Date: 10th May 2019
Time: 9:15 – 10:00
Room: SOUTH WHARF
Presented By : Maxine Feutz
Sydney College of English initially decided to offer an OET course in 2011, as we already offered English for Health Professionals courses. We also identified strong synergy in terms of developing our brand in alignment with our reputation as a quality academic provider, specialising in exam preparation (Cambridge, IELTS, EAP Preparation), and high-quality course delivery. As one of the oldest ELICOS colleges in Australia, with continuous accreditation by NEAS and long-standing membership of EA and IALC, we felt we were in a strong position to create trust in the product amongst our principal stakeholders i.e. students and agents.
Whereas many of our competitors have opted for an individual skills-based approach to syllabus design, SCE is committed to an integrated skills approach, with the course organised loosely around topic areas based on the body systems (e.g. cardiovascular, gastrointestinal). The rationale for this approach was to provide more context and scaffolding for our learners as we found that focussing on skills using randomly selected practice materials overwhelmed many students, especially in terms of the amount of new lexis they faced. This syllabus design decreases cognitive load and provides more opportunities to review and consolidate learning. It also builds learners’ confidence as they feel that they are fully prepared for exam questions on a particular topic in any exam component and have had access to a complete solution to their learning needs.
An important consideration is to ensure that the methodologies used in teaching OET align with our beliefs in terms of valuing equality and diversity, and in recognising the positive contributions students bring to class from their varied experiences in the medical sector. We try to ensure that students build on their own identities, and do not lose their authentic selves in adopting a second language and culture. We personalise learning as much as possible and try to give students a strong sense of agency and relevancy. This means that we need to view our syllabus as a ‘living’ document and create a classroom that is a dynamic rather than passive space.