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Business English, Professional English, Legal English, Medical English, Academic English etc.
Online peer-reviewed Journal for Teachers

English for Specific Purposes World (ESP World)

English for Specific Purposes World

ISSN 1682-3257

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Preliminary study on the partnership between students and teacher in a French LANSAD-science master context

Claire Chaplier
Université Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III . - LAIRDIL Laboratory , 115 route de Narbonne , Toulouse .



University graduates across Europe face increasing professional language and intercultural demands (Taillefer, 2007). In France, foreign language courses are compulsory in the LMD system[1]. Masters’ students must demonstrate ‘‘mastery’’ of at least one foreign language. Whereas programs in other European countries aiming at encouraging study abroad and teaching subject matters in a foreign language are solutions adopted by the universities, they are slowly developing in France.

This study was implemented in a science university in France (Paul Sabatier University) where English is taught to students not specialized in English LANSAD (LANgues pour Spécialistes d’Autres Disciplines). The traditional French language learning context makes it difficult for institutions to meet this challenge. In our scientific university context, very few pedagogical strategies such as CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) have been designed which would help the students in their future professional lives on the one hand and motivate them with the English language in situation on the other hand. In practice, our master students take English courses which are rarely concerned with specialised language and “target community discourse”. It depends on the teachers’ background, their education is frequently orientated towards literature or civilization (French academic English studies) and rarely towards didactics in languages. Moreover there are numerous teachers coming from secondary schools to higher education without a sufficient teaching background and methodology. However our French scientific students will be obliged very quickly in their doctorate work or future professional lives to use English in a specific context and as an international scientific language. In practice, as it is difficult to increase the number of hours of English which amount to 48h yearly in Licence’s degree and 24h yearly in master’s degree and as the French daily context is purely French with no compulsory contact with the English language, other ways to have efficient English courses on the professional scientific point of view had to be envisaged in order to have motivation, an authentically communicative activity (cf. Ellis, 1996), parallel development of academic, professional competences and domain-relevant communicative skills and preparation for professional activity.

This article aims at showing in a preliminary study how “various types of cooperation” (Swales, 1988: 138) in learning and how a methodology of tasks were used in a LANSAD-science master course in a French scientific university (Paul Sabatier University) in order to increase students’ motivation and involvement hence their learning efficiency for their future professional lives. Two phases in the study were considered: Phase 1 and Phase 2 which was conceived due to institutional constraints. Two types of learning in partnership were considered. Firstly the focus was put on the partnership between the ESP/LANSAD [2]teacher and students from a professional master. The following year, a group of students from a different master was added to the previous one. Secondly the focus was put on the partnership between students from a professional master (the one in Phase 1) and students from a research master. The study took place in a learner-centered approach and in the context of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) “to facilitate cooperative, collaborative learning; to take a whole language approach (with authentic, natural language used for all four skills concurrently); and to employ content and task-based lessons (using real-world subject matter and communication problem-solving activities (Brown, 2001)” (Belcher, 2009: 231).


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[1] As part of the harmonization of European higher education curriculum, the French university course is now organized around three degrees: bachelor, master and doctorate. This new organization, called the "LMD", enhances the mobility of European students between disciplines and between vocational and general educations?.

[2] The difference between ESP and LANSAD will be tackled in §1.


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