Enhancing writing and language skills with visual aids and informal conversations at the CAC

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Nancy Ami and colleagues at the Centre for Academic Communication (CAC) help students enhance their academic writing and communication skills by providing alternative representations for clarity and comprehension. Illustrating this, they make grammar patterns and properties explicit by highlighting relationships between elements using visual aids like diagrams and concept maps (2.5). For instance, the CAC uses: 

  • A pyramid chart to illustrate the constitutive elements of writing and their order of importance when guiding learners through the self-reviewing of their written work. This tool highlights strategic priorities for learners’ self-review so they concentrate on the big-picture elements of their piece (e.g., thesis or focus, audience and purpose, organization, and development) (2.5, 3.2). After learners address these elements, they can turn their attention to lower-order elements, such as sentence structure and grammar.  
  • An hourglass image overlaying the typical structure of a scientific report. This image allows learners to picture the broad scopes encouraged in both the introduction (beginning) and discussion (end) parts, as well as a close, detailed look at the methods (the middle) (2.5). 

The CAC supports students’ language skills development in a relaxed environment through regular Conversation Cafés. During these sessions, participants with English as an additional language enhance their communication skills by engaging in practice conversations with peers (with scaffolded facilitation by the CAC). These events allow learners to synthesize and apply their learning in personally relevant and practical ways on a regular basis during the semester (5.3). 

Nancy Ami

Nancy Ami

Centre for Academic Communication

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This post was last updated:

January 22, 2024

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