Language in the trades
Project ID: PAR14-010
About the project
How do learners learn the language specific to a trade, and what are the features of that language? This project investigated the written and spoken language that students are exposed to and which they must acquire when they learn the building trades (Carpentry, and Plumbing) as well as Automotive Technology, and Fabrication.
This project is in the process of producing a number of downloadable and shareable resources that you are welcome to use or adapt for your organisation. We look forward to bringing you these resources in the near future.
In what ways is trades language different from everyday speech? Our research provides a description of the vocabulary, the genres, and the linguistic features of trades language. We have built on this to develop resources for use by trades tutors in passing on to their students the language that is specific to their trade.
Our research has built a corpus of written texts that students read in the trades, including course materials, manufacturer’s instructions, Building Codes, Standards, Specifications, etc. We have also collected a corpus of student writing in Carpentry, in particular the Builders’ Diary genre. In addition we have recorded classroom/on-site/workshop teaching to get a sense of the spoken language that trades students are exposed to. We have used these corpora to analyse this language, considering both the vocabulary of these texts as well as the organisation and grammatical features.
2014 saw a good start to the project, with focus on data collection, including interviews with tutors, collection of notes distributed to students, collection of writing by students and recording and observation of classroom teaching and on-site teaching. A start was made on transcription of student writing. We presented our interim findings at a number of forums. During 2015 one focus was on vocabulary in the trades. We built several corpora for this project, including written texts that students read in the trades, such as course materials and industry documentation which are used in teaching. We collected a corpus of student writing in the trades, including student builders’ diaries. In addition, we collected recordings of classroom and workshop teaching and on site classes to get a sense of the spoken language that trades students are exposed to. These corpora were transcribed to allow us to analyse the langauge used in each of these contexts. This analysis has resulted in a number of publications (Coxhead, Demecheleer and McLaughlin, 2016; Coxhead and Demecheleer, in review).
Building on our work on the technical vocabulary of the four trades that are our focus, we used the Talanoa methodology to develop a bilingual English-Tongan wordlist. The expertise of Tongan trades professionals in New Zealand as well as of Tongan trades teachers in Tonga was the basis of this work and a valuable contribution to this aspect of our research. We anticipate that this bilingual list will support learning in the trades both for Tongan migrants to New Zealand and Australia and also for trades students in Tonga. A further value of this research is that it documents technical lexis in Tongan, which our participants report has not previously been done. This work is described in Coxhead, Parkinson and Tu'amoheloa (2017). Ideally we would like to extend this work into Samoan, Fijian and Maori.
Drawing on our spoken corpus, we investgated how tutors approach the teaching of technical trades language in the classroom. We worked with tutors to find out about their professional and expert perceptions and approaches to technical vocabulary in the trades as well as their pedagogical decisions and approaches to teaching this lexis. Student interviews were valuable in allowing insight into student perspectives on this learning. This work is described in McLaughlin and Parkinson (in review) and in our report (see below).
Another focus of our work has been on the discourse features of student writing in Carpentry, namely the Builders' Diary. Fifty three student diaries were collected and analysed. Workshops were held with Carpentry tutors to identify the writing expectations of the Builders' Diary. An assessment rubric developed during one of these worshops is being used by Carpentry tutors to sensitise learners to the expecations of the the Builders' Diary. This work has resulted in several publications (Parkinson, Demecheleer & Mackay, 2017; Parkinson, Mackay & Demecheleer, 2017).
Teaching and Learning resources based on the work outlined above include:
1. Technical vocabulary wordlists in 4 trades
2. Tutor reflection tool to support vocabulary teaching
3. Nine short videos showcasing teaching and learning strategies for tutors, delivered by tutors, to embed language development into their teaching
4. Sample glossaries and guidelines for tutors for developing glossaries
5. A set of teaching and learning resources for writing builders diaries and guidelines to use
6. Posters demonstrating teaching strategies for tutor professional
7. Resources on interpreting engineering drawings and expressing visual meaning for learners
8. Bilingual English-Tongan wordlists
9. Professional development resources for tutors teaching in Pasifika trades programmes including 2x videos, 1x poster.
10. A complete guide for organisations; Working around the words: unpacking language learning in vocational training which pulls together the resources and offers guidelines for organisations to build tutor capability to embedding language development in trades programmes.
Ako Aotearoa $150 000 (excl. GST)
Victoria University of Wellington and WelTec $169 169 (excl. GST)
Project commenced: May 2014
Project completion: October 2017
- Jean Parkinson (project contact leader), Victoria University of Wellington
- Averil Coxhead, Victoria University of Wellington
- Emma McLaughlin, WelTec
- James Mackay, WelTec
- Len Matautia, WelTec
- Murielle Demecheleer, Victoria University of Wellington
- Aleeshea Reid, Open Polytechnic (previously Weltec)
- Falakiko Tu'amoheloa Victoria University of Wellington
Coxhead, A., Demecheleer, M. & McLaughlin, E. (2016). The technical vocabulary of Carpentry: Loads, lists and bearings. TESOLANZ Journal, 24, 38-71.
