Meeting October 22: Teaching practices, demands and suggestions

Today I will write about the teaching practices and methods I frequently use. I will structure my post around the questions we were given.  I will start with the teaching practices and methods  and continue with the demands and suggestions for improvements.

Outline some examples of the teaching practices or methods you commonly use in your EMI teaching.

The teaching practices I am familiar with are lecturing, workshop and blended teaching. The teaching practice I use depends on the course, the context and the department. Sometimes the practice for a course is specified, for example, the Language Centre in Vaasa uses a workshop practice for teaching the Reading Comprehension and Text Analysis. Other times, I can decide which teaching practice I wish to use. Most of my courses mix practices and methods a bit. For my methods, I use Moodle, PowerPoint and recently started to use blogging, as well.

What demands do you think they put on the student and on you from a language perspective? How could you improve your EMI teaching practices or methods in order to cater for these demands?

The teacher

Although language is extremely important in all teaching contexts, excellent spoken communication skills are more important in lecturing because the students must listen for longer amounts of time and are more passive than in, for instance, a workshop-based context. From a linguistic point of view, you must be aware of pronunciation, pace, pause, intonation and grammar, etc. In addition, you must consider both the vocabulary and the register of English that you use. For instance, can you explain the key points in both academic and plain English, so the students understand? In addition, you must internalize the topic to convey the information to them. Visuals are great for concentration and for clarification. However, in traditional lecturing students are very passive, and therefore questions and short team assignments are necessary to activate their critical thinking.

In blended and online teaching, written communication skills and grammar are important skills. Since you miss out on the benefits of class room interaction, face-to-face discussions and nonverbal communication, the instructions must be well organized, clear and precise. The challenge here, I believe, is how do you create a sense of community and belongingness with a group that you may only see a couple of times or perhaps never see? How do you activate their critical thinking?

Structure and clarity are also important in a workshop-based course. Since the practice is student-centered, the teacher must be clear about rules and information together with lead the workshop, tutor and provide feedback.

The Student

From the students’ point of view, lecturing requires great listening and concentration skills. Without visuals, it also sharpens their ability to take notes and memorize the content. Students are mainly passive.

Contrariwise, the workshop practice is student-centered, which means that the students are active, engage in critical thinking with their peers and the teacher.  At the same time, they are responsible for their learning experience.

In online or blended teaching, the students often work individually and have a great deal of responsibility for the assignments and their learning experience and critical thinking.