CRITICAL THINKING THROUGH BLENDED LSP COURSE: TRANSFERRING SKILLS AND DISCIPLINES TO LINK EDUCATION AND RESEARCH
Peoples' Friendship University of Russia (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)
About this paper:
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:A blended Language for Specific Purposes (LSP) Course is a very popular topic within the language teaching paradigms as it is traditionally considered a must for competitive specialists to collaborate effectively in today’s multicultural world.
Prospects and tools for blended LSP course are widely discussed as IT communication has become part and parcel of specialists cross-cultural cooperation.
Thus, we have focused on the specialized IT that professionals in a concrete domain use and as such, the respective tools that should be integrated into a blended LSP course (Atabekova 2009).
Nevertheless, our current LSP teaching experiment reveals that the blended LSP didactics has to be viewed from the angle of new emerging challenges to the modern world development.
Globalisation has a profound impact on the society development and educational paradigms that have to focus on the knowledge triangle, requiring the interaction of such domains as education, research and innovation. In this context, critical thinking skills are crucial to develop a knowledge triangle society as they contribute to non-dogmatic reasoning through learning and research.
Some scholars who support the traditional approach to cognition perspective argue that thinking is tied to specific concrete situations and cannot be transferred to remote contexts.
Nevertheless this problem can be coped by students extensively practice transferring their skills trough different contexts (van Gelder, 2001). In our case it is English for Russian lawyers-to-be, Company Law, IT for lawyers-to-be, IT for legal translation.
When starting the experiment we have assumed that studies in the above specified domains will be more effective if the courses in parallel include a systemic kit of tasks that are based on on-line sources for lawyers with the purposes transfer skills to train students to clearly define the issue, appreciate its depth and breadth, identify and evaluate relevant opinions, examine them fairly, gather sufficient, credible, observations, statements, logic, data, facts, etc. (Palfrey-man 2008)
Concerning the LSP course, its methodology background covers a multidisciplinary approach, instructors from various disciplines areas, triangle of purposes (knowledge, research, innovation), learner-centered approach, the blended learning environment with specialized domain-focused and subject-oriented sources, LSP discourse and genre-oriented approach, professional life settings, inquiry based and context based learning, case-based reasoning, task centered rather than text oriented goals.
The students used Web 2.0 tools for on-line, off-line and classroom activities to establish a learning community. The knowledge construction process was encouraged through students’ sustainable cognitive involvement in creating subject-oriented hypertexts in English. The final stage was the course project presentations on a legal subject in the foreign language with a special focus on law-language interaction from a cross-cultural perspective.
Through the course language skills, critical thinking skills, legal knowledge, IT skills were trained and the experimental group achieved higher scores in the relevant course final tests comparing with the records of those students who were taught the courses in the above mentioned different domains with no skills transfer approach.
Keywords: Critical thinking, task-based teaching, Language for Specific Purposes, Skills transfer, blended learning.