Top Tips for Teaching EAP

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Just to recap: EAP is English for Academic Purposes. EAP students need English because they are going to attend (or are already attending) an English-speaking tertiary institution. This may be in their own country where the language of instruction is English and the content matter is in English or it may be in an English-speaking country. EAP students are generally a lot more serious than General English students because they have a clear goal and high motivation. Their academic success depends largely on their success in English, and this is not a gamble they want to take. Teaching EAP is an important class and its your duty to take these class seriously.

Top tips for teaching EAP lessons that are engaging:

Tailor your teaching EAP lessons to your EAP students’ specific needs

The first step is to do a thorough needs analysis. You may be fortunate in that all your students are preparing for the same goal – studying in the same field or preparing for the same exam, but you probably won’t be that lucky. Instead, you may need to think how you can juggle the different needs of all your students.

However, if you know what your students are going to study you can find materials related to their topics of study. If you know your students are going to study at a US institution, you can make sure you teach American English. If you know your students are going to be attending lectures, you can make sure to include plenty of listening activities. Make sure you find out exactly what your students are going to be using English for in order to prepare the most suitable lessons for them.

Use appropriate materials

The same goes for finding materials for your lessons. Your first port of call should be authentic texts. For EAP students, this is not necessarily video clips of popular series or magazine articles, but rather textbook texts or academic lectures – even TED talks can be useful. You want to find magazines or books which are focused on the particular fields relevant to your students; these will include language which is more academic or specialised than usual and so more suited to your students.

Effectively, you want to use materials in your class that are designed for students and not specifically EFL students. This will be what your students will be dealing with when they are at university so it makes sense for them to get to grips with them now.

Give your students autonomy

EAP students are more motivated to do hard work than other students. This means that they should be able to decide on the content of their lessons. Nobody knows better than they do what they need and giving them the autonomy to get involved in the planning of the lesson will increase their motivation even further.

Of course, you don’t just hand the reins over to your students and go and sit in the corner; your students can’t be expected to plan an entire lesson. Instead, get specific feedback from them of what they want in their lessons, allocate lessons to each student and ask them to find appropriate resources for you beforehand to plan a lesson around.

EAP students are not the same as your General English students and so your lessons shouldn’t be the same either. Even though these lessons are by their nature quite serious, you can still plan and prepare effective lessons which are engaging and enjoyable.

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