RATE ISSUES WINTER / 2011  

In this issue:
 

ISSN 1844 – 6159

Editor's Notes:

There was a time when the old ruled with an iron fist.  What they had done in their days of glory, what they believed and what they despised all made up a model that squashed creativity and stifled challenge to the establishment. Now, we are obviously not there anymore; but have we jumped out of the frying-pan into the fire?

It seems as if we are living under the tyranny of the young now.  Graying people everywhere feel compelled to wear shredded jeans, torture their body to make it retain some appearance of youth and quietly yield all public space in shame at their obsolescence. Young people justify excesses and wrong-doing by some apparent imperative to make the best of youth, since whatever follows is not even worth living.

This is the context in which teachers, inevitably older, deal with their teenage students and it does not fail to leave its mark in the classroom. Many teachers today lack the courage to challenge the youth code: with a quiet grin, they walk down the school corridors bombarded with loud mindless music, they desperately pay lip service to partying and explicit sexuality. All this time, teenagers naturally look around for role models and opinion shapers and find nothing but television, with even more adrenaline shots and less patience for age-old values. Where have the Teachers gone?


Ovidiu Aniculăese, Colegiul Naţional "A.T. Laurian", Botoşani

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 Teaching Translation: A Theoretical and Methodological Approach
by Camelia Barbu, Colegiul National ‘Ienachita Vacarescu’ Târgovişte


Keywords: accuracy, juxtaposition, extratextual factor, intertext, intersemiotic translation, elicitation, creativity, communicative approach.

