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7 Tips for Teaching Speaking for Academic Purposes at Graduate Level – Part 3

Three graduate students smilingIn the final post in this guest series, Li-Shih Huang, Associate Professor at the University of Victoria, Canada, gives us the final three of her seven tips for teaching academic speaking to graduate EAL students. If you missed the first four, catch up on tips 1 and 2 and tips 3 and 4.

This final post wraps up my top seven tips for teaching academic speaking to graduate EAL students.

Tip 5: Expand learners’ linguistic and strategic repertoires

Graduate EAL students need to participate in academic conversations at advanced levels, and, as such, confidence-building tasks that build on, experiment with, and expand their linguistic and strategic repertoires in class provide them with a glimpse of what they can try when participating in a range of predictable academic interactions, such as the ones listed in Tip 3. The first step is to encourage students to focus on getting their ideas or meaning across and feeling comfortable in using whatever language they already know. Their well-intended high expectations about achieving accuracy and their fear of being negatively evaluated naturally make many graduate EAL learners hesitant about expressing their thoughts and prone to undervaluing or overlooking the richness of their ideas and contributions to the dialogue.

Take dealing with questions and answers, which I discussed in my previous post as an example. After exploring the hidden assumptions regarding one’s approach to answering questions and facing the challenging situations associated with handling Q & A (e.g., multi questions, long-winded questions, off-the-subject questions, “don’t know” questions, hostile questions), request that students consider both strategies and language that they can employ when handling such situations. For handling “don’t know” questions, for example, not only will this exploration help learners become more comfortable saying “I don’t know” or more confident about sharing what they do know that is relevant to the question at hand; learners will also generate strategies and language that they can use to confidently deal with those questions. For example:

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Why does something become popular?

Stack of different denim jeansAs part of our series of posts exploring a “question-centered” teaching approach, we asked Douglas Holt, co-author of Cultural Strategy: How Innovative Ideologies Build Breakthrough Brands, to give us his thoughts on the above question, featured in the new course Q Skills for Success.

As a Professor of Marketing at Oxford University, I am very interested in how icons and brands become popular.

I believe that popularity works through two very different processes. The most intuitive for most of us is the ‘fads and fashions’ process.

People, brands, and styles become popular because the right people have adopted it — rich people, celebrities, opinion leaders, hipsters in subcultures — and we copy them in the eternal human quest to be fashionable and admired.

My work examines the second popularity process — the emergence of cultural icons — a far more durable and powerful form of popularity, and much less well understood.

Icons emerge because they express a particular ideology that society demands at a particular historical moment.

Consider Gloria Steinhem or Ann Coulter, Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela, John Wayne or Bono, Ronald Reagan or Hugo Chavez, Greenpeace or Focus on the Family.

These individuals and groups became immensely influential by advancing innovative ideology, and thereby developing intensely loyal followers.

Or consider farmer/cookbook author/television host Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, author Michael Pollan, the international Slow Food movement, and the American grocery retailer Whole Foods Market, amongst others, which have transformed food consumption for the upper middle class.

These cultural innovators have championed an alternative approach to agriculture and food. They have made an ideological challenge to the dominant scientific–industrial food ideology. They have brought to life the value, even necessity, of winding the clock back to some sort of pre-industrial food culture in such a way that it is irresistible for the upper middle class in the United States, the United Kingdom, and many other countries.

We call this phenomenon “Cultural Innovation”. It is something that can be thoughtfully researched and planned, unlike the seemingly random birth of fads and fashions.

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Douglas Holt is L’Oréal Professor of Marketing at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, UK, and previously a professor at the Harvard Business School, USA. He is the co-author of Cultural Strategy: How Innovative Ideologies Build Breakthrough Brands (OUP).

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