Canadian English for Academic Purposes (EAP) Survey

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About the Canadian EAP Survey Research Project

A review of our English Language Studies program revealed no equivalent programs (in breadth or scope) at research institutions across Canada. This situation highlighted the need for a survey research project to better understand the landscape and political economy of English language education across Canadian post-secondary institutions (colleges and universities). Drawing on quantitative data collected via a Canada-wide survey, this project  charts the landscape of English language instruction across post-secondary institutions. We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the York University Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, and Renison University College. In addition, we would like to thank our EAP colleagues across Canada for participating in our research.  The executive summary of the project is now available below.

English for Academic Purposes (EAP) Across Canada: Executive Summary (Phase I)

"English for Academic Purposes: Charting the Canadian Post-Secondary Landscape" is a two-phase project that examines EAP programming and practitioners across Canada. This executive summary details the findings and implications of Phase 1: a Canada-wide survey of 481 EAP program directors and instructors. The survey questions practitioners about their programs, background and satisfaction levels, with findings revealing where, how, and by whom EAP programming is delivered across Canadian post-secondary contexts. Findings provide insight into professional satisfaction and legitimacy within the field, potentially expanding EAP's visibility and recognition.

One of the most compelling findings is EAP programming diversity. For instance, program sizes comprise of small, medium, large and super-sized, ranging from less than 100 to more than 1000 students, and 1 to more than 30 practitioners per program. Of practitioners surveyed, 59% work full-time and 41% part-time. Most notable, however, is the heterogeneity of program modelling. Programs across institutions include general English for academic purposes, English for specific purposes, content and language integration, bridging/pathways to post-secondary institutions, and/or content orientation.

An equally important finding is the high education and experience levels of EAP practitioners. Firstly, all survey participants hold at least an undergraduate degree, with over 50% holding a graduate degree. Secondly, more than 40% of participants have over 16 years of post-secondary teaching experience. With regard to disciplinary backgrounds, few practitioners come from Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), with only 11% holding an undergraduate STEM degree and none holding a graduate STEM degree.

In addition to findings related to EAP programming and practitioner backgrounds, survey results suggest a correlation between professional satisfaction, role and institution type. Practitioners working in colleges are generally more satisfied than those working in universities or English Language Institutes (ELI). Moreover, directors are frequently more satisfied than instructors, though both groups report both satisfaction and dissatisfaction with particular aspects of their work. In the case of directors, lack of institutional collaboration and respect for EAP, workload, and program instability are central issues. For instructors, dissatisfaction appears to stem from employment precarity, lack of benefits, insufficient professional development opportunities, and insufficient remuneration. These findings suggest a link between job stability and satisfaction—those who are employed full-time are significantly more satisfied than those working part-time—pointing to the need for further research on the lived experiences of EAP professionals. Another topic of interest stemming from research findings is the apparent need for greater collaboration and communication between EAP and other institutional departments and spaces.

Commencing in Fall 2020, Phase 2 of this research project will include semi-structured interviews with a representative sample of EAP directors and instructors, building on Phase 1 findings and attempting to better understand EAP contexts and practitioners. Phase 2 will focus on practitioner perceptions of professional satisfaction and legitimacy. It is our hope that dissemination of Phase 1 data  increases the field's visibility and potentially impact policies and pedagogies at Canadian post-secondary institutions. To that end, Phase 1 findings will be presented at academic conferences: TESL Ontario 2020, IFP 2021 and ACLA 2021.  

Dr. James Corcoran (
York University  

Julia Williams (
Renison University College, University of Waterloo