Vignette 5: Status and roles

Angelica: “Our institution has introduced a range of online language development resources. We’ve found that academic teaching staff are critically important when it comes to encouraging students to access these and other forms of support. Where this happens we know that participation rates are higher. Some members of the teaching staff expressed the view that they should be involved in the process of developing such resources, though, which they aren’t at the moment.”

David: “At our university, we’ve expressed support for the idea of embedding language development in the disciplines but there are issues with introducing it in practice. We’ve found that academic staff are wary about the additional workload that it might bring, and some are concerned about their own competence in this area. What’s more, many academics don’t see why language development should be part of their role at all. At the same time, they may also be reluctant to work with language and learning specialists as they’re worried that they’ll lose important elements of the curriculum to make space for language teaching. What we’re lacking at the moment is an environment of mutual respect and trust that can help us move forward on the issue.”

Karen: “The most contentious issue in our university is whether academic language and learning staff or the ELICOS centre should have primary responsibility for post-entry language assessment and development. It has led to a fair amount of divisiveness in our institution. It is an issue because it reflects on the status and activities of language specialists. In our university, the academic language and learning staff are academics who teach academic literacy and undertake research, while the ELICOS teachers are sessional, teach EFL and are paid at ELICOS award rates. It really is the elephant in the room.”