St Petersburg University of Economic and Finance is having a student conference. As future economists students are interested in identifying relevant issues and trends in business. For several years they have been making reports about their findings in English, analyzing the causes and suggesting solutions. This kind of interactive practice has obvious advantages both for their economic and foreign language learning.
It is a common knowledge that the easiest way of building up language skills is by using the foreign language as an instrument not a target. And ‘practice makes perfect’. The research findings reported in English give students the opportunity to forget they are speaking a foreign language if they are enthusiastic about the economic problem. And they are! I remember witnessing the moment of overcoming the language barrier during the presentation. The teacher told me that it was not so easy for a girl to persuade her co-reporter to take part in the conference. But Sonya was persistent and Gleb the precious experience of working with student bank loans, which was the subject of the research. So the girl did the better part of the speech and the boy did not raise his eyes from the floor. During the question and answer session the student audience bombarded the presenters with details of the lending procedure. And – click! – Gleb forgot about the mistakes and gave substantial answers in understandable English. That was his province!Several years ago we started a section of the student research conference in English. We try to involve students with different levels of English to report about their economic research. It they are not that much confident, they can integrate in pairs or even threesomes. The listeners can see for themselves that the devil is not as black as it is painted. Next year a lot of them would also dare. The diversity of research subjects is not offered by the teachers, who provide the umbrella topic, and students choose their fields of interest. They are so inventive in presentation techniques. From the beginning of an English course we pre-teach some patterns, rules, discuss videos applied in course books and practise the points. Every April those the brave volunteer to speak in front of the big audience. How to capture the attention is their own device: jokes, cartoons, music, dramatizations, fashion show, flash poll with the audience would be worth под стать some expert advertiser. Students not only learn English speaking skill but rather master a professional component. It is the ability to present their ideas in a persuasive way, communicating to people their vision and involve the listeners. In the majority cases this is their first experience of speaking in public, more so in English. This is what they will have to do in future, working in Russian or international companies.
This year we again discovered some unusual presentations on economic, legal, social, cultural matters, here are some titles:
- Legal support of business during the crisis.
- The best competencies of an executive during the crisis.
- Centres for innovations.
- Antitrust legislation as a way of business support
- Corruption as a result of economic crisis
- Building up a cash cow brand as a recovery challenge
Many speakers revealed their charisma, and deserved all the applause and prizes!
written by Larissa Nasarova, PhD in Philology, Associate Professor at FINEC (St. Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance), English Department 1