An Interdisciplinary Approach to Teaching Academic Speaking Skills: An Experiment with Engineering Students
- Written by Santosh Kumar Mahapatra
As the current study concerns teaching of academic speaking skills, I find it necessary to define what they are and how they are different from speaking skills in general. Academic speaking skills have the following features:
· They are used in academic contexts.
· They can be general as well as specific in nature.
· They can vary from one specialized area like engineering or business management or literature to another.
Though it is necessary to teach academic language skills to students specializing in disciplines like the ones mentioned above, many researchers have reported that academic language skills are often neglected in technical institutions in India. Furthermore, speaking has been found to be one of the most ignored areas (Indira, 2003; Neelaveni, 2005; Venkatraman & Prema, 2007; Pradhan, 2010). This is precisely why I have chosen to experiment with speaking. Then, there is very little research on the lack of transfer of language skills from the language to the subject classroom. More than other areas, ELT in engineering colleges has been a matter of great worry. It has been reported that engineering students and engineers lack basic EL skills required to function effectively in their respective fields (24 September, 2012, Aspiring Minds; 27 Aug., 2012, The Times of India; 2011, NASSCOM). Questions have been asked about teachers’ ability to teach language for specific purposes (LSP) and make use of students’ academic contexts, i.e. contexts of science, for teaching English language skills. Somehow, teachers find it difficult to break the disciplinary boundaries and venture into using scientific contexts for classroom instructional purposes.
Teacher Development from Materials to Method
- Written by Sanjukta Sivakumar
The Indian ELT picture
Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) was made mandatory in all CBSE schools in 2009 to ensure a diagnostic focus on learning. Teachers unequipped for the prescribed corrective action, however, impair the implementation of CCE. This problem is correlated with the professional development of elementary and secondary teachers through learner-centric ‘pedagogies that develop reflective teachers with adequate skills’ (NCF, 2005, p.25), and ‘improved curriculum and materials’(NCFTE, 2009, p.6).Teacher education for CCE in Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) requires ‘critically engaging with theory’ to ‘bring practice within its perspective’ (NCFTE, 2009, p.9). The role of the teacher is envisaged as ‘...developing capacities to think with educational theories and applying concepts in concrete teaching-learning situations’ (NCFTE, 2009, p.41). Teacher Education in CLT, hence,is focused primarily on method. This emphasis on pedagogical theory to improve teaching methods as the guiding policy of teacher education, however, has not bridged the perceived hiatus between theory and its classroom application.
Interdisciplinarity in Research
- Written by Deepti Bhardwaj
As comparative literature once was, it is currently ‘fashionable’ to delve into interdisciplinary areas of study in teaching and research by exploring and pushing at boundaries. Despite the fact that it is quite difficult to do justice without the required expertise of different disciplines, more and more people are getting attracted to such an approach. This essay is an attempt at self exploration with regard to interdisciplinary studies wherein I try to enumerate the reasons why there is a love-hate relationship with interdisciplinarity, especially in spheres of language and literature.
Widens the horizon: Interdsiciplinarity is liberating as it widens our horizon and allows us to experiment with techniques that were earlier ‘taboo’. By breaking the stereotypical expectations of a disciplinary approach, right from the selection of study area to the methodology of research, the output can be the most original concoction. However this extraordinary freedom requires constant self-checks so as to maintain depth of study.
Promise of some new findings: What attracts a researcher the most to this approach is the end of the tunnel, a search towards creation of new knowledge. For the literature scholar, analyzing and critiquing texts is not the easiest of tasks and yet parting with one’s grounding is not easy. Most interdisciplinary studies require a departure from one’s training to self groom towards the vision of a new territory.