Research team

Communication for Academic and Professional purposes (C-APP)

Expertise

Development of digital (online/mobile) language learning materials and approaches for specific purposes, i.c. academic and professional. Language use in professional contexts, i.c. healthcare. Studies on communication awareness, knowledge and skills of educated adults.

Factors Contributing to Success in Blended Learning - The Case of Language Teaching and Training in Academic and Professional Contexts; 10/09/2014 - 14/07/2017

Abstract

Towards an effective blended online mentoring model for language practitioners The study assesses the effectiveness of mentor-mentee relationships formed online between more experienced and less experienced language practitioners as an alternative to conventional face-to-face mentoring. Traditionally, mentoring relationships were formed fairly informally inhouse in publishing houses and communications bureaus/departments, when less experienced practitioners were able to engage in on-the-job learning from more experienced and knowledgeable colleagues. With downsizing in these sectors came outsourcing, and many experienced staff were forced into a freelance existence as a way of earning a living, and this removed the foundation of traditional mentorships. To whom could newcomers to language practice, or those with some experience in need of lifelong learning experiences, now turn to hone their skills and knowledge, and also to obtain feedback on their work as language practitioners? With corporates having shed this responsibility, the onus has fallen onto professional associations of language practitioners such as text editors, proofreaders, translators and indexers to contribute to the professionalisation of their subsectors by setting mentoring schemes. With practitioners on both sides of this relationship now freelance and often geographically dispersed, the traditional fact-to-face mentoring relationship has become the exception rather than the rule; indeed, some schemes are now pairing mentees with mentors anywhere in the world. This research will entail case studies of a number of mentoring relationships that are having to be maintained online; it will investigate, in particular, what the strengths and weaknesses of blended online learning experiences are, with a view to helping both individuals and professional associations engage in more effective, productive and meaningful mentorships. Also, the various schemes in existence are looking for recommendations for the standardisation of their regulations and modi operandi which this research findings will contribute to. Subjects for the research will be drawn from Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

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Factors Contributing to Success in Blended Learning - The Case of Language Teaching and Training in Academic and Professional Contexts. 09/09/2014 - 08/07/2017

Abstract

A participatory approach to Medical Communication Training Research Question: How does the lecturer meet the (verbal) communication needs of medical pre-professionals in a blended learning environment? Towards a taxonomy of the communication needs of medical pre-professionals. Background In order to investigate the issues raised in the research question the focus is on medical students from the University of Stellenbosch for whom it is compulsory to do a communication course in Afrikaans at the beginning of their studies. Patient care is influenced by the quality of doctor-patient and doctor-colleague communication, and it will directly influence the quality of patient care (e.g., Hewett et al., 2009; Watson et al., 2012). Therefore universities worldwide include communication modules in their medical training. In South Africa there are eleven official languages and the three dominant languages in the Western Cape province are English, Afrikaans and Xhosa, which medical professionals have to master to a certain extend. The University of Stellenbosch's medical faculty decided to address the issue of limited time available for contact teaching of Afrikaans by introducing a blended approach to teaching and learning with 20 hours of contact teaching as well as 20 hours of autonomous online learning. An existing online platform for medical communication training, Medics on the Move (MoM), was incorporated into the syllabus. The development of the original MoM-syllabus started in 2006 as a EU-funded project under the coordination of Prof Kris Van de Poel from the University of Antwerp – and has since developed into an online tool for six European languages at beginners and advanced level with translated support for six other languages. At the end of 2012 this tool was adapted to suit the South African context and the course for beginners was translated into Afrikaans. This approach to medical communication training was introduced to South African students in February 2013. Methodology In order to identify the communication needs of medical pre-professionals, different methodological steps were taken. A literature study was carried out on topics related to blended learning in second language learning, learner autonomy and the role of the teacher facilitating learner autonomy, authenticity of the learning experience, different learning styles and teaching styles in second language communication and the potential of social media in an online learning environment. A diverse set of data was collected from two intakes of first year students in 2013 and 2014 and one intake of sixth year students who had completed their basic training in Spanish in Cuba (2013). A mixed method approach was used and quantitative as well as qualitative data (through questionnaires, focus group discussions and log books) were collected. The quantitative data included an end-of-project usability study and evaluation following a Logic Framework, MoM moodle logs, scores of national proficiency tests in Afrikaans and English, questionnaires indicating communicative needs and professional identity. Additional and complementary data were obtained by the researcher as a participant-observer as well as practitioner studying her own practice (Waters-Adams 2006).

