Researching the teaching and learning of specialised languages: DidASP

Research in the teaching and learning of languages is a field which is gaining visibility in higher education in France. Referred to as language didactics (didactique des langues) as distinct from the more practically oriented language pedagogy, this research seeks to understand how second or foreign languages are learned in instructed contexts, and may or may not have direct implications for teaching.

IMG_1574

Archives Nationales, site de repli pour GERAS 2016 (manifestations à Paris 8)

Some new and more established outlets and groups for research in this area in France include

  • ARDAA (Association pour la Recherche en Didactique de l’Anglais et en Acquisition), a recently formed affiliate of the Société des Anglicistes de l’Enseignement Supérieur, the French society for English studies in higher education. ARDAA focuses on research on all aspects of teaching English, particularly in French contexts.
  • DidASP, focusing on research in the teaching and learning of English for Specific Purposes, as a new special interest group in GERAS (Groupe d’Etude et de Recherche en Anglais de Spécialité). GERAS runs the open access journal ASp which publishes on all aspects of ESP research, including ESP didactics.
  • Research and Teaching Languages for Specific Purposes (RPPLSP, Cahiers de l’APLIUT). This open access journal has its roots in foreign language instruction in technical universities; its scope has recently widened to include special issues edited by ARDAA and RANACLES members.
  • Research on the Teaching of Second Languages and Cultures (RDLC, Cahiers de l’Acedle), the publication of the Association of Researchers, Teachers and Didacticians in Foreign Languages (Acedle).
  • Mélanges CRAPEL (Centre de Recherches et d’Applications Pédagogiques en Langues) for research and development in language teaching and learning.

Cédric Sarré and I have been considering how ESP didactics might fit into this picture in an article just published in ASp on Research in ESP teaching and learning in French higher education: developing the construct of ESP didactics. The paper includes an overview of recent work by our colleagues teaching and researching ESP in higher education contexts in France. It attempts to propose a framework for ongoing research in ESP didactics, defined as

the branch of English language studies which concerns the language, discourse and culture of English-language professional communities and specialised social groups, as well as the learning and teaching of this object from a didactic perspective.

Sarré & Whyte, 2016: 150

At our ESP Didactics SIG meeting at this year’s GERAS conference in Paris, we heard presentations on English for veterinary science (Muriel Conan) and designing a hybrid English course in musicology (Aude Labetoulle). We also discussed possible collaborative research projects for the group, and provided an update on the seminar on Teaching ESP today we are co-organising at this summer’s ESSE conference in Galway.

 

YouTube You Teach: audiovisual resources for language education

YouMT241216Tube You Teach is a course for second/foreign language teachers on using audiovisual resources in the language classroom. Offered to French pre-service secondary school teachers of English, German and Spanish, it comprises 8 modules using a variety of digital tools to explore different teaching methods, some rules for online collaboration, and resources for language teaching with images, audio and video resources.

IMG_1558

University of Nice St Jean campus

YTYT was offered at the University of Nice to undergraduate and masters in education students from October to December 2015 using the university platform Jalon. This Moodle-like environment allows teachers to plan modules with files, links, and activities which can be opened to course participants progressively. It also gives the possibility of creating forums and internal links to the university podcast platform UNSPod and Microsoft online tools via OneDrive. Some eighty students participated: undergraduate, first and second year Masters in German; first and second year Masters in English; second year Masters in Spanish on both Nice and Toulon campuses.

Course modules included
1. introduction: video selfie, forum contributions, comments on Video for All (translated by English students into French for other participants)
2. Foreign language teaching methods: collaborative research and write-up in multilingual groups using One-Drive
3. Digital tools: collection of image, audio and video applications on Padlet pages in language groups.
4. Online resources: searching, tagging, filtering and sharing audiovisual resources for secondary school language teaching using curation tools (Scoop.it) in language groups
5. Rights and responsibilities for online collaboration: safety and copyright; commenting on external resources
6. Teaching/learning activities: design (and implementation) of classroom activity (lesson, unit) involving audiovisual resources for target population
7. Reflective writing: report on teaching/learning activity; tutorials for selected digital tools
8. Evaluation and feedback: reflection on work accomplished and course experience.

First year Masters students

First year English Masters students

Different participants were involved in different ways in this course, with undergraduates and first-year Masters students focusing on digital tool affordances and the design of teaching activities, and student-teachers in their second year of the Masters programme implementing activities in class. Some students presented their work at a workshop associated with the SoNetTE project final meeting, while others shared with peers in final face-to-face sessions.