University meets the challenge

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Louis Harrison (right), with Professor Bernie Youens, Head of the School of Education at the University of Nottingham

Louis Harrison, of the Centre for English Language Education (CELE), tells us the secret of Nottingham’s EAP success

Nottingham has a gold star in the Teaching Excellence Framework. The CELE, which you run, is an EL Gazette Centre of Excellence. What makes for great teaching at university level?

At CELE, we’ve tried to reconceptualise EAP from the bottom up, and so we’ve moved away from ELT as our main activity, towards an academic literacies approach that encompasses ELT (of course) but also focusses on other skills that students need to succeed.

On a typical CELE course, language will be a component, but there’s an emphasis on things like reflective learning, critical skills and genre analysis, plus the nuts and bolts of academia, such as referencing skills and time management.

All our courses are student-centred, informed by research and delivered by a very experienced teaching team with in-depth knowledge of EAP. We’re very committed to what we do and proud of our achievements.

We’re lucky enough to tie this all together with a great campus, great support services and a great admin team, so it gives the students an excellent experience.

Nottingham has ELT-related masters in two QS-ranked departments, Education and English Language. How important is research?

As a Russell Group university, ranked in the world top 100, it informs everything we do. Speaking for the School of Education, we were ranked 3rd in the UK in the last Research Excellence Framework, with 84 per cent of our research considered world-leading.

So, the academic foundations of our courses are very important, but so is the impact outside the university. We try to make our courses as accessible and inclusive as possible. We have an on-line postgrad in Teaching EAP, and are launching a global MA Tesol, delivered across our campuses in the UK, China and Malaysia.

Feedback from our students always mentions the quality of the teaching and support from staff.

From a student’s point of view, what is best about Nottingham?

We’re a big university with lots of student societies and events, on a campus located in an exciting multicultural city.

The city has a real buzz. For a student coming to study here there’s a lot of activities and events to get involved with: music and drama venues, and a variety of restaurants, cafes and shopping centres. And we’ve got superb sports facilities, two football clubs and an international cricket ground. Our students seem to really enjoy studying and living here.

Images courtesy of IRINA HAWKER / UON and University of Nottingham