P. Hauptfeld, C. Kummer

University of Applied Sciences Burgenland Austria (AUSTRIA)
Short project description: The two years’ EU funded project (2014 – 2016), first ranked in Austria within the call 2014 Erasmus+/Strategic Partnerships develops an online course on Academic Writing (in short: AWO) in seven languages for Business Studies which provides the necessary skills and tools for completing the final thesis. To reach this objective AWO will include six modules (6 ECTS) for students and one additional module for teachers and tutors in the field of Academic Writing. The six modules concentrate on key topics following the approach that writing has to be seen as a practical ability and not a supernatural gift.

Course design: Every module will be composed of two parts: 15 text units (lectures) with exercises (activities) and 8 videos by the teachers who give explanatory information. The modules will be designed in German, translated and culturally adapted to Croatian, Czech, English, Hungarian, Slovak and Slovenian. This process implies a specific didactical approach outlined in short:

Didactical implications: AWO does not follow the common chapter structure of a script as single units can be chosen for reading. This means a precise selection of the contents to cover a topic of a single unit, along with the use of a clear and dense language style without extensions. One unit will not be longer than one page on a dark white or light blue background in order to facilitate the reading. The exercises have to be short but concise, the efficiency is determined by their scale: Too broad exercises miss the effect of learning, too narrow exercises cannot be revised via the single units. In any cases the student has to be given the possibility to review the results by checking them via the text or video information. The course can be combined with blended learning as well or other forms of e-learning. The videos figure as a personal link. They are not produced in class but in a recording studio to address the students directly. They are either deepening a specific topic or providing additional information. They do not mean a repetition of the text but figure as an “anchor” of certain units. Making use of visualizing methods like pictures, graphs, embedded power point presentations or chroma keying they support the course contents at a very high extent.

Translation and cultural adaption: For translating and adapting the course from German to the CEE languages it is essential not to use phrases and wording which do not exist in the target countries (e.g. the word “Puffer”, in German it means “calculating enough time to be sure to get the work done”) and English idiomatic expressions in Academic Writing which are understandable but hard to translate. Some countries even do not use English expressions at all. The terminology has to be consistent in all languages for didactical reasons, this means finding corresponding expressions in all languages as there are always shifts in the meaning. In German we use the terminology “indirektes Zitieren”, in all other languages it is “referencing”. These implications also apply to grammar use, e.g. passive voice for avoiding the 1stposition is not used in Hungary at all and in Slovenia and the Czech Republic not that much as in German Writing. Moreover the authors of the German modules have to avoid an accumulation of nouns, compounds and complex syntax structure (use of conjunctions). The authors and translators always have to take into account how the student perceives the text!