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Bridging the gap: From English as an Additional Language (EAL) to mainstream


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When transitioning from English language learning to academic study in New Zealand, ESOL students need to adjust to different teaching styles and integrate into the mainstream environment in order to be successful. Through conversations with previous students and with mainstream teaching colleagues, it appeared that both the ESOL students and the tutors of these mainstream ESOL students, often experienced difficulties. In order to explore this, we set out to find out learner and tutor perceptions of the difficulties EAL students have when they commence mainstream programmes of study in a tertiary New Zealand context and secondly, to apply appropriate research findings to inform EAL curriculum development. With this in mind, the following research question was posed: What key language and academic skills do EAL students need in order to succeed in mainstream tertiary study in a New Zealand context?

Three methods of data collection were used. 273 online surveys were sent to former English Language students via SurveyMonkey and peer discussions were organised for EAL student groups and mainstream tutor groups. In total 90 students returned the surveys, 74 students took part in discussions and 27 tutors from 8 schools participated in loosely structured conversations about their perceptions and experiences with EAL learners in their courses. The discussions were recorded and transcribed. Thematic qualitative analysis was used on the survey data and discussions and the findings were grouped under broad headings; Culture, Course, Skills and Reflections. They were further categorised under more specific headings. These finding provided valuable information and have prompted immediate enhancements to syllabus design, materials development and teaching pedagogy. The source of the difficulties and the solutions were less easily identifiable and it is clear that both deeper analysis of the data collected, and further research in particular areas, would be beneficial.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: English difficulties mainstream language and academic skills
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions: Schools > Centre for Languages
Depositing User: Mary Fisher
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2013 01:10
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 03:02

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