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English for engineers

 
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udhetari



Joined: 19 Jun 2010
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:27 pm    Post subject: English for engineers Reply with quote

Hello,

I've just started teaching a class of three engineers who need to understand technical documents in English. Globally, they are all at an upper elementary/lower intermediate level. They actually understand quite a bit of the texts they must read, but stumble often on syntax, unable to relate relative clauses to their subjects, for instance.

As they need to progress quickly, I'm looking for ideas to help them cope with grammar and structures that, in a traditional classroom, may not come up for quite some time. We meet once weekly for two hours and, this being France, will have a lengthy summer break, so I 'd like to structure the course so that class notes - either handouts or self-written - will provide support between lessons.

My first thought is to work on analyzing sentence structure so they can break down sentences into relevant parts and find their meanings. I would work up to skimming exercises so they can recognize the more relevant passages - nothing more frustrating than spending time translating a sentence that turns out to be just filler. This would be supported by vocab building with words I'll take from sample documents they've given me.

I'd appreciate any feedback on this approach, tips on other ways to help them progress, and ideas to keep it from getting too dry.

Thanks for any advice you can offer.
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Sally Olsen



Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1306
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would look at the larger organization of Engineering documents too. If you have many examples you can begin to see a pattern of how they are built up, what kinds of things they emphasize and how they build consensus and so on. There is surely a defined pattern of how to write in this field as there is in all other fields. They have specialized vocabulary too and short cuts, acronyms and so on that you can point out or have the students scour out of looking at many documents side by side. They will begin to notice which are the most powerful, informative and so on and can copy these ideas in their own writiing.

If you have authentic, up-to-date documents about things they are doing at work, I think you have the perfect motivation. They will want to understand things in their field that are current and practical.
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udhetari



Joined: 19 Jun 2010
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the input. I do have current documents that they need to understand for their jobs. Having just read through several of them, I find that an additional problem is that they are written in - in some cases - rather poor English. I don't know if this falls into the category of "globish" - I think they were originally written in Finnish and have been translated by non-native speakers for the company's international branches.

At least I have a lot of vocabulary to draw from, and I can have them help me correct the documents!
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