Learn Technical English Fast: Use ESP Workshops to Promote Reading Comprehension in LEP Students
With the continuing expansion of English as an integral communication tool for education, science, technology, business, and commerce, post-secondary education technical students are increasingly finding themselves in positions that require them to manage high-tech studies in technical English. If you teach EFL, Business or Technical English, or teach a technical subject in English, you can use ESP workshops to successfully promote better reading and comprehension in LEP students.
A group of my limited English proficient (LEP) students studying an electronic engineering class on antenna design had an American textbook in English, so it was necessary for me to turn chapters of the text into a series of ESP reading and comprehension designed to allow students to practice strategies for deconstructing written text as an aid to understanding it.
A Series of Workshops
When my Spanish speaking LEP law school students were asked to study aspects of capital punishment used in the US, I again produced a series of materials such as written workshops and full multimedia presentations.
For my LEP Economics students to do comparative population studies of Colombia (population 44,222,000) with:
o South Korea (population 47,700,000)
o Poland (population 38,587,000)
o Argentina (population 38,428,000)
o South Africa (population 45,026,000)
o Ukraine (population 48,523,000)
A series of ESP workshops and multimedia presentations proved invaluable in promoting their reading and understanding of their program’s technical materials in English. The process of creating effective ESP written workshops is not easy, but it is well worth the effort required. It benefits students in reading and understanding difficult written material and develops the ingenuity and skills of the EFL teacher.
Preparing the Workshop
When preparing an ESP written workshop, the reading text is divided into manageable segments that LEP students can more easily understand. Students are taught to identify items in context such as:
o Cognates: words that look the same in different languages; True cognates have the same or similar meanings, uses, and connotations in different languages, while false cognates have different meanings, uses, and connotations in different languages.
o Connectors – words that join simple and complex sentences with others. Examples of connectors are: and, but, or, so. They can be of different types, depending on their function. There are connectors that express addition, contrast, sequence of time, choice, cause or result.
o Referents – words that refer to others that have been used before. They are used to avoid the repetition of words. Commonly used ones include parts of speech (words) such as: pronouns, determiners, quantifiers, and proper nouns.
o Affixes: consist of prefixes and suffixes. A prefix is a syllable that is added in front of a root word to form another word with a different grammatical function. A suffix is a syllable that is added to the final root of a word to form another word with a different grammatical function.
In addition, a list of key high-frequency vocabulary is prepared along with a glossary of technical terms that may be difficult for students. Pre-reading, during-reading, and post-reading activities are incorporated into the written workshop to complement and complete the total package. A variety of exercise types are used to provide in-context practice with the lexical and grammatical elements of reading. Comprehensive support in the form of charts, photos, diagrams, and images, as well as video, animation, and sound files is included when producing online reading and comprehension workshops on websites, blogs, or class pages.
ESP written reading and comprehension workshops can be an invaluable aid to LEP students who need to understand and apply technical material related to their field, study, or employment. A good workshop can take three to five hours to prepare, but it is timeless and can be used and reused for years. With regular and frequent practice in preparing for ESP workshops, teachers can often reduce preparation time significantly. The benefits for students are countless.
If you want some examples of completed and prepared ESP written workshops, feel free to email me for immediate response with examples.