At a brief glance at the history of teaching foreign languages, translation has either been accepted or rejected, depending on prevailing objectives or orientations. After initial disregard, being considered uncommunicative and focusing purely on accuracy, there is now a fresh support for translation in communicative approaches, as it is only translation that can at times offer an exact rendition of the original meaning.
Translation as an act of creation
To begin with, I consider translation to be an additional art of creation, a complement to the original text, like a mirror. It is just like juxtaposing two different worlds and finding the common element, like looking at oneself in the mirror, seeing the same image, almost identical, but not the same self or entity. This could be considered one of the shortcomings of translations in general, but it is here that the real art of translation emerges, finding the almost perfect equivalence. Actually, the translator does not look for an absolute correspondence, there being none, he actually expresses the same reality:
’A real translation is transparent; it does not cover the original, does not black its light, but allows the pure language, as though reinforced by its own medium to shine upon the original all the more fully.’(Venuti 20)
I do not regard translation as a text, but as a piece of art, maintaining a relationship with the original source. Any translator should have an action-oriented view-point, perceiving the atmosphere, in permanent communicative interaction with the original. What is important is to invariably take into account the relationship between the author’s intention, text function and its significance for translation. Therefore, I consider that the starting point in every translation should be the theoretical background, the context, the extratextual factor.
Such an analysis is indispensable, and every translator should look for the appropriate information with a view to comprehending the message. If comprehension is attained, the pathway to a good translation lies open before one’s eyes. The translator should be the intertext, if I may say so, between the two worlds.
Types of translations
Trying to look into the nature of translation, I have come across Roman Jakobson’s classification of translations, quoted by Susan Bassnett.
Thus, there are three types of translations:
Intralingual translation, or rewording (an interpretation of verbal signs in the same language).
Interlingual translation or translation proper (an interpretation of verbal signs by means of another language).
Intersemiotic translation or transmutation (an interpretation of verbal signs by means of signs of non-verbal sign systems.
Only a creative transposition is possible and the translator should:
‘Operate criteria that transcend the purely linguistic, and a process of decoding and recoding should take place.’(Bassnett 22)
I obviously go for the third orientation, the semiotic one and I have always considered that the greatest of all errors of judgment in a translation is to translate words, not complex images, which is what I often highlight to my students.
The structure of the text
The structure of the text is constituted as a hierarchic composition, a relationship between the part and the whole, just like the bricks that make up a building. Every element can be said to have a rhetorical function, being in intrinsic and discursive relationship with other elements. It is very important to identify the sequence of elements that make up the text. In my attempt to translate or interpret a translation, it is of prime importance to comprehend and recreate this hierarchy of sequences, in a pecking order, from the simple to the complicated aspects. It is important for me to understand the context and the text in its entirety. It is as if one tried to dismantle a toy or jumble a text and then went on to make up a new entity, yet having the same functions and connotations. It is a rephrasing attempt in a different language with no fine elements being lost on the way.
Connotative and expressive lexis
Secondly, as suggested by Andrei Bantaş, the peculiarities of connotative, expressive lexis are of great importance, it can be different as to time and space, which can be reflected in the text. Also, an accurate translation of similes and idioms requires perfect linguistic parallelism, and it is here that the translator’s suggestive abilities intervene. In this respect, the beginning of a novel can be the key to its interpretation and comprehension. The way the author introduces the figures and the setting of the plot provide the foundation for the comprehension of the whole text. Therefore, a minute analysis of the first chapters should be the first step in translating a novel. Another aspect I will consider is sentence structure which reflects the different functions of the text as well as certain variations of the language, or register.
Psychological factors and the desired effect
Thus, corroborating extratextual factors with lexis and sentence structure, a translator should then concentrate on the analysis of the effect, which is genuine when the reader regards the plot as authentic, thus producing the desired effect:
‘The task of the translator consists in finding the intended effect upon the language into which he is translating which produces in it the echo of the original.’(Venuti 18)
Yet, according to Andrei Bantaş:
‘There are many psychological factors involved in the identification of the main features of a text. Firstly, it is the ability to identify the type of text, according to its internal structure and secondly, it is the capacity to analyse the ensuing development of the text, alongside its internal structures.’ (Bantaş 63)
Following these principles, Andrei Bantaş then states that a translator should take several steps:
1. To identify the various perceptions in space (description);
2. To identify the perceptions in time ( narratives);
3. To comprehend the general concepts through a thorough analysis and synthesis (exposition);
4. To evaluate the relationships between concepts by comparing and contrasting
(argumentation);
5. To plan (instructions); (Bantaş 63)
Thus, the translator has to understand the sense and meaning of the original work, avoiding literal and mechanic renditions, giving a complete transcript of the idea of the original, in keeping with the same style, tone, atmosphere, making it flow at ease. This is what a teacher should aim at, trying to create a pathway to translation, as I consider that what a good teacher should do so as to ensure solid feedback from her students is to create the sound premises of a good final product, since a translation is not an isolated artifact but a conglomeration of joint activities, culminating with the production, the translation itself.
One should focus on the preliminary stages of a translation, as it is essential to ensure one has the premises of a process and only then to get down to applying it...
Any methodological approach should pinpoint the three main coordinates of a good translation, which are: context, text and teaching. In no way can one aspect exist without the other, they are inseparable.
What’s more, through eliciting, modelling and drilling, a teacher will ensure the proper conditions of doing a good translation. In my opinion, the context is the elicitation of the external factors, the text is the model and the teaching is drilling and drilling.
The result will obviously be a good translation. It is as simple as that, provided a good knowledge of the aspects involved exists on both sides.
The grammar translation practice should alternate with communicative, interpersonal and imaginative contexts, declining to use the purely grammar-translation approach with isolated sentences, thus trying to have the students discover the text and its secrets, mostly employing the PPP (presentation, practice, production) orientation.
Preliminary practice would be most appropriate, consisting of exercises such as reading comprehension questions, antonyms, synonyms, paraphrasing, deductive application of rules, fill in exercises, memorization, using words in sentences, guided composition or independent sentences to translate.
Thus, these exercises develop the communication and knowledge of ideas and details, involving vocabulary structures and providing practice.
The vocabulary area should be reasonable as to the students’ level having been controlled so as to ensure a systematic gradation from simple to complex items. Illustrations should also be made use of, in order to create favourable atmosphere and stimulate creativity.. After all, every piece of work is just a glimpse of the ‘opera aperta’.
Bibliography
1. Bantaş, Andrei, and Elena, Croitoru – Didactica Traducerii – Editura Teora, 1999.
2. Bassnett, Susan, Translation Studies, Routledge, 2002.
3. Venuti, Lawrence, The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation Book, Routledge, 1995.
4. Venuti, Lawrence, The Translation Studies Reader – Routledge, 2000.
5. Carter, Ronald, and Long, Michael, The Web of Words – Exploring Literature Through Language, Cambridge University Press, 1998.
6. Gerngross, Gunter, Puchta, Herbert, and Thornbury, Scott, Teaching Grammar Creatively, Helbling Languages, 2006.
7. Lazar, Gilian, Literature and Language Teaching, Cambridge University Press, 1993.
8.. Rinvolucri, Mario, and Berer, M, Challenge to Think. Helbling Languages. 2006

