Turnitin Similarity Report

I have been supervising dissertation students recently at several institutions.

One thing that has been mentioned several times is the interpretation of the Turnitin Similarity Report. One student showed me her Turnitin report in which she had received a similarity score of 32%. She was worried as she had been told that anything above 20% was problematic. I looked at her work and found that most of the 32% similarity was made up of typical EAP phrases. Examples are “questions have been raised over the ,,,”, “… have received very little consideration” and “this evidence leads us to reject the hypothesis that…” These are kinds of phrases that EAP students are expected to learn and use and are covered in books such as Jeanne Godfrey’s The student phrase book (Godfrey, 2013) and John Morley’s online Academic Phrasebank.

Continue reading

Dissertation Management

I have been supervising MA student doing dissertations for many years now at several institutions and this is the time of year when we usually get started.

As soon as I am given the list of students who I will be supervising, I usually email each student and give them some information about me. I ask them to reply with some information about themselves. Some reply quickly, some reply slowly and some do not reply at all until I have sent several reminders.

Continue reading

Reporting Findings from Interviews

I have been supervising students doing research at both undergraduate and graduate levels recently and many of the students have been doing qualitative studies, involving interviews. In doing so, I have found that many of them find it difficult to report their findings and provide evidence. I am not surprised as there does not seem to be much information available. As Robert Yin (2011, p. 234) has made clear:

At a minimum, a common kind of narrative data would take the form of quotations and paraphrased passages, representing your study participants’ descriptions their own lives, actions, and views. In qualitative research, even these briefer descriptions serve as an important form of data. Not surprisingly, the choices about how to present these narrative data are more than a matter of literary style. Methodological issues also are relevant. Yet, this type of narrative — whether brief or lengthy — has not received much attention in existing guides for doing qualitative research.

I have looked through the publications in the references list below. Most of them are excellent, but none of them provide the useful information that my students need.

There are some useful suggestions, but none of them – apart from Yin – are detailed enough:

Continue reading

Languages for Specific Purposes: Review.

Language for Specific Purposes. Sandra Gollin-Kies, David R. Hall, and Stephen H. Moore. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Theoretical and practical books about ESP teaching are rare, so I was happy to see this book available recently. Although the title is “Languages for Specific Purposes”, most of the examples are from English and as well as that useful research from other languages is included. The book is highly recommended to all ESP, including EAP, teachers.

In Language for Specific Purposes, Gollin-Kies, Hall, and Moore provide a good overview of the history, concepts, application, pedagogy and research of language for specific purposes (LSP).

Continue reading

IATEFL ESP SIG Journal

After 10 years of support, Garnet Education are no longer be in a position to sponsor the IATEFL SIG Journal after issue 47. Garnet Education has provided unmatched professional support of the highest quality which stretches from issue 30 (Summer-Autumn 2007) until now (issue 47). They have also sponsored the publication of four ESP SIG books, and for this we are indebted too. With Garnet’s sponsorship we have been able to develop a solid set of EAP and ESP publications which we will now have to maintain in our own right.

It is now necessary to make plans for the future of the journal. The opinion of the ESP SIG committee and the journal editors is that they should take this opportunity to switch to an electronic version of the journal in the immediate future in order to keep up with the times. The committee wanted to know what members thought of this proposal. A short questionnaire was sent out. The committee hoped that IATEFL would publish the findings, but, as they didn’t, here they are:

Continue reading

IATEFL ESP SIG PCE, 2016 – Overview

I’ve just returned from the IATEFL English for Specific Purposes (ESP) Special Interest Group (SIG) Pre-Conference Event (PCE) in Birmingham, UK.

The theme of the PCE was tensions and debates in ESP and EAP.

As usual it was a very interesting day with teachers from many parts of the world discussing how they go about trying to meet the academic and professional linguistic needs of their students, sometimes with limited resources.

Continue reading

Development of EAP, through BALEAP PIMs

I’ve been asked to give a short talk at the next BALEAP PIM on the the history of BALEAP PIMs (Professional Issues Meetings). As I was preparing this, I thought it would be interesting to see how the topics, as shown by the titles of the presentations, have changed over the years. Continue reading

Does EAP work?

I’ve long been interested in whether or not what we do is successful. Do the EAP courses that we teach help our learners to succeed in their academic lives?

There is very little research in this area and one reason for this is that it is very difficult to define what we mean by success and even more difficult to be clear about what causes it. Continue reading