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- Research Questions or Hypotheses
- Method 4.1. Objects of assessment
Olga Yu. Lankina
1 Doctor of Philology, Department of Philology, St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia
2 The Institute of Foreign Languages, St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia
The importance of the research is determined by the necessity to find adequate methods to assess and
develop Management B.A. program students’ oral mediation competence in English. The issue is vitally
important for both students and teachers. For students, because mediation skills can be treated as part of
«soft skills», which have recently become so attractive for the employers. For teachers, mediation is a new
concept in the paradigm Reception - Production - Interaction – Mediation introduced by The CEFR
Companion Volume (2017). We consider both cognitive mediation and relational mediation in a
monolingual interactional aspect. Mediation skills are checked in the format of a professional discussion. The
purpose of the research is: to work out an overall scheme for teaching and testing mediation competence in
oral professionally-oriented performance at B2 level of English in accordance with CEFR descriptors and
local educational needs; to pilot it and finally to analyze testing scores statistically. The data show that the
teaching materials prove to be effective and lead to the improvement of testing results. The scales are
validated and reliable for the population of the experiment which is representational for the focus group.
The scheme developed may be used for the departments of Management in tertiary education as well as be
adapted for other professionally-oriented profiles and languages other than English.
Mediation is a form of verbal interaction between an intermediary and interested parties and as such
represents an important way of conveying information: “Mediating language activities – (re)processing an
existing text – occupy an important place in the normal linguistic functioning of our societies” (Common
European Framework…, 2001, p. 14). It is becoming increasingly important to foster mediation skills as part of
foreign language teaching (Pavlovskaya, 2016). There are several reasons for this, some of the most
important being (1) specialization of scientific knowledge and (2) the necessity to convey technical or
professional information (Bashmakova, Ryzhova & Kuznetsova, 2016).
The objective of this research is to develop a system of oral mediation assessment in English for
Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) classes (2
year of B.A. Management programme, B2
In order to achieve this objective, we do the following:
1) analyze the definition of mediation and determine its specific character in the field of teaching
English to Management students;
2) build up a competence model of oral mediation in accordance with the general academic goals of
the University Management program;
3) analyze B2 (CEFR) descriptors in order to determine the skills necessary for an oral mediator
capable of solving professional and linguistic problems;
4) develop techniques that increase the oral mediation skills and test tasks in accordance with the
5) work out scales for evaluating oral mediation test tasks in accordance with the CEFR descriptors,
and the competence model developed;
6) pilot the mediation activities and test tasks in a teaching and testing experiments;
7) analyze the results of the experiments statistically.
International Journal of Applied Exercise Physiology
VOL. 8 (2.1)
More and more researchers insist upon the necessity to strive towards forming a tolerant multicultural
environment (Ter-Minasova, 2000; Elizarova, 2005; Tarnaeva 2012; Coste & Cavalli, 2015; North & Piccardo,
2016). Mediation can be one of the tools to accomplish that task. The demand for mediation in the modern
society is widespread and the mediation skills can be tested in oral as well as in written forms, in individual
and group formats, by means of one (without translation) or two and more languages (translation). Hence:
we believe that mediation has a great potential for many approaches in the theory and practice of language
Statements made in this paper are based on a broad spectrum of researches undertaken in Russia and
beyond in the following relevant fields:
1) foreign language teaching theory (N. V. Bagramova, I. A. Bim, А. А. Verbitskiy, N. D. Galskova,
N. I. Gez, B. A. Glukhov, I. I. Haleyeva, M. V. Lyakhovitskiy, A. A. Mirolyubov, L. V. Moskovkin,
E. I. Passov, I. Yu. Pavlovskaya, I. V. Rakhmanov, S. F. Shatilov, A. N. Schoukin);
2) cross-cultural communication (V. P. Furmanova, M. K. Getmanskaya, D. B. Gudkov,
G. V. Elizarova, A. S. Khimicheva, I. N. Khohlova, V. G. Kostomarov, S. G. Ter-Minasova, L. P. Tarnaeva, E.
M. Vereschagin, L. V. Yarotskaya);
3) ESP pedagogy in the field of Management (M. I. Faenson, N. M. Speranskaya, E. V. Zarutskaya,
B. Z. Zeldovich);
4) mediation (N. I. Bashmakova, H. Besemer, T. Bennett, M. Cavalli, D. Coste, Yu. A. Chernousova, T.