 

 

 iSLCollective.com – A Free Resource Bank Built By You

by Péter László


Keywords: worksheets, material developers, community, YouTube

It was in 1927 that TIME magazine first chose the “Person of the Year,” a title bestowed by the editors on the person or persons who most influenced the news and our lives, for better or worse, and embodied what was important about the year. Roosevelt, Einstein, Stalin, Pope John Paul II, Martin Luther King, Jr. - to name but a few of the personalities featured on the cover. Five years ago, however, there was no actual living person on the front page. In 2006 "You" was chosen as TIME magazine's Person of the Year.

TIME recognized You and the millions of people who contribute user-generated (=original) content to Wikipedia, YouTube, IMDB, Facebook, the GNU/Linux operating system and the multitudes of other websites accepting user contribution. Through your photos, music, videos, blog posts and articles You are indeed changing the world. Insignificant on their own, the minute contributions together may add up to tremendous value, like we have seen with the supersonic growth of Wikipedia’s knowledge pool. Never before have you enjoyed such freedom to publish yourself, your life and interests as in the age of the “social” web. But have you explored the new possibilities of publishing in relation to your profession? If not, let me give you an idea where to start.

iSLCollective.com – A Free Resource Bank Built By YOU
If you sometimes browse the net for printable worksheets to jazz up your course book-based class, you might have come across the website “iSLCollective.com.” The site is home to the “Internet Second Language Collective,” an online initiative we started for language teachers in Fall 2009 to give you a platform to share your self-made teaching materials with other colleagues. All printables are submitted in editable MS Office formats (doc/docx/ppt/pptx) allowing for easy adaptation for your classes, and can be downloaded free of charge. Besides ESL teachers, the platform also welcomes German (DAF), French (FLE), Spanish (ELE), and soon, Russian teachers on the respective sections of the site.

After a quick and painless registration taking about 30 seconds, you are logged in right away ready to download resources from the ESL section hosted at http://en.islcollective.com. (for the sake of convenience, we just like to call every type of uploaded printable ‘worksheet’). There is a broad variety of worksheet types submitted, e.g. picture dictionaries, role plays, readings with discussion questions, vocabulary games, grammar guides and drills, song lyrics with gap filling exercises, ice breakers and warmers, flashcards, etc. The materials can be searched on the main page using one or a combination of our seven search categories: Level, Student type, Grammar and Vocabulary focus, Skill (reading, speaking, etc.), Material type (games, grammar drills, etc.), and “with or without solution.”

Editors vs The Community
Resource sites are nothing new and there is a slew of great ESL websites with free materials online. However, we wanted a different website which is not filled with content by editors, but rather by English teachers who collaborate to create what we hope will become the largest free resource bank on the internet for language teachers. We believe if teachers contribute their talent, ideas and materials, something unique will arise. Imagine a one-stop website where you can find great teaching materials for any topic, eliminating the need to spend hours poring through a multitude of websites when you need something for your next class.

