Colleagues in departments tell me that they want international students to be able to participate, think critically analytically, and to be in touch with what’s going on in the real world. This last issue seems – to me at least – to be underrepresented in the wider world of EAP teaching, but it’s a potentially rich seam of potential for the teacher and learner alike. Students who can apply theory to practice are valued by their departments, and if doing so involves applying the academic to the real world then perhaps EAP courses should be paying more attention to what’s going on outside of the classroom.
In the early stages of EAP courses, I like to get students involved in a reading-to-write project using whatever is in the news and of interest to them. The students pick a news item (from a “simpler” source like the BBC News if proficiency levels are low), read a text that reports it, and then attempt to write a very brief summary (50-100 words, depending on the students) to explain to me what it’s about. I’ll typically given them question prompts as guidance (see below).