The formation of postgraduate students' foreign language communicative competence

The article deals with relevant problems of training qualified specialists who know a foreign language. The ways of formation of foreign professional and communicative competence of undergraduates of the scientific and pedagogical profile are shown. In the article the communicative competence is considered as an obligatory component of professional skill of pedagogical specialists. The didactic and methodical literature on the issues of the scientific community for the formation of a professional communicative competence other than that of undergraduates of the scientific and pedagogical profile was analyzed. The essence and structure of foreign professional and communicative competence are defined, the meaningful understanding of this competence in vocational education at the master's level is carried out, and the specificity of scientifically oriented communications is reflected. The authors concluded that the communicative competence ensures the success of the basic tasks of communication and self-realization of the individual and is expressed in mastering linguistic skills, observing specific socio-cultural norms of speech behavior.

The importance of interlanguage communication in all its realizations (internationalization of European education standards, developing the quality of foreign language teaching, increased requirements to translation in different professional spheres, etc.) is increasing today. Kazakhstan requires specialists who have a good command of a foreign language, who can use it in different spheres: professional, intellectual, emotional and creative ones. The theory and practice of modern education have to be modified: the foreign language professional communicative competence is becoming the most important quality of modern scientists [1–4]. Indeed, in terms of the implementation of international mobility and the integration of Kazakhstan into the educational and informational worldwide space there it is actualizing the necessity for new ways of formation and development of the linguistic identity of the postgraduates who are able to navigate freely in multicultural educational space and to perform professionally oriented interaction with specialists from other countries.

Nowadays, a postgraduate student is a creative individual who can work with a large amount of information in a foreign language, who is able to analyze this information and to use the necessary one effectively in his future professional activities. This requires an excellent knowledge of English.

It is necessary to improve the level of English speaking competency of postgraduate students to encourage their mobility both in the educational sphere, as some of the university subjects are taught in English, and on the job market, which are becoming more international [5; 98]. Thus, foreign language professional communicative competence of postgraduate students is becoming of great significance. However, their skills are based on the language education which they get studying at school and university and the level of foreign language professional communicative competence comes short of satisfactory.

In connection with the problem stated above a series of events was organized within the framework of the British Council, JSC Science Fund, Aktobe Professional Development and Engagement Centre and the Newton – Al-Farabi Partnership Programme. Researcher Connect workshop were organized on the base of the Aktobe university.

Researcher Connect is a series of short interactive learning modules for researchers at any stage of their career and from any academic discipline. It is a professional development course that focuses on the development of excellent communication skills in international, multi-cultural contexts (you can find more information about Researcher Connect from the prospectus below or on the programme website here: www.britishcouncil.org/education/science/british-council-researcher-connect). Postgraduate students participated in these workshops. The aim was to develop foreign language professional communicative competence of the postgraduate students in scientific communication. The main aim of these events is to create the conditions to develop foreign language professional communicative competence and a number of individual qualities which help to advance the educational and scientific process as it provides for psychologically appropriate interaction in professional scientific communication in a foreign language as well as for improvement of skills to use this competence in scientific research.

The necessity to develop the foreign language professional communicative competence is discussed in many research papers and regulatory documents (Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2017–2021).

The analysis of scientific studies has shown that the problems of formation of communicative competence arouse a constant interest in the field of foreign language education. Most researchers attribute the formation of communicative competence with the formation of professional competence of specialists [6; 38].

The various aspects of the development of communicative competence of students as future teachers were studied in recent years. There are conceptual elaborations in the field of teaching foreign language, as well as the works dedicated to the technologies of teaching foreign language [7; 99].

Thus, the activity on the development of communicative competence undergoes in the practice of professional education, it is sufficiently developed in the pedagogical theory. The researchers note its high potential for successful teaching result. The possibility of using interactive teaching methods in the formation of foreign language communicative competence of postgraduate students remains less investigated. The analysis of the theoretical material and practical experience connected with the problem under discussion has shown that the issues of developing foreign language communicative competence of postgraduate students are a little-investigated field of the scientific research and practical activities.

A whole complex of forms and methods for developing postgraduate students' communicative competence should be directed to the acquisition of speech skills which permit to effectively solve professional (in this case, pedagogical) tasks.

The main tasks are: 1) to develop a comprehensive motivation; 2) to increase the effectiveness of foreign language professional communicative competence in educational, scientific research and project activities; 3) to support intercultural communication in the professional field; 4) to carry out theoretical and empirical research in a foreign language and to test its results in the professional and scientific activity; 5) to increase mobility of postgraduate students. During the research a series of mutually reinforcing methods was used: - theoretical methods – surveying of publications on the research problem; studying and summarizing innovative pedagogical experience; empirical methods, testing, questioning, studying the results of the learning activity of the postgraduates.

