Experience of Teaching English Basing on Educational Partnership in Non-language Universities

Lyudmyla Holubnycha

Journal of Linguistics and Literature

Experience of Teaching English Basing on Educational Partnership in Non-language Universities

Lyudmyla Holubnycha

Department of Foreign Languages #3, Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University, Kharkiv, Ukraine


Mastering of foreign languages, especially English, is becoming more and more vital in the global world. At the same time teaching English at higher educational non-linguistic institutions faces a lot of problems as, firstly, a significant number of students are weakly motivated to learn any foreign language, secondly, they often have not high level of knowledge of the language and in addition teachers have to deal with psychological barriers, which such students usually have. Thus, in order to improve learning and teaching English it is important to create partnership relations with students at foreign language lessons. From this point of view, it is valuable to study the essence of educational partnership and the factors that facilitate interpersonal communication and increase the efficiency of learning and training English process. It may be functional also to share positive experience of using different methods of forming partnership relations at English lessons. This paper has been written on the basis of research of theoretical aspects of the problem, i.e. on analysis and synthesis of scientific psychological and pedagogical literature, and on personal experience of teaching English during nearly twenty years in (). During this period we were observing more than two thousand students with whom we built partnerships. The most successful methods for creating partnerships are described in this paper. They are: the methods based on the interest of the students in their future profession, “creative” collaboration with students, “personification” of the learning process. The methods were analyzed and discussed at different Methodical seminars, scientific and practical conferences. The described methods can be admitted by other foreign language teachers. However, it should be noted that the listed methods of pedagogical interaction may be amended. Their realization depends on different circumstances and learning situations.

Cite this article:

  • Lyudmyla Holubnycha. Experience of Teaching English Basing on Educational Partnership in Non-language Universities. Journal of Linguistics and Literature. Vol. 1, No. 1, 2017, pp 1-5. http://pubs.sciepub.com/jll/1/1/1
  • Holubnycha, Lyudmyla. "Experience of Teaching English Basing on Educational Partnership in Non-language Universities." Journal of Linguistics and Literature 1.1 (2017): 1-5.
  • Holubnycha, L. (2017). Experience of Teaching English Basing on Educational Partnership in Non-language Universities. Journal of Linguistics and Literature, 1(1), 1-5.
  • Holubnycha, Lyudmyla. "Experience of Teaching English Basing on Educational Partnership in Non-language Universities." Journal of Linguistics and Literature 1, no. 1 (2017): 1-5.

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1. Introduction

1.1. The Reasons for Studying Educational Partnership at English Lessons

In today’s world, knowledge of foreign languages is a priority condition for successful professional growth. Thus, every year demand for learning foreign languages is increasing. One way to improve the efficiency of teaching foreign languages is an approach to teaching and education as a form of communication.

We know that education is a process of coherent activity of a teacher and a student in which a subject of teaching gets knowledge and skills. This activity is linked with the interaction of a teacher and a student: a teacher affects students as verbal and non-verbal ways; students will in turn adjust the activity of the teacher. Indeed, depending on how they perceive the impact of a teacher and respond to it the content and form of the teacher’s following activity will depend. Thus, teachers and students share values, motives, experience, information and more. This exchange happens through personal contact, through interpersonal communication. It is clear, when the latter is based on partnerships that promote the creation of psychological comfort for the students, it, on the one hand, stimulates motivation to learn, and on the other hand - breaks down language barriers that often exist while learning a foreign language.

Special problems appear when we teach English students of non-language Universities. These problems are connected with low level of motivation among such students, often low level of knowledge of English, existence of the language barrier and a small number of academic hours for training foreign languages.

To overcome mentioned problems and to increase the effectiveness of learning a foreign language, we need to identify and implement optimal conditions for interpersonal communication, forms of which largely depend on the effectiveness of foreign language teaching methods. Any methodological procedure will not be effective if its implementation does not take into account the presence of certain communication relationships in which it is introduced in the practice of teaching.

