PATENT ELUCIDATION FOR CLIL AND VICE VERSA UNDERSTANDING THE INVENTOR’S MIND
According to the historical scientific view of Goethe (the poet), the history of science is science itself. In a more humble approach, we understand that the study of patents is a good exercise for acknowledging the history of technology.
A second concept that we wish to introduce in this work is the so called CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) that aims to promote knowledge of a subject and knowledge of a foreign language at the same time.
In our teaching experience we have used the analysis of written English patents with two differentiated groups of students: the first one, gathering similar under-graduate students in engineering whose natural language (L1) is Spanish, while the second group is constituted by ATHENS students (from the course: sensors and electro-hydraulics systems in farm machinery) who are characterized by a heterogeneous background with English level (L2 language) generally above B2. If the aim of patent analysis for the former group has been to test the feasibility of CLIL through patents, for the latter, patents have been used as a communication vehicle between students and professors when dealing with highly specific subjects.
On the other hand, engineering learning requires the use of specific languages with varied formats that will allow the communication between multidisciplinary professionals from different L1-background; multiple diagrams and schemes from hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical and mechanical elements among others are used with universal codes. Therefore patents constitute complex documents of multidisciplinary nature.
The chronological study of patents related to a particular technical development allows reviewing technical predecessors as well as foreseeing non-disruptive following steps. When such effort is combined with the analysis of the scientific papers that are directly related to the reviewed patents, synergy becomes evident: gathering patents and scientific papers can then be viewed as linking to different story-telling traditions. We propose that the analysis and evolutionary study of patents is a good strategy for life-long-learning of professionals and professors in this society characterized by fast and continuous change.
Current statistics reveal a limited contribution of our manufacturing sector and scientific institutions to patent presentation and exploitation, despite the recent trend to enhance their merit them in the academic domain. There also persists the idea of patents as rigid and plain texts, however a detailed analysis of open access patents (such as the United States Patents office) allows eluding the myths, sometimes unrevealing persuasive and emotive interesting writing.
These are indeed some complementary purposes in this work:
a) the appreciation of the quality of English-written patents,
b) unrevealing the typical structure of a patent and the analysis of its claims, and
c) to provide the knowledge and competences for the professional use of patents, either in a scientific or a professional domain.