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Volume 2, Issue 2 Autumn 2014 [Type a quote from the document or the summary of an interesting point. You can position

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The International Student Experience Journal

Editorial Phil Horspool, University of Leicester Articles  From Six to One Hundred-Sixty Three: The Chinese International Student Experience in a Time of Increased Enrolment at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Adrian Ramos  Developing Middle Eastern EAP Learners’ Critical Thinking Skills through Contextualised and Reflective Teaching Materials. Lone Goulani  Concurrent validity and EAP instructor-assessed final grades. Scott Douglas Student article  The Graduate Entrepreneur Visa: My journey from an international student to a career in the UK. Chi-Fen Lin Conference review  Norwegian Forum for English for Academic Purposes, 8th Summer Seminar  Acculturation and Internationalisation: Reflections from a Symposium at Kingston University Special feature  Interview with Bob Athwal, University of Leicester


ISEJ – International Student Experience Journal

Editorial Phil Horspool University of Leicester Welcome to the fourth issue of ISEJ. Once again we are delighted with the range of articles and features covered in this issue. We are extremely happy that ISEJ is able to offer different kinds of articles from other journals which cover similar areas of interest and we believe that this is the great strength of the journal. Once again we are pleased to feature a student article and this time we offer a fascinating insight into the journey of extending your UK stay and making the transition from a student to an entrepreneur.

It covers the difficulties, the frustrations, the excitement and the

successes and failures of Jerry, a University graduate, who sets up his own business through the Tier 1 visa route. This issue also contains its first interview as ISEJ ask the University of Leicester’s new Director of student experience where international students fit into his role and what he sees as the priorities for helping them maximise the benefits of a UK education. 1 We try to cover some of the main conferences and forums and this time Stella Harvey and Paul Stocks give us their take on the 8th Summer Norwegian Forum for EAP held in Oslo and this is a welcome summary for those many of unable to attend. In addition Sian Lund, Ursula Wingate and David Killick reflect on the Acculturation and Internationalisation symposium held at Kingston University in September 2014. This issue also offers two geographical firsts with contributors from Canada and Kurdistan. From Canada Scott Douglas argues that the importance of validity for those institutions offering English language proficiency courses and the relationship with international tests. From Kurdistan, Lone Goulani shares her ideas about using contextualised materials to promote the development of EAP learners’ critical thinking skills.

Thanks to all our contributors, reviewers and proof-readers. http://www.facebook.com/InternationalStudentExperienceJournal https://twitter.com/ISExpJournal

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The Chinese International Student Experience in a Time of Increased Enrolment at the University of California, Santa Barbara Adrian Ramos University of California, Santa Barbara Abstract From 2010 to 2013, the number of degree-seeking Chinese international students at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) increased from 82 to 596. This number includes both undergraduate and graduate students. With such a controversial and much discussed topic of international student enrolment at US universities, this was the perfect time for me to interview Chinese international students in order to determine what their overall university experience is like and what challenges arise. The interviews revealed that Chinese students had highly educated parents whose intention had been to send their children abroad from an early age. In combination with the collectivist conservative culture and the concept of filial piety (Deutsch, 2004) this creates hard-working students with a drive to attend prestigious universities for academic, cultural and social reasons. My study and previous research have shown that Chinese international students focus on academic study first and leisure second (Li & Stodolska, 2006) and that they face both academic and social challenges. Academically, challenges arose with completing academic papers on time and learning how to interact with American students in the classroom. Half of the students recommended more social activities to help build relationships with American students. ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Introduction In a time of budget cuts, rising tuition fees and financial issues, university staff must concern themselves with how these issues may create a challenging and stressful college experience. Will increased international student enrolment further exacerbate the experience of living in a new university culture? Some of the common challenges that Chinese international students have faced in the US are well known. They range from diminished English-speaking skills, conflict between the Chinese collectivist and US individualistic cultures and discrimination (Qin, 2009). This study will address the challenges that arise with a large enrolment of Chinese international students. The main purpose of this study is to research, identify and define the experience and impact of an increased Chinese international student population. This is important because the campus faculty, students and staff have not previously dealt with an increased number of challenges arising from a larger Chinese international student population. It is important to question what impact Chinese international students will have on the campus community and improve upon the resources that are needed in order for them to be successful both academically and socially.

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Research Design The theoretical framework for this research is based upon socio-cultural theory developed by the Russian psychologist Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky. This theory focuses on the process of learning and development (Daniels, 2001). This is practical for the international student experience which is shaped by the new educational, social and cultural environment. Grounded theory allows for a moving between the collecting of data and analysing the research results (Charmaz, 2006). The components of grounded theory that I used are: simultaneous involvement in data collection and analysis; constructing codes and categories from data; constant comparing of data; continually advancing a theory during research; memo writing; sampling aimed towards theory construction; and conducting the literature review after or during analysis (Glaser, 1978; Strauss, 1987). The method that I determined to cause the least interference with my interviewees’ university experience was the intensive interview method. This involved one-on-one interviews with 12 undergraduate and graduate students (4 male and 8 female), follow-up interviews, and transcribing, coding, and analysing the interviews. The computer software AntConc 3.2 was shown to be useful in ‘counting frequencies’ and ‘data display’ for organisation of interview transcription (Miles & Huberman, 1994). The program extracts keywords and aids in developing theory with concordance plots and interview files. Findings Social and Cultural Issues The higher enrolment of Chinese international students has had an immediate impact on the tendency and preference to interact with American students. With the low number of Chinese students enrolled at UCSB in 2010, one of my Chinese interviewees mentioned that she forced herself to interact with students from other cultures that year. This helped to improve her English and also to understand American culture. In the following years, with the increase in Chinese student enrolment, she tended not to interact with American students so often. Although more Chinese students now have a great opportunity in attending UCSB, they also have limited opportunities to improve their English if they choose to interact only with other Chinese students. One interviewee (Sammy) mentioned that there are various groups of students who stay with their own ethnic group and often speak with one another in their first language. This creates a problem when trying to understand other ethnic groups, as there is no common language. Sammy recommended a course on which students can enrol in order to understand various cultures better. A female undergraduate interviewee (Cindy) was of the opinion that American students just go ‘crazy’ when they party at UCSB because the legal drinking age is late at 21 years compared to 18 years in China. She also said that socialising and drinking among friends in China takes on several different styles and is done at an earlier age. At UCSB the social lifestyle to meet other students is unique and the way Americans party is difficult for some of the Chinese students to understand. Cindy and half of the interviewees mentioned that more activities were needed to bring Chinese and American students together. Personality Types and Acculturation Issues Fifty per cent of the interviewees portrayed American students as being more outgoing and outspoken, while Chinese students tended to be more conservative. The ‘outgoing’ ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014

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personality of the American students is something interviewees had to get used to during the first school year. One interviewee (Angie) mentioned that hanging out with American friends was just a different experience from hanging out with Chinese friends. For her this was not a negative but just the way the two cultures are different. Relationships According to Lin and Yi (1997), some Chinese students experience language barriers, loneliness and relationship problems. Half of the interviewees found it difficult to express themselves to Americans due to language barriers. This communication problem was true for both males and females. The language barrier created relationship problems for three of the interviewees. Loneliness was more common among graduate students than undergraduate students as the social network is smaller and they are often in the laboratory. Recreational Activities One aspect of recreational activities that was new to Chinese students was the amount of time American students spend at the gym and exercising. For 50 per cent of the interviewees, in China it was common to stay in one’s room and study or play video games. Playing sports was common in high school and some participated in sports, but lifting weights at the gym and running were not as prevalent in their activities. For Chinese students, reasons to go to the UCSB Recreation Centre are based upon accepted cultural activities among UCSB students and access to exercise equipment. Compared to socialising, the exercising aspect of the UCSB lifestyle was more accepted by several of the interviewees. Perceived Discrimination Thirty-three per cent of interviewees perceived themselves to be targets of prejudice and stereotypical views. One interviewee (Wayne) recognised that Americans could view the Chinese as a threat due to their coming to the US to study and work. Wayne suggested creating social activities to improve cultural understanding. Educational Differences and Instructional Methods Two academic issues appeared in interviewees’ testimonies with both undergraduate and graduate students. These included problems with using English for academic purposes and difficulties in adapting to the classroom environment. The first issue of using English academically arose as Chinese graduate students dealt with written assignments that had deadlines and required strong writing skills. Even after years of writing and speaking English in China, it is a challenge when students have to write and speak at a university where English is the primary language.The second issue of adaptation to the US classroom occurred due to the contrasting classroom norms in China and the US. Chinese students are used to listening to the teacher’s lecture without classroom discussion, interaction or interruption by fellow students. In an American classroom two interviewees were shocked and annoyed when a student asked an unnecessary question. ‘Work hard now, socialise later’ Academic milestones are prioritised over social activities for 50 per cent of interviewees. Academic assignments directly affected the social activities in which a student participated, such as clubs, sports and travel. Much of this mindset is based upon the high value placed on academic achievement for Chinese students and the pressure to complete academic tasks. ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014

