English Australia, acting for and on behalf of ELICOS Association Limited. ISSN 1449- ... In this paper I evaluate the provisions made in Australian high ... in education in many parts of the world due to globalisation and international ... Association of Language Testers in Europe 1997; IDP Education Australia: IELTS Australia.
Refereed Journal Paper 3
Glew, P. J. (2001). Delivering English language courses for overseas students in an independent school context. EA Journal 19(1), 40-49.
EA Journal A TESOL Publication of English Australia Pty Ltd English Australia, acting for and on behalf of ELICOS Association Limited ISSN 1449-4496
Delivering English language courses for overseas students in an independent school context PAUL j GLEW University
of Western Sydney
This paper addresses a question being asked by a growing number of schools in the independent education sector about how to provide English language instruction within an Australian school context to international students who arefrom language backgrounds other than English. Although international students may complete English language courses in Australia, on commencing at a secondary school they can lack the proficiency in English to meet the linguistic demands of their content-based subject studies and find that they are unable to achieve the results required tofurther their education. In this paper I evaluate the provisions made in Australian high schoolsfor English language instruction and explore the implementation of aprogram in an independent school context to deliver English language courses for overseas students who are preparingfor high school and further education studies.
Setting the Scene The study of English as an additional language (EAL) has become increasingly important in education in many parts of the world due to globalisation and international communication (Baldauf 1998; The Australian Council ofTESOL Associations 1999; Singh 2000). It is in view of this fact that the issues raised in this paper concern the teaching of English and preparation of full-fee-paying international students with a first language other than English (FLOTE) (Kirkpatrick 1994) for further studies in Australia (Warner 1999). Combined English language and further education preparation courses for international FLOTE students are conducted at many of the 169 accredited institutions in Australia which provide English language intensive courses for overseas students (ELICOS) (National ELT Accreditation Scheme Limited 1999-2000). Nowadays, 'Many TAPEs offer ELICOS courses, and there are ELICOS departments within or closely associated with most universities' (Brandon 2000:2). This paper firstly discusses the effectivenessofELICOS as a gatewayfor international FLOTE students who are preparing to further their education in Australia. Secondly, it examines the provision of English language instruction for secondary school students in Australia. Finally, the paper explores the development of an ELICOS program for international PLOTE students undertaking English for high school preparation and further education studies at an English college which was established by an independent school. In discussing the program, the paper aims to present some ELICOS program initiatives and curriculum delivery strategies for independent schools and calls for them to examine the implementation of ELICOS for full-fee-paying international PLOTE students.
The Issue Given the interest of international FLOTE students in studying at Australian institutions, many ELICOS operators offer preparation courses for students who are seeking admission to high schools, pre-university foundation studies, certificate and diploma courses and university undergraduate programs. In a 1992 survey of students studying ELICOS, 'sixty percent of all respondents expressed an interest in proceeding to a course other than English on completion of their current ELICOS course' (ELICOS Association Limited 1993:35). For international FLOTE students intending to further their education in Australia, the preparation courses offered at ELICOS institutions in various private schools, colleges and universities provide a range of English language study opportunities (Education Australia 1997-98). However, despite studiously attending and completing an ELICOS preparation program for high school or tertiary studies, a student may not necessarily achieve the proficiency in English to meet the linguistic demands of further studies in Australia. Determining Readiness In countries where education is conducted in English, tertiary institutions often require international FLOTE students to provide results from examinations such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with their admissions application (The Association of Language Testers in