November 30, 2018


What do I teach?

I teach students: EAP, cognitive principles of effective learning at university, research skills, knowledge management skills, quantitative and qualitative research methods, academic study skills, statistics, process and product of academic writing (assignments, dissertations, theses). I focus on promoting and facilitating students’ independent language learning skills, developing students’ autonomy, developing reading, writing and critical thinking skills.

How do I teach Academic English?

I employ a principled eclecticism in my teaching; therefore, I am flexible in the selection and application of methods, approaches, strategies, and tools. However, my approaches are usually aligned with cognitive principles of learning, evidence-based practices, derived from practical experience of other successful students, and maintain the continuity of the learning process. I believe that the English language competence is insufficient for academic success. Academic outcomes depend on a range of academic skills which students should be taught as early as possible, preferably within their chosen area of study.  I teach students EAP through content-based instruction and meaningful exposure to authentic approaches and task (e.g. critical evaluation of journal articles, TED talks, writing a 5,000 words research project, preparing an academic presentation, looking for bias, evaluating evidence). 

I focus on building bridges between ‘reading, writing, listening and speaking skill’, ‘colloquial and academic language’, ‘descriptive, analytical and critical writing’, ‘pre-existing and new knowledge’. 

I deliver differentiated instruction to meet the needs of both international and home students. For instance, I provide students with lower English proficiency with strategies to develop reading comprehension (focus on carefully selected academic vocabulary from a student-created corpus, developing knowledge of the field) and writing skills (introduction to academic genres, adapted simplified academic texts, skeleton sentences, writing templates, micro-tasks developing descriptive, analytical, reflective and critical writing).

How do I teach academic reading?

I set up the right expectations. Students need word and world knowledge to understand academic texts (about 15,000 selected words, knowledge of the field).  I help students select vocabulary to learn and provide with effective implicit and explicit strategies to learn it.

I develop background knowledge (e.g. research methodology, statistics).
I suggest compensation strategies (e.g. online dictionaries, reading strategies). I expose students through narrow reading to challenging authentic materials, meaningful knowledge, and appropriate language.
I develop critical reading by developing a sound skepticism. I teach how to read scientific books and journals (e.g. SQ4R), evaluate evidence (e.g. hierarchy of evidence) and interpret research data (statistical analysis).
I provide students with comprehensible input through grading academic materials (e.g. reading academic blogs before reading research papers, reading introduction and conclusion before reading methodology chapter, reading reviews of research before reading specific journal articles).

How do I teach academic writing?

I explain that reading comes first, writing is only the residue of reading and thinking. I teach writing as a process (selecting a topic, undertaking a literature search, evaluating sources and evidence,  using catalogues, books, periodicals, formulating research questions, selecting methodology, organising PDFs, books and notes, reading interactively and critically, collecting notes, writing a literature review, outlining, integrating notes into writing, structuring arguments, managing tasks, referencing, producing a first draft, revising). I teach reading for writing (finding information quickly in texts, evaluating the text, skimming for gist, scanning for information), simultaneous reading, note-taking, outlining, referencing and writing. I develop knowledge management skills (software supporting and accelerating writing academic papers e.g. Citavi, Scrivener, Zotero, Mendeley, OneNote). I also teach academic writing as a product: syntax, grammar, vocabulary, paraphrasing, summarising, synthesising, analysing, linking ideas etc. Finally, I help students deal with information overload.

How do I develop learning skills?

I explain the principles of a cognitive learning e.g. myth of learning styles, limitation of working memory, effect of cognitive load and multitasking on reading and writing, developing of expertise, the value of background knowledge, attention, encoding, forgetting, retrieval, knowledge vs. critical skills). I point out ineffective (feel-good) learning strategies: e.g. highlighting, re-reading, cramming, writing after reading. I present students with strategies and tools decreasing cognitive load and multitasking, improving attention, encoding, and retrieval, reducing complexity while reading or writing, promoting higher-level processes: analysis, synthesis, criticality  (e.g. spaced-repetition, building schemata, incremental reading, cognitive categorization, deep processing, elaboration, practice retrieval, elaboration, chunking, comprehensible input, automation, academic workflows, interleaving,  deliberate practice, feedback).

How do I develop students’ autonomy?

I focus on learning rather than teaching. I assess students’ readiness for independent learning. I help students develop SMART goals. I use authentic materials and tasks, develop self-efficacy through mastery experiences, develop students’ awareness and knowledge of cognitive learning processes, language learning methods, approaches, and tools, propose actionable steps and solutions, harness assistive technology (e.g. language learning, knowledge management, writing & reading software).  I believe that ‘digital tools’ are important for all students but critical for international students since technology can decrease extraneous cognitive load and compensate for linguistic deficiencies. I teach students to accept mistakes and tolerate ambiguity.  I help students understand the importance of time-on-task, deliberate practice, 80/20 principle, deep learning, self-evaluation, self-reflection, and feedback. I help students to understand when and where to look for help.

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