RATE ISSUES WINTER / 2009

Editor's Notes:

Change! A Romanian teacher – and a teacher of English in particular – is, by some implacable law of nature, constantly bombarded with change. Every year, at least one new course book forces its way into our classroom, the syllabus is given a shake-up every once in a while, the English olympiad has recently been restructured and now the school-leaving examination for English has been completely rethought. Add to that the periodical change in the actual people we work with, our students, and you will find at least one of the main reasons why Romanian EFL teachers feel that they are working under stress. So then what is the way out of this vicious circle of tension?

Some teachers choose to completely ignore all external change and follow their tried and tested recipes. Some others break down under the increasing outside pressure and start looking for another job. Finally, the shrewdest ones casually check out every new change and only select the one that suits their approach, while nonchalantly discarding the rest. As a general rule, however, flexibility is most probably the skill that does the trick.

Shall we call it … survival of the fittest?

Ovidiu Aniculăese

 

 

English through Drama for Secondary School Children. Organising Listening Activities

by Bogdan Lazanu, Şcoala Alecu Russo, Iaşi

Keywords: drama, listening skills, responses, pre-listening, while-listening, post-listening activities.

 

Whenever we plan to practise listening skills we should remember to set different tasks for the listening material, which must be solved either while listening or after it. That is why most of the activities should run after the following pattern:

·       Pre-listening: Before getting the class to listen we should introduce the topic of the listening material. This is of vital importance because it will set our students in the mood for listening and will arouse the students' interest in the subject and increase their motivation to listen. It will also help them to predict what the material will be about.

·       While-listening: We could give them one or two guiding questions to focus their attention on the main points. At this stage the students listen and then answer the guiding questions. This will allow students to listen to the tape with only a very general task to perform. They will concentrate on the general meaning which will help them to understand the listening material. On a second listening we can give our students a task to check detailed comprehension. The students listen for particular points, which require careful listening.

·       After-listening: The listening activity should be accompanied by a follow-up stage. The students can reflect on what they have heard or use the material as a starting point for discussion, or written work.

There are different ways of classifying listening activities. Anca Cehan classified them by the learners' responses to the listening material. The need to produce a response provides students with immediate motivation for listening and it also directs them towards certain kinds of meaning and therefore structures their listening activity. Sometimes students can give short answers to what they hear.

 Cloze texts

The listening text has occasional, widely spaced brief gaps, represented by silence or some kind of buzz. The pupils write down what they think might be the missing word. Saying the text ourselves, we can more easily adapt the pace of our speech to the speed of the pupils' responses.

 

Listening activity. The Passport Office - for pre-intermediate students

 

Pre-listening.  In order to introduce the topic we show students a passport and ask them different questions related to it like: "Do you know what this is?" / "Do you have a passport?" / "Where did you get your passport from?" / "What do you need a passport for?" / "Have you ever travelled abroad?" / "Where?".

Then we tell our students that they will listen to an incomplete dialogue between a man and the clerk from the passport office and they have to try to guess what words are missing and write them in their notebooks.

While-listening. We start reading the following excerpt from the dialogue and students write down the words they think are missing. Every seventh word is missing and they have a blank space before followed by the correct word between brackets.

 

The clerk is working at her …… (desk). The man comes in and coughs …… (twice).

Clerk      Oh, good morning. Can I help …… (you)?

Man        Yes. Have you got any passports?

Clerk       …… (Yes), we have.

Man         Oh, good. The shop next …… (door) hasn't got any. I'd like twenty, …… (please).

Clerk      Twenty?

Man        Yes. All different colours.

Clerk      I'm …… (sorry). That's impossible.

Man        All right. All the …… (same) colour.

Clerk      No, no - it's impossible to …… (have) twenty passports.

Man        Is it?

Clerk      Yes. You …… (can) only have one.

Man        Oh, all right. …… (One) passport, please. He offers some money.

Clerk     …… (Just) a minute. It isn't as easy …… (as) that. You have to answer some …… (questions).

Man        Oh.

Clerk      What kind of passport do you …… (want)?

Man        What kind of passport?

Clerk      Yes.

Man        A …… (big) round yellow one.

Clerk    We've only got …… (small) blue rectangular ones. When I say …… ('What) kind?', I mean: How long?

Man        How …… (long)?

Clerk      How long? Five years? Ten years?

Man        …… (I) want it today.

Clerk      No, I mean: …… (How) long do you want it to …… (last)?

Man        How long do I want it …… (to) last?

Clerk      Yes.

Man        A hundred years.

 

After a normal speed reading we read the dialogue again but this time with faster speed so that students can check what they have written.

Post-listening. In pairs, students check up their answers and then we check with the whole class. After that students get the script of the dialogue and in pairs they act the dialogue out. In the end one or two pairs will act the dialogue in front of the class.

 

Bibliography

1) E. Gheorghiu, “Developing Language Skills - Speaking and Listening”, in In-Service Distance Training Course for Teachers of English, Polirom, 2003, 141.

2) A. Cehan, Limba şi Literatura Engleză - EFL Methodology I, MEdC Proiectul pentru Învăţământul Rural, 2006, 116.

3) ***, English Sketches 1, Macmillan Publishers Ltd, 2002, 40.

 

In this issue:
 

ISSN 1844 – 6159

 Error Analysis. Good Feedback for Teachers
by Elisabeta Maxim, School No. 2, Botoşani

Keywords: research, errors vs. mistakes, Second Language Acquisition, interlanguage, intralanguage, secondary school