C. Dunne, L. L. Fuller, A. A. Kolesnikov, O. M. Litvishko, R. Taft, V. V. Usov, J. A. Wall);
5) assessment of communicative skills (J. Ch. Alderson, L. F. Bachman, Т. М. Balikhina, S. R. Baluyan,
A. Brown, C. Clapham, G. Fulcher, V. A. Kokkota, M. Ya. Kreer, K. S. Makhmuryan, B. North, K. J.
O’Loughlin, A. S. Palmer, J. Panthier, I. Yu. Pavlovskaya, E. Piccardo, I. A. Rapoport, V. N. Simkin, I. A.
Tsaturova, J. A. Van Ek, J. L. M. Trim, M. V. Verbitskaya, D. Wall);
6) statistical data analysis (V. S. Avanesov, A. O. Grebennikov L. V. Levtova, A. A. Maslak,
T. McNamara, G. Rasch, C. Roever, O. A. Senichkina, N. Verhelst);
7) psychology and psycholinguistics (A. A. Bodalyov, L. S. Vigotskiy, I. A. Zimnyaja).
In this study, the term “mediation” is used in the context of foreign language teaching and testing
based on the communicative method (Bachman and Palmer (2010), Canale and Swain (1980), Fulcher (2000),
North and Piccardo (2016)). In communicative linguistics, mediation implies activities that make
“communication possible between persons who are unable, for whatever reason, to communicate with each
other directly” (CEFR, 2001, p. 14). From this point of view, mediation usually requires interpretation or help
in assimilating the transferred information. This is accomplished with the help of a range of skills that an
experienced mediator possesses, one of them being the ability to organize group work. Mediation is also
affected by sociocultural factors that facilitate or impede the acquisition of new knowledge (The CEFR
became widespread later and in 2017 was embodied in the CEFR Companion Volume (2017). As a speech
activity, mediation exists along with reception, production and interaction in written and oral forms (Ibid. p.
14). This system of concepts is based on the communicative approach to language learning. In order to
understand the fundamentals of mediation we must determine its place in that system. The aim of the
communicative approach to language teaching is to make students acquire the communicative competence,
which emphasizes learning through mastering functional units of communication such as questions,
requests, pieces of advice, complaints, etc. The verbal intention of the speaker underlies their selection of the
aforementioned basic units of communication and their speech behavior (Azimov & Schoukin, 2009, p. 99).
In turn, speech behavior manifests itself in communicative situations that are described in terms of domains
(personal, social, professional, educational) and descriptive categories (location, participants, events etc.)
(Common European Framework…, 2001 p. 48-49). Communicative situations also manifest themselves through
forms of communicative action, which can be grouped into reception of oral and written speech, monologue
production in oral and written forms, interaction and mediation. Mediation can be both productive (e. g.
retelling a text) and interactive (e. g. written or oral translation of negotiations). Thus, mediation is an
International Journal of Applied Exercise Physiology
VOL. 8 (2.1)
element in a system of concepts that defines the nature of verbal acts in relation to the communicating
Examples of mediation include written or oral translation from one language to another; moderating a
discussion; interpreting complex abstract concepts; rephrasing, writing a resume, a report, a generalization,
an annotation, an abstract; writing down information in order to pass it on to another participant of a verbal
Based on our analysis of the term, we can discern the following components of mediation: (1) oral or
written verbal interaction with an intermediary; (2) usage of multiple languages (translation) or one
language (without translation); (3) creating conditions for assimilating transmitted information.
The process of mediation is integrated into the sociocultural environment with the aim to achieve the
best possible result for interacting parties. Because of that, classifying mediation skills requires that we take
into account not only the information being communicated, but also the conditions providing the success of
communication, which has become a reason for D. Coste and M. Cavalli (2015) to draw a distinction between
cognitive and relational mediation.
