Sunday, October 28, 2012

ESP Materials Development Task: Report and Bibliography


September 4th, 2012

esp
materials development
task
 Report and Bibliography


Argüello Pitt, Matías
Tisera, Melisa




REPORT

The field of study which our materials development task is based upon is Industrial Design for a reading comprehension course for students in fourth and fifth year of their course of studies, whose level of English is basic. Before searching for texts and designing the activities, we did some research on the field. First, we looked up a definition of “Industrial Design.” Among many that we found, a useful and thorough one was the following, from Encyclopaedia Britannica Online:

industrial design, the design of mass-produced consumer products. Industrial designers, often trained as architects or other visual arts professionals, are usually part of a larger creative team. Their primary responsibility is to help produce manufactured items that not only work well but please the eye and, therefore, have a competitive advantage over similar products. The work of an industrial designer often relates to or includes graphic design, such as advertising and packaging, corporate imagery and branding, and interior design (also called interior architecture or environmental design), the arrangement of man-made spaces.


Perceiving the broad focus of this field of study, we proceeded to investigate the course of study for any student majoring in Industrial Design. We consulted the websites of different higher education institutions such as Facultad de Arquitectura, Urbanismo y Diseño (Universidad Nacional de Córdoba), Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Urbanismo (Universidad de Buenos Aires), and Colegio Universitario IES Siglo XXI.[1]  We also consulted some students in the study program of UNC and a few industrial designers. We observed that in fourth year students have to take the subject Legislación. This brought us back to the definitions and characteristics of Industrial Design because we had ran into an article about Industrial Design Rights, in which the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) was named and given importance for the protection of industrial designs. Because this organization accounts for all types of industrial designs, we decided to further investigate it and after the research we concluded that WIPO was very useful and interesting for students.