In the past forty years, studies of second language learning have occupied a central place in the field of linguistics. Among the various aspects in such developmental studies, learner’s language has been the highlight in the field of second language acquisition. The term second language acquisition refers to the subconscious or conscious process by which a language other than the mother tongue is learnt in a natural or a tutored setting .
By trying to identify sources of error we can begin to arrive at an understanding of how the learner’s cognitive and affective self relates to the linguistic system and to formulate an integrated understanding of the process of second language acquisition. The beginning stages of learning a second language are characterized by a good deal of interlingual transfer from the native language, or interference.
According to Selinker, ‘interlanguage refers to the separateness of a second language learners’ system, a system that has a structurally intermediate status between the native and target languages’ . Nemser referred to the same general phenomenon in second language learning, but stressed the successive approximation to the target language in his term approximate system . Corder used the term idiosyncratic dialect to connote the idea that the learner’s language is unique to a particular individual, that the rules of the learners’ language are peculiar to the language of that individual alone . While each of these designations emphasizes a particular idea, they share the notion that second language learners form their own language system.
Brown and Ellis gave a detailed account of and exemplified a model for error analysis offered by Corder. Ellis and Hubbard et al. on the other hand, gave practical advice and provided clear examples of how to identify and analyze learners’ errors . The initial step requires the selection of a corpus of language followed by the identification of errors by making a distinction between a mistake (i.e. caused by lack of attention, carelessness or some aspect of performance) and an error. The errors are, then classified as overt and covert errors . The next step after giving a grammatical analysis of each error, demands an explanation of different types of errors that correspond to different processes. Selinker reported five such processes central to second language learning: ‘language transfer, transfer of training, strategies of second language learning, strategies of second language communication, and overgeneralization TL [Target Language] linguistic material .’ In the literature, the studies relating to the process of language transfer, and overgeneralization have received considerable attention.
There are many ways to describe the progression of linguistic development that learners manifest as their attempts of production successively approximate the target language. According to H. D. Brown, there are four stages of IL development.
1. The first is a stage of random errors, called also presystematic, in which the learner doesn’t know that there are some systematic orders to a particular class of items.
2. The second stage or the emergent stage is when the learner becomes consistent in linguistic production. The learner has begun to discern a system and to internalize certain rules. This stage is characterized by some “backsliding”, in which the learner seems to have grasped a rule or principle and then regresses to some previous stage. Generally the learner is still unable to correct errors when they are pointed out by someone else.
3. The third stage is a systematic stage in which the learner is now able to show more consistency in producing the second language. While those rules are not “well-formed”, they are more internally self-consistent and they are more closely approximating the target language system. The difference between the second and the third stage is the ability of learners to correct their errors when they are pointed out to them.
4. The fourth stage is the stabilization stage. Here the learner has relatively few errors and has mastered the system to the point that fluency and intended meaning are not problematic. This fourth stage is characterized by the learners’ ability to self-correct.
It should be pointed out that the four stages outlined above do not describe a learner’s total second language system. We would find it hard to assert, for example, that a learner is an emerged stage, globally, for all of the linguistic subsystems of language. One might be in second stage with respect to the perfect-tense system, and in third or four stage when it comes to simple present and past tenses .
Closely related to the study of Interlanguage are two traditional approaches: Contrastive Analysis and Error Analysis (EA). Researchers from the 1940s to the 1960s conducted CA systematically comparing two languages. Charles Fries, one of the leading applied linguists, stated it in this way: ‘The most efficient materials are those that are based on a scientific description of the language to be learned, carefully compared with a parallel description of the native language of the learner.’ By the 1970s, however, their positions about the predictive power of CA and about the relationship between L1 and L2 learning faced serious challenges. Empirical research seemed to show that significant learning difficulties are not necessary due to the differences between L1 and L2.
Error analysis, offered as an alternative to Contrastive Analysis, has its value in the classroom research. Whereas contrastive analysis, which may be least predictive at the syntactic level and at early stages of language learning , allows for prediction of the difficulties involved in acquiring a second language , error analysis emphasizing ‘the significance of errors in learners’ interlanguage system’ may be carried out directly for pedagogic purposes .
Research Approach - Group description
A data based analysis of IL has been also made. The class is an intermediate level English class. There are twenty-three students (12 males and 11 females) who attend English classes for one hour, twice a week. By the use of quantitative analysis, IL errors from the perspective of language knowledge, intralingual errors, interlingual errors and error sources have been scrutinized. The purpose is to find the distribution and the frequency of IL errors in order to gain some insights into English language learning.
This study will investigate some problems in the acquisition of English language by intermediate level English learners. We can find out what their dominant errors are and which stage their English level stays at when quantitative analysis of the occurrence of errors from different aspects will be scrutinized.
Hypothesis
Fluency and correctness of our language expression can be fully detected in a composition, which represents one’s ability to use a foreign language correctly. Therefore, in order to detect and describe students’ knowledge, this paper seeks to investigate their language output by analyzing the type and source of the errors the students made.
Error Identification
According to Carl James, ‘we recognize just three levels of language: the levels of substance, text and discourse.’ Because some errors require semantic and discourse competence for recognition, the research concentrates on errors that can be recognized syntactically from grammar aspects, which belongs to the text level, while other two kinds of error levels are ignored here. Researchers have found that the early stages of language learning are characterized by a predominance of interference, but once learners have begun to acquire parts of the new system, more and more intralingual transfer-generalization within the target language – is manifested. Since these two categories are so important, the study also categorizes errors into these two categories accordingly and spends more space on discussing sources of these two.
At the preliminary stage, the tests were corrected. The sentences were then examined to see whether they were overtly and/or covertly idiosyncratic, the former being identified by comparing the students’ sentences with those of the reconstructed target-language ones.
The types of errors were selected for analysis based on frequency of occurrence. The resulting data was then investigated in detail, resulting in a number of several different categories, as was predicted. The errors were then explained and thoroughly examined to find the sources of errors due to L1 and L2 transfer, paying particular attention to negative transfer.
Data Analysis
Error analysis research has limited itself to analysing production errors because reception errors may often go unnoticed as we often remain ignorant of pupils’ reception errors until these errors reach the production stage. Explaining errors is the most speculative part of error analysis. Possible causes may be taken into consideration once an error is identified, reconstructed and categorized. Broadly speaking, errors will be either interlingual (negative transfer from Romanian or another language the pupils speaks) or intralingual (negative transfer within English).
Learners commit errors because their ability to use the target language is not sufficiently developed. In order to fill the gap between inadequate proficiency and tough requirements of a task, language learners draw on different strategies, such as ignorance and avoidance, mother tongue transference, incomplete rule application, overgeneralization in their IL forms, which cause different types of errors. Next we offer an analysis of interlingual and intralingual errors.
Interlingual errors
When we count the percentage of thinking-in-Romanian-then-translating-into-English when students write in English, the answer is even as high as 100 percent for some individuals. From this statement, we can infer that interlingual errors are quite common in target language learners’ writing.
Word order
‘a decision very important’
‘a laughter colored’
‘the family Smith’
- because in Romanian the usual word order is noun + adjective, they follow the same pattern in English
Concord between subject and predicate
‘the Smiths is at home’
- collective nouns may be followed either by a singular verb or a plural one; but here the noun family is thought of as a group of individuals so it takes a plural verb
Spelling
‘it’s saturday night’
- calendar items are proper nouns in English and are spelt with a capital
Lack of the preposition
‘tourists come here summer’
‘… when I go to school morning’
‘they are home’
- nouns such as morning, summer or home are not preceded by a preposition in Romanian
Collocation or word choice
‘he takes breakfast’
‘one of the passengers is looking on the window’
‘we are travelling in London’
‘Mrs. Smith is listening a concert’
‘to go at school’
- the students have translated the phrases (to have breakfast, to look out of the window, to travel to, to listen to or to go to) not taking into consideration the fact that they require a certain word choice in English
Use of adjectives instead of adverbs
‘he takes breakfast so silent’
- the use of adjectives instead of adverbs is due to the fact that the adverb have most of the time the same form in Romanian as the corresponding adverb
Wrong preposition
‘many tourists come here on summer’
‘we are in train’
‘Mrs. Peggoty and I were sitting next to the fire’
‘Mrs. Peggoty and I were sitting near the fire’
‘Mrs. Peggoty and I were sitting along the fire’
‘listen a concert to the radio’
‘a concert at the radio’
- the wrong choice is due to the fact that in Romanian we use another preposition
Wrong adjective
‘… I passed my last exam’
- the latest means the most recent, the last up to now, while the last means the final; the student has chosen the wrong form because in Romanian there is only one form for both of them
Misuse of the definite article
‘travel to the London’
- before names of towns zero article is used in English, but because in Romanian Londra seems articulated the student used the definite article
Present Tense instead of Present Continuous
‘… we are in train now and we travel to London. One of the passengers looks on the window, another one reads a book and another two speak’
Present Continuous instead of Present Simple
‘Our guides are speaking three-four foreign languages, because o lot of tourists are coming here in the summer to spend…’
- in Romanian there is only one present tense so it is difficult for the students to distinguish between a general, repeated, habitual action and an action in progress at the moment of speaking, especially when there are no time indicators in the sentence.
Intralingual errors
Most linguists of second language acquisition have tended to accept many of the errors caused by incomprehensive understanding and incorrect application of the target language during the period of internalization. These errors are called intralingual and development errors, which will be discussed in terms of overgeneralization, ignorance of rule restriction, incomplete application of rules and hypothesized false concepts.
‘Intralingual errors reflect the general characteristics of rule learning such as faulty generalization, incomplete application of rules and failure to learn conditions under which rules apply.’
Overgeneralization
Preposition by used with means of transport
‘we are being by train now’
- whenever we show how we travel we use the preposition by + the noun expressing the means of transport (We usually go to work by bus, but today we are going by taxi.); but by is not used when the above nouns are preceded by a possessive adjective or by the articles a or the; in such cases the preposition in is used with the noun car, and on with the nouns bicycle, motorbike as well as with the nouns indicating means of transport (He didn’t go to London on a motorbike, but on the train.)
Present Continuous of the verb to be
‘we are being by train now’
- the student knows he has to use the Present Continuous, but he does not know that the verbs expressing a state or a condition are not normally used in a continuous aspect
Use of the gerund instead of the infinitive of purpose
‘tourists come here in the summer spending …’
- the infinitive is used to express purpose (tourists come here to spend)
Past tense –ed of an irregular verb
‘We heared the door.’
- hear is an irregular verb so the Past Tense of the verb is not formed with the final ending –ed
Use of the preposition with the moments of the day
‘It’s Saturday in the evening.’
Long infinitive following a modal
‘I should to help my parents’
- a common characteristic of modal verbs is that they are followed by Short Infinitives (except ought to and used to)
Final –s after irregular plurals
‘I never have an appetite when I eat with old peoples.’
- the general rule of making plurals is to add -s or -es to the singular form of the noun; some of the nouns though have irregular plurals
Word order
‘It’s night Saturday.’
Cross-association
-ing adjective instead of -ed adjective
‘I grew tired of reading and became very boring.’
Use of wrong final ending to form the adverb
‘he takes his lunch so quietful…’
Wrong quantifier
‘very much tourists’
Wrong indefinite pronoun
‘we don’t hear something’
- the pupils are not associating the right form to the right concept or function
 