Copyright of Authors - Creative Commons
When they upload, authors retain their intellectual rights. You can assign Creative Commons licenses to each of your uploads letting others know what exactly they can and cannot do with your work. Every license says “I created this, give me attribution (=credit) for the work I did.” When selecting the specific license, the basic choices are: Is commercial use allowed or not? Can one make derivate works, versions, adaptations, or not? And does one have to share alike, i.e. pass on the worksheet with the same license to the next person? Basically, Creative Commons licenses enable you to change your copyright terms from “All Rights Reserved” to “Some Rights Reserved,” which is important because it allows for wider use in education. Our default license (which can be changed) is an “Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike” license, which lets others download your worksheets and share them with others as long as they mention you and avoid using them for commercial purposes. They may also adapt and build upon your work, but have to use the same license as this one.

Why Contribute?
By the end of July the Internet Second Language Collective had about 3-4000 daily visitors and 37.000 registered users, who had contributed over 8000 worksheets, about 30-40 every day. One might wonder why teachers would contribute their resources without being financially compensated? After all, unlike with many other media, such as blog posts or home videos, we are talking about long hours of work behind most worksheets, which is a heavy investment. Yet, as our experiment has shown, teachers do have the necessary motivation to share with others. This motivation is very simple: altruism, wanting to do something good for each other. There is a message in this. Contributors are willing to share because sharing is rewarding. It is rewarding as there is the underlying realization that even a small contribution can go a long way.

Amateur Material Developers
This is what I find so remarkable about today’s new possibilities of publishing. In our times even those can publish their work and make a meaningful contribution who have only one worksheet to share. Back in the day their small contributions - insufficient to come to the attention of publishers – would never have gone published, but today they can be uploaded with a click of a button, and become useful to other teachers surfing the web (now often referred to as “web 2.0,” “social web,” “read/write web” or “participatory web.”

Some scoff at the idea of amateurs assuming the role of material developers, unwilling to subscribe to the “cult of the amateur,” but looking at the materials on the web I am convinced that not getting a paycheck as a professional employee does not put you outside the club of talented creators. On the contrary, some famous blogs have been elevated to the prestige of traditional print media (See http://techcrunch.com for techies and entrepreneurs), or some singers have risen to fame through YouTube, e.g. 10-year-old Heather Russell, whose mother posted a video clip of her singing it on YouTube, where it became an internet sensation. Similarly, we are learning the names (or screen names) of some English teachers who are getting ever wider recognition for their amazing teaching materials published on the web.

Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, the renowned authors of Wikinomics call the internet users of our age “prosumers” signifying that we have stepped out of the confines of being mere consumers of content, and became amateur publishers. The world wide web has become a more democratic medium that makes it easier for talents to show themselves to the world.

Surely, not everyone is participating in collaborative projects. In fact, it is fewer than 2% of Wikipedia’s users who ever contribute, yet this 2% has been enough to make Wikipedia a household name. On iSLCollective it is around the same percentage of users, 2.7% to be precise, who are post their own worksheets.

“Publish-Then-Filter”
As a full time ESL teacher in Xantus High School in Budapest, Hungary my days are very busy, so I would not have time to go through each upload, check them for quality, and select what is worthy of publishing. Luckily, it is needless anyways. What we do is the same as other sharing platforms do. It is called the “Publish-then-filter” principle, which means all materials are uploaded for the public to see, and users download what they think is useful. By downloading they basically “vote” on the valuable worksheets, pushing those worksheets higher in popularity. We have top lists like “most downloaded worksheets” and “most liked worksheets” (we have our very own Like button), while search results can also be ordered by these criteria. If you browse our worksheets by popularity, you will never actually see the less helpful ones, since they are on the bottom of the top lists, virtually invisible to all. So the filtering is done by the community, and no editors are needed. That is one of the main reasons why our sharing site can be free: we do not need to pay editors.

