The goal of the intermediate level in our postsecondary intensive English program at George Fox University—a small, liberal arts university in the United States—is to introduce academic language skills to students whose institutional Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores range from 400 to 450. After using an analytical, skills-based approach for a number of years, I felt dissatisfied with the students’ level of learning. Seeking a solution, I came across an on-line discussion1 of teachers who postulate that students cannot benefit fully from instruction in higher order skills unless they have first developed basic fluency. The first goal of an English for academic purposes (EAP) course, according to MacGowan-Gilhooly (1996), should be to develop reading fluency, in other words, “reading at a normal pace and understanding most of what you read without relying on a dictionary” (p. 1) or “confidence, comfort and control in ... reading” (p. ix). Once students can read fairly fluently, they are equipped to tackle more analytical, academic reading skills.
Published in TESOL Journal, summer 2000, 9(2), pp. 11-16 https://www.tesol.org/read-and-publish/journals/tesol-journal