ADVANCEMENT OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING FOR PROFESSIONAL PURPOSES: CASE-STUDY OF STAKE-HOLDERS’ REQUIREMENTS
ORCID: 0000-0003-1573-5491, Кандидат педагогических наук, профессор, Российский государственный аграрный университет – МСХА им. К.А. Тимирязева
ВЛИЯНИЕ ТРЕБОВАНИЙ СОЦИАЛЬНО-ПРОФЕССИОНАЛЬНОЙ СРЕДЫ НА СОДЕРЖАНИЕ ПРОФЕССИОНАЛЬНО ОРИЕНТИРОВАННОЙ ИНОЯЗЫЧНОЙ ПОДГОТОВКИ
Работа посвящена актуальной в настоящее время проблеме совершенствования содержания профессионального образования вообще, и предметной подготовки в частности, на основе учета широкого пласта требований современного общества. Показана инвариантность предлагаемого автором подхода, но рассмотрен пример образовательной области «Иностранный язык». В основу методологии представленного исследования положены обзор валидных источников и контент-анализ требований разных категорий представителей профессионально-социальной среды.
Ключевые слова: иноязычная подготовка, язык для специальных целей, стейк-холдеры, компетентностный подход, профессиональное образование.
ORCID: 0000-0003-1573-5491, PhD in Pedagogy, Professor, Russian State Agrarian University – MAA named after К.А. Timiriazev
ADVANCEMENT OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING FOR PROFESSIONAL PURPOSES: CASE-STUDY OF STAKE-HOLDERS’ REQUIREMENTS
The paper deals with the vital issue of the consideration of the requirements of stake-holders (interested parties) in the content and technology of foreign language teaching for professional purposes. The author presents his research results that were acquired in the framework technical and vocational education and training. Problems and possible solutions are proposed. The research methodology is based on the content analysis.
Keywords: English for professional purposes, stake holders, competency approach, technical and vocational education and training.
As for Russia and other CIS countries, second language mastery for professional mobility is a sound issue for secondary, tertiary and further vocational education graduates. Similarly, it is considered it to be equally vital for citizens of other countries featuring transitional economy and rapid development of the job market as a new phenomenon.
Another aspect of language acquisition problem is current for countries with a considerable body of immigrant population. This body is in typical need of job adaptation to the host community, which is characterized with a language foreign to immigrant ethnic groups.
Language training of native and mixed immigrant groups is associated with careful selection of relevant teaching contents and techniques. The competency-centered approach to teaching contents selection is the key one here, as it is considered as being a powerful and up-to-date – though disputable in terminology – instrument. Student diversity and the ways of tackling it in a language classroom are still another issue for analysis is this context - for mixed ethnic groups in particular. All these phenomena are offered for discussion in relevant sections of this chapter, as well as most typical and sound practical examples of language mastery development within Russian TVET for professional mobility advancement of Russian natives and foreigners working in our country.
In today’s Russia there are certain quite new phenomena, requirements of stock-holders being among them. We are not isolated from the rest of the world any longer, neither have we guaranteed jobs for all. Thus, under modern economic conditions in our country, there is need to improve quality of knowledge of TVET graduates of various levels - secondary schools, vocational colleges, universities, re-training institutions and further education programmes. If the mastery is inadequate, certain positions (mostly managerial ones) will stay closed for these graduates.
There is a range of job market opportunities for TVET graduates. But when analyzing the market, we discovered the shortage of professionals who are able to meet two basic job market requirements, i.e. computer mastery and adequate language skills; because of this gap, many applications for positions are neglected.
Today there is a need for professional communication with foreign experts with the purpose to refine our national techniques, study international know-how and to penetrate onto new international markets. Equally, international professionals are coming in still growing numbers, and these immigrants are expected to feature the job-adequate Russian speech skills.
In the last decades, the study of professional-field communication strategies has attracted increasing attention. But, as Ellis  remarks, ‘Theoretical discussion of communication strategies has predominated over empirical research into their use’. Though, the language acquisition process is rather lengthy, and it takes over five years as an average to attain the near-native speaker level – judging on basic language mastery parameters. There are only some of the language tests that are valid for assessment of separate – most of the time sporadic – language skills, but not integral vocationally oriented language competence. What is more, the training of strategic competence has been rather neglected. As Tarone and Yule  state, ‘There are few, if any, materials available at present, which teach learners how to use communication strategies - when problems are encountered in the process of transmitting information’.
The above-characterized conditions lead to inevitable necessity of foreign languages teaching improvement within TVET system. It is suggested that the entire language mastery policy and the very approach to the problem must be reconsidered, i.e. more attention should be paid to students' language skills development, as well as recently worked out teaching techniques are to be introduced .
