BALEAP launched an initial phase of development of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) at the 2018 AGM. The themes were chosen after consultation with the membership through a survey in 2016 and three Special Interest Pages (SIPs) have been created on the website (links open in new tab):
Following suggestions of additional areas of Special Interest from the membership, the second phase of the SIG scheme has been rolled out with eight SIGs proposed and convened by members being established early in 2020:
Academic readiness for Higher Education has been extensively researched and literacy demands have often been cited a major cause for poor academic performance. Supporting students to develop tertiary level academic literacy skills is therefore essential, with an increasing demand for embedding academic literacies within the curricula of different disciplines. While various practices have been adopted to support international students, domestic students who need academic literacy support due to their diverse cultural, linguistic or education backgrounds are not always identified and may, thus, not receive the assistance and support required.
The SIG aims to address and explore the topic of developing and supporting Academic Literacies in Higher Education, with special emphasis being placed upon academic literacies for domestic students.
The BALEAP Creative Disciplines SIG aims to share knowledge, experience, expertise, research and resources based on the learning and teaching of creative disciplines at higher education institutions. Creative Disciplines is the fifth-biggest subject area in the UK higher education (HESA, 2019) and therefore worthy of pedagogic consideration. In the curriculum, there is often a language-based element alongside a creative element resulting in a multimodal synergy, which requires the students to continually engage in reflection and dialogue. In designing effective pedagogic approaches for the Creative Arts, our work places a strong emphasis on academic communication more broadly conceived, hoping to explore integrational approaches to language and communication. Our shared understanding of creative disciplines is broad and inclusive of, but not limited to, creative and cultural industries as conceptualised by O’Connor (2010) as ‘core arts fields’ such as visual arts and ‘cultural industries’ such as film, and ‘creative industries and activities’ such as design.
This SIG will explore and promote good practices in the development, teaching and testing of effective academic listeners in EAP. This will encompass building a shared understanding of a) what is required of a student in order to listen successfully in an academic context, b) what the implications are for the teaching and development of the listening abilities of EAP students on pre- and in-sessional courses and c) how academic listening can be tested in a principled and useful way.
As the number of international PGR students in UK HEIs continues to grow, an increasing number of EAP practitioners are working in the area of academic literacy of doctoral candidates, particularly the development of research writing skills. Whilst EAP expertise is to some extent transferable across different levels of study, working with doctoral students presents particular challenges, and the often relatively small number of colleagues working with doctoral students in any one institution limits local opportunities to seek support and share ideas.
The SIG will provide a forum for sharing practice and collaborating on PGR-focused EAP provision, as well as providing a means of networking to identify and pursue joint scholarship activities to enhance both this specialised area of EAP practice, and individual professional development.
In the UK, law degrees and post-graduate qualifications are becoming ever more popular among international students. Equally importantly, institutions around the world are increasingly providing English language with their legal studies or to support legal studies. The Law SIG provides a forum within which EALP practitioners can share their knowledge and experience with others and learn from each other so as to improve their own practice and ultimately the experience of our learners. It could also be of interest to law academics who themselves face challenges teaching students whose first language is not English, as it may give them a greater insight into the linguistic challenges law students face, and how these challenges could be addressed.
This SIG provides a forum for EAP practitioners to discuss, deepen their understanding of, and address concerns related to, social justice within and around EAP, whilst also broadening and strengthening the evidence-base of the impact that social justice initiatives can make in this field. Through bringing this often-sidelined area into the spotlight and examining the knowledge, skills and values that a social justice lens can contribute to EAP, this SIG aims to encourage more EAP students, practitioners and managers to take action and play their part in fulfilling the vision of the university as the “critic and conscience of society” (Jones, Galvin & Woodhouse, 2000).
The STEM SIG aims to connect members working in the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics. We also aim to collate examples of good practice; develop and share understanding of linguistic features in STEM and encourage further research into EAP and STEM.
The Teacher Education in EAP (TEd in EAP) SIG specialises in the area of teacher education for the EAP profession, specifically the education and professional development of EAP practitioners. This specialist area includes, but is not limited to, approaches to development in different EAP contexts, EAP practitioner education and credentials, an exploration of EAP practitioner knowledge base and implications for development and education, and the role scholarship plays.
The SIG is aimed at two constituent groups:
This SIG aims to enhance awareness of the use of learning technologies in the EAP classroom. Slaouti (2002, p.107) has claimed that the internet was at first perceived as something to be used with caution, ‘’a resource that is a mix of standards and near anarchy’’. Since then, we have come a long way and technology is almost a prerequisite in every classroom. The main reason for that is that students are highly accustomed to using their laptops and smartphones all the time. Therefore, instead of perceiving those devices as distractors we can make them our allies in the teaching and learning process. This is the main aim of this SIG; to spread all these activities, methods, and web applications that will foster the integration of learning technologies in our context. Also, there is not a considerable amount of research on this topic and we believe that it is of paramount importance to get an insight into those applications and methods that work best for our students.
Assessment is an important area of EAP, with high stakes decisions needing to be made for thousands of students every year. Language units in UK universities often have small testing teams, so one reason for this SIG is to have a forum for these test developers to learn from each other, as well as creating a repository of useful resources. More widely, it would be beneficial to explore theory and research informed formative and summative assessment and feedback practices in EAP, and perhaps other fields within HE, in order to develop language assessment literacy and engagement with developing trends, and to inform further research and development.
This SIG addresses the interests of EAP practitioners involved in EAP/ESAP provision in transnational education (TNE) settings. TNE is a large, complex, and growing area of EAP activity; however, it offers unique challenges as well as opportunities.
Colleagues involved in this sector operate within one or several of the many models of TNE delivery. They may feel isolated from a ‘parent’ institution or that they are being pulled in multiple directions – geographically, institutionally, pedagogically, and culturally. The aim of the SIG is therefore to provide a TNE-focused forum that reaches members around the world and encourages the sharing of ideas, expertise, and activities.
Over the years, projects have emerged from the membership to address topical issues in EAP and have taken the form of working parties (see links below). New bids may come from individual institutions/members, but all projects must include collaborative work across BALEAP member institutions. The aims of the project must be of benefit to the membership as a whole, and a specific outcome, preferably in the form of a publication for dissemination, is expected. Anyone interested in establishing a new project should contact the Research and Publications Officer (research
.org) in the first instance. Bids for new projects will be considered by the Executive Committee.
The Testing Working Party aims to provide a base for the spread of information and advice for the development of valid and reliable EAP language testing practices.
The Can Do Working Party developed the BALEAP Can Do Framework: Competency statements for international students (Master’s level).