Review: University of Southampton’s English for Engineers

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The majority of us who teach English for Academic Purposes do so in the context of an English for General Academic Purposes program. One challenge many instructors face is  if/how/to what extent to address discipline-specific material in these classes, and therefore my curiosity is always piqued when I come across a site that could serve as a resource for discipline-specific language support (either for in-class use or self-study).

The University of Southampton’s English for Engineers site has recently come onto my radar. It’s a wonderful resource that I’d recommend to both fellow instructors as well as EAP students moving on to graduate work in engineering.

The site, aimed at MSc engineering students, is a compendium of several types of resources that could prove helpful. It covers professor and program expectations in the field of engineering, text and spoken genres commonly used for assessment, as well as links to external sites related to academic writing and speaking in the field.

Material on common genres for assessment includes not only descriptions of the features of different types of reports, essays, presentations, but downloadable samples as well; a necessity for many students as they try to internalize what academic writing “looks” and “feels” like. I like how the site is multi-modal: not only are there text descriptions of genres and professor expectations, but there are videos of Southampton faculty talking about common pitfalls met by past students.

Instead of re-inventing the wheel, the designers of this site have focused on the particularities of their MSc in engineering, and then linked to a curated selection of external sites for support in the more general aspects of academic reading and writing, adaptation to study in the UK, as well as other resources available for the University of Southampton international student community. (There are some old favourites on their lists, such as Monash University’s Language and Learning Online site, but The Mayfield Handbook of Technical and Scientific Writing is a new-to-me resource which I will definitely be checking out.)

I’ve already forwarded this site on to the other  EAP instructors at my institution, and I look forward to using this in class.

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