Lessons Learned from Provision of (Free) Language Support Services for English as an Additional Language (EAL) Students at a FHS First Year Class at SFU: A Joint Pilot Project

Grant programMultilingual Classroom

Grant recipient: Myint Tun, Faculty of Health Sciences

Project team: Breanna Fraser-Hevlin and Chris Niosco, research assistants

Timeframe: September 2018 to September 2019

Funding: $5992

Course addressed: HSCI 130 – Foundations of Health Science

Final report: View Myint Tun's final report (PDF)

Description: HSCI 130 is a first-year foundations course, compulsory course for all health science students. It is estimated that approximately 10% of students in Faculty of Health Sciences are EAL (English as an Additional Language) students/MLS (Multi-Lingual Students). The previous version of course design mainly focused on content-based knowledge and practices with limited focus on language and literacy. Due to the importance of health literacy, communication and critical thinking skills, we realized that health science students should be equipped with discipline-specific language and literacy skills, in addition to the content-based knowledge and skills.

In responding to the language and literacy needs of students, we recommended they take free optional weekly adjunct discipline specific language and literacy tutorials or drop-in language support provided by CELLTR. The CELLTR instructor also posts language and literacy support material on Canvas regularly for all students taking the course.

For this project, I would like to know what the advantages of using language support services such as Language tutorials, drop-in support, and online language and literacy supports are. I also would like to know what barriers face the students who ought to be using but do not use the language support services available to them, and how we should promote the uptake and use of language support services. The inquiry hopes to find the advantages and limitations of provisions of these services, and also try to find ways to provide user-friendly services including appropriate incentives to encourage students to use these language support services.

Questions addressed:

  • How did language support services enhance perceived improvement in class performance such as engagement and participation, and critical thinking?
  • What are the major barriers to taking these (free) language support services?
  • How can we promote students’ participation in these (free) language support services?
  • Is there any difference in improved writing assessment (difference between post- and pre-assessment) among those who did use and those who did not use the language support services?

Knowledge sharing: I will share the findings of the grant to FHS, SFU, or teaching learning conference(s) as appropriate in 2019. I am also considering publishing article(s) in peer review journals.

Keywords: language support services, discipline-specific, multi-lingual students (MLSs), English as an additional language (EAL), Health Sciences, adjunct tutorial