An action research exploration of a critical approach to English for Academic Purposes (EAP)

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University of New Brunswick


As a method to better inform and improve practice, but also as a vehicle for affecting real change in the teaching and learning environment, participatory action research is a relevant and applicable methodology. This research study describes an action research project within the context of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) in a post-secondary classroom, where aspects of critical approach to second language pedagogy were explored. The research questions were: How would a critical approach to EAP (English for Academic Purposes) better inform my own teaching practices, and approaches to language teaching pedagogy, and what would the implications of a critical approach to EAP be for the learners? Through a theoretical framework of critical pedagogy, inquiry, and literacy, it was an aim of the study to examine whether EAP programmes might serve a dual purpose: to enhance language ability and proficiency in a way not usually approached in existing EAP curricula and texts, while potentially allowing for a deeper consideration of how EAP learners view themselves and their lived experiences within the academic discourse community. Through an exploration of these concepts, a more nuanced, meaningful understanding of the complex relationships between second language learners, their instructors, and the post-secondary institutions where they learn was sought. Furthermore, seeking a better understanding of my own teaching practice was also a primary aim of the research. Findings from research showed certain pedagogical and theoretical assumptions to teaching and learning in an EAP context, viewed through a critical lens to pedagogy, were validated; others were rejected or remained inconclusive. Potentials for further study, specifically in the domains of plurilingual pedagogies and pedagogical third spaces, are also discussed.