New Book: English for Chemistry EAP – for International undergraduate students


Professors might find themselves replaced by a video…

I recently read this article about traditional lectures being outdated, that engaging learners in actual activities (i.e. active learning) and flipping your classroom are now imperative despite the challenges.

The author explains why professors might end up being replaced by videos. To some this might sound like a threat but I happen to do this very often when I think my students need more time for practice or discussion. Although you can’t convince everyone that they need to study or do homework before they turn up in class, when they do so, you can see the benefits.

For more ideas on how to do this, you can read the whole article here:


Research limitations you might want to consider when you write a critical review

Always acknowledge a study’s limitations. It is far better that you identify and acknowledge your study’s limitations than to have them pointed out by your professor and be graded down because you appear to have ignored them.

Keep in mind that acknowledgement of a study’s limitations is an opportunity to make suggestions for further research. If you do connect your study’s limitations to suggestions for further research, be sure to explain the ways in which these unanswered questions may become more focused because of your study.

Acknowledgement of a study’s limitations also provides you with an opportunity to demonstrate that you have thought critically about the research problem, understood the relevant literature published about it, and correctly assessed the methods chosen for studying the problem. A key objective of the research process is not only discovering new knowledge but to also confront assumptions and explore what we don’t know.

Claiming limitations is a subjective process because you must evaluate the impact of those limitations. Don’t just list key weaknesses and the magnitude of a study’s limitations. To do so diminishes the validity of your research because it leaves the reader wondering whether, or in what ways, limitation(s) in your study may have impacted the results and conclusions. Limitations require a critical, overall appraisal and interpretation of their impact. You should answer the question: do these problems with errors, methods, validity, etc. eventually matter and, if so, to what extent?


To find a list of common limitations read the rest of the article in the above link.


On authentic presentations, slides and webcasts

Audio slides accompanying published Materials science related research papers in Elsevier can be a useful resource for ESP classes. Following students’ work on vocabulary, themes, functions and genre of a research paper or even as a note-taking task, it can surely provide authentic input to ESP students.

I usually ask my students to read one article and assume it is the only valuable source of information, the only input or resource they have available. I then ask them to design the first four slides (with a two-minute time limit). It’s interesting to see how students veer away from copying and pasting long chunks of undocumented text when they realise they all have the same resource. It is also surprising to hear that they start to realise paraphrasing skills are essential for presentations too.

Using the webcasts or audio slides from Elsevier adds to their learning experience as they can compare their own versions to the one provided by the authors. Hopefully, with the right scaffolding tasks, they might notice some differences between recommended presentations styles in EAP/ESP books and actual researchers.

Needless to say, students love to be provided with rules or guidelines that demonstrate what is right or wrong, what is savvy and what is poor. In this context though authenticity may come at a price; there are times when I feel uncomfortable trying to explain why a researcher does not comply to the norms of Presentations slides structure and/or style. There could be numerous reasons for this; genre-specific and culturally-bound norms may determine content and style, respectively. Also, presenters may be either novice or well-established in their field, thus using different discourse markers depending on their degree of certainty and confidence.

Yet, there are privileges in this fluidity and plurality; students eventually realise that language is not rigid and the way scientists communicate their science cannot be strictly prescribed or invariably restricted to previously established norms.