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Improving the pro-social skills of engineering and technology students in English classes

Dr Elizabeth Webeck | Tohoku University, Japan

Improving the pro-social skills of engineering and technology students in English classes

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As the world becomes increasingly globalized, the requirement for engineers to be able to communicate confidently in a variety of unfamiliar environments is crucial to the success of business ventures. Whether or not engineers are adept at these situations has the potential to make or break opportunities, with very real consequences for industry. Of course, the ability to speak English is crucial to being successful in the global marketplace. It is also extremely important that these English speakers have the pro-social skills to make the desired impressions and establish the necessary relationships to actively play on the stage of international business agreements.
In the English class in the Program for Multi-Dimensional Materials Science Leaders, an interdepartmental doctoral degree program at Tohoku University, emphasis is put on developing an awareness of the importance of pro-social skills, and developing these skills. Through studying academic articles and watching lectures on first impressions, body language and the development of social skills in children, many students have become determined to hone their pro-social skills.
A change for the better is clear from their concerted effort to engage proactively in class, and the confidence they express in overcoming the stigma of being intelligent but relatively unengaged science types. This course has shown potential in producing students capable of taking leadership roles in a world which increasingly relies on the ability of engineers and technology experts to share ideas, promote ideas, discuss ideas and to negotiate in environments way beyond the laboratory. Engineering and technology is at the interface between society and technology, and the engineers of the future must be trained to function well in this zone.