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Professorial and Staff Mentorship Three female interviewees mentioned that professors and campus staff had mentored them in their educational pursuits and had also been good friends. These students mentioned that professors introduced them to new subjects that helped open their minds to pursue new educational paths. Discussion of Findings and Implications Implications of the Study Findings First, it is the university’s responsibility to welcome Study Abroad students so that they feel a sense of community. By welcome I mean for Americans to invite Chinese students to their social activities and to build healthy relationships. Chinese students should feel comfortable at American social events and not feel unsafe or awkward. Secondly, it takes an understanding of Chinese culture, history and social norms to learn to communicate properly with Chinese students. As Michael Agar mentioned in Language Shock (1994), communication requires knowledge of another’s culture due to differences in meaning. Communication between persons of different cultures and understanding thereof requires patience and a desire to learn by the host culture. Thirdly, when issues do arise for Chinese students, whether educational or social, it is the responsibility of the host culture to assist those students. We have seen the issues that may arise for Chinese students ranging from language shock, difficulties in social engagement and working with various cultures in the classroom. It is the professional duty of university staff to offer services to Chinese students when challenges arise. UCSB has taken steps to improve the Chinese international student experience. First, they have hired two Mandarin-speaking psychologists to serve the students’ counselling needs. Secondly, a course entitled Education 20: Introduction to the University Experience has been tailored to international students and covers student subcultures, student rights and personal growth. Thirdly, the Education Abroad Office and the Office of International Students & Scholars have created social activities for international students to socialise with American students. Limitation of the Study A limitation is that my research was conducted solely at UCSB and did not involve other campuses or American universities. Therefore, I am unable to make comparisons between Chinese international students throughout the UC system in which each campus culture varies.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR ARamos@eap.ucop.edu

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References Agar, M., 1994. Language Shock: Understanding the Culture of Conversation. New York, NY: HarperCollins. Anthony, L., 2011. AntConc (Version 3.2.2) Computer Software. Tokyo, Japan: Waseda University. Available at http://www.antlab.sci.waseda.ac.jp/ [Accessed April 1, 2013]. Charmaz, K., 2006. Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide through Qualitative Analysis. London: Sage. Daniels, H., 2001. Vygotsky and Pedagogy. New York, NY: RoutledgeFalmer. Deutsch, F., 2004. How Parents Influence the Life Plans of Graduating Chinese University Students. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 35(3), pp.393–421. Glaser, B.G., 1978. Theoretical Sensitivity. Mill Valley, CA: The Sociology Press. Li, M., & Stodolska, M., 2006. Transnationalism, Leisure, and Chinese Graduate Students in the United States. Leisure Sciences, 28, pp.39–55. Lin, J.C.G., & Yi, J.K., 1997. Asian international students’ adjustment: Issues and program suggestions. College Student Journal, 31, pp. 473–479. Miles, M.B., & Huberman, A.M., 1994. Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook (2nd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Qin, D., 2009. Crossing Borders: International Women Students in American Higher Education. Maryland, MN: University Press of America. Strauss, A.L., 1987. Qualitative Analysis for Social Scientists. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Cover photo: Dukan Lake near Sulaimani, Kurdistan, Iraq. Creative Commons License ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014

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MEET THE ISEJ EDITORIAL BOARD Philip Horspool - Chief Editor. Phil has been teaching English since 1988. He worked in Barcelona for 8 years before starting to work as an EAP tutor in the English Language Teaching Unit at the University of Leicester. He is now the Assistant Director of a department which has up to 1000 students on its pre-sessional summer courses and has a diverse range of in-sessional, Erasmus and Cambridge exam preparation courses. He is particularly interested in enhancing the student experience and has carried out various pieces of research in this area. Dr Chris Lima – Academic Editor. Chris has been an English language teacher and teacher training since 1995. Her research focuses on the role of literature in English language education and on teacher development. She is currently the coordinator of the IATEFL, Literature, Media and Cultural Studies Special Interest Group, the coordinator of the ELT Online Reading Group, and a board member of the Extensive Reading Foundation. She teaches at the ELTU at the University of Leicester. Caroline Burns – Book and Conference Reviews Editor. Caroline Burns (B.A. Hons Spanish with French, P.G.C.E., MA Applied Linguistics) is Lecturer of English Language and Academic Skills at Northumbria University. A member of BALEAP, she has worked collaboratively with Martin Foo, of Newcastle Business School at Northumbria to evaluate their efforts to embed academic literacy within business programmes. Caroline is currently pursuing doctoral studies at Newcastle University, focussing on the Internationalisation of UK Higher Education and how students narrate their experience of this. Dr Ellie Kennedy – Students’ Contributions Editor. Ellie is enjoying a diverse career in Higher Education. After working as a lecturer in German Studies at Queen’s University in Canada, she moved into the role of EAP tutor - and sometime coordinator - at Nottingham Trent International College. More recently, she has taken up a post in Academic Development at Nottingham Trent University. Her academic interests include pedagogical issues, feminist approaches to culture, and the use of EAP techniques across the curriculum. Ricky Lowes – Book and Conference Reviews Editor. Ricky has been teaching and training teachers since 1981, and now works as a lecturer in the English Language Centre at Plymouth University. Her professional interests are academic vocabulary learning, peer learning, promoting intercultural exchanges between students, and materials development. She is currently carrying out research into the responses of Chinese students to classroom activities. She has published a number of books in the field of ELT and a website on the Academic Word List. ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014

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Developing Middle Eastern EAP Learners’ Critical Thinking Skills through Contextualised and Reflective Teaching Materials Lone Goulani University of Kurdistan-Hewler ABSTRACT Middle Eastern students are often categorised as passive learners lacking autonomy and the ability to reflect and think critically. This paper reveals how critical thinking skills can be developed through various classroom tasks which encourage reflection and critical evaluation of sources both in pre-sessional EAP courses as well as throughout the students’ academic career. Furthermore, it will discuss tasks and classroom materials tailor-made for EAP students at the University of Kurdistan – Hewler, in order to improve their higher order thinking skills. ………………………………………………………………………………………………… Introduction A common debate regarding critical thinking is often related to the learners’ level of critical thinking skills due to their educational and cultural background. In this discussion, Western students are generally characterised as more autonomous and critical than other learners from around the world, whereas the stereotypical picture of students from the Middle East is characterised by a lack of autonomy, time management skills, and a reflective approach to their own learning (Derderian-Aghajanian & Cong, 2012, Ahmed & Mahrus, 2010). This should not be seen as an indication of Middle Eastern learners being less intelligent than university students from other parts of the world, but a sign of how their educational background has not provided them with the tools and opportunities to engage in critical thinking. Teachers at the University of Kurdistan (UKH) have clearly identified to a high degree that the majority of their students need to develop critical thinking skills. There is a need to understand how Middle Eastern students can engage critically in various task types in the EAP classroom and, additionally, a need to know how EAP instructors can support international students’ development of critical thinking skills instead of the tendency to become frustrated and criticise students’ lack of understanding and engagement in the teaching materials. Set in this context, this paper argues that EAP instructors as well as undergraduate (UG) lecturers have to be aware of the importance of gradually developing Middle Eastern students’ autonomy and critical thinking skills throughout the students’ academic career. This will be shown in a discussion of how various classroom tasks take the cultural and educational background of students at UKH into consideration when preparing teaching materials that feature in the academic demands of the critical learner. Literature Review on Critical Thinking The Middle Eastern classroom is often characterised as being a passive learning environment consisting of students with an educational background mainly based on lectures, memorisation and examinations (Ahmed & Mahrus, 2010). As a result, many Middle Eastern ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014

