Teaching English for Academic Purposes (EAP) must be one of the fastest growing sectors for English teachers. Due to the increasing demand, especially from Chinese students, it is possible to teach it with a CELTA, but to be surer of being accepted for such a position, a DELTA is a very useful qualification. Because of the shortage of suitably qualified and/or experienced teachers, there are many vacancies during the summer for 4, 6, 10, or 16-week courses and sometimes for longer in-sessional courses (run at a University) during the rest of the year.
What is EAP?
As well as teaching English, academic skills are very important. The main skills will you be expected to teach if you move into EAP include:
• note-taking and outlining
• vocabulary building
• academic reading
• academic writing
• listening, including listening to lectures
• speaking, e.g. presenting in groups or individually
• working in groups
• seminar skills
When (overseas) students join British universities, they must sit IELTS exams and gain band scores that are high enough to obtain a British visa, and meet the entry requirements of the University. If they are too low to join their degree courses, they may be invited to attend pre-sessional courses. If their English and study skills improve sufficiently, they may join their chosen course.
Because of the high numbers of students wanting to attend English speaking universities (predominantly in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia) there are many career openings for EAP tutors.
For those of you who want to teach EAP overseas, the far east, including China, is a huge, expanding market and several British universities have departments or other links with local counterparts. Teachers either sign long-term contracts or can work there on short pre-sessional EAP courses which the students attend before coming to the UK or another English-speaking country to study and perhaps complete the degrees they have started in their home country.
Moving from ELT to EAP
If you do not yet have the required qualifications to become an EAP tutor, but are experienced as an EFL teacher, it might be possible to gain EAP experience as a language support teacher. Such work may involve one to one or small group teaching or running workshops or speaking clubs for students, and/or teaching study skills. These classes can either be run as part of a pre-sessional course or students can join ones that are run throughout the year to support them when they start studying for their undergraduate or postgraduate degrees. Most, if not all, of universities that have foreign students help them in this way.
Since EAP is also very useful for all students, many universities offer information about skills, such as reading, writing, speaking, presenting, researching, and listening, in their websites. These are available for everyone to access, not only teachers and students registered with them. All in all, the goal of the EAP tutor is to enable their students to become independent learners.
After some experience as a support tutor, you will be much better placed to fully develop your career in EAP.
Getting a job
Many British vacancies are advertised by BALEAP, which is dedicated to supporting EAP tutors. EAP positions are advertised throughout the year, and if you would like to have first choice of available ones, it is a good idea to apply early. BALEAP advertises many of the British ones and occasionally advertises vacancies in other countries.
BALEAP runs a Teaching English for Academic Purposes (TEAP) scheme which encourages the continuing professional development (CPD) of its members. You build up your own portfolio of work and become an Associate Fellow, Fellow or Senior Fellow.
TEAP is an individual accreditation scheme that encourages and recognises the continuing professional development of individual BALEAP members. It is portfolio-based and appropriate for all EAP teachers, whether they have 3 months’ experience or 3 decades. There are 3 TEAP pathways: Associate Fellow, Fellow and Senior Fellow. According to the BALEAP website: “They do so by writing a reflective claim and by building up a portfolio of evidence to support that claim.” The TEAP Competency Framework 2008 itemises in detail the knowledge and skills you need to become a fellow.
In conclusion, once you have been there and acquired a T-shirt from your general English or summer school course in a language school, broaden your horizons and teach EAP. Some teachers who work in British schools earn extra money by teaching an EAP course in a British university. You will expand your knowledge and intellectually challenge yourself when you teach EAP. Enjoy!