Cognitive mediation is defined as mediator’s help in understanding the substance of the issue,
concepts being used in another culture or subculture, or circumstances common to that culture. Examples of
cognitive mediation include explaining the causes of a certain cultural phenomenon, collective production of
ideas or transfer of existing information, e. g. translation or interpreting data.
The purpose of relational mediation is creating a favorable environment for communication. Examples
include creating a multilingual space, averting conflicts, showing respect to another culture, ensuring
balanced representation of different parties and observing the rules of polite behavior. Creating a
multilingual space necessitates the interaction of different cultures or subcultures based on mutual respect
and according to certain rules of conduct (Coste & Cavalli, 2015, p. 28).
The idea of accommodating the free will of different individuals within society in order to achieve
their peaceful coexistence has been explored by thinkers such as J.-J. Rousseau, I. Kant, G. Hegel, V.
Solovyov, G. Spenser, M. Weber, etc. The XIX century saw the formation of basic approaches to the problem
of mediation. V. Solovyov insisted that conflict solving can be achieved through spiritual and moral growth
of interacting parties. Other approaches included resolving conflicts using the power of reasoning in order to
bring the conflicting parties closer before or instead of going to court. Materialist philosophers K. Marx and
F. Engels elucidated the class content of the concept of mediation. They explained the origin and motives of
peacekeeping institutions in terms of conflicting class interests, thus showing their social nature (Styopin,
The social aspect of mediation continued to dominate in the works of scholars in the XX century.
L. Vygotsky offered an explanation of mediation based on psychology: an individual develops culturally
through mastering tools of mediation, such as sign, symbol, word or myth. It is during that process that the
higher mental functions of an individual emerge. In this approach, every meaning exists on two levels, the
individual and the social, and mediation is the process through which the individual aspect is merged with
the social one. Furthermore, a person learns a language by mediating social concepts (Vigotskiy, 1982).
Mediation has benefited greatly from studies in the field of legal science in the XX century. From mid-
century onwards in the USA mediation was institutionalized as an area of private procedural law, with
particular attention to the psychological aspect of mediation and its social importance. L. Fuller was one of
the first researchers from the field of law science to study mediation. He stressed the difference between a
mediator and a judge: the latter determines, whether it is necessary to enforce a certain social norm, whereas
the former convinces the client that it is in their interest to follow the norm (Fuller, 1971). In this case
mediation involves persuading people and relies on social and cultural norms.
It is important to note that in the modern world mediation has become a part of everyday life and it is
applied by numerous social institutions. Mediation helps different social groups better understand each
other (Wall & Dunn, 2012); it is used to avoid workplace conflicts (Bennet, 2012); it helps achieve higher
efficiency of learning in all areas and levels of education (Coste, Cavalli, 2015).
Cultural and behavioral skills are essential for mediators, in that it is necessary to have general
knowledge of a culture, to know the rules and norms of social interaction in a certain society, to be
International Journal of Applied Exercise Physiology
VOL. 8 (2.1)
empathetic and to control one’s own psychological states. Therefore, we believe that mediation skills are part
of the cross-cultural competence.
Indeed, the success of mediation in a foreign language depends on the skills mentioned above and
language proficiency of the mediator. For instance, when retelling a written text in recipient’s language we
not only transfer information, but also establish a kind of relationship. It happens because the
communicating parties observe the reaction to received information and are able to tell when it is necessary
to provide additional explanations, to shorten the text or to employ other narrative strategies. These abilities
are based on empathy within the cultural context of communicating parties. Some studies showed that
communicative interaction among students of Russian universities is highly emotional, communicatively
democratic, but also communicatively dominant; it is honest and very broad in content; it prioritizes
informal communication and is characterized by lower level of attention when listening (Sternin, 2012). Each
of these cultural traits can result in both advantages and difficulties in communication, thus illustrating the
point that the successful mediation depends upon the ability of communicating parties to analyze their
situation and find the best ways of achieving their communicative aim.