Correspondence of the kinds and techniques of learning activities with the set tasks was taken into consideration when choosing the methods to develop the foreign language professional communicative competence of the postgraduate students. Particular competence methods, kinds and techniques of learning activities were carefully selected.

The modern requirements for the foreign language proficiency of postgraduate students in high school include the presence of foreign language communicative competence of future specialists. The analysis of the scientific research and the experience of practical activity in the field of foreign language training of postgraduate students revealed the contradiction between the objective need for the formation of learners' foreign language communicative competence and the lack of the scientifically pedagogical bases and the complex of pedagogical conditions for its formation in the system of the high school education. The distinguished contradiction helped to define the research stages.

There were three stages of the research. At the first stage of the research it was necessary to carry out an assessment of possibilities for development of the foreign language professional communicative competence of postgraduate students in correspondence with the outside and internal environment and facilities of the universities. At the second stage of the research an integrated language program aimed at increasing the effectiveness of foreign language professional communicative competence was developed, the necessary documentation was drawn up and candidates to participate in the research were selected. The third stage of the research is a professional English course aimed at development of the foreign language communicative competence of postgraduate students. During the course the postgraduate students were taught to prepare and write articles in English for international journals, to make presentations and reports in English to be able to participate in international conferences. Using the results of the research, taking into consideration the problems we faced, we upgraded and improved some methods and pedagogical principles of foreign language teaching.

Within the framework of the further education program the students were taught to prepare and write scientific articles in English for international scientific journals, to make presentations and reports in English, to work with scientific sites to prepare applications for international research grants.

Having analyzed publications about studies and development of foreign language communicative competence we have come to the conclusion that there is no unanimously accepted definition of the term «for- eign language communicative competence», and that opinions about its components are different. According to E.P. Abdurazakova, foreign language communicative competence is a certain proficiency level of communication «techniques», knowledge of communication standards, behavioral stereotypes, and results of education. It is an ability of a professional to function as a secondary linguistic identity in a variety of socially determined situations, one's readiness to intercultural exchange. One should note that the recent decades have seen an increased interest in the problem of foreign language communicative competence and defining its components [3; 85].

The work carried out during the research aimed at developing foreign language professional communicative competence of the learners in scientific communication. The main aim of these events is to create the conditions to develop foreign language professional communicative competence and a number of individual qualities which help to advance the educational and scientific process as it provides for psychologically appropriate interaction in professional scientific communication in a foreign language as well as for improvement of skills to use this competence in scientific research.

Development and improvement of such key components of foreign language communicative competence as linguistic competence, language competence, socio-cultural competence, discourse competence, educational, cognitive and strategic competence becomes very vital. Language competence – are speech skills (dialogue and monologue speech), listening, reading and writing skills. To reach the set aims different training resources were used: English textbooks; training aids designed by the teaching staff of the university for individual self-guided work of the learners; practice classes; scientific research; audio and video materials which allow to listen to authentic English speech improving the learners' pronunciation, on the one hand, and mastering listening skills, on the other; computer programs and the Internet which are necessary to develop computer competence and to offer individual or distance learning opportunities. The learner has a linguistic competence (i.e. knowledge of pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar as well as graphics and spelling) if he has an idea about the system of the language and can use it in practice. To develop linguistic competence of the postgraduate students the following means were used: charts, diagrams, handouts, illustrations which help to maximally individualize and promote the process of development of skills and abilities of all kinds of speech activity and also help the learners to memorize language and speech units; audio and video materials; computer programs and the Internet. Sociocultural competence – socio-cultural knowledge about the countries of the target language (as well as behavior and etiquette standards) and skills to use this knowledge in foreign language communication, as well as skills to represent one's own country and its culture. Knowledge of the Kazakh culture, the culture of the target language countries, their differences and similarities, and the ability to use this knowledge in real intercultural communication situations are important components of cross-cultural competence. To effectively develop the sociocultural competence such an educational medium as immersion into the virtual space – the Internet – was used, besides, audio and video materials containing cross-cultural information were also employed in the learning process.