1.2. Literature Review

Analysis of recent research and publications relevant to the specified topic, namely educational partnership, shows that scientists study its different theoretical aspects. So, D. Vosic-Kavalya [8], O. Honchar [4], N. Dyatlenko [2] consider partnership-based communication as a condition for the development of the individuality of a student; K. Seifert & R. Sutton [6], M. Yevtukh, E. Luzik [9], O. Serhyeyenkova, O. Stolyarchuk [7] explore the problem of the psychological comfort in the classroom; L. Harashchenko [3], N. Ladohubets, T. Ilyina [9] investigate improvement of students’ interest in the subject and activation of teaching and learning activities; R. Ackerman & S. MacKenzie [1], O. Kokhanova, O. Pasyeka [7] research the role of a teacher in forming cooperation with students.

However, the problem of educational partnership, which aims to create comfortable psychological conditions for students at foreign language classes in non-linguistic universities and thus become the key to success in education, has not been the subject of detailed scientific exploration.

2. Main Text

2.1. Aim

The aim of this study is to identify and disclose methods of pedagogical influence to create a situation of partnership in foreign language (English) lessons at non-linguistic university and improve students’ achievement.

2.2. Methods

According to the aim of our research, we have used such methods of the study as analysis and synthesis of scientific psychological and pedagogical literature to consider theoretical aspects of educational partnership, namely: to identify the factors that facilitate educational partnership and to clarify how psychological comfort in a classroom may help to achieve success in learning foreign languages. As this research does not represent an experiment but describes our personal positive experience of creation of partnership relations with students of non-linguistic university, we have not used any methods of experimental research (qualitative or quantitative) or sampling procedure. Instead of these during nearly 20 years we have been observing more than 2000 students of () from The Institute of Prosecution and Criminal Justice, The Institute of Staff Training for Bodies of Justice of Ukraine, and The Institute of Staff Training for Security Service of Ukraine. We created partnerships with these students at our English lessons. So, we have used observation, analysis of the methods that have been applied in our classes and selection of the most successful ones which really improved our students’ achievements. For writing of our paper we have used narrative approach.

2.3. Discussion of the Essence of Educational Partnership

In order to achieve the efficiency of learning by O. Honchar [4], K. Seifert [6], O. Serhyeyenkova [7], M. Yevtukh [9] it is not enough to choose one or the other form of communication. It is necessary also to find out some set of “methods for combining the individual efforts of educational interaction participants” [[4], p. 74]. O. Serhyeyenkova understands educational partnership as “the process of direct or indirect influence of pedagogical process entities on each other” [[7], p. 127]. Mentioned effect creates interdependence and connection between these entities. Educational Dictionary defines this phenomenon as a form of human activity, the specifics of which lies in the emergence of “aggregate” group entity [5]. The selection of certain methods of individual effort is due to specific practical tasks of a given subject. Thus, education in terms of communication is a changing of forms of contact between a teacher and students using adequate methods of combining individual efforts of the interaction participants.

Before turning to the presentation of the above methods, we consider it to be necessary to identify the factors contributing to the efficiency of communication between teacher and students: 1) partnership - a contact (interaction) of two or more participants of communication: teacher / student or students with each other; 2) cooperation - the act, “which is divided into two”; 3) interest in partner – “the first element of psychological contact that is a condition of further sustainable communications” [[4], p. 182]. The emergence of interest provides good understanding and knowledge of each other; 4) common value orientations “value-orientation unity” and “subject-valuable unity” [4], acting as a unity of views, relationships, attitudes of people regarding objects which are important for them, approval of purposes of activities which they performed and so on; 5) orientation on the individual partner is “particularly important component of purposeful communication” [[1], p. 54]; 6) direct, not distant nature of communication [2].

The above factors encourage interpersonal contact and enhance the efficiency of learning during training English, but with “certain ways of combining individual efforts of the interaction”. L. Harashchenko [3] advises to change the “row” location of students in the classroom with circular, semicircular or in the form of a horseshoe and to limit the number of students in a group, indicating that size of a group should not exceed 12 persons, and the optimal group size is 5-7 individuals. However, in order to even small sized group could unite the efforts of participants in communication certain conditions are required. The most important of these, in our opinion, is the subject-valuable unity as a center of students union. This unity is able to eliminate formal character of training English and may become the reasons for the improvement of students’ achievements.

