New Roles for ESP Lecturers: The Challenges of Training Professional Researchers in Romanian Higher Education

New Roles for ESP Lecturers: The Challenges of Training Professional Researchers in Romanian Higher Education

Mirela Bardi, Laura-Mihaela Muresan
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1962-2.ch008
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The pressure on multilingual scholars to disseminate research outcomes through the medium of English has generated the need for programs which prepare them to perform at internationally accepted standards. The task of helping researchers refine their academic literacies entails new responsibilities for language professionals in university departments. This chapter will explore the new roles taken on by English for Specific Purposes (ESP) professionals in Romania within the framework of an MA program designed to enhance communication and research competences of faculty in economics and business. The methodological approach adopted in this study comprises narratives and field notes provided by ESP professionals involved in setting up and delivering the MA program. The findings suggest that responding to the needs of a demanding teaching situation and engaging in interdisciplinary interactions provide both challenges and professional development opportunities for language teaching academics.
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The “EDURES” MA program aims to enhance the participants' academic abilities and build capacity in teaching specialised subjects via the medium of English, as well as in the fields of research and educational management – the main components of higher education careers. This academic practice program has been conceived so as to address both institutional internationalization endeavors and individual academics' career development interests. The curriculum, thus, consists of four main components: (i) Teaching and assessment, with a focus on methodology, academic supervision and quality assurance requirements especially in an English-medium Higher Education environment; (ii) Research methodology, with focus on qualitative analysis and quantitative analysis; (iii) Academic and research communication in English; (iv) Transversal components, including Critical thinking, Creative thinking, Project design and management. The program extends over the course of two years with three semesters dedicated to classroom activity (four 3-hour meetings per week) and the fourth to dissertation writing.

Key Terms in this Chapter

ESP Professionals: (n) English language educators at secondary or tertiary level (teachers, syllabus and materials designers, teacher trainers, applied linguists) whose area of expertise relates to the language and communication practices of certain disciplines and communities of practice, and who are familiar with methodological approaches appropriate for developing relevant competences for communication in specific professional contexts.

Academic Literacy: (n) Ability to analyze academic and subject-specific jargon and to use specific language and discourse features when drafting academic texts.

Field Notes: (n) Research evidence-based on observation of specific phenomena in the course of field work. They can be recorded in real time or post-event by researchers who can be participants in the setting, observers of that setting or both. Field notes can be simply descriptive of the events and behavior observed or they can also record the perceptions and emotions of researchers while observing.

Case Study: (n) A research methodology used to investigate complex phenomena in real-world settings. It is used mainly in a wide range of social sciences disciplines to describe and analyze the complexity of single or multiple cases in their specific circumstances.

Multilingual Scholars: (n) Also referred to as scholars who use English as an additional language, they belong to various nationalities and write and publish their research through the medium of English. The picture is often more complex, and academics use several languages in the process of keeping up with the literature in their field(s) of expertise or writing teaching materials. They can choose to read sources in languages other than English and use their own (or another) language for teaching or research purposes. They are often multi-literate in the sense of being familiar with the practices and standards of several communities of practice.

English for Research Publication Purposes: (n) A branch of English for Academic Purposes that has developed as a consequence of the dominance of English as the language of publication in peer-reviewed journals. It describes the way language is used to communicate effectively according to accepted standards and combines the use of lexico-gramatical features with expression of rhetorical functions and argument construction.

Narratives: (n) A qualitative research method of data collection and analysis based on elicitation of life stories or accounts of experience. The researcher and the participant work together to ensure accurate understanding and rendition of the meanings in the data.

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