CREATING PROFESSIONALLY CONTEXTUAL PROBLEM-BASED ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNING FOR POST-BACCALAUREATE LEVEL EDUCATION

D. Boothe1, C. Wickstrom2

1Boise State University (UNITED STATES)
2Educational Pathways (UNITED STATES)
The continued demand and unique learning dynamics for English Language Learning are ever changing as educators focus on best practices to promote optimal learning for the 21st century. In a recent publication addressing multicultural problem-based learning approaches to facilitate ESP (English for Specific Purposes), the authors discussed at length the use of problem-based learning within the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines. This publication and presentation will build on our research to include a broader selection of post-baccalaureate fields, and we propose that the ideas expressed in the earlier publication have potential for expansion and further development into a series of specifically crafted, problem-based curricula, tailored to the professional vocabularies of discrete post-baccalaureate programs and disciplines.

One source suggests that a person can understand as much as 95% of a specific language with a vocabulary of 3000 words or less. While this may be true of general conversation or reading in a specific language, it cannot be held necessarily true within the context of professional disciplines such as law, medicine, business, or even artistic or aesthetic fields which have extensive disciplinary vocabularies. A professionally contextual, problem-based English language learning approach may serve to build the subject matter specific English language proficiency that is sought by post-baccalaureate students. We will research and outline a program to achieve that goal employing subject matter experts to define the vocabulary needs to succeed in these disciplines in a post-baccalaureate environment, plus problem sets that help to build it. We will develop a framework into which that vocabulary and those problem sets can be introduced and reinforced in a problem-based setting, with essential grammar and structure elements.