Conclusions
Most students tend to lay stress on the acquisition of the meaning of words. All these have led to literal translations of some words and phrases from Romanian to English on the part of the learner. That is mother tongue interference. Therefore, it is high time the students changed their ways of acquiring English vocabulary.
As discussed at the beginning of our research, the negative transfer as demonstrated in writing is a reflection of the difficulty that the students encounter in Second Language Acquisition. The error transfer suggests that the learners are confused about the essential differences between those forms or structures that they think to be similar within the two languages. Moreover, results from error transfer indicate that the subjects have reported to have difficulty, to some degree, in telling cross-linguistic differences. Therefore, some information about contrastive studies of the two languages is needed so as to help students to see more clearly some of the problems they encounter.
Intralingual errors still play a significant role in students’ writing. Overgeneralization, ignorance of rule restriction, incomplete application of rules is due to students’ poor command of grammar structures. In the basic stage, students should focus their energy on the grammar courses.
By the quantitative analysis of IL errors from the dimension of grammatical rules and error source, the frequency and distribution of IL errors have mainly been scrutinized. This process led us find what kind of IL errors influence IL development. Accordingly we have given some suggestions on the knowledge of second language acquisition. The major findings of this study can be summarized as follows:
a. After three years of study only four students are in their ‘systematic stage’, five are in a transitional stage between ‘systematic stage’ and ‘emergent stage’ and the rest are in an ‘emergent stage’.
b. Interlingual errors are committed most often by this group of intermediate English learners. We can infer that the interference of mother tongue still play a significant role in these students’ language system.
c. Apart from native language interference, target language interference affects the acquisition of the foreign language seriously.
d. Students should be exposed more to English because there is a long way for them to reach the final stage – the stabilization stage.
However, the study is limited in the following aspects. Firstly, due to the time and difficulty in analyzing IL errors, the number of samples collected is somehow limited. Secondly, in the process of categorizing interlingual and intralingual errors, some sources identified maybe overlapping with each other, i.e. some errors maybe attributed to two or more sources.

Bibliography

Ellis, R., 1999, Understanding Second Language Acquisition, Oxford University Press, pg. 6
Selinker, L., 1972, Interlanguage, International Review of Applied Linguistics, pg. 201
Nemser, W., 1971, Approximate systems of foreign language learners, International Review of Applied Linguistics, pg. 9
Corder, S.Pit., 1971, Idiosyncratic dialects and error analysis, International Review of Applied Linguistics, pg. 151
Hubbard, P., Jones, H., Thornton, B. and Wheeler, R., 1996, A Training Course for TEFL, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pg. 135-141
Brown, H., 1994, Principles of Language Learning and Teaching, Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall Regents, pg. 208
Selinker, L., 1974, ‘Interlanguage’. In Richards, J. (Ed.), Error analysis: Perspectives on Second Language Acquisition, Essex: Longman, pg. 35
Fries, C., 1945, Teaching and learning English as a foreign language, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, pg. 213
Odlin, T., 2001, Language Transfer: Cross-linguistic influence in language learning, Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press, pg. 9
Corder, S. Pit., 1967, The significance of learners’ errors, International Review of Applied Linguistics, pg. 17
Brown, H. 1994, Principles of Language Learning and Teaching, Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall Regents, pg. 214
Richards, J., 1974. ‘A Non-Contrastive Approach to Error Analysis’, in Richards, J. (Ed.), Error analysis: Perspectives on Second Language Acquisition, Essex: Longman, pg. 172
Brown, H., 1994, Principles of Language Learning and Teaching, Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall Regents, pg. 204
Ellis, R., 1995, Understanding Second Language Acquisition, Oxford: Oxford, University Press, pg. 51
Carl, J., 2001, Errors in Language learning and Use: Exploring Error Analysis, Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, pg. 129
Fries, C., 1945, Teaching and learning English as a foreign language, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, pg. 214

Richards, J., 1971, A non-contrastive approach to error analysis, English Language Teaching Journal, pg 175-187
Brown, H. D., 2002, Principles of Language Learning and Teaching, Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, pg. 204
 

                                                           

 

Stereotyped Identity and Media Literacy. Towards Globalized Communication and Uniformity
by Gabriela Pachia, M.A., Colegiul Naţional Bănăţean, Timişoara



Key words: advertising slogans, awareness, critical thinking, deconstructivism, identity, media literacy, stereotypy, TEFL



“Intelligence is programmed to engender dissimilarities.”
Francesco Alberoni

Due to the distressing ever-increasing number of signs in our modern / postmodern world, today’s students should become aware of the impact semiotics has upon all spheres of life / popular culture, so as to properly decode the variegated messages sent through multimodal ways of communication. Globalization, including immigration, has engendered a new concept – “multiliteracies” – which implies the teaching / the acquiring of representations of meaning, i.e. linguistic, visual, audio, spacial, gestural, and multimodal (The New London Group, 1996). Besides becoming acquainted with signs / icons and codes, students should develop their critical thinking, alongside producing / communicating meaning.
“Media literacy is an expanded conceptualization of literacy” (wiki) which involves the changes in communication due to the new multimedia technology and the social / cultural conditions, the term being interchangeable with the concepts of “media education”, “media study”, “critical-mindedness”, being also related to “semiotic literacy”, “information literacy”. “Media literacy is the skill of experiencing, interpreting / analyzing, and making media products” (WorSi). Nowadays, being literate means being able to “decode, understand, evaluate and write through, and with, all forms of media, read, evaluate and create text, images and sounds, or any combination of these elements. In other words, literate individuals must possess media literacy as well as print literacy, numeral literacy and technological literacy” (BarL). Media literacy consists of “examining the techniques, technologies, and institutions involved in media production; being able to critically analyze media messages; and recognizing the role audiences play in making meaning from those messages” (SheW, 9). Media literacy strives “to empower citizens and to transform their passive relationship to media into an active, critical engagement – capable of challenging the traditions and structures of a privatized, commercial media culture, and finding new avenues of citizen speech and discourse” (BowC, 22). Media education “is essentially active and participatory, fostering the development of more open and democratic pedagogues. It encourages students to take more responsibility for and control over their own learning, to engage in joint planning of the syllabus, and to take longer-term perspectives on their own learning” (Mas18).
While strongly asserting that “you can judge a person by the questions they ask”, we derive confirmation from a Chinese proverb: “One who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; one who does not ask a question remains a fool forever”. As an inquiry-based instructional model, media literacy facilitates understanding of the strengths and limitations of each medium, the “hidden” / subliminal layers connected with media ownership, ideological power, profit, propaganda, the biases of communication, misrepresentation / manipulation, censorship, independent media etc. By the active and critical consumption of the media, students gain awareness of the real and virtual worlds and identities continuously enforced upon them.

 


