP).
EAP Essentials aims to bridge the gap between theory and the classroom by linking best practice with current literature. It succeeds in achieving this goal quite well. Ten dedicated chapters hone in on the context of EAP, text analysis, course design, vocabulary, critical thinking, student autonomy and assessment. They also explore each macro skill with practical and accessible detail. Rather than meglecting the language of academic purposes (Hyland, 2006: Turner, 2004), or simply relegating EAP as a study skill, each chapter emphasises rigorous language analysis. Various task types are compared, cases studies involving typical student errors are discussed and a myriad of tips is offered for reflection. The scope is broad and deep, suitable for specialists or fresh EAP aspirants.
In fact, readers are bluntly reminded that international students may never have another English teacher after EAP, thus underscoring the importance of autonomous learning skills (Field, 2007: Jordan, 1997). The authors also suggest that making the transition to EAP teaching is not straightforward because of the need for induction into this specialised domain. With few EAP handbooks or training courses available, this publication serves as an experienced teaching companion and supportive guide.
One of the most engaging parts of the book is the multitude of case studies to enhance reflective practice. Relevant cases feature some of the most challenging aspects of teaching EAP. For example, the writing chapter features an excerpt from a student essay followed by a sample student-teacher conference. The case study dialogue demonstrates a protocol where the teacher acts as a questioning reader in some confusing sections of the student's text. The protocol servse to clairfy and redirect the students intended meaning using a progressive and productive pedagogical approach instead of only focusing on grammatical errors. Such examples reinforce the welcome presence of best practice throughout the book.
The accompanying CD hosts a challenging cache of tried and tested skills-based language activities linked to key concepts in each chaper. The materials may require some adaptation to suit an Australian context; however, the pages on synthesising reference sources were useful for my own students. The task materials promote active collaboration and double-loop learning where 'reflective dialogue begins the journey to greater agency, autonomy and independence rather than remaining dependent and passive' (Brockbank & McGill 1998, pp. 43-44).
EAP Essentials delivers the fundamentals of language analysis for teaching the academic skills that students need most. This book is highly recommended as a valuable resource for a wide audience: teachers who are preparing international students for academic study, EAP teacher trainers and inexperienced or trainee teachers hoping to teach academic English. Readers will indeed join the tribe with strategic awareness of recent literature coupled with best practice and innovative resource materials. The CD alone is well worth the cost of the book but better still are the signposts for steering students through uncharted academic territories on the expedition toward learning autonomy, independence and greater self efficacy.
Becher, T. (1989). Academic tribes and territories: Intellectual inquiry and the cultures of disciplines. Milton Keynes: Society for Research in Higher Education and Open University Press.
Brockbank, A., & McGill, I. (1998). Facilitating reflective learning in higher education. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Field, J. (2007). Looking outwards, not inwards. ELT Journal, 61(1), 30-38.
Hyland, K. (2006). English for Academic Purposes: An advanced resource book. Abingdon: Routledge.- Sally Ashton-Hay for TESOL in Context, Vol 19 No 2, December 2009
While Robert Jordan's 1997 book gives a general overview of the field of English for Academic Purposes (EAP), and Ken Hyland's 2006 text discusses theories, controversies, course design and teaching methods, EAP Essentials carves a niche for itself in an increasingly crowded field by providing a practical guide for EAP teachers.
The book comprises ten chapters, each beginning with an orientation of an aspect of EAP, followed by case studies exploring student-teacher interaction together with relevant research information. In recognition of the fact that teachers new to EAP will have come from a background of general ESOL teaching, the first part of Chapter 1 provides a useful list of twelve differences between the two. These include more specialised content of EAP with its emphasis on academic vocabulary and discourse features, in contrast to the very broad content range of general English; and EAP's emphasis on study skills, learner independence and cognitive skills such as critical thinking. The first chapter also addresses, if briefly, some of the contentious issues in the practice of EAP; for example, whether general or specific EAP is more useful, and the extent to which EAP is the teaching of study skills.
Chapter 2 focuses on text analysis, and was for me probably the most useful part of the book. it establishes a systematic framework for the analysis of academic texts, and takes the form of a tutorial by providing exercises to help clarify the concepts presented. Key items in this framework include register, genre, functions, cohesion and organisation. Many of these are returned to in later chapters which focus on particular macro-skill areas. Othe chapters discuss course design, critical thinking, student autonomy and assessment. An added bonus is that the book includes a wealth of photocopiable classroom materials and tasks on an accompanying CD.
