Friday, November 30, 2012

Engineering topics to practice language skills

Radio station KUHF-FM in Houston has a program “Engines of our Ingenuity” which covers a wide range of areas in engineering and technology with both an audio component and accompanying transcripts.

I found out about this program through Engine magazine – an English for Engineers magazine published in Germany 4 times a year. Engine magazine publishes one of the radio program transcripts each issue, accompanied by a bilingual German/English glossary.

For those teaching students of other languages, it would be pretty easy to create your own glossary (if you wanted to include one). The texts themselves are very interesting, and present a number of possibilities for discussion, language work, and listening and reading skills.

A transcript that I’ve used with my students is The Box (program #2094).

The focus of the program is the innovation of shipping containers and the impact they’ve had on transport and the economy. It’s important for future engineers to understand how their work, what they create, will have an effect on: society, business, technology, the economy. The program (3:46 minutes) stresses that shipping containers were a simple, but marvelous, innovation, and that they changed “the engineering of the world economy.” The author, Dr. Andrew Boyd, says they “display the finest elements of ‘here’s-a-problem-let’s-solve-it’ engineering.” It’s not the technology that’s innovative here, but the idea itself – simple but effective.

What engineering student wouldn’t find that interesting?


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