Understanding Academic Issues for English Language Learners

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
ELLA 0220
Understanding Academic Issues for English Language Learners
English Language Learning and Acquisition
Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours

Class 4 hours/week; Lab 2 hours/week

Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

Some or all of the following methods will be used:

  • whole-class instruction
  • large- and small-group discussion
  • pair work on tasks
  • computer-assisted learning
  • instructor feedback
  • revision of submitted work
  • independent research
  • lab assistant-led experiential tasks


Course Description
This course is the second level of an academic series designed to help students upgrade their reading and listening skills. It is most appropriate for students who are intending to take college or university courses. Students will read a variety of texts at a reasonable rate, listen to materials from a variety of sources, and practice note-taking in both instances. Students will read and listen in order to create and present a visual representation of their learning about an issue in education and academic life. Students will be responsible for creating a portfolio of completed tasks over the course of the semester.
Course Content

Throughout the process of preparing for a range of college assignments, students will receive instruction in skills and strategies in the following areas:

Reading and Listening Skills

  • Take basic notes about and outline main ideas and supporting arguments from authentic and modified written texts (such as excerpts from textbooks, news articles, and short stories or poetry) and spoken texts (such as academic lectures, presentations, speeches, discussions, or films) on one or more issues in education and academic life such as practices in Canadian post-secondary institutions, student success, the nature of learning, digital literacy, access to education, and alternative education. Notes should show an emerging level of paraphrasing skills.
  • Preview written texts (scan any headings, sections, pictures, graphs) to predict content.
  • Listen for gist (overall theme and main ideas) in spoken texts.
  • Identify factual details, main ideas, supporting details, and implied meanings in written and spoken texts.
  • Skim and scan written texts to find general and specific pieces of information.
  • Identify the topic and find and use 3-4 pieces of information in formatted texts such as graphs, tables, and course calendars (which may contain pieces of information organized in sections with subsections) in both written and spoken texts.
  • Respond to short-answer questions based on the information in written and spoken texts.
  • Identify rhetorical patterns in written texts.
  • Identify phrases and sentences that mark topic introduction, development, and conclusion for both written and spoken texts.
  • Recognize the audience, purpose, and tone of each written and spoken text.
  • Identify mood, attitude, and emotional states from tone and intonation in spoken texts.
  • Guess the meaning of unknown terms, phrases, and idioms from the context.
  • Identify cultural references in texts, and develop awareness of differences in the general features of culture and associated world views.

Study Skills

Take responsibility for:

  • Attendance and punctuality
  • Class work and assignments
  • Participation and teamwork

Use common software to communicate and to complete information management tasks such as word processing assignments, sending emails, or signing in to an online learning management system.  


Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, successful students will

Reading and Listening Skills

  1. Understand and annotate written texts (both authentic and modified excerpts from textbooks, news articles, and short stories or poetry) that are up to 3 pages in length and related to issues in education and academic culture.
  2. Understand and take notes on descriptive or narrative presentations that are up to 12 minutes in length and related to issues in education and academic culture.
  3. Understand and take notes on group interactions and discussions that are up to 12 minutes in length and related to issues in education and academic culture.
  4. Locate and interpret information contained in moderately complex formatted texts such as forms, tables, graphs, schedules, and course calendars.
  5. Complete assigned lab tasks to a required level of mastery.

Study Skills

  • Assess own progress.
  • Participate effectively in a college classroom.
Means of Assessment

Student achievement will be measured using formative assessment tools and the mastery system in accordance with College policy. Students will receive ongoing feedback from the instructor throughout the course. Evaluation will be based on learning outcomes and course content. Mastery will be granted to students who achieve an average of at least 70% on the portfolio items listed below. Evaluation will include, but need not be limited to, the following tasks:

-A collection of both practice and graded outlines and annotations of paraphrased main ideas and key details for at least 2-3 written texts of up to 3 pages in length and for at least 2-3 spoken texts of up to 12 minutes in length that discuss issues in academic culture. At least 1 of the outlines must include an explanation of a graph and/or table.

 -At least 1 final group project, taken from the project bank, and based on the information from the written and spoken texts. Students will demonstrate their understanding of issues in education and academic culture. The final product will be a visual and oral presentation to the class. Possible projects might be:

  • A display or exhibition of narrated videos, posters, or Pecha Kucha presentations
  • A portrayal of a key academic virtue and/or value through a medium such as art, music, or drama
  • A Douglas Students’ Union election campaign

 -At least 1 in-class reading quiz and 1 in-class listening quiz to demonstrate mastery of skills (such as distinguishing between supporting details and examples, recognizing point of view, bias, and tone, scanning for specific information, guessing the meaning of vocabulary in context, or identifying rhetorical patterns).

-A final exam to demonstrate mastery of reading and listening skills. This may be comprehensive or based on several skills only.

-A complete record of weekly assigned lab tasks such as reading circles, listening practice, and discussion.

-At least 1 self-assessment of learning strategies, progress, and study skills (to be discussed with the instructor).


Sample grade breakdown:

A collection of outlines worth up to 20% (total)

A group presentation worth up to 25%

Two quizzes worth up to 20% (total)

A final exam worth up to 10%

Lab assignments worth up to 10%

Participation worth up to 10%

Self-assessment worth up to 5%

Total: 100%


Textbook Materials

Students may be required to purchase one or more of the following materials:

  • coursepacks
  • lab software
  • a dictionary such as Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
  • textbooks at the CEFR B2 level such as Cengage National Geographic Learning 21st Century Reading 3 (with TED Talks) Reading and Vocabulary Focus 3, or Reading Explorer 4, or Cambridge Making Connections 3.



ELLA 0120 or ELLA Assessment





Which Prerequisite