Many Students in Higher Education studying at British institutions of higher education experience problems. Some of these problems will be general to all students, but many will be particular to those students who are non-native speakers of English. Most UK universities therefore run EAP (English for Academic Purposes) courses. The object of these courses is to help Students in Higher Education overcome some of the linguistic difficulties involved in studying thought the medium of English. These courses are normally taught in groups with the content determined by the lecturer in advance. The students in the class are from different countries, studying different subjects at different levels. There are three main problems, though, with these classes, which means that attendance is often low:
- Access. Access to these classes is difficult for many of these students. Even for the ones who are physically present on one of the campuses in Hertfordshire, the big problem is timetabling. It is very difficult to find a time and a room when students are available.
- Language needs. Another difficulty with these classes is that the needs of the students vary enormously. From a language point of view some students need to improve their writing, while others need to improve their listening. Even if it was possible, for example, to form a group of post-graduate business students from China who all wanted to improve their writing, there could still be very big differences in the competence and needs of the students.
- Learning styles. Students, especially from different cultures, also have different preferred learning styles (Thorpe, 1991 Jin & Cortazzi, 1993 1993) they prefer to work in different ways. Some students, for example, prefer to work alone while some prefer to work in groups. Some students prefer a step by step presentation by the lecturer whereas others like a holistic presentation. Some want to organise their own material and others want the lecturer to present and explain everything.