An evaluation of a first-year university course in Business German
The central problem addressed in this study was the need for an evaluation of the North-West University (NWU) Business German (BG) course as no such study has been conducted yet. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the NWU BG course satisfied the basic requirements for a language for specific purposes (LSP) course and whether the course was worthwhile, possibly effective, and sufficient for the majority of research participants. Guidelines towards the improvement and enhancement of the course were further provided. The evaluated NWU BG course was initially aimed at first-year International Trade students only but was later made available to first-year students in other disciplines as well. To gain an in-depth perspective as to what the NWU’s BG course could further entail, a literature study was done on LSP at tertiary level. In addition, course evaluation was defined, and evaluation models were discussed to help guide the evaluation process. After the BG evaluation model was identified, a case study design based on the constructivist paradigm was used to collect and interpret data provided by the BG students and lecturers. Qualitative data were collected by means of questionnaires and document analysis. In addition to the qualitative data, the BG proficiency tests were used to accumulate quantitative data. The focus of the empirical research was on the qualitative methods and results, whereas the quantitative data were used to expand on the qualitative findings. The research process was also divided into phases so as to obtain a broad scope for the case study. From the empirical research, it became evident that the BG course did not cater for the research participants’ needs. What these needs entail and how they could be met in the future, are discussed in the guidelines towards the improvement of the course. The BG students expressed the need for more emphasis on the business aspects of the BG course. They also complained that there was insufficient focus on learning the basics of the German language. Furthermore, the current BG lecturer was of the opinion that it might be best if the BG course was not offered at beginner level (§1 5.3). Reasons why it might be more suitable to present the BG course at an intermediate level are provided in chapters 5 and 6. At the time of this study, interest in the BG course was still high and the number of students reflected positive. Interest in the BG course could be ascribed to the need for a German course that is tailor-made for the students’ course of study. The quantitative data further showed that the BG pre- and post-test intervention together with the BG classes had a positive effect on the BG test scores. The contributions of the study are as follows: first, this study provided an overview of the research participants’ needs with regard to the BG course; second, the NWU BG course was evaluated and a new BG evaluation model was created (§ 4.3.1); third, a BG pre- and post-test with an assessment rubric were created. In future, a proposal could be made to relevant institutions, such as universities, hotel and/or business schools, to implement occupation-specific courses.
- Humanities