Shaping the Way We Teach English: Introduction
These introductory materials are designed for English as a Foreign Language educators who share the following two goals:
1. Building an academic or “pedagogical”foundation; and,
2. Improving classroom practices.
If you have these same goals, then these materials are for you!
( Active Transcript Avialable on Original Youtube Links )
Shaping the Way We Teach English: Module 01, Contextualizing Language
Contextualization is the meaningful use of language for real communicative purposes. It helps students understand how language users construct language in a given context. Teachers can contextualize language instruction by organizing the content of the language curriculum according to themes or topics. These themes or topics work best when they are threaded throughout the course of study.
Shaping the Way We Teach English: Module 02, Building Language Awareness
In Module 2, the focus is on the need to be aware of the specific language within that context. That is, the awareness, the attention, and the noticing of the particular features of language that add to learning. This means that it is important to pay attention to language form, for example, grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. However, teaching these formal aspects of language through rules, exercises, memorization, and drills does not appear to be entirely effective. Research shows that selectively focusing on aspects of language use within a given context can be even more effective. Language awareness is the name for this kind of focus. And, because language awareness is a focus on the pragmatic uses of language, the language input must be in context. Two additional requirements of language awareness are that: * The context should reflect language that learners are most likely to use. * And, language practice in context should be accompanied by conscious effort and reflection on that practice.
Shaping the Way We Teach English: Module 03, Integrating Skills
The focus in this module is on Integrating Skills. We usually talk about four primary language skills: receptive skills, listening and reading; and, productive skills, speaking and writing. There are also sub-skills, which are a necessary foundation for the four primary skills: grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and non-verbal skills. In this module, we will look at some real classroom examples of integrating skills, using one or more graphic organizers for analysis.
Shaping the Way We Teach English: Module 04, Pair and Group Work
The focus in this module is on Pair and Group Work. Pair and Group Work incorporates principles and themes from the Cooperative Learning and Collaborative Learning theoretical frameworks. We will look at some real classroom examples, using Stella Ting-Toomey’s “describe, interpret, evaluate” process to analyze what is happening with pair and group work in these classes.
Shaping the Way We Teach English: Module 05, Learner Feedback
One important distinction to make when giving learner feedback is that of formative vs. summative evaluation. Formative evaluation is a way of giving students feedback along the way. It is the answer to the questions, “**How am I doing so far?” and “**How can I improve?”**
Summative evaluation includes those kinds of evaluation that summarize a students overall performance. For example, the final grade for a course.
In this module, we’ll look at some: * General “Dos and Don’ts” for formative learner feedback. * And, some specific techniques for giving feedback on work that students have produced when the primary focus is on oral skills, and on writing skills.
Shaping the Way We Teach English: Module 06, Managing Large Classes
In recent years, the demand for English has increased. Schools around the world have responded by adding more English classes into the curriculum. Class sizes can be quite large and, in some cases, are growing even larger. Classes of 50-75 students are not uncommon. Many people in education are asking themselves: * How do large classes affect an instructors ability to teach, and a students ability to learn? * And, how do large classes affect the quality of education?
Teachers may not be able to answer these as research questions, but they can examine pedagogical techniques and classroom management practices that make the best of large classroom situations.
Shaping the Way We Teach English: Module 07, Learning Strategies
The goal of teaching strategies is to create autonomous learners, learners who can learn by themselves inside and outside the classroom. Research and classroom practices are evolving in many directions to try to better understand and facilitate learning for students of all ages. In general, successful language learners tend to select strategies that work well together, according to the requirements of the language task. These learners can easily explain the strategies they use and why they use them.
Shaping the Way We Teach English: Module 08, Authentic Materials
Authentic materials are used by native speakers of a language for actual communication. Authentic materials are good tools for language teaching and learning because they are: * Interesting. * They use real language. * They can be chosen for individual interests. * They illustrate accurate use of language in the target culture. * And, they help students learn how to get as much information as they can, even if they can’t understand everything, or even very much.
Shaping the Way We Teach English: Module 09, Critical & Creative Thinking Skills
In this module, we’ll take a look at what one teacher is doing to bring critical and creative thinking into her classes. Her students are learning to take a “think locally and act globally”approach to problem-solving and new areas of inquiry in their learning as they develop their language skills.
This is the first week in a large class of young adults. The teacher is using a content-based approach with a Mass Media theme as a basis for the day’s activities. She is assessing students’ skills as they participate in and complete a series of tasks. Observe the sequence of activities that she has students do over the course of the class. Ask yourself, “In what ways are critical and creative thinking involved?”
Shaping the Way We Teach English: Module 10, Alternative Assessment
Alternative assessment is a way to directly evaluate learners’ language skills. A paper-pencil test shows knowledge about the language. Alternative assessment shows learners’s ability to use the language.
There are many reasons for using alternative assessment techniques. With alternative assessment: * Learners make real use of the target language–in this case English–for an actual purpose. * Learners demonstrate the things that they have learned in class. * Learners take responsibility for and self-direct some of their own learning. * Learners’ motivation to learn and use the target language may increase. * And, alternative assessment provides students with an opportunity to directly display their progress to others in their school and community, and to family members.
Shaping the Way We Teach English: Module 11, Individual Learner Differences
Learners in one classroom are both similar and, at the same time, different. A learner-centered approach to teaching requires teachers to understand this duality, and to be aware of the different ways in which students learn. Some differences are easy to see or discover, such as age/gender/socioeconomic conditions/and level of education.
Other differences may be more difficult to identify, including: * Overall cognitive ability, or “intelligence,” and * Cognitive development in younger learners. * Learners’s language proficiency levels, and their * Motivation for language study. * Learners’s personality traits, along with their * Learning strengths, styles and preferences.
Shaping the Way We Teach English: Module 12, Younger Learners
Younger learners are from 4-10 years of age, and from kindergarten through 5th grade.
Younger learners are active and creative. They learn through doing. They are social, they like to play, and they have the ability to develop the rules of language themselves, as they play with different language content and input. They also have a short attention span, and they need repetition and clear direction.
Shaping the Way We Teach English: Module 13, Peer Observation in Teaching Practices
Classroom observation can take different forms. The two most common are:
1. Summative observation, in which another teacher or an administrator observes the class. The purpose for this is evaluative and may result a rating of some kind.
2. And, formative observation, in which two teachers, or “peers,” do a “friendly” observation of each other’s classes. The purpose is to improve teaching practices and to engage in a systematic form of professional development.
The focus in this module is on formative or peer observation. Formative observation can benefit both the observed teacher and the teacher doing the observation. In order to do so, it must be carefully organized. We will follow a teachers through the three phases of a successful observation: * First, preparing for the observation. * Then, observing in the classroom. * And, finally, the post-observation debriefing.
Shaping the Way We Teach English: Module 14, Reflective Teaching
Good teachers are always learning–learning from students, learning from their own trial and error, learning from peers and colleagues, learning from mentors and supervisors, and learning from academic information in their field. Good teachers continue to learn throughout their careers. This is called “life-long learning” or “Ongoing professional development.”
One tool that can help teachers develop professionally is known as “reflective teaching practice.”
Shaping the Way We Teach English: Workshop Part 1 of 2