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students are unfamiliar with project-based work, group work and small scale research such unfamiliarity is sometimes perceived by Western teachers as an indolent avoidance of autonomous learning and a lack of critical thinking skills. According to many researchers in Western universities, students not only “…have to become competent language users and autonomous agents who are capable of independent thinking and action” (Illés, 2012, p.506) but also have to engage in higher order thinking. This means, for example, the ability to evaluate and analyse (Bloom, 1956). Likewise, EAP instructors as well as UG lecturers at UKH often refer to the importance of critical thinking skills, for example, by mentioning it in curriculum documents. Critical thinking is a complex term defined in numerous ways and valued in many academic institutions. Questioning, thinking about alternatives and being able to make theoretical abstract comparisons is often the academic directive, but in fact there is no fixed definition that describes what critical thinking means exactly even though there are various attempts at explaining its complex nature. In this paper, however, I refer to Young’s (1992) definition of critical thinking as the link into the students’ experiences, where students can then apply critical analysis. At UKH, this understanding of a critical approach to sources implies that teachers should provide the students with the opportunity to contextualise the learning materials in their own Kurdish, Iraqi or (as a minimum) the Middle Eastern context. However, this is not a ground breaking perspective. Even in the 1950s, Bloom stated that students have to understand what they are studying before they can successfully develop their higher order thinking skills such as applying, analysing, and evaluating (Bloom, 1956). Many EAP materials are departing from the Anglo Saxon focus to a wider range of global topics (Valente, 2008), and new materials at UKH have been developed by the EAP instructors to contextualise the teaching materials in order for students to be able to engage critically with the tasks. Another method of developing EAP students’ critical skills could be completed through various reflective tasks. As Finlay (2008) explains, there are various perceptions of the term reflection, and how it can be used in a learning environment. According to Aliakbari and Faraji (2011), teachers can contribute to students’ ability to think critically by asking questions that encourage students to reflect on their own experiences, opinions, and thoughts. Reflective tasks could also be postscripts to essays (Cavdar & Doe, 2012), reading reaction journals (Evans, 2008) or simple reflective paragraphs which could be labelled as “metacognitive tasks which require learners to reflect on their progress.” (Nosratinia & Zaker, 2013, p.111). Similar to Bloom (1956), Gibbs’ (1988) stages leading to deeper reflection can be used as a model of how teachers can help students to reflect by guiding them through various levels of thinking such as description, evaluation and reflection. Without having learnt what it actually means to describe, evaluate and analyse, it is challenging for the students to reflect. However, it is possible for the teacher to provide the students with various scaffolding tools that gradually lead to critical reflection. To illustrate the contextualised and reflective teaching approach to encourage criticality, a few classroom tasks in the EAP classroom at UKH that have been adapted to the students’ cultural and educational background will be evaluated in the following sections. Contextualised Teaching Materials One way to contextualise the materials at UKH was to link the topics to the Kurdish context where the students were able to use their present knowledge of topics such as health, ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014

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sociology, and media to engage in the materials more critically. As an example, a model Compare and Contrast essay regarding the Kurdish and Nordic diet was written in order to be deconstructed by the students in order that they could become familiar with the building blocks of an essay and later construct their own compare and contrast essays. Another task involved the students giving a presentation on the advantages and disadvantages of different Kurdish newspapers. As the students understood the Kurdish context, this approach created a new classroom dynamic as in a discussion of reliable sources, they f were able to discuss different perspectives on politically biased TV channels in the region and critically challenge the validity of sources of information from various Kurdish newspapers and webpages. The contextualised materials clearly engaged students in discussion and different perspectives and arguments became evident. As they used topics and a context that linked into their present knowledge, the focus suddenly shifted from unpacking an Anglo Saxon context to teaching and engaging critically in EAP. Some students were sceptical about information in a model essay that mentioned the increasing number of young men who wanted a nose job in Mosul (Elias, 2012) and they questioned the facts and the reliability of this source. They did not blindly accept the information presented to them. This demonstrated critical thinking skills for the rest of the class and was a good starting point with regard to becoming a more critical reader and asking critical questions. Thus, by contextualising the teaching materials, students were able to develop their critical thinking skills. Reflective Tasks Another method to develop critical thinking was to ask students to post their reflections on various topics but for many students it appeared to be a difficult task to express their personal opinions about simple topics like their progress and individual strengths and weaknesses and many tended to write general descriptive paragraphs. On occasion, many even copied directly from internet sources despite being provided with model reflective paragraphs and thorough explanations in class. However, if the students were able to find their personal voice, it provided a useful insight into the challenges and achievements each student found to be part of their learning process which was then used as an example for the rest of the class to illustrate what it meant to reflect upon a question or topic. Based on this experience, the instructors later decided that all students in the English foundation programme at UKH had to write reflective paragraphs to engage in critical thinking by reflecting on topics from the classroom either by using reflective tasks from textbooks (e.g. Slaught, 2012) or via questions posed by the teacher after the students had obtained some knowledge about a topic. A pre-sessional EAP class at UKH could include a task where students have to describe Kurdish newspapers, evaluate their advantages and disadvantages, and reflect on how reliable these sources are. In an in-sessional EAP class, reaching the level of critical reflection has developed into a more challenging task where students have to write an annotated bibliography including elements like the description of main points in a text, an evaluation of the validity of the source, and a personal reflection on the usefulness of this source in their own research. In this way, the EAP instructor gradually increases the complexity of the task and supports the students in reaching levels of critical thinking.

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Inspired by Cavdar & Doe (2012), another in-sessional reflective task at UKH is reflective postscripts to academic compositions, where students reflect on peer reviews or teacher feedback and write a reflective piece of writing about how the feedback has been incorporated in the final draft of the submitted composition. This critical approach to own learning improves the final draft and assists the students in making more informed decisions in the future. This can easily be completed through the plagiarism tool Turnitin where the teacher can post questions to help the students reflect on student feedback, the weaknesses of their composition, and how the draft could be improved. Discussion Despite the opportunity to develop the EAP learners´ critical thinking skills, a contextualised and reflective approach might be met with scepticism by both students and the academic institution. Firstly, a textbook that matches the learners’ cultural and educational background is difficult to find. Consequently, students will have to rely on in-house materials, but at UKH this option of exposing students to materials prepared by instructors was considered too risky by the administration which feared students would consider these home-made materials ‘unprofessional’. Preparing Kurdish contextualised teaching materials was also found to be a rewarding yet time consuming experience for the EAP instructors at UKH, and in practice was very challenging to produce the materials continuously as the students developed their language. These concerns were raised by the UKH management who stated that published EAP materials were applicable to all EAP courses around the world and from the top down EAP instructors were advised to present lectures using the available EAP materials where extensive feedback was considered unnecessary as the strategy was that as soon as possible students should become accustomed to the autonomous learning environment in an academic context. This might be the right approach for post-graduate students, but due to the majority of students’ underdeveloped critical thinking skills, this academic skill could be nurtured in a pre-sessional EAP course. It is therefore argued that developing students’ higher thinking skills implies an adaptation of the teaching materials to the local context and the instructors’ ability to ask questions that link into the students’ experiences and thoughts. Studies have shown that by contextualising the materials around the student journey so to speak, the learning environment will not only empower the students with higher order thinking skills but also be more motivating (Mahrus and Ahmed, 2010). This was confirmed in both student and teacher feedback at UKH. Due to working with the students’ lower order thinking skills such as understanding the topic and the relevance, they were able to critically engage in the materials and reflect on the topics instead of constantly trying to understand what the topic was. The importance of reflecting ‘is a practice which forces and challenges the learners to think creatively and critically, and to adopt a critical attitude towards the world’ (Kabilan, 1999, p.3). Conclusion Generally speaking, there are ways to develop Middle Eastern students’ critical thinking skills instead of labelling this group negatively. Preparing the students at UKH to think critically is a little complex, but contextualised materials and reflective tasks strategies may develop this. ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014

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These tasks provide ways in which teachers can engage EAP learners in critical thinking. Reading roles, group work, presentations, and project based work are other strategies to cultivate students’ critical thinking skills, which can be implemented to various degrees in a pre-sessional year for the learners to be introduced to the higher demands in UG. Despite the use of a textbook with global topics, it is still important to have a student centred classroom environment where the EAP learners’ educational and cultural background is taken into consideration when preparing classroom tasks that can develop the students’ ability to think critically. It is clear that students in a one year pre-sessional EAP course will have not yet fully developed their critical thinking skills at this relatively early stage in their academic careers. This should be seen as an ongoing process bearing in mind the importance of lecturers who will continue to contribute to the development of the learners’ higher order thinking skills when the students have been accepted onto their UG programmes. CONTACT THE AUTHOR l.bendixen@ukh.ac References Ahmed, A. & Mahrus, A. A., 2010. A Cross-Cultural Investigation of Students’ Perceptions of the Effectiveness of Pedagogical Tools: The Middle East, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Journal of Studies in International Education, 14(3), pp. 289-306. Aliakbari, M. & Faraji, E., 2011. 2nd International Conference on Humanities, Historical and Social Sciences, IPEDR vol.17, IACSIT Press, Singapore. Bloom, B. (ed.) et al., 1956, Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Handbook I: Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay. Çavdar, G. & Doe, S., 2012. Learning through Writing: Teaching Critical Thinking Skills in Writing Assignments. PS: Political Science & Politics, 45(02), pp.298–306. Derderian-Aghajanian, A & Cong, W.C., 2012, How Culture Affects on English Language Learners’ (ELL’s) Outcomes, with Chinese and Middle Eastern Immigrant Students, International Journal of Business and Social Science, 3(5), pp. 172-180. Elias, S., 2012, Nose job: Mosul men go under knife for good looks. [Online] Available at http://www.niqash.org/articles/?id=3170 Accessed [25 Oct 2014] Evans, S., 2008, Reading reaction journals in EAP courses, ELT Journal, 62(3), pp.240-247. Finlay, L, 2008, Reflecting on reflective practice. [Online] Available at http://www.lead4change.org/downloads/session_two_module_1/Reflecting%20on%2 0Reflective%20Practice.pdf [Accessed 06 Oct 2014] Gibbs, G., 1988. Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. London: Further Education Unit. Illes E., 2012, Learner autonomy revisited. ELT Journal, 66(4), pp.505–513. ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014

