ONLINE SEMINARS FOR DEVELOPING ENGLISH ORAL PRESENTATION SKILLS OF ENGINEERING UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS
Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies (LATVIA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 14th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 8-9 November, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:Engineers are expected to present technical and scientific information to colleagues, customers and partners at home and in the international environment. The recent research findings show that communication skills and foreign language knowledge are considered to be important competences to meet the current demands of the labour market in many countries. Developing oral presentation skills is an integral part of the study course “Professional English” for engineering students at Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies (LLU). The curriculum of the university includes content-based ESP courses in the first and second years of undergraduate studies which are integrated in the whole study process. Using oral presentations during the ESP study process is a content-based, meaningful, student-centred activity, which requires students to plan, research resources, structure the material, prepare visuals in the form of PPoint slides and get ready for the talk. A follow-up question-and-answer session provides students with an opportunity to practice speaking skills in a situation close to real life. The feedback and assessment on students’ ability to present is provided by the teacher after each presentation according to the given criteria. Since studies were provided remotely in higher education institutions in Latvia due to the Covid-19 pandemic in the academic year 2020/2021, students’ oral presentations happened live via the BigBlueButton virtual classroom. In spite of the fact that e-learning has long been used as part of the study process, academic staff and students faced a number of challenges especially regarding practicing speaking skills, including oral presentation skills.
The aim of the study was:
(1) to evaluate the teaching experience in developing English oral presentation skills of engineering students in a virtual classroom
(2) to analyse students’ experience,
(3) to work out recommendations for improvement of using ICT for development of oral presentation skills.
The empirical study included an analysis of the results of the survey among the undergraduate engineering students regarding their experience of online speaking activities during the COVID-19 situation and a focus group interview with university teachers of the study course “Professional English”. In the conclusion the author sums up students’ and teachers’ experience and opinions regarding virtual oral presentations. The study revealed that students were motivated to create their own content, prepare visuals and present them to their peers in the virtual classroom thus developing their research skills and improving speaking skills.
Keywords: e-learning, English for special purposes, oral presentation skills, communicative approach.