September 30, 2009, by Teaching at Nottingham

Idiomatic language in teaching

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Mike Clifford, Faculty of Engineering: “I remember one particular incident, I do some lectures on composite materials, and there was a lot of terminology in there that’s, some of it’s quite colloquial, so I’ve had students, particularly some Erasmus students, some French students asking me after the lecture, you know, can I go through some of these phrases with you? Phrases like ‘shelf life’. Which clearly didn’t translate. You know, I would say that a material has a long shelf life, and they maybe look up ‘shelf’ and look up ‘life’ and be very puzzled so that needed a bit of explanation.”

Martin Binks, NUBS: “We have to make sure that… Well, a) you try to avoid idiom because you can’t come out with expressions that are only really familiar to one maybe minority or small majority of the people in the lecture theatre, so you have to avoid that.”

Stephanie Bridges, School of Pharmacy: “I think I’ve perhaps also become a little bit more aware of the way I speak and the idiomatic language I use, or phrases that I just understand and certainly the last, recently, I’ve found that I’ve been explaining things and I haven’t, I haven’t not used the idiom but I would use the phrase and then say, ‘and by that I mean…’ whatever. And quite often as I’ve been explaining that, I’ve wondered how many students, generally, in the room, that applies to, whether it is international students or whether actually, some of the UK students might not understand my phrases because they haven’t come across them or, or maybe they’re just quite a bit younger then me.”

Martin Binks (Nottingham University Business School), 
Stephanie Bridges (School of Pharmacy), 
Mike Clifford (Department of Mechanical, Materials & Manufacturing Engineering).

Extracts from interviews with staff and students about experiences of internationalisation. This video was originally published as part of PESL’s Learning from internationalisation collection. Produced November 2009.

Posted in InternationalisationLectures