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Kabilan, M. K., 1999, Creative and Critical Thinking in Language Classrooms. The Internet TESL Journal, 6 (6) [Online] Available at http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Kabilan-CriticalThinking.html [Accessed 05 Oct.2014] Nosratinia, M. & Zaker, A., 2013, Autonomous Learning and Critical Thinking: Inspecting The Association among EFL Learners. [Online] Available at http://www.civilica.com/Paper-TELT01-TELT01_226.html [Accessed 28 Feb.2014] Slaught, J., 2013, English for Academic Study, Reading Course Book. Reading: Garnet. Valente, D., 2008, Equal Opportunity and Diversity: The Handbook for Teachers of English British Council. [Online] Available at http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/equal-opportunity-diversity-handbookteachers-english [Accessed 5 Jan. 2014]. Young, R., 1992, Critical Theory and Classroom Talk. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

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Concurrent validity and EAP instructor-assessed final grades Scott Roy Douglas University of British Columbia

ABSTRACT Establishing the validity of EAP pathways is important for assuring stakeholders that these pathways are a viable alternative to standardised English language testing. This study was carried out to gather evidence contributing to the concurrent validity of instructor-assessed final exit grades in an EAP program. Correlational analysis (Pearson r) examined the relationship between final grades and concurrently obtained scores on the TOEFL ITP. Results point to statistically significant moderate correlations. While the results contribute to evidence of concurrent validity, the constructs tested by the TOEFL ITP and represented by the instructor-assessed final exit grades appear to diverge in meaningful ways. …………………………………………………………………………………………………. Introduction In countries such as Canada, recruiting increasing numbers of international students is an important national goal. For example, Canada aims to double the current number of international students to 450,000 learners by the year 2022 (Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, 2014). For Canadian universities, such as the University of British Columbia (UBC), most international students from non-English speaking backgrounds have to meet the English Language Admission Standard (ELAS). A common way to meet the ELAS is by providing the required level of approved standardised English language proficiency test scores. However, for academically admissible students who do not meet the required standardised English language proficiency test scores, EAP programs, such as the English Foundation Program (EFP) on UBC’s Okanagan campus, provide an instructorassessed pathway to admission as an alternative to English language testing options of the ELAS. As the number of international students from non-English speaking backgrounds eligible for UBC admission but not meeting the ELAS increases, the importance of ensuring the validity of instructor-assessed pathways to university, such as the EFP, is necessary for maintaining the legitimacy of an instructor-assessed entrance to mainstream university studies. The current study aims to explore the use of independently administered assessments of academic language proficiency as a means to contribute evidence to the validity of instructor-assessed EAP pathways to higher education. Background Instead of standardised English language proficiency scores, one way to promote the development of the academic English language proficiency needed for successful engagement with the educational opportunities afforded by undergraduate studies at an English medium university is by providing English language pathway programs as an alternative entry point to higher education. These pathway programs can have multiple characteristics, but typically they accept academically qualified students who are just below the English language proficiency requirements mandated by the institution. These programs ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014

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house EAP courses aiming to develop the academic English language proficiency needed for higher education in English. Depending on the program, students may or may not be conditionally admitted to a regular program of academic studies and may or may not be able to take concurrent academic courses counting towards their degree requirements. In Australia, a country with large numbers of international students from non-English speaking backgrounds, Murray and O’Loughlin (2007) have called for large-scale tracking studies of international students passing through English language pathways into university. They point out that program requirements and academic outcomes are not standardised across Australia and nor are they monitored externally. Because of this, Murray and O’Loughlin contend that public confidence in the ability of EAP programs to prepare students for university studies can be undermined by “a perception of possibly fluid equivalence arrangements between institutions and ELT providers which might appear to allow direct entry by students through other than formal test regimes” (p. 19). This lack of public confidence is also found in the Canadian context. An article in the Kamloops Daily News (Paillard, 2012) echoes these sentiments with the perception that a shortcut is given to international students gaining access to higher education through pathway programs because these students do not undergo standardised testing, with universities instead relying on the assessment of the language pathway provider. One possible way to gain public confidence could be by establishing the validity of EAP final grades. Validity can be conceptualized as the extent to which a score represents what it claims to represent. In this case, the scores under examination are the instructor-assessed final exit grades in the EFP. One of the major goals of the EFP is the development of advanced academic English language proficiency. Thus, it can be reasonably assumed that the exit level final grades represent an assessment of advanced academic English language proficiency. If evidence can be provided that the final grades are in fact measuring advanced academic English language proficiency, they can be accepted as having validity. One aspect of validity is that of concurrent validity. Concurrent validity can be established for one set of measures by correlating them with a second set of measures gathered in the same time frame and generally accepted to be measuring the same construct (Gay, Mills, & Airasian, 2012). In the current study, the second set of measures chosen is the TOEFL ITP. If there appears to be a correlational relationship between a set of TOEFL ITP scores and a set of instructorassessed final exit grades, this will contribute to providing evidence of the validity of the final grades and the EFP. The overarching research question for the current study was concerned with whether the instructor-assessed final exit grades were valid. The refined question was as follows: What is the relationship between the EAP instructor-assessed final exit grades and concurrently obtained TOEFL ITP scores? Procedures Participants Located on UBC’s Okanagan campus, the EFP is designed for students who are academically admissible to UBC, but who have not met the ELAS. On successfully completing the EFP, students are guaranteed full admission to their programs of study on UBC’s Okanagan campus. Participants were recruited from students registered in the exit level EFP course. Data were gathered over two semesters in 2012/2013 and two semesters in 2013/2014. From a potential pool of 85 EFP students, 65 students agreed to participate in the study, representing 76% of the EFP exit level student population during the time frame under study. ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014

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Instructor-assessed final grades The exit level of the EFP consists of an integrated skills EAP course. The course runs for 13 weeks, with 20 hours of classes and language labs per week. Course work contributing to the final grades consists of a variety of assignments with a language through content focus. No more than 40% of the final grade comes from an instructor prepared final exam. TOEFL Institutional Testing Program The TOEFL ITP evaluates academic English language proficiency in the domains of listening proficiency, structure and written expression, and reading. A sub-score is produced for each of these domains, as well as an overall score. The test papers are formerly administered versions of the TOEFL paper-based test. The test duration is two hours, with 50 listening comprehension questions, 40 structure and written expression questions, and 50 reading questions for a total of 140 questions (ETS Canada, n.d.). Procedures Correlational analysis was used to investigate evidence contributing to the concurrent validity of instructor-assessed final exit level grades by comparing the final grades to scores provided by the TOEFL ITP administered towards the end of each semester during the study. Scores from the TOEFL ITP were compared with the final grades by correlating TOEFL ITP overall scores and sub-scores with the final grades using the product moment correlation coefficient (Pearson r). All statistical analyses were carried out with IBM SPSS 22. 16 Results Correlational analysis revealed there were statistically significant moderate positive correlations between the EFP final grades and the overall TOEFL ITP scores (r = .55, n = 65, p < 0.01), the EFP final grades and the Listening Comprehension sub-score (r = .41, n = 65, p < 0.01), the EFP final grades and the Structure and Written Expression sub-score (r = .35, n = 65, p < 0.01), and the EFP final grades and the Reading sub-score (r = .51, n = 65, p < 0.01). Overall, as the EFP final grades increased, there was an accompanying general increase in TOEFL ITP scores and sub-scores. Discussion The strongest relationship, with a moderate positive correlation, was between the overall TOEFL ITP scores and the instructor-assessed final exit grades. The next strongest correlation was the moderate positive correlation between the TOEFL ITP Reading sub-score and instructor-assessed final exit grades. There also appeared to be a relationship, although weaker but still moderate, between listening skills, as measured by the TOEFL ITP, and the EFP final grades. The weakest, but still moderate, relationship was between Structure and Written Expression and the EFP final grades. The results of this study represent an important step towards establishing the validity of the EFP as a pathway to undergraduate programs at UBC’s Okanagan campus. Because of the moderate relationships between what is being measured by the TOEFL ITP and instructor-assessed final grades, it can be said that they are in part measuring the same construct of academic English. This relationship contributes to confirming that the EFP final ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014


