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Facoltà di Scienze Agrarie e Alimentari Università degli Studi di Milano
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Applied agricultural english
Code: G581V-
Teacher:  Simon Pierce
CFU subdivision: Lectures: 3
Basic aims:  Agricultural professionals must be able to participate in a range of
international activities, such as research projects, scientific
conferences, scientific report writing and understanding published
scientific research, using English as a lingua franca. These
scientific communication skills are essential to a successful
working life, but are typically learned ‘on the job’. This course will
teach students the appropriate use of professional English using a
range of real-world examples, to enable them to work more
effectively and take part in the international community.
Acquired skills:  Students will gain experience of listening, comprehension,
reading, writing and translation skills in international settings, with
an emphasis on agricultural and scientific applications. Students
will be shown how to use English to obtain funding (research
grants, fellowships or agricultural subsidies), and how to apply for
study or work abroad.
Course contents:  The course will provide experience of the different kinds of
English that professionals may encounter worldwide, memory
tricks learned by British children to remember the spellings of
‘difficult’ words (with technical examples for agriculture),
pronunciation of words that non-native speakers usually get
wrong, the translation of crop and animal names between
English and other languages (and between different regions of
the English-speaking world), understanding and creating
documents (formal letters, emails, scientific research reports),
publishing scientific papers and presentation of work to an
international audience, and how to apply for study or funding
Program:  1). World Englishes - a brief history and American vs. British
English (the spread of English worldwide)

2). World Englishes - Received Pronunciation vs. global variation
(listening exercises)

3). Misspell or mispell? Miss Pell’s mnemonic spelling tricks (and
pronunciation tips for agricultural words)

4). Corn or corn? Translating and using crop and animal names

5). Let’s discuss the EU’s common agricultural policy!
(comprehension of official documents)

6). Formal letter writing and email

7). Understanding scientific reports

8). Writing scientific reports

9). How to publish internationally and be a scientific reviewer

10). Speaking in public to an international audience (preparing
conference talks and scientific posters)

11). Applying for jobs and postgraduate study abroad
Prerequisites:  A basic working knowledge of English. Willingness to keep trying,
despite making a few mistakes.
Preparatory instructions:  Preparation for working life.
Learning materials:  Will be provided by the lecturer.
Other info:  The exam is an oral examination in the English language.
Candidates must use the writing and comprehension skills
learned during the lessons: before the exam they must write a
formal email addressed and sent to a real scientist, requesting
an ‘offprint’ of one of their scientific articles (a single, short
experimental scientific paper, NOT a review). The lessons and
course material contain instructions on how to do this. The
topic of the article and the identity of the scientist depend on
the candidate’s own scientific interests and can be freely
chosen. A copy of the email and the article must be sent to
simon.pierce@unimi.it at least one week before the exam. The
final mark will depend on both the email and the candidate’s
ability to interpret the article and demonstrate comprehension
of the scientific findings.
Program of Applied agricultural english (pdf version)
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