DEVELOPING PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCES IN “FOREIGN LANGUAGE: ENGLISH”: A COURSE IN THE DEGREE STUDIES OF SOCIAL EDUCATION
University of Valladolid (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:The goal of this paper is to show how the course Foreign Language: English has been integrated in the Degree studies of Social Education at the University of Valladolid in the year 2010-2011. The Teaching Innovation Group that fosters this training approach considers the course as a means both to achieve linguistic competence in English (Common European Framework of References for the Languages’s level B1) –as required by RD 1393/2007-; and to train Social Education students in the understanding of professional discourse written in English. Therefore, the teaching-learning methodology of the course straightforwardly aims to meet the professional competences of the Degree. Besides this, the paper will show how the course also offers opportunities: to diminish anxiety when dealing with documents in English, and to encourage the development of other cross-curricular competences providing learning tools which promote long-life learning.
In order that the course would help develop the competences of the Degree:
1. The four linguistic macro-skills -speaking, writing, reading comprehension and listening comprehension- and the grammatical and lexical contents were dealt with inside a framework consisting of discourse samples which are common in the Social Education domain.
2. The discourse samples -video-clips and written documents- used during the teaching-learning process were carefully chosen among those provided by sources such as the European Commission for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion http://ec.europa.eu/social/home.jsp?langId=en; they were used in the original version; and were only seldom manipulated. The selection was made according to the following criteria:
a. suitability to the level (B1, CEFRL),
b. concern with topics of professional interest from a socio-educative perspective,
c. display of language aspects which are typical of social discourse,
d. accordance with the professional competences to be developed in the studies.
3. Learning tasks based on original documents were carefully elaborated, graded and sequenced in order to create pedagogic material that would facilitate both conceptual understanding and language acquisition.
4. The student was coached throughout the whole learning process, even during out-of-school work hours.
Oral and written expression also had a place in the course. Again Social Education competences were put to the front, as students were required to make some collaborative research on topics of social or professional interest and elaborate essays and oral presentations. Most of the creative work implied team work and the use of ICTs.
At the end of the course students were passed over an anonymous questionnaire as regards the use of English in the degree. The survey results show that students were more confident when dealing with professional discourse written in English than those who had taken the subject the previous year –in which the project had not been initiated. Besides this, exam results showed that the average student’s degree of comprehension of professional discourse was quite satisfactory. Exams also showed that –when facing different possibilities regarding written expression- many students felt confident enough to elaborate essays related with the Degree competences and undertook the task in a satisfactory way.
Keywords: English as Foreign Language, Social Education, Cross-curricular competences.