The verbal side of professional communication (Bodalyov, 1996) includes: (1) the substance of
communication, that is correct transfer of information and facts within the scope of the communicator’s
specialization, using necessary terms and language functions in order to produce a coherent and logical
statement; (2) a personal component that is characterized by the level of emotional involvement of the
communicant and their ability to control the interaction to achieve professional aims; (3) socio-cultural
competence which at the language level involves choosing the right style of communication and observing
the necessary norms.
All of these bear a direct relevance to the task of managing intellectual labor in professional groups.
Here, two main forms of mediation, (1) cognitive and (2) relational are linked to, respectively:
(1) the ability to present information in a plain manner using necessary verbal techniques;
(2) the ability to interact with the audience in order to ensure that the mediated information has been
The skills of a professional manager include communication in English in a multicultural environment
and awareness of international aspects of managerial tasks. They involve the transfer of information between
communicating parties in a multicultural environment using mediation skills (Saint-Petersburg State
University Tertiary Education Standard. Baccalaureate. 2015, p. 5).
The aforementioned reasons lead us to formulating the research question: if mediation is integrated
into the discussion task, how can group discussions be effectively assessed?
Our hypothesis is that assessing oral mediation of professional discussion is most effective when
1) the controlled objects are determined by the aims and specific characteristics of Content and
Language Integrated Learning;
2) mediation skills are formed at the lessons based on the interactive method and group work aimed
at practicing group discussions;
3) test tasks are designed so that oral mediation is required to complete the task, the task employs a
modeled situation and a variety of formal and informal styles;
4) the set of test tasks is standardized and linked to CEFR;
4.1. Objects of assessment
Communicative competence as defined by Hymes (Hymes, 1972, 277) embraces the intuitive
functional knowledge and control of the principles of language usage
speech according to the aims of communication in certain settings. In a more general form, it can be
described as the ability to participate verbally in a communicative action (Zimnyaja, 1985).
Communicative competence has been described by many researchers (Canale and Swain (1980),
Bachman (1990), Izarenkov (1990), Leontiev (1991), Passov (1991), Zimnyaja (1991) etc.). It is viewed as a
International Journal of Applied Exercise Physiology
VOL. 8 (2.1)
complex entity, consisting of the following more specific competences: linguistic, socio-linguistic, socio-
cultural, discursive, strategic, subject-specific, professional, etc. However, the contents of each specific type
of communicative competence are understood differently by different researchers. For instance, Russian
researchers tend to associate socio-cultural competence with language and country studies competence,
language and cultural competence and cross-cultural competence (Kapitonova, 2006; Moskovkin, p. 64-66).
In this study we are going to use the ideas of D. I. Izarenkov, who proposes to solve this problem by defining
basic components of communicative competence: language, subject-specific and pragmatic (Izarenkov, 1990,
p. 56). Language competence ensures the accuracy of speech; subject-specific competence is related to the
content, i. e. the knowledge of the subject; pragmatic competence allows us to fulfill communicative
intentions according to the demands of the communicative situation (Ibidum). For the purposes of this
study, the objects of oral mediation assessment are grouped in three blocks: language, subject-specific and
pragmatic components; and each of them is described by language and professional competences (see
Table 1. Objects of oral mediation assessment in CLIL classes for Management students.
Language and professional oral competences in business discussions
Pronunciation, accuracy and range of the lexical resource and grammar patterns
within B2 (CEFR)
Subject-specific knowledge in the field of Management
- determining the topic and the problem of
- discerning the major aspects, the ability to
- splitting complex elements of the text into
- enriching the text by providing explanations,
- shortening the text;
- arguing a point, showing causal links;
- generalizing and specifying, providing both
general and specific examples,
- comparing and contrasting
- providing definitions of
characteristics of the audience
and the situation: the ability to
change style and difficulty level
supporting interaction: showing
interest in the opinion of the
develop their arguments by
asking leading questions and
providing constructive criticism,
agreeing or disagreeing with the
opinion of the interlocutor,
account when developing your
managing group work: ensuring
adherence to the chosen format
of interaction, providing an
introduction to the interaction,
setting its aim and summarizing
results, stimulating interaction;
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