EAP for SJ SIG: What We’re About

Following on from our first webinar, in which we laid out the rationale for our SIG’s existence and heard from participants regarding which areas of social justice they felt were most pressing with regard to EAP, we invite you to post your reflections on the following questions in the comments section below:

  • What do you think are the key social justice concerns in EAP?
  • How could these potentially be tackled?

We look forward to hearing your thoughts and contributions to this developing dialogue (please leave a comment in the discussion thread at the bottom of this page).

Access the webinar recording and the Powerpoint slides here

Musings from the participants (an anonymised sample)


General thoughts on the importance of social justice to EAP:

“My thinking is that EAP offers the opportunity for student development in a way that other subjects do not. EAP is about learning to learn and exists to help individuals develop as learners. Education is key to increasing capabilities and is hugely important as a path to equality and widening participation in society. So for me, social justice is a core element of EAP.”

“HE as an opportunity for transformational not transactional education.”

“We also spoke about students facing many barriers and how HE is built around conforming rather than transforming”

“SJ can be misinterpreted in various contexts”

I am somewhat pessimistic when it comes to the future. I can see market forces becoming stronger in university education in the future and this manifests itself in many ways”


Thoughts on the social justice implications of learning being shifted online due to the COVID-19 pandemic:

“Is a digital divide being created, or does increased online opportunity make HE more accessible to some?”

“We talked about the lack of access to technology and problems with digital literacy”

“The current switch to remote online teaching has the potential to open up education to a wider audience but also to create a greater digital divide in access: access to computers/internet/ censorship of materials and platforms/ digital literacy/ a space to work quietly at home…”

“Could online distance learning enable greater access to EAP? Is the learning process diminished in this way? Will the focus move towards the product?

“I think technology poverty may also be in an issue. Either through lack of access or lack of training”

Building bridges

Thoughts about finding out about, raising awareness about and forging links with other areas of practice:

“I think a closer relationship between FE and HE is necessary. Many ESOL students may not be aware of opportunities that are available. I spoke to one who didn’t know about IELTs tests etc”

“gisig.iatefl.org are centrally oriented to social justice pedagogy in ELT. We have a very active website with lots of material and social justice issues are central”

“I also recommend the JOURNAL OF CRITICAL EDUCATION POLICY STUDIES  www.jceps.com”


Thoughts about “othering” in the academy:

“Perhaps the move to the digital will create a situation where the ‘home’ students will find themselves in minority – having to adapt and learn with the ‘Other’?”

“an important book from Alison Phipps at U Glasgow is DECOLONISING MULTILINGUALISM (Multilingual Matters, 2019). Very intriguing and personal regarding questions of dealing with Otherness, with indigenous cultures, decolonizing the mind and the heart”

Position of English and EAP

Thoughts about the position of English in the world and the position of EAP within universities:

“One area of concern, or opportunity, is to develop awareness in home students of the benefit of our international contexts and encourage a more inclusive view (e.g. not complain about imperfect pron from L2 lecturers)”

“I am doing a lot of work on ownership of English  – and from a practical point of view how to encourage students to think of English as their own language”

“We talked about EMI” 

“dealing with the position of EAP within the university, it’s relation to other subjects. Another strand was about the purpose of EAP”


Thoughts about EAP practitioners on precarious contracts:

“I am interested in anything that can help practitioners in the face of lost confidence.  A lot of people who teach EAP only get the opportunity at certain times of the year.  It is important that people do not lose sight of their own abilities”

“An issue for teachers dealing with precarity as well”


Thoughts about equality and inequality:

“I am thinking about how comparatively ‘privileged’ EAP students themselves can benefit from diversity in the EAP classroom”

“we talked about systemic racism exacerbated by the recent Covid pandemic, and how little we talk about it, and institutional / cold ways of dealing with it (e.g. “please contact your personal tutor or students’ well-being services”)”

“This the formal TESOL statement on racial injustice and inequality, spurred by police brutality and the nationwide US protests in the streets. Racial injustice takes many forms, some as in the US institutional, structural — maybe also where you live. Covid-19 thrives on inequality. Students can ponder how, why?  https://www.tesol.org/news-landing-page/2020/06/01/tesol-statement-on-racial-injustice-and-inequality It notes: “As a professional association of language educators, TESOL’s vision is to be the trusted global authority for knowledge and expertise in English language teaching. We can achieve this only by exemplifying our core values, including our commitment to equity, diversity, multilingualism, multiculturalism, and individuals’ language rights.”


Thoughts about the potential ways in which EAP can foster opportunities for student empowerment:

“how can we encourage our students to find their voice in their writing?”

“Suggestions of teaching students how to interrupt/take the floor – i.e. cultural norms in HE that may be outside their understanding”

“We saw potential for change too/inclusion by embracing and exploring the diversity within a group/class using socially and environmentally critical thinking tools”

“We talked about addressing ‘gaps’ in learning materials and exploring social justice. Perhaps an accessible way to transform for those who can develop courses. For example … cognitive bias and the potential implications of them.

Published by EAP 4 Social Justice SIG

What is the EAP for Social Justice SIG? Welcome to the website for BALEAP's EAP for Social Justice Special Interest Group! This SIG is intended to provide a forum for EAP practitioners to discuss, deepen their understanding of, and address concerns related to, social justice within and around EAP, whilst also broadening and strengthening the evidence-base of the impact that social justice initiatives can make in this field. Through bringing this often-sidelined area into the spotlight and examining the knowledge, skills and values that a social justice lens can contribute to EAP, this SIG aims to encourage more EAP students, practitioners and managers to take action and play their part in fulfilling the vision of the university as the “critic and conscience of society”.

2 thoughts on “EAP for SJ SIG: What We’re About

  1. I think one of the most pressing issues is the internationalisation agenda. Despite the intercultural and global citizenship benefits to a diverse student population, the reality is that universities are driven by neoliberalist economic motivations to have more students, particularly those paying higher fees, which in itself is immoral. We also need to challenge the problematising of international students as deficit in EAP and promote more inclusive labelling of what we do. This can also be tackled through open dialogues with all sectors of our universities about the social benefits of a diverse student population.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes, regarding the deficit model of EAP students, I think more inclusivity would come about as a natural consequence of starting to place more value on other languages in academia and moving towards academic plurilingualism. Perhaps more journals could take the lead and actively encourage submissions in other languages

    Liked by 1 person

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