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Thursday, July 4 • 11:30am - 12:30pm
Diving for pearls: Exploring EAP curriculum enactment with Semantics

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This talk reports on doctoral research that sought to better understand and articulate how English for Academic Purposes (EAP) is locally enacted. The research context was a university summer pre-sessional programme for international students. At the time of data collection, I was the course director and the questions shaping the research emerged over a number of years in this role, particularly through the observation of teaching staff. Taking a case study approach and informed by a social realist lens (Bernstein, 1990; 2000; Maton, 2014), the research asked:
• How is EAP locally enacted?
• What are the organising principles underpinning this enactment?

Drawing on Bernstein's notion of recontextualisation and theorising of the epistemic pedagogic device (Maton, 2014, after Bernstein, 1990), the study explored the 'double enactment' of EAP: firstly, from the values and beliefs shaping the pre-sessional ethos into curriculum, and then from pedagogic materials into classroom practices. Data collection and analysis combined interviews with the course designers, examination of curriculum materials, and exploration of videos of teaching.

The analytical framework drew on two dimensions of Legitimation Code Theory, Specialisation and Semantics (Maton, 2014). Specialisation's component concepts of epistemic relations (relations between knowledge and its object of study) and social relations (relations between knowledge and knowers) were used to explore the macro-orientation and goals of the pre-sessional programme. The Semantics concept of semantic gravity (the relative context dependency of meaning) was then enacted to analyse the structuring principles of materials design and classroom recontextualisation.

In this talk I focus on the insights gained into the principles structuring teaching materials and their 'translation' at the chalkface by EAP practitioners. I thus limit discussion mostly to Semantics based analysis. I present the language of description (LoD) developed from and for data exploration, and show briefly how this LoD emerged through examination of both study materials and classroom practice. Analysis of pedagogic potential in the EAP coursebook and its differential realisation by three experienced teachers revealed signature features on the page and in pedagogy. I present one particular signature profile, which emerged as a leitmotif across tasks and lessons in course design. Given its contour, I dub this the 'pearl dive'. I also provide examples of signature practices exhibited by teachers. These help to make visible how practitioners enact the values and expectations underpinning course design.

Taken together the principles structuring these practices reveal the ways in which local values and commitments become configured in curriculum and classroom. In a profession still in flux and characterised by significant variation across contexts, this study provides a basis for articulating the local instantiation of EAP. Little work of this kind exists to date. Most EAP research that nods to practice tends to overlook or ignore the shifts that occur in recontextualisation. More work enacting LCT concepts for research into the grounded enactment of EAP is needed, I argue therefore, to better understand and theorise the local realisation of materials and methodology.


Thursday July 4, 2019 11:30am - 12:30pm
Room B48

Attendees (4)