The importance of English:
English is the world´ s most important language for a number of reasons:
1. It is spoken by many people
2. It is dispersed over a wide geographic area
3. It is extensively used in science, commerce and culture
4. Its native speakers wield economic and political influence
English is often the language in which much of the business is conducted. It is in many areas a top requirement of those looking for a job, the outward sign of dominance in the multi-national companies. Many firms have contact with them, so the businessman is normally required to have some English.
If we are to teach and learn English for a specific purpose, we have to be clear about our purpose, we have to consider the ways in which we hope to achieve this end. In other words we have to design a syllabus that will meet the necessities of the student and adapt our methodology in order to learn the necessary skills. In order to design and teach effective courses, the planner must investigate the uses to which the language will be put. It is their responsibility to plan those courses for given learners of specific purposes, to determine accurately what those specific purposes are. The teacher must translate these needs into linguistic and pedagogic terms to produce and teach an effective course.
Commercial and administrative English:
English is a top requirement of those seeking a new job and it is often the language in which most of the business in the world is conducted.
Culture is inextricably tied up with economics f.i: television and music. Programmes, records, tapes and CDS are manufactured and sold in the international market. A side effect of this has been that the majority of technical innovations have been pioneered in America.
In the language training for business there are 2 different groups of students:
1. The present employees of international companies
2. Future employees of such businesses.
Then we must try to establish the language needs of a particular group of students as accurately as possible. One must start by consolidating the previous knowledge of English and correcting the main errors in structures and pronunciation.
Important in a course for businessmen is the teaching and practising of the formulas required for discussion and social purposes:
– I´ m afraid I can´ t accept your point of view
– Forgive me but…..
– I´ m afraid that…
– I wonder if I might
– I don´ t agree with this/ I disagree
They are politeness formulas that are used to run a discussion.
One of the most difficult questions in a course on English for specific purposes is how to write a formal letter:
Reference Your address
If the name to whom the letter is addressed is not known, we write Dear Sir, the feminine form is Dear madam, Miss is used as feminine of Mr. With no distinction between married or unmarried.
The letter can be ended with: Yours faithfully, when the opening is Dear Sir or Dear Madam, Yours sincerely, after Dear Mr or Mrs X.
Notice the commas after Yours faithfully, and Yours sincerely.
The addresses have an order:
– House name
– Number and street/avenue
– Name of block of flats town/ village
– Country or postcode
Listening and speaking a correct English are essential skills for succeeding in the business world so they must be trained as an important par of the course.
Courses designed for future businessmen must be based on a prediction of probable needs and should provide a balanced training in the basic skills of business English.
What objective to set?:
The English which is expected to be taught must be relevant for their jobs. When they go to one of these courses it is because their company demands a high level of competence in English. The company expects a result in terms of improved job performance, a return in fact to their investment. In order to solve this problem, a programme must be devised from a lowest stage (where the student begins to learn English and can carry out very few tasks) to a highest stage (where he becomes a native speaker).
The company can select the target objectives with the teacher to get that level. The tasks can attend to the skills for the learning of English: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Within each of them other tasks can be differentiated:
Listening and speaking: (Oral skills)
1. Face to face dealing with customers
2. Internal meetings
3. Use of the telephone
Reading and Writing: (Written skills)
1. Fill in some forms
2. Make some informs for the meetings
There are 2 kinds of courses, each with a different emphasis on listening and speaking and on reading and writing skills.
1. Employees in an initial course possibly have a very short knowledge about English. The course objective is to teach them to operate on their own. According to this, the course includes elements about persuasion, disapproval, concession, and in the personal sphere like asking for overtime, identifying yourself and asking for time off, sorting out company procedural problems.
The training will be oral in a great part. The writing skill be practised through cards, warning notices, accident reports.
2. In an intermediate or advanced course, the employees will be able to work in an efficient way in the company. They have to improve their knowledge about:
a) Reporting effectively to management
b) Completing logbooks.
c) Negotiating with management
d) Supervising employees
The content of the course must be designed after a precourse investigation. The content must be graded, organised and extended in a such a way that the learner never wastes his time at any moment.
