INTEGRATED APPROACH TO FOREIGN LANGUAGE IN THE BUILDING ENGINEERING DEGREE AT THE UNIVERSIDAD POLITECNICA MADRID
The European Union has been promoting linguistic diversity for many years as one of its main educational goals. This is an element that facilitates student mobility and student exchanges between different universities and countries and enriches the education of young undergraduates. In particular, a higher degree of competence in the English language is becoming essential for engineers, architects and researchers in general, as English has become the lingua franca that opens up horizons to internationalisation and the transfer of knowledge in today’s world.
Many experts point to the Integrated Approach to Contents and Foreign Languages System as being an option that has certain benefits over the traditional method of teaching a second language that is exclusively based on specific subjects. This system advocates teaching the different subjects in the syllabus in a language other than one’s mother tongue, without prioritising knowledge of the language over the subject.
This was the idea that in the 2009/10 academic year gave rise to the Second Language Integration Programme (SLI Programme) at the Escuela Arquitectura Tecnica in the Universidad Politecnica Madrid (EUATM-UPM), just at the beginning of the tuition of the new Building Engineering Degree, which had been adapted to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) model. This programme is an interdisciplinary initiative for the set of subjects taught during the semester and is coordinated through the Assistant Director Office for Educational Innovation.
The SLI Programme has a dual goal; to familiarise students with the specific English terminology of the subject being taught, and at the same time improve their communication skills in English. A total of thirty lecturers are taking part in the teaching of eleven first year subjects and twelve in the second year, with around 120 students who have voluntarily enrolled in a special group in each semester.
During the 2010/2011 academic year the degree of acceptance and the results of the SLI Programme are being monitored. Tools have been designed to aid interdisciplinary coordination and to analyse satisfaction, such as coordination records and surveys. The results currently available refer to the first semester of the year and are divided into specific aspects of the different subjects involved and into general aspects of the ongoing experience.