http://3.bp.blogspot.com

Deconstructivism plays an important part in a world of constructed messages which assume the identity of natural ones. Television is a powerful source of social learning, meant to shape attitudes, social and consumer behaviours, and people’s worldviews. Nevertheless, the critical study of televisual texts reveals standardization, the proliferation of hatred, violence, fear, cynicism, apathy, vulgarity / lowering of moral and educational standards, and consumerism. The same can be said about the press, the radio, films, the Internet, billboards, the so-called “new interactive media”, delivering advertisements, video games, globalized music etc. School should guide and support students in their investigation of the media. The most frequently targeted topics for “deconstruction” / “demystification” are portrayals of different groups of people (teenagers, masculinity, feminity, the family, the disabled, age groups, ethnic groups etc.), personal and societal values (e.g. health, entertainment, the environment), stereotypes, the disparity between the real and the media world, virtual communities, communication, the semiotics of linguistic signs, of images and sounds etc. Gradually, students participate as “knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities” (rwt).
As far as critical literacy is concerned, it has been defined as “[habits] of thought, reading, writing, and speaking which go beneath surface meaning, first impressions, dominant myths, official pronouncements, traditional clichés, received wisdom, and mere opinions, to understand the deep meaning, root causes, social context, ideology, and personal consequences of any action, event, object, process, organization, experience, text, subject matter, policy, mass media, or discourse” (Ira Shor, wiki). While becoming lifelong learners, students should use skills, resources, and tools for the following purposes: to inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge; to draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new areas of knowledge; to share knowledge, participate ethically and productively as members of a democratic society, protecting personal as well as social life; to pursue both personal and aesthetic growth. Consequently, the individual achieves lifelong empowerment as learner and citizen.
The most frequent questions regarding the media products arise from Lasswell’s definition of communication: ‘Who is the message intended for?’, ‘Why does it target a particular audience?’, ‘How is the message built?’, ‘From whose perspective is the story told?’, ‘What persuasive strategies does the message use to get attention and make people feel included?’, ‘Whose voices are heard, and whose are absent?’, ‘Where and when is the message delivered?’, ‘Which part of reality is shaded?’ etc. Media literacy incorporates three stages leading to media empowerment: becoming aware of the importance of managing one’s media ‘diet’ – that is, making choices and reducing the time spent with television, videos, electronic games, films and various print media forms”; “learning specific skills of critical viewing – learning to analyze and question what is in the frame, how it is constructed and what may have been left out”; “exploring” deeper social, political and economic issues, how “the mass media drive our global consumer economy”: “Who produces the media we experience – and for what purpose? Who profits? Who loses? And who decides?” (Tho3).
The modern globalized media are characterized by severe flaws: the permanence of entertainment in a society “conquered by communication” (B. Mičge), the replacement of knowledge by mere information, of substance by style, violence as the major form of entertainment, the trivialization and commodification of human relationships, complex alterities, “consumerist elites”, cosmopolitism, the hyperuse of technology without reflection or analysis. Global communication implies fast, spectacular and ambivalent processes: communication is a means of the individual’s emancipation as well as a means of controlling it. Ever more frequently, it is claimed that the “human condition” be rethought in the context of interculturalism / multiculturalism, of “netocracy”, from the point of view of conditionings, of the interactive feedback. Due to their transnational character, the mass media – the Internet in particular – have become the emblem of the globalized communication.
The openings towards alterity, the transgression of broders in communication, the positioning and interrelating in communication (MucAc, 75) involve the consciousness of identity. “Each identity requires the existence of the other in a relationship due to which its very essence is being actualized”; “the genuine human communication is founded on these entwined basic feelings: trust and the feeling that one’s value is acknowledged” (MucAc, 92; 246). Multicultural life is rendered possible by the individuals’ consciousness of the inestimable value of their identitary symbols, on condition that they intentionally participate in the intercultural dialogue, that they possess flexible thinking and place themselves within the unifying sphere of Meaning. The new identitary models imply: “the imitation of the European thinking model” as “the ideological ingredient of the globalizing processess” (ZăpE, 182); “a language, a universal means communication”, the internationalization of the vocabulary, “the languages which substantialize a people’s cultural specificity must surrender to one language, which nowadays is represented by the English language” (lingua franca – ZăpE, 184); the language of technology, of the computer; the resubiectivization of the individual by means of free choices; “a new kind of socialization, double-oriented, in order to entangle the ens in society structures while allowing society to enter into man’s soul (...) globalization and mondialization, if we change our way of being, should also change our way of thinking, of building ourselves” (ZăpE, 188).
The mass media largely contribute to “cultural dislocation / delocalization / relativization” (ZăpE, 180), although, apparently, they enjoy multifariousness. Paradoxically, “each culture arises from intermingling, interaction and confrontation. On the contrary, any civilization dies in isolation” (Octavio Paz); „Culture is not a luxury item, it is a necessity” (Gao Xingjian). The reasons for media consumption are as follows: “(1) information, (2) building personal identity, (3) integration and social interaction, (4) entertainment” (CSN, 236-237). By investigating the pragmasemantic / rhetoric aspectes of communication via women’s fashion magazines – customarily written in English, but issued in similar formats, with identical slogans, in many languages of the world –, we have identified the de-/reconstruction of identities (CSN, 9; RPref, 305), (linguistic and visual) connotative manipulation, anthropological mutations, «global» “creativity”, the reduction of cultural diversity, the inducement of identitary stereotypes with an obvious utopian character, the publicity messianism. The language of the fashion magazines – also characterized by the narcotizing dysfunction, i. e. apathy and inertness – is manipulatory, striving to annihilate the opposites, to give birth to the consumerist individual, to shape a unique – altered and fragmentaristic – perspective on the world. The stereotyped tools employed by mass media in order to belittle alterity include: “the corporal blackmail of identity”, VIPs, “the ubiquity” of woman’s body as “the most beautiful piece among consumer goods”, “the guided narcissism”, “the accumulation of the signs of happiness” (BauSc, 165; 185; 21); “idealized human beings” (DCom, 46-47); the involvement of emotions: “feelings are crucial” (GodLp, 73); “the subjugation of reasoning” (TaySc, 80), the association of the product with positive emotions, humour (DCom, 65), the ludic, “the pathos of smiling” (BauSc, 144; 207); intertextuality (DCom, 150); literary means / stylistic codes, superlativization; the sacralization of the product since “any object is sacralized for merely being manufactured” (BauSc, 51). The mass media industries achieve “communication as a conscientious transfer of ideas”, as well as of “mental landscapes / programmes” (BorSv, 60-66), leading to uniformity.
The 500 slogans / selling propositions selected from fashion magazines which primarily target women (Harper’s Bazaar, O, The Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Allure, Fitness, Glamour, W, Sparkle, Lucky, Wedding, Mademoiselle, Best, Platinum, Sexy Dresses, Fashion, Petra, You, In Style, Vanity Fair, Teen People, Modern Pride, Self, Seventeen etc.) reveal the generalization of the stereotype language – obviously the English language – in the publicity industries, the begetting of the standardized identity by means of constant reinvention. Accordingly, we have traced the following stereotypes:
1. The stereotyped vocabulary is relatively simple, repetitive, referring to typical thematic areas such as erotism, the parts of speech include the superlative degree of the adjective, the noun, the cardinal numeral, the verb in the imperative, the second person pronoun.
2. The standard thematic areas are: fashion, the human body, the lifestyle, love, beauty, cosmetics, health, sports, diets, tips for special events.
3. The advertising texts consist of noun phrases, simple sentences, while the compound and complex sentences are avoided.
4. Digits are atypical, shocking / “magic”.
5. The number of iconemes is reduced, constant reference being made to sacred / mythologizing elements: goddesses, the Paradise, the Bible, angels, princesses, Prince Charming, Satan, heroes, Wonderland, the Beauty and the Beast, proverbs / sayings.
6. The stylistic effects are few: plays upon words / puns, antonymy / paradox, alliteration, repetition.
5. The constant reference to the ego / VIPs creates the illusion of perfection.
6. Positive attitudes, glamour, comfort.
7. Consumerism is stimulated by the utopian imagine of reality / the self.
8. The fashion magazine titles resemble the slogans which advertise a brand.
9. The text redundancy and facility shape the feminine personality.
Some typical sets of titles / slogans exemplify woman’s standardized identity in the fashion magazines:
a. 1. Is Pop’s Reigning Princess Cut Out to Be Queen ?
2. Why Miami Is Trend Central ?
3. How to Dive Happily Into Life ?
4. Did She Have Plastic Surgery ?
5. Will Your Relationship Survive ?
b. 1. Let the Sun Shine In ! 50 ways to brighten your look
2. Look at Me ! 50 celebrities as they see themselves
3. Let a celeb dress you for your big day !
4. Get Slim, Gain Energy ! Banish Cellulite for Good !
5. Style Yourself like a Lucky Pro !
c. 1. The Secrets to Great Personal Style
2. The Fashion Bible
3. Celebrity Style Tricks
4. Chic Essentials
5. Mysteries of the Jewellery World
d. 1. Chic, Sexy, Cool : looking hot has never been easier
2. Fabulous at Every Age : Get Irresistible Lips !
3. Gorgeous Skin, Flawless Skin
4. Cute Looks : Astonishing but True : a Crash Diet
5. Happy and Rich : Money, Faith and Health
e. 1. 9 Love Lies Guys tell
2. 116 Fashion FindsYou’ll Love
3. 621 Ways to Update Your Look
4. 30 Beauty Boosters
5. Superstar Style : 16 fresh looks for day
f. 1. Best of the Best
2. Live Your Best Life : Very Best Fashion Choices
3. Fashion : Best of What’s New
4. Best Beauty Buys
5. Best Bag and Shoe
g 1. Be a Sun Goddess without the Sun !
2. Wonderland ! Ultimate Fashion Fairytale
3. The Pop Princess Grows Up
4. Belle of the Ball – a Modern Day Fairytale
5. An Angel’s Impact : Beauty and the Beast
h. 1. Get the thinnest hair, clearest skin, longest lashes
2. The Season’s Coolest Hair Cuts
3. Spring Hottest Colours – 100 Hottest Holiday Gifts
4. The New Supersexy Jeans
5. The Newest Wonder Skin Ingredient
i. 1. Oprah Does Lunch
2. Britney Spears : Nobody’s Angel
3. Meg Ryan Goes Sexy in Gucci
4. Christina Aguilera Finally Opens Up
5. Madonna: My Loves, My Stress
j. 1. 111 Perfect Gifts
2. Inside the Perfect Marriage
3. We Found Your Perfect Pair
4. The Perfect Hair for You
5. Perfect Skin Secrets
k. 1. Chic and Unique
2. Romance Returns
3. Like Mother, Like Daughter
4. Glorious Gifts for Every Person on Your List
l. 1. The Good Part Starts When Romance Ends
2. 39 Good Ways To Be a Little Bit Bad
3. Two Foolish Habits of Otherwise Smart People
4.The worst fight of your marriage could be the best thing you ever did together
5. Affordable Luxuries
m. 1. Glitter and Glow
2. Sparkling Eyes : Easy, Sexy Makeup
3. Dazzling Diamonds
4. Glamorous Christmas Gifts
5. Age Briliantly !
The message industry “induces thinking and behaviour stereotypes”, false needs (RGI, 37), with pernicious effects on the confused individual, forging the “unidimensional” man (Herbert Marcuse, 1964, Apud CSN, 178). The stereotype beliefs “are fixed in long-lasting «preconceived» patterns, that is they do not rely on the direct observation of phenomena but on ‘a priori’, routinized and often arbitrary ways of thinking, totally unrelated to the evaluated individuals or social groups” (Dsoc, 603). Mass media function so as “neutralize the unique exponential, evenimential character of the world, so as to replace the world with a multiple universe of homogeneous media which signify one another / send to one another. On the brink, each of them becomes the other’s content and vice versa – this is the totalitarian «message» of the consumerist society” (BauSc, 157). In spite of the critical attitude / media literacy we adopt towards the globalized communication, the patterns proliferated by mass media – particularly in the enticing realm of fashion – would rather lead us to uniformity.

