|English for Specific Purposes (ESP): Teaching English for Specific Purposes (Peace Corps, 1986, 110 p.)|
|Chapter Three: Developing language skills|
Your students will probably have had little practice in study skills that we take for granted. They will need instruction in how to use English dictionaries, grammars, and other reference books. They will also need practice in basic library skills such as using an index or bibliography. In order to do effective research, they will need to know how to look at a book and determine the author, publisher, date and place of publication. You should plan to devote some part of each instructional unit to development of these skills.
The students will need practice using good English language dictionaries, not just bilingual dictionaries which translate from their language into English. Bilingual dictionaries seldom contain the technical terms needed for subject-area study.
If your institution has a library with English-language materials, ask the librarians to give your students an orientation session to show them where English-language materials relevant to their subject area are kept. They can also point out bibliographies and indexes which are available for your students' use. You can assign follow-up activities asking students to take notes, paraphrase, or compile bibliographies on topics in their fields.
If no library is available to you, you will be more limited in the skills you can teach. You can still show students how to get the most from the texts that are available to them, however, by giving them practice using the index or bibliography of a text that is available.
Give students practice taking notes and writing summaries. Use these activities to introduce the notion of plagiarism and ensure that they are aware of academic protocols regarding quotation and use of paraphrased material. Introduce conventions for citation and footnotes, and preparation of bibliographies.
Objectives for Development of Study Skills
1. Students will be able to identify the parts of a book, including title page, table of contents, index, glossary, etc.
2. Students will be able to use dictionaries for information about pronunciation and syllable division, to identify the way words are commonly used in sentences (parts of speech), to find correct meanings, and to determine whether the word is British or American, formal or informal.
3. Students will be able to use indexes, including being able to use alternate search words when the topic they have in mind is not listed.
4. Students will be able to use bibliographies, including being able to identify titles which might provide additional information on their topic of research.
5. Students will develop note-taking skills, including outlining and paraphrasing.
6. Students will be able to summarize information they have heard or read.
Activities for Developing Study Skills.
1. The efficient use of a dictionary should be a focus of your work on study skills. One technique for learning frequently used words is for students to make a small dot beside a word every time they look it up in the dictionary. If students find certain words accumulate a number of dots, they should make a list of those words for more intensive study.
2. Other activities which develop dictionary skills include:
a) Alphabetizing exercises.
Especially if the students native language does not use the Roman alphabet, they will need practice putting words in alphabetical order, particularly words that begin with the same letter or letters. This skill is necessary for any library work and in order to efficiently consult dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference works. It is also necessary for office work, hotel management, tourism, and other fields.
b) Syllable division exercises.
Students will need to use the dictionary to find syllable divisions in order to correctly divide words when writing.
c) Guide word exercises.
Students can practice using guide words to locate words more quickly.
d) Pronunciation key exercises.
Dictionaries use common words, called key words, to illustrate the pronunciation of the various symbols used by the publisher to show how words are pronounced. See the illustration of this in Figure 12. Students can be taught to use these symbols, along with stress markings, to get full use of their dictionaries.
e) Definition identification exercises.
Students should practice identifying which definition is most appropriate when several are given for the same word.
3. Encyclopedia exercises. If encyclopedias are available in the library, students should be shown how they are organized and instructed in the use of the encyclopedia's index. They can be asked to locate and summarize or paraphrase information.
4. Yearbooks. Reference books such as the World Almanac and Who's Who, and other yearbooks can be used to get current information on a wide variety of topics.
5. Atlases. Students can use atlases to get many kinds of information; for example, about geographical features, population distribution, major resources, and climate.
6. Bibliographies. Students can be asked to use bibliographies to identify other sources of information about topics of interest to them.
7. Students' abilities to read and understand published research in their fields of study may depend on their knowledge of such research vocabulary as Hypothesis, Experimental Design, Data Collection and Compilation, Interpretation of Results, and Evaluation. It may be helpful to give students an example of a research paper which uses an experimental research process and discuss together the components of the research design.
Figure 12. From Longman Dictionary of American English: A Dictionary For Learners of English. Copyright 1983 by Longman Inc. Reprinted by permission.