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exit grades are a reflection of participants’ academic English language proficiency. In addition, the lack of very strong positive correlations between the two sets of measures does not point to the failure of EFP final exit grades in providing meaningful information regarding the academic language proficiency of participants. Rather, the TOEFL ITP scores represent a single sample of participants’ abilities at a moment in time, whereas the EFP final grades represent a broader meaningful measure of the wide range of skills associated with academic preparation, including, but not limited to, academic language proficiency. It has to be remembered that the TOEFL ITP examines a specific range of language skills. In the Listening section of the TOEFL ITP, test-takers are examined on their ability to comprehend conversations and talks students typical of English speaking post-secondary institutions. In the Structure and Written Expression section students attempt to recognise suitable language for standard written English. In the final Reading section, students are tested on reading and comprehending short reading passages (ETS, 2014). However, the instructor-assessed final grades represent a wider range of abilities than what the TOEFL ITP tests. The instructor-assessed final grades represent multiple incidences of assessment of student work over an entire semester in a variety of format and modalities. This work promotes advanced communication skills with students participating in “complex academic activities and situations involving multiple purposes and participants” (Ortis, 2014, p. 1). As a result, very strong correlations between TOEFL ITP scores and EFP final grades would not be expected as the two measures diverge somewhat in what they are purporting to measure. However, some convergence is expected in that part of what the EFP aims to do is foster advanced academic English language proficiency. All in all, the preliminary results of the present study contribute to understanding that what is being tested by the TOEFL ITP is related in part to what is being represented by the EFP final grades. If validity is the extent to which a measure represents what it claims to measure, the preliminary results of the current study can play a role in contributing to the validity of the EFP final grades. Conclusion Concurrent validity is merely part of an overall understanding of validity. Further studies investigating the predictive validity of the EFP final grades, in other words, the relationship between EFP exit outcomes and eventual academic performance, are needed to provide a more complete picture of the legitimacy of instructor-assessed academic language development pathways to higher education. Investigations into student perceptions of their own EAP experiences are also called for, with post-EAP students reflecting back on what best prepared them for their academic studies as well as reflecting on what might have been missing from their experiences. Added to this should be ongoing explorations of content validity to ensure that the materials students work with in their EAP experiences authentically reflect the materials they will eventually encounter in their undergraduate classes. Finally, expanding the number of participants in studies such as the current one would contribute to providing a better picture of the potential of examining the relationship between standardised test scores and EAP pathway final grades as a means to explore concurrent validity. The numbers of international students from non-English speaking backgrounds seeking to study in English-medium colleges and universities is set to increase. As academically qualified students who have not fulfilled a university’s English language proficiency requirements are admitted to post-secondary studies via EAP pathway programs, validating what EAP final grades mean is important for ensuring quality standards and public confidence in these programs. As a result, it is important that providers of EAP pathway ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014

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programs invest in the validation process and conduct validation studies in order to contribute to creating exit grades that are meaningful to EAP program stakeholders. CONTACT THE AUTHOR scott.douglas@ubc.ca

References

ETS, 2014. TOEFL ITP Test Content. Educational Testing Service. Available at <https://www.ets.org/toefl_itp/content/> [Accessed 29 October 2014]. ETS Canada, n.d.. TOEFL Institutional Testing Program. Educational Testing Service Canada Ltd. Available at <http://www.etscanada.ca/students_ITPTOEFL.php> [Accessed 29 October 2014]. Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, 2014. Canada’s international education strategy: Harnessing our knowledge advantages to drive innovation and prosperity. Available at <http://international.gc.ca/global-markets-marchesmondiaux/assets/pdfs/overview-apercu-eng.pdf> [Accessed 29 October 2014]. Gay, L.R., Mills, G.E. & Airasian, P., 2012. Educational research: Competencies for analysis and applications, 10th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson. Murray, D., & O’Loughlin, K., 2007. Pathways – Preparation and selection: A discussion paper for a national symposium: English Language Competence of International Students. Paper presented at the 2007 National Symposium on English Language Competence of International Students, Sydney, Australia. Available at <https://www.aei.gov.au/research/Publications/Documents/NS_PathwaysPreperationS election.pdf> [Accessed 29 October 2014]. Ortis, J., 2014. Course Outline for EAP 104: English for Academic Purposes Level IV Section 005 Winter Term 2. (Faculty of Education, UBC’s Okanagan Campus, 3333 University Way, Kelowna, BC. V1V 1V7). Paillard, S., 2012 Oct 25. TRU teachers worry about ESL students. Kamloops Daily News. Available at <http://www.kamloopsnews.ca/article/20121025/KAMLOOPS0101/121029899/1/kamloops01/tru-teachers-worry-about-esl-students> [Accessed 29 October 2014].

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Student article

The Graduate Entrepreneur Visa: My journey from an international student to a career in the UK Chi-Feng Lin (Jerry)

A decision to come to the UK for education, I believe, is hard for every student to make. Having stayed in the UK for 9 years, from studying an English course to having my own business, I have faced so many challenges and witnessed many changes around me. Despite these challenges, I have managed to build a successful career via the less well-known Tier 1 visa route. I am sharing my story here, to raise awareness of this opportunity and offer some thoughts on how people working with international students can help them prepare for postgraduation employment in the UK. I will start this article by introducing changes in the immigration policies that affect international students after graduation. Then I will share my personal career journey and offer some advice for helping students prepare for future employment. Work visa changes and their effects on international students Before 6th April 2012, graduates holding a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, PhD, Post Graduate Certificate or diploma from UK higher education institutes were offered the opportunity to apply a Post-Study Work (PSW) visa (Workpermit.com, 2013; UK Visa Bureau, 2014). This type of visa was specifically designed for international graduates from universities to gain some work experience before returning to their home country. Much more freedom and flexibility in relation to work was offered under this scheme. Unfortunately, the PSW visa route for international graduates to gain work experience was cancelled in 2012. As a result, international graduates intending to live and work in the UK have to apply for Tier 2 work visa instead: “You can apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa if: you’ve been offered a skilled job in the UK; or you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland” (GOV.UK, 2014). However, the difficulty in applying a Tier 2 visa is significantly higher than for a PSW visa as Tier 2 applicants will need a skilled job offer from a sponsoring employer under a points-based system. As the employer has to make the visa application, the high cost and difficulty is likely to put employers off recruiting international graduates. Less well known is the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa introduced as an alternative in 2012, aiming to attract investors and graduates with innovative ideas into the UK. Successful applications to Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur are difficult, but the route can be rewarding in the right circumstances. Due to these visa changes, it is a challenge for international students to stay and work after graduation. As a result, fewer international graduates plan to stay and work in the UK. Many friends and students I have met have said to me that they do not plan to stay and work in the UK because it is too hard to overcome the visa issue, and many think they do not stand a chance of competing with home students due to the language barrier. Some have also mentioned that they intend to go to the USA or other English-speaking nations as it is easier to get settled and to find a job there. I personally think the UK is wasting an opportunity and losing talented international graduates. ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014

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A journey from making job applications to establishing my own business I was not very aware of visa issues at time of graduation. At the time I thought my good academic background in medical science at Master’s level would be something many firms were looking for. They were, but that was not the issue. I only became aware of the problem when I received many replies from firms saying “unfortunately we cannot proceed your application further as we cannot support the Tier 2 work visa”. This was already after 3months of making job applications and my Tier 4 student visa was about to expire. I started to realise that I was not prepared enough to overcome this issue. I strongly believe that if I was made more aware of this specific issue for international students long before my graduation, I would have prepared myself more by learning about different options available for graduates who want to work in the UK. I then quickly changed my career plan and got in touch with people from the Career Development Service in the University of Leicester for more advice and help. Fortunately with all the support from family, friends and the University, I was brave enough to take a big step forward, which was to set up my own business. Having gone through the preparation of business proposal and interview, my business idea was approved for making a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa application. This does not require any investment money (unlike Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa) and I was eligible to join the Enterprise Inc. programme. Here I would strongly recommend teachers and academics to encourage students to find out and use the career development service available in the University as the first step to learning about career routes in the future. Regarding my business idea, it originated from the fact that the options for international students have also seen a big change. We have witnessed the rise of tourism specifically for international students. Most international students studying in the UK only stay here for a relatively short period of time. They want to travel around the UK during their limited time of stay. As a result, travel agencies/principals specifically targeting this market have been established to offer many different holiday packages, and they have recruited tour guides/leaders with similar language and cultural backgrounds, to enhance the service offered. Travel agencies/principals offering easy and good transportation tend to get good recognition by international students, who usually do not have a car in the UK. Now international students get more chance than before to explore many famous attractions and meet more people from different backgrounds within the UK. Having identified the potential in tourism services, I have now set up my own company, called Red Apple Travel, as a travel agency/principal with an office based in Leicester, targeting this international student market. We advertise and sell many professional travel arrangements specifically for international students. As a company, we are now collaborating with the English Language Teaching Unit (ELTU) of the University of Leicester to facilitate travel arrangements as well as support the university life for international students. We are also collaborating with international student associations at universities to help students understand British culture and make contact with people from different backgrounds in the UK. I believe what we are doing is not just to offer excitement and joy, but also to make connections with students in order to assist them with their study and future employability through many of our communications with them. How can international students prepare for entrepreneurship? There was a time when I was like every other graduate who is making job applications and trying to find a place in the society. When I now look back at myself, that period of time was ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014