Discourse competence – an ability to understand another person and to reach coherence of independent utterances in meaningful communication models. The discourse component of the foreign language communicative competence is defined as an ability to construct discourse that is to use and interpret forms and meanings of words to construct texts, to be able to organize the linguistic material into a coherent text, as well as to be able to use cohesion means. Thus, an individual with a high level of the discourse competence knows how to effectively use linking means (pronouns, conjunctions, adverbs, and other grammatical means), how to reach the congruity of thought and text, how to express the relationship between different ideas [8; 179]. To develop discourse competence the following means were used: English textbooks, audio and video materials computer programs and the Internet.

Educational-cognitive competence – general and special training skills, methods and techniques of independent learning of languages and cultures including the use of new information technologies. To develop educational-cognitive competence the following means were used: different dictionaries (English-Kazakh, Kazakh-English, monolingual), English textbooks, manuals, computer programs and the Internet.

Strategic competence – is an ability of the speaker to use verbal and non-verbal strategies to compensate for the lack of knowledge of the linguistic code [7; 135]. It means the speaker should be able to use verbal and non-verbal communicative techniques to compensate for the lack of knowledge of grammar rules, to enhance the rhetoric effect of a speech message or to make a pause in the process of communication. The strategic component means the ability to balance the lack of linguistic knowledge, as well as the lack of foreign language speech and social experience, in the process of communication. A variety of audio and video materials were used to develop the strategic competence. There is no doubt that only close interaction of all the components of the foreign language communicative competence in the process of acquiring linguistic, sociocultural and cross-cultural knowledge and skills will ensure the development of communication skills in the main kinds of speech activity [9; 62].

Special attention was paid to the process of preparing and writing scientific articles in English as teachers more often participate in different scientific conferences. One of the main foreign publication requirements is good, full and clear representation of the material for a wide readership. In addition, it is required that the article is written in a good language (English, as a rule) and the article has to conform to specific requirements, which can be partly found in the ‘rules for authors' sections, and partly in special literature on the scientific style. To prepare and write a quality scientific article in a foreign language (in English in particular) you have to know and comply with the requirements of foreign scientific publications, namely, how to make a proper abstract, choose keywords, construct the introduction, the body of the article, the conclusion, and make references. An important condition for a successful preparation of an article in English is also the willingness of a scientist to creatively use the linguistic means, namely, specific phrases, grammar structures used in different linguistic situations. Everything mentioned above is aimed at improving the foreign language professional communicative competence of the postgraduate students.

In the process of teaching a foreign language to postgraduate students an integrated program was developed and implemented in the education process. The main task of the program was to improve the basic professionally significant knowledge of a foreign language and motivate the learners to acquire such knowledge. The process of developing the foreign language professional communicative competence of the postgraduate students took account of the specific character of foreign language training and was based on the following pedagogic principles:

  • – defining the components of the foreign language communicative competence on the basis of analysis of the corresponding professional pedagogical field;
  • – step-by-step development of the foreign language communicative competence;
  • – intensification of the process of development of the foreign language communicative competence;
  • – immersion into the foreign language environment by means of conferences, role and business games, reading authentic literature.

The following competence technologies were used in the process of foreign language education: project-based learning; development of critical thinking by reading and writing, method of debate, game technology (language games, role-playing games), panel sessions, interactive education technology (in pairs, small groups). The competence approach requires from the learner not acquire knowledge but to be able to solve problems, so the technologies used in development of the foreign language professional communicative competence were practice-based which made it possible to train the learner's ability to act and solve professional tasks.

Summarizing the above, it should be noted that consideration of these aspects has increased the efficiency of the educational process and contributed to successful development of the foreign language communicative competence of postgraduate students. As a result an integrated strategic program of development of the foreign language professional communicative competence of postgraduate students of the Aktobe Regional State University was carried out: 35 undergraduate students participated in the program and improved their foreign language professional communicative competence. Participation in international conferences, symposiums, seminars with reports in English; lecturing at foreign universities; international grants), publication activity in international scientific journals has increased.

Changes in the high education in Kazakhstan, increased academic mobility, development of modern information technologies are reflected in the foreign language training of postgraduate students. Foreign language training not only equips the learners with knowledge and develops skills and abilities, but also contributes to the formation of a new type of the language identity, the qualities of which are determined by the requirements of the society, these qualities are a priority objective of the educational process and are taken into account when drafting higher education standards, providing for the increased level of professionally oriented foreign language communicative training. A good command of a foreign language, no doubt, contributes to improving the quality of professional-pedagogical activity of future academic science teacher, as well as the competitive ability of the higher education system as a whole.

 

References

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Year: 2018
City: Karaganda
Category: Pedagogy