As such subjective values we choose a subject which is basic, profiling, motivational and meaningful for students. Its material provides not only creation of situations of speech communication, but also allows combining individual efforts of the interaction, establishing interpersonal contact between a teacher and students on the basis of partnership. In such circumstances, the subject of a teacher’s and students’ activity is the same, but purposes are different. Thus, through specific subject matter a teacher enters the world of a student. Occurrence of partnership situation will depend on student’s perception. In other words, on the basis of subject-valuable unity we create conditions for partnerships that, in turn, allow participants to combine individual efforts in communication and greatly increase the effect of motivating learning. To combine individual efforts of the communication the following methods of pedagogical influence can be recommended. They are used by the author while teaching English law students:

2.4. Methods Based on the Interest of the Students in Their Future Profession

A) The teacher (not as with students but as “first among equals”) informs his/her students about goals and objectives, methods and means of learning a foreign language, certain difficulties in this process and appeals to the students asking how they see the course of English in the university for themselves, which goals they pursue.

B) The teacher informs the students that he/she, as a specialist in foreign language, is not good at major subjects of the university, the subject of which is the main content of the training material in English, and appeals to the students asking for help if he/she has any questions. Teaching experience shows that this frank confession of the teacher does not cause disrespect on the part of students, on the contrary, they willingly share their knowledge on specific subjects, because it raises their self-esteem.

C) Students explain certain terms and concepts of a profiling subject or subjects to their English teacher.

Thus, a student (or a group of students) alone makes a prepared message on the material of scientific articles in the field or orally abstracts it in English. It is important that neither the teacher nor other students are familiar with its contents. During the message the teacher sits in place of the student, who speaks, and so he is seen as one of the student group. The teacher has to prove he is an interested listener. He can ask questions about the terms that the student uses in his message. But he/she must do it correctly, apologize if have to interrupt the student’s performance. For example, Excuse me for interrupting you. I am not sure in the meaning of the word “legitimacy”. Could you explain? Students are usually very glad to explain to the teacher the meaning of “unknown terms”. Our practice shows that they try to do it effectively and do not go into the native language. Students who listen to messages with the teacher help to explain terms which are interesting for the teacher. In this case, on the one hand, the entire group of students work, and on the other - students begin to perceive the teacher as a usual, equal to them person whose only distinction is that he/she teaches foreign language. It is important to pay attention of teachers to the fact that in such situations they should not correct the errors of students, as it will return them from natural speech situation to the training one. It is clear that it is very hard for the teacher not to react to mistakes of students. Usually even facial expression changes when the teacher hears errors. In this case, we can advise to show sincere interest in the student at least the human personality, which helps the teacher to understand some basics of professional subjects of this University. The teacher has to understand what motivates the student, what hope the teacher can put on this student.

Such method helps to create a situation of success for a student, because he feels confident, it seems to him that he does not make any mistakes. For some period of time a student feels not the subject of study, but that one who teaches and he has not only the desire to explain something to the teacher, but also the desire for self-assertion, rise of self-esteem. From psychology we know that this motif is enhanced with age. The experience shows that it is inherent in students. Moreover, as it was suggested by D. Vosic-Kavalya human self-esteem affects the state of his/her communication activity [[8], p. 54], which is especially important in learning foreign languages. Thus, the student does not consider his report to be only the way to get a high score. In this case, the answer has personal meaning for the student; he tries to look as good as possible, to show that he knows his subject. In addition, he feels responsible to the teacher for how well the latter will understand his explanation. Our practice shows that other students also take part: they carefully follow the explanations of their classmate and use every opportunity to add something, to explain the speaker’s words, or repeat what has already been said, in any case, no one is trying to “sit” aside. Students understand the situation not as academic but as natural speech, so they feel more relaxed. On the one hand, it is especially important for students of non-linguistic universities as helps to overcome language barriers; on the other hand, it promotes the establishment of partnerships both in class. So, using this technique we change the meaning of learning situation for students and their attitude towards the teacher.

D) The student makes his/her own prepared and detailed report, which is focused not only on the teacher, but also on all the students in the group, followed by a discussion. For example, when English classes are devoted to the theme «Judiciary in », students are offered as a communicative task to report any known or recent litigation, its progress and results. In this situation, on the one hand, students feel more competent than the teacher and on the other – the task encourages competitive motivation, because everyone is trying to find and train the best example and to show him/her aware. The rest of the students usually find professional interest, ask questions in the report. The teacher, who sits among the student does not correct any errors and may also ask questions. Little discussion takes place after the report. During this discussion students express their attitude to the actions of the members of the court, the court decision, offering their vision of a point. The teacher listens carefully and only directs the course of the debate; he/she does not make estimates, because the purpose of this technique is to create a situation of partnership in pursuit of a foreign language. So, by changing the position of a student, the meaning of his activity changes for him.