Europe 1997; IDP Education Australia: IELTS Australia 1999). The IELTS, for instance, is used to indicate the linguistic readiness of a student for the study of content-based subjects that use the medium of English for instruction (Deakin 1997-98). Nevertheless, internationally recognised English proficiency tests are not commonly used in assessing international FLOTE students who are applying for admission to independent secondary schools in Australia. Given the time, expertise and expense involved in conducting English proficiency testing, schools often determine the readiness of applicants for secondary schooling from the reports they receive from ELICOS institutions and overseas secondary schools. However, in examining the reporting procedures for ELICOS, Carroll (1995-96:42) contends that 'Since there is no protocol common to the ELI COS sector, assessments by one institution are not readily transferable to another'. Consequently, the English language assessment results of students from different ELICOS institutions are not readily comparable. Therefore, secondary schools enrolling international FLOTE students who have completed ELICOS studies need to independently determine if the programs conducted by ELI COS institutions have satisfactorily prepared the students with a sufficient proficiency in English for studying content-based subjects at a high school. English Language Instruction for High School Students On completing a high school preparation ELICOS program and commencing at a secondary school, there is usually little or no provision of additional English instruction for international FLOTE students. On the other hand, Australian students who use English as a second language (ESL) are usually able to receive some government-funded ESL instruction either at a school or an intensive English centre (Burns 1999; Cruickshank 1999; Freeman & Payne 1992; Stefaniuk 2000). Given the number of ESL students in
Australian schools, English (ESL) courses are also provided as an alternative to standard English courses to eligible senior secondary school students (Brown 1997; Department of Training and Education Co-ordination New South Wales 1997a, 1997b). In 2000 the New South Wales Year 11 Preliminary Certificate English (ESL) course and the Year 12 Higher School Certificate English (ESL) course were implemented to meet the needs of senior secondary school ESL students. International FLOTE students are likely to benefit from this syllabus as they may study the English (ESL) courses if they have been educated 'using English as the language of instruction for five years or less prior to the beginning of the Preliminary year of study' (Board of Studies NSW 1999:58). For international FLOTE students undertaking senior secondary school studies in Australia, the English (ESL) cours.es can provide a limited but valuable opportunity for them to receive further ESL instruction while studying their other high school subjects.
Introducing ELICOS into School Contexts In response to the interest of international FLOTE students in obtaining admission into secondary school and further education courses in Australia, some independent schools have sought to establish their own ELICOS centres. This paper offers a response to the growing number of inquiries from schools in the independent education sector who are investigating the integration of international students and ELICOS into an existing school context and aims to meet a demand for knowledge on this topic in the profession. Given that the interest of independent schools in operating as ELICOS providers is only relatively recent, there exists a notable gap in the literature on ELICOS in Australian school contexts. On entering the ELICOS market with appropriate accreditation (National ELT Accreditation Scheme Limited 2000), well-established independent schools possess the resources and experience in education to make a valuable contribution to the development of ELICOS programs for students who are preparing to further their studies in Australia. Nevertheless, as implementing an ELICOS program is not the same as conducting a school program for Australian students, there are a number of important questions that are worth raising and exploring. In particular: •
What are some of the programming and course delivery issues that independent schools should consider in establishing an ELICOS centre? How should ELICOS in an independent school be conducted to most effectively prepare international FLOTE students for content-based subject studies in Australian high schools and further education courses? What types of instruction need to be implemented to meet the different learning needs and ability levels of students in ELICOS who are applying for secondary schooling from Year 7 through to Year 12 and beyond?
