With the continued expansion of English as a comprehensive communication tool for education, science, technology, business, and commerce, postsecondary technical students find themselves increasingly in positions that require them to manage high-tech studies in technical English. If you teach EFL, technical or business English, or teach a technical subject in English, you can use ESP workshops to successfully promote improved reading and comprehension in LEP students.
A group of my Limited English Proficient (LEP) students studying an Electronic Engineering class on antenna design had an American textbook in English, so it was necessary for me to convert chapters of the text into a series of workshops from Reading and Comprehension ESP designed to allow students to practice deconstruction strategies for written text to aid their comprehension.
A series of workshops
When my Spanish-speaking LEP law school students were required to study aspects of capital punishment used in the US, I again produced a series of materials such as written workshops and full multimedia presentations.
For my LEP Economics students to carry out comparative studies of the population of Colombia (population 44,222,000) with:
o South Korea (population 47,700,000)
o Poland (population 38,587,000)
o Argentina (population 38,428,000)
o South Africa (population 45,026,000)
o Ukraine (population 48,523,000)
A series of ESP workshops and multimedia presentations proved invaluable in promoting their reading and understanding of the technical materials in their English program. The process of creating effective ESP written workshops is not easy, but it is worth the effort required. It benefits students in reading and understanding difficult written material and develops the wit and skills of the English as a foreign language teacher.
Preparing the workshop
When preparing an ESP written workshop, the reading text is divided into manageable segments that LEP students can more easily understand. Students are taught to identify items such as:
o cognates: words that look the same in different languages; True cognates have the same or similar meanings, uses, and connotations in different languages, while false cognates have different meanings, uses, and connotations in different languages.
o Connectors: words that join simple and complex sentences with others. Examples of connectors are: and, but, or, so. They can be of different types, depending on their function. There are connectors that express sum, contrast, time sequence, choice, cause or result.
o Referents: words that refer to others that have been used before. They are used to avoid repeating words. Those in common use include parts of speech (words) such as: pronouns, determiners, quantifiers, and proper nouns.
o Affixes: consist of prefixes and suffixes. A prefix is a syllable that is added to the beginning of a root word to form another word with a different grammatical function. A suffix is a syllable that is added to the final stem of a word to form another word with a different grammatical function.
In addition, a list of key high-frequency vocabulary is prepared along with a glossary of technical terms that may be difficult for students. Pre-reading, in-reading, and post-reading activities are incorporated into the written workshop to supplement and complete the total package. A variety of types of exercises are used to provide contextual practice with the lexicon and grammatical elements of reading. Comprehensive support in the form of graphics, photos, diagrams, and images, as well as video, animation, and sound files is included when conducting online reading and comprehension workshops on websites, blogs, or class pages.
ESP reading and writing workshops can be an invaluable aid to LEP students who need to understand and apply technical material related to their field, study, or employment. A good workshop may take three to five hours to prepare, but it is timeless and can be used and reused for years to come. With regular and frequent practice in preparing ESP workshops, teachers can often significantly reduce preparation time. The benefits to students are countless.
If you would like some complete and prepared ESP written workshop examples, feel free to email me for immediate response with samples.