In the framework of its capacity-building activities, the German-Tunisian research group “Tunisia in Transition”, which aims at analyzing the transformation of the Arab world and the German and European policies in the MENA-region, conducted a three-day English training course “General Academic English”. The intensive course was taught by the instructor Ms. Natalia Zemliak (Munich) and took place from the 7th to 9th of June 2013 at the Faculty of Legal, Political and Social Sciences of Tunis, Carthage University. About twenty young researchers on MA- and PhD-level from the various Tunisian partner institutions participated and made use of the occasion to improve their English for academic work purposes.
The course was composed of three days. On the first day the participants received the basics regarding the differences between formal and informal English. During the second part they learned the academic language of classification, definition and comparison. Finally their task was to connect ideas in a text. On the second day, the participants learned how to write about visuals (diagrams, charts, graphs), how to frame generalizations and how to use quotes. The third day was dedicated to the writing of abstracts.
The participants were enthusiastic about the pedagogical and didactic teaching methods of Ms. Zemliak who used many exercises in order to integrate the participants in working groups and to encourage them to contribute actively to the course. This point was clearly formulated in the feedback of the participants at the end of the course. In their evaluations the participants underlined the significance of the group synergy, unique pedagogy of the lecturer, and especially the exchange among the students and the interaction between them and the instructor.
The participants expressed an urgent need for a further advanced level training which includes a grammar review and more oral exercises giving them the opportunity to practice their English in the form of short academic presentations.
The event was jointly organized by the Chair of International Politics at the University of Passau and the Institute of Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich in the framework of the DAAD-supported project “Tunisia in Transition” which is coordinated by Anis Ben Amor on the Tunisian side. Mr. Ben Amor supervised the conclusion of the English training course which from the feedback of the participants was beneficial in many aspects. Improving the English language skills of the Tunisian young academics is part of the project’s objective to bolster their qualification for research on the international level.