A few thoughts about Pre-sessional EAP courses

I have been teaching English as a foreign language for about 20 years now and English for academic purposes for the past six summers. My EAP teaching experience amounts to 56 weeks of approximately 20 contact hours per week. I enjoy spending my summers in the UK and teaching EAP. My learners are mostly Asian post graduate students who have conditional offers from their departments.

What I like about these courses

They are in the UK which means it’s a working holiday for me. The money is good and you meet teachers and students from all around the world.

The induction weeks/ days are very informative and you have a chance to share/ exchange views about the best practices.

The material used, the classrooms and teaching resources are up to date. Really good stuff. Wouldn’t expect less as I do teach in a university  building.

The lessons challenge me.. I learn and I think that is very important.If you have been teaching for 100 years like me, you do need something new and EAP is that for me.

What I don’t like

Some courses are over ambitious and a lot of EAP stuff is crammed in ten/ six weeks. I understand this, but it doesn’t mean I like it. Pre-sessional EAP courses give the term intense/intensive a whole new meaning.

When I go home, I am beat. No energy for nada. It’s like my brain is on snooze. There have actually been cases where I felt my brain hurt. Literally. So much that I needed paracetamol and coffee to keep going, especially during tutorials.

EAP course designers design courses assuming that students know basic English sentence structures, which they do…. and don’t. We expect students to be able to write an academic essay/ research paper/ long essay and some of them don’t even know how to write a simple Subject Verb Object sentence. I have read loads of gibberish over the years as students attempt to write complex sentences. They ain’t complex folks. They do make my life complicated though. That’s a fact. Again.  I understand that my students probably have a 5.5-6.5 writing score in Ielts

but that means nothing cause every coin has two sides and the whole Ielts as part of a uni entrance requirement is a hot topic (do the words in bold remind you of anything?)

I really really struggle with the stripping of anything EFL during EAP courses. I definitely think that going back to basics for a few sessions will benefit and not harm students even if this is an EAP course and we gotta be EAP-ish.Luckily, I do have opportunities during sessions to go back to basics (but not as much as I’d like to).


Picture credits to Marina D.


Having said that though, I love seeing the progress students make, especially when you go from the first draft of something to the final draft. How students do this blows my mind!! Hard workers these EAP kids.

No teaching context is perfect and there is always something that needs improving. Sixth EAP course done, moving on to course number seven.

What do you think? What do you love and what do you dislike about these courses? Feel free to share your thoughts in the section below.

Talk soon.



One thought on “A few thoughts about Pre-sessional EAP courses

  1. I also like pre-sessionals and it’s amazing to see the progress students make; that said, these courses are quite draining at times and by the end of them I badly need holidays! Couldn’t agree more on the ‘back-to-basics’ need which is indeed a ‘hot topic’ among us!


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