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Developing Materials for L2 Science Learners
JuniaNgoepeUniversity of LimpopoSouth Africa
Outline
Goal(s)Students BackgroundTeaching TeamCurriculumOrganisational MattersCourse ContentMaterials
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 UNIFYThe long-term goal is to enable more black students to enter a science-based programme to make a good start with degree-level workThis 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 improveThey 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 universityObtained a National Senior Certificate (NSC) qualificationHave 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 sciencesThey are L2 speakers of English
Student Background (Cont.)
English is the language of tuition at ULThey are taught science in EnglishThey have been educationally disadvantagedHad inadequate access to educational services and opportunities to develop their full potential as students in Mathematics and the Natural SciencesMost will be first generation university graduates in their families
Teaching Team
Made up of language and content lecturersLocal and expatriate staff, at inceptionQualified local teachers have taught at NSC level beforeLocals qualify to teach at University ( M & D levels)Language lecturers have some science backgroundExpatriates experienced in science education mattersLocals needed training in science education
Curriculum
Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics & ESS, and Computer LiteracyProgramme curriculum is interdisciplinary in natureESS is an intensive pre-study course (i.e. foundation) in an English – medium institutionCourse starts with a diagnostic testThere are contact sessions and tutorials &practicalsare included e.g. Project
Some Organisational Matters
Experienced expatriate staffAccelerated staff development programme for localsWeekly sectional meetings for teaching progress as well as materials developmentOccasional content interdisciplinary meetingsMarks’ board at end of every term to monitor student progress
Some Organisational Matters ( Cont.)
Mainly learner-centred approachBSc EDP sticks to teaching 150 students on average5 groups of 30 students in each of the 5 core subjects5 contact periods per group per weekESS compulsory & non-repeatDouble-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 learnersThese skills include reading and interpretation as well as writing and expression skillsThe 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 cohesivewholeESS 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.)
Theultimate 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 achieveIf not, how cantheyimprove or replace them
Materials (Cont.)
ESS science materials could be characterised byappropriacy,authenticity and be prepared in-houseThey are also a combination of internationally – and locally produced materials
ESS Materials
5studynotesReference materialsAdapted for cohorts of students
Study Manuals
Grammar and Word Classes ModuleWriting Module 1Writing Module 2Readings Comprehension Passages (Science Readings)Listening Comprehension and Mini-lectures booklet
Grammar & Word Classes Module
8 Units:Singular & Plural Form of the VerbThe Impersonal Scientific Style – The PassiveModalityWord Classes
Grammar & Word Classes (Cont.)
Countable & Uncountable NounsUsing the Dictionary to Find MeaningsLinking DevicesGeneral & Specific SentencesSupplementary Exercises
Writing Module 1
5 UnitsCause & EffectQuantity & ComparisonRelationshipsDescribing Structure, Content & FunctionThe Passive 2
Writing Module 2
2 UnitsDescribing GraphsNote-taking & Note-making
Reading Comprehension Passages
14 Science Readings (include questions/tasks)Energy and related problems in MalawiThe motor car and pollutionSick miners pay full price for goldWake-up call for world’s healthThe rise and rise of Pakistan’s people
Reading Comprehension Passages (Cont.)
Contraception for elephants – a viable option?The world’s foodPollution and lung cancerBack to the days of deadly smockWill it get any worse?
Reading Comprehension Passages (Cont.)
Less is moreLead blightsthe future of Africa’schildrenGreenhousegases and the global warming trendThe social costs of excessive alcohol consumption
Listening Comprehension Mini-lectures
These lectures are for note-taking practiceThe lecturer simulates a lecture while students take notesMini – 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 materialsThe Oxford Paperback ThesaurusLongman Dictionary of Contemporary EnglishOxford Dictionary of SciencePractical English Usage, International Student’s Edition
Reference Materials ( Cont.)
UNIFY Student HandbookPeriodicalssuch as ‘New Scientist’ and‘The Mailand Guardian’Websitessuch as ‘Google’, ‘Yahoo’, ‘Mamma’ and ‘Wikipedia’
Methodology
Students sit for a language of science pre – testMaterials suitable for identified needsare usedfor the cohort of studentsStudents sit for a language of science post – test after materials were usedPerformance in the 2 tests compared
Results
Students perform significantly better in post – testSpecific materials be developed for cohorts of disadvantaged English language students in the sciencesThe number of disadvantaged students who succeed in Maths and the Scienceswill increase,in the long term
Conclusion
If language and content teachingstaff workin 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 Sciencefoundationyear course in English and Study Skills: an evaluation. Potchefstroom: North West University (Thesis – PhD).PINTODA SILVA, C.1993. ESP: Back to Methodology.English TeachingForum,31(2): 40-41.
Thank you
Any Questions?junia.ngoepe@gmail.com

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2014 MATSDA - liverpool.ac.uk