The number of academic programmes in Dutch universities that are taught in English has rapidly increased in recent years. As a result, course coordinators and programme coordinators in departments across the university increasingly feel the need for language experts to provide instruction to their students. At Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, many of these language courses and modules are provided by the Academic Language Programme (ALP).
In several of the ALP courses and modules, language instructors work with content instructors, each giving their own feedback to the same assignments. It has become clear, however, that the distinction between feedback on content and language is not always easy to make. Content, of course, can be unclear as a result of problems with grammar and vocabulary or with coherence and text structure. And language problems can be tied so closely to a particular discipline, for instance with regard to vocabulary and text structure, that it seems too much to ask of a language instructor to know all of the details of several different disciplines. We have spoken to language instructors as well as content instructors and coordinators that currently make use of the ALP’s services to better understand the ramifications of providing students with these two different types of feedback.
We will introduce the discussion by briefly presenting the experiences of language and content instructors and coordinators. Next, we’ll break out in small groups to exchange experiences (in English and/or Dutch) and make a list of do’s and don’ts for sharing the task of providing feedback to content and language.