Nanyang Technological University: Researching Language Education

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Information about Nanyang Technological University: Researching Language Education

Published on March 13, 2014

Author: cahafner



A seminar given to staff at the Language and Communication Centre, Nanyang Technological University

Researching Language Education: A personal trajectory Christoph A. Hafner Department of English, City University of HK Seminar at Language and Communication Centre, NTU, Singapore, February 24, 2014

English for science project

GE2401 English for Science – Funded projects Academic literacy project Oral presentations project Co-operative learning project Completed June, 2009 Completed August, 2010To complete, March 2014

GE2401 English for Science

The course Overview English for science introduces students to the genre knowledge and English language skills that they need for scientific communication in a range of local and international contexts. The course aims to develop students’ ability to locate and critically read a variety of scientific texts and appropriately communicate through speaking and writing the findings of scientific projects to both specialist and non-specialist audiences. Drawing on a range of authentic texts in the domain of science, the course will introduce students to common rhetorical structures in scientific communication as well as the typical vocabulary and grammar needed to express these structures. Students will learn to report the findings of a scientific study using a range of genres, modes, and media formats, including written scientific reports and multimodal scientific documentaries.

English for science project A. Digital video project B. Written scientific report English for science project A1. Reading/data collection A2. Scripting/ storyboarding A3. Performing/ recording A4. Editing A5. Sharing B2. Writing B1. Reading/ outlining B3. Editing/ proofreading

Genres and functional language Analysis Drafting and reviewing Individualized feedback

The scientific documentary genre • Hybrid genre which mixes: – Popular genres (e.g. news report, documentary) – Scientific genres (e.g. research article, report) • An example from the BBC – Opening – Introduction – Methods – Results – Discussion – Closing

Embedding digital literacies • New forms of representation – Visuals, sound, text, presentation and narration • New, globalized audiences

Technology and support

Students’ digital video projects as multimodal ensembles

Example student video

Topics • Blind as a bat – To determine whether the size of the blindspot is different for men than it is for women. • Taste me if you can – To determine what (if any) effect the sense of smell has on the sense of taste

Data sources • Student scientific documentaries – Analysis draws on Baldry and Thibault, 2006: • Move, Shot, visual frame • Speech • Soundtrack • Setting/participants • Action/gaze gesture • Camera position/perspective • Student focus group interviews • Student comments to course blog

Focus questions • What multimodal rhetorical strategies do students draw on when they create a multimedia scientific documentary? • How can this activity benefit their development of academic literacies in the science domain?

Student perspectives on the task

The challenge of attention The first impression of audience is the critical point to determine the success of a good documentary since if the audience’s attention cannot be attracted at the beginning, they will have no interest to continue to watch the video even the information is rich and constructive. I agree with t01_john. He said that visual stimulation would be the easiest way to make them remember the video. [Student blog post, October 7th, 2009 at 11:22 pm]

The challenge of multimodality I think the most challenging thing is how to give an attractive and interesting present[ation] because we use lots of method involved in our video. For example, use pictures, use a narrator, stand in front of the camera for speaking and use music or many, many elements we involved in order to give a whole product to make it more interesting. [Student focus group interview]

Thinking about multimodality • Moving images and animation • Charts and tables for scientific data • Subtitles • Different camera angles and lighting, • Background music • Sound effects • Interesting locations • Interesting participants • Facial expression

3 Cases and rhetorical devices • Investigation of a startling fact – Did you realize there is a blind spot in your eye? • Investigation of a social issue – Why does the cafeteria food taste so bad? Is it only the taste, or is it the smell as well? • Investigation of a personal issue – Why can’t I taste this orange juice? Is there something wrong with me?

Case #1 Investigation of a startling fact

Student identity • Student as ‘scientist’ • Narrator role is backgrounded, increased social distance between the producers and their audience

Opening: Case 1, shot 3

Background and theory: Case 1, shot 10

Discussion: Case 1, shots 51-52

Case #2 Investigation of a social issue

Student identity • Student as ‘reporter’ • Narrator role is more prominent, with an on- screen narrator (the reporter), who appears at various points throughout the documentary • Watch for intertextual references and use of sound

Opening: Case 2, shots 1-8

Case #3 Investigation of a personal issue

Student identity • Student as ‘traveller’ on a ‘journey of experiment’ • Narrator role is prominent, the narrator is a part of the action as in a first person documentary • Watch for the range of visual information and effective use of sound

Opening: Case 3, shots 55-65

Scientific documentaries as a bridge to academic writing for science

Recontextualizing the documentary • A process that is transferrable – Issues of audience, purpose, rhetorical structure • From non-specialist to specialist audience – Which aspects of the presentation are transferrable to the new context? Which are not? – Use of visuals? Register? Strategies for getting attention?

Future directions Remix

Remix • In constructing their videos, to what extent do students remix existing material? • How does this practice of remix affect originality and student ‘voice’?

Video project Primary footage/images B-roll footage Text on screenSoundtrack Narration

Remix and originality 1a (b-roll)

Remix and originality 1b (b-roll)

Remix and originality 2: Success

Remix and originality 3: Failure

Thank you! Questions? • Further information about this project can be obtained from the project website:

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