English is playing an increasingly prominent role in the process of globalization and internalization of higher education in China, especially in metropolitan Shanghai. The new challenge results in a considerable need for university students equipped with international communication skills and competitiveness within their areas of specialty so as to meet the needs of the national and regional socioeconomic development as well as the internationalization of higher education.
A Framework of Reference for EFL Teaching at Tertiary Level in Shanghai ( Framework hereafter) is thus designed so as to accommodate such demands and to provide tertiary institutions in Shanghai with the guidelines for English as a foreign language (EFL) teaching to their non-English major undergraduate students.
In view of the diversity of tertiary institutions in Shanghai in terms of institutional goals, teaching resources, and students’ English proficiency upon entering university, colleges and universities are encouraged to work out, in accordance with the
Framework and in the light of their specific circumstances, a scientific and individualized curriculum to guide their own EFL teaching. Orientation and Objectives
EFL (as popularly known as college English teaching, we use CET henceforth) is oriented toward offering English courses for non-English major undergraduate students by serving their needs of using English to study academic subjects hence its contribution to the cultivation of professionals in various disciplines.
The objective of CET is to provide students with the necessary academic English language skills and adequate genre knowledge to enable them to succeed in their current academic studies and future careers, so that they will communicate effectively in international academic discourses. Apart from building students’ academic language skills, it also focuses on liberal education and scientific literacy, aiming to cultivate students’ critical thinking, autonomous learning, cross-cultural communication, and cooperation so as to better address the needs of national and regional socioeconomic developments.
EFL at tertiary level should differ intrinsically from EFL in elementary and secondary education in terms of orientation and objectives. While the latter is to teach English for the mere improvement of students’ English proficiency, the former prioritizes improving undergraduates’ language skills for academic studies and future careers. The discrepancy in the objective necessitates a paradigm shift in the traditional CET program to meet the needs of students’ disciplinary studies and the requirement of the government’s effort to construct world-class universities and disciplines. Such a refreshed perception of CET will also justify its unique place and irreplaceable role in mainland tertiary education.
Content and Goals
EFL is divided into
English for general purposes
English for specific purposes
(ESP). EGP teaching is oriented largely toward improving language skills for a solid foundation, whereas ESP teaching is designed to serve specific needs in students’ academic studies and in their future careers. ESP can be further distinguished by the nature of the learners’ specialism:
English for occupational purposes
English for academic purposes
(EAP). EOP instruction is designed for language training required in a particular occupation, whereas EAP instruction is aimed at developing students’ academic literacy skills required in their discipline courses and research work. EAP can be sub-categorized into
English for general academic purposes
English for specific academic purposes
(ESAP). EGAP focuses on the development of students’ oral and written academic language skills across the disciplines, including the basic listening and note-taking skills for academic lectures, seminar presentation skills, literature review skills, term paper writing skills, and academic discussion skills. ESAP highlights language, genre, discourse, and rhetoric features within specific disciplines (e.g. finance, law, engineering, medicine) as well as the literacy skills appropriate to the purposes of particular communities. The hierarchy of EFL teaching is illustrated in Fig.
Taxonomy of EFLT
Hence, it is obvious that EAP serves an indispensable bridge in helping students transit from EGP-based learning in high school to practical use of the language in academic study. It assumes a double role: (i) improving students’ academic language skills and genre awareness to help them better cope with disciplinary study, and (ii) fostering a cross-disciplinary perspective to meet more demanding requirements for professionals in the twenty-first century (see Table
). It is inevitable, therefore, that EAP shall be made into the core of CET programs in all tertiary institutions regardless of research-oriented universities or teaching-oriented colleges, and EAP courses shall prepare students for both academic research careers and non-academic occupations.
Elements and teaching goals of EAP
To meet the aforementioned goals in EAP instruction, a benchmarking scale consisting of two competence levels (A & B) is proposed. Level A is designed mainly for EGAP teaching while Level B is for ESAP teaching on basis of the achievement of A-level goals. Level A might be complemented with elements in Level B when implemented. A preliminary
EAP Competence Scale for College Students
) is thus designed for teaching and assessment. Individual universities are suggested to adhere to descriptors within one level or select descriptors from either level in relevance to the disciplinary requirements and students’ language competence to compile an operational scale for their own use.
