Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 9 : 6 June 2009
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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Teaching Technical Jargon through Word Formation to
the Students of Engineering and Technology

Problems and Some Perspectives on Strategies

P. Malathy, M.A, Ph.D. Candidate

Students' Perception of Technical Jargon

The technical jargon of every field derives their terms from a variety of languages, although these are used in English. Students, who are generally not exposed to such terms in their vernacular, perceive these terms to be difficult to learn in the beginning and this leads to some struggle in comprehending the concept fully and remembering the terms.

English language teachers in engineering colleges need a better and intensive acquaintance with the processes for the formation of technical terms. And then they should also know how to use these processes integrated into their teaching of English.

Below I first focus on the importance of teaching technical English in engineering colleges, then present a brief description of the problem of teaching technical English, followed by a presentation of some of the processes that are prominent in word formation in technical terms. After this, I briefly discuss the strategies that we can adopt in teaching technical English in engineering colleges.

Mastery of Technical Jargon in Relation to the Mastery of Technical Concepts

Effective teaching of technical English to the students of engineering and technology depends on the effective imparting of technical jargon. We also should note that effective learning of engineering concepts depends upon the effective mastery of such jargon in English. New technologies have brought in the necessity of learning a wide range of technical vocabulary besides the coinages in the respective fields of engineering. The teacher is now required to update the kinds and number of technical jargon apart from the implementation of the use of such jargon effectively in a variety of engineering fields taught in her college.

What follows here is an attempt to describe how we can enable the mastery of engineering concepts and processes through teaching technical vocabulary to the students of engineering and technology.

Learning Technical English

Technical English is not part of the learner's general cognitive development. It is associated with conscious learning of a variety of subjects in school. It is also associated with the acquisition and learning of mother tongue, which, often, is acquired first in the Indian context. Mother tongue directs this experience and thus become a major gateway to the concept of technical language. This inevitable situation in India challenges the English language teacher, especially those who teach English in engineering colleges, to devise ways and strategies to help their students overcome the influence of mother tongue and focus on newer concepts and the jargon attached to such concepts.

Resistance to the Mastery of Technical English

The conscious or unconscious resistance to learning of technical English persists among the students of engineering and technology for the following reasons.

1. The learning of technical vocabulary is not genetically triggered like the learning of mother tongue.

2. The jargon used in the texts of engineering and technology are quite distinct from the English text the students are exposed to in school as well as in college. The English textbooks at the school level till the students reach the higher secondary level focus on literature in the form of prose, short-story, autobiography, poetry, etc. But the English textbooks prescribed for use in the engineering colleges in Tamilnadu do not focus on literary pieces. Instead the students are exposed to the systematic strategy of using technical English. This sudden jump is rather unnerving and causes anxiety in students.

3. Moreover, the teaching of technical jargon is not specially concentrated on any one field, but is more is utility-based and application-oriented. The teachers of English become strangers to their class and to the focus of engineering fields at this level as integration becomes a basic problem.

Formation of Technical Jargon

The strategies involved in the formation of technical jargon are listed below.

1. Affixation - (Prefixing / suffixing - e.g. Degenerate, Generation)

2. Compounding - (e.g. Firewall)

3. Acronyms - (e.g. SARS)

4. Portmanteau - (e.g. Redox - Reduction Oxidation)

5. Clipping - (e.g. Cell - Cellphone)

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Crosstalk and Communication Breakdown in Professional Interactions in English | Phonological, Grammatical and Lexical Interference in Adult Multilingual Speakers | Politeness Strategies in Yemeni Arabic Requests | Unravelling Urdu Idioms | The Roots of Linguistic Reorganization of Indian States - The Experience of Orissa as a Linguistic Province in the British Raj | Characteristic Indian Attitudes in Nissim Ezekiel's Poetry | Teaching Language through Literary Texts in the ESL Classroom | The Semantics of Haroti Postpositional-Interrogating Simple Sentences | The Politics of Survival in the Novels of Margaret Atwood - A Doctoral Dissertation | Teaching Technical Jargon through Word Formation to the Students of Engineering and Technology | Indian Spirituality and Twice-Born Nature - A Study of Eliot's Approach to World | Discourse Choices in Pluralistic Nations - A Review of Maya Khemlani David-edited Language Choices and Discourse of Malaysian Families | Exploring the Effectiveness of World Wide Web
to Improve the Communication Skills of Management Students - A Pilot Study

P. Malathy, M.A., Ph.D. Candidate
Department of English
Kumaraguru College of Technology
Tamilnadu, India

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