Preparing EAL students for the interactional demands of mainstream group assessment projects
U, A.; Strauss, P.
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For NESB (Non English Speaking Background) students, the adjustments required to study successfully at a tertiary institution are varied and taxing (Myles & Cheng, 2003). Probably the greatest difficulty they encounter is overcoming the lack of the appropriate linguistic and cultural knowledge needed for meaningful interaction both in and outside the mainstream classroom (Myles & Cheng, 2003; Zou, 1998). In this article, we review research at our university investigating the challenges facing this cohort and their lecturers. This research indicates that many of these students have great difficulty with oral communication in English and are uneasy about interacting in groups, particularly with their ESB (English Speaking Background) peers. Obviously, this difficulty impacts negatively on their participation in group assessment projects commonly used at our university. Many NESB students find it difficult to participate in the meetings which are an essential part of group projects and often feel sidelined or belittled particularly by their ESB counterparts. We discuss possible reasons for this state of affairs and make suggestions as to how EAP (English for Academic Purposes) lecturers can prepare NESB students to become more successful in their interaction in group projects.