I have just completed the 12-week presessional EAP course at INTO University of East Anglia, Norwich. It has been one of the best teaching roles I have ever had. After an lengthy but necessary induction, followed by a couple of weeks where I was generally excited just to be there and living on campus, I settled down to teaching a fairly prescriptive syllabus. I have thoroughly enjoyed it.
My only previous presessional experience came at De Montfort University in 2013, which came to abrupt end due to my suffering from an acute illness. The University of Sheffield hired me the following year for their summer presessional but I got ‘cold feet’ and pulled out with one week before the induction, citing personal reasons.
Roll on to 2017 and I have completed the 12 weeks, with no obvious signs of panic or anxiety. I also have nothing but good things to say about my experience this summer. The organisation and structure of the course at INTO, University of East Anglia, has been superb. I was already familiar with the university but not with INTO as an organisation. I’m impressed. I was fortunate to be offered two Humanities and Science classes, rather than Business or Law students. I was also given the later (11am-5pm) shift rather than the earlier (9am-3pm) one. I lived on campus with several other teachers, although spent the first four nights in the INTO building, before the arrival of the majority of the 433 students on the 12 week course. We pretty much bonded from the first week, actually week 13. I have met and made friends with a fantastic bunch of teachers, some who are employed full-time at INTO, others who teach just on the summer programmes – there are also 8, 6 and 4 week courses.
I taught Humanities I & J (shown below), which mostly consisting of students from mainland China. There were four Turkish students, one from Japan and one from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The only photos I am sharing here are the end of course class photos and the envelopes of 18 personalised cards which I received on the final day. Also shown is my teaching partner, Joe, who taught for the last seven weeks or so of the course, although I had a number of partners over the 12 weeks. I taught Academic Writing and Research Skills with my tutorial group, while I taught Integrated (Reading, Listening, Speaking) skills to Humanities J, which extended to preparations for group and individual presentations. I was involved in conducting both formative and summative assessments. The former was carried out with my two groups, while the end of course exams meant watching presentations of both the Law class and a different Humanities group. I also helped to invigilate the summative assessments of three Business classes, which led to being hired as an IELTS invigilator. All 36 of my students passed the course and will progress to their full MAs, many in Education, Media or Film. There was one exception, an undergraduate who changed to a BSc Economics programme, which has a slightly lower entry point, so passed regardless.
Living on campus meant that I had convenient access to the staffroom, classrooms and the UEA library. The INTO building was equally near. I was able to attend gigs (such as the Flaming Lips on 26 June) and UB40 (27 Aug), Come Yew In and the Lord Mayor’s Procession (both on 8 July) and go back home at weekends when necessary, such as attending Wells Carnival (5 Aug).
I used the Learning and Teaching Hub in the Arts1 building to conduct tutorials. I used WeChat to disseminate information and provide feedback, Kahoot! to carry out a class quiz review, Camtasia + a camcorder to record group presentations and organised a treasure trail in Norwich Lanes in the final week, which would make for a great future ice-breaker. I also attended a Humanities J Barbecue on the eve of the final assignment deadline and the end of presessional meal on our final day.
I was glad to meet up over the summer with Jeremy Harmer, Gavin Dudeney, Russell Stannard and Jamie Keddie, all NILE associate trainers, who stayed on campus.
There are so many people to thank for the experience this summer and they know who they are, but special shouts go to fellow newbies, Marie and Luqman, and returner, Meriol. We shared a lot about ourselves and helped each other through the course, often on the ‘Bunnyside’ of our summer residence, Colman House. We also had a lot of laughs and good times with the other teachers on the 12 week course, including many dances with Jeanne. Near the end, several of us watched the final performance of Swallows and Amazons at the Maddermarket Theatre, featuring our colleague, Andy.
I have every intention, all being well, of teaching on this programme again next year. Meanwhile, next stop – a couple of days at NILE, four days in Malta, volunteering once more for New Routes and probably back to private tutoring.
addendum (posted 8 Jan 2018)