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tough and I would have hoped someone was there much earlier to guide me. Teachers and academics could really be one of these people. With regard to international student life in general, the extra-curricular and leisure activities nowadays have become more diverse. As a result of globalisation and advances in technology, people with better knowledge of different cultures and languages are more connected. Thus, there are volunteering opportunities specifically available for international students to help British people become global citizens. For instance, during the week of Universal Children’s Day, many schools would invite international students with different cultural backgrounds as volunteers to come to their class and teach young pupils about their languages and cultures. I learned about these opportunities through the institutional newsletter email circulated every week, and I would recommend that teachers and academics encourage students to spend a little time reading through such newsletters or similar media: this could potentially make a big difference in their student experience and career prospects. In addition, enhanced awareness of environmental preservation in recent years leads to many volunteering projects and activities for all students to join. These activities offered by universities, colleges, schools and many others, can be put on the CV and are great opportunities to enhance various transferable skills of students. It is therefore important for teachers to be aware of these opportunities, so that they can encourage students to participate in different extra-curricular activities, which would really increase their employability in the UK. While we are seeing cuts in educational funding, international students are also facing great difficulties in finding ways to work and stay in the UK at the same time. Perhaps it is impossible for us to change the policies, but there are always ways we can prepare ourselves for coming challenges. As I have successfully applied through Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route myself, I have become aware that this route has remained unknown for most international students. I would therefore advise teachers and academics to point out the opportunity of this visa route to their international students and have the information in hand to direct them to places where they can find out more. I would also recommend teachers and academics to be proactive in finding information about routes where students can find the services and volunteering opportunities available in their schools, colleges and universities, and then to continuously pass this information around at the early stage of their study. This would really make a big difference for international students when they start to prepare themselves for future employment. CONTACT THE AUTHOR pilicom11@yahoo.com.tw References ABTA. 2014. How your business trades. Available at http://abta.com/join-abta/become-amember/how-does-your-business-trade GOV.UK. 2014. Tier 2 (General) visa. Available at https://www.gov.uk/tier-2-general UK Visa Bureau. 2014. Tier 1– Post Study-Work visa. Available at http://www.visabureau.com/uk/post-study-work-visa.aspx Workpermit.com, 2013. Tier 1 – Post Study Work. Available at http://www.workpermit.com/uk/tier-1-visas-post-study-work.htm ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014

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Conference Review

Norwegian Forum for English for Academic Purposes, 8th Summer Seminar June 12-13, 2014, Hogskolen Akershus, Oslo Stella Harvey and Paul Stocks Goldsmiths, University of London

This conference focused on English for Specific Academic Purposes. Its small-scale (43 participants) facilitated discussion and made it possible to see themes emerging. One such strand was the ongoing internationalisation of universities, and the encouraging idea that the status of EAP may be rising as departments recognise our expertise in managing this process. Diane Schmitt’s opening plenary highlighted the need for more collaboration between applied linguistics research and EAP. Focusing on reading, she argued that international students lack the necessary level of automaticity in their reading (i.e. not immediately recognising enough of the words in a text, sometimes as low as 75%). This means they read more slowly and thus lack time to read widely or deeply enough, which has a detrimental impact on actual learning. She advocated closer work between applied linguists and EAP lecturers, especially on how best to help students improve their reading skills. The question of the disjuncture between research and EAP practice proved to be a recurrent point of discussion during the conference, the pitfalls of allowing ourselves and our students to be mined as data being an issue that particularly engaged delegates. Another plenary speaker, Professor Caroline Coffin, discussed the relevance of systemic functional linguistics to ESAP, drawing on her book (with Jim Donohue) A Language as Social Semiotic-Based Approach to Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (2014). Her approach aims to make language visible in HE, rather than the invisible ‘water through which we swim’. She predicted the role of EAP will become more central as HE institutions continue to internationalise, and become more aware of the important role it can play in this process. Plenary speaker Lisa Ganobcsik-Williams is an American academic who opened the UK’s first university writing centre in Coventry in 2004. Her talk outlined the development of writing centres, firstly in the US, and now as they are spreading across Europe and the UK. She cited a seminal article by S. North (1984) which helped to define the principles of writing centres: they are not a ‘fix it’ shop; they are student-centred, and aim to produce better writers, not better papers. Crucially, academic writing should be seen as a key competency for both university students and staff, and hence universities need to build whole-institution writing programmes.

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Kevin Haines’ plenary addressed the internationalisation of the academy from the perspective of an English Medium Instruction (EMI) environment in the Netherlands. Particularly interesting was the development of accreditation schemes whereby universities can demonstrate added value and good conditions in the international classroom. Kevin stressed that responding to internationalisation in a meaningful way must happen systemically in an HE institution: it is not merely the concern of EAP practitioners, and should be reflected in all teaching and learning pedagogies and practices. Two presentations focusing on the increased collaboration between EAP centres and departments were given by Jackie Donnat and Claire Brett from Bristol, and Anne Vicary and Sarah Brewer from Reading. Jackie and Claire described a very positive process that included moving from communication to co-operation and finally to collaboration, in just a few years on one science insessional module. Anne and Sarah outlined their experience of implementing Sloan and Porter’s CEM (contextualisation, embedding and mapping) model for integrating insessional language and academic skills into degree programmes and eventually specific modules. Interestingly, several presenters mentioned contacts with departments improving after a crisis of some kind had occurred which prompted the need for better co-operation with EAP centres. Our own presentation considered the challenges facing students on transdisciplinary degree programmes at Goldsmiths that combine different academic traditions and require a range of written assessment types. These included, on MA Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship, an innovative hybrid ‘academic business plan’ for which students were encouraged to ‘do it your own way’ rather than follow an existing model. We argued that the degree programme in a sense performed the precariousness which characterises working conditions in the creative and cultural sector, and that such degree programmes indicate the need for tolerating ambiguity both by students and ESAP practitioners. It appeared in later discussions that the notion of precariousness had struck a chord with some delegates, who related it to the casualisation of employment in HE and to the ‘Cinderella’ status of EAP within the academy. This conference benefited from excellent plenaries and some thought-provoking discussion. The need for a more productive relationship between ESAP and applied linguistics research emerged as a particularly salient point. The contributions from speakers from non EAP backgrounds highlight the importance of dialogue between EAP and germane disciplines. It was also notable that familiar debates, such as the uniformity or diversity of academic writing and the degree of subject-specific content knowledge required are still current. Overall, we found this conference focused, informative and highly relevant to our work as EAP practitioners. CONTACT THE AUTHORS s.harvey@gold.ac.uk p.stocks@gold.ac.uk

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Conference Review

Acculturation and Internationalisation: Reflections from a Symposium at Kingston University Siân Lund. Richmond University Ursula Wingate. King's College London David Killick. Leeds Metropolitan University

As internationalisation and widening participation have become embedded in the provision of British universities, student experience of acculturation becomes an important part of the learning process, for both home and international students. This experience can be an acute process ‘grounded in an understanding of the cognitive, social and linguistic demands of specific academic disciplines’ (Hyland & Hamp-Lyons 2002), requiring huge behavioural, cognitive and linguistic adjustments. In addressing the needs of international students in this process, it is helpful to emphasise two issues: 

That the international experience can be enhanced by being a two-way process of transformation between home and international participants;

That language needs of students coping with new academic contexts are not experienced in a vacuum, but are inextricably linked to and embedded in the process of becoming part of a new academic community.

These issues therefore raise the pedagogic questions, first of what is meant by ‘internationalising the curriculum’? Secondly, how do current trends in EAP language support address issues of acculturation in academic preparation and support? A symposium was convened at Kingston University on 18 September 2014 in order to bring together diverse colleagues to share understanding of the international student experience and raise awareness of areas of expertise and good practice within UK Higher Education, with an overall focus on ‘[ensuring] the academic success of international students through a holistic and informed approach’ (Ryan, 2013). Speakers, who included academic staff, a senior policy researcher, and student representatives, were:       

David Killick, Head of Academic Staff Development, Centre for Learning & Teaching, Leeds Metropolitan University Ursula Wingate, Department of Education and Professional Studies, King's College London: Academic literacy and student diversity Siân Lund, Academic Literacies and EAP Programmes, Richmond University. Steve Woodfield, Associate Professor, Vice-Chancellor’s Office, Kingston University. Roberto Di Napoli, CHERP, Kingston University. Sarah Horrod, Senior Lecturer, English Language Unit, Kingston University. Shreya Paudel, International Officer, NUS and Denza Gonsalves, President, KUSU.

