Bruce Russell & Saskia Stille

Deepening aims of EAP: Supporting dynamic and complex bilingual competence needed for academic success in higher education

Following the view that internationalism has generated changes in the language ecology of post -secondary institutions, arising from both greater international mobility of faculty and students and strategies to increase international student enrolment (Cots et al., 2014), this proposed paper articulates findings of a developmental program evaluation (Patton, 2011; Penuel et al., 2011) that examined program impact on student success for linguistic minority students in an in-sessional EAP program at a large Canadian university. Key to success in EAP programs is learning transfer from EAP instruction to the educational domain. Students must apply learned skills in a dynamic context across multiple disciplinary classes, with a variety of instructors and classmates, in a range of academic activities and over an extended period of time (James, 2014). To understand what academic and English language skills were most significant for supporting students’ transition to degree programs, the study gathered quantitative and qualitative data from student academic records (in and post program), standardized language proficiency assessments (IELTS scores), focus groups with current and past students and interviews with university stakeholders. Based on analysis of these data, we propose a multi-dimensional framework of student success that encompasses not only language development, but also academic performance, academic integrity, student engagement, and well-being. Moreover, we argue that skills-based competence models of decontextualized language teaching tend not to address the dynamic and complex bilingual competence and thinking skills that students need for academic success in higher education.

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Cots, J.M., Llurda, E., & Garret, P. (2014). Language policies and practices in the internationalization of higher education on the European margins: an introduction. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 35(4), 311-317.

James, M.A. (2014). Learning transfer in English-for-academic-purposes contexts: A systematic review of research. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 14, 1-13.

Patton, M. Q. (2011). Developmental evaluation: Applying complexity concepts to enhance innovation and use. Guilford Press.

Penuel, W. R., Fishman, B. J., Cheng, B. H., & Sabelli, N. (2011). Organizing research and development at the intersection of learning, implementation, and design. Educational Researcher40(7), 331-337.