Future plans
We keep adding new platforms for teachers of other languages with the help of volunteer administrators (if you are interested to become one, please contact us). Next up is Russian, to be followed by Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, etc. In addition, we have started developing new content modules to broaden the array of materials that can be shared on iSLCollective. Soon our users will be able to upload lesson plans based on YouTube videos (with embedded videos alongside the lesson plans) and teaching tips in the form of quick text posts. We are also developing an educational blog (“edublog”) section, where colleagues will be able to share their teaching experiences and wisdom with each other. Eventually, we would like the site to become a worldwide hub where ideas are exchanged, and teachers can make new friends.

Closing Remarks
In closing, feel free to join and download anything you need, and if you have never shared your work with others than your immediate colleagues, just give it a try. Most of us have probably created at least one worksheet in our career, e.g. a test for a coursebook chapter, a picture dictionary, or role plays for a conversation class. You should absolutely not worry about whether it is good enough or not. The bottom line is: if it was useful in your class, it will probably be useful to someone else, as well. Upload your first printable and you will soon get a comment saying “Thank you so much. This is just what I needed for tomorrow.” It feels nice to know you have helped out someone.

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iSLCollective Founders

Bence Princz: Freelance programmer based in Budapest, who built the site architecture and is in charge of system maintenance and development.

Adam Laszlo: Works in Budapest, Hungary as an economist. Administrator of the German section of iSLCollective.

Peter Laszlo:. Full-time ESL teacher in Xantus High School in Budapest, administrator of the ESL section of iSLCollective.

Contact: info@islcollective.com


 

 

Learner Autonomy and Individualisation. From Teacher-centred to Learner-centred Instruction

by Cătălina Ecaterina Bălţăteanu, Şcoala Ţuţora, Iaşi

Keywords: self-access resource centres, learner-centred instruction, learner training,

Awareness of individuals` personal needs and learning styles is essential, on one hand, for EFL teachers since they should adapt their teaching methods to these variables, and, on the other hand, for the learners themselves because, at some stage, they must take responsibility for and control their own learning function of their particularities. The moment learners take charge of their learning, either in an institutional context or outside the classroom, they become autonomous. Reaching this stage is highly important because it proves that the learners have an understanding of themselves, an awareness of the environment and that they have learnt how to think and how to learn on their own.

The concept of autonomy in learning was first used in the field of language teaching due to the Council of Europe’s Modern Languages Project (1971). This project aimed at the establishment of the Centre de Recherche et d`Applications en Langues (CRAPEL) at the University of Nancy in France, which intended to offer opportunities for lifelong learning to adults. The founder of CRAPEL was Yves Châlon, considered also the father of autonomy, but in 1972 Henri Holec became the new leader of CRAPEL.

From the beginning, CRAPEL was guided by the assumption that individuals must become free by developing those abilities that permit them to behave more responsibly in the society, such as skills related to self-management, self-monitoring and self-assessment. Autonomy was perceived as the capacity of determining personal objectives, progress and evaluation of learning. What CRAPEL brought new for the development of learner autonomy were the self-access resource centres and the concept of learner training. Through the first self-access language centres, it was intended to provide learners with a great diversity of language materials that would make learners experiment self-directed learning.

Autonomy manifests itself by learning strategies and it is the result of giving the learners the freedom of choosing and managing classroom activities, which means learner-centred instruction. Moreover, being autonomous could go as far as deciding the syllabus content, the materials to be used, the activity-types and even the assessment procedures. Another concept related to the development of autonomy is learner training aimed at helping learners benefit from all the learning opportunities they encounter. In the long run, it is oriented towards the development of autonomy in language learning and of a life-long habit of independent learning. Holec`s opinion about learner training is that “teaching learners how to carry out self-directed learning would be counterproductive, since the learning would by definition no longer be self-directed. Instead, learners needed to train themselves”[i]. In other words, even though counsellors, teachers or peers support learners, learner training should be based on self-directed learning, on discovery of techniques and knowledge needed for coping with problems or tasks, and on an error-and-trial process.

