Margaret Kersten

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The paper reports on the benefits of imbedding an online negotiation support system (NSS) into the experiential learning framework of an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course. Proponents of experiential learning projects in the second/foreign language classroom emphasize the benefits of learning by doing. To test the claim, the performances of students in two advanced level EAP courses at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, were compared. One course was developed with the principles of content-based (CBI) instruction, with input primarily from academic texts; the other course also used content-based instruction but was enhanced by an experiential learning project for which the online negotiation system was adopted.  Participation in the project provided a novel learning experience for second language learners at Carleton, with counterparts from universities in three additional countries (Austria, Poland, and Taiwan) also participating. A statistical analysis of student grades showed that the students in the EAP course enhanced by the experiential learning project obtained significantly higher grades on the final assignment in comparison to the students in the “traditional” CBI course.

The paper also demonstrates that this teaching and training system enhances learning by promoting learner autonomy, critical thinking, and academic language development. Relevant aspects of the experiential learning project led to enhanced learning outcomes, supporting the claim that learning by doing benefits language acquisition. The paper proposes a new experiential learning model, applicable to ESP/EAP instruction, i.e., the sustained-content experiential learning model which can be applied to any project that emphasizes learning through direct experience. The model depicts the importance of sequencing academic content tasks that build on each other allowing learners to accumulate knowledge and language and prepare them to engage in a meaningful, authentic communication. It also illustrates the importance of using reflection as an effective learning tool that helps develop critical thinking and analysis, skills necessary for academic success.


ESP/EAP, online negotiation support system, content-based instruction, sustained-content instruction, experiential learning

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22190/JTESAP220618009K


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