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Using English in Science and Technology

Using English in Science and Technology

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The article is a book review essay on USING ENGLISH IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY published in June 2010.
The article is a book review essay on USING ENGLISH IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY published in June 2010.

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Published by: RAM KRISHNA SINGH on Aug 11, 2010
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Book Review: M. Mojibur RahmanR. 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 tomeet the career demands. The needs of the students are crucial in teaching and one should ensurethat learning does take place and the learners do achieve their long-term goals which includelearners’ 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 asteachers. The main concern of ESP is ‘specific’ needs of students with the objective of solvingtheir 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 scientificinquiry 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 theclassroom. 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 thefoundation 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 teachScience and Technology reflects the importance of having effective English textbooks in helpinglearners acquire the necessary language skills.
Using English in Science and Technology
by R.K. Singh has been republished with considerablerevision 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 Englishlanguage teaching in India. It generally emphasizes development of students’ capacity for self-study, and language and communication skills, particularly the skills for effective academicwriting, just as it prepares them for studies in English in many scientific and engineering fieldslike 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 characteristicfeature of scientific and technical writing, and the process model of writing. The InteractionalProcess 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 thecontents.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 anddescribing/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 andexemplifying, and using thought connectors. The author discusses these rhetorical functions indetail. Firstly, he provides a description of the way language is used, and then, he offers suitableexercises 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 andtechnology teachers and students, but also for general ELT teachers who may be interested inteaching written communication by additionally providing suitable exercises. At the end of thissection the author includes a discussion of thought connectors to develop a sense for achievingcohesion and coherence in the text.The third section, a new addition in this edition of the book, deals with using punctuation, whichis 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 professionalsand 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 commitmistake in using instruction verbs. As a teacher we need to set question papers and we have towrite 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 solutionto the problems of both the teachers and students.A new section is added in the book on use of polite expressions in communication. This shouldhelp 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 mistakein 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 fo“consolidation of skills and language use learnt in the second, third and fourth sections.” Thesection also provides a possible model for teachers to develop their own practice material in theclass.The book is written keeping in view the prevalent system of teaching English language intechnical 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

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