My first experience with EAP was when I wanted to study at an English-speaking university. This was an American institution of higher education in which students who were not native speakers of English had to attend EAP courses that aimed at developing language skills. Once we reached a proficient level of English (what we now call C2), we were officially accepted to the University. Then, as part of the general education requirements, we had to attend three composition classes: an Introduction to Academic Writing course, a Research and Academic Writing course, and a Literature and Academic Writing course.
Six months ago, I received my first offer from a UK university for an EAP teaching position (in the UK, these courses are called ‘pre-sessionals’). Having read the requirements for this post, I immediately thought that this was going to be a very demanding but exciting role. They were looking for people who had an MA and/or a Cambridge Delta (preferably both) and an extensive teaching experience.
Unfortunately, I did not have access to the materials or the curriculum of this course prior to induction. During induction, we were given our books, the tutors’ handbook, and the ‘suggested’ timetable. Those of you who are familiar with English people would understand that by ‘suggested’ they really mean ‘the one to follow and not deviate from.’ And, quite frankly, any deviation from the prescribed timetable and/or materials is neither promoted nor welcomed.
This 10-week course focuses mainly on developing academic writing and presentation skills while there is little emphasis on language development. So, basically, all we have to do is follow a course-book, which has not been updated recently.
I am not saying that we cannot be creative or that we cannot find a way to ‘spice things up’ in each lesson. What I am saying is that we are neither required to do so, nor praised if we do so. On the contrary, we are discouraged from not following the material. This inevitably has a negative effect on learners but it also has a negative effect on teachers: professional boredom.
My question, therefore, is: What is the reason for asking highly qualified professionals to do a job that can be done by someone without an MA, without a Delta, and definitely without so many years of teaching experience? Isn’t that counter-productive?