Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Integration of Multimedia Courseware into ESP Instruction for Technological Purposes in Higher Technical Education

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Integration of Multimedia Courseware into ESP Instruction for Technological Purposes in Higher Technical Education

Article excerpt

Introduction

Given the new trend of globalization and the internationalization of the workforce, one of the goals of foreign language education must be to provide students with the foreign language ability and advanced professional knowledge necessary to succeed in the job market. This is a mandate identified by the Ministry of Education of Taiwan for technical and vocational education. ESP (English for specific purposes) instruction has accordingly become increasingly emphasized since 2000 at technical universities in Taiwan, the goal of which is to meet the needs of learners who learn English for use in their specific fields, such as business, science, technology, medicine, leisure, and academic learning (Hutchinson & Waters, 1987; Johns & Dudley-Evans, 1991).

In business, the semiconductor industry has become one of the most important industries world-wide, and over the last ten years has been offering many job opportunities in Taiwan. Thus, it is important to upgrade the level of knowledge regarding the industry's development and simultaneously improve English skills within the current system of higher education, because the combination will help students gain related abilities, including language skills, for potential future jobs. Many in-service programs in higher education have been established in Taiwan through which adult learners can either get more job-oriented knowledge and skills or achieve self-expectations in learning more (Hsia, 2004). Such a demand provides an opportunity for the development of ESP instruction which is considered to be a learner-centered, content-based approach to teaching/learning EFL (English as a foreign language). However, there is a curious absence of discussion about teaching EFL to adults (Chang, 2004), not to mention adults' learning behaviors and attitudes toward ESP. In addition, there are some problems in the development of ESP courses in Taiwan. After investigating the relationship of the English proficiency level of about 350 students in four universities of technology, their needs when taking ESP courses, and their expectations of an ESP teacher, Lai (2005) found that: (1) learners' main reasons for taking ESP courses are their relevance for future jobs in business or technology, and when these students became less motivated, it was due to ineffective teachers' conducting the subjects; (2) sufficient qualified teachers, authentic materials and specific knowledge were not provided; (3) the target need of students taking ESP courses is to be able to apply language skills such as listening, speaking, reading and writing. Meanwhile, a recent study by Wu and Badger (2009) on analyzing teachers' practices in the classrooms of maritime English in a Chinese college found that what they call ISKD (In-class Subject Knowledge Dilemma) situations happened when ESP teachers had to deal with subject knowledge with which they are not completely familiar. The subject knowledge being delivered by an effective ESP teacher is an important issue in understanding students' motivation for taking ESP courses.

These above needs can be met to some extent by CALL (computer-assisted language learning) methodologies and materials which rely on the use of interactive multimedia to integrates language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing), provide authentic learning experiments, offer learners control over their learning and also focus on the content (Ma, 2007; Tsai, 2010; Warschauer, 1996). Although courseware development and its application in classroom lectures is becoming more greatly emphasized, its design and use have been more focused on courses related to sciences and technology (Azemi, 2008; Jimenez & Casado, 2004; Shamsudin & Nesi, 2006). That is because instructors in these fields have more competent skills and knowledge of multimedia software and programming so that they are less hesitant to convert their lecture notes into an interactive package that can be available to students. …

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