This page gives some basic information about the website: what EAP is; who the website is for; and some information about me, the author. This About page also gives some information about some of the key features of the website, such as the AWL widget, the podcasts, and the Links menus, as well as discussing some of the educational principles on which the site is founded, namely learning styles and learner autonomy.
There is a podcast recording available for this page, which you can listen to now or download for later.
Another important feature of the website is the podcasts. I have tried to make one available on each page. Why is this so important? The answer has to do with learning styles (mentioned below, and in the Study Skills section). Educators have classified learners into three types: visual learners, who learn best by seeing; auditory learners, who learn best by listening; and kinaesthetic learners, who learn best by doing. It is likely that learners employ all of these styles, and the best way to learn is to combine all three, in other words, to see, hear, and do. The podcasts will aid in this. They can be listened to while you read the page, or downloaded for listening to later. Try it now.
Another useful feature of the website is the Links menu. This shows as a bar to the left, and will take you to related webpages within this website ('internal links', in green), as well as to external websites which deal with the same topic ('external links', in yellow). This is important: in order to fully understand a topic, you need to read what others have said about it. If you have any suggestions for useful websites that you think could be added to the Links menu, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can add them.
Another important principle of the site is learner autonomy, also called learner independence. Students who have more control over their learning are likely to improve more quickly than those who do not. One example of how learners using the site can be more autonomous or 'in control' is the Forum. Here you can post questions for other students to answer, and help to answer other students' problems. Another example of how learner autonomy is used is the checklists (such as this example), usually at the end of a section. These allow the student to assess their learning, either on their own, or working with a peer (another student). Working with peers is one of the keys to successful learning: they have more time to help you than your teachers do, they share a similar learning experience, and they may even have very similar educational or social backgrounds.
EAP, short for English for Academic Purposes, is the English students need for success in academic (usually university) study. It is a discipline usually studied by international students before they begin a course of study at university, although in fact the skills involved in EAP are useful for all students engaged in academic study, including native speakers. Examples of what EAP includes are:
As the name suggests, the main focus of EAPFOUNDATION.COM is the foundations or basics of EAP. The website is primarily intended for students who are undertaking a foundation year programme or a pre-sessional programme in preparation for full university study. The website should also, however, be useful for students who are already studying at university and who need to brush up on their academic English skills, as well as students who are preparing for university study but who have never formally studied EAP before. The wealth of information, activities and exercises mean it should also prove a valuable resource for EAP teachers.
My name is Sheldon Smith and I am an EAP teacher and academic manager working in Guangzhou, China. I have been teaching EAP for over a decade, most of that time working with Chinese students who plan to study at university overseas. Although I grew up in England and all of my schooling took place there, I was born in Singapore, where I lived for the first year and a bit of my life. The Orient is in my blood, and the Far East is where most of my working life has been spent. My teaching and programme management in China have helped over one thousand students achieve their dream of studying at an overseas university, mainly in the UK, the USA, and Australia.
My progression to EAP teacher is an unusual one. I originally studied pure mathematics at undergraduate level, but my heart was never in it, and I spent my university years reading literature rather than course books and dreamed of being a writer. Years as an aspiring writer of novels (more of which here) helped to hone my skills with the English language. I still keenly remember the hours spent in my local library, researching facts for my books and conning dictionaries to check the usage of my vocabulary, in much the same way that my students do. A Cambridge University DELTA and a Masters in Educational Leadership have given focus to my teaching and management skills, but it is fair to say that the creativity of a writer of fiction, and the analytical skills needed by a mathematician, have also served me well in my role as a teacher, academic manager, and web designer.
I hope you enjoy the site, and find it useful, either for your study (if you are a student) or work (if you are a teacher).
17 April, 2013