Cognitive Aspects of Foreign Language Professional Discourse Teaching While Realizing Projects

Cognitive Aspects of Foreign Language Professional Discourse Teaching While Realizing Projects

Ludmila Yu Minakova (Tomsk State University, Russia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3266-9.ch011

Abstract

This chapter deals with implementation of cognitive-communicative approach to foreign language education of non-linguistic students. In this connection, we should take into consideration the speaker's speech strategy in the attempt to achieve maximum communication efficiency. The recognition of the role of context in a foreign professional discourse emphasizes the great importance of pragmatic procedures for its analysis and its cognitive aspects. This fact should be taken into account in the process of teaching foreign language professional discourse. The criteria for its formation are defined as proficiency in the mental professional lexicon; the comprehensive choice and use of communication tools that correspond to the context of the communication situation and help to achieve the communicative goal; the ability to extract the necessary information when working with authentic materials. Successful teaching of non-linguistic students while realizing professionally oriented projects confirmed the effectiveness of the proposed model of education.
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Introduction

In the modern concept of foreign language education for non-linguistic students, a foreign language is seen as an integral component of the professional training of a modern specialist who is ready for self-realization in the international scientific and educational society. The improvement in the formation of foreign language communicative competence is of particular interest in the methodology of foreign language education. In this regard, the achievement of this educational goal is possible through teaching a foreign professional discourse.

In addition to the communicative orientation, the university foreign language course is professionally oriented, and its tasks are determined by the communicative and cognitive needs of different specialists. As a result, teaching a foreign language professional discourse solves the problem of profiling professional education (Elizarova, 2005).

The sphere of professional communication for future specialists determines the peculiarities of teaching a foreign language professional discourse. According to Khaleeva (1998), there are four possible communication spheres corresponding to the practical use of a foreign language:

  • Sphere of production, where specialists use a special professional speech;

  • Sphere of domestic relations, involving the skills of everyday speech;

  • Sphere of cultural communication, for which it is necessary to apply the skills of art, art criticism and other types of speech;

  • Sphere of socio-political communication (social activities in which the skills of journalistic speech are needed).

The first of the above-mentioned spheres involves the acquisition of foreign language professional competence, which is one of the components ensuring the skills for the realization of successful professional communication. It should be noted that in modern conditions of international communication, the skills of professional activities are required, as well as of thinking globally and critically. Moreover, a specialist should possess not only communicative, but also cognitive competence for understanding the background knowledge and ideas of foreign language partners in professional communication (Evdokimova, 2008).

Therefore, the formation of foreign language communicative competence in non-linguistic students involves the formation of skills that allow for reaching an adequacy in the intercultural communication between representatives of different societies. Teaching a foreign language professional discourse implies the formation of skills and helping the future specialist to carry out professional communication in the context of cultural interaction.

Nowadays, of special interest is a professionally oriented projects as a method of teaching foreign languages to students of non-language majors, which envisages the formation of their ability in foreign language communication in specific professional situations. Some aspects of professionally oriented teaching have been discussed in Dudley-Evans and St. John (1998), and some characteristics of English for specific purposes (ESP) teaching are highlighted. First of all, they concern the fact that ESP students bring to their language learning some knowledge of their own specialist field. Moreover, in an ESP situation the teacher needs to activate and build on the communicative strategies in the course of discussion organized on the basis of material having professional value for students. Harding (2007) adds that “in ESP the practical application and use of language overrides other aspects of language learning”. The sense of purpose gives the language work a relevance which makes ESP an interesting area for both teachers and students. The ESP teacher should use contexts, texts, and situations from the students’ subject area and stimulate discussions of the problems they are interested in. This implies not only a necessity for possessing foreign language communicative and intercultural competencies, but also an ability to act adequately in conditions of professional communication, having skills of working with research information in a foreign language, and an ability to discuss professional problems in the term of foreign professional discourse.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Discourse: Conceptual generalization of conversation within each modality and context of communication.

Cognitive Approach: An area of psychology focused on mental process, perception, and language.

Project Method: One of the modern methods of teaching in which the students’ point of view is given importance in designing the curricula and content of studies. This method is based on the philosophy of Pragmatism and the principle of ‘Learning by doing’. In this strategy students perform constructive activities in natural condition.

Context: Parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow a specific word or passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect.

Professional Terminology: The words which belong to special scientific, professional or trade terminological systems and are not used or even understood by people outside the particular speciality.

Communication: The act of conveying meanings from one entity or group to another through the use of mutually understood signs, symbols, and semiotic rules.

Communicative Competence: A term in linguistics which refers to a language user's grammatical knowledge of syntax, morphology, phonology and the like, as well as social knowledge about how and when to use utterances appropriately.

Pragmatics: A subfield of linguistics and semiotics that studies the ways in which context contributes to meaning.

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