English for technical students

Teaching technical subjects in english

There are a number of schools, colleges, specialist courses in the USSR where general and technical subjects are taught in English. Today there is an increasing need for all kinds of  textbooks, readers,  and what is very important—methods  in teaching technical subjects for the various grades and  specialities. The basic subjects, i.e., mathematics, physics, and chemistry are, probably, «the  best  fields to start the teaching of  this specific  branch of  linguistics. Since  this  is probably the first book, to the author’s  knowledge, aimed at facilitating  teaching  and learning of technical subjects  in English, as well as training in the translation of technical and scientific subjects, the method and the  syllabus  are still in the making and could appear, the author  hopes, in his next books. Following are some methodical and training  recommendations which in their entirety may form the framework of a teaching system. Note should  be taken that  at the arrangement of  the various sections of  the book and the sequence of studying  may be determined by the interests and needs of the students, not alone by the logical sequence of the subject matter. The purpose which has been found successful in actual teaching has been to differentiate this study of English from any other which the technical student has previously made and to catch his attention by an appeal to an immediate use for English. The English teacher will use this and the following textbooks for upgrading purposes and as a guide to the sources of information closer to the interests and objectives of the student.

Methodical and training recommendations
The teaching program of Technical English should include the following:

  • As an introduction “What is Technical English?”
  • Reading the texts with correct pronunciation and special attention to synonyms. Relating.
  • Listening to technical lessons, talks, explanations.
  • Dictionary work, study of neologisms, origin of terms, stock phrases.
  • Training in technical translation, both oral and written , English into Russian and Russian into English.
  • Talks and reports on given subjects
  • Writing of reports. Preparation of talks
  • Dialogues.
    We shall now elaborate on this program.

The Introductory  Talk on  “What is Technical English?”

It is to be pointed out that Technical or Engineering English refers to a style used in technical books, articles in journals, specifications, instructions, paten ts, etc., as well as in conversations of specialists, and at technical conferences. Good Engineering or Technical English combines the principles of correct English grammar and composition with proper terminology, so that it is intelligible to readers and listeners. We must bear in mind that the
engineer uses English as a tool, as an instrument for conveying exact information to other specialists. It uses special forms and frequently relies upon curves, diagrams, drawings and photos to make clear its meaning. It is always terse, “boiled down”, but has been greatly influenced by slang, shop expressions, the language of advertizing and business letters.