The central research question in this context should be ‘Why English for Professional Purposes (EPP) but not other ELT research and praxis fields?’. Among all the key terms that are resorted to in the similar research projects and papers, we need to refer to those with the EPP-relevant semantics. The key premises of EPP are established to be these:
- teaching the something that has direct bearing on the formation of the professional expertise of graduates (hard and soft skills);
- facilitating students’ mastery of other university subjects;
- ELT content development being grounded on the understanding of ‘not teaching English, but teaching through English’ for the sake of professional competency development;
- best practices for the mediocre students;
- shift in the educational paradigm, i.e. from anthropocentric towards sociocentric;
- establishment, maintenance and development of sustainable social networks, i.e. interrelations within the community that are to be efficient, harmonious, mutually beneficial and aesthetic;
- establishment of the EL mastery as a social good that is valuable for all stakeholders.
Among the considerable stakeholder in FL teaching/learning there are students, social communities, professional communities, employers, ELT associations, course developers, school administrators, international professional organizations, government (officials, state standards, etc.), programme sponsors, FL teachers, system of education, parents, FLT publishers, international FLT-related organizations, FL teacher associations, FLT course developers, etc.
The key challenge here is in the revision of ELT objectives. The latter should be true to the needs and expectations of various groups of stake-holders. And those needs should be re-addressed in terms of the requirements of the new Russian educational standards and participation of stakeholders in ELT content development.
In the table below, there are presented some of the samples of problems that may arise in the stake-holders’ requirements, and the possible steps towards the solution of those problems. The central idea of the development of those steps rests and is vested in harmonization of the foreign language teaching context and the stake-holders’ requirements.
To illustrate the interaction of the ESS content development and the requirements of the stake-holders, some of the problems and solutions may be these .
Problem 1. University administration declares support of the quality ELT, but stands strongly against any increase in the number of the contact hours for ELT.
Solution 1. We may demonstrate the value of ELT for the formation of the holistic professional competency of a graduate; in addition, demonstrate the value of the particular ELT extracurricular activities (e.g. local/national contests, festivals, video conferences, etc.) for the development of the University’s goodwill.
Problem 2. Student declare their strive for EL mastery, but tend to invest their minimal effort to EL learning.
Solution 2. Explain the actual EPP objectives; introduce the rational assignments (to-the-point, power-optimal and tie-optimal); develop the student motivation to EL learning: provision of the rationale behind the EL learning chores, inculcation in exchange programmes, visualization of the profession-related EL mastery value.
Problem 3. University EL Teacher Community is EPP-reluctant and heavily intoxicated with EGP, ESP, EAP and CLIL myths.
Solution 3. Explain the actual goals of EPP; offer refresher/professional development courses in EPP; provide the well-rounded support (methodological, psychological, special-field, resource, etc.).
Thus, as it was illustrated above, the theoretical and applied aspects of TVET educational thesaurus determine considerably the special characteristics of language teaching contents within TVET. It influences directly the selection of the key professional competences required of TVET graduates by the job market, which a new social and economic phenomenon for countries in transition, especially those with a considerable body of temporally unemployed immigrant population . Then, it may be recommended that specialized language courses be taught at secondary and tertiary TVET schools. Within these courses certain well-established approaches and teaching techniques should be employed, which would advance the circumstance-curtailed job market opportunities of TVET students .
We find it necessary to note that - though the above described approaches proved to result in a considerable growth of students' second language mastery, -there should be further research conducted. This research would have the mission to introduce other foremost methods of language teaching improvement which would allow our TVET graduates to enjoy advanced job market opportunities .
To sum-up, it should be stated that development of professional language competence evaluation tools within TVET is a priority for Russian educationalists. So, there is a rich cluster of issues associated with carrying out this mission, and it is thought wise to discuss the solution of most of the relevant problems and key job market requirements to language mastery with international experts at all levels.
- Ellis, R. Understanding Second Language Acquisition. Oxford University Press.1985.
- Tarone, E. and G. Yule (1989) Focus on the Language Learner. Oxford University Press.
- Kouznetsov, А. (2009) Language Mastery Development within TVET for Professional Mobility Advancement. Chapter 10.12 // UNESCO-UNEVOC International Handbook on Education for the Changing World of Work: Монография. – Bonn, UNESCO-UNEVOC International Center; Amsterdam, Springer Publishers. – Vol. 4. – Pp. 1739-1746.
- Kuznetsov, A.N. Professional Competency Formation Potential of an Academic Subject in Engineering Education: Account of Stake-holders’s Requirements in Foreign Languages - Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Pedagogical Research. - Tongji University, November 14th & 15th 2013, Shanghai, China. – Tongji University Press, 2013. 364 р. – Pp. 1-4.
- Kuznetsov, A.N. Professionalno-competentnostniy potencial inoyazychnoy podgotovky: opyt issledovaniya i normativnogo opisaniya // (Professional and competency potential of foreign language training: description and documentation). Monography. – Saarbrucken, LAP, 2013. – 330 с.
- Kuznetsov, A.N. Development of Cross-Cultural Competency at a Technical University: Concept, Implementation, Control. - Raleigh, North Carolina, USA: Lulu Press, 2015. – 159 p.