On authentic presentations, slides and webcasts

Audio slides accompanying published Materials science related research papers in Elsevier can be a useful resource for ESP classes. Following students’ work on vocabulary, themes, functions and genre of a research paper or even as a note-taking task, it can surely provide authentic input to ESP students.

I usually ask my students to read one article and assume it is the only valuable source of information, the only input or resource they have available. I then ask them to design the first four slides (with a two-minute time limit). It’s interesting to see how students veer away from copying and pasting long chunks of undocumented text when they realise they all have the same resource. It is also surprising to hear that they start to realise paraphrasing skills are essential for presentations too.

Using the webcasts or audio slides from Elsevier adds to their learning experience as they can compare their own versions to the one provided by the authors. Hopefully, with the right scaffolding tasks, they might notice some differences between recommended presentations styles in EAP/ESP books and actual researchers.

Needless to say, students love to be provided with rules or guidelines that demonstrate what is right or wrong, what is savvy and what is poor. In this context though authenticity may come at a price; there are times when I feel uncomfortable trying to explain why a researcher does not comply to the norms of Presentations slides structure and/or style. There could be numerous reasons for this; genre-specific and culturally-bound norms may determine content and style, respectively. Also, presenters may be either novice or well-established in their field, thus using different discourse markers depending on their degree of certainty and confidence.

Yet, there are privileges in this fluidity and plurality; students eventually realise that language is not rigid and the way scientists communicate their science cannot be strictly prescribed or invariably restricted to previously established norms.

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Author: Kallia Katsampoxaki-Hodgetts

EAP/ESP lecturer and instructor Academic Writing Specialist School of Science and Engineering University of Crete Tel. (0030) 2810 545102 Office Γ301, Chemistry Department Panistimioupoli Vouton, Heraklion, Crete, 71003 https://twitter.com/kalliacrete

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