Technical English Teaching Certificate of Competence - a proposal
15 April 2008
An authority or company engaging a technical English teacher needs to be
certain that the teacher can project essential technical language to students.
The old adage of a little knowledge can be very dangerous may be
over-extending the principle of understanding one’s subject for general
English teaching, but technical English could deal with safety and reliability
issues, so a technical English teacher should be able to offer genuine,
reassuring skills to students. Half-cock comments from poorly qualified trainers, usually business English teachers,
such as ‘Well, we are only
here to learn about the English language’ are not acceptable on a technical English course.
Objectives of the Certificate:
The objective of this qualification is to provide reassurance to an
engaging authority or company that a teacher has genuine technical skills to
impart to their students as well as being in possession of a formal EFL
- There are to be two grades of competence: general and advanced.
- The general grade assures a broad range of general technical knowledge.
- The advanced grade is for specific technical skills at a high level of
competence, in addition to the general grade.
Principles of the Certificate
The teacher should:
- Ideally have a work-related background in the subject(s) they are teaching.
- Have a good general knowledge of two other technical subjects.
- Be able to hold in-depth technical discussions in their subject(s).
- Be able to write in a technical manner with a good range of formal vocabulary.
- Have a general knowledge of engineering mathematics and technical principles.
- Subscribe to at least one technical periodical covering their subjects.
- Regularly read periodicals/articles of a technical nature.
General technical English grade:
- Demonstrate an understanding of a range of general technical vocabulary selected at random.
- Be able to talk convincingly about a range of common technical and engineering topics.
- Read a technical catalogue and extract specific information.
- Read a general technical article and extract specific information.
- Have a general understanding of metallic and non-metallic materials.
- Demonstrate the usage of basic mathematics and technical principles.
- Use appropriate technical language to write: a specification, a problem report,
a technical instruction, an experiment report and a progress report.
- Demonstrate practical usage of common electrical and mechanical
tools and test equipment.
Advanced technical English grade:
- Complete everything in the general grade.
- Demonstrate an understanding of a range of vocabulary selected at random in your
- Read a subject-specific document and extract specific information.
- Be able to talk convincingly about your chosen subject(s) and generally
about two other subjects.
- Discuss the functions shown in a technical drawing in the chosen subject(s).
- Pass: 75% correct answers
- Excellent: 90% correct answers
- Examination duration: three hours
© Lawrence Harris/TELS 2008.
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