EAP competence scale for college students
Curriculum and Arrangement
The CET curriculum is mainly composed of three course types: transitional, core, and elective. Transitional courses are EGP-based courses mainly for freshmen with relatively low English proficiency to enable them to adapt themselves to the core courses. Hence, transitional EGP courses including traditional courses such as
Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing are to be made preferably elective.
Core courses consist of two categories: EGAP courses and ESAP courses. EGAP courses train students’ generic academic language skills in such courses as
EAP Listening and Speaking, EAP Reading, Academic Paper Presentation, and Academic Writing. ESAP courses focus on language instruction in specific disciplines. For instance, courses targeting at communication skills for international conferences, writing skills for research articles, experiment reports, paper presentation, case study and contract writing, shall focus on the discourse structure, moves and steps analysis and language features in various sub-genres within individual field of study, as well as discourse conventions and rhetorical traditions thereof.
As those skills and abilities of oral and written communication are expected in all universities students, and learning the skills will consolidate and accelerate the development of their general English skills, it is suggested that EAP courses, especially EGAP courses, should be made required in the undergraduate program, ensuring that every student shall receive some EAP training for proper improvement in academic English literacy and competence.
Elective courses mainly aim to familiarize students with international conventions within their own field of study, to equip them with basic skills required in cross-cultural academic communication and cooperation, and to cultivate a better understanding of and tolerance toward cultural differences as well as the identification of Chinese culture. Hence, such liberal education courses may be offered as
Introduction to British and American Society and Culture, Development of Science and Its Ethics, Critical Thinking, Cross-Cultural Issues in Academic Communication, and Public Speaking. In addition, such courses as British and American Literature and Western Civilization might also be offered in some universities with appropriate faculty. It is suggested, however, that such additional courses be integrated into the school liberal education module so as not to share the limited EFL credits.
presented here fully recognizes the variations of individual schools. Hence the categorization, required credits, name and content of the courses (see Table
) are all suggestive in nature. Colleges and universities shall make full allowance for the needs of different disciplines, English proficiency of different students, and so on to design an individualized curriculum for the whole school as well as for different faculties. Moreover, the appropriate integration of and balance between enhancement courses, academic English courses, and liberal education courses are encouraged to ensure that students with different English proficiencies and discipline backgrounds can receive effective training and make progress.
Recommended structure of EAT curriculum
Modifications made to the objectives and content of CET create a new need for its larger share in the undergraduate credit system. As the internationalization of higher education and globalization call for a more prominent place for EAP courses at tertiary level, a fair proportion of credits can be added to the CE program, and a recommended minimum credit proportion is 10%.
It is suggested that newly enrolled students be sorted into different classes based on their scores in the English tests of National College Entrance Examination or scores in the school English placement tests. In normal cases, except for students with relatively low English level (e.g. lower than EFL at tertiary level Band One) who are advised to take the enhancement EGP courses, the majority of the students can immediately start EGAP courses.
EGAP can be realized in the courses training separate language skills such as
EAP Listening and Speaking, EAP Reading, Presentation Skills, and EAP Writing, or the courses developing comprehensive academic literacy skills such as Integrated Academic English Band I, II, III. It is recommended that at least 55% of CET credits be allotted to these core courses. The more challenging ESAP courses, which are in close relation to the students’ specific disciplinary study, are recommended to be arranged after implementation of EGAP courses, and are also to be made required.
All CET courses can be taught within the first and second academic years of the undergraduate program, in such an order as to move from basic to challenging, gradually shifting from EGAP to ESAP. It is suggested, however, that colleges and universities which have enjoyed a relatively high proportion of English medium instruction courses or English–Chinese bilingual courses adopt a compressed schedule to place EAP courses in the first academic year of the undergraduate program. Such practice of condensed learning and intensified training can not only improve the efficiency of language learning, but also allow students to timely apply their acquired English academic literacy skills to their disciplinary studies during the subsequent years of the undergraduate program.
The school-based curriculum ought to be in line with the principle of individualized and discipline-based instruction. Hence, full allowance shall be made to cater for the varying needs of students from different faculties, and to design a customized “menu” of courses and adopt effective teaching methods appropriate for individual faculties and/or disciplines.
