ACADEMIC WRITING AND SOFT SKILLS

Credits: 
6
Site: 
PARMA
Year of erogation: 
2021/2022
Unit Coordinator: 
Semester: 
First semester
Year of study: 
1
Language of instruction: 

English

Learning outcomes of the course unit

ACADEMIC WRITING
At the end of the course, students will acquire competences as regards comprehension and construction of academic written discourse.
In particular, they will develop skills related to
- evaluating original sentences, paragraphs and short argumentative texts written in an academic style
- creating well-organised research questions
- constructing well-structured paragraphs for academic purposes
- focusing on the writing process to improve grammar and vocabulary for use in academic written texts
- understanding the structure and purpose of abstracts, literature reviews, and other components of research reports.
- evaluating academic articles and texts as part of a process of research

SOFT SKILLS FOR LANGUAGE LEARNERS AND TEACHERS
At the end of this module, students will develop the following skills:
KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
- Knowing the theory underpinning the notion of soft skills.
- Understanding the relevance of soft skills for language teaching and learning.
- Knowing the foundations of case studies methodology.
- Knowing the foundations of classroom discourse analysis.

APPLYING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
- Applying the knowledge about soft skills to analyse, discuss and "solve" case studies.
- Applying the knowledge about soft skills to analyse classroom interactions.
- Applying classroom discourse tools to collect and analyse real-life interaction samples from various teaching contexts.

MAKING JUDGEMENTS
- Identifying recurrent patterns, problems and ineffective learning and teaching practices in real-life cases.
- Critically analyzing complex teaching situations and formulating hypotheses for effective teaching interventions.

COMMUNICATION SKILLS
- Presenting one's personal opinions, ideas and proposals in a comprehensible and effective way.
- Supporting one's opinion on the basis of the course contents.

LEARNING SKILLS
- Collecting real-life linguistic data.
- Analysing collected data for discovery and learning purposes.
- Developing reflection skills.
- Developing assessment and self-assessment skills.

Prerequisites

ACADEMIC WRITING/SOFT SKILLS FOR LANGUAGE LEARNERS AND TEACHERS
Students enrolled on the programme Language Sciences and Cultural Studies for Special Needs are automatically admitted to the module, whereas all students enrolled on other programmes must hold an international certificate at a B2+/C1 level to prove their language competence in English (e.g. Ielts with a minimum score of 6.5, Toefl 79, Cambridge CAE).

Course contents summary

ACADEMIC WRITING
This module focuses on research and writing skills which are essential for students at the beginning of their post-graduate studies at university.
It aims to introduce and practise the process of planning, drafting, evaluating and editing written academic work.

SOFT SKILLS FOR LANGUAGE LEARNERS AND TEACHERS
Starting from the concept of "soft skills" - i.e. a cluster of personal attributes and dispositions that enables people to foster a positive work or learning environment, this module explores the key skills that language educators and learners should develop in order to teach and learn languages effectively. It also places a strong emphasis on promoting reflective practices on the language learning and teaching process.
The module consists of 8 classes ideally divided into two parts. After an introductory lecture on the concept of soft skills and its applications to language learning and teaching, the first part offers a cycle of workshops based on the case studies methodology, i.e. the analysis of real-life problematic learning scenarios to be discussed and "solved" by taking into consideration the soft skills needed by the actors involved. The second part consists of a cycle of workshops based on the classroom discourse methodology, i.e. the rigorous analysis of real-life interactions between learners and teachers in order to identify patterns, interpersonal and interactional problems, as well as possible solutions.

Recommended readings

ACADEMIC WRITING
Recommended readings and other learning tools will be suggested during the classes.
Further information will also be available on Elly.

SOFT SKILLS FOR LANGUAGE LEARNERS AND TEACHERS
Students enrolled on the Master's Degree "Language Sciences and Cultural Studies for Special Needs" are required to study the following book:
- Walsh S. (2013) Classroom Discourse and Teacher Development, Edinbourgh University Press.
In addition, non-attending students are also required to study the following book:
- Mesler (2019) Teaching Soft Skills in a Hard World. Skills for Beginning Teachers, Rowman & Littlefield.
Students enrolled on other degrees are required to study the following book:
- Goleman D. (2011) Working with Emotional Intelligence, Bantam.

Teaching methods

ACADEMIC WRITING
Lectures; individual and group-based work; workshops;
online delivery of materials and self-assessment tools.

SOFT SKILLS FOR LANGUAGE LEARNERS AND TEACHERS
The module is primarily based on interactive lessons and workshops and online activities. Each class follows a recurring structure based on:
1) Warm-up activity to be carried out online on the Moodle platform;
2) Lecture/workshop to be attended on campus or online (students can follow the classes live or watch them recorded. The recorded lessons will be available online for 7-10 days from the day of the recording);
3) Follow-up activity to be carried out online on the Moodle platform.

Assessment methods and criteria

ACADEMIC WRITING
Students will be required to write a text based on the implementation of specific models of academic writing.

SOFT SKILLS FOR LANGUAGE LEARNERS AND TEACHERS
Considering the nature and the contents of this module, assessment will be based on qualitative tools.
ASSESSMENT METHODS
Attending students will be required to hand in:
- a learning diary based on a model provided online by the instructor.
- a project work to be carried out in groups: 1) students enrolled on the Master's Degree "Language Sciences and Cultural Studies for Special Needs" will have to record and transcribe a 10-minute extract of a language lesson and use theoretical tools to analyse it. Students will receive a model to struture a final written report; 2) students enrolled on other degrees will have to record and transcribe a 10-minute extract of a communicative situation (a lesson, a job interview, a work meeting, a teacher-student interaction) and use theoretical tools to analyse it. Students will receive a model to struture a final written report.
Non-attending students will be required to:
- carry out individually the project work described above and hand in a written report based on the same model.
- take an oral exam, which will focus on the results of the project work and the contents of the reference books.
ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
For attending students the final mark is the result of the scores obtained as follows: class participation and interaction (20%), learning diary (30%), project work (50%).
For attending students the final mark is the result of the scores obtained as follows: project work (50%), oral exam (50%).

ACADEMIC WRITING/SOFT SKILLS FOR LANGUAGE LEARNERS AND TEACHERS

A fail is determined by a substantial lack of an understanding of the minimum content of the course, th inability to express oneself adequately (orally and/or in writing), by a lack of autonomous preparation, the inability to solve problems related to information retrieval and the decoding of complex texts, as well as an inability to make independent judgments. Moreover, a fail is due to a substantial lack of competence in applying the knowledge acquired.
A pass (18-23/30 is determined by the student’s understanding of the minimum, fundamental contents of the course, an adequate level of autonomous preparation and ability to solve problems related to information retrieval and the decoding of complex texts, as well as an acceptable level of ability in making independent judgments. Moreover, a pass is due to only partial competence in applying the knowledge
acquired.
Middle-range scores (24-27/30) are assigned to the student who produces evidence of a more than sufficient level (24-25/30) or good level (2627/30) in the evaluation indicators listed above. Moreover, middle range scores are due to acceptable to good levels of competence in applying the knowledge acquired.
Higher scores (from 28/30 to 30/30 cum laude) are awarded on the basis of the student’s demonstration of a very good or excellent level in the evaluation indicators listed above. Moreover, higher scores are due to very good to excellent levels of competence in applying the knowledge acquired.