The authors of the book are to be commended on the extensive provision of footnotes and references to guide EAP teacher to relevant research: almost 90 notes in Chapter 3 alone. One small complaint is the fact that these notes are grouped together at the back of the book, which obliges the reader to search in the bibliography. Some omissions were noted: in Chapter 1 there is a note for item 63 that the source is Hyland (2005) yet there is no Hyland (2005) in the bibliography. Similarly, in Chapter 3, Note 14 refers to Flowedew (2005) but this work is not listed in the bibliography. Setting aside these minor quibbles, it is evident that the authors of this book, who have a great deal of experience of teaching and teacher education for EAP, have produced a very practical guide which I highly recommend to both novice and experienced EAP teachers.
Hyland, K. (2006). English for academic purposes: An advanced resource book. Abingdon: Routledge.
Jordan, R. R. (1997). English for academic purposes: A guide and resource book for teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.- Martin White, University of Auckland for TESOLANZ Newsletter, June 2011
"The book by Alexander, Argent and Spencer is a substantial offering at over 370 pages + a CD of photocopiable classroom materials. Working with a Social/Genre tradition, the book focuses on a small number of EAP themes (reading, vocabulary, writing, listening and speaking, critical thinking, learner autonomy, and assessment). More importantly, from my perspective, the authors also devote three major chapters to helping their readers to gain the knowledge and skills they will need as EAP practitioners in developing an account of the 'Context of EAP' and then carrying out detailed 'Text analysis' as a starting point for 'Course design'. The 16-page Bibliography at the end of the book is comprehensive and up-to-date.
The chapter devoted to writing instruction builds on the earlier reading and vocabulary chapters and offers a series of case studies and examples which will help teachers to integrate genre approaches and to adapt Process Approaches into their EAP writing courses. Starting with an overview of what is involved in becoming a writer in higher education (and at least touching on some of the themes which concern Writing in the Disciplines/Academic Literacies practitioners), the chapter goes on to consider some of the challenges involved in writing from data, integrating sources, and developing a teaching programme that will help students to meet some of the challenges of disciplinary writing.
Given my earlier comments on the tendency for teachers working in Social/Genre traditions to need to develop their own materials, the two books in this section have the potential to make a valuable contribution to the professional development of this community of practice. While McCarter and Jakes will be of interest to those approaching EAP for the first time or working on course book-based teaching introductory programmes, I feel that EAP Essentials by Alexander et al. will be more useful for those who are facing the challenge of developing their own EAP courses."
"EAP (English for Academic Purposes) is a field that has exploded in recent years: not only are overseas students flooding into universities in the English-speaking world, but many higher education courses are now being taught in English in countries where English is a second language for both teachers and students. For teachers who find themselves catapulted into devising and running such international courses, this book could be a godsend.
Not only have the three authors combed the relevant research literature, but since 2002 they have run EAP teacher development courses at Heriot-Watt University and have harvested valuable material from conversations with the participants. This has enabled them 'to bridge the gap between theory and classroom practice' - and to use the courses as a laboratory in which to test materials and find out what works. Their own experiences over many years have also allowed them to pinpoint situations where teaching and learning can go wrong.
The book presents major aspects of EAP, using well-chosen text extracts, questionnaires, discussions and case studies to stimulate reflection on and awareness of key issues. Chapter 1, 'The Context of EAP' (academic purposes and expectations), for instance, begins by differentiating ELT from EAP; probes the nature of teaching and learning at a university; continues with a fascinating discussion of the nature of the 'academic tribe' and how to join it ('the hidden curriculum'); suggests the most practical ways of handling the EAP learning process; delves into student and teacher expectations - and much more. Subsequent chapters cover text analysis, course design, reading, vocabulary, writing, listening and speaking, critical thinking, student autonomy and assessment.
Clearly, this book isn't just about language: it explores the strategies, thinking, skills and attitudes that underpin the academic project - and how to convey these to the student.
The accompanying CD, which contains photocopiable classroom materials, is a vital component in all this: it takes us from discussion to experience, with a wealth of tasks, exercises and tools to enable the student to master the language and thinking necessary for academic success.
One niggle: Clarity. 'Academic writing should be transparent, like a pane of glass, so that ideas can be clearly seen without the language intruding.' How true! Yet the authors rather reverently present nominalisation ('noun phrases') pre-modification and the passive as essential components of academic writing. True - up to a point; but used to excess, these elements lead to obscurity. John Kirkman's Good Style: Writing for Science and Technology would be a useful corrective here.
All in all, though: indispensible."
"One of the must-haves of an English teacher is glimpses of knowledge from different fields, such as art, music, sports, psychology, and world issues. An EAP instructor requires more specialised knowledge and skills to present it within an academic approach. That situation can create anxiety.Three EAP instructors and teacher trainers from Heriot-Watt University revealed this self-confidence problem and have produced this guidebook to help resolve it.