2.5. “Creative” Collaboration with Students

A) As it has been noted earlier, a teacher in the early course informs students that he/she is not an expert of profiling subjects and, therefore, asks students to relate closely to the content of the exercises and texts, compiled the material of objects, and to make, if necessary, correction. For example, when texts contain some information from legislation which has been changed, students are expected to react.

B) The teacher asks students to mark regularly texts that they do not like and exercise, which, in their view, are ineffective or unsuccessful and so on. The teacher occasionally discusses these issues with students. He/she not only hears criticism, agrees with it or not (in this case he/she should explain the reasons for disagreement with the students), but also thanks the students for the work they have accomplished.

C) The teacher addresses to the students to help to pick up texts for reading (from a number of represented), which may be of interest to students and include new information for them; gives them exercises and asks to verify the information in them under current legislation.

D) The teacher asks the students to help him/her to make some exercises to practice vocabulary or grammatical phenomena, as he/she does not track changes in the legislation so is afraid that the content of the exercises can not comply with the legislation. Also, the teacher can ask to make some exercises for him/her at home. However, it is important to provide the students with a model and then in class the teacher considers these exercises with the group. In this case it is possible to organize something like “a round table” at which the whole group in collaboration with the teacher will discuss prepared exercises, arguing their positions. The exercise that students recognize the best is really advisable to be included in the manual.

E) At the time of compilation of exercises the teacher deliberately makes errors relating contextual content, and appeals to students with the “help” to check content and correct errors, if there are any.

We should note that this synergy in no case undermines the authority of the teacher. The fact that the teacher consults with students and works with them, puts students in a different position than they usually occupy in the classroom. Moreover, such joint activity, on the one hand, mobilizes the speech abilities of students, on the other hand, it also stimulates their motivation for language learning.

2.6. “Personification” of the Learning Process, i.e. the Submission of Items of Personal Nature

Students often ask their teacher for advice on how best to engage a foreign language at home, how to learn words, conversational topics, how to read texts and more. In this case, a teacher should not give advice as a teacher but as a person who once studied a foreign language too, basing on personal experience that is adding elements of personal nature.

We believe that the dialogue with a student is a means of establishing partnerships, a way of combining individual efforts of participants of communication that provides understanding between teacher and students, because, as noted by O. Honchar, a dialogue as a form of interpersonal communication is a common activity that is focused on a single object and provides equality of individuals who interact [[4], p. 112]. That is engaging in dialogue with a student, a teacher has opportunity to become his/her companion and gain authority as a friend and companion.

As a result of dialogue communication with students stable contacts appear. Our experience shows that maintaining such contacts correlates with the success of learning a foreign language, causes positive attitude to English, affects students’ motivational-emotional sphere and as a whole, using the terminology of a famous Ukrainian-Soviet educational specialist, V. Sukhomlynsky creates “the joy of learning”. And we would also add joy of communication.

3. Conclusions

Thus, the paper contributes to making of effective psychological conditions for learning foreign languages in non-linguistic universities as the presented ways of creation of partnerships between teacher and students at English lessons caused breaking formal nature of relations, reducing the distance between a teacher and a student, and enhancing the activity of students in class, the effectiveness of the learning process, influencing the motivational-emotional sphere of students.

The results of applying of the methods that have been described in the paper were analyzed and discussed at different Methodical seminars of Departments of Foreign Languages # 1 and 3 of Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University, scientific and practical conferences in Ukraine.

However, in the context of said adding that listed methods of pedagogical influence are not exhausted, they may be amended or supplemented. The main idea is that in practice through interpersonal contact of a teacher and a student, which is based on dialogue, we achieve a situation of partnership. It will help to create comfortable psychological conditions for learning foreign languages, which is especially important for students of non-language universities. Moreover, as our experience shows, the partnership is able to convert educational conditions in natural speech, which encourages students to communicate in a foreign language.

Statement of Competing Interests

The author has no competing interests.


The author would like to acknowledge Dr. Helen Kuznetsova, chieh of the Department of Foreign Languages # 3 of , for her assistance and positive attitude to the author’s work, Dr. Anna Trotsko for her facilitating the author’s scientific work, officials of Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University where the author had possibility to teach English.


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