Adjusting The Paradigm: A ‘Theme-Based Approach’ To Pre-Sessional Eap In A British University

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Richard Bailey
Peter Sercombe


Higher education in Britain faces new challenges as the composition of students becomes more diverse in terms of cultural, linguistic and educational backgrounds.  In connection, a range of professional issues has arisen: the need to understand better the attitudes, motivations and learning needs of these students and consider their implications for pedagogical practice; and, secondly, the design and delivery of appropriate curricula.  This paper argues in favour of theme-based EAP in the context of a pre-sessional course for overseas students at a British university. It provides an outline of an integrated, semester-long programme designed for international students targeting undergraduate study; a summary of relevant contextual factors; and a rationale for the course, along with key aspects of its implementation. We have devised a course that is content focused and holistic in design with an emphasis on preparing students for discipline specific learning and literacy challenges they will encounter in mainstream study. It is a non-EAP core around which we have moulded EAP pre-sessional support. The course has had positive results, in terms of staff and student response.

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