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In what follows, symposium organiser Siân Lund and plenary speaker David Killick share their reflections on the day’s discussions, and Ursula Wingate summarises her contribution on inclusive pedagogy. The two concepts from the title of this symposium clearly present the desire for the forum to create a bridge between two often unconnected activities in HE institutions. When the economic expediency of encouraging international students into UK universities is put aside, discord is often heard between those ‘trying to get on with the job of teaching their subject’ and those in supporting capacities attempting to bridge the gap between home and international participants. The two concepts in the title therefore aimed to highlight the urgent need to address internationalisation in terms of the cultural and social engagement on both sides of the participation process. For this reason, speakers were invited to comment on internationalisation from a broad institutional position as well as the specific needs of all students on a daily basis. As the HEA has been developing its internationalisation framework, many involved in supporting International students have been eagerly anticipating the focus on integration and intercultural engagement which moves beyond the economic benefits and a one-way deficit model of the need for international students to ‘catch up’. The speakers for this symposium were therefore chosen for their input on the ways in which institutions are either being required or are attempting to address the needs of both home and international students and faculty in the development of a genuine two-way internationalisation. As Steve Woodfield spoke of the recent publication of the HEA framework for Internationalisation, he highlighted the key 21st century graduate requirements of an inclusive ethos where intercultural engagement is fostered and cultural diversity is promoted (HEA, Woodfield, 2014). He showed how the impact of diversity (both cultural and linguistic) and the creation of a global community are being acknowledged at policy level where the need for shared responsibility among all staff is also addressed. The acknowledgement in policy statements of the need for issues of acculturation to be addressed in the future led effectively into David Killick’s focus on the heightened need for recognition of this in the curriculum. He spoke of the challenge of universities to avoid ethnocentrism and instead address cognitive and behavioural skills development so that all students are prepared to encounter diversity and benefit from it. In connection with this, he reviewed universities’ approaches to marketing support to students in segregated ways, separating international students and home students. In this way, he suggested, cultural hegemony is established from the outset, when a university provides information on its website under tabs of ‘undergraduates’ ‘post graduates’ and then ‘International students’, for example. The bridge between such institution-led impact on cultural diversity and communicative experience was initiated with Roberto di Napoli’s consideration of the features of academic practice and how these are taught within universities. Ursula Wingate and Sarah Horrod provided the linguistic perspectives on the realities of developing communication skills through integrative and inclusive practices. Having heard the institutional context in which this is attempted, it is clear that this task is indeed a complex one. On one level, HE institutions are grappling with issues of social engagement and global requirements for graduates while at the same time language practitioners are trying to assert their direct experience and vital role in this developing landscape. Sarah Horrod emphasised the holistic approach of EAP practice which incorporates intercultural and discourse analysis with communicative competencies required in membership of academic communities. Ursula Wingate suggested that this necessitates equal collaboration ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014

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between subject specialists and language practitioners and that this is inextricably linked with Academic Literacies needs of all students. Ursula Wingate In her presentation, entitled ‘Academic literacy and student diversity: Towards an inclusive higher education pedagogy’, Ursula highlighted weaknesses in the current English language support provision offered to international students. These weaknesses include a preoccupation with teaching academic writing, which neglects other aspects of academic communication such as academic reading, presentations and classroom discussions. Furthermore, English for Academic Purposes (EAP) classes are often generic and do not prepare students sufficiently for the epistemologies, discourses and literacy conventions of their discipline. The provision represents a deficit approach by targeting specific groups such as ‘international students’ who are deemed to be non-native speakers of English and therefore to have linguistic deficits. This approach ignores the fact that academic literacy comprises more than linguistic competence, and has to be learned by all students new to a discipline. Ursula reported the findings from a recent study in which 10 lecturers and 10 international students were interviewed about their perceptions of English language policies and practices in their university. Lecturers and students expressed frustration over the existing language and literacy support. Lecturers felt unsupported by their institutions and noticed that the extra effort needed to advise and supervise international students was not recognised. Students recognised the limitations of centrally-provided English language classes and asked for a substantial increase in individual advice and feedback by their lecturers in the disciplines. These findings highlight that, despite the rapid increase in international student numbers, university policies and practices have remained largely unchanged, and that there is little evidence of institutional strategies for adequate staff and student support. Based on the frameworks of Academic Literacies and Academic Discourse Socialisation, Ursula proposed an inclusive model of academic literacy instruction, which should be an entitlement for all students, integrated into the subject curriculum and collaboratively delivered by literacy experts and subject experts. Some examples were provided from an intervention study in which discipline-specific genre-based literacy instruction and collaboration between literacy and subject experts were implemented. Discussion following these two presentations clearly showed the complexities of accomplishing communication development for all students within institutions which may not always fully appreciate the holistic approach this requires as ‘shared responsibility’ across the university. It appears that, although genre specific, embedded approaches to communication support are clearly part of the EAP provision, they may not be as widely publicised as they could be. This may be a result of institutions which have yet to acknowledge the importance of academic literacies approach combined with EAP as well as from difficulties mentioned at the beginning of symposium: of the shared responsibility of a university-wide approach to cultural and linguistic development. Finally, the president of Kingston Students’ Union and the international officer of the National Union of Students, Denza Gonsalves and Shreya Paudel, provided invaluable insight into issues they have encountered which affect international students. Both cited possibilities for student engagement in the wider student body as well as the wider community as key aspects of international students’ capacity to integrate into their new academic environment and become valued members of the community. ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014

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David Killick I was intrigued by the title of this symposium when first asked if I would be able to contribute. Acculturation is usually seen as a rather long term process associated with those taking up long term residence in a new cultural milieu, though it is referred to in some literature on international student sojourning. The more I thought about, though, the more relevant the term seemed, not exclusively or even primarily for our international students, but for all our students as they move forward to make their ways in a world which is in a constant state of change, flux, or liquidity. Roberto de Napoli, in situating academic practice as having become something of an empty signifier, served to remind me that it is not only students who constantly need to (re)acculturate to new ways of being, it is also academic staff – and the institutions in which both staff and students enact their disciplinary selves. The focus on what academics do and what students do is exposed as reductive and inadequate – because acculturation is about being as much or more than it is about doing. I would style education for (re)acculturation and shifting intercultural living as an education for the global self, and for that we need both formal and hidden curricula that do not ‘other the other’, but bring everybody equally to the educational table. Much of this sort of thinking is at least implicit, and in some measure explicit, in the HEA’s Internationalisation Framework. Steve Woodfield’s exposition of this framework was exceptionally clear. Most significantly, it made clear that if institutions were to embrace the framework, whether as an audit tool, a development tool, or a research tool, the sector would find itself unable to cling to the more reductive notions of internationalisation which have dominated much of its work hitherto. I am not entirely without hope that this might happen, but the record so far doesn’t leave a great deal of space for optimism. However, one space did open for me at the symposium, and that was with regard to the moves to establish more equitable approaches to supporting students in the development of academic literacy. Ursula Wingate situated this work as inclusive HE pedagogy, and the message sent by removing the deficit model of the international student as (i) a homogenous entity which (ii) does not use English well (iii) in contrast to the whole of the domestic student population is something I hope all HEIs will acculturate to. Sarah Horrod reasserted the significance of language in academic life, and led me back to thinking about Roberto’s caution about empty signifiers. The adjectives ‘international’, ‘domestic’, ‘home’ when applied to ‘students’ are all empty signifiers – except perhaps if these students exist only in terms of their differential economic worth and visa requirements. The work of the Students’ Union can also at times serve to isolate and categorise, and marginalise international students and students of differing cultures. Where institutions operate to deficit models, SUs have not always been strong advocates for their international members, if they have reached out to them at all. Denza Gonsalves and Shreya Paudel demonstrated commitment and exciting work at Kingston which offers a positive model to others. Overall and overwhelmingly, this day at least evidenced that individual academic practitioners and student representatives are working deliberatively to be anything but empty. As a short addendum, I note that I am writing this in Japan having just attended an international education conference in Osaka. The diverse range of nationalities and cultures represented at the conference was a rich seam to mine. Presentations from institutions as varied as a Japanese elementary school and an American university in Qatar demonstrated that internationalisation is very much alive and very much contested as an issue globally, and questions of equity in academic practice are always part of the formal or the hidden agenda.

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The symposium programme can be downloaded from: http://www.kingston.ac.uk/events/item/1107/18-sep-2014-acculturation-andinternationalisation-symposium/ CONTACT THE AUTHORS ursula.wingate@kcl.ac.uk D.Killick@leedsbeckett.ac.uk sian.lund@richmond.ac.uk

References Hyland, K. & Hamp-Lyons. L, 2002. EAP: issues and directions. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, Vol. 1, pp1–12. Ryan, J., 2013) Proceedings of the 2011 BALEAP Conference, EAP within the Higher Education Garden: Cross-Pollination Between Disciplines, Departments and Research. Reading: Garnet.

