The Evaluation of the Effectiveness of ESP Courses in Enhancing Technical Translation Proficiency: A Case Study of ESP Course for Mechanical Engineering Students

By Hatam, Amir Hussein; Shafiei, Shilan | English Language Teaching, May 2012 | Go to article overview

The Evaluation of the Effectiveness of ESP Courses in Enhancing Technical Translation Proficiency: A Case Study of ESP Course for Mechanical Engineering Students


Hatam, Amir Hussein, Shafiei, Shilan, English Language Teaching


Abstract

The purpose of the present study was twofold. Firstly, it tried to investigate the relationship between the technical English proficiency of the students of Mechanical Engineering in the universities of Iran and their technical translation proficiency in translating technical texts of Mechanics. Secondly, it attempted to evaluate the effectiveness of one of the ESP courses being taught to the engineering students in improving their ability to translate texts of their own field from English to Persian. For the first purpose, two sets of tests were administered to 50 male and female students: a technical multiple-choice translation test and a technical English reading comprehension test. For the second purpose, the first test used above was administered two times with a two-month interval. Analyzing the data using SPSS indicated that there is a moderate significant correlation between technical English proficiency and technical translation proficiency; and that the ESP course under investigation is approximately sixty percent effective in enhancing the learners' proficiency in technical translation.

Keywords: ESP, ESP course evaluation, Language proficiency, Translation proficiency, Technical translation

1. Introduction

Casting a look at the state of the art of teaching English as a second language indicates its rapid theoretical and practical development in the last few decades. Its ever-changing nature has been influenced by some factors such as the educational requirements and objectives. These factors resulted in different views and cogent approaches to language teaching. Training competent learners is considered as one of the most important goals that all these approaches try to achieve. In order to fulfill different needs of different groups of learners, some modifications were made in the teaching of English, which in turn led to the development of teaching English for Specific Purposes (ESP), "an international movement characterized by a concern with adult students' roles as English language speakers and writers outside of the classroom, and by its grounding in pedagogy" (Johns & Dudley-Evans, 1991). In this regard, Widdowson (1983) cites Palmer's crucial statement on the importance of relating language teaching to the particular needs of learners: "We cannot design a language course until we know something about the students for whom the course is intended, for a program of study depends on the aim or aims of the students. (p. 14)"

Evaluating and measuring the progress of the students and the courses they learn have always been an obsession for educators. As the goals of education have become more complex and the number of students has enormously increased, evaluation has, accordingly, become much more difficult. Regarding the ESP courses, the evaluation requirements take on even more importance by the fact that these courses normally have specified objectives (Hutchinson & Waters, 1987).

It is very important to bear in mind that the rapidly developing sciences in different advanced countries of the world are communicated through their own languages. Thus, in the less scientifically-developed countries, rapid and constant translation of scientific materials into the mother tongue is inevitable in order to overcome the inadequacy of the local scientific developments.

Through evaluating the ESP course for the students of Mechanical Engineering in Iran and considering the fact that nowadays all sciences and technologies are interrelated and supplement to each other, the present study tries to integrate the subjects such as Translation, ESP, and Mechanics together. Specifically speaking, the present study tries to examine whether there exists a relationship between technical English proficiency and technical translation proficiency, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the ESP course offered to the students of Mechanical Engineering in Iran in increasing their technical translation proficiency from English to Persian. …

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