Developing students’ academic and professional discourse through a transformative learning approach


The Vantage One Programs are situated within the University of British Columbia. While many many programs are very high quality around the world the Vantage Program is quite unique. The Vantage One Programs have been custome design to welcome and enrich the language learning experiences of our students while offering them a very similar learning experience to the one that they would have in what we call the mainstream programs but with the enrichment of additional courses that we know will help them really thrive in this new context they are joining. Our instructional approaches are research based. Instructors engage in scholarship of teaching and learning collecting data from their own classrooms reflecting on it and improving future hydrations of courses based on that information. The Vantage One Program is suited to students who use English as an additional language who are academically succesful through their high school years. It’s a great program for students who enjoy having a lot of mentorship. Our courses are created as a transtition between high school, first year and university. Our pedagogical approach is informed by Systemic Functional Linguistics also known as SFL and genre based pedagogies so we teach our students Meta Language or language to talk about language and they use this information to analyze text and they see how a writer has been able to construct an effective message. Then they take that information and they use it to build their own text in a more successful manner. The courses that we offer are not courses that focus on isolated exercises but rather that how we help our students see how language is very systematic and depending on what we choose we communicate one meaning or another. We focus a lot on teaching students how to recognize academic writing look at language, look at paterns, find key words. So as they are taking their chemistry or physics courses we teach them the research skills and how to understand the language choices required by their field. So in the Van140 speaking is one of the central ideas. So this builds their logical thinking their understanding about the communications and how to relate to other people in a more academic manner. We do encourage students to work in groups of interest and to collaborate and to teach each other. It really helps them to deal with language in a different way. So it’s about giving them tools for their professional development in their educational careers and beyond. Vantage College really strives to be cutting edge not only with technology but with pedagogy. We are a living laboratory sort to speak for new educational approaches. The number of innovations we have in the program include things like a very high level of collaboration and coordination. Academic English instructors work very closely with the disciplinary instructors to find out what the students are asked to do and we translate them into graduated English language lessons for supporting the students. What we want is for our students to be able to transfer all of this new information, knowledge, skills into other learning contexts and beyond. Instructors are constantly observing and assessing and having the students do practical tasks with the goal of helping them, of looking for areas where they can improve so the students are aware where their strengths and weaknesses are. I think often students see the language courses as addressing a weakness that they have and it’s not, they are coming to this language classes and they are learning much more than anybody else I think at UBC. It’s really learning to use language appropriately in different contexts, so I will encourage them to really embrace them and be open. One important piece of advice is not to dismiss any of their courses because they can learn valuable knowledge and skills that they can transfer to other courses and to their upper years as they continue to study. Coming to Vantage provides students with opportunities in their future academic career or just in their future life. We are breaking a lot of new ground here so as instructors we can see the benefits that our work is having on the students, on the wider Vantage Program, and in the UBC community. So what we have is certainly our commitment we want to make this a highly sustainable type of experience that brings pleasure to anybody working in the program not just because we like each other but actually also because we continue to love what we do. This is what Vantage does it’s a great place for the students but it’s also a great place for the instructors we get to learn to.