September 2007 - issue 9/07
DEVELOPING TEACHERS.COM NEWSLETTER
Welcome to the September Newsletter.
2. THE SITE
3. TEACHING LINKS
4. DAYS OF THE MONTH
6. WEEKLY TEACHING TIPS
7. PS - Internet/computer-related links
8. THE BIT AT THE END
A slightly shorter & very late newsletter this month due to the holiday season here in Europe.
This month sees Developing Teachers.com team up with Tony Buzan's website iMindMap. Tony Buzan invented mind maps & they have now entered the digital age with an excellent programme that lets you design your own mind maps on your computer. To download a trial version & find out more, click on this link:
ARTICLES ON THE SITE
This month Damian Rivers returns with an article about L2 writing, Gabi Bonner tells us about her 'silent way' experiment & Alicia Delahunty offers us one of her speaking worksheets. See 'The Site' section below.
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2. THE SITE
ONLINE DEVELOPMENT COURSES
Time to develop your teaching from the comfort of your computer?
The online courses are hosted at one of our sister sites,
DevelopingCourses.com (http://www.developingcourses.com ). The
individual, personalised courses develop with the experience,
needs & interests of each participant at their own rate.
We use Moodle, an excellent course management system, each course
having its own password so only the individual participant plus
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within Moodle is the forum & where there may be three or four
different threads going on at the same time. Attached to these
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A three dimensional review : Considerations for teaching L2 writing within cross-cultural contexts by Damian Rivers
This article aims to review three published journal articles which focus on L2 writing in terms of teacher, student and target reader perspectives. The first article, entitled “The Role of the Teaching Context in Hong Kong English Teacher’s Perceptions of L2 Writing Pedagogy” (1998), takes an in-depth look at L2 writing from the perspective of teacher beliefs, attitudes and knowledge within the Hong Kong public school system. The second article, entitled “Prospective Teachers and L2 Writing Anxiety” (2006), examines Turkish trainee teachers’ anxiety connected to L2 writing in an L1 English environment. The third article, “The Pragmatics of Letter-Writing” (2001), focuses on personal letter writing as a mode of cross-cultural communication between L2 writers and L1 readers. The main findings from each article will be drawn together to form a basis for further research within this field.
The subject of L2 writing is vital within the field of teacher education because writing forms an integral part of basic human communication. Being a competent L2 speaker alone is insufficient to function within a number of social and academic roles. Matsuda, (2001) identified the area of L2 writing as being neglected in the early years of SLA studies due to the dominance of the audiolingual approach during the mid-twentieth century. L2 writing research only gained prominence during the 1960’s when writing became a component of ESL programs within U.S university courses for foreign students. At this time many teachers had little or no experience in teaching L2 writing, but soon realized that it was an essential element needed to undertake a university course in which English was the medium of instruction. Ferris & Hedgcock, (1998) stated that for this reason L2 writing originally emerged as a “sub-discipline” of TESL with a strong pedagogical emphasis. Several pedagogical approaches have since been proposed by a number of researchers representing different conceptualizations of the nature of writing as a part of SLA theory.
Early L2 writing courses focused entirely on sentence level structure and emphasized errorless compositions. This controlled composition came from a behavioural, habit-formed theory of learning, the aim of which was to provide students with “no freedom to make mistakes” (Pincas, 1982, p91). It was believed that “any free, random, hit or miss activity” such as student led compositions or free-writing should be “eliminated wherever possible, so that errors arising from the native-to-target language transfer can be avoided” (Pincas, 1962, p.185). Any support for the notion of fluency over accuracy was significantly lacking during this period of research and a general consensus was reached that “composing writing beyond the sentence must be guided or controlled” (Slager, 1996, p.77). One of the earliest paradigm breakers was Kaplan, (1966). He put forth the idea that paragraph and sentence structures were both language and culture specific that suggested that context played an important role in developing and teaching L2 writing skills. Kaplan’s proposals also led to the realization that “writing is much more than orthographic symbolization of speech; it is, most importantly, a purposeful selection and organization of experience” (Arapoff, 1967, p.33). This essentially polarized theoretical approaches to L2 writing.
