This paper demonstrates a usage-based approach, drawing on language corpora, to creating teaching materials. The need for such materials stems from the growing demand for courses of English for specific purposes on one hand, and the surprising lack or inadequacy of available materials for these courses on the other hand.
A vast body of research into disciplinary discourses (see e.g. Gray, 2015; Hyland, 2004, 2011), i.e. the ways language is used by academics of a particular discipline, has pointed out differences between individual disciplines. In recent years, this research activity has resulted in an increase in demand for specialised courses of English, which no longer focus on academic English in general, but on English as it is used by practitioners of a particular discipline. Accordingly, these courses should be based on specialised teaching materials.
English for mathematicians suffers from two main problems regarding the course materials. First, there are virtually no teaching materials concerned with mathematical English. The existing textbooks are limited to writing style manuals, often focused on typographical conventions more than on specific textual features. None of the materials is a textbook as such, suitable for direct use in the classroom. Moreover, all of the available materials are fairly outdated, being published around the year 2000 at best.
Second, mathematical English is to a large degree distinct from general academic English. In the absence of a specialised textbook, resorting to general EAP materials, which are abundant, would seem an obvious solution. However, looking at the topics traditionally covered in the EAP courses, we show that the language of mathematics differs from what is understood to be academic English so radically that general academic materials are unsuitable for this course.
In overcoming the above mentioned challenges, we propose a usage-based approach to creating teaching materials for specialised courses. Language corpora are used for developing authentic teaching materials, tailored to the needs of students of the given specialisation. Our approach makes use of language corpora as the primary source and shows how information from them can be used in courses of specialised English. On the example of English for mathematicians, we present different types of exercises. These can be divided into three broad groups. First, inductive exercises, aimed at familiarising the students with the structures specific of the texts from their discipline. Second, exercises for practising an already familiar rule. Third, exercises raising awareness of certain phenomena which the students are familiar with from general English but whose usage differs slightly in specialised English for mathematicians. We believe that these exercises may serve as a source of inspiration for other teachers of English for Specific purposes who find themselves in a similar situation.
Tento příspěvek se zaměřuje na výzvy spojené s výukou anglického jazyka pro matematiky, zejména z hlediska výukových materiálů. Představuje dva hlavní problémy spojené s touto tematikou, totiž nedostatek relevantních podkladových materiálů či učebnic, a nevhodnost materiálů určených pro obecné kurzy akademické angličtiny. Na pozadí těchto obtíží jsou pak navrženy metody tvorby výukových materiálů pro specializované kurzy, které jsou založené na autentických textech dané disciplíny. Příspěvek obsahuje zejména ukázky použití specializovaných jazykových korpusů pro tvorbu výukových materiálů.
- Gray, B. (2015). Linguistic Variation in Research Articles. John Benjamins Publishing Company.
- Hyland, K. (2004). Disciplinary Discourses: Social Interactions in Academic Writing. The University of Michigan Press.
- Hyland, K. (2011). Disciplinary specificity: Discourse, context and ESP. In D. Belcher, A. M. Johns, & B. Paltridge (Eds.), New Directions in English for Specific Purposes Research (pp. 6–24). University of Michigan Press.
Mgr. Lucie Malá is an English teacher at the department of language education at the faculty of mathematics and physics of the Charles University. Having studied both English and mathematics, she specialises in teaching English for mathematicians. She is responsible for the organisation of UNIcert® III, English for Mathematicians teaching programme and examination administered at the faculty. Lucie is also a third year PhD student of English at the Faculty of Arts, where her topic of research is phraseology of mathematical research articles.