The product of their reflective work comprises ten chapters, each dealing with a specific domain of EAP instruction, such as course design, text analysis, critical thinking, student autonomy, assessment and the four essential skills. Whereas the introductory chapter acquaints readers with the basics of academia, the most lengthy section belongs to 'Text analysis' (2) and 'Critical thinking' (8) as they are considered key elements of academic thought. The proposed framework to equip students with these skills is to exploit one text in detail rather than deal with a variety of texts. So, teachers are encouraged to assess the linguistic aspects of texts when selecting them for class use.
The prerequisite of this skill is 'teacher language awareness', which has been brought into the limelight in recent years. This concept incorporates teachers' knowledge about language, knowledge of language and consideration of the learners' perspective. Indirectly, EAP Essentials encourages both teachers and learners to adopt this approach.
A particular strength of the book is that each chapter is supplemented by case studies. Teacher trainers may discuss these studies in their training sessions. The EAP syllabus itself may be supplemented by the in-class discussion of the student case studies given. For readers willing to expand on the given information, further reading lists of leading research titles are also provided at the end of each chapter.
The accompanying 'Classroom materials CD' includes 47 trialled activities, usually in the form of awareness-raising tasks that range from identifying attitudes towards plagiarism, to text analysis tools. I highly recommend this title for both novice and experienced EAP instructors, teacher trainers and researchers who would like to gain insights into current EAP research and practice."
"Nowadays course books could consider an on-line element as an indispensible part of the format, while remaining practical, grounded, realistic and skills-based.
Those laudable aims are achieved handsomely in EAP Essentials: A teacher's guide to principles and practice. As a 'how to' manual, EAP Essentials identifies some key concepts: course design, building specific skills for an academic context, and pathways toward student autonomy. What is especially encouraging in this book is its clear, focussed and thorough explication of the many skills required for the successful student at a tertiary level; even practitioners of study skills for native English speakers would find much of this material useful. Each chapter includes reflexive questions on relevant topics which require the reader to engage fully in the learning process and to develop his or her own skills base. The book includes a CD of classroom materials which are suitable for adaptation to a range of contexts. As a grounding in the skills needed to teach EAP, this book indeed covers the EAP Essentials."
EAP Essentials is a comprehensive and pragmatic resource book for all teachers of English for Academic Purposes (EAP). The content is delivered in line with current learning methodologies, that is, it includes input sections followed by case study examples and tasks, many of which are reflective in nature, to involve the reader in a process of self-paced learning.
The book has ten chapters: The context of EAP, Text analysis, Course design, Reading, Vocabulary, Writing, Listening and speaking, Critical thinking, Student autonomy, and Assessment. Most of these chapters are around thirty pages in length, making the text sufficiently comprehensive. In addition, there is an accompanying CD-ROM that contains photocopiable resources for classroom activities and teachers’ notes.
The authors say that the book is intended to be ‘like working with an experienced EAP lecturer’: you get practical advice and knowledge drawn from both research and experience (butwithout the camaraderie born of the daily grind). In many ways I think that the book achieves this aim. There are many insightful and pertinent observations made, for example, about dealing with subject-teachers in other departments and forming links across university faculties. I enjoyed reading (as opposed to just hearing) that individual departments’ advice to students regarding their writing is often somewhat naive and unhelpful, e.g., ‘writing is like anything else: it just requires hard work’. For second language learners embarking on university-level English-only courses for the first time, this type of advice is about as helpful as leaving a note on the door saying ‘back in five minutes’. Luckily, this book offers much more practical solutions for teaching EAP to non-native speakers.
The text analysis section (chapter 2) offers a good overview of aspects such as genre, register, theme-rheme, cohesion and general-specific text development. Of course, book length treatments are available on many of these aspects and the present text merely skims the surface. However, the numerous tasks for teachers and students (in the text and on the CD-ROM) mean that this text actually covers much more than the sum of words printed on its pages.
The exercises provide considerable intellectual stimulation and focused reflection for practicing teachers. By reading and working through the tasks, teachers new to this area of English teaching will be able to learn about aspects of key importance (e.g., noun phrases, rhetorical structure, academic style), and also experience tasks designed for learners in the EAP context, thus providing useful models for designing their own activities. For more experienced practitioners, this text offers a thorough review and synthesis of central strands of EAP curricula and methodology, with the aforementioned practical observations of the authors being a very welcome addition.
