English and Communication Skills for the Global Engineer Essay

English and Communication Skills for the Global Engineer Central Idea: Engineering graduates require an ever-increasing range of skills to maintain relevance with the global environment of the new millennium. Communication skills are an vital component of this, recognized by academia and industry alike. English language skills are also important given its widespread status across the globe as a lingua franca. Indeed, multilingual skills are considered a salient element in the make-up of the new global engineer.

English for specific purposes focuses the learner’s attention on the particular terminology and communication skills required in the international professional field. Communication skills development is discussed in the paper, with examples given of different methods of teaching and assessment. The impacts on communication skills development include various elements, including gender equality. A lack of sufficient communication skills serves only to undermine the image of the engineer, but this can be tackled by engaging features of emotional intelligence (EQ) in the education of engineers.

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EQ offers various components that can improve communication skills and emphasize a more experiential approach to learning. Lingua franca A lingua franca is any language widely used beyond the population of its native speakers. The de facto status of lingua franca is usually “awarded” by the masses to the language of the most influential nation(s) of the time. Any given language normally becomes a lingua franca primarily by being used for international commerce, but can be accepted in other cultural exchanges, especially diplomacy.

Occasionally the term “lingua franca” is applied to a fully established formal language; thus formerly it was said that French was the lingua franca of diplomacy. The term “lingua franca” was originally used by Arabs to name all Romance languages, and especially Italian (Arabs used to name Franks all peoples in Western Europe). Then, it meant a language with a Romance lexicon (most of words derived from Italian and Spanish) and a very simple grammar, that till the end of XIX century was used by mariners in the Mediterranean Sea, particularly in Middle East and Northern Africa.

Different Aspects of a Gloabal Engineer What is “THE GLOBAL ENGINEER” Globalization directly influences industry’s needs; a global engineer must be able to easily cross national and cultural boundaries. This in turn directly affects engineering education. A common code for communication is required. Those education institutions, which meet the language requirements for the new global engineer, will be ready to face the new millennium. H. P. Jensen states that employers want: …a number of new competencies, with an emphasis on an increased ability to communicate…and good foreign language skills [2].

This is reinforced in N. Grunwald’s study of competencies required by the engineer of tomorrow, which includes hard skills like good foreign language skills. He goes further to claim that cross-disciplinary language skills are not sufficiently taught [3]. This indicates a lack of a direct fit between graduate skills and those required by industry. Engineers can relate the same theories of mathematics, of mechanics and technology, but the modern engineer must also be able to communicate effectively n a shared tongue.

This is especially important given that engineering projects are now planned and implemented across national and cultural borders. ENGLISH AND ENGINEERING Comparises of the folowing sections: The Globalization of English English Language Instruction English for Specific Purposes THE INTERNET AND MULTILINGUALISM The Internet has become increasingly a crucible for world languages. This has direct implications on engineering education, as the Internet is central to various elements of engineering education.

It also increases the global access to engineering education information, as under-served languages come online. Statistics indicate that the prime language of Internet sites is becoming increasingly regionalized, with the local dominant language being the first choice in language options (see Figure 1). English is still strong, but it is becoming the second choice in an increasingly multilingual international community. The Internet, as an instrument of globalization, contributes to this process of recognizing diversity. This has clear implications for engineering education. Language will no longer be the prime eterminant for access to engineering education based on traditional European structures because large, previously under-represented communities will gain greater representation. Furthermore, this expanded access to the Internet builds a new dimension in the education process in this era of globalization: by combining language education with technology education. This also generates a greater element of regionalization as these large under-represented groups in Asia and Africa demand the skills required to operate competitively in the world. However, language still remains a strong barrier. COMMUNICATION SKILLS

A recent report from Melbourne, Australia, stated that employers now seek graduates with skills beyond the standard paper degree; this includes an excellent level of skills in: • Communication • Decision-making • Teamwork However, the report also found that most graduates felt that they had gained analytical and problem solving skills, subject-specific knowledge, research and improved decision-making abilities through their degrees. Yet despite this, much fewer felt that their graduate degree provided: • Oral communication skills. • Awareness of the social implications of their discipline’s developments. Management skills. • Understanding of other points of view and other cultures. • Confidence and competence to work in international environments [11]. COMMUNICATION SKILLS DEVELOPMENT While the study of famous speeches, learning oral communication theories and techniques from textbooks will still be beneficial, it should be noted that the literature has indicated that experiential methods have generally yielded better results than purely didactic means. How to improve one‘s Communication skills Presentations Peer Review Role-play Video Technology International Elements

ISSUES IN ENGINEERING EDUCATION Three sources of weakness that can significantly impact on an engineer’s communication skills education were identified as: • Students’ attitudes to communication. • Insufficient course content. • Deficient or inappropriate teaching methods [17]. Emotional Intelligence Emotional Intelligence, also called EI and often measured as an Emotional Intelligence Quotient or EQ, describes an ability, capacity, or skill to perceive, assess, and manage the emotions of one’s self, of others, and of groups. However, being a relatively new area, the definition of emotional intelligence is still in a state of flux.

