This paper describes a joint programme developed in 2018 by Parma University Language Centre (Italy) and the Humanities and Arts Department of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Aim of the project was to involve EGAP students in delivering presentations to an unfamiliar foreign audience on a topic relevant to their academic interests. The students were required to prepare for the presentation by exploring and personalising the chosen topic so as to be able to explain it to a group which they had had no previous contact with or information about. Through the active involvement of the students in a realistic implementation of their professional prospective use of English, language learning became a holistic experience where a traditional approach to language learning focusing mainly on vocabulary and macro-skills was integrated with a pragmatic approach which addressed the so-called ‘21st-century skills’ (specifically critical thinking, communication, collaboration and digital literacy). The simulation of situations that they are likely to encounter in their professional lives helped students develop their confidence, with the whole learning experience carrying both emotional and social implications. This paper offers an insight into the challenges and issues which arose, and ideas for improving the learning experience. We describe the preparation carried out by the teachers at both universities, and the guided and autonomous work carried out by students in the different stages. A post-conference survey triggered the students’ self-reflection in relation to learning and personal development. The survey was also valuable for the teachers regarding reassessment of teaching strategies and preparation for future joint projects.
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