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Inter Alia 2, Ljubljana, February 2011

ISBN: 978-961-91069-3-8



Nataša Gajšt


A glossary-based approach to ESP terminology acquisition





Learning technical terminology is an important goal in ESP training. To this end, students adopt various approaches, one being reading texts which abound with technical words and phrases. However, students often do not have enough linguistic knowledge to understand specific terminology in a foreign language. In order to find the meaning of such terminology and acquire new vocabulary they use dictionaries and glossaries, yet they often lack the sufficient skills to use these and other suitable resources. The objective of this paper is to present the analysis of an activity which was implemented within the first and third year university-level business English courses at the Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Maribor. With this activity, students learn professional vocabulary by compiling bilingual lists of technical terms and their definitions/translations based on professional paper(s)/books in English from any field of economics and business.


The central idea behind this activity was to encourage the students’ autonomous learning of technical terminology by reading technical literature and using various forms of dictionaries, glossaries and terminology databases. At the same time, the tasks are aimed at raising the students’ awareness of the importance of assessing the appropriateness of the information these resources provide. The paper is divided into three sections. First, the rationale and implementation of the activity are presented. Second, the results of the analysis of the students’ work are given and discussed in terms of the selection of professional papers and terminology, choice of definitions of terminology and their translations into Slovenian. In the conclusion, the focus shifts to the outcomes of the activity.


Keywords: reading, language for specific purposes, learner autonomy, terminology acquisition, bilingual dictionaries, glossaries, terminology databases.


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