Last week at the 2015 AULC Conference in Cambridge, Martin Kantus, David Tual (@AngloFLE) and I gave a talk entitled “What’s so special about LSP? (Languages for Specific Purposes)”. Martin and David teach languages to engineers in the language unit of the University of Cambridge, whilst I teach medical French here in Manchester.
The idea of this talk was to try and provide an overview of the literature in LSP, discuss the state of LSP provisions within UK language centres, share some of our experiences as tutors and course leaders, and generally speaking raise interest in LSP.
In a nutshell, it seems to us that the current upwards trends in so-called ‘non-specialist’ language teaching are creating a very fertile terrain for the development (in some cases, the re-development) of LSP provisions. We were very pleased to see the interest generated by our talk and were surprised to discover how many universities had, or had had, some form of LSP provision.
The next step is to gather in one room teachers, course leaders and policy-makers in order to get the ball rolling in our language centres. The demand for specialist language teaching is there, there is a surprising amount of expertise around, and the national HE context seems particularly favourable to the development of LSP provisions. Now it’s up to us to get together, establish a road map and set the pace for this promising field in language teaching.
Interested in getting in touch and participating in a future LSP event? Get in touch. Lots more details as soon as I have them.
For some time now we’ve been using a vocabulary-testing application on some of our French courses. It’s particularly useful for medical French courses, given the amount of terminology there is to memorise. The app we’ve been using isn’t the sexiest, but it does the job at displaying vocab pairs and then test you on them. The main downside has been that it’s a Windows-only app (sorry, “programme”) and a good number of our students now use mobile devices or Macs. Quite a shame, I should think, as learning vocab is perfect for bite-size, on-the-go learning in public transports.
So yesterday I asked around (meaning, I posted a tweet with a question mark in it) if anyone knew something a bit more modern, sexier, and that could run on a phone. Within minutes, the ever-helpful @simonjhowells suggested I had a look at Quizlet. Well, thank you, Simon, I think Quizlet will do the job just right, and here’s why in 5 short points.
… and the new!
- High performance. Quizlet lets you import your own vocab lists and is quite smart about recognising the format. I imported around 800 entries in 37 lists in a couple of hours, with tagging and assigning them to classes. Assign a language to a column and Quizlet will read out the words for you in a variety of languages. It’s generally highly customisable.
- Fun. You can learn and test your vocab in a number of rather fun ways. I found myself practising cardiology vocab playing Space Race!
- Fresh-looking. A nice design can go a long way when you’re looking for motivation to learn about infectious diseases typology.
- Embeddable! I was so excited about this. Students will no longer need to download an .exe file onto their computer to run it. Neither will they need to go and search for the right vocab list on the website: any individual list of exercise can be embedded right there in your VLE.
- Social. Quizlet has everything you would expect from a web 2.0 learning platform. You can invite your friends, compare scores, chat about a task, add to it, and of course you can share your content! There are currently 181 entires under ‘Medical French’. Our entries are available here.
Anyway, I’ll see how my students find it this coming semester. A nice bit of change to look forward to!