Project-Based Instruction for ESP in Higher Education

Project-Based Instruction for ESP in Higher Education

Irene Mamakou (University of Peloponnese, Greece and University of Athens, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-994-6.ch028
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Interest in the integration of language learning with knowledge/content construction is growing around the world. In this line, an instructional innovation to be applied in language for specific purposes (LSP) undergraduate courses is introduced. Project-based learning has been enhanced by an electronic platform; namely, e-Class, a learning management system, to amplify its impact. A threefold research into current theories on (a) key issues in LSP framework, (b) adult education, and (c) foreign language learning and pedagogical orientations leads us to this model. The result is an e-methodology, pedagogically rather than technology driven, for teaching/learning LSP in the framework of discipline-related, content-based instruction (CBI) and project work that will eventually enhance and modernize teaching and learning LSP and develop new study habits for learners by promoting self-directed, autonomous, active, and out-of-classroom learning, and by encouraging student engagement and academic socialization in the higher educational institution (HEI) to which they belong.
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Before attempting to describe the merging and harmonization of the aforementioned three constituents—LSP, adult teaching and learning, and social-constructivist pedagogy under an electronic methodology—at this point, we will be focusing on each one of them separately and present an overview of opinions concerning good practices and effective applications.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Constructivist: A learning theory according to which knowledge is actively constructed rather than acquired by the individual through discovery. Meanings are perceived as inseparable from one’s own interpretation. In other words, emphasis is placed not in the interactions of the individual with the environment but more on how the mind constructs knowledge.

LSP/ESP: Language for Specific Purposes or Language for Special Purposes is a well-established and distinctive part of foreign language teaching and learning based on identifying the specific language features and skills of target groups, and teaching the practices that recognize the learner’s particular subject-matter expertise. Because the focus of research and curriculum development has been upon English, as it is widely used in international science, technology, and trade, ESP is used more extensively (business English, scientific English, English for medical professionals, English for waiters).

Computer-Mediated or Enhanced Instruction/Learning: Exploiting information technology to implement a certain approach, method, process, or task, in order to boost its effectiveness and receive best results. In other words, it is the electronic equivalent of traditional/conventional modes.

Socioconstructivist: The social orientation of constructivism commonly linked to Vygotsky, which emphasizes the cultural and social context influencing learning. Obviously, interaction with people is considered to be of critical importance in cognitive development.

Content-Based Instruction (CBI): Generally refers to language learning through the study of a content area; for example, history, information technology, and economics. The subject matter is the focus of classroom instruction; therefore, the acquisition of language is seen as a natural consequence or byproduct of subject matter learning.

Learner-Centered: An approach to learning focusing on the student and what he or she learns, which assumes a teacher’s relaxing control of the learner.

Project-Based Learning (PBL): A general term describing an instructional method that uses projects as the central focus of instruction in a variety of disciplines/content areas.

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