Some, such as John D. Mayer (2005a) prefer to distinguish emotional knowledge from emotional intelligence, as discussed below. In 1920, E. L. Thorndike, at Columbia University, (Thorndike 1920), used the term “social intelligence” to describe the skill of getting along with other people. In 1975, Howard Gardner’s The Shattered Mind, (Gardner 1975) began the formulation of the idea for “Multiple Intelligences” (he identifies eight intelligences, later 2 more are added), including both interpersonal intelligence and intrapersonal intelligence.

Many psychologists, such as Gardner, believe that traditional measures of intelligence, such as the IQ test, fail to fully explain cognitive ability. (Smith 2002) The term “emotional intelligence” appears to have originated with Wayne Payne (1985), but was popularized by Daniel Goleman (1995). The leading research on the concept originated with Peter Salovey and John “Jack” Mayer starting in the late 1980s. In 1990, their seminal paper (1990) defined the concept as an intelligence. Mayer and Salovey continue to research the concept.

The term “emotional quotient” seems to have originated in an article by Keith Beasley (1987). There are numerous other assessments of emotional intelligence each advocating different models and measures. Cont. EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE The theory of emotional intelligence (EQ) states that IQ is actually less important for success in life and work than EQ – a set of skills that are not directly related to academic ability [20]. Communication may be inhibited depending on the level of self-actualization of the communicator.

This ties in with the EQ elements of self-awareness and self-regulation. Given that communication is ranked as one of the prime characteristics required by employers in the engineering industry, EQ has an important role to play in strengthening communication skills when certain EQ elements are enhanced in the student. It should be noted that EQ is not the opposite of IQ. In industry, IQ gets you hired, but EQ gets you promoted [21]. For example, a manager at AT&T Bell Labs was asked to rank his top performing engineers.

High IQ was not the deciding factor, but instead how the person performed regarding answering e-mails, how good they were at collaborating and networking with colleagues (rather than lone wolf), and their popularity with others (rather than socially awkward) in order to achieve the cooperation required to attain the goals [21]. CONCLUSIONS Language and communication skills are recognized as important elements in the education of the modern engineer, including English for specific purposes. Yet, there seems to be limited implementation of English courses globally, despite its current lingua franca status.

Those institutions that have already implemented multilingual and communication elements will be at the forefront of providing the demands of industry and society. The incorporation of several components of the fundamentals of emotional intelligence in education will facilitate advanced communication skills. However, given the traditionalist nature of many engineering curricula, this may take some time before change is evidenced. REFERENCES 1. Tattersall, I. , Once we were not alone. Scientific American, 282, 1, 38-44 (2000). 2. Jensen, H. P. Strategic planning for the education process in the next century. Global J. of Engng Educ. , 4, 1, 35-42 (2000). 3. Grunwald, N. , Quo vadis German engineering education. Proc. 2nd Asia-Pacific Forum on Engineering Technology Education, Sydney, Australia, 371-374 (1999). 4. Professional Writing Seminar for Engineers, http://www. ecf. toronto. edu/%7Ewriting/ prowriting. http 5. Kitao, K. , Why do we teach English? The Internet TESL Journal, 2, 4, 1-3 (1996), http://www. aitech. ac. jp/~iteslj/ 6. http://www. worldlanguage. com 7. El-Raghy, S. Quality engineering education: student skills and experiences. Global J. of Engng. Educ. , 3, 1, 25-29 (1999). 8. Graddol, D. , The Future of English? A Guide to Forecasting the Popularity of the English Language in the 21st Century. London: The British Council (1997). 9. Cheremissina, I. A. and Riemer, M. J. , English for Specific Purposes in engineering education at the Tomsk Polytechnic University. Proc. 5th Baltic Region Seminar on Engng. Educ. , Gdynia, Poland, 57-60 (2001). 10. http://www. glreach. com/globstats/index. php3 11.

Illing, D. , Wanted: skills in communication. The Australian, 24 January, 23 (2001). 12. Polack-Wahl, J. A. , It is time to stand up and communicate. Proc. 30th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Educ. Conf. , Kansas City, USA, F1G-16F1G-21 (2000). 13. Beder, S. , Valuable skills learned from “basket weaving”. Engineers Australia, March, 46 (2000). 14. Keane, A. and Gibson, I. S. , Communication trends in engineering firms: implications for undergraduate engineering courses. International J. of Engng. Educ. , 15, 2, 115-121 (1999). Thank You Very Much


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