The Approach and Principles
Petroleum Engineering (Part I, II, and III), content-based instruction, is suitable for engineers and technicians who need English in developing academic content knowledge and foreign language proficiency. Content- based instruction (CBI) is by no means a new concept to language education. Since the 1960s, interest in teaching language for specific purposes has led educators to explore the inclusion of meaningful content in language classrooms abroad. Many foreign universities have increasingly focused on developing content proficiency in second-language learners (Eastern Michigan University, Georgetown University, Monterey Institute of International Studies, etc.). Key Russian education institutes have accumulated concrete experience in English language teaching method approaches for engineer-students, one of which is the Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU). In the walls of this University the above-mentioned problem – language competence formation of future engineers- was discussed and a multi-level up-dated language-training program was designed
As it has been noted, CGI in Russian engineering education system still remains an unexplored research area. Tomsk Polytechnic University (namely, Geology & Petroleum Engineering Institute) has become a resource center in the field of developing new CBI courses. The results from this piloting course could serve as a model course for university engineering curriculum reform as a communicative aspect in the professional area of a future engineering specialist (in our case, Petroleum Engineering).
The Approach and Principles
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Petroleum Engineering has been designedto meet the needs of both learners and teachers. Our course is based on such defining characteristics in CBI as:
Ø learners are exposed to language while learning about other content areas;
Ø content areas are relevant to the learner’s academic\ professional needs;
Ø language is contextualized through these relevant areas;
Ø support is provided for learner’s linguistic development;
Ø focus is placed on developing academic\ professional language proficiency;
Ø authentic materials are used to present content matter;
Ø use of authentic materials lends itself to the integration of skills, to increased motivation and to increased cognitive and linguistic complexity.
(Content, Tasks and Projects in the Language Classroom, Monterey Institute, 2004, pg. 28-29)
Several elements in particular have shaped this course approach:
1. no explicit grammar instruction- in our case, we considered the approach focus on form S. The grammatical forms themselves become the focus of the lesson, rather than the meaning being conveyed.
2. only authentic materials are used – this enables learners to interact with the language of native speakers, including grammatical features, discourse structures, sociolinguistic features and cultural referents. Selected materials are in various formats, but audio and visual materials are limited, so the course materials are mostly in written form;
3. material resources – Internet, articles from journals, books on a particular theme topic for native speakers of English, content-based ESL textbooks, encyclopedias;
4. reading and writing tasks – mostly done outside the classroom as assignments and then used for interaction activities in class.
Thus, this new CBI course in Petroleum Engineering is organized around a subject-matter core and is appropriate to the needs of specific groups of students. The main purpose is language proficiency development for 4th – 5th year students of Geology & Petroleum Engineering Institute. This is the first attempt to develop a technology of interaction between linguistic teachers and engineering departments. The integration between specialist studies / activities and the language is that factor which makes it possible to transfer from professional-orientated teaching to professional communicative teaching, adapting to the international requirements in engineering education and to meet the challenges of the international academic and professional workplaces
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