English Language Specialist Ethel Swartley led a series of workshops entitled “Teaching University STEM Courses in English” that took place between April 29 and May 10, 2018. The Iraqi Ministry of Education recently announced that all STEM courses at the university level in Iraq should be taught in English, and this new policy has created a need throughout the country for STEM faculty who can teach their subject areas in English. It has simultaneously created opportunities for language faculty to provide support for both students and faculty in the STEM fields.
The twenty-four faculty participants represented five Iraqi cities, sixteen universities, one high school, and the Kurdistan Ministry of Education. Topics covered in the workshops included models for using English as a medium of instruction, integrating language teaching with content in STEM courses, creating SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) learning objectives, designing lessons using authentic materials, using communicative strategies for teaching academic English, and evaluating courses to meet stakeholder needs.
Throughout the workshops, Swartley encouraged participants to learn from one another and view their peers as valuable resources. Language teacher participants shared best practices for teaching academic English, and the STEM faculty participants demonstrated good teaching practices in their respective content areas in English. Through these demonstrations, both groups had the opportunity to learn from each other’s pedagogical approaches and to discuss how to support one another in meeting the goals of university students in STEM fields. After two weeks together, many participants expressed intentions to share their learning with colleagues, either by leading similar workshops at their own institutions or by collaborating across disciplines to develop content- and language-integrated learning programs.
Ethel C. Swartley is a teaching associate professor at the University of Denver English Language Center. In this role, she collaborates with faculty and administrators across the curriculum to develop specialized orientation programs, language assessments, and content-based support courses for international students. Swartley is an active member of the TESOL International Association, having served as chair of the English for Specific Purposes Interest Section from 1999 to 2002. She is a frequent presenter and mentor to new ESP colleagues and is the Strand Coordinator for content-integrated approaches at the 2019 and 2020 TESOL International Conventions.