Developing Materials for L2 Science Learners

Report
Developing Materials for L2
Science Learners
Junia Ngoepe
University of Limpopo
South Africa
Outline
• Goal(s)
• Students Background
• Teaching Team
• Curriculum
• Organisational Matters
• Course Content
• Materials
Introduction
• Previously disadvantaged English second
language science learners at University of
Limpopo (UL) need support.
• This can be in the form of specific materials
for these students who have shown potential
to succeed in Maths and the Sciences.
Programme Goal
• Bachelor of Science Extended Degree Programme
(BSc EDP) as known as UNIFY
• The long-term goal is to enable more black
students to enter a science-based programme to
make a good start with degree-level work
• This will lead to more graduates in the fields of
Natural Sciences, Pharmacy, Optometry, Medical
Sciences and Agriculture
English & Study Skills (ESS) Goal(s)
• The students’ academic and general
proficiency in English should improve
• They should acquire language and study
skills which will enhance their academic
performance in Mathematics and the
Sciences
Students’ Background
• They are at the threshold of studying at university
• Obtained a National Senior Certificate (NSC)
qualification
• Have passed NSC General English (GE)
• But did not qualify to be admitted into the Science
faculty at the University of Limpopo (UL)
• They have shown potential to succeed in the sciences
• They are L2 speakers of English
Student Background (Cont.)
• English is the language of tuition at UL
• They are taught science in English
• They have been educationally disadvantaged
• Had inadequate access to educational services
and opportunities to develop their full potential as
students in Mathematics and the Natural Sciences
• Most will be first generation university graduates
in their families
Teaching Team
• Made up of language and content lecturers
• Local and expatriate staff, at inception
• Qualified local teachers have taught at NSC level before
• Locals qualify to teach at University ( M & D levels)
• Language lecturers have some science background
• Expatriates experienced in science education matters
• Locals needed training in science education
Curriculum
• Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics & ESS,
and Computer Literacy
• Programme curriculum is interdisciplinary in nature
• ESS is an intensive pre-study course (i.e.
foundation) in an English – medium institution
• Course starts with a diagnostic test
• There are contact sessions and tutorials &
practicals are included e.g. Project
Some Organisational Matters
• Experienced expatriate staff
• Accelerated staff development programme
for locals
• Weekly sectional meetings for teaching
progress as well as materials development
• Occasional content interdisciplinary meetings
• Marks’ board at end of every term to monitor
student progress
Some Organisational Matters ( Cont.)
• Mainly learner-centred approach
• BSc EDP sticks to teaching 150 students on average
• 5 groups of 30 students in each of the 5 core subjects
• 5 contact periods per group per week
• ESS compulsory & non-repeat
• Double-marking practised e.g. Biology and English
‘Woodlice experiment’
Course Content
• ESS focuses on techniques and skills needed by
students to become efficient and affective learners
• These skills include reading and interpretation as
well as writing and expression skills
• The course also covers aspects of grammar which
are of particular relevance to scientists or which
have been identified as areas of weakness in
students’ writing.
Course Content (Cont.)
•
Emphasis is also placed on the writing of
clear, straightforward and grammatically
correct sentences, and putting them
together to make a cohesive whole
• ESS also endeavours to encourage both
writing and verbalisation of concepts
taught in other sections
Materials
• Materials are potential tools for learning
and are supposed to be generators of
lively intellectually engaging activities
(Pinto da Silva, 1993: 40)
Materials (Cont.)
• The ultimate objective is that the materials
used as well as the tasks performed should
replicate what usually takes place beyond the
classroom boundaries (Ahellal, 1990: 38)
Materials (Cont.)
• Lecturers should continually be concerned
with asking themselves whether their
materials are producing the results they
intend to achieve
• If not, how can they improve or replace
them
Materials (Cont.)
• ESS science materials could be
characterised by appropriacy, authenticity
and be prepared in-house
• They are also a combination of
internationally – and locally produced
materials
ESS Materials
• 5 study notes
• Reference materials
• Adapted for cohorts of students
Study Manuals
• Grammar and Word Classes Module
• Writing Module 1
• Writing Module 2
• Readings
Comprehension
(Science Readings)
Passages
• Listening Comprehension and Minilectures booklet
Grammar & Word Classes Module
8 Units:
•
•
•
•
Singular & Plural Form of the Verb
The Impersonal Scientific Style – The Passive
Modality
Word Classes
Grammar & Word Classes (Cont.)
•
•
•
•
•
Countable & Uncountable Nouns
Using the Dictionary to Find Meanings
Linking Devices
General & Specific Sentences
Supplementary Exercises
Writing Module 1
5 Units
• Cause & Effect
• Quantity & Comparison
• Relationships
• Describing Structure, Content & Function
• The Passive 2
Writing Module 2
2 Units
• Describing Graphs
• Note-taking & Note-making
Reading Comprehension Passages
14 Science Readings (include questions/tasks)
•
Energy and related problems in Malawi
•
The motor car and pollution
•
Sick miners pay full price for gold
•
Wake-up call for world’s health
•
The rise and rise of Pakistan’s people
Reading Comprehension Passages
(Cont.)
• Contraception for elephants – a viable option?
• The world’s food
• Pollution and lung cancer
• Back to the days of deadly smock
• Will it get any worse?
Reading Comprehension Passages
(Cont.)
• Less is more
• Lead blights the future of Africa’s children
• Greenhouse gases and the global
warming trend
• The social costs of excessive alcohol
consumption
Listening Comprehension Minilectures
• These lectures are for note-taking practice
• The lecturer simulates a lecture while
students take notes
• Mini – lectures are ‘The Field Trip, Energy, The
Noble Gases, The Preservation of Food’, etc.
• Students do pertinent exercises pre- or post
mini-lectures attendance
Reference Materials
The following reference materials complement
study materials
• The Oxford Paperback Thesaurus
• Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
• Oxford Dictionary of Science
• Practical English
Student’s Edition
Usage,
International
Reference Materials ( Cont.)
• UNIFY Student Handbook
• Periodicals such as ‘New Scientist’ and
‘The Mail and Guardian’
• Websites such as ‘Google’, ‘Yahoo’,
‘Mamma’ and ‘Wikipedia’
Methodology
• Students sit for a language of science pre –
test
• Materials suitable for identified needs are
used for the cohort of students
• Students sit for a language of science post –
test after materials were used
• Performance in the 2 tests compared
Results
• Students perform significantly better in post –
test
• Specific materials be developed for cohorts of
disadvantaged English language students in
the sciences
• The number of disadvantaged students who
succeed in Maths and the Sciences will
increase, in the long term
Conclusion
• If language and content teaching staff work in
concert towards improving second language
science learners’ proficiency, the number of
students who succeed in the sciences will
increase.
References
•
AHELLAL, M. 1990. Using Authentic Materials in the Classroom: Theoretical
Assumptions and Practical Considerations. English Teaching Forum, 28(2): 37-38.
•
HUTCHINSON, T. & WATERS, A. 1987. English for Specific Purposes. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
•
JANSEN, J., NTSHINGILA-KHOSA, R. & CRANFIELD, C. 2005. University of the
North Mathematics and Science Foundation Year (UNIFY) Phase II. Final (Ex-Post)
Evaluation. Unpublished Report. Pretoria: European Union Commission.
•
NGOEPE L. J. 2007. The University of Limpopo Mathematics and Science foundation
year course in English and Study Skills: an evaluation. Potchefstroom: North West
University (Thesis – PhD).
•
PINTO DA SILVA, C.1993. ESP: Back to Methodology. English Teaching Forum,
31(2): 40-41.
Thank you
Any Questions?
[email protected]

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