To contextualise a brief investigation of these questions, the following discussion includes examples from an ELICOS program at Coverdale International English College. The English
for high school preparation and English for further education courses that are referred to in the following section offer a description ofELICOS in one independent school setting (Newsmonth 2000). Although the discussion focuses on how an independent school can prepare students for content-based subject studies through ELICOS, the curriculum development and implementation issues that are examined in the light of teaching English to speakers of other languages are likely to be applicable to other ELICOS institutions and school settings. Program Matters In planning an English language program, independent schools intending to participate in the ELI COS market should commence by reviewing literature on the teaching and learning of English as an additional language (Glew 1995, 1998, 1999). The program plan should also take into account factors such as the qualifications and expertise of ELICOS staff as well as the allocation of time, funds and resources for program administration, course accreditation, curriculum development, marketing overseas and student recruitment. Although these factors are all worthy of attention in program planning, the remaining discussion focuses particularly on structuring, delivering and developing ELICOS curriculum in an independent school context. Curriculum Structure To effectively prepare international FLOTE students for content-based subject studies in Australian high schools and further education courses, ELICOS in independent schools must offer a curriculum structure that not only addresses the particular English language learning needs of the students but also provides instruction relevant to content-based subject studies. Moreover, the program should offer beginner to advanced ELICOS classes so that the students can be instructed at the levels that are appropriate for their proficiency in English. ELICOS programs in independent schools could be constructed in various ways to meet the language learning and education needs of students. However, the following recommendations for the structure ofELICOS curriculum in an independent school are based on courses that have been successfully implemented at Coverdale International English College. To cater for the different learning needs and abilities of students preparing for secondary schooling from Year 7 through to Year 12 and beyond, it is useful to distinguish between the requirements of compulsory and non-compulsory studies. Firstly, in structuring ELICOS curriculum for students who are preparing for compulsory secondary schooling in Year 7 through to Year 10, independent schools should implement an English for high school preparation course. The course content needs to focus on developing the general English proficiency of the students as well as their competency in using English in core content-based subject areas such as Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and Computing. In addition to being orientated to the culture, teaching and learning
practices of an Australian school, it is important for students to also have opportunities to participate in selected recreation activities and events with Australian students. Secondly, independent schools should provide an English for further education course for students who are eligible to study in post-compulsory education programs in Australia. Admission to an English for further education course can be limited to students who have previously completed four years of compulsory secondary schooling and are preparing specifically for senior secondary school courses, foundation studies and pre-university certificate or diploma courses. To effectively prepare students for further studies the English for further education curriculum should include the study of English for general and academic purposes, the development of research and seminar presentation skills, and a component that offers instruction on fundamental business communication, computing and information technology issues. Given that Australian institutions offering postcompulsory education programs may require international FLOTE students to provide evidence of English proficiency for admission, the English for further education course should also introduce students to examinations such as the IELTS. Strategies for Delivering the Curriculum The delivery ofELICOS curriculum involves the strategic monitoring of student progress and a continual assessment of performance in class, research projects and English tests so that an academic profile can be collated for each student to accurately indicate achievement in the course and the development of the learner's proficiency in English. Moreover, for the curriculum to effectively meet the language learning and education needs of students who are preparing for secondary school and further education studies, teachers need to use a range of teaching and learning strategies in delivering course content. In particular, the strategies should include the following:
1. Providing the learner with visual support When using English to present unfamiliar content to learners, the teacher should incorporate visual resources that include items such as pictures, illustrations, graphs, charts and diagrams. These provide a context for learning new language by making lexical items and descriptions comprehensible (The Australian Council ofTESOL Associations 1999). In learning about whether patterns for Science studies, for example, a picture of the water cycle that is linked with the vocabulary and descriptions provides learners with a key visual that supports the language.
2. Activating the learner'sprior knowledge In activating a learner's prior knowledge of a topic and ensuring that the knowledge can be expressed in English, the teacher is effectively preparing the learner to build onto an existing understanding of the topic. Teachers can establish the prior knowledge that learners have of a topic by using activities such as group discussion tasks, creative writing, studentdeveloped questionnaires and vocabulary exercises. For example, in preparing an elementary level student to study a topic on transport the teacher can stimulate the prior knowledge of
the student and obtain useful feedback on the vocabulary that the student already understands by using word-association and mind-mapping. In the activity the learner could work individually or in a small group using a word-bank to select vocabulary items for a mind-map which groups words in categories such as vehicles, directions, hazards and locations.
3. Drawing the attention of the learner to the form and fUnction of the language While providing feedback and developing the knowledge learners have of a topic, the teacher must ensure that the attention of the learner is also drawn to the relationship between the function oflanguage in expressing meaning and its grammatical form. Doughy and Williams (1998:261) argue that for teachers it is of the utmost importance to question 'how to integrate attention to form and meaning ... throughout the curriculum'. In media studies, for example, the teacher can highlight the use of past tense and present perfect in news reports. By viewing and transcribing selected television news reports the teacher can instruct learners on the function of the language as well as its form. This activity could lead into learners writing their own news broadcasts.