Regardless, researchers continued to debate the theoretical nature of L2 writing. Zamel, (1976) argued that high-level L2 writers were in fact similar to L1 writers and could benefit from instruction emphasizing the process of writing rather than the structural confines of writing. Various intervention strategies subsequently emerged including, formative feedback, multiple draft composition, and peer analyses. These methods of promoting writing as a process-based event were especially popular during the early 1980’s (e.g., Raimes, 1983). The 1990’s saw the rapid development of ESP and EAP courses which signified yet another shift in theoretical opinion. If instructors could provide language specific tuition bound by context, then students would need to be aware of the multitude of writing contexts that were available to them and how each one differed. The 1990’s was very much a boom period for L2 writing research. Leki & Silva, (1992) described the “explosion of interest in research on composition in a second language” (p.3). This was also marked by the creation of ‘The Journal of Second Language Writing’ in 1992, indicating “the maturing scholarly communication in the field” (Tannacito, 1995, p.5). Kroll, (1990) symbolized the new found interest best when he wrote, “for those engaged in teaching second language [writers], what is needed is both a firm grounding in the theoretical issues of first and second language writing and an understanding of a broad range of pedagogical issues that shape classroom writing instruction” (p.2). Unfortunately, theoretical knowledge remains a minor factor in the design of many modern L2 writing programs. Other considerations such as budget and time restrictions, student and teacher motivation, social context, teacher awareness and pedagogical emphasis all play major roles in the approach to L2 writing.
To view the rest of the article:
Other articles from Damian:
A reflective analysis of pre-course pedagogical considerations for teaching a business English course in Japan by Damian John Rivers
False Hope & Goal Setting In The ESL/EFL Classroom by Damian Rivers
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“Silence is Golden“: Going to Extremes to Reduce TTT by Gabi Bonner
It occurred to me suddenly as I was leaving the lesson, and I was horrified. I’d just spent more time talking than my students – giving instructions, correcting errors, modelling pronunciation, monitoring, conducting feedback, and telling the disruptive ones to shut up and listen! I mean, it seems to be common knowledge amongst EFL teachers, and it was drilled into us during CELTA, that too much TTT (Teacher Talking Time) is something to be avoided, as it takes the focus away from the students thus making the lesson too teacher-centred. Although I’m aware that a certain amount of ‘quality TTT’, for example modelling language, is necessary and can be a positive thing, I was still convinced that I had a fairly grave case of verbal diarrhoea. I decided then and there that serious measures had to be taken to reduce the dreaded TTT. I’d heard about a somewhat unconventional yet quite intriguing approach to language teaching called the Silent Way – in which the teacher is mainly (but not completely!) silent, therefore giving the students more opportunities to speak. I decided that this could well be the solution to my problem, or at least make for a fascinating experiment, and so I made it my mission to find out more…
So what’s the Silent Way all about?
Devised by Caleb Gattegno, the Silent Way is a pedagogical approach to language teaching based on the premise that the teacher should be as silent as possible in the classroom (about 90% of the time), and that learners should be encouraged to produce as much language as possible. The learning hypothesis behind the Silent Way is that learning is facilitated if the learner discovers or creates rather than remembers and repeats what is to be learned. Also, students learn more effectively through problem solving involving the target language. It views language learning as a creative, problem-solving and discovering activity in which the learner is a principal actor rather than a bench-bound listener (Bruner: 1966). Basically, the Silent Way can be described as a problem-solving approach to language learning, and is summed up nicely in Benjamin Franklin’s words:
“Tell me and I forget,
Teach me and I remember,
Involve me and I learn .”
In a Silent Way lesson teaching is subordinated to learning (Gattegno: 1972). The teacher takes on a role that resembles that of a leader of a team of investigators on a voyage of discovery. He or she creates an environment that encourages student risk-taking and facilitates learning. The teacher’s role in a Silent Way lesson has also been described as that of a dramatist who writes the script, chooses the props, sets the mood, models the action, designates the players and is a critic for the performance.