BIBLIOGRAPHY / SIGLES:

Axtell, Roger E., Do’s and Taboos of Using English Around the World, New York, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1995.
Baron, Maureen, Literacy, Then and Now, in http://www.media awareness.ca (sigle:BarL).
Baudrillard, Jean, Societatea de consum. Mituri şi structuri, Bucureşti, Editura Comunicare.ro, 2005 (sigle: BauSc).
Bădescu, Ilie (coord.), Geopolitica integrării europene, Bucureşti, Editura Universităţii din Bucureşti, 2002.
Bono, Edward de, Gândirea laterală, Bucureşti, Editura Curtea Veche, 2006 (sigle: BonGl).
Borţun, Dumitru, Borşa, Teodor, Semiotica vizualului, Partea I: Semiotică, limbaj şi comunicare intelectuală, Bucureşti, Comunicare.ro, 2007 (sigle: BorSv).
Bowen, Wally, Citizens for Media Literacy, Asheville, NC, U.S.A, 1996 (sigle: BowC).
Ciocea, Malina, Securitatea culturală. Dilema identităţii în lumea globală, Bucureşti, Editura Tritonic, 2009.
Cope, B., Kalantis, M., (Eds.), Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures, London, Routlege, 2000.
Considine, D., Putting the ME in MEdia Literacy, in Middle Ground: The Magazine of Middle Level Education, No. 6, October, 2002, pp. 15-21.
Cuilenburg, J. J. van; Scholten, O.; Noomen, G. W., Ştiinţa comunicǎrii, Bucureşti, Editura Humanitas, 2004 (sigle: CSN, 9).
Dascălu, Doina, „Mesianismul publicitar”, in Anale – Seria Jurnalistică, Vol. XII, Universitatea „Tibiscus”, Timişoara, Editura Augusta, 2007, pp. 83-86 (sigle: DMes).
Dâncu, Vasile Sebastian, Comunicarea simbolicǎ. Arhitectura discursului publicitar, Cluj-Napoca, Editura Dacia, 2001.
Dicţionar de sociologie (Coord.: Cătălin Zamfir, Lazăr Vlăsceanu), Bucureşti, Editura Babel, 1998 (sigle: Dsoc).
Duncan, Barry et al., Media Literacy Resource Guide, Toronto, ON. Canada, Ontario Ministry of Education, 1989.
Duncan, Barry, Media Literacy Makes It Possible to See Both the Forest and the Trees, in http://www.media awareness.ca.
Goddard, Angela, Limbajul publicităţii, Iaşi, Editura Polirom, 2002 (sigle: GodLp).
Guéguen, Nicholas, Psihologia consumatorului. Factorii care ne influenţează comportamentul de consum, Iaşi, Editura Polirom, 2006 (sigle: GPc).
Hobbs, Renee, The Seven Great Debates in the Media Literacy Movement, in http://www.media awareness.ca.
Kellner, Douglas, Cultura media, Iaşi, Institutul European, 2001, Preface by Adrian Dinu Rachieru (sigle: KCul / RPref).
Kluver, Randy, Globalization, Informatization and Intercultural Communication, in http://www.globalresearch.ca.
Masse, M. A., Rosenblum, K., Male and Female Created They Them: The Depiction of Gender in the Advertising of Traditional Women’s and Men’s Magazines, in Women’s Studies International Forum, No. 11 (2), 1988, pp. 127-144.
Masterman, Len, 18 Principles of Media Education, in http://www.media awareness.ca (sigle: Mas18).
Moore, T.E., Subliminal Advertising. What You See Is What You Get, in Journal of Marketing, No. 46/2, 1982 (sigle: MoSu).
Mucchielli, Alex, Arta de a comunica. Metode, forme şi psihologia situaţiilor de comunicare, Iaşi, Editura Polirom, 2005 (sigle: MucAc).
Mucchielli, Alex, Arta de a influenţa. Analiza tehnicilor de manipulare, Iaşi, Editura Polirom, 2002.
Petre, D., Iliescu, D., Psihologia reclamei şi a consumatorului. Psihologia reclamei, Bucureşti, Editura Comunicare.ro, 2005.
Pratkanis, A. R. ; Aronson, Elliot, Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion, New York, W. H. Freeman, 2001.
Rachieru, Adrian Dinu, Globalizare şi cultură media, Iaşi, Institutul European, 2003 (sigle: RGl).
Rad, Ilie, Stilisticǎ şi mass-media. Aspecte ale experienţei jurnalistice, Cluj-Napoca, Editura Excelsior, 1999 (sigle: RSmm).
Rǎşcanu, Ruxandra, Psihologie şi comunicare, Bucureşti, Tipografia Universitǎţii, 2002 (sigle: RǎşPc).
Rusu, Horaţiu, Schimbare socială şi identitate socioculturală, Iaşi, Institutul European, 2008.
Shepherd, Rick, Why Teach Media Literacy, in Teach Magazine, Toronto, ON, Canada, Quadrant Educational Media Services, October / November, 1993 (sigle: SheW).
Tallim, Jane, What Is Media Literacy, in http://www.media awareness.ca.
Taylor, Kathleen, Spălarea creierului. Ştiinţa manipulării, Bucharest, Paralela 45 Publishing House, 2007 (sigle: TaySc).
Thoman, Elizabeth, The 3 Stages of Media Literacy, in http://www.media awareness.ca (sigle: Tho3).
Toffler, Alvin, Consumatorii de cultură, Bucureşti, Editura Antet, 1997 (sigle: ToffCons).
Worsnop, Chris, Media Study, Media Education or Media Literacy?, in http://www.media awareness.ca.
Worsnop, Chris, Screening Images: Ideas for Media Education, Mississauga, ON. Canada, Wright Communications, 1994 (sigle: WorSi).
Zăpârtan, Liviu, Este globalizarea ideologizabilă? (Sarmalele cu mămăliguţă şi globalizarea), in JSRI , No.5 / Summer 2003, pp. 178-196 (sigle: ZăpE).
Zeca-Buzura, Daniela, Veridic.Virtual.Ludic. Efectul de real al televiziunii, Iaşi, Editura Polirom, 2009.
http://3.bp.blogspot.com
http://www.consumerpsychologist.com
http://www.en.wikipedia.org/media literacy (sigle: wiki)
http://www.flickr.com
http://www.media awareness.ca
http://www.readwritethink.org/lessons (sigle: rwt)
http://www.tylerlee.net/magcovers
http://www.wisdomquotes.com
 

  Amazing Europe. A Joint Project on European Citizenship

by Dana Barczak, C.N. "Mihai Eminescu", Botoşani

Keywords: European identity, partnership, customs, questionnaire, local authorities  

What is Europe? A system of systems, a living entity enriched by differences and burdened by discrepancies? In 1692 William Penn in his Essay towards a Present and Future Peace of Europe, first mentioned the idea of a united Europe leaving aside the idea of a religious unity against the Turks. Since then philosophers, politicians, writers have tried to accomplish the difficult task of creating a real and functional European Union and we, the common people of today are working on it.

How? I truly believe that the future of this Union lies in schools where students learn about social, religious and cultural tolerance. Amazing Europe is a Comenius project whose aim is to promote European Citizenship and cooperation between participating schools. It started in 2008 and it lasts two years. There are schools from twelve countries of the EU: Portugal, the UK, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, France, Lithuania, Spain and Romania (“Mihai Eminescu” National College, Botosani). There are four general meetings in Portugal, the UK, the Netherlands and France and other bilateral ones.