Assessment and Testing
Assessment plays a crucial role in CET instruction. It not only helps teachers obtain feedback from students, improve administration of teaching, and ensure teaching quality, but also provides students with an effective means to monitor their progress, adjust their learning strategies and improve their learning efficiency. There are assessments for both learning and teaching, and the former can be realized in both forms of formative assessment and summative assessment.
Formative assessment is to evaluate students’ progress and development in the learning process, on the basis of stated objectives and learning targets. Special attention should be given to diagnostic assessment and students’ self-reports on learning progress. The assessment helps teachers to spot and record the problems students confront in the process and to provide them with constructive advice and suggestions. The purpose of the formative assessment is not only to judge students’ performance, but more importantly to help students reach their learning targets. In regard to EAP courses, formative assessment mainly focuses on students’ performance in team work on project/case-based research or study. It can be carried out in the assigned projects relevant to the main themes of the textbooks or the issues of their disciplines. The task/project-based assignment requires students to work in groups or teams to (i) search, evaluate and organize information, (ii) review and summarize literature, (iii) design their own research (e.g. questionnaire, interview, field study, and experiment), (iv) collect and describe data, (v) analyze and explain results, and (vi) report research findings in oral or written form. Adequate importance needs to be attached to students’ self-evaluation and peer evaluation. For instance, the evaluation might take account of group performanc. It is suggested that English medium forums for students to share their research may be organized on a regular basis (e.g. every semester or academic year). Participants are required to write short papers in line with the forum themes, submit their abstracts and make presentations. EAP teachers are encouraged to cooperate with subject specialists in the forum theme/topic selection and reviewing students’ abstracts.
Summative assessment refers to achievement tests and comprehensive evaluation when a course is completed. The achievement tests of EGAP courses, for example, may include such items as listening comprehension of academic lectures, academic vocabulary size, reading comprehension of academic articles, sentence paraphrasing, summarizing main ideas of paragraphs and articles, and writing literature reviews. Comprehensive evaluation should not only take into account the improvement of the students’ comprehensive language skills, but also their progress made in a particular sub-skill or a combination of sub-skills. Apart from measurable skills, communication and cooperative skills, critical and creative thinking potentials as demonstrated in the project-based group work should also be taken into account. The conventional idea of “evaluation for evaluation’s sake” and the practice of measuring students’ performance by the proficiency tests should be abandoned. It must be recognized that the major goal of assessment is to provide students with incentive and enthusiasm to continue study and to boost confidence in their own learning abilities.
Teaching assessment is not restricted to the students’ evaluation of teachers’ performance and the efficiency of the course they offer. It should include the teachers’ self-evaluation of their own courses and the materials adopted, the degree of their understanding of the stated goals of courses and of the way they assist students in reaching these goals. Course evaluation includes the analysis of the students’ needs before the course, and the survey of students’ feedback after the course, as well as a comprehensive self-assessment on all pedagogical activities, including assignments and examinations. Such evaluation is aimed to provide necessary modifications in teaching and to enhance effectiveness of instruction.
To provide further guidance for assessing students’ academic English competence and obtain useful feedback for teachers to improve EAP instruction, the
Test of English for Academic Purposes (TEAP, see design and a test sample in ) is developed in accordance with the www.ceapa.cn EAP Competence Scale. The battery of tests is run by non-institutional organizations and companies and is open to all students who have completed the EGAP program. Schools should encourage students to take an active part in the TEAP. Material Design and Development
Materials selection and writing is critical to the implementation of the
Framework. EAP materials should not to be mistaken for the materials of subject-based English which, mainly taught by subject specialists, focuses on content knowledge. They should also be distinguished from traditional EGP-based College English textbooks which emphasize interesting and educational themes, underscore idiomatic and elegant expressions, and exclude the texts written by non-native speakers even non-renowned writers. EAP materials, however, focus on informative nature of the chosen texts, not excluding academic prose written by non-native speakers.
EGAP materials, selected from broad disciplines—both humanities and natural sciences but entailing little disciplinary knowledge, but entailing little disciplinary knowledge, act as the carriers through which students’ academic skills such as listening, speaking, reading, and writing are properly trained. The selected texts shall feature general techniques in argumentative writing, including definition, classification, description, reporting, compare, contrast, elaboration, etc. If narrower disciplines are to be the focus, the ESAP materials should be introductory and most importantly representative of students’ target language use situation, such as the typical genre and language features of the discipline. They are not required to be systematic or complete in content. The principle of writing ESAP materials is to teach skills which empower the learners to study their subjects and communicate effectively in their target disciplines rather than to obtain content knowledge. Both EGAP and ESAP materials should be authentic in content and tasks: the structure and lexical choices of the original text may be retained to the best, including in-text citation; the selected texts be of adequate length (aiming for 2000 words) encompassing divergent texts on a certain issue; and the task design may focus on developing students’ skills in searching for information, writing literature review, reporting findings in the process of conducting project-based tasks.