Special Feature

Interview: Bob Athwal

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Bob Athwal is the newly appointed Director of Student Experience at the University of Leicester. The aim of his role is to bring together and further develop strategies to support the student experience, working closely with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Students. The role oversees the Student Support Service, Career Development Service and Sports and Recreation. ISEJ interviewed Bob to ascertain how he felt his role related to international students and their experience at Leicester.

ISEJ: The role of Director of Student Experience, how did that post come about? Could you outline what it involves? BA: In January 2014, I was asked to take on this role. For the last two years, we really transformed the Career Development Service, and I was asked if I could do similar good work with other areas, and Sports was one, and Student Support Services so Welfare, Counselling and Accessibility, they all come under my remit now. And that’s because as a university, if you look around the sector, there are Student Experience Directors emerging. Manchester has one, Birmingham University has a Director of Student Life, and it’s becoming really clear that there are three key drivers. ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014


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The tuition fee landscape has made it much more competitive in terms of the funding which means that parents and students are much more concerned with the outcome of university in terms of employability and that then in itself manifests in terms of student recruitment with home or international students. International students are just as focused on the employability agenda and that’s going to increase. So we made the decision as a university that we are serious about this, we do want to help our students’ transition and it would be good if we could join up the three areas to really start to promote that experience, to help that transition. Because not everyone is going to be in the Career Development Service, not everyone is going to use the Student Support Services and not everyone is going to use the Sports Clubs, but between the three areas that I look after, we’ve got a pretty good chance of reaching the majority of our students, to try and help them, through different ways. ISEJ: You mentioned Birmingham and Manchester, do you have contact with the people in similar roles to yourself, I know they are competitors but… BA: Yeah, the person in Manchester is a very good friend of mine, he and I wrote a book together a couple of years ago. He was at Liverpool at the time, Dr Paul Redman, so he’s just about to take up the post as Director of Student Life. But the person in Birmingham I don’t know as well, but they focus around the sports side and the guilds, the athletic union type of model. It’s early days for some universities. You’ll have a Pro-Vice-Chancellor for students, a Deputy-Vice-Chancellor for students, who is essentially responsible for student experience. Here at the university we’ve got a Pro- Vice- Chancellor for students who I work closely with. It is really important to speak to other universities because they can help us plan and mitigate against some of the pitfalls and vice versa. But also just to look at their approach. This is a universal thing, not a UK phenomenon, it’s a global phenomenon. And essentially we really need to get that experience right for all our students and not have one size fits all. Working with and so looking at other universities and how they approach it is very useful. ISEJ: Obviously you know there are lots of international students at Leicester, I just wondered, do you view them differently, is their experience in your experience different? BA: We shouldn’t view them differently and anyone, any of our colleagues who does view them differently I would want to challenge them. International students are critical to UK Higher Education institutions, to global HE institutions and that’s why it’s become extremely competitive in terms of student recruitment. The thing though, and I’m saying this personally, is universities have failed international students, to help them enrich that cultural experience on why you go to a foreign country in the first place. And at the same time, we have failed our home students whether they are UK or EU in getting to them to understand the cultural diversity, the beauty of different nationalities and cultures, and kind of almost try and manufacture opportunities for our students to really integrate and engage with each other. We need our home students engaging with our international students and vice versa. But we also have to break down and demystify the sort of misconceptions around international students and perhaps their attainment level, which is perhaps one of the reasons why home students get frustrated. The challenge is to build international student’s confidence, especially if they are from the Asian Pacific region, it’s about confidence, it’s about understanding culturally ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014

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they don’t want to lose face, it’s really important to them, so anything that makes them look like they are not able or look like they are not as confident, they won’t do it. Because they would rather keep their face than lose their face, it’s a massive cultural thing. ISEJ: So what kind of practical things do you think we could and should be doing? BA: We have an international students’ welcome programme, it needs to be a bit more extensive, in terms of coordination across the university and I know this is going to happen because my team are looking into that. We also need to get the buddy system working correctly, to really get the home and EU students integrated and understanding that actually the beauty of this, it’s within our gifts, because the knowledge in the classroom of different parts of the world is a brilliant precursor to when they get into the world of work and have to work with people from all around the planet anyway. ISEJ: Could you briefly explain the buddy system? BA: If I arrive from Taiwan and I’m paired up with somebody from the UK in terms of an ambassador type of role, mentoring type of role, one of our home students can show you how you get things done around here, how you catch a bus, the etiquette of queuing and stuff, some of the pitfalls they might find, where they can go and look for information, some of the places to visit, some of the beautiful things you can visit across the East Midlands or across the country, just try and take them under their wing, to be a signpost in the first few weeks, month or so of transition. But I think we could improve that, I don’t think it’s quite where it should be, and one of the things I’m trying to work on at the moment is the principle of work shadowing because I believe it is in our gift as a university to help each and every one of our students with the work shadowing experience. And I’m talking about a maximum of two to three days but there are a number of departments within corporate services, within the academic departments that could host an international student for two or three days just to give them an insight into the working practices of the UK. And all of these things will unlock their confidence and help them understand certain things. ISEJ: How can Academic Departments help with this? BA: Academic departments can really help with the education of our home and international students. It’s about self-direction gaining that curiosity but actually sometimes initially the first year is about bringing these guys up to the standards, if they are undergraduates. If they are postgraduates it’s about manufacturing perhaps a bit more in terms of different groups and very purposely making sure there are different people, different countries represented, as best as you can. Sometimes we have got courses where predominantly it is one country, essentially, but what can we do then to cross collaborate with different departments that perhaps you could do extracurricular activities, or you could do stuff with the career development service, you could do some volunteering stuff. But where it is not always possible, the academics could be really helping to manufacture, broker those opportunities outside of their departments or with ourselves as a central service.

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ISEJ: We often talk about international student experience without ever talking to the students themselves. What are you doing to get out there and talk to the students and find out what’s really happening to them? BA: We are running schemes with the students to understand what is it about the experience that’s really helped them, which has helped their transition, what could we do more or be better at. These are the things I’m working through at the moment. It’s really important to us as a university. It’s be part of a global village, we have to play our part in that and help those students, educate those students and help those emerging economies. And at the same time, it’s a great opportunity for our students to learn about different parts of the world. If we do it right, we will continue to attract people from all over the world and they will all want to come to Leicester because hopefully we did right by them, they came here, we helped them transition and we helped them get to the point they wanted to be. ISEJ: Finally, if you are looking ahead, in maybe 5 years’ time, I know you are new in the post but what are your shorter and longer goals? BA: The first one is to have a coordinated approach across the University, that is absolutely paramount, and a very clear offering of what that student development journey looks like for all our students whether they are mature, home, they have got disabilities, they are international, distance learners, PGRs, whatever, but having a very clear student journey for each of our students. It’s not a one size fits all, it’s about a very clear bespoke journey that signposts things, that helps them make the most of themselves and the experience. If you look at just one of the teams I look after in terms of careers, the strapline for careers is: “Make the most of you”. Unless you choose to make the most of you, no one else can help you, and I suspect that’s the message we want to take across the whole student experiences, make the most of you, make the most of the opportunities you’ve got, because it will be soon over and it will probably help you for the rest of your lives actually. In 5 years’ time I’d hope we have a coordinated approach, a coherent approach and an approach that is bespoke to each of our students and the fact we are recognised as someone who does the student experience really well and it’s probably the key component, along with some of our academic colleagues obviously, the key component of why they choose to study at the University of Leicester.

ISEJ Editorial Panel Phil Horspool. Chief Editor. University of Leicester. Chris Lima. Academic Editor. University of Leicester. Caroline Burns. Book and Conference Reviews Editor. University of Northumbria. Ricky Lowes. Book and Conference Reviews Editor. University of Plymouth. Ellie Kennedy. Students' Contributions Editor. Nottingham Trent University

Visit: http://isejournal.weebly.com ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn 2014

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BALEAP Conference 2015 PRE-CONFERENCE EVENT ON RESEARCH IN EAP OVER 80 STIMULATING SESSIONS EVENING EVENTS AND SOCIAL GATHERINGS

EAP in a rapidly changing landscape: issues, challenges and solutions

MORE THAN 10 EXHIBITORS ONLINE COVERAGE AND SOCIAL

BALEAP Biannual Conference

MEDIA FEEDS

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Plenary Speakers

ProRebecca Hughes British Council

17-19 April 2015 Prof Glenn Fulcher University of Leicester

VISIT LEICESTER

Prof Ken Hyland University of Hong Kong Cosmopolitan city life, rich history and cultures, exciting connections to King Richard

http://baleap2015.weebly.com ISEJ, Volume 2(2), Autumn III 2014 – there’s so much

to

discover…