TECHNOLOGY IN THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH FOR ACADEMIC PURPOSES: DIGITAL LITERACY, ACADEMIC LITERACY OR BOTH?

R. Simpson

University of Sheffield (UNITED KINGDOM)
The broad aim of this paper is to make the case for the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) curriculum to incorporate the development of students’ skills in the use of technology or ‘digital literacies’. In making this argument, reference will be made to some relevant competency frameworks used within the field and it will be proposed that these are lacking with regard to Digital Literacy. The argument will be located within the context of works on literacy and on academic discourse. It will be argued that academic literacies are socially situated and defined, rather than fixed and objectively observable. Furthermore, an attempt will be made to show that new literacy practices, and particularly new digital literacies, are evolving rather than being new manifestations of older practices.

Within the field of EAP in the UK there are two key frameworks which are used to describe competencies, published by BALEAP (formerly the British Association of Lecturers in Academic Purposes) The Competency Framework for Teachers of English for Academic Purposes (BALEAP, 2008) focusses on competencies required by EAP teachers. The ‘Can Do’ Framework (BALEAP, 2013) focusses on post graduate student competencies within HE and is still under development.

In the professional field of English for Academic Purposes, academic literacy may be determined by the activity and discourse of the academic community the students will join. In the modern context, academic literacy includes considerable need for digital literacies, particularly but not exclusively those relating to information literacy. The activities recommended by practitioners in the field fall into two types: practice of language using technology and practice of the technology itself. The contention of this paper is that it is appropriate and desirable for the field of EAP to incorporate within the curriculum systematic development of digital literacies.