A fair reason for helping our students become autonomous is the fact that, however good teachers we are, students will never learn a language unless they try it both inside the classroom and outside, on their own. No school can offer its learners all the knowledge and the skills they will need in their future lives. Real progress and proficiency cannot be achieved during a few English lessons a week, but through lots of exposure and opportunities for practice in real life. Besides that, learning a foreign language aims at preparing the learners for actual communication in everyday life, in situations outside the classroom where the teacher will not be around to help them.

Because classroom time is limited and not sufficient for real progress, learners must develop their personal learning strategies, orient towards self-directed learning and, thus, become autonomous.  Obviously, not all the students can reach autonomy or the same degree of success as autonomous learners. Some of them are more open to self-study, due to their high self-confidence and self-esteem, while others depend much on formal classroom instruction and on the teacher because of their low self-esteem and rejective attitude towards learner autonomy.

There has been much disagreement about the definition of “learner autonomy”, but the most broadly used one is that proposed by Holec and referring to “the ability to take charge of one’s learning”[ii]. Other situations associated with learner autonomy are the following ones:

  • learners study entirely on their own;
  • learners have the right to decide the orientation of their learning;
  • learners take responsibility of their learning;
  • learners possess a set of skills which can be trained and used in self-directed learning.

Another definition of learner autonomy includes three versions of it: technical, psychological, and political[iii]. The technical aspect of learner autonomy refers to the act of learning a language outside an institutional context and without the guidance of a teacher. From a psychological perspective, autonomy is the capacity that permits learners to be responsible for their own learning. Finally, the political version of learner autonomy is related to the learner’s control over the content and the process of learning.

Studies on autonomy have proven that autonomous learners are characterized by the following attributes[iv]:

  • are aware of their learning styles and strategies;
  • approach learning tasks actively;
  • are risk-takers when it comes to communication in the target language;
  • make guesses;
  • focus both on accuracy and fluency.

According to Kumaravadivelu[v], being an autonomous learner means developing the capacity of critical thinking, taking responsibility for learning and establishing learning objectives and contents, developing self-control, self-discipline and self-esteem, giving up dependence on the teacher, monitoring the process of acquisition, selecting methods and techniques, taking decisions and acting independently, discovering the learning potential, but also interacting with the other factors in the educational context (teacher, peers). The same author mentions two main reasons for promoting learner autonomy. From a cognitive point of view, being autonomous and able to integrate new knowledge within a personal framework makes learning more effective. From a humanistic perspective, promoting learners` ownership of learning increases their self-esteem and motivation.

Definitely, these characteristics constitute advantages for language learning, but for what other reasons would learner autonomy be promoted? A first reason would be that it increases the students` motivation and makes learning more effective. Since learners are given the freedom to decide in a way what, how and when to learn, they become more motivated and less teacher-dependent, and, thus, their learning is even more efficient. Learning by independently doing, exploring and understanding is more motivating for students rather than following a learning process imposed by an external authority.

Another reason for encouraging learner autonomy is the fact that it matches the individual needs of learners at all levels. In a class, there are different levels and styles that no teacher can fully satisfy. This is why, self-learning is the only possibility of accommodating individual differences in terms of learning styles and strategies. Through self-learning, students can work on their own in the classroom, in a library, at home, or in a self-learning centre, without giving up collaborative learning; also, depending on their needs and proficiency level, they can focus on any of the four language skills.

In my opinion, the most powerful argument in favour of learner autonomy is its lasting influence. Once autonomous, learners acquire a life-long learning skill and become able to think independently in any situation. They will be capable of setting personal goals, planning their work, developing strategies for dealing with new situations, and evaluating and assessing their outcomes. Furthermore, they will learn how to learn from their success and failure which will make them more efficient in their future life.