School/discipline-based EAP materials, and ESAP materials in particular should be encouraged. It is suggested that colleges and universities of similar kinds should collaborate in developing ESP materials suitable for their own students or specific disciplines, in the light of the
Framework and theories in linguistics and EFL pedagogy. The school-based ESP materials call for joint efforts of language teachers, subject specialists, and English native speakers. They should be based on the analysis of students’ English proficiency the target situation analysis in various areas of specialty. Language teachers should consult subject specialists about the selection of content, topics, core vocabulary, and language proficiency targets. With their help, language teachers can search for appropriate teaching materials and design authentic tasks to fully satisfy the needs of students in the study of their target disciplines as well as in their future workplace situations. The school/discipline-based ESP textbooks should be developed with a future perspective and with demonstrative practical functions. In addition to the development of teaching materials, due stress should be laid on the building of ESP resource banks and corpora. The EGAP resource bank, for example, may include collections of audio-visual materials such as academic lectures of various difficulty levels and cases of avoiding plagiarism. The ESAP corpora may collect linguistic features (e.g. lexical bundles, formulaic language and collocation ) associated with different moves and functions of particular genres of a specific disciplines. Teacher Competence and Development
Qualified EAP teachers are the key to the implementation of EAP instruction. But first of all, there is a great need for a change in the traditional perception of EAP which has been misinterpreted as subject-based English or even bilingual teaching by most Chinese EFL teachers. It must be recognized that EAP teachers may not be sufficiently familiar with the disciplines of their target learners who will most likely be more knowledgeable about the content than the teachers, but they are expected to have a fair knowledge of the linguistic, textual, and stylistic features within a specific discipline for knowledge construction and dissemination. The role of EAP teachers is to draw on students’ knowledge of the content to generate communication in the classroom and to help students develop academic language skills which are useful in the study of their disciplines rather than to help them acquire knowledge of their subjects. In short, the responsibility resides with EAP teachers to help learners use English effectively in the study of their major disciplines. A paradigm shift from EGP to EAP necessitates a change of the methodology used traditionally by language teachers. EAP practitioners should be able to perform both the needs analysis of entrants including their language proficiency and of the target situation (e.g. the genres and language requirement of their disciplines). Instead of the mere analysis of discourse structure and language usage of a text, EAP teachers are also required to guide students to evaluate the authors’ arguments by reading and comparing external sources of the same topic, to identify their stance and bias through the analysis of metadiscourse they use and to check the reliability of the evidence they offer and the conclusion they draw. In teaching writing, they are required to evaluate students’ ability to support their arguments and claims by using evidence both empirical and literature with correct citation conventions and formal language style as well as the accuracy of grammar and the language they use. Essential knowledge, skills and attitudes required for an EAP teacher are captured in the
Framework for EAP Teacher Development
Framework for EAP teacher development
Several suggestions are proposed for ESP teacher training. First, the workload of novice ESP teachers should be lightened so that they can receive a minimal one-semester in-service training course, during which they will study ESP theories more systematically, carry out case studies of ESP teaching and write ESP and EAP teaching materials to have a better understanding of ESP theories. They will also audit the classes of discipline professors to identify students’ difficulty with language and their learning needs. Additionally, schools can create better opportunities to involve teachers in overseas ESP teacher training programs. Second, ESP teachers should be encouraged to attend ESP/EAP conferences or workshops held both nationally and internationally. ESP experts might be invited to hold a series of ESP lectures for them. ESP teachers might also attend the colleagues’ ESP classes to share teaching experience with each other. Third, ESP teachers need to cooperate with subject specialists, whose discipline knowledge can help them gain a better understanding of basic content knowledge and stay informed of the latest development of the particular discipline, its language and sub-genre features of the discipline-specific discourse and needed language skills and communicative strategies for disciplinary study and professional work.