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Communication for professionals - nursing. 01/09/2014 - 31/08/2017

Abstract

Nursing is a mobile profession and linguistic and intercultural challenges have become part of professional life. Misunderstandings between nurses, doctors and patients with different cultural backgrounds have an adverse effect on perceived professional status; lead to rejection, stress, job dissatisfaction, burnout, drop out (Van Bogaert, 2009); and affect quality of patient care and treatment failure adversely. Effective communication as the basis of workplace social integration is considered essential to professional nursing practice (AACN, 1998) and learning good communication is central to nursing accreditation standards (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 2003). Communication AND language training is therefore crucial for both indigenous and foreign medical professionals. Needs: Medical language competence needs consist of (1) adequate knowledge of vocabulary, colloquial medical language, an acceptable pronunciation, etc.; (2) complex sentences; and (3) appropriate delivery of the language (slowly, clear, empathetic) (Berbyuk Lindström, 2008; Van de Poel & Brunfaut, 2010). Detailed performance analyses identified communication, target-language fossilisation and pragmatic malfunctioning by non-native speaking medical professionals (Van de Poel 2011; Gasiorek 2012). Aims: Nursing on the Move (NoM) helps to develop lifelong language learning practices. Through multilingual online/mobile learning materials and approaches suitable for blended learning, NoM supports learners in vocational and adult education contexts to improve their communication skills in order to promote personal development, employability and high-quality participation in the labour market. Learners find its tailored approach helpful to working in their own space, at their own pace, using the help functions the program provides. It also aims to support linguistic diversity by integrating language- and nursing-related content; promote the transparency and recognition of qualifications and competencies; develop professional entrepreneurialism, and create an optimal milieu for lifelong learning. Objectives: The tool's main objectives are: • To equip nursing staff with communication competencies (CEFR B) to carry out dedicated communicative tasks in a clinical setting by means of scenarios: patient-centred care, diagnostic procedures, food distribution, shift changes, introducing patient cases to and interacting with colleagues. • To develop a system for recognising the competencies acquired. • To create an optimal environment for lifelong learning which fosters mobility in Europe. • To establish a highly effective learning track for online/mobile autonomous/blended learning, taking into account the learning styles of these professionals and supporting their motivation through gamification strategies, multilingual video cases and social network sites. Basis: NoM is data-driven and relies on published data analyses, guidelines and good practice. To date, communication materials for nursing have not been multilingual, blended or tailored to nurses' learning needs. This project is based on an extensive needs analysis: (1) an international literature review (arising from joint research in Belgium and South Africa); (2) large-scale, online self-assessments by European medical professionals (Van de Poel et al. 2007, 2013); (3) reported needs analyses (Gasiorek 2012); (4) empirical data on communication strategies arising from shadowing nurses (Pretorius 2013–2014); (5) findings from the IENE project (2012); and (6) strategies in the Medical Communication Skills book on transcultural communication (Van de Poel et al. 2013), (7) now integrated in the Going International website (2014).

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Project website

Strategies for vocabulary development at the initial stages of academic aculturation. 28/09/2013 - 27/05/2015

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand Erasmus Mundus. UA provides Erasmus Mundus research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Towards occupational autonomy: a comparative survey of the professional status of language practioners in South Africa and Flanders. 05/12/2012 - 04/10/2013

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand Erasmus Mundus. UA provides Erasmus Mundus research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Medics on the Move (LL-MoM). 01/09/2009 - 30/11/2011

Abstract

LL-MoM aims to provide mobile L2 medical (pre-)professionals with the relevant content to adequately function in the workplace, both on a professional as well as a linguistic, social and interactive level. The target group will be presented with a contextualized language training programme which can be accessed at the recquired level.

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    Medics on the Move (MoM). 01/11/2006 - 31/10/2008

    Abstract

    The project aims to overcome the linguistic barriers in an efficient and flexible way and to enhance the communication between professionals and patients as wel as professionals and colleagues in a field were mutual understanding is vital. It does this on the basis of a study of the professionals needs, a performance analysis of discourse completion tasks and sociolinguistic data resulting from questionnaires comparing L1 en L2 pragmatic professional behaviour.