However, it is worth mentioning that autonomy is a dynamic process, rather than a steady state or a static product that is achieved by once and for all. Since learners are different in terms of learning habits, needs, interests and motivation, they develop various degrees of autonomy throughout their lives. Kumaravadivelu mentions the existence of three stages of autonomy[vi]. Firstly, he/she becomes aware of the reasons why the teacher chooses particular goals, tasks or materials. Secondly, he/she is allowed to choose from different options provided by the teacher. Eventually, the learner becomes capable of establishing his/her own goals and materials.

It should also be clarified that autonomy is not context-free since it develops under certain conditions: learners must be able to apply cognitive and metacognitive strategies, they must be motivated and have positive attitudes towards language learning, but teachers and other external factors should also support them in the process of becoming autonomous. Thus, it depends on learner’s personality and motivations, needs and beliefs, and on the educational environment in general.

In this process, the learners` psychological preparation is essential for passing from teacher-centred education to more learner-centred modes since they all have their previous learning experience and expectations about the learning process. Most of them think that learning means being passive and depending on teachers, the only responsible for the content and the way of learning. Thus, our mission is to make students aware of the fact that they are at the heart of learning, to train them to be responsible and to give them the chance of taking responsibility for their learning. Being responsible and taking initiative for learning certainly increases motivation and self-confidence.

Besides psychological preparation, students need some training in becoming aware of their beliefs, insights and concepts about language learning, as well as of their current metacognitive strategies. Beliefs about language are highly important for establishing personal goals and motivational patterns, or for revising and rejecting what is inappropriate for a particular learner.

Another factor contributing to learner autonomy is the institutional preparation[vii], or the external supports needed by learners, such as facilities, authentic EFL learning materials, physical setting, equipments, library, books, worksheets, newspapers, magazines, computers, audiotapes, videotapes, Internet connection, and so on. Counselling service is included too, being provided by a teacher who gives advice, makes suggestions, answers questions, encourages, assesses and offers feedback to learners.

The next step after making the students aware of the importance of self-learning is to implement different measures that actually promote learner autonomy. This can be done by:

  • helping learners establish realistic goals function of their own level;
  • grouping the students in order to cooperate and help each other;
  • offering advice, answering questions and helping the learners choose the proper materials;
  • evaluating students` self-learning and offering feedback.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, autonomy was associated with individualization (also called “individualized learning” or “individualised instruction”[viii]), both of them aiming at meeting the learners` needs. However, the two concepts cannot overlap; individualization takes into account the learners` needs, learning preferences or their level of language, without allowing them to control the learning process or to give up the traditional position of dependency. Individualization leaves very little freedom of decision and choice to the learner, the teacher trying to adapt his methodology and materials to the learner. The decisions are taken for the learner by the teacher, not by him.

Besides this association of autonomy with individualization, another connection was made between autonomy and working in isolation. In recent years, researchers have stated that autonomy does not exclude collaboration and interdependence, the latter referring to collaborative decision making in learning groups or to “one’s own conduct in the social context: being able to cooperate with others and solve conflicts in constructive ways”[ix]. Thus, autonomy is not independence, since learners work cooperatively with their teachers and peers.

To sum up, learner autonomy is part of the learner-centred approaches that focus on the learner as an individual and consider that “the nature of learners should be central to all aspects of language teaching, including planning teaching and evaluation”[x]. Learner centeredness is based on learners` previous knowledge, on their needs, goals, expectations, learning styles and preferences, as well as on their beliefs about teaching and classroom tasks. 

