Session 1B
Title: Learner creativity in the EAP classroom: Is it possible?

In Australia, most English for academic purposes (EAP) courses are based upon the notions of genre proposed by the Sydney school (e.g. Martin & Rose, 2008) and EAP theory (e.g. Swales & Feak, 2001). While these approaches view genre as a dynamic social construct, in the reality of the EAP classroom, academic texts are often presented as being relatively fixed in terms of their structure and grammar. This has led to these approaches being criticised for discouraging learner creativity (Paltridge, 2013).

Furthermore, even if explicit teaching of conventionalised text forms can be needs-based, supportive and empowering (Hyland, 2007) as well as oriented towards the hybridity and genre bending of the real world (Bhatia, 2014), is it in fact the case that “genres must be fully mastered in order to be manipulated freely” (Bakhtin, 1986)? And if so, is creativity at all necessary for the achievement of EAP students’ learning goals?

In this session, through analysis of teaching materials and students’ texts, we’ll confront these controversial questions and discuss the ways in which a genre-based approach to EAP can both constrain and liberate learner creativity.

Richard Ingold teaches EAP at Navitas Sydney. He holds a Master of Applied Linguistics (with Merit) from the University of Sydney, where he specialized in Systemic Functional Linguistics and genre pedagogy. He is a regular contributor to English Australia Journal and is a committed member of the #AusELT community.