Explainer: What’s the difference between and outbreak and an epidemic? appeared on The Conversation a few weeks ago (more on this website in a moment). It’s clearly structured, and would tie in well to instruction on writing definitions, classifications or compare-and-contrast writing. There are also lots of examples of signposting using questions in this text. The article is a vocabulary lesson in and of itself, focusing on terms frequently used incorrectly in public discourse. The topic is related to current events, so could be engaging for almost any class, but could be of particular interest to those students planning on studying a health profession, community health or international development.
I have only recently discovered The Conversation (which has US, UK and Australian versions), which bills itself as “is a collaboration between editors and academics to provide informed news analysis and commentary that’s free to read and republish.” Their sub-heading is “Academic rigour, journalistic flair”, which sums the site up very nicely.
It can be sometimes hard to find authentic texts of an academic nature for EAP students at lower levels of proficiency–university-level textbooks and journal articles are simply out of their reach. And a few accessible specialty publications aside (such as Scientific American and Popular Mechanics, for example), much coverage of science, health, engineering and technology related topics in the more linguistically-accessible mainstream press can be simplistic or sensational. Many of my students are graduate students, and desire the challenging content and ideas of authentic texts, but just can’t handle the language yet.
It seems that after some hunting and picking, The Conversation could be a great resource for interesting and intellectually challenging articles for the EAP classroom in a relatively accessible level of language. Has anyone tried it out?