The results obtained are usually successful. Students can now communicate directly and much more clearly. They have more self-confidence at work.
Computers, language laboratories, tape recorders or videos are some of the materials which can be used to practise what they are learning to simulate the actions. Using these materials, learners feel they are face to face dealing with problems from the real life.
Scientific and technical English:
The general term “scientific English” could be applied to school science textbooks, popular journalism in newspapers and magazines and learned articles in professional journals.
There are now on the market a large number of textbooks on scientific English. These books fall into 2 main categories:
1. On the one hand they may be written by English teachers or linguists.
2. On the other, they may be written by scientists who assume that language is neutral in relation to subject matter, that scientific concepts will mediate themselves irrespective of language use.
Books of this kind would presuppose a collaboration between scientists and linguists at the authorship stage.
Students of English drawn from industry expect the English they are taught on a language course to be relevant to their jobs. They usually participate in an English course not because they have any particular interest in English per se, but because their career within their company demands high level of competence in English.
Many teachers of students drawn from industry are faced with the question of what is that the students and his company actually expect him to teach, what is that the student should be able to do at the end of the course that he could not do at the beginning.
The grammatical elements that writers choose most frequently to transmit much of the basic scientific and technical information on which they base a given technical piece of discourse, are the following ones:
1. Passive- stative distinctions: Both passive and stative verbs are found primarily in the rhetoric of instructions but less frequently. By stative we mean those constructions with the verb to be plus a past participle. A passive always indicate an activity whether or not it has a stated agent to perform that activity. A stative always describes the state or condition of the grammatical subject of the sentence the stative verb is in.
2. Modal use in the rhetoric of instructions: Modals, especially passive modals, are found commonly in scientific and technical discourse, especially in such phrases as:
– It should be made clear that…..
– It can be assumed that…..
3. Problems with the definite article: There is an inconsistency in the use of the article in the rhetoric of instructions, especially with those sets of instructions found in technical manuals and related material. It is found in the rhetoric of description, most often when the functioning of a piece of machinery is being described.
Lexical problems in the written discourse of scientific and technical English:
The vocabulary of a technical speech or piece of writing can have some words which we may consider as words which are rarely used in general English. It is important to know their meaning to understand the whole subject. The words used in scientific and technical English are a lot and there are some others whose general meaning in this kind of texts and it can be difficult for us to guess.
There are 3 lexical areas:
1. Technical vocabulary: There are a lot of new words used by scientists and technicians nowadays and almost everyday they try to create new terms to define something new. They have to look for new words which can give us a precise meaning of the new discoveries. Many of these terms are adopted internationally with slight variations
Many of these new words are made up from Latin and Greek roots.
2. Sub-technical vocabulary: It refers to those words that have one or more general English meanings and which in technical contexts take on extended meanings. Semi- technical words are an important part of technical English whose use is not confined to scientific and technical English. These words can change their meanings depending on the subject they are used to refer about.
3. Noun compounds: Students find it difficult to translate into their native languages those complex compounds in scientific and technical discourse.
Expressions and structures:
Formal style is common to both written and spoken communication. There are some expressions which are more common in technical English, f.i: to come into operation. Some words have been incorporated into the formal scientific English because they avoid the ambiguity of more commonly used words f..i: to determine is used instead of to find out.
Technical language prefers impersonal sentences and the agent is not normally mentioned if the agent is a person f.i: Houses have to be built
When scientists make statements which they believe to be true always and everywhere, they use the simple present
– Hydrogen reacts with oxygen
But the simple present is also used in formulae equations, definitions, laws of science.
The infinitive of the verb is commonly used to express purpose, function, object, aim.
– The engine is designed to be run at high speed.
The continuous present is used in descriptions of progress, of plans or uncompleted actions.
– We are getting better results.
The formula if….then is often used to indicate stages in actions or arguments. The word “then” gives emphasis to the word that follows but it adds nothing to the meaning.
– If it is heated, then the bomb will explode.