Beyond the Classroom: Listening and Speaking English for Academic Purposes

Beyond the Classroom is a Q&A series where ALT-2040 project teams share their thoughts and experiences leading learning transformation at UBC Okanagan.

This Q&A features:

Lead Applicant: Dr. Scott Douglas

Project: Listening and Speaking English for Academic Purposes: Materials Development for Students Learning English As An Additional Language On UBC Okanagan Campus 

Please provide a short overview of your project. 

Our project supported the development of open educational resources focused on listening and speaking materials for multilingual students learning English as an additional language (EAL) in the Okanagan School of Education’s English Foundation Program. The English Foundation Program is an educational pathway to higher education for academically admissible students who are working towards meeting UBC’s English language proficiency requirements. The program welcomes students from around the world studying in a variety of disciplines and combines credit-bearing EAL courses with other first-year courses while scaffolding their engagement in the local and campus communities.

With the goal of living well in this place at the centre of this open educational resources development project, a team of faculty members, undergraduate, and graduate students came together to create a series of listening and speaking units of inquiry, each representing approximately 12 hours of instruction. All the materials, including audio and video files, are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 international license, allowing students and instructors around the world free access to these materials, saving them money on textbooks while also giving them access to the very latest learning materials. To date, four units have been published, fostering the development of listening and speaking skills in English through a study of topics related to ecology, technology, geography, and business.

Access the materials

What inspired you to pursue this project? 

Part of the inspiration behind this project came from the First Peoples Principles of Learning, specifically the principle related to learning being “holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational.” This project was an opportunity to follow these principles with intention and ground the materials with a sense of place in the Okanagan—something that is a hallmark of the Okanagan School of Education’s English Foundation Program. For example, the unit on ecology examines why rivers and lakes should have rights and how wildfires have gotten worse, the unit on geography includes a video on Kalamalka Lake, and the unit on business highlights an Indigenous-owned local business. The idea is that the thoughtful embodiment of the First Peoples Principles of Learning can build students’ connections to living and studying in the Okanagan while developing their English language skills in a meaningful way.

Why is learning transformation important to you? 

The Okanagan School of Education’s distinctive approach to teaching and learning and the unique sense of place that comes with living in this part of the country underscore the transformative power of studying on this campus. The Okanagan School of Education’s English Foundation Program students possess many strengths that they bring with them to their studies, and the listening and speaking materials that were developed through this project are part of a program that builds on those strengths to not only foster their English language skills, but also to develop their study skills, general knowledge, intercultural understanding, community engagement, Indigenous knowledges, sense of place, and overall wellbeing.  Thus, being in the Okanagan School of Education’s English Foundation Program is so much more than just a means towards studying for a degree—a traditional conception of these types of pathway programs. Rather, it becomes a time for personal growth that connects students to this place and transforms their EAL teaching and learning experiences into a key component of the trajectory of their lives.

What has been the biggest surprise or biggest takeaway from your ALT-2040 project? 

The biggest surprise has been the reach of this project and the power of open educational resources. There has been interest from people and instructors across British Columbia and from around the world, with more than 1,300 page views and counting since the materials were first published from countries as far away as Spain, Ukraine, Thailand, and the United States. Our materials have also recently been featured on the Association of British Columbia Teachers of English as an Additional Language (BC TEAL) Open Educational Resources website. The takeaway is that there is a demand for quality EAL open educational resources that are freely available to both students and teachers, and the Okanagan School of Education’s English Foundation Program is poised to be a significant contributor to these resources.  

How did the collaboration of your project team support the success of this project? 

Collaboration was key to the success of this project. The project brought together faculty, graduate students, and Bachelor of Education teacher candidates to create a team dedicated to supporting this important project. Team members took on the roles of materials writers, developmental editors, copy editors, layout editors, proofreaders, videographers, promoters, and more. The project team included key folks in the Okanagan School of Education: Scott Douglas, the EAL Programs Director, Amber McLeod, the EAL Program Coordinator, Ronan Scott, a Masters of Arts in Education student, Don Anderson, a B.Ed. teacher candidate, and Nicole Moore, a B.Ed. teacher candidate.  

Particular to this collaboration was the relationship between the Okanagan School of Education’s English Foundation Program, Master of Arts in Education program, and Bachelor of Education Program. The project benefited from the EAL program director’s experiences as the author of two widely used commercially published EAL textbooks as well as his role as the series editor for a set of EAL writing textbooks. The project further grew out of a graduate student research project looking at a principled approach to EAL materials design. Finally, the project would not have been possible without the two teacher candidates from the B.Ed. program’s community field experience course. Together, the team was able to produce student workbooks, answer keys, supporting materials, audio resources, video clips, and transcripts that replaced the need for students to purchase commercially published listening and speaking materials.  

What advice would you give to someone who is considering developing an ALT-2040 proposal? 

The key to creating open educational resources is to include enough time for every stage of development. For every one hour of instructional time, teams can plan to spend 100 hours on developing materials. While 100 hours might seem like a lot of time for just one hour of instructional materials, this estimate is actually conservative, and folks might find even more hours required to produce an end product that can stand up to what the big educational publishers are able to produce. Developing the materials is a time-consuming process that requires multiple rounds of drafting, reviewing and proofreading. Beyond development, additional time is needed to create any accompanying audiovisual materials, such as listening excerpts and video clips. With audiovisual materials, there are also the added stages of location scouting, transcript writing, rehearsal, filming, and video editing. Finally, throughout the process, time should be allotted for team meetings, reflection, documentation, and discussions.

Is there any additional information you would like to include? 

The work related to developing open educational resources for the Okanagan School of Education’s English Foundation Program is housed in the EAL Learning Lab on the third floor of the EME building on the Okanagan Campus. The lab is happy to collaborate with people from across campus who are interested in English as an additional language teaching and learning and creating open educational resources for the multilingual students in their classrooms. 

More information about the EAL Learning Lab


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