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      Foreign Language Reading for Academic Purposes. A study of beginning and advanced students of English (native speakers of Dutch) reading English academic texts. 01/01/2006 - 31/12/2006

      Abstract

      This research project focuses on the reading of academic texts for academic purposes by language degree students (Dutch L1, EFL students) as part of their study. It aims to identify the main contributing factors to the students' academic reading proficiency in the FL, as well as to determine the relative contribution of each factor. The project compares students at different levels of study (incoming, mid-level and final year students).

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        Development of a course Spanish Vantage (part 1, 2) B.I.S. Online. 01/12/2001 - 31/10/2002

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          Development of a course English Effectiveness (part 1, 2) B.I.S. Online. 01/12/2001 - 31/10/2002

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            Towards a Workable Distance and Telelearning System 01/01/2000 - 31/12/2001

            Abstract

            1. PRELIMINARY RESEARCH Relying on an extensive experience with technological and pedagogical difficulties in open and distance learning environments this project will devote itself to an explorative study on two levels: a. a model is being drawn up for the optimisation of technological and human interactivity in adult education. The focus will be on language teaching and learning in an autonomous learning environment. Because this often leads to insurmountable problems from the side of the learner and more and more human monitoring or tutoring are added, we will investigate how both worlds can be optimally combined. b. a detailed analysis will be carried out of how the combined technological carrier (Hybrid-Net) will lead to a more stable and cheaper connection leading to the enduser's irritation threshold not being surpassed. 2. A FEASIBILITY STUDY The results of this twofold research will be integrated into a feasibility report. 3. TESTPHASE Short modules will be set up and tested in order to analyse the above-mentioned stability and interactivity. 4. EU-APPLICATION The application within FP5 will be geared towards formulating the teaching-learning contents (syllabus design), fundamentally testing the technological carriers and operationalising the telelearning system for languages

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              Distance course on written customer-geared communication skills with a focus on the department of personnel management of the unit and project group for training and education. 01/07/1999 - 30/06/2000

              Abstract

              Over the last couple of years, public communication has become more and more important because of its essential role in a customer-friendly policy. This approach is closely connected to the city's policy objective: `being able to pass on understandable and clearly cut out information'. The training, which is skill-based will result in `well trained officials' for whom both the external and internal written communication skills have to be effective. Messages have to be specifically geared towards the target group and the objectives aimed at. The target of this project is to develop a course module, in which the different aspects of effective writing skills will be transformed from purely theoretical frameworks into real life cases, is the target of the course.

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                Interact: Inventory and analysis of linguistic interaction in multimedia education. 01/01/1998 - 31/12/1999

                Abstract

                Education by means of modern technologies is a relatively new research discipline in which linguistic interaction is experienced as quite problematic. The linguistic nature of the interaction that takes place in pedagogical contexts hasn't yet been examined, but research has shown that the eagerness to learn and the learning effectivity in these contexts could be improved. INTERACT is a research project which examines the limitations and possibilities of new technologies in a (distance) ecducational environment. It examines the linguistic interaction between the participants during the educational process and hopes to provide a better communicative framework for multimedia education. The research question of INTERACT has a variety of applications in that the communication model to be developed will be used for open and distance education, regardless of the discipline.

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                  Dutch Studies for non-native speakers. 01/01/1998 - 31/12/1998

                  Abstract

                  In the context of growing internationalisation, knowledge of languages becomes increasingly important. Since there is no majority language in Europe, i.e. no single language is spoken by more than 15% of the European population, there is a growing tendency towards linguistic pluralism. Dutch is one of the official languages of the European Union and is spoken by 21 million people in The Netherlands and Flanders. In this perspective it can be observed that there is a growing interest from abroad to study Dutch language and culture. Initiatief Nederlands offers a full programma in Dutch as a foreign language, which is intended for non-native speakers of Dutch who want to specialise in Dutch language, culture and literatuur. Dutch Studies is offered as a one-year programma and contains four major aspects: Language Acquisilion, Dutch Literature, Linguistics and Culture, Politics and Social Relations.

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                    Bridging linguistic distances. 01/06/1997 - 31/12/1998

                    Abstract

                    The project aims at developing curricula and syllabi for Afrikaans as a second languaye and other foreign languages through new technological means in order to enhance both secondary and tertiary education in South Africa. The teaching and learning model which has been developed in Antwerp for acquiring linguistic and socio-cultural knowledge and skills in an academie context has been transfered to Afrikaans as non-primary mothertongue.

