On Integrative Bilingual Teaching of a Foreign Language and Engineering at a Technical University

On Integrative Bilingual Teaching of a Foreign Language and Engineering at a Technical University

Eduard Krylov
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3266-9.ch005
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Integrative bilingual teaching/learning of foreign language and engineering disciplines at a technical university provides a good opportunity for students of the personal growth both in cognitive and communicative aspects, which contributes to their better positions in the labor market. To put this opportunity into practice, the educators should have clear ideas about the goal of this educational process, psychological aspects accompanying the process, conditions of its implementation, basic units of teaching/learning, means of monitoring, assessment, and control and some others. All these components of methodology are discussed in this chapter.
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The new educational paradigm, which is currently being established in engineering education, reflects the modern view on the deep relationship and interaction of education and culture, in which education acts as a universal mechanism for the development of the personality of a specialist, free from the stereotypes of thinking and action, capable of effective interpersonal communication, intercultural communication and professional interaction in a foreign language environment.

In the world of engineering education there is a tendency to strengthen the role of communication, both in native and foreign language, closely related with thinking and activity, i.e. reflexive procedures. The integration of graduates' knowledge is what industry expects from the education system: knowledge, comprehension, action, communication. Professor R. Natarajan, a long-time rector of the Indian Institute of Technology and chairman of the Technical Education Council of India, notes that “there is no such thing as an electrical engineer spending his or her career working with no one but other electrical engineers who speak the same jargon and understand the same acronyms. They are now working with other people, not only in other engineering and science disciplines, but as part of the teams with whom they are working, there will be non-engineers” (Natarajan, 2011).

Modern technical universities are internationalized in many aspects. The number of academic mobility programs is increasing, many students have to master educational programs at foreign universities, listen to lectures by foreign professors at home universities, participate in international research projects, etc.

At the same time, the processes noted above, especially globalization and the rising of the Internet resources, provide new opportunities for professional activities and for professional education, including foreign language teaching/learning. The information revolution, with the advent of personal computers and the Internet, led to the creation of the online distant or freelance work positions for multinational and foreign companies and organizations. On the other hand, a breakthrough happened in the possibilities of obtaining information from various national and international knowledge bases and direct communication with foreign experts in real time.

It’s as if we have suddenly found ourselves in a plurilingual, but in fact, in many ways, in a bilingual (native-English) world.

Bilingualism is the norm in regions with a mixed population with natural bilingual environment (Canada, Belgium, Switzerland); in countries promoting an active governmental policy of integrating national minorities into the dominant language environment (USA); in former colonies of European empires (India, Malaysia). In some countries (Sweden, Germany), the development of bilingual education is determined by the general tendency towards integration, the desire for a dialogue of cultures and intercultural communication.

Regardless of the country of residence, individual bilingualism is common in families where spouses have different nationalities and belong to different linguistic cultures. Bilingualism as a socio-linguistic phenomenon is also widespread in the Russian Federation, having a large number of various national and ethnic groups (Udmurt, Tatar, Chuvash, etc.).

The concept of bilingualism is considered here in the course of the concept of plurilingualism being defined in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages as “the ability to use languages for the purposes of communication and to take part in intercultural interaction, where a person, viewed as a social agent, has proficiency of varying degrees, in several languages, and experience of several cultures. This is not seen as the superposition or juxtaposition of distinct competences, but rather as the existence of a complex or even composite competence on which the user may draw” (Council of Europe, 2001).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Bilingual Education: Teaching academic content in two languages, in a native and foreign language.

Integrative Communicative-and-Cognitive Problem: Exercise involving the implementation of activity of reading, writing and speaking in close connection with cognitive activity in the field of the subject knowledge system to achieve two goals - extraction of important information, and obtaining a semantic decision in terms of subject knowledge.

EMI (English-Medium Instruction): Teaching/learning of academic disciplines in English (non-native for students) language.

CLIL (Content and Language-Integrated Learning): Subject-language integrative education, interconnected study of the content of non-language subject and foreign language.

Principle of Integration: Basis of interdisciplinary pedagogical activity which creates conditions for the development of students’ motivation towards academic study and profession uses a unified approach to determining the educational content and types of educational activities within jointly studied educational disciplines.

Integrative Bilingual Teaching/Learning of a Foreign Language and Engineering: Integrative activity of a teacher and student in the field of natural science, general professional and special engineering disciplines, through two languages, as a result of which the student gains the components of a foreign language professional communicative competence.

Foreign Language Communicative Competence: Learner's ability to use foreign language to communicate successfully in the course of productive, effective vocational activity in the conditions of globalization.

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