English for Academic Research

Course leader: Dr Stephan Houghton

Home Institution: Université de La Réunion, France

 

Course pre-requisite(s): B2 or higher in English on the European CEFR

Course Overview

English has become the lingua franca of academic research and is increasingly becoming the medium of instruction used in higher education. However, academic English presents numerous, specific challenges for non-native learners of the language. This course aims to develop the English-language oral and written skills necessary for academic research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The course will focus on production skills through two parallel modules on (1) Academic Speaking and (2) Academic Writing. Students will develop speaking skills and gain experience for describing educational and research backgrounds and interests, and for giving short MT180 (My Thesis in 180 seconds) and longer platform presentations. Students will also develop writing skills and gain experience for drafting emails, IMRaD-format research articles (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion) and research abstracts. The course should interest students intending to embark on or already involved in academic research in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

Tags: English, research, science, engineering, technology, mathematics, STEM

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course a successful student will be able to describe their educational and research backgrounds and interests in English; and plan, prepare and deliver a scientific or technical presentation in English (MT180, platform presentation).

In addition, they will be able to write clear, simple and precise emails in English; draft an IMRaD-format (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion) research article in English; and write a research abstract in English.

Course Content

1. Speaking in English for Academic Research:
Educational and research backgrounds and interests. Short (MT180 - My Thesis in 180 seconds) oral presentations.
Long (platform) oral presentations.

2. Writing in English for Academic Research:
Email English. IMRaD-format research articles (Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion).Research abstracts.

Instructional Method:

A blended-learning approach will be used during the course consisting of online resources and in-class workshops.
Online resources (videos, documents, quizzes) will provide pre-workshop preparation and post-workshop consolidation, e.g. watching an explanatory video on and practising the pronunciation of phrases for the ‘Introduction’ of a platform presentation.
Workshops will consist of pair/group-work on task-based, practical activities, e.g. drafting the script, designing the visual-support and rehearsing the delivery of the ‘Introduction’ of a platform presentation.
Assessed oral-expression activities (MT180 & platform presentation) will take place in an amphitheatre and will be video-recorded to provide feedback.
Completion of online activities and full participation in workshop activities will be necessary for the successful achievement of the learning outcomes.

Required Course Materials

Recommended Reading List:
English for Presentations at International Conferences (2016) Adrian Wallwork. Springer. (ISBN: 9783319263281)
The Craft of Scientific Presentations - Critical Steps to Succeed and Critical Errors to Avoid (2013) Michael Alley. Springer. (ISBN: 9781441982780)
Designing Science Presentations - A Visual Guide to Figures, Papers, Slides, Posters, and More (2013) Matt Carter. Springer. (ISBN: 9780123859693)
Academic Writing: A Handbook for International Students (2018) Stephen Bailey. Routledge. (ISBN: 9781138048744)
Academic Writing for Graduate Students - Essential Tasks and Skills (2012) John M. Swales, Christine B. Feak. University of Michigan Press. (ISBN: 9780472034758)
Abstracts and the Writing of Abstracts (2009) John M. Swales, Christine B. Feak. University of Michigan Press. (ISBN: 9780472033355)

Assessment

Speaking and Writing modules of the course will be evaluated separately.
1. Speaking in English for Academic Research: students will receive feedback and be evaluated for their MT180 (40%) and platform presentation (60%). Feedback will take the form of peer and instructor comments and a video-recording of their presentations.
2. Writing in English for Academic Research: students will receive feedback and be evaluated on two written assignments: a section of an IMRaD-format research article (50%); and a research abstract (50%).