Now let us refer to other steps in the text selection process. As for the approaches to ESP course design, we worked within the framework of a skills-centered approach. As Hutchinson and Waters (1987) state, the skills-centered course design has two objectives, a general one by which “students will be able to catalogue books written in English,” (69) and a specific one by which “students will be able to extract the gist of a text by skimming through it and to extract relevant information from the main parts of a book” (69). This approach helps students develop and enhance some skills that can be further used and exploited after the ESP course has ended. The text used as a basis of the tasks was designed according to John and Davies' 1983 Text As a Vehicle for Information  approach (henceforth "TAVI"), as characterized in Dudley Evans & St. Johns (1998). To select an appropriate text, we searched for one that would be of value in relation to students' needs and interests. "WIPO," "Intellectual Property," and "Industrial Design" indeed comply with this requirement, as the contents of the text are directly concerned with both the students' field of study and, more specifically, to one of their subjects (Legislación) in the last years of the program. The information presented in the texts is also of importance to the students as future professionals who already work in the field and have to deal with the legal aspects of their job such as Rights Protection.
The TAVI framework also suggests that the texts be authentic. Even though this is not the case (the texts are elaborated, as explained below), the texts were, nonetheless, extracted from an original source,[2] not created from scratch, and not simplified (in the sense used in Long [2007]). In addition, the focus – again in accordance with the TAVI principles – is on "information and what is known" rather than on "language and what is unknown" (Dudley Evans et al, 97). In consonance with this, the tasks designed center on applying techniques more than on language exercises.
More specifically, the criteria used for selecting texts according to TAVI are related to crucial features of both carrier and real content. As for the carrier content in our texts, it is novel and of interest and relevance to the students' study program and career and the concepts presented are neither too easy nor too difficult. Regarding the real content, on the other hand, the actual input to which students should be exposed (as stated by the objectives of the materials development task) involves the practice of the reading micro-skill "identification of main and secondary ideas," the presence of verbs in the Present Simple tense for their presentation and practice (only in terms of recognition, though), and two connectors as passive grammatical/vocabulary items to be acquired. We chose to focus on exemplification. The texts selected are significant and exploitable, in terms of the aforementioned aspects; in addition to being accessible. Overall, in conclusion, the texts chosen are in compliance with the TAVI principles of text selection.
On a different note, to select the texts motivation was taken into account, as well, since "In deciding what to do, an ESP teacher [must] balance needs and motivational factors" (Dudley Evans et al, 98). From our own experience, we find that motivation is very highly linked to engagement and achievement; hence its importance. One aspect that makes a text and its related tasks motivating is its relevance to the students' lives and, though they may appear contradictory, the text's novelty and familiarity: novelty, because it arouses curiosity and invites the reader to engage in it; familiarity, because it contributes to clearly establishing the relevance to students' lives and because it aids comprehensibility (which leads to a sense of satisfaction). The text selected is, we believe, quite relevant to (prospective) Industrial Designers, familiar to them (because it touches upon their area of study and profession) and at the same time "novel", since WIPO, for example, is something probably not that known by them at this stage.
            Finally, we should mention that we not only analyzed the material, but also evaluated it.[3] We believe the two processes are inextricably linked when dealing with materials development, and we carried both somewhat unconsciously. During the analysis stage, we learned that the texts included complex vocabulary, various structures, and cases of subordination, as well as detailed information as to specific aspects of the topics (WIPO, Intellectual Property, etc). When evaluating it – that is, when seeing whether the texts were suitable for our goals and prospective students – we decided that they were too difficult and had to be modified. We chose, then, to elaborate them.
The texts were elaborated from original texts retrieved from www.wipo.int. The authentic (or "genuine") versions of the texts would have been highly inappropriate for the students' level of English (beginners). Simplified versions would have been quite understandable for the students, but this kind of texts "result in stilted-basal-reader-type input (...) lacking in implicitness, open-endedness, and inter-textuality, among other features of natural discourse" (Long, 2007: 9). This type of text hinders the learning process, since it does not provide exposure to that which students will actually face in real life. For these reasons, we decided to design elaborated texts, which are midway between genuine and simplified ones.[4] With that view in mind, our texts incorporate redundancy (in the form of repetitions, paraphrase and synonyms), regularity (achieved through parallel structures and use of general word order Subject + Verb + Object / Adverbials / Complements), and explicit/transparent logical relations between the different parts of the text.
            For example, in the following sentences (which in the text are in sequence), regularity has been achieved through parallel structures and the use of general word order:
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a United Nations agency à Subject + Verb + Complement

 It concentrates on the use of intellectual property (...) to stimulate innovation and creativity. à Subject + Verb + Object Adverbial

 It promotes the protection of intellectual property through cooperation among states and in collaboration with other international organizations. à Subject + Verb + Object + Adverbial

Tasks
            The reading tasks included in our task sheet are designed for the purposes of, according to Grabe and Stoller (2002), “reading to search,” (13) which involves skimming the text for general understanding and guessing where the important information is in the text. Besides, the purpose of “reading to learn” (13) was also taken into consideration as students are supposed to identify and remember main and secondary ideas in the texts and to recognise the “rhetorical frames” (13) in which information is organized in the texts. Moreover, students are required to establish links between the text and their prior knowledge of the subject. Regarding the models of reading proposed by Grabe and Stoller, our texts are suitable for the interactive model, which involves bottom-up and top-down models so that students can “take useful ideas from a bottom-up perspective and combine them with key ideas from a top-down view” (33). In this way, word recognition and background knowledge converge so as to understand the texts.
     
