Outline some examples of the teaching practices or methods you commonly use in your EMI teaching
When introducing concepts that could be difficult to understand, I sometimes start with the concepts in all of their complexity, definitions of which oftentimes contain complex and specialised language, but then deconstruct these building on learners’ experiences, and using easier language, pictures, or videos but also the just introduced terminology as part of the definition to help students construct their understanding of the concept. I then build on these concepts to introduce further concepts.
An example from my lecture that Kirsi observed was the cool whip (https://youtu.be/7ZmqJQ-nc_s) to describe assessment of the process of learning, in which teaching, learning and assessment are parts of the same process, building on the newly introduced concepts of reciprocity and transcendence. Once I have checked that the students’ understanding has developed, I then build on this which introducing a further concept, in this case, a dialectical relationship of teaching, learning, and assessment in the process discussed above.
What I also try to do is to ask learners to share and reflect on their own experiences. This is above all, to engage learners in thinking together rather than ‘imposing’ my own understanding onto them in a unidirectional manner. For example, before challenging the common meaning of the word assessment in the assessment of learning culture, I ask learners to think what comes to their mind when they think about the word ‘assessment’ and then ask if this is the only assessment that they have experienced.
I also use metaphors to develop learners’ critical thinking. One example from the same teaching contact session that Kirsi observed is using the picture attached to first discuss assessment of learning culture but then, towards the end of the session, as hopefully, learners’ understanding of assessment has developed, ask them to think about the same picture again (this time, the intention being that they mention ways of helping different learners to complete the task, finding these ways being the goal of assessment).
Overall, I try to leave the thinking part to learners
What demands do you think they put on the student and on you from a languages perspective?
I think the demand here is not just the language,–thinking just from the perspective of the language is not particularly useful, in my opinion. Rather it is the integration of language and content that creates the complexity. So using language to mediate content and using language to mediate content is what helps.
I think, being conscious about it is what helps me to mediate the language (and content).
After all, the idea is that learners at the end of the day socialise into the academic community, so they should also possess academic language, not just the content knowledge.
How could you improve your EMI teaching practices or methods in order to cater for these demands?
I still am stereotypical sometimes towards learners. For example, I expect somebody coming from the US to have massive experience with standardised tests but less so with assessment for learning, even though they could have spent years in other countries, including Finland. What helps me, again, is being conscious about my stereotypes. Starting with learning about learners experiences is what helps me overcome this. Perhaps, I should do it more often.
I am not saying here that stereotypes are bad–they are a good starting point.
Come to think of it, a lot of the above is about my teaching philosophy, so I guess, there are bound to be overlaps when I start putting it together.