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From ‘Learning English’ To ‘Learning In English’: Putting Theory Into Practice Regarding Content Based English Language Education For Economics St...

1412 words - 6 pages

For Japanese university students who have been learning English for at least six years by the time they reach university, the challenge is not a dearth of knowledge but finding a means of activating it. One method for nurturing confident, motivated, autonomous language learners who are ready, willing and able to engage as economists in an international business community is to de-emphasize English as a subject and instead emphasize its value in use. In the TESL field, this pedagogical approach is known as content-based language teaching (CBLT) or, alternatively, English for Academic and/or Specific Purposes (EAP/ESP). As a teacher who has adopted a communicative CBLT pedagogy, I strive to engage students in a process of active learning through problem-solving activities crafted from authentic materials and discussions centered on issues relevant to students’ own fields of study or emerging from authentic community concerns. This motivating approach encourages students participating in ‘real-world’ economic activities to engage further as they imagine themselves as novice members of a community of economists.
How, then, do we develop a curriculum that encourages economics students to actively learn in English rather than simply learn English, often late in their development as economists, as they suddenly realize that they may need to publish in English or present at international conferences to obtain their advanced degree. As a first principle, an effective English language program for economists requires that students develop expertise in the tools and practices that economists actually use – they need to be able to ‘walk the walk’ and ‘talk the talk’ of economics. In other words, English language learning experiences must be authentic economics experiences. Specifically, this means acquiring new information through reading papers and listening to lectures and presentations; engaging in active discussion and debate with colleagues; developing an understanding of economic concepts and research methods as well as a robust academic and technical vocabulary; and presenting those findings both orally and in writing to colleagues. For students to successfully become competent in these economic practices, it is important that they not be learning ‘from the outside’, as mere observers of past economic insights but as active participants in the process of meaning-making, generating economic insights of their own as novice practitioners of economics.
Secondly, lasting economic ideas that have stood the test of time have been challenged and tested from multiple perspectives, and this process has also frequently pushed economic research in new directions. A learning process that incorporates collaborative teamwork in pairs, small groups or an entire class helps to facilitates this sharing of ideas and develop within students a collaborative mindset that reflects how economists and other academics often work in practice. Additionally, an awareness...

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