The aim of the book
Language for Specific Purposes (LSP) is an important issue in foreign language learning within the Polish higher education context. In the English++ project the foreign language is English and the specific purpose is the field of computer science.
The idea of a complementary English course book for computer science students evolved when I was asked to run an English course for such students. The lack of appropriate and coherent materials for teaching and learning the ESP element was a serious drawback of the course. The reading or listening texts I brought to the classroom were not always satisfactory as far as the subject matter was concerned.
The main aim of the English++ book, therefore, is an attempt to bridge the gap between students’ needs and teachers’ competences in the area of English for computer science by offering, among other things, a selection of texts suitable for students at their level of professional development. The unique feature of this book is the fact that the texts have been selected and the exercises prepared by future experts in the field – a group of 3rd year computer science students working under the supervision of their English teacher - with the purpose of facilitating the study of a foreign language in a subject specific context.
Who the book is intended for
This book has been aimed at two kinds of users. One is computer science students whose general competence in English is at least at upper intermediate level (B2 level according to Common European Framework of Reference). They can use the book for self-study or in the classroom with the assistance of a teacher. The second kind of user is the teacher, who can use a given text as a starting point for creating their own activities in the classroom or simply follow the exercises suggested in the book. Both groups of users can benefit additionally by becoming more familiar with various aspects of the broad field of computer science.
The contents of the book
The book is divided into three chapters. The first contains authentic reading material; the second listening material; and the third deals with the difficult task of delivering an oral presentation. At the end of the book there are appendixes and a glossary. The second and third chapters and the appendixes are accompanied by audio and video material.
Reading Chaptersee Reading Chapter
Each reading text in this chapter is presented in the following sections:
Information on the reading text
This section contains ‘technical’ information on a reading text, such as the IT sub-areas the article covers; the length of a text expressed in the number of words; the level of English language complexity; the computer science or maths content; summaries in English and Polish; keywords with their definitions; and learning objectives. This part has been designed to help teachers and students decide on text selection. The evaluation of the English difficulty level and subject matter complexity was provided by the students.
This section has been designed to encourage the reader to think about the topic which will be discussed in a given text. The pre–reading questions are designed to provoke an exchange of opinions or a short discussion. Some of them are accompanied by suggested answers provided in the Exercises section.
This section contains the entire text of an original article, or, as is the case with several articles, just excerpts. The remaining parts are located in the e-version of the book. The texts, which have been selected for their intrinsic interest, vary in length and may therefore be suitable for either intensive or extensive reading or for practicing reading skills.
The first part of this section contains pre-reading questions, this time accompanied by suggested answers, followed by comprehension questions, also with answers. This will be useful for both the self-study learner and the teacher in the classroom. We believe that providing the suggested answers just after the text and not at the end of the book or in another book will make the teacher’s life just that bit easier.
Listening Chaptersee Listening Chapter
The organization of the listening chapter is similar to that of the reading chapter and contains the following sections:
Information on the listening text
Instead of the word count, the running time of the recording is provided. The level of listening difficulty is also given, as evaluated by the students.
These questions should help students focus their attention and predict the content of the listening material. They may also provoke a brief exchange of views.
This can be particularly useful when the listening material has been evaluated as difficult, which is expressed by medium or high English complexity, and/or when the computer science content is high.
They have been designed by the students and can be used as a starting point for the teacher to prepare his/her own exercises.
A CD of the recordings selected by the students of the English++ team is available to accompany the listening chapter.
Presentation Chaptersee Presentation Chapter
The third chapter is devoted to the development of students’ presentation skills. It contains the following sections:
This part contains practical information on how to prepare an oral presentation and make it effective. Here the reader will find information about the preparatory phase, doing a dress rehearsal and using visual aids.
Repertoire of presentation phrases
Contains a selection of ready-to-use presentation phrases which can be integrated into different parts of an oral presentation to make it a coherent entity.
The English++ DVD contains a slide show: “Successful Presentations. A Few Tips from Eng- lish++”, demonstrating examples of both well done and less successful presentations. It simply presents a practical application of selected presentation phrases taken from the previous section of this chapter and features students from the English++ team, who additionally wanted to show what a presentation should not look like.
The appendixes contain material for pronunciation practice. The three appendixes A, B and C contain mathematical terminology, mathematical formulas and the Greek alphabet respectively. The material can be used for self-study or in the classroom to practise field-related language.
Keyword banksee Keyword bank
The keyword bank contains entries for the keywords which have been selected from the reading texts and listening transcripts of the English++ book. The definitions were provided by the students.
How to use the English++ book
The English++ book is an open book, which means that both teachers and students can use and/or modify the material it contains to adapt it for their own teaching/learning needs. However, any commercial use of the book is prohibited.
This is a pilot version of the English++ book. This means that over the next academic year those teachers who run English courses for computer science or maths students at B2 level or above can test it in their classroom to complement their general English materials. It would be extremely valuable to have colleagues’ opinions, information on any inaccuracies spotted and suggestions for improvements. It would be equally valuable to obtain feedback from those for whom this book has been created - computer science students. Feel free to be constructively critical and comment!
But most of all, enjoy!
creator and leader of the project
Cracow, June 2008