|Communication Skills for Architecture Students|
|The Nine Living Muses of Great Britain, by Richard Samuel, 1779|
|A portrait celebrating women's contribution to English culture, represented here are (left to right) Elizabeth Carter, Anna Letitia Barbauld, Angelika Kauffmann, Elizabeth Linley, Catharine Macaulay, Elizabeth Montagu, Elizabeth Griffith, Hannah More, and Charlotte Lennox.|
|Welcome to the Communication skills for Architecture Students. This course has been especially designed to enhance students’ ability to use English as a medium of communication and learning both during their academic curriculum and later as professional architects in their workplace.
Architecture students spend much of their academic careers creating visual solutions for design problems. An emphasis, however, has been placed lately, on the importance of lucid writing and clear speech for architects in their profession. It is important to write with impact and to speak with conviction. Global economy and politics require that a successful architect should express himself or herself effectively in English through writing and speech.
Architecture focuses on architectural education, but teachers all over the world have become aware that though a studio experience with its emphasis on design is of fundamental importance, an architect’s ability in writing proposals, memoranda, e-mail, planning reports, articles, delivering oral and written presentations of posters and designs is of equal importance.
The English course aims at building up a greater confidence and proficiency in students in expressing ideas, questions, criticisms and arguments and developing writing skills in composition, in essays on the history of architecture and in design descriptions and explanations, thus, expanding students’ interests beyond drawing and modelling.
Writing and oral assignments range from:
1. a formal analysis of a building which entails the use of technical terminology necessary for verbal and written communication.
2. descriptions and explanations of designs.
3. writing essays
4. writing reports.
5. papers on architecture
6. writing an abstract.
7. writing a thesis introduction.
8. the written and verbal presentation of posters which provide strong advantages in developing communication skills since they combine visual and verbal information by using illustrations, the written text and a spoken explanation.
Writing well and speaking clearly is important for students to get good grades. Above all, students will become professional architects one day and as such they will need to communicate both in writing and speaking with professionals and future clients about their project.
If we take a look at the help-wanted pages of any newspaper or professional newsletter, we notice the high ratio of jobs that demand some level of communication skills in English. Employers nowadays ask for these skills with a purpose: “candidate must possess communication skills in English.”
Effective writing is important for a wide range of writing categories. These categories can be divided by objectives:
1. Academic writing: Research reports. Scholarly papers ( topics may include design theory and practice, aesthetics, technology, history papers or essays, drawing and visual presentation).
2. Marketing: Student Portfolios. Personal job applications.
3. Project-related: Research, feasibility, planning.
Written products can also be classified by media:
3. Spoken: speech
4. Electronic: e-mail, the Web, CD-ROM
Writing should work for you and not against you. For that to happen, certain forms of style, grammar and syntax are known to communicate well, whereas, other forms are known to fail. Therefore, sentence construction is of fundamental importance for effective and efficient communication.
The purpose of writing is to help students externalise their ideas through writing and speaking using English as the language of communication.
The principal scope of the course is to provide language and communication skills specifically designed to help Architecture students acquire a wider range of architectural terminology in order to interact effectively in discipline-specific discussion tasks, to write clear and well-organized descriptions of buildings and to understand one’s own areas of weakness in written and spoken English.
A course in written and oral communication skills presents a major difficulty for Italian students, which is that of mastering English at a satisfactory level. Yet good oral presentation skills are vital for a future career as an architect. Whatever one does once one graduates from the University, the odds are that one is required to make oral presentations. In an industrial community like ours, such presentations entail also writing a quick synopsis of proposals or progress reports and a lousy five minute presentation can spoil weeks and hours of work spent in preparing written materials.