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Evaluation of a Content Comprehension Approach to Reading English for Science and Technology
|Title:||Evaluation of a Content Comprehension Approach to Reading English for Science and Technology|
|Contributors:||University of Hawaii at Manoa. Department of English as a Second Language. (department)|
|Abstract:||ESP materials developers are frequently called upon to develop language materials for narrowly defined fields of study. Too often the language of the "target" texts which form the basis of the course is viewed as a product which the learners must master rather than as the stimulus for a complex set of interacting learner strategies and tasks embedded in the learning process. In part, this reflects a view that texts are linguistic objects rather than vehicles for the presentation of information (Johns and Davies, 1983). That is, the passages are considered to be objects representing organizational or syntactic structures to be studied and mastered by students. However, such topological approaches may lead to strict bottom-up and discrete views of teaching and learning. The present study reports on an ESP approach designed to incorporate the learner's motivation to gain information into the process of learning to read science and technology texts in English. Here the central focus of English for Science and Technology (EST) is the interaction of the learner reading strategies and the reading tasks the learner performs. That is, EST is seen within the context of the reading process, and authentic EST reading involves using the text to gain information.The context of this study is the Reading English for Science and Technology (REST) Project in the Chemical Engineering Department of the Universidad de Guadalajara (UdeG). This is a joint project between the UdeG and the University of California at Los Angeles. The students are in their third and fourth years of a five year course leading to a degree in Chemical Engineering. The EST courses are not compulsory. Rather, they are elective courses offered in the University five hours each week. The students have no particular desire or perceived need to learn English other than in order to gain information from journal articles, manuals and textbooks in their university studies and future jobs. The students are 11false beginners" in that they have had four to five years of general EFL instruction in their preparatory and secondary schools prior to enrolling in the university. The discussion will present: (1) the theoretical bases for a reading based model to EST instruction as exemplified by the REST Project; (2) some implications of the approach for materials selection; (3) the process of implementing the approach; and (4) a discussion of student performance. Finally, it will discuss the implications of seeing EST, or ESP in general, within the context of the comprehension process, whether reading or listening.|
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