ANALYZING PEDAGOGICAL LINK-MAKING DEVICES IN SCIENCE CLASSROOM LANGUAGE USING AN ONLINE CORPUS OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING LECTURES
Globalization is exerting a strong influence on how higher education institutions manage the recruitment of students and teaching staff. One evidence of the changes caused by globalization is the fast growth in the number of institutions around the world adopting English Medium Instruction (EMI).
In many countries, as is the case in Japan, the majority of students and teachers involved in EMI programs are non-native speakers of English (NNS), and this may pose a challenge to the efficiency of teaching and learning processes. As effective science learning is difficult to achieve even when instruction is given in the first language of teachers and learners, achieving this in a second or additional language poses an even greater challenge.
In order to support NNS teachers and learners, the language used in lectures delivered by native speakers of English (NS) at MIT (transcripts obtained from MIT Opencourseware, http://ocw.mit.edu/) and Stanford University (transcripts from Stanford Engineering Everywhere, http://see.stanford.edu/) was analyzed using OnCAL (the Online Corpus of Academic Lectures, http://www.oncal.sci.waseda.ac.jp/) with a focus on “pedagogical link-making” (Scott, Mortimer and Ametller, Studies in Science Education 47, 3, 2011). Many concrete examples of how teachers of science and engineering promote continuity of ideas in the classroom were found and analyzed. Expressions that are typical of this specific pedagogical function were identified from the frequency of their use in lectures.
Utterances beginning with “last time we…”, or containing patterns like “as we’ve seen before…”, are examples of frequent ways in which teachers have students recall content presented in earlier sessions to illustrate, or try to more clearly explain, new content. On the other hand, expressions like “we’ll come back to that later” are used in utterances that project the relationship of the present content to what will be given in future sessions. The proper use of this type of pedagogical link-making by the teacher can promote continuity of ideas in a science classroom and should help students connect the ideas that are presented in chunks. Effective use of such devices can facilitate learning. Unfortunately, NNS teachers may not be able to use them effectively and NNS students may not be aware of their importance.
We propose that NNS science teachers (or less experienced NS science teachers) can learn to use OnCAL to obtain insights into their pedagogical language needs for effective teaching. Similarly, NNS students (or even NS students) who wish to improve their lecture comprehension skills can use OnCAL as a source of lecture samples to learn which utterances signal which pedagogical functions. Taking advantage of this corpus-based learning model can help students more efficiently become familiar with the language of science.