USING ENGLISH IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
(Third Revised and Enlarged Edition)
by: R.K. Singh
pp.: 350, Price: Rs. 95.00
1. Scientific and Technical Writing : Certain Characteristics
2. The Process Model of Writing
English in Scientific Discourse
1. Using Impersonal Passive Voice
2. Writing Instructions and Describing/Reporting
3. Describing Objects
4. Describing Processes and Graphical Presentation of Information
5. Writing Definitions
6. Writing Narratives
7. Writing Classifications
8. Writing Explanations
9. Using Comparison and Contrast
10. Writing Hypothesis, Prediction and Conclusion
11. Generalizing and Exemplifying
12. Using Thought-Connectors
Use of Punctuations
Outlining, Paraphrasing and Summarizing
Understanding Instruction Verbs, or Answering Essay-type Questions
Using Polite expressions
Sample Texts and Exercises Unit 1 to 7
Materials referred to and/or Recommended for use in class
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BOOK REVIEW: M.Mojibur Rahman
R. K. Singh. Using English in Science and Technology. Bareilly: Prakash Book Depot, 2010. Pages 336, Rs. 95/-. ISBN 978-81-7977-386-4.
In learning a language, the aim is to be able to utilize the language in day-to-day tasks as also to meet the career demands. The needs of the students are crucial in teaching and one should ensure that learning does take place and the learners do achieve their long-term goals which include learners’ ability to communicate in the target language outside of classrooms and realization of various professional/career opportunities.
The concept of ESP contains a presumption that adult students learn English for a certain purpose, and there is a constant awareness of the purpose on the part of students as well as teachers. The main concern of ESP is ‘specific’ needs of students with the objective of solving their specific linguistic difficulties.
English for science and technology or EST is a subcategory of the larger field of English for Specific Purposes in which EST shares some basic characteristics with the larger field of ESP.
The language in EST is also more specialized. This is not surprising given the fact that scientific inquiry is a very specific process which relates to control, manipulation and observation of situations and involves research assumptions, hypothesis formation, and theory construction.
Textbooks are a key component in most language programmes. These serve as the basis for much of the language input learners receive or the language practice that takes place in the classroom. In some situations, the textbook may function as a supplement to the teachers’ instruction in the ESL teaching and learning process. For most teachers, textbooks provide the foundation for the content of lessons, the balance of the skills taught, as well as the kinds of language practice the students engage in during class activities. The use of English to teach Science and Technology reflects the importance of having effective English textbooks in helping learners acquire the necessary language skills.
Using English in Science and Technology by R.K. Singh has been republished with considerable revision and addition to help tertiary level students of science and technology to improve their written communication skills. To quote the author “Using English in Science and Technology, though not an ESP textbook per se, meets an important and urgent need in the area of English language teaching in India. It generally emphasizes development of students’ capacity for self-study, and language and communication skills, particularly the skills for effective academic writing, just as it prepares them for studies in English in many scientific and engineering fields like physics, chemistry, economics, geology, mining engineering, ecology, etc.” (p.vii).
The book is divided into nine sections. In the first section, the author describes the characteristic feature of scientific and technical writing, and the process model of writing. The Interactional Process Approach he discusses is a revised version of his most referred to research paper published in English Teaching Forum in 1994. One becomes aware of both the process and product as one proceeds through pre-writing, writing, and post-writing stages and organizes the contents.
The second section deals with English in scientific discourse. This section is the real strength of the book and deals with using impersonal passive voice, writing instructions and describing/reporting, describing objects, describing processes and graphical presentation of information, writing definitions, writing narratives, writing classifications, writing explanations, using comparison and contrast, writing hypothesis, prediction and conclusion, generalizing and exemplifying, and using thought connectors. The author discusses these rhetorical functions in detail. Firstly, he provides a description of the way language is used, and then, he offers suitable exercises for practice. Whatever discourse one produces, one has to use these rhetoric to write. The description and examples provided in this section are not only meant for science and technology teachers and students, but also for general ELT teachers who may be interested in teaching written communication by additionally providing suitable exercises. At the end of this section the author includes a discussion of thought connectors to develop a sense for achieving cohesion and coherence in the text.
The third section, a new addition in this edition of the book, deals with using punctuation, which is a most difficult and confusing part of written communication. The author deals with the use of punctuation marks such as commas, ellipses, semicolon, colon, dashes, and apostrophe.
The fourth and fifth sections of the book discuss study skills such as outlining, paraphrasing, summarizing, and note-making. Learning these study skills is necessary for all the professionals and researchers. The section provides a discussion on the method of outlining, paraphrasing, summarizing, and note-making with various exercises for practice.
The sixth section is based on understanding instruction verbs. Most of the time we commit mistake in using instruction verbs. As a teacher we need to set question papers and we have to write instructions for the students to write answers. Understanding instructions is necessary for the students to answer questions in the examination accordingly. This section provides a solution to the problems of both the teachers and students.
A new section is added in the book on use of polite expressions in communication. This should help students in their day to day conversation as also in participating in seminars etc.
The second last section is devoted to organizing references in writing. Students commit mistake in writing references. This section will help students to improve their reference writing skills.
The last section of the book provides sample lesson texts and text-based exercises for “consolidation of skills and language use learnt in the second, third and fourth sections.” The section also provides a possible model for teachers to develop their own practice material in the class.
The book is written keeping in view the prevalent system of teaching English language in technical institutions, and revised on the basis of the tertiary level students’ newer needs. This book is an outcome of the author’s experience in the classroom. The book has been used as a textbook in B. Tech, M. Sc. and M. Sc. Tech classes in Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad for nearly two decades. The exercises in the book are repeatedly tested in the classroom.
An English language teacher, particularly the teachers teaching in Technical Institutions, can use this book easily and without any formal training in ESP. It is a common belief that one should know science for teaching EST. But it is not possible for English language teachers to know science. This book will be handyl for the English teachers who do not know science but have interest in everyday science. The author has tried to produce a sort of general ESP/EST textbook which can be conveniently by providing additional exercises according to the needs of the students.
Except for some typographical errors, the book makes a smooth reading. It is nicely got up and the price is affordable. As a teacher and EST practitioner, I strongly recommend it to all English language teachers and students keen to improve their language skills in Technical Institutions.
M. Mojibur Rahman
Associate Professor of English
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad-826004