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                      Study of the Finnish language and culture. 01/01/1996 - 31/12/1997

                      Abstract

                      The Finnish Language and Culture were introduced as academic subjects at Antwerp University in the year 1995-1996. From the current year onwards different levels and different teaching groups are introduced and more attention is paid to the study of Finish literature and Culture. The teaching activities are embedded in lunch lectures and in May 1996 an arts festival ARcTic heavily focused on Finnish photography, architecture and literature.

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                        Service and information for Dutch as a Foreign Language for Newcomers. 01/01/1996 - 31/12/1997

                        Abstract

                        A needsanalysis focusing on linguistic problems for newcomers with a higher degree in the province of Antwerp gives general information on linguistic background, work experience and on the acquisition of Dutch as a foreign language (courses taken and methodological preferences). On the basis of the profile tailor-made courses are redesigned or further developed.

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                          Linc- Language Interactive Culture (An Interactive Approach to Language and Culture). 01/01/1996 - 31/12/1996

                          Abstract

                          On the basis of visualised current affair topics a syllabus is designed for each of the less widely taught European languages. Grammatical, lexical and cultural learning strands are defined for 2 0 lessons per language. The materials are designed on three levels for individual and classroom use and are provided on CD-ROM with a computer conferencing monitoring component by mother tongue speakers of Icelandic, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Portuguese, Greek and Dutch. Target groups range from potential exchange students, business people and whoever is interested in getting acquainted with a particular language and culture.

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                            Telelearning project Teleclass'96. 01/01/1996 - 31/05/1996

                            Abstract

                            The Alcatel Bell telelearning project Teleclass'96 was a pilot in which existing telecommunication networks (Euro-lSDN and multimedia PCs) were used to establish a telelearning model. A syllabus for Dutch as a foreign language and a model for classroom management were designed appropriate for the new technologies. Nine children living in Norway, Germany, England, France and Spain respectively received a teaching of in all 30 hours. The teaching modules were specially designed to combine language acquisition against its socio-cultural background. Stress was on understanding and speaking. Peer-teaching offered extra challenges to the project.

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                              Multimedial teaching materials for Dutch. 01/01/1995 - 31/12/1996

                              Abstract

                              Multimedial teaching materials for Dutch as a foreign language in which the acquisition of language and socio-culture are combined on the basis of visualised current affairs topics. The learning packages consist of video material pen-to-paper exercises and reading materials. E-mail teaching offers remedial exercises and grammar as well as computermonitoring. More than ten thousand learners all over the world get access to the Dutch language and culture in this way. Teacher training is provided via menues. Belgian material is designed in Antwerp, whereas the basis for the Dutch items is laid at the University of Utrecht (James Boswell Institute.

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                                The acoustic analysis of foreigner accent. 01/07/1994 - 30/06/1996

                                Abstract

                                The aim of the project is an exhaustive and explicit acoustic-phonetic description of pronunciation problems of students of Dutch as a Foreign Language with another Germanic language as their mothertongue. For this purpose, language materials were collected of students of Dutch with English and Danish as their mothertongue. The pronunciation problems are inventorized, analyzed acoustically and compared to standard Dutch.

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                                  Definition and perception of foreign accent. 01/01/1994 - 31/12/1994

                                  Abstract

                                  The aim of the project is to collect Dutch speech materials of Danish and English students of Dutch as a foreign language. These speech materials are analysed perceptually and acoustically in order to draw up an inventory of the most frequent pronunciation problems. The analysis is carried out at various phonetic levels : airstreammechanisms, phonation, articulation and coordination. On the basis of the inventory, special remedial teaching materials are produced.

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                                    Definition and perception of foreign language. 01/07/1993 - 30/06/1994

                                    Abstract

                                    Research into the phonetic characteristics of Dutch as used by non-native speakers of Dutch with English or Danish as a mothertongue. On the basis of a collection of speech materials, an explicit inventory of pronunciation problems is drawn up and it is decided to what extent their pronunciation deviates from the standard Dutch as spoken in Flanders. The aim is to develop a course for pronunciation teaching.

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                                      Pragmatic language testing for specific purposes. 20/01/1993 - 31/12/1995

                                      Abstract

                                      Research into and construction of a testbattery for future employees applicable for Belgium as a whole. Together the different language tests (for Dutch, French, German and English) are a pragmatic and representative criterion for specific i.e. professional purposes.

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