Pecha Kucha Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Conceptualising English language teaching in a discipline-specific context (#327)

Mimi N A Mohamed 1 , Karen Moni 2 , Carmen Mills 2
  1. Department of Language and Communication, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia, Parit Raja, Batu Pahat Johor, Malaysia
  2. School of Education, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

Teaching English for specific purposes (ESP) has become the trend in English language teaching in higher education since the 1990s in Malaysia. The ways in which ESP courses are designed and taught are affected by the ways English language teaching for a specific discipline is conceptualised by the instructors who are generally ESL educators. The process of conceptualising English language teaching for a specific discipline adds up to the existing complexities of English language teaching in higher education. This paper examines how ESL educators at one technical university in Malaysia conceptualised English language teaching, particularly with regard to ESP, the process that ESL educators went through to develop such conceptualisation and how this conceptualisation impacted their teaching pedagogies. Four participants who were ESL educators at this technical university were recruited for this study. Semi-structured interviews were utilised to provide a deep understanding of the complex nature of English language teaching in a discipline-specific context in higher institutions, particularly in engineering. Documents which contained information on engineering education curriculum and the syllabus of the English language courses were also analysed. The results showed that the dissemination of the requirements of the institution caused misalignment between the university expectations and the ESP courses designed and taught. In addition, the interactions among the participants’ knowledge and beliefs about English language teaching, their perceptions of their institutional contexts and the expectations of their institution created tensions and dilemmas in their conceptions of English language teaching.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

 This paper discusses English language teaching in an institution in Malaysia where engineering fields are the primary focus. The changing demands in the workforce expect ESL educators to address language needs and communication skills in English, specifically for engineering workplace. This requires ESL educators to go beyond their English language teaching expertise. The extent to which future engineers are equipped with language abilities and communication skills relevant for engineering industries depends on how ESL educators conceptualise English language teaching in engineering context and their understanding of expectations of engineering industries. With their understanding and conceptualisation of English language teaching, ESL educators manage their pedagogies as best as they can to equip future engineers with professional skills that they perceive relevant for engineering workplace.

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