The final goal is to involve schools and communities in the process of building a European identity based on the collaborative work of children, teachers, authorities so that we can have a real and functional European Union. We know from History that it takes years, sometimes generations in order to transform the concept into Reality and that is why such projects are useful and necessary.

On the 23rd of October 2008  “Mihai Eminescu” National College officially started the project entitled AMAZING EUROPE – ROMANIAN ROOTS FOR A EUROPEAN FUTURE.  We selected the team who would participate to activities. A questionnaire was filled and the students were divided into several workshops according to their abilities: the visual workshop, the pottery workshop, the literary workshop.

The first activity was entitled “Who We Are” and it was a short presentation of our country, county and school. Each school showed its presentation at the general meeting in Portugal. Then we continued with different contests for some Amazing Mascot and Logo . We tried to share our customs and traditions performing activities in which we explained the use of some specific items : Amazing Box, Amazing Folklore, Amazing Pictionary. The project continues with the bilateral exchanges. The Romanian team had a bilateral exchange with Spain and is going to have another one with Lithuania.

The time spent abroad by both teachers and students was fantastic: new experiences, new people and new points of view; everything had a purpose: to know each other, to accept each other and to learn from one another. We all have expectations but when reality surpasses them it is worth writing about it. This project has been such an experience for me.

At Easter we received our guests from Spain and we tried to make them remember certain orthodox traditions related to this important religious holiday. We went on several trips to Ipotesti, Vorona, Bran where our partners could see important aspects of our culture and civilization: dances, buildings, customs.

The second year of this project is entitled the European Cultural Memory year and it comprises activities related to cultural or historical events of important relevancy for local or national history. We will continue organizing chats between the students involved in the project; we will prepare a calendar with monuments related to historic events and some newsletters. We will also organize a debate on National and European Citizenship.

We are going to present the results of our work during the general meetings in the Netherlands and France, and we will have the bilateral exchanges with Lithuania.

The purpose is to involve as many students and teachers as we can because they will share their experience with the other members of the community spreading further the ideals which represent the foundation of this project.

We also tried to involve the local authorities to explain the importance of such projects in future because these exchanges, these activities help the communities to accept the differences, to understand certain traditions and to feel part of the European Union.

 

 

 

 Second Language Learner vs  Second  Language  Teacher. Theory and Practice

 by dr.Anca-Mariana Pegulescu, inspector general pentru limba engleză, limba japoneză şi limba chineză, Ministerul Educaţiei, Cercetării şi  Inovării

           Languages represent a lifelong skill, they open up paths of communication and exploration,  they promote and make possible a broader cultural understanding.

          Romania, as a member of the European Union, has made its own the strategy that   has been decided through European documents and that imply at least three objectives: to improve the teaching and learning of languages, to ensure a standardisation system that will give students an international recognition for their language  skills and to increase the number of languages studied(at least two foreign languages are supposed to be used communicatively, besides the mother tongue).That is why we have to start from the idea that languages are really for all and current blockages in the system can be dealt with.

          There are a few questions to which   answers can be given:

 Q:. WHO is the second language learner?  A: Children/pupils, students or adults.

 Q: WHERE does the learning happen?       A: In school/college, on playground (‘picking it up’) or at a workplace. They can learn a highly localized language (becoming insiders in a local speech community) or the language can help them to produce communication at a region level, for economic development and public life.

           Among different perspectives and priorities, second language researchers have   retained three directions:  

·        the linguistic perspective, concerned with modelling language structures and  processes within the mind;

·        the social psychological perspective, concerned with modelling individual differences among learners and their implications for eventual learning success;

·        the  socio-cultural perspective, concerned with  learners as social beings and members of social groups and networks.

           WHAT about the teachers? They want in their turn make some use of theorizing and combining it with their own experience and their practice. They are, generally speaking,  open to changes but they may also be  reluctant to the ‘usefulness’ of  recent  research on language learning.

          Teachers try to determine whether students have learned what has been taught;    teachers and researchers cannot read learners’ minds, they must infer what learners know by observing what they do.

           Researchers have observed and described what goes on in second language classrooms and retained two zones:

          a) natural acquisition context:

·        language is not presented step by step: the learner is exposed to a wide variety of vocabulary and structures;

·        learners’ errors are rarely corrected;

·        the learner is surrounded by the language for many hours each day(sometimes the language is simply overheard);

·        the learner encounters a number of people who use the target language proficiently;

·        learners observe or participate in many different types of language

events(exchanges of information, brief greetings, arguments, instructions at school or in the work place);

·        learners try to get  information and respond to questions across more proficient  speakers who tend to be tolerant of errors;

·        where many native speakers are involved in conversation, the learner may have difficulty getting access to language;

b)    structure-based instructional setting:

·        linguistic items are presented and practised in isolation(from

‘simple’ to what is ’complex’;

·        errors are frequently corrected; accuracy is given priority over meaningful interaction;

·        learning is limited to a few hours a week;

·        the teacher is often the only native or proficient speaker the student comes in contact with;

·        students experience a limited range of language discourse types; the most typical one is IRE(initiation/response/evaluation); the written language is selected to provide practice with specific grammatical features rather than for its content;

·        students often feel pressure to speak or to write the second language;

·        teachers often use the learners’ native language to give instructions or in classroom management events; using the target language, they tend to modify their language in order to ensure comprehension and compliance;

               Learning conditions may differ in terms of the physical environment, the age

    and the motivation of the students and many other variables. A very important aspect is the way the teacher organizes the class and  the principles that guide his/her teaching methods and techniques.

              In communicative and content-based instruction what is emphasized is the  communication   of meaning, both between teacher and students and among students in group or pair work. Grammatical forms are analysed in order to clarify meaning. In communicative instructional settings:

  • input is simplified, props and gestures are used;
  • there is a limited amount of error correction on the part of the teacher and meaning is emphasized over form;
  • learners have  opportunities to produce and respond to a greater amount and variety of language;
  • usually the teacher is the only proficient speaker but students can have more opportunities to use the target language;
  • stories, peer- and group-work, ‘authentic’ materials such as newspapers and television broadcasts can be used;
  • there is little pressure to perform at high levels of accuracy, there is greater emphasis on comprehension than on production (in the early stages of learning);
  • if students come from different language backgrounds, they may modify their language to communicate successfully;

 

          Classroom learning and teaching   cannot always prevent the occurrence of particular events and  behaviours  and cannot either impose too many  pre-planned frameworks and checklists. That is why learning and teaching are intermingled and cannot be evaluated but together. What we really need, now more than ever, is a clear vision   within  a  languages strategy.

 

REFERENCES

  

MYLES,F & MITCHELL, R, 2004    Second Language Learning Theories, 2nd edition, Hodder Arnold

LIGHTBOWN,P.M. & SPADA, N. 2006     How Languages   Are Learned, 3rd edition, OUP

 

 

Teaching Tolerance through English Summer Camp. Learning for the Summer Holiday

by Irina Cretu, English teacher and MATE member, School no. 13 Botosani  & Simona Petruc-Crihan ,English teacher and MATE member,  “Al. I. Cuza” School, Podu-Iloaei

 

 Keywords: peace camp, tolerance, understanding, English classes, teaching methods and strategies, outdoor activities.

 

It’s the 1st of August and we are already in Budapest waiting for someone to come and take us to Balatonlelle, a small town near Lake Balaton, where we will be staying for the next two weeks in a camp learning more about English.

When we were selected for this camp we thought it would be something good for our students because they had English classes and some outdoor activities that mean they have to speak in English from morning till night. And why not, something good for us teachers, due to the fact that we would learn something new about peace, tolerance, bullying and more.

But, we couldn’t imagine that we would be taught by two American teacher trainers, Drs. Mary Lou McCloskey and Lydia Stack who enlightened our minds and led our steps into discovering new powers of our inner selves. It was unbelievable because they spoilt us with so many gifts, precious books to use with our students back home, and they shared every little secret they knew about teaching, only one thing in various different methods. We participated in many activities and we used various teaching strategies, some of them that we had already used in classrooms, but when we saw them again explained by Mary Lou and Lydia they seemed totally different from what we had read in methodological guides. Furthermore, they encouraged us to do a certain activity for at least three times and then we can declare ourselves completely proud of our job. All the teaching strategies that we learned about were focused on cooperative learning (Pair-Share, Numbered Heads Together, Group Decision-Making), community-building (Index-Card life history, Group Identification activities, Uncommon Commonalities) and learning into, through and beyond reading (Reciprocal Teaching, Question-Answer Response, Jigsaw, Preview-Review).

