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New language classes proves popular with students

Course cooperation lets physics students learn science and language courses together
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Students in the school of science can combine their language learning with one of their applied physics courses, and it’s proving popular with the students and their lecturers. The language course runs parallel to the physics course, using some of the physics course material to teach and practice English language and communication skills. This cooperation between the Language Centre and the Department of Applied Physics started in 2017 and given its continuing success, plans are underway to run the course in the spring of 2020.

“I really benefited from scientific presentation training in English,” said Antti, one of the students in the 2019 class. “Most of my presentation training at high school was in Finnish and didn’t focus on technical topics, so the specific training was valuable”

The Aalto university English language course (LC-1117) focuses on the students’ ability to produce written and spoken work in English. Meanwhile the applied physics course “The Structure of Matter” teaches students principles of materials science and modelling. The courses together let students earn credits for both courses simultaneously working with the same material.

The students were overwhelmingly positive about the fact that they can get points for two classes from studying overlapping material. “We read the material more thoroughly than if it were just a physics class, meaning we understood it more” said Tuomas, another student.

Professor Adam Foster, who runs the physics course with Professor Robin Ras, said “The language skills the students learn dovetail nicely with the physics we want to teach them, we’re really happy with how this course operates”

“From an English teacher’s point of view, I find this integrated way of teaching language much more effective for developing academic communication skills," said Laura Mendoza, Aalto University english language lecturer "Students have an easier time with the communication tasks when the contents are something they are dealing with anyhow and they seem to be more motivated with the English part too. Although initially it takes more time to plan and design an integrated language course, it is definitely worth it”

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