Beedie School of Business

Integrating language, content, and critical thinking skills in business

Stephen Spector (Director, Beedie Undergraduate Programs), David Rubeli (Teaching and Learning Centre) and Valia Spiliotopoulos (Director, CELLTR) have collaborated on the course design for a new course that supports critical thinking and communication skills in a business context. BUS 217W, Critical Thinking in Business, aims to support students with the fundamental skills of critical analysis, problem solving, and business communications for success in their specializations and as they transition into workplace environments. This collaboration serves as a good model for future efforts on course redesign and co-delivery by highlighting strategies and approaches to supporting multilingual students’ language development and communication skills within a disciplinary context.

Advisory activities and consultations

CELLTR is working with faculty from the Beedie School of Business to support the development of program-level expectations for Bachelor of Business Administration students’ communicative competence.  CELLTR faculty are collaborating with the Communications Initiative Action Committee to share knowledge about how students develop academic English language proficiency and writing skills within disciplinary teaching and learning contexts. Identifying the assessment and evaluation practices common in business courses, and articulating the oral and written communication skills that students need to acquire, this work aims to support faculty in meeting students’ language and communication needs. The work is ongoing, and will continue throughout the rest of the academic year.


Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology

Collaboration with faculty in the Master of Arts Double Degree Program in Global Communications

CELLTR’s Dr. Naghmeh Babaee has partnered with Dr. Adel Iskandar and Dr. Katherine Reilly from the School of Communication on the Master of Arts Double Degree Program in Global Communication. This partnership is part of an ongoing effort to provide the international students from China who are enrolled in the program with support for developing their disciplinary language and second language academic writing. The project aims to respond to EAL students’ learning needs within the program.


Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Research-based recommendations to improve support for EAL students in Economics

In January 2018, CELLTR completed a report commissioned by Dr. Catherine Murray, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Academic Programs & Enrolment Management at FASS, titled “Implementing Additional Support for International and Multilingual Students in SFU’s Department of Economics: Considerations on Language, Literacy, & Communication.” Dr. Joel Heng Hartse, CELLTR’s liason to FASS, and Education PhD student Amanda Wallace reviewed literature on disciplinary and other forms of support for international and multilingual students in Economics, interviewed instructors and TAs, and reviewed data from SFU’s Institutional Research & Planning department, making a number of recommendations to Economics about curricular and co-curricular support initiatives at the department level. CELLTR has already begun providing TA training in feedback and response to student writing in ECON’s W courses    

Co-Teaching Partnership with Economics

CELLTR’s Joel Heng Hartse has co-developed a new writing-intensive course for the Economics department, ECON 220W, Economics in the News, which is being co-taught with Economics instructor Gregory Harder. The course offers students an opportunity to get extensive practice in analyzing and writing about economics concepts in the news, popular culture, and entertainment, and to get feedback from both language and content instructors on their work. Heng Hartse and Harder will continue to work together to develop and improve the course, and Education PhD student Amanda Wallace will collaborate with the instructors on a project assessing the impact of the course on multilingual students’ learning about writing for economics.

Supporting a course design in the World Literature program

FASS, the TLC, and CELLTR have teamed up to support a course designed to encourage multilingual students to share literature and writing from their own cultures and home languages, while developing their English language and literacy skills. Dr. Melek Ortabasi (Associate Professor & Director, World Literature), Dr. Michael Lockett (Curriculum Consultant, FASS/TLC), and Dr. Joel Heng Hartse (Lecturer, Education and CELLTR) have collaborated to develop a writing-intensive, first-year course that promotes an exploratory approach to writing through the lens of world literature. Its aim is for students to engage in writing that is not only academic, but also creative, personal, and translingual.

This course design has been informed by recent research in the field of applied linguistics in higher education which suggests that allowing multilingual students to draw on various language repertoires - including home/heritage languages, global varieties and dialects of English, and standard academic English - can scaffold language acquisition, language awareness, and writing skills (Canagarajah, 2002, 2013; Cummins, 2007). This approach is also in alignment with the pedagogical goals identified by SFU’s Task Force on Flexible Education, which supports community engagement through the encouragement of multilingual learning environments, and rigorous design through the use of evidence-based research on teaching and learning.

Canagarajah, A.S. (2002). Multilingual writers and the academic community: Towards a critical relationship. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 1(1), 29–44.

Canagarajah, A.S. (2013). Translingual Practice: Global Englishes and Cosmopolitan Relations. New York: Routledge.

Cummins, J. (2007). Rethinking monolingual instructional strategies in multilingual classrooms. Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 10,(2), 221-240.


Faculty of Health Sciences

CELLTR’s Dr. Ismaeil Fazel has been working with Dr. Tun Myint from the Faculty of Health Sciences to design and implement a post-admission writing assessment specifically tailored to FHS newly-admitted undergraduates. A pilot project has been developed to identify and respond to the language and communication needs for EAL students in HSCI 130. Ismaeil and course instructor, Tun,  are collaborating to conduct both direct and indirect assessment of students’ writing performance.

Dr. Fazel is also working on designing a lower-division W-course and/or an English for Health course focused on improving both the spoken and written communicative and intercultural competence of EAL students.

Community Engagement

Supporting K to 12 Instruction of ELL Students

Recently, the BC Ministry of Education developed a new set of language assessment standards to address the needs of English Language Learners (ELLs) in all BC school districts. CELLTR’s Dr. Saskia Stille and Dr. Valia Spiliotopoulos, UBC’s Dr. Margaret Early, and SFU PhD candidate and RA Connie James, are collaborating with the Burnaby, Vancouver, West Vancouver and Richmond School Districts in a community-based study to help support the aims of the BC ELL Standards. Grounded in research on authentic classrooms across the BC Lower Mainland, this project will work to ensure the validity and reliability of the ELL Standards, identify effective language assessment practices among ELL teachers, and promote the effective use and interpretation of language assessment using these Standards.

Symposium on Second Language Writing

CELLTR sponsored the 2018 Symposium on Second Language Writing, co-hosted by SFU and UBC at SFU’s Vancouver campus August 2-4, 2018. The local chairs of the symposium, which was founded by Arizona State University professor Dr. Paul Kei Matsuda, were Dr. Joel Heng Hartse of SFU’s Faculty of Education and CELLTR, and Dr. Ling Shi of UBC’s Department of Language and Literacy Education. The SSLW is an important international conference in the field of second language writing, which draws on work in applied linguistics, TESOL, rhetoric/composition, writing studies and related fields. Second language writing scholars are primarily concerned with teaching writing in languages other than the learner’s home language at all levels, from childhood to K-12 to university to professional contexts. This is the first time in the 20-year history of SSLW that it was hosted in Canada. Plenary speakers were Dr. Ryuko Kubota (UBC), Dr. Steve Marshall (SFU), Dr. Guangwei Hu (Hong Kong Polytechnic University) and Dr. Paul Kei Matsuda (Arizona State University).

Workshop for Friends of Simon Tutors

In February 2018, Dr. Naghmeh Babaee offered a workshop on how to teach in multilingual K-12 settings to Friends of Simon tutors. This workshop was aimed at assisting the tutors with addressing their challenges in tutoring multilingual, EAL students, many of whom were recent immigrants and refugees. The challenges they faced included how to manage heritage language use in class, how to partner students with various language abilities in pairs or groups, how to overcome cultural and communication barriers in communicating with students, and how to facilitate English language development for multilingual students. The workshop was followed by a discussion and a question and answer period.