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Particularities of teaching languages for specific purposes

Catherine Verguts (UGent) and Elke Weylandt (UGent)
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Abstract
Languages for specific purposes figure largely in the courses offered by the University Language Centre. As an institution embedded in Ghent University, one of its key goals has always been to support the curricular activities of students and researchers concerning language learning. From this need, several courses have evolved, as diverse as Medical French, Legal English and Economic German. Languages for Specific Purposes (LSP) focuses on foreign language teaching for learners with specific needs, in most cases either for their occupation (Languages for Occupational Purposes) or for their studies (Languages for Academic Purposes). As a language centre, we have mostly committed to the development of task-based teaching materials based on needs’ analyses of our learners. With this very practical approach, we adhere to a very long tradition in LSP. Most research in this field does not focus on issues such as ideology, but rather on needs’ analyses and developing didactic materials. To be able to develop adequate teaching materials for learners with specific needs, language teachers or content developers need specific knowledge and skills in two domains. First, they should acquire expertise in the characteristics of the discourse specific to the field they teach in. This also involves becoming, to a certain extent, familiar with the content of that domain, which can pose problems if this content becomes too technical (e.g. exact sciences). Collaboration with experts in the field is therefore often a necessary prerequisite. To illustrate the detailed description of field-specific discourse, we will focus on the characteristics of juridical French in the first part of this contribution. Based on this analysis of texts, these characteristics have to be made digestible for students, which is where the linguistic analysis joins didactics. The specific syntax, lexis and discourse have to be translated into exercises making the learners acquainted with those specific characteristics. Moreover, tasks have to be designed to make students apply their knowledge and transfer it to their own language proficiency. In the second part of this article, we will discuss the way the specifics of Academic English can be used to develop teaching materials.
Keywords
LSP, didactics, Languages for specific purposes, juridical French, Academic English

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Chicago
Verguts, Catherine, and Elke Weylandt. 2011. “Particularities of Teaching Languages for Specific Purposes.” In Peregrinatio in Romania : Artículos En Homenaje a Eugeen Roegiest Con Motivo De Su 65 Cumpleaños, ed. Renata Enghels, Machteld Meulleman, and Clara Vanderschueren, 513–521. Ghent, Belgium: Academia Press.
APA
Verguts, C., & Weylandt, E. (2011). Particularities of teaching languages for specific purposes. In R. Enghels, M. Meulleman, & C. Vanderschueren (Eds.), Peregrinatio in Romania : artículos en homenaje a Eugeen Roegiest con motivo de su 65 cumpleaños (pp. 513–521). Ghent, Belgium: Academia Press.
Vancouver
1.
Verguts C, Weylandt E. Particularities of teaching languages for specific purposes. In: Enghels R, Meulleman M, Vanderschueren C, editors. Peregrinatio in Romania : artículos en homenaje a Eugeen Roegiest con motivo de su 65 cumpleaños. Ghent, Belgium: Academia Press; 2011. p. 513–21.
MLA
Verguts, Catherine, and Elke Weylandt. “Particularities of Teaching Languages for Specific Purposes.” Peregrinatio in Romania : Artículos En Homenaje a Eugeen Roegiest Con Motivo De Su 65 Cumpleaños. Ed. Renata Enghels, Machteld Meulleman, & Clara Vanderschueren. Ghent, Belgium: Academia Press, 2011. 513–521. Print.
@incollection{1989983,
  abstract     = {Languages for specific purposes figure largely in the courses offered by the University Language Centre. As an institution embedded in Ghent University, one of its key goals has always been to support the curricular activities of students and researchers concerning language learning. From this need, several courses have evolved, as diverse as Medical French, Legal English and Economic German. Languages for Specific Purposes (LSP) focuses on foreign language teaching for learners with specific needs, in most cases either for their occupation (Languages for Occupational Purposes) or for their studies (Languages for Academic Purposes). As a language centre, we have mostly committed to the development of task-based teaching materials based on needs’ analyses of our learners. With this very practical approach, we adhere to a very long tradition in LSP. Most research in this field does not focus on issues such as ideology, but rather on needs’ analyses and developing didactic materials. To be able to develop adequate teaching materials for learners with specific needs, language teachers or content developers need specific knowledge and skills in two domains. First, they should acquire expertise in the characteristics of the discourse specific to the field they teach in. This also involves becoming, to a certain extent, familiar with the content of that domain, which can pose problems if this content becomes too technical (e.g. exact sciences). Collaboration with experts in the field is therefore often a necessary prerequisite. To illustrate the detailed description of field-specific discourse, we will focus on the characteristics of juridical French in the first part of this contribution.
Based on this analysis of texts, these characteristics have to be made digestible for students, which is where the linguistic analysis joins didactics. The specific syntax, lexis and discourse have to be translated into exercises making the learners acquainted with those specific characteristics. Moreover, tasks have to be designed to make students apply their knowledge and transfer it to their own language proficiency. In the second part of this article, we will discuss the way the specifics of Academic English can be used to develop teaching materials.},
  author       = {Verguts, Catherine and Weylandt, Elke},
  booktitle    = {Peregrinatio in Romania : artículos en homenaje a Eugeen Roegiest con motivo de su 65 cumpleaños},
  editor       = {Enghels, Renata and Meulleman, Machteld and Vanderschueren, Clara},
  isbn         = {9789038218564},
  keywords     = {LSP,didactics,Languages for specific purposes,juridical French,Academic English},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {513--521},
  publisher    = {Academia Press},
  title        = {Particularities of teaching languages for specific purposes},
  year         = {2011},
}