Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 17

Accepted Abstracts

Towards a Multimodal Approach in ESP: Prospective Paths in Moroccan Tertiary Education

Sanae El Mellouki, Mohamed V University (Morocco)


Traditionally, ESP education has focused on the use of subject specific texts to develop and improve job-related communication skills. This text-centred approach has been basically premised on the idea that « when students are introduced to  content based syllabi with focused language goal for their professional needs, ESP can prove to be a catalyst for developing and improving their language skills....» (EL Mellouki, 2015:306). This indicates that designing texts and activities suitable for students’ needs and closely related to their fields of specialty has so far been  one of the most challenging goals facing ESP teachers in Morocco. Accordingly, the design and development of materials have been confined to improving  vocabulary, reading and speaking skills. In this fashion, ESP learners are seen as passive recipients of the target-specific language which they acquire through predefined learning (Bereiter and Scardamalia, 1985). Also, learners usually tend to encounter difficulties related to factors, such as, complex topic content as well as the verbal modality of content delivery. However, These factors, which were previously accused of curbing the ESP learning process, have lately been subject to negotiation through the multimodal approach alternative. The latter actively and naturally engages learners in processing and constructing content-specific language for a better involvement in the learning process. This prospective shift  to a multimodal approach to language learning  is still in its infancy in Morocco and has still not ventured into tangible classroom practice. This is why, for the purpose of introducing multimodality in Moroccan tertiary education, a study  was conducted on multimodal ESP practice carried out with under-graduate students at the University of Sciences in Rabat- Morocco. The study is an attempt to explore the impact both multimodal environment and assignment have on ESP teaching and learner motivation. The results revealed that multimodality can foster learners motivation as well as enhance a natural and adaptable language learning process. On the basis of these findings, The paper suggests that the future of ESP in Morocco tends to be promising  if grounded in a multimodal pedagogy that prioritizes a learner centred framework where language learners are able to cope more efficiently with new modes of cognitive involvement and social interactions made possible by digital online communications.

Keywords: English for Specific Purposes, Multimodality, Multimodal Pedagogy, motivation, learner-centredness.

[1] Bereiter, C. & Scardamalia, M. (1985). Cognitive coping strategies and the problem of inert knowledge. In S. Chipman, J. Segal & R. Glaser (Eds.). Thinking and Learning Skills: Research and Open Questions, vol. 2 (pp. 65-80). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
[2] EL MELLOUKI, S. (2015). A Theoretical framework for developing ESP Reading Materials at Tertiary Level of Education in Morocco. ICT for Language Learning Proceedings, n°12-13/November pp.306-310

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