"TO PUT IT SIMPLY" – TEACHING THROUGH AND ABOUT SIMPLICITY
University of Applied Sciences, FH Joanneum Graz (AUSTRIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Conference name: 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 10-12 March, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:In my talk, I will present the outline of an ESP (English for Specific Purposes) course for students of Information Design drawing upon John Maeda’s book "The Laws of Simplicity", illustrating how a text can be used in a threefold manner, as a source for information and ideas, as an example of language usage, and as the basis for developing and/or selecting teaching materials. The combination seems particularly attractive to future information designers, judging from the anonymous evaluations by students, who described the course as the best and most practically applicable English course they had taken so far.
John Maeda's book "The Laws of Simplicity" suggests itself for an English course in Information Design as its author, a graphic designer and computer scientist, proposes ten laws for simplifying complex systems in business, life and product design. Not only is the subject matter of interest to students, it is also the unique correspondence of content and style of presentation that is appealing and also invites further investigation.
My students were required to read the book and during lessons we discussed the content and the language used. Concerning the tasks I concentrated on oral work, vocabulary and grammar as well as autonomous learning by having students do research on certain questions. The exercises methodologically also vary between different teaching and learning styles. The variability in the approach is supposed to contrast with the topic of the course.
I want to focus on the benefits the methodology I used offers for EFL (English as a Foreign Language) learning and teaching since the use of varying tuition methods fosters learner autonomy and motivation through interactivity and multimedia. Using subject-specific authentic texts clearly raised the learners’ motivation which was further increased through fun in the activities, curiosity as the subject matter was of interest to students, multimedia learning material and social interaction. The learners were automatically involved in making choices and in modifying and adapting their goals which is typical of CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) classrooms. This constructivist approach to learning where the learners are offered content dependent possibilities promote learner autonomy and therefore guarantee a better outcome.
Keywords: ESP (English for Specific Purposes), CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning), University Learning and Teaching Methodology.