Developing Engineering Students' Language Skills

Developing Engineering Students' Language Skills

Julia Kurovskaja
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3395-5.ch026
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At present, language training is part and parcel of engineering education in Russia. A modern engineer must have both a communicative competence in the professional sphere and an intercultural view of the world. Accordingly, the topic of the assessment of foreign language textbooks for technical universities is highly relevant. This chapter is dedicated to this issue. The analysis of foreign language textbooks for technical universities is conducted through a cognitive-linguistic approach, using its toolkit, namely the diagnostic matrix. The diagnostic matrix is based on criteria that allow analyzing training materials, carrying out their diagnostics from the point of view of the specifics and regularities of the formation of students' language picture of the world. This pedagogical research innovation will allow pedagogical science to effectively solve issues related to the elaboration of pedagogical semiology as a new area of pedagogical knowledge.
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Russia will be able to enter the international educational community and implement the right of technical university graduates for academic mobility only when the whole system of language training in higher education institutions will be modernized.

Going into depth, some of the primary objectives of the Bologna Process were to promote transparency, increase the mobility of the citizens, create joint academic programs, create networks for the exchange of information, and provide language teaching, employability and student-centered learning. (Bologna Declaration, 1999; Ghinea, 2014, p. 63)

The new system implies transition to multistage education in conformity with international standards, helps learners acquire the skills of interaction in a global world, and requires that a future engineer complies with modern levels of communicative competence in professional spheres and, generally, of intercultural perception (Caschera, D’Ulizia, Ferri, & Grifoni, 2014; Faletta, Meier, & Balderas, 2016).

In this respect, the question of software support and methodological guidance of the language training of students of technical universities becomes particularly relevant. The purpose of the training is to acquire the communicative and professional competencies which are necessary for qualified information and creative activity in various fields and situations of both professional communication and day-to-day interaction. Indeed, the textbook is the most important didactic tool and an integral part of the software and methodological support for future engineers’ language training. The textbook is the source from which knowledge about professional life activity is extracted. It is also the source from which knowledge about the specifics of a student’s future profession as well as professional mission is determined. In the process of mastering the textbook in the context of language training at technical university, the terminological and conceptual content of professional disciplines are clarified. This contributes to the improvement of the professional thinking of future engineering personnel and to the development of students’ general cultural worldview as a whole.

The above features of the modernized system necessitate innovative instructional strategies and new approaches to examination of foreign language textbooks in STEM higher education.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Criterion: A principle or standard by which educational materials are judged.

Pedagogical Semiology: A pedagogical field which focuses on the ways of transmitting culture, in the form of signs and symbols, to learners during the process of education and teaching, and on how sign-symbol consciousness, forming in the learner in a certain educational context, influences future ways of discovering the world and communicating with other people.

Textbook: An agent transmitting meanings (concepts), inducing an adequate response to the presentation of the latter, and stimulating the learner to reproduce those meanings in real life.

Cognitive Linguistics: A field of linguistics which studies the relationship between language and consciousness.

Concept: A minimal unit of meaning. In the educational context, it is: 1) a unit of meaning, an element of the learners’ picture of the world embedded into the educational discourse of textbooks, where it is typographically embodied and thus transmitted along with the educational material (which is always sign-and-symbol); 2) a cognitive structure that appears in the learner’s consciousness while studying a given textbook and is objectified through linguistic (sign-and-symbol) tools of a given language.

Cognitive-Linguistic Approach to Examination of Textbooks: An approach which implies analyzing language modeling of a student’s world and revealing the concepts contained in exercises, texts, and illustrations.

Diagnostic Matrix: Criterial system of analysis and diagnostics of educational materials.

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