Use of Technical and Semi-Technical Vocabulary in Petroleum Engineering Texts
The mastering of a foreign language opens the roads for the transit of citizens whether for work, business, or tourism purposes, as well as for cultural and informational exchanges of all kinds. In this light, the status of English as a global language in politics, economics, education and the media, especially the Internet, is widely acknowledged. Typically, ESP has functioned to help language learners cope with the features of language or to develop the competences needed to function in a discipline, profession, or workplace.(Helen. Basturkman. 2006:6) Learning, as a language based activity, is fundamentally and profoundly dependent on vocabulary knowledge. Learners must have access to the meanings of words which is technical, related to their subject matter. …knowing the technical terms…is not a sufficient condition for successful reading of specialized material. It was, in fact, the non-technical terms which created more of a problem. (Cohen et al. 1988:162) For many people vocabulary, particularly specialist vocabulary (or terminology), is a key element of ESP. Despite this, vocabulary studies and, in particular, the teaching of vocabulary appear to have been somewhat neglected in ESP( Laufer p-167, Swales p224). Reading, for students of English for specific purposes (ESP), is probably the most important skill in terms of acquiring new knowledge. It does, however, often pose learning problems, especially with respect to vocabulary. The psycholinguistic model of reading widely favoured in linguistics and cognitive psychology in the 1960s and 1970s considered that the main constructs underlying reading are making predictions and deducing meaning from context (cf.Goodman 1976:127). However, during the 1980s, the interactive approach to reading became dominant, in which it was proposed that successful comprehension is achieved by the interactive use of two reading strategies: the top-down approach (i.e. making use of the readers’ previous knowledge, expectations and experience in reading the text) and the bottom-up approach(i.e. understanding a text mainly by analyzing the words and sentences in the text itself: cf. Sanford &Garrod 1981; Van Dijk&Kintsch 1983; Carrell 1988. Research in ESP reading (e.gSelinker& Trimble 1974; Cohen et al. 1988) provides empirical support for the interactive framework, finding morphonographemic word-processing skills to be a major component of reading. It has also, since the 1980s, been broadly agreed among researchers (cf. Kennedy & Bolitho 1984; Trimble 1985; Cohen et al. 1988) that for non-native ESP readers the most problematic element in comprehending scientific and technical (ST) texts is a set of vocabulary items that has been variously labeled technical and semi-technical. Whatever the name given to the words in this group, if they appear to hinder students of ESP in comprehending texts in their discipline, it is worthwhile for language teachers and ESP practitioners to seek ways in which learners’ lexical repertoires can be raised to at least the threshold level of skilled readership in their chosen fields. It is known to most second language learners that the acquisition of vocabulary is a fundamental and important component in the course of their learning. A good mastery of vocabulary is essential for ESP/EFL learners, especially for those who learn for specific purpose or expect to operate at an advanced level in English. ‘It is wise to direct vocabulary learning to more specialized areas when learners have mastered the 2000-3000 words of general usefulness in English’ (Nation, 2001:187). I will identify the types of vocabulary in ESP texts and their relative importance. I will provide an overview of some key issues relating to the teaching of ESP vocabulary. Types of vocabulary
In teaching and learning vocabulary, it’s essential to distinguish between different...
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