The suggested reading at the end of each chapter points the reader in the direction of many well-known books covering the different aspects of EAP. The book is aimed at practicing teachers wanting to develop their skills and knowledge, rather than academics reading for research. This is obvious from the lack of research articles in the suggested reading but also in the referencing style, which uses a numbered endnote system to avoid the inclusion of bulky citations. Although this system is not particularly helpful for chasing up references, the use of previous research helps to support the authors’ points, rather than being based on subjective experience alone. The balance is just right: there is enough research and reading to follow up on information, but this is not overburdening for practitioners, who will appreciate the pragmatic tone and content of the text.
A useful and innovative unit focuses on critical thinking (chapter 8). This is accompanied by a set of ten resource materials on the CD-ROM, making it a thorough and practical introduction to developing critical thinking in the EAP classroom.
The authors advocate using authentic texts (and genres) in the classroom, and elucidate the benefits of this through a comparison of two teacher’s approaches to a particular lesson. However, there is a section later (p.134-5) that discusses writing one’s own texts for classroom use, again with an example case study. In sum, the text appears to agree with Swales (2009:5) in advocating the ‘occasional use of instructor-written materials’. Personally, I always find it easier to find and adapt texts than to try to research and write up my own.
If I have one gripe (and I do) it is that some of the texts and topics used in the materials in the CD-ROM are either not academic enough (e.g., washing dishes) or relevant only for humanities and social science students. The non-academic ones are justified as being useful for introducing new students to the concepts of EAP such as genre or register while still utilizing familiar genres (e.g., formal/informal letters or single paragraphs); this suggests that the intended audience is at a lower band of proficiency. More advanced learners will need more exposure to authentic texts in their target areas, and as soon as possible: for these learners it may be better to skip the formal/informal letters and jump straight into selected academic texts with non-academic texts for comparison.
The second point is that science and engineering students are (again) disadvantaged and expected to read business case studies about hotels and chocolates, elementary nature vs. nurture arguments and mobile phone essays. Other ‘popular’ themes in EAP materials are the linguistic and education articles – an assumption of applied linguists seems to be that everyone else is interested in their subject because they are studying EAP, and as they have usually done research themselves, they use these as texts for teaching (this is even suggested as a source of materials, p.134-6). There is one useful activity for mathematical expressions and another in the critical thinking section that focuses on forming hypotheses, but all the others are purely humanities and social science topics.
Overall though, this is a minor problem (but one which reflects a consistent trend in EAP materials writing). The text is very well-organised, well-written, practical, stimulating and resourceful. The text encourages reflective practices and gives support for teachers new to the area. The colour scheme is restricted to black and green on white, but skimping on presentation is fine when the contents are this good.
EAP Essentials has 380 pages and weighs an impressive 1lb18oz (nearly 1 kilo!); but as it is not a textbook for the classroom, this is a negligible fact. It is printed on this semi-shiny paper which does not allow marker pens to dry quickly and leaves you with smudgy annotations and comments if they are made in ink or felt tip pens.
But this is only a minor point. What counts is that the book is thorough and, I find, very enjoyable to read. It takes general English teachers from their day-to-day business through the specific requirements of English for Academic Purposes. These are not such 'superficial' linguistic issues like grammar and punctuation, but analyzing texts and synthesizing ideas with critical thinking thrown in. This is reflected in the content of the 10 chapters: The context of EAP, text analysis, course design, reading, vocabulary, writing, listening and speaking, critical thinking, student autonomy, and assessment.
Each chapter begins with an overview of what it sets out to cover and what the reader can expect to achieve. The text is interspersed with tasks for the reader (i.e. the potential EAP teacher), which do not necessarily require massive work but reflection on EAP language work, case studies or, for example, text analysis in a subject an English teacher might not have any or very little expertise. Each chapter finishes with a conclusion and further reading suggestions. When it says above "enjoyable to read", it should rather be "enjoyable to work through". Let's look at the chapter Critical thinking, for example. It takes the readers through defining the term, how to approach it within the syllabus, and gives practical ideas of how to implement critical thinking in the classroom and, even more important, transfer it to the students' writings. To achieve all this, there are 12 reader tasks to stimulate the teachers' creativity and reflection on their own work.
It is very gratifying to see that the book follows rules of academic writing: in the back there are 14 pages of notes on the individual chapters, 15 pages of bibliography and a meaningful 8-page index. The CD, which is part of the book, contains photocopiable worksheets for each chapter. These consist of teacher's notes, teacher's visuals, task sheets for the students and keys. For the Critical thinking chapter, for example, there are 11 different tasks! The book is the outcome of the authors' EAP teacher development courses at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. This is reflected in the practical approach to teaching and coaching potential EAP teachers in tackling this important field of ELT.- Uli Trodler for the ELTAF Newsletter, Winter 2010
Contains black and white tables and illustrations