4. Preparing the learner to receivefeedback and produce output Teachers facilitate the language development of the learner by promoting an environment in which learners can receive feedback on their English and produce language output. Research on learning English indicates that the production of comprehensible language output by a learner 'entails the provision of useful and consistent feedback from teachers and peers' (Lyster and Ranta 1997:41). By providing feedback and negotiating language meaning a student can learn important skills in how to monitor their own language production and self-correct to produce written and spoken English which is more comprehensible. Collaborative language learning tasks that involve students in preparing to play a role, debate an issue or participate in an interview are effective in creating a learning and teaching environment for teacher and peer feedback and the production of learner output. Delivering an ELICOS curriculum for students who are preparing for secondary school and further education studies involves evaluating the teaching program, assessing the effectiveness of the course content, and exploring how to incorporate the variety of teaching and learning modes that promote English language development. The course content needs to be developed for composite classes so that the teaching and learning material is appropriate for the age and interests of the students. By integrating pair work, group tasks and research projects, teachers can create opportunities to interact with students individually and instruct students in small groups as they work on different language learning activities. In the Coverdale English for high school preparation course, for example, the students learn English through modified studies in content-based areas, such as Science. Integrating selected content-based resources into the teaching and learning of English as an additional language (EAL) is paramount to the successful preparation of students for high school and future education studies. In fact, it is argued that 'The learning of English for pupils with EAL
takes place as much in science, mathematics, humanities and the arts as it does in the 'subject' English' (The Australian Council ofTESOL Associations 1999:4).
Selecting a Syllabus Design and Curriculum Development
In order to facilitate a regular evaluation of the curriculum and the integration of teacherdeveloped resources and content-based materials into an ELICOS curriculum, it is important to adopt an appropriate syllabus design and curriculum development model. The Coverdale ELICOS curriculum integrated the use of a text-based syllabus design (Feez 1999) and an interaction model for curriculum development (Brady 1993) a.sthese offer sufficient flexibility to incorporate a variety of content-based texts and language teaching strategies with the program objectives and learning outcomes. Underpinning the text-based syllabus design are aspects of the genre approach to language education, second language learning and teaching methodology and critical discourse analysis. Overall, the text-based syllabus design focuses on instructing students on 'how language varies systematically - within the stable text patterns of the culture - according to the immediate context in which it is used' (Feez 1999: 11). Given its genre-based approach, the text-based syllabus design develops an understanding of the recurring patterns of texts and how to deconstruct written texts as well as how to label texts using formal grammatical features that contribute to textual cohesion and structure and interpret connections between texts and their social contexts (Mackay 1995). Finally, adopting the interaction model for ELICOS curriculum development can enable teachers to regularly evaluate the curriculum without unwarranted attention to only meeting course objectives. Although the interaction model contains the elements of the commonly used objectives model, it permits significantly more interaction or movement between the course content, learning outcomes, evaluation and the objectives (Brady 1993). Consequently, the model provides a flexible framework for ELICOS curriculum delivery as the elements can be readily amended to meet the language learning needs of the students.
Conclusion This paper presents a call for schools in the independent education sector to assess the provision ofELICOS for international FLOTE students who intend to pursue secondary school and further education studies in Australia. Given the resources and experience of independent schools in education, I believe that as ELICOS providers they have the potential to make a valuable contribution to English language education for international students. It is my hope that further investigations of ELICOS for secondary school and further education studies will contribute to the needed dissemination of research on delivering English language courses in Australian school contexts. .
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Paul Glew is a doctoral student at the University of Western Sydney and the Director of Studies for Coverdale International English College and Coverdale Christian School Intensive English Centre, Australia.