This camp was a regional one because there were students from Croatia, Montenegro, Slovakia, Romania, Kosovo and the host country Hungary. Thus, the students had the chance to learn English and to learn about one another's culture, to work and play together.

All students had the chance to make new friends from different countries and to enjoy together the Frisbee tournaments, Hike and capture the flag, the Talent Show and the Campfire. There was no today like yesterday. Not to mention more about Lake Balaton, which was absolutely beautiful; we rested, laid in the sun and swam in the lake.

We had this chance thanks to U.S. Embassy Bucharest and the Regional English Language Office at U.S. Embassy Budapest, who covered all the expenses and to Mr.Gergő Santha, who interviewed us and came to Romania to meet us personally and to select the students for the camp.

We had never thought that we could do something to improve our English knowledge and have fun with the students at the same time in a foreign country, on the shore of a beautiful lake!

 

 

Unity in Diversity. The Role of English Classes in Shaping the Future European Citizen

by Cătălina-Ecaterina Burlacu, teacher of English, ”Ionel Teodoreanu” School, Iaşi

Key words: multicultural society, cultural diversity, interaction patterns, collaboration

 

Unity in diversity”, the official motto of the European Union is also one of the major guidelines in the teaching and learning processes. This statement should be part of our everyday activity, since we have the great mission to shape attitudes, behaviours, and personalities for a future Europe, and world as a whole. Tomorrow’s European citizens should be able to cooperate and establish a favourable dialogue with the others in a multicultural society! In order to reach this goal, all the factors providing education, namely teachers, parents and media, must build and promote a positive behaviour towards cultural and social diversity.

Before focusing on the development of the European citizenship, each of us should start by working at a lower level; to put it differently, first of all, our learners should accept their classmates, their deskmates, or their partners in a project before struggling to accept a foreign citizen. Building tolerance should start at a lower level. If we do not manage to make our learners tolerant with each other in a small group, it would be quite difficult to reach this goal at a higher level.

How can we build tolerance, acceptance and support among our learners? First of all, through pair or group work, and other activities implying cooperation, interaction, exchange of ideas and experiences. All these interaction patterns (even if they seem to be time consuming, difficult to manage and a great source of noise) are in fact a starting point in shaping the future citizen capable of dealing with current issues, such as multiculturalism, or cultural diversity. But, before accepting other cultures, we should accept ourselves, within the same culture. Through pair and group work (which are fashionable during the English classes, stimulating interaction and communication), our students learn to respect the others` ideas, opinions, feelings, conceptions and working styles. If we stress the importance of such attitudes from the very beginning, from early childhood, we are likely to have good results in “shaping the future European citizen”.

Besides the interaction patterns used in class, some other factors are of great importance. Teaching foreign languages does not imply only teaching grammar and conversation, but also making constant references to cultural aspects, customs, values, and ways of thinking, feeling and behaving, since language and culture are interconnected. When dealing with cultural diversity at this level, we assume that our learners have already accepted themselves as citizens of the same country, and now they are ready to behave properly at another level, accepting other foreign cultures too. They know how to deal with physical, racial, or religious differences at “local” or national level, and now they can accept “the other”. Being a teacher of a foreign language means promoting the other culture, including its culinary traditions, holidays, educational system, historical background, literature, arts etc. Teaching English without projecting yourself totally in that culture is like uttering half of a sentence in Romanian, and the other half in English. This is also valid for the European citizenship issue. We cannot model tolerant European citizens without exposing them to this cultural diversity. They should be aware of the existing cultural differences, without judging or labelling them as “inferior” to their own culture. In a United Europe, and in the world as a whole, we are all equal citizens, having the same rights and duties. Therefore, we should function as a single entity, as European citizens, despite the cultural diversity which differentiates us. Moreover, cultural differences should unify us, being like a source of intellectual, moral and spiritual richness.

To summarise, the first step is to make our students accept each other in their small learning community. Then, we should provide them with the necessary information regarding cultural diversity. Afterwards, they are exposed to a multicultural world, where they should be prepared to face and cope with diversity, without generating rejections or tensions. What we should insist on, as teachers, is the idea of tolerance, mutual respect and equality in diversity, be it at a lower lever (the classroom) or at a higher one (as European citizens). Maybe it sounds idealistic, but this is what we all should aim at: unity in diversity, a sense of oneness in a multicultural society at European level. The future European citizens are the today’s learners. Our duty is to guide them in their journey towards maturity, with the ultimate goal of being a European citizen in a culturally diverse society. All in all, education, and especially teaching languages, contributes to the development of the learner’s identity, communication abilities, openness, social integration and overall development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Using Video and DVD in the Classroom

by Gabriela Udrea, “Grigore Antipa” Highschool, Bacau


When somebody sees this title, the first question that comes to his/ her mind is “Why? Why should we use such modern devices? We learned English in a traditional way during our school years and it was ok.”
Well, the answers can be different:
- because it is more interesting;
- because it provides students with practical examples in their classroom;
- because it is good for the students to compare, to analyse (when referring to literature);
- because they can read and listen at the same time;
- because it is motivating; the students are more interested in such a lesson;
- because it stimulates them; it is a good opportunity to communicate, to express opinions, thoughts / experiences;
- because the teacher can emphasize pronunciation, accent;
- because it offers a complete context: facial expressions, body language, paralinguistic elements;
- because it is an opportunity to see, hear, comment an authentic material;
- because it offers cultural information.
All these reasons can determine a teacher to use such technology during the process of teaching a foreign language.

The activities that you (the teacher) choose have to be well contextualised – linguistically, culturally, thematically. You have to keep in mind some points: they have to be active, interesting and appropriate to your students’ age, with proper content. For example, you can watch a scene from a movie, an interesting English movie where good, clear, fluent English is spoken.
As pre-viewing tasks, you may have a short conversation starting form the title of the movie, you may ask them what this movie is about, what characters are there and so on. You may also present the vocabulary of the scene in sentences and stress the meaning of the word. You may revise different grammar problems: maybe the tenses, maybe modal verbs (probability, prediction), maybe the degrees of comparison of the adjectives. You have to watch the scene attentively and you have to choose the proper grammar problems presented there.
As while-viewing tasks, the students watch the scene carefully once, then you ask them some questions: what’s the situation?, why?, where does the action happen?, what are the characters’ names?, etc. After this short discussion you ask them to watch the scene once more and to pay attention to the language.
As post-viewing tasks, you can revise in this way some grammar problems, you may ask them to use certain words, you may ask them to write a report about what happened there, you may use role play in order to stress certain emotions, ideas, you may speak about characters using physical and moral description.
Other activities which can be done during this class may be:
- watching the scene with no sound (sound off): you ask the students to guess the situation, the intonation, different structures;
- listening to the dialogue (without seeing the screen): you ask the students questions about the scene they have just heard: what do you think he/she is wearing?, What’s her/his age?, how do you think he/she looks?, etc
The teacher doesn’t necessary have to choose a scene from a movie. He/she can use his/her imagination in this direction. The possibilities are various: interviews, cartoons, adverts.
The preparation of this type of lesson has to be well done, the tasks have to be clear, the time has to be properly used. Each activity has its own time. Do not use a lot of activities in one class because your students can be confused.

 


 

Drama for Everyone: Improvisation  and Personal Development

by Cristiana Faur, teacher of English, George Cosbuc National Bilingual College

 Key words: drama, improvisation, personal development, activity

Students of all ages are motivated to communicate more fluently and correctly in the target language, by introducing drama into the language curriculum. DRAMA can be considered as the thing done, the doing of life, the celebration of man.

Peter Slade, one of the a pioneers in the field of theatre for children, regards the concept of play in two different ways. He calls  PERSONAL  PLAY the trying out of life experiences, the experimenting with life around and self, the investigating experience ( such as playing the doctor), and PROJECTED PLAY, the playing out of fears, repressed desires, antisocial behaviour. In both cases the child experiences his way through a learning process

DRAMA can be used in any subject, not only as a separate curricular subject, it can become an educational medium, a teaching method, a learning technique. Drama can be used in English lessons, in teaching literaure, in drama clubs, in councelling.

The difference between education and drama in education lies within the fact that education tends to seek out SAMENESS in individual personalities (the thing which we can measure as common to everybody), whereas drama in education tends to go for and develop the DIFFERENCE in individual personalities, the individuality of the individual, the UNIQUENESS of each person (see Brian Way)

Drama should provide students with opportunities to reach new understandings and appreciation of self, others and the environment through imaginative dramatic experiences. Secondly, it can lead to a better communication of ideas and feelings through language, expression and movement, in real and imaginary contexts. Thirdly, drama develops confidence and self-esteem in the day-to-day interaction with others, as well as sensitivity towards the feelings, opinions and values of others through purposeful interaction.

