Aim of the course

The aim of this course is to equip scientists and engineers with the language and communication skills necessary for success at university and beyond. It focuses on two main learning outcomes. By the end of the course, students should be able to deliver an effective presentation and produce formal technical writing related to their disciplines. Students will further develop 21st century skills, such as ICT literacy, problem solving and critical thinking.


Internationalization of education and science

This book supports the shared aims of universities and governments to internationalize education and science. Benchmarked at level B2/C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), Academic English for engineers provides excellent preparation for studying and working as a scientist in an international environment, where English is the main language of communication.


Core common skills

The skills taught in this course have been selected based on research, feedback from students and advice from subject specialists. They were also chosen to be relevant to a range of students from different disciplines. Presentations and technical writing have been reported as being among the most important communication skills required by professional scientists and engineers (Middendorf, 1980; Keane and Gibson, 1999; Sageev and Romanowski, 2001). They are also common forms of assessment at university.

In this book, presentation and writing skills are taught in tandem to highlight the differences and similarities between formal written and oral communication. Each skill is taught though sequences of discrete but interconnected tasks. These include:

·         presenting introductions

·         writing abstracts

·         describing processes and methods

·         describing trends and data

·         signposting in presentations

·         referencing and paraphrasing

·         presenting conclusions

·         giving feedback

Its focus on core common skills makes this course suitable for scientists and engineers working across disciplines. At the same time, the tasks can be selected, adapted and extended depending on the needs and interests of particular groups of students working in specific subject areas. 

All instructions and answers are given in English to make the course accessible to groups including international students with different first languages.  

21st century skills

Learners will further practice 21st century skills. These are skills considered necessary to students and professionals for success in the information age. The 21st century skills developed on this course include:

·         working in groups

·         research skills

·         ICT literacy

·         problem solving

·         critical thinking

Because students work together on collaborative tasks, the book is suitable for international groups, helping to develop cross-cultural communication skills.

Task-based language learning

Unlike other technical English courses, this book focuses primarily on tasks, not topics. Vocabulary and grammar are developed in the process of preparation and performance, and consolidated in the reflective post-task phase. 

The tasks have been designed to create a space for group discussions, critical thinking, problem solving and creativity. The purpose is to engage learners in a communicative activity, which requires them to draw on and apply the relevant vocabulary, grammar structures and style points. This makes language learning more meaningful and practical (Willis and Willis, 2001).  

The book follows established principles for structuring learning. Each unit begins with a list of expected learning outcomes. These correspond to the tasks through which they are validated. Each task is then composed of three phases. The pre-task phase raises awareness of the main features of the task, such as its importance and criteria for successful completion. Useful language and background knowledge can be elicited or provided. 

Exercises may be completed to test the students' current knowledge of the key language points required for the task and, based on the problems seen, identify points for pre-teaching.  Each task is itself is composed of a series of steps, which guide the learner through the necessary stages of planning and performance. Finally, in the post-task phase, learners receive feedback from their teacher and/or peers. This is where there is a specific ‘focus on form’ (Long, 1988)—on the particular language points encountered by learners during the task. Common problems can be referred to the grammar focus and style guide. Vocabulary range can be increased using the vocabulary lists. Extension tasks and activities provide opportunities for further skills development.

Because of the learner-centred, task-based approach taken in this book, little scientific knowledge is required on the side of the teacher (although an interest in science and technology will be an advantage). The teacher’s role is as a communications expert, facilitating the effective transmission in presentations and writing of technical content. At the same time, the tasks have been pitched at such a level as to provide university students from a variety of disciplines with an adequate degree of challenge to be effective communicative activities. Students are guided to work on authentic materials and engage their prior scientific knowledge, enabling the content to be both tailored to specific subject areas and kept up to date with fast moving changes in technology. Model texts and other materials included in the book have been selected to be of general interest, and relate to core areas of research in science and engineering.

How to use the Vocabulary builder

The Vocabulary builder is intended to help students learn the new words they encounter in the book and which they draw on in the tasks. Opposite each word or phrase is a space where the translation, definition, or a phrase to help learn the word in context can be written. Different forms of the word (e.g. noun or adjective) may also be noted. 

The words are in the order in which they appear in the coursebook. They include both technical and academic vocabulary. If a new word that is needed during the accomplishment of a task is not already on the list, students may add it in the extra spaces provided.  Many words re-appear in later units, helping students to remember them. Students should also review the lists regularly, re-writing the words and phrases until they have memorized their spelling and meaning. 

If students are finding following the course or understanding the tasks difficult, they can prepare for the classes by learning the words in the vocabulary builder for the relevant unit. 

How to use the Grammar focus

The explanations and exercises in the Grammar focus cover several of the most common grammatical problem areas in technical and scientific writing. Students may refer to the explanations when they receive corrected work from their teachers, and complete the exercises as consolidation activities. Teachers may also highlight particular problem areas and set the questions as practice prior to students completing particular tasks. Each grammar point has a suggested point in the book where it may be introduced. However, students may want to refer regularly to the explanations and repeat the exercises until each grammar point is mastered. Copies of the Grammar focus and additional activities can be downloaded from

Additional resources

Additional resources are available on the website These include additional units and tasks, extra listening activities, links to useful websites and phrasebanks. Teachers can also receive lesson slides and teachers’ book with answer key by completing the form in the Teacher resources area.