We decided to include in our task sheet pre-, during-/while- and post-reading tasks, as advocated by Grabe and Stoller. Our pre-reading task consists in predicting the possible content on the text by reacting to three symbols and drawing on the students’ background knowledge of the world. The end of this is to both facilitate comprehension of the text (by setting the readers' mind within a particular realm of knowledge) and to arouse interest.
            While-reading tasks aim at making students aware of how to recognize main from secondary ideas, what they should understand when they read verbs in the Simple Present tense, and recognition of connectors for exemplification. The instructions of the tasks aim at students' purposeful and strategic reading (Cf. Grabe and Stoller, 191). As for the closing task, we took into account the TAVI approach (Hutchinson and Waters, 1987) once more, and we designed the questions in a way that students can use the information in the texts for “transfer, application or extension” (97). In our case, by answering the questions students can reflect upon the importance and usefulness of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

            As for instructions, we decided to use a more personal voice (the more informal second person in Spanish) after reading Tomlinson's chapter on Materials Evaluation, in which he establishes that "Materials which address the learner in an informal, personal voice are more likely to facilitate learning than those which use a distant, formal voice" (Beck et al and Tomlinson in Tomlinson, 19). The choice for the plural over the singular finds justification in the fact that students of this study program are used to working together and sharing the same desks. A last factor in the choice of the personal subject, was, simply, that the average student in the last years of the program is about 23 years old, and therefore will not consider the way the instructions address them to be a lack of respect (as could happen with adults over 35 or who in more professional environments).

Appendix


Excerpt from the Curriculum in UNC.
Asignaturas del Cuarto Nivel
Diseño Industrial III / Legislación / Tecnología III / Teoría / Electiva.



Excerpt from the Curriculum in UBA.
nivel 4 / materias cuatrimestrales

promoción

cursado

hs. / sem

carga hs.


D

C: 1 cuat.

8

120

D

C: 2 cuat.

8

120

E

C: 1 y 2 cuat.

4

60

D

C: 1 y 2 cuat.

4

60

E

C: 1 y 2 cuat.

4

60


















Excerpt from the Curriculum in Universidad Empresarial Siglo XXI.
4to. AÑO
Séptimo Semestre
DISEÑO ASISTIDO POR COMPUTADORA V
DISEÑO INDUSTRIAL V
EMPRENDIMIENTOS UNIVERSITARIOS
PRÁCTICA PROFESIONAL DE DISEÑO INDUSTRIAL
TECNOLOGÍA Y SUS APLICACIONES IV
Octavo Semestre
GESTION EMPRESARIAL
GESTIÓN AMBIENTAL
LEGISLACIÓN
SEMINARIO FINAL DE DISEÑO INDUSTRIAL
TECNOLOGÍA Y SUS APLICACIONES V

Bibliography

DUDLEY-EVANS, T. And M. J. St John. "The Role of Materials" In Developments in English for Specific Purposes. UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

GRABE, W. and STOLLER, F. “Chapter 1. The Nature of Reading Abilities”. In Teaching and Researching Reading. UK: Pearson Education, 2002.

HUTCHINSON, T. and WATERS, A. “Chapter 7. Approaches to Course Design” In English for Specific Purposes. UK: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

TOMLINSON, Brian. "Chapter 1. Materials Evaluation." In Developing Materials for Language Teaching. Great Britain: Cromwell Press, 2003.

Online Resources:
Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Industrial Design". Retrieved August 1st, 2012. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/286993/industrial-design

Website of  FADU – UBA. Retrieved August 4th, 2012. http://www.fadu.uba.ar/academica/mat_di_index.html?

Website of FAUDI – UNC. Retrieved August 4th, 2012. http://www.faudi.unc.edu.ar/diseno-industrial/plan-de-estudios

Website of Universidad Siglo XXI. Retrieved August 4th, 2012. http://www.21.edu.ar/carreras/licenciatura-en-diseno-industrial/plan-estudio.html


[1] See Appendix.
[2] To achieve a sense of the authenticity of the texts we framed them within copies of sections of the website.
[3] The difference between "analysis" and "evaluation" is explained in Tomlinson (2003: 16). The former refers to what the materials are like: what type of structures, vocabulary, genres, text types, formats, etc, present; the latter focuses on how or whether the materials are suitable for the students according to the objectives established.
[4] In addition, we believe that elaborated texts are "challenging yet achievable", which, according to Dudley-Evan & St John (1998) is necessary "to stimulate and motivate" (172).

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