All this will be demonstrated  by engaging the participants in a variety of improvisation activities. Improvisation refers to spontaneity or unprepared performance, a rehearsal technique and a tool for experimentation. We need to keep in mind the following: what our intention is, what we want to achieve, and how we are going to achieve it.

Improvisation means to provide the group with the opportunity to experiment, so we have to make sure that we give clear instructions and starting points in order to generate ideas, that the improvisation does not go on for too long, and that we help those less confident by sharing ideas and creativity in the field.

Through a series of activities students will develop an understanding of improvisation as a basis for dramatic intention, they will improve concentration, spontaneity, listening and speaking skills, and last but not least they will develop flexibility in movement and voice.

 

Example of activities:

1.      Asking and answering questions

Not as simple as we might think! Each person will ask one peson one question. The question must require a longer answer, not a yes/no one. The rule is that the person who answers must lie. The answer given must not be true.

2.      The Lawyer

The basic rules are:

·        Never speak when you are spoken to, leave the answer to the person on your left

·        Never say yes or no

·        Never repeat yourself

·        Don’t feel bad about lying

 3.      Let me help you!

Being grouped in a circle, one person goes to the centre of the circle and commences to perform an activity, for example speaking to an imaginary person. In a couple of seconds another person has to join the first one in the conversation. In a couple of moments, the first one goes back to the circle, and a third person joins the performance. This goes for as long as it is considered interesting.

 4.      Conflict role plays

·        Client and taxi-driver

·        Check-in-clerk and passanger

·        Teacher and student

·        Bar tender and client

·        Policeman and driver

·        Owner of a dog and owner of a cat

·        Headteacher and teacher

·        Husband and wife

This is a pair work. The two performers have to decide for themselves what the reasons of the conflict are, but they should not reveal them to each other before the performance. They must choose situations and reasons that contain a conflict. Through dialogue they must make the reasons of the conflict clear enough.

5.      Improvised play

·        Decide on action

·        Decide on characters

·        Decide on time and place

After you have drawn the general outlines, procede to interrogatories. Each person has to make clear who they are, what their role in this play is, what evolution they could follow. Then, start the play. It will be an improvisation!!!

Great Opportunities in Developing English Teaching Skills. Working with Peace Corps Volunteers

by Mona Talancă, Grupul Şcolar "Demostene Botez", Truşeşti

Keywords: Peace Corps volunteer, Peace Corps counterpart, methods and tips on teaching English, steps to follow in applying, cultural exchange.

        There are many opportunities for teachers of English to improve their experience and knowledge, but unfortunately we don’t always find out about them. This is why I have decided to write a short article about my experience as a Peace Corps volunteer’s counterpart.

          I found out by accident 3 years ago about an American organisation named Peace Corps which  places American volunteers throughout the world, including Romania, for 2 years. I searched for more information about them and I immediately saw a chance for me and my students to step into a new world, that of working with a native speaker of English. I didn’t waste a minute and applied for a volunteer, although I wasn’t very hopeful, since I teach in a village and there were mostly cities and towns that applied for it. But fortunately we were lucky enough to be selected so....after only 3 months we received a phone call and we found out that we were one of the chosen schools. They told me I had to go bring my volunteer to site in 2 months!!! I couldn’t believe how fast it went. I had applied in February and I met my volunteer in July.

         The next step was to go to Ploiesti (where the volunteers had been trained for 6 weeks before our arrival) and meet them. We stayed there for 3 days, during which we were also trained about how to help the volunteer integrate in the community, what having a volunteer implies, etc. After the 3 days, we brought our volunteer to the site for a short visit (2 days) and then, she went back to Ploiesti and returned on July 30th.

         That’s when our great adventure started. Our volunteer’s name was Tory Shanklin, she was 23 and she came from Alaska. Her goal in Trusesti was to share with us everything she knew and to help us without asking anything in return. The only thing we had to do was pay for her rent.

         We exchanged teaching techniques, we discussed about the differences between the American and the Romanian school systems, we organised study camps (Outward Bound Sovata) and big parties( Halloween). She told me about a very popular contest that they have in the United States – Spelling Bee, so we had a Romanian Spelling Bee contest which I am planning on organising again this year, because the students were absolutely thrilled with it. She also did adult classes for free, since there were people within the community who wanted to study English.

         In December we had to go to Miercurea Ciuc for another three days’ training, and there we discussed topics like Creativity, Classroom management and Critical thinking.

         In her second year, Tory got a lot of donations from America for our school, such as books, games, balls, crayons, markers, scissors, chalk, glue, toys and even money. She also helped us organise a Students’ Council, which was not very common for secondary schools.

         The biggest thing we achieved was an Ecological Project which brought to our community 5000 dollars that we used to create green spaces in Trusesti, we planted flowers and trees and we bought benches and everything we needed in order to create the green space.

         The 2 years passed by really quickly and she had to leave. Everybody, especially the students, were very sad, because she had become a part of the community, one of us, and we were used to having an American volunteer among us. Which is why i decided to try again and make another project for the Peace Corps. So, in February, this year, I applied again hoping that luck would be on our side again. And it was! In July I went to Targoviste this time and I met my second volunteer, a sweet 23 year-old girl named Sarah Bussee. She is from Wisconsin and she came here with the same goal, to do her best in helping people that need her. She was a bit afraid in the beginning, because it’s inevitable for people and students to compare her with the first volunteer, but step by step, people understood that she is a different person and  they should not compare her with Tory. She came on site for a short visit in July and then, in August she actually began her life as a „trusesteanca”.

         Even though she’s only been here for 3 months, she has already done a lot, from getting materials from America to organising a big party for Halloween. She is also planning on going on with the adult classes, if there are people who show their interest in doing this.

         So, that was my experience until now as a Peace Corps counterpart and I have learnt a lot of things, the most important being the huge cultural differences, the way they teach students and how the school system works in America, and, as a result, i changed my view on theaching, i discovered new methods and tips, such as:

·         I found out that stickers work like magic with the kids, you should try it! Buy some stickers and use them in the classroom, you will see that even the most rebelious student will do his homework on time and behave if he knows he’ll get his sticker (and trust me, it works even with the 7th or 8th graders if you find the right stickers, of course!);

·         Play games everytime you get the chance, even a short 5 minutes game will make wonders. There’s a really easy one and you don’t need any materials except chalk and the blackboard and you can use it in order to check new words or whatever you need. I am going to give you an example, let’s say....for checking numbers: I write on the board the numbers randomly and two students start the game . They come to the blackboard and when I say the number, they have to put their hand on it. The fastest wins and he gets to choose the next classmate who is going to compete with him and so on. You can also use this game with words, writing the words in English on the board and telling them the words in Romanian, or with tenses, telling them a sentence and they would have to put their hand on the right tense on the board, etc.

·         Make evaluation fun in order to eliminate the stress, try to think about ways of testing them that are different from what they are used to. A really great method that I use is the auction. I write sentences with the structures they studied on a sheet of paper but I also include some wrong sentences (structures) and they have to bid only for correct sentences.

·         Make contests, invent contests for whatever, they are crazy about them.

        The list can continue because there are many things that you can learn from your volunteer and -as you can see- it is not very difficult to get one, but you need to know a few things before you decide whether or not you are going to apply for one.

Here are the steps you need to follow, in case you decide to apply:

       1.  First of all, talk to the people in your school and find out if they can afford paying for the volunteer’s rent. This is all you need to provide, because they receive from the Peace Corps a small salary in order to be able to live like a Romanian (pay their utilities, buy food, etc.)  

      2. Identify a mentor in your community (somebody else than the counterpart) who is going to help them integrate better (introduce him/her to people,  show them where to pay the utilities, tell them about Romanian customs, what is polite or rude in our country, etc.)

      3. Find an application (just type Peace Corps Romania on google and you’ll find it).

      4. Make a good description of your school and community, their needs and what having a volunteer would mean for the people there.

      5. Fill in the application by February and send it to Peace Corps.

      6. You will receive a visit from the Peace Corps in your school in March or April, to see if your school is eligible.

      7. In May, you will receive a phonecall from Peace Corps and they will tell you if you got accepted or not.

      8. The counterpart will be invited to a conference in July to meet the volunteer and bring him/her at site for a short visit(2 or 3 days).

      9. The volunteer goes back for another 2 or 3 weeks of training and then returns to the site ready to start their activity.

         That’s all! Enjoy your volunteer!

Copyright © Romanian Association of Teachers of English             ISSN 1844 – 6159                       Edited by Ovidiu Aniculaese