The Silent Way and my students
When I began reading about the Silent Way I have to say I was rather excited. You see, having had quite a few ‘motivational issues’ with my upper-intermediate intensive class, it seemed that trying out the Silent Way and giving them responsibility for their own learning might well help to motivate them. I decided to take things one step further than Gattegno proposed however, and attempt to teach the entire ninety-minute lesson completely silently! I decided that if the students knew I was not prepared to utter one word, then there would be no expectancy on their part that I would speak if they didn’t understand something. I was also hoping the ‘novelty value’ of a completely silent lesson might also capture and sustain their attention and interest. One of the principles behind the Silent Way is that through problem-solving, learners become more autonomous and responsible for their own learning. It has been proven by researchers that learner autonomy plays a significant role in increasing integrative motivation (see Dornyei: 2001). Could this possibly give me the opportunity to kill two (or more!) birds with one stone? : To get my students to speak more in class, make them responsible for their learning, AND increase their motivation. It almost sounded too good to be true!
I got mixed reactions from my colleagues when I announced what I was planning to do. Some gave me a fairly indifferent ‘uh huh’, being used to my ‘little experiments’, some were interested and wanted to know the details of my plan, and some told me I’d never be able to teach an entire ninety-minute lesson without at least giggling and/or saying something by mistake. There was no going back though… I was determined and inspired!
The article continues at:
Games, Gags, and Gangs @The Wednesday English Conversation Club Bethesda Library by Alicia Delahunty
Let's get started…
With nothing more than a stick or a stone, children invent games and find companions to amuse themselves for hours, days, weeks, months, even years! Remember when you were a child, how you used to...?
Our Gang or Hal Roach's The Little Rascals was a series of American comedy short films about neighborhood schoolchildren and their adventures. Mirroring real life, the majority of the kids were poor and the gang was often at odds with snobbish rich kids, officious adults, anxious parents, and other natural adversaries. Begun in 1922, the series included blacks and females in leading roles at a time when discrimination against both African-Americans and women was commonplace. (Source: www.wikipedia.org) Shown regularly on TV, American children of all ages continue to identify with the little rascals' timeless childhood games, gags, and gangs.
To view the rest of the worksheet:
Back to the index
3. TEACHING LINKS
Learn English Central from the British Council.
The enCompass Culture discussion boards from the British Council - for adults & children - different boards to discuss reading & literature.
A site that contains a resource pack for developing intercultural awareness from Nahir Aparicio.
Damian Rivers' page of links at Loughborough University.
'BusinessDictionary.com features over 20,000 definitions and over 115,000 links between related terms providing a clear and concise description of any and all business terms. To succeed in business, it's absolutely essential to have a solid understanding of the terms and concepts used every day in the business world. We have designed our dictionary to help you gain the knowledge you need to achieve your goals in business and in life.'
'The World's Largest Trivia Website' - lots of material to use.
If you've visited a site that you think would be beneficial for
all or would like your site to appear here, please get in touch.
Back to the index
4. DAYS OF THE MONTH
A few days, among many, to plan your lessons around in September:
7th - Brazilian Independence Day
21st - International Day of Peace
26th - European Day of Languages
29th - Scotland Yard Anniversary
To see the list of Days:
Wikipedia's excellent focus on days of the year:
Some holiday origins.
There's a review from Scott Shelton of 'English Pronunciation
in Use Elementary Book with Answers and 5 Audio CD Set' (English
Pronunciation in Use) (Paperback) by Jonathan Marks (CUP) & also
'English Pronunciation in Use Advanced Book with Answers and 5
Audio CDs' (English Pronunciation in Use) (Paperback) by Martin
To read the review;
If you're going to Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk or
Amazon.ca then please go through our Books page. You will pay the
same & we will receive a few pennies to keep the site &
newsletters free. Thanks.
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6. WEEKLY TEACHING TIPS
Free weekly practical teaching tips by e-mail.
Recent Tips have included:
- Strangers on a train - a useful speaking activity.
- Quick on the draw! - tips on drawing on the board.
- Left out! - lesson material on left-handedness.
- You can't blame the youth.. - lesson ideas for International
To see the Past Tips:
To sign up to receive them:
7. PS – General internet/computer-related links
A few computer use rules of thumb:
- make copies of all
- important files
- run scan disk & then defragment the hard drive
- use firewall software - use a virus scan & update the files
- install security patches that software providers offer
- update your DirectX files regularly
- don't open attachments without scanning for viruses first
- don't respond to spam
- just delete & forget
- don't send personal or bank information by email
- turn off your computer at night
Time for a crossword?
Tone Shared.com - interesting mobile ringtones.
History of countries.
Video report on how the internet went down!
Skylines of the world.
Text lingo translated.
Back to the index
8. THE BIT AT THE END
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