Faculty of Applied Sciences

Supporting multilingual students in Applied Science courses

CELLTR is supporting the academic communication skills of Applied Science students through one-on-one consultations led by CELLTR-affiliated PhD students specializing in second language teaching and learning, Brent Amburgey and Pedro dos Santos, through four different courses:

  • ENSC 100W Engineering, Science and Society – Fall 2017/2018
  • ENSC 105W Process, Form and Convention in Professional Genres – Fall 2017/2018
  • MSE 101W Process, Form and Convention in Professional Genres – Spring 2018/2019
  • CMPT 376W Technical Writing and Group Dynamics – Spring, Summer, Fall 2018; Sping 2019
  • MSE 405W The Business of Engineering II - Entrepreneurship for Engineers - Summer 2018
  • MSE 801 Writing for Engineers - Fall 2018

This course-aligned support model, involves language and writing support that aligns with specific course learning goals and outcomes.  The model features a personalized, on-going, and developmental approach to one-on-one student support; rather than one-time, drop-in sessions before an assignment is due.  In addition, CELLTR will offer assignment-specific workshops for students in these courses throughout the semester to highlight the academic language and literacy skills students will need to complete assignments successfully.


FCAT, School for the Contemporary Arts

Academic workshops for first-year EAL graduate students in the SCA’s MFA and MA programs

With the goal of providing students with information and resources to help them succeed in their roles as both graduate students and teaching assistants, CELLTR facilitated two workshops during the FCAT School of Contemporary Arts’ (SCA) graduate student orientation in August 2017, for students in the SCA’s MFA and MA programs. The first workshop, Foundations in Graduate Level Academic Writing, was facilitated by CELLTR Research Assistant, Amanda Wallace. The second workshop was led by CELLTR Director Dr. Valia Spiliotopoulos who presented on the topic of Effective Interpersonal and Intercultural Communication

In-class workshops for Contemporary Arts undergraduate students

Dr. Nagmeh Babaee offered an in-class descriptive writing workshop to students of Dr. Arne Eigenfeldt's CA 140 Music After 1900 in the Fall 2017 semester. The workshop was aimed at assisting students with their writing assignments, some of which included descriptive essays.


Beedie School of Business

Early writing assessment tool for Beedie

The Beedie School of Business is collaborating with CELLTR to conduct a diagnostic assessment of student language and literacy in the Business Foundation Program (BUS 201/202). The assessment enables the faculty to get a snapshot of students' writing within the context of their academic and professional engagement goals in the business school. The aim is to identify any student writing issues at an early stage in their programming such that ongoing writing support can be provided. Success in writing can in turn lead to academic success and improve the overall student experience.

Critical Thinking in Business

Susan Christie-Bell and Dr. Valia Spiliotopoulos launched the Beedie School of Business’s first pilot of BUS 217W Critical Thinking in Business in Fall 2017.  The pilot marked the next step in an ongoing innovative, interdisciplinary design collaboration between Stephen Spector, Susan Christie-Bell (Beedie School of Business), Valia Spiliotopoulos (CELLTR), and David Rubeli (Teaching and Learning Centre) within Beedie’s multilingual and multicultural student body. Christie-Bell and Spiliotopoulos co-taught the pilot course based on 'content- and language- integrated' instruction principles.

As of Spring 2018, Critical Thinking in Business is a required course for BBA students entering Beedie and is intended to have fifteen sections per year. The course teaches business-specific approaches to critical thinking and introductory professional communication. The course aims to support students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills in the context of business and to create opportunities for them to demonstrate their skills by writing typical business documents like email messages and case study reports.

The instructional team includes teaching assistants specialized in second language learning and business.  In class, the instructor and students unpack critical thinking principles and analyze a range of business case studies and examples, practitioner articles, and reports. Students develop arguments and analyses through participating in active learning activities, reflection, and writing.

It is hoped that this collaboration is an exemplar of how course-based learning goals can support student support initiatives across campus.


Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Supporting multilingual students in Economics and World Literature

Co-designed and co-taught by CELLTR's Dr. Joel Heng Hartse, FASS offers writing courses developed specifically to support and engage EAL students in improving their English writing for academic purposes. Co-taught with Dr. Heng Hartse in 2017, Economics instructor Gregory Harder's ECON 220W Economics in the News gives enrolled students an opportunity to work on their academic writing for an economics-focused review of a current event. WL 105W World Literature Lab, co-taught by Dr. Heng Hartse and Dr. Melek Ortabasi, offers EAL students a chance to improve their academic English writing through exploring works of literature from their own heritage cultures and languages.

Professional learning workshops for International Teaching Assistants (ECON 355W)

CELLTR has been involved in training TAs in ECON 355W, Economic Development, regarding issues like responding to second language writers’ texts, inter-rater reliability in marking, and the use of holistic and analytic rubrics. TAs come to CELLTR for three two-hour sessions where they explore their own experience and understanding of “good writing” in economics, specific challenges that second language writers may face, and how to efficiently grade large volumes of papers.


SFU Tandem

SFU Tandem Language Exchange

CELLTR hosts the Tandem Language Exchange program with the help of volunteer student facilitators. “Tandem” is a method of language learning that pairs up two people who want to learn and practice each others’ languages. Students engage in casual language learning and conversation sessions with optional conversation topics provided by a student facilitator. Recent research in second language education suggests that informal, self-directed language exchange programs can support participants’ motivation, increase learner autonomy, and promote intercultural learning and community development.  These programs can also promote a better understanding of multilingualism and intercultural communication on campus, improve student engagement and the overall student experience.

SFU Tandem has been modeled after UBC's Tandem Language Program. We would like to thank and acknowledge UBC Tandem handbook authors, Dr. Sandra Zappa, Dr. Monique Bournot-Trites, Rachel Wang and Robin Ryan. We also appreciate Elisabeth Williams's support in coordinating the Tandem program at SFU. 

Student Learning Commons

Academic Writing and Speaking Boot Camp: An immersion experience

With recommendations from CELLTR, the Student Learning Commons (SLC) offers an 8-week non-credit course to improve EAL students’ academic grammar and essay-writing skills. The workshop is open to any student for whom English is an additional language, and who is currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program at SFU. Visiting scholars may also register if space permits.


Student Services

Supporting multilingual students in Co-operative Education with Job Search Success

The EAL student population at SFU is at approximately 45%; many of these students seek domestic work placements through programs such as Co-operative Education. In the recent literature and through the research conducted for this project, language and culture have been shown to be a significant barrier to EAL student success in the workplace. Staff within Co-op are not typically trained or educated in teaching language and culture in workplace contexts. As a result, EAL students were often displaced to various units, programs or specialty services, none of which were specific to the work search / business writing and placement goals of Co-operative Education.  

In 2015, Heather Williams (Language and Culture Curriculum Coordinator, Work Integrated Learning) was given a project to develop some resources for EAL students in Co-op and for staff to reference.  With the assistance of Akanksha Thakur and the collaborative efforts of experts from the Student Learning Commons, CELLTR, the Faculty of Education and beyond, Heather has developed Job Search Success -- a four-week, online, facilitated, visually-based co-curricular course that is designed to empower students to understand their strengths, develop their Canadian business writing skills, and intercultural communication skills. A survey tool that assesses the impact of the course using post-pre methodology suggests positive shifts in students’ skills, knowledge, and attitudes.

In partnership with CELLTR and the Work Integrated Learning office, Heather aims to conduct further research on how this integrated course impacts student workplace learning and communication skills. She also continues to collaboratively develop new curriculum on intercultural competence and inclusion with EAL learners at the Centre.

Promoting successful intercultural communications among EAL and native English speakers

Most employers agree that an employee’s capacity for clear communication and problem-solving with people of differing views is an important asset in the workplace. Heather and her team developed and currently facilitate Effective Intercultural Communication, a 5-week online course designed to increase participants’ intercultural understanding and communication skills. The course is open to all students and recognized on the Co-Curricular Record.