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Earlier this month, MLC’s Hanna Magedera gave a paper at the second conference on Languages for Specific Purposes in Higher Education (LSPHE) at the University of Cambridge.

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Having attended the first edition of the conference last year, held at the University of Manchester, Hanna was delighted to present this year on the topic of how TV murder mysteries can be used as task-based learning for language skills, listening comprehension and cultural content. In her case study, the technical terms in the crime series related to medicine and forensic science, with specific reference to diabetes and drowning. Further to that, Hanna discussed techniques on how to use authentic film extracts to encourage students to practise forensics-related vocabulary typically used in TV crime series. Hanna’s paper focused on the dramatization of a forensics lecture at the University of Medicine in Vienna, in which a professor and his students proved how a victim was murdered. This lecture was broadcast across German-speaking Europe in 2015 as part of the ‘Grenzfall’ episode of the Tatort crime drama. TV crime series of this sort are naturally of interest to medical students, but they are also useful for students who specialize in interpreting in hospitals (among other contexts), as they build up their skills and vocabulary in an entertaining way as advanced learners. Although the video extract used by Hanna was in German, the conclusion was that similar seminars can be given in any language, using any crime series.

This year’s conference included a larger number of delegates and speakers, with Dr Jean-Jacques Richer from the Université de Bourgogne as the keynote speaker. One of the more innovative methods of teaching a foreign language was introduced by Cinzia Bacilieri from the University of York, who teaches Italian through the history of art, using museums or churches as examples to explain the plurals of nouns, or using art-related adjectives.

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