Coxhead, A., Parkinson, J., & Tu’amoheloa, F. (2017). Using Talanoa to develop bilingual word lists of technical vocabulary in the trades. International journal of bilingual education and bilingualism, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13670050.2017.1374329
Parkinson, J., Demecheleer, M., & Mackay, J. (2017). Writing like a builder: Acquiring a Professional genre in a pedagogical setting. English for Specific Purposes, 46, 29–44.
Parkinson, J. & Mackay J. (2016). Trades talk: The literacy practices of vocational training. Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 68(1), 33-50.
Parkinson, J., Mackay, J., & Demecheleer, M. (2017). Situated learning in acquisition of a workplace genre. Vocations and Learning. DOI: 10.1007/s12186-017-9191-x
Coxhead, A. (2015). Joists, dwangs & pink batts: Writing and the specialized vocabulary of Carpentry. Symposium on Second Language Writing, 18-21 November 2015, AUT University, Auckland.
Coxhead, A. (2016). Thermostat, propane and OSH: A technical and pedagogical word list of Plumbing. New Zealand Vocational Education and Training Research Forum 2016. Wellington, 18-19 October, 2016.
Coxhead, A. (2016). Corpus studies of vocabulary in the trades: Always take the weather with you. ALANZ Regional Symposium, Palmerston North, 19 November, 2016.
Coxhead, A. (2016). Specialised vocabulary in use: When research meets practice. Language Use in Nordic Academic Settings (LUNAS) 2016. 9-11 May, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Coxhead, A. (2016). Going with the flow: The specialised vocabulary of plumbing. Vocab@Tokyo, Tokyo, September 12-14.
Coxhead, A. (2017). A pedagogical word list of Carpentry: Built through collaboration. Asia Pacific Language for Specific Purposes and Professional Communication Conference 26-28 April Victoria University of Wellington.
Coxhead, A. (2017). Specialised vocabulary in context: Challenges for learners, teachers and research. JALT Tokyo, 14 February, 2017.
Coxhead, A. (2017). Specialised vocabulary. TESOL 2017, March 21-24, 2017, Seattle, USA.
Coxhead, A., Tu'amoheloa, F., & Parkinson, J. (2017) Trades vocabulary in Pacific contexts: Tonga, Talanoa and corpus linguistics. Asia Pacific Language for Specific Purposes and Professional Communication Conference 26-28 April Victoria
Mackay, J. (2014). Tracking the understanding of physics ideas in the trades: Trades tutors use of analogies in developing explanations of basic physics ideas. International Commission on Physics Education Conference. Cordoba, Argentina, August 2014.
McLaughlin, E. (2016). Learning vocabulary in the carpentry context – insights from the classroom. CLESOL Conference, University of Waikato, Hamilton, 14 – 17 July, 2016
McLaughlin, E. Embedding Literacy through Carpentry Diaries: Ideas, Frameworks and Practice. National Centre for Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Symposium. Te Papa, Wellington. 8 – 9 August 2016
McLaughlin, E. (2017). Working around the words: Unpacking language learning in vocational training. Asia Pacific Language for Specific Purposes and Professional Communication Conference 26-28 April Victoria University of Wellington.
McLaughlin, E. (2017). Exploring the language and literacies of the trades: learning through practice The 26th National Vocational Education and Training Research Conference 4-7 July 2017, Hobart, Tasmania
McLaughlin, E. & Mackay, J. (2015). The Language in the Trades Project. Poster Presentation. Whitireia & WelTec Research Symposium, Wellington, New Zealand, 20th November 2015.
McLaughlin, E., Mackay, J., and Cama, M. (2014). Language in the Trades. New Zealand Vocational Education and Training Research Forum. Wellington, New Zealand, 20-21 October 2014.
Parkinson, J. 2014. ‘Vocational Study: What are the literacy demands?’ 14th National Conference for Community Languages and ESOL (CLESOL), 11th – 13th July, Wellington, New Zealand.
Parkinson, J. 2014. ‘The literacy demands of vocational study in the engineering-related trades’. American Association of Applied Linguistics conference. March 22-25 2014 Portland, Oregon.
Parkinson, J. 2015. ‘Writing for academic and occupational purposes: The case of the builders’ diary genre’. Symposium on Second Language Writing, 18-21 November 2015, AUT University, Auckland.
Parkinson, J. (2017). Putting yourself into your work: Written and visual expression of the personal. Asia Pacific Language for Specific Purposes and Professional Communication Conference 26-28 April Victoria University of Wellington
Parkinson, J. & Coxhead, A. (2017). Investigating the discourse and vocabulary of a disciplinary area: The case of Carpentry. Asia-Pacific Language for Specific Purposes and Professional Communication conference, Wellington, 26-28 April.
Parkinson, J. & Mackay, J. A model for developing resources: Improving literacy outcomes for Carpentry trainees. NCVER . 4-6 July 2016. University Central Queensland, Australia.
Parkinson, J. & Mackay, J. 2014. ‘Language in the trades: The literacy demands of vocational study.’ Ako Aotearoa/Teaching and Learning research Initiative: Research in Progress Colloquium IV, 10-11 July, Wellington New Zealand.
The report from this project is published under the Creative Commons 3.0 New Zealand Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike Licence (BY-NC-SA/3.0-NZ). Under this licence you are free to copy, distribute, display and perform the work as well as to remix, tweak, and build upon this work non-commercially, as long as you credit the author/s and license your new creations under the identical terms.