LEARNING ENGLISH THROUGH 3D-PRINTING: A CASE STUDY WITH ENGINEERING AND DESIGN STUDENTS IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Instituto Politécnico de Castelo Branco (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:Designers and engineers focus on materials, processes and constitutive properties as their creations are usually expressed in some material form. On the verge of a new paradigm relating materialization and material processing, additive 3D-printing arises as a new and exciting freeform manufacturing technology, allowing no virtual limitations regarding both form and function on fulfilling designers’ and engineers’ quest for innovation. Additive 3D-printing technologies are computer-based processes in which the majority of software and tools are written in English, demanding from end-users not only the ability to understand the processes, but also the language skills to fully understand their features and potentials and to communicate with others about them. In order to enable Higher Education students to explore the full potential of these technologies, engineering content has to be supported by language content through English for Specific Purposes (ESP) classes or Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) approaches. In fact, teaching and learning experience shows that content and language interactions play a large role in understanding the full potential use of additive 3D-printing, given the relevance of a specific corpus which encases the key vocabulary and related use in this subject area and due also to the fact that innovative processes predominantly occur in and through English.
In order to improve engineering and design students’ skills on 3D-printing and English for understanding and communicating this learning, groups of graduate, undergraduate and master students were selected to participate in a CLIL experiment. The CLIL approach was preferred to an ESP approach given its higher student-centredness and integration of content with language forms and functions. The case study in CLIL was built around the specific theme of additive 3D-printing at the Polytechnic Institute of Castelo Branco, Portugal, and approached through an in-tandem collaborative strategy designed between the content and the ESP teacher. Following some brief CLIL training, both lecturers cooperated in the design and articulation of content and language from the perspective of learner-centred perspectives over a two-year span and across several topics/themes, such as Manufacturing Processes, Computer-Aided Manufacturing and New Materials and Technologies, which were predominantly taught in the students’ mother tongue, with some input in English. However, for a specific content topic, Additive 3D-printing technologies, the ESP lecturer and the content teacher coordinated work in a more integrated manner for a number of recorded sessions that aimed at effective teaching and learning of specific additive 3D-printing technologies in and through English, and at building a glossary of specific terminology on 3D-printing and related processes. On further analysis of the CLIL experience, it was found that the CLIL approach enabled students to improve not only their knowledge on the 3D-printing specific purpose content, but also their language proficiency and cognitive processes in English. A tangible result of the cooperative learning in which students and teachers were engaged was a glossary on 3D-printing to be used and further developed by both.
Keywords: CLIL, ESP, Technology, 3D-Printing.