 

Bibliography: 

  1. Benson, Phil (2001). Teaching and Researching Autonomy in Language Learning, Pearson, London
  2. Jiao, Lijuan (2005). Promoting EFL Learner Autonomy. Retrieved from http://www.linguist.org.cn/doc/su2005/su20050506.pdf
  3. Kumaravadivelu, B. (2003). Beyond Methods: Macrostrategies for Language Teaching, Yale University, New Haven
  4. Schmenk, Barbara (2005). Globalizing Learner Autonomy in TESOL Quarterly, vol. 39, no. 1
  5. Thanasoulas, Dimitrios (2002). What is Learner Autonomy and How Can It be Fostered? in The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 11, November 2000. Retrieved from http://iteslj.org/Articles/Thanasoulas-Autonomy.html
  6. Richards, C. Jack (2002). 30 Years of TEFL/TESL – A Personal Reflection in RELC Journal, vol. 33, no. 2, Retrieved from http://rel.sagepub.com

 

[i] Benson, Phil (2001). Teaching and Researching Autonomy in Language Learning, Pearson, London, p. 10

[ii]Jiao, Lijuan (2005). Promoting EFL Learner Autonomy. Retrieved from http://www.linguist.org.cn/doc/su2005/su20050506.pdf

[iii] Schmenk, Barbara (2005). Globalizing Learner Autonomy in TESOL Quarterly, vol. 39, no. 1, p. 110

[iv] Thanasoulas, Dimitrios (2002). What is Learner Autonomy and How Can It be Fostered? in The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 11, November 2000. Retrieved from http://iteslj.org/Articles/Thanasoulas-Autonomy.html

[v] Kumaravadivelu, B. (2003). Beyond Methods: Macrostrategies for Language Teaching, Yale University, New Haven,    p. 133

[vi] Kumaravadivelu, B. (2003).  op. cit., p. 144

[vii] Jiao, Lijuan (2005). Promoting EFL Learner Autonomy. Retrieved from http://www.linguist.org.cn/doc/su2005/su20050506.pdf

[viii] Benson, Phil (2001). op. cit., p. 12

[ix] ibidem, p. 14

[x] Richards, C. Jack (2002). 30 Years of TEFL/TESL – A Personal Reflection in RELC Journal, vol. 33, no. 2, p. 15. Retrieved from http://rel.sagepub.com

 

  Role-Play and Improvisation. Techniques Used in Devising from Self and Others

by Cristiana Faur, George Cosbuc National Bilingual College



Keywords:
role-play, improvisation, drama, explore, performance, point of view


Role-plays, improvisations as well as games can be fun and at the same time extremely useful in producing genuine language in the classroom. For maximum benefit of such activities, the selection should be very carefully made, taking into consideration the age of the students, their level of English, but also what we aim at with a certain activity. Students can explore a literary text, or produce and/or revise certain grammatical structures, learn or practice vocabulary or simply prepare for an oral examination which requires fluency.
In a role-play, the students pretend to be someone else in a fictitious situation, consciously taking on their behaviour and attitudes without necessarily” acting” a part. The role settled should be clear for the students. For this, discussions may precede the preparation stage, when students try to familiarise themselves with the roles attributed.
In improvisations students create a scene, a piece of drama which is unscripted using their own ideas. For improvisation, the students may have some time for preparation, i.e. polished improvisation, or they may simply be asked to perform without any previous preparation, i.e. spontaneous improvisation.
Improvisations demand a high degree of language proficiency and imagination, but it does not mean that they cannot be used with lower grades. It all depends on the starting point. The situation that will be devised into an improvisation can be from own experience or given by the teacher.

General aim: to provide students with the possibility to interpret and re-interpret different points of view, attitudes, situations
Specific aims:
To develop an understanding of the ways in which personal experience can be used as a stimulus for dramatic construction
To develop an understanding of the ways in which the experience of others can be used as a stimulus for dramatic construction
To develop listening skills
To develop speaking practice

What is the solution?

Create your own role play
Work in groups
Each member of the group comes up with a problem that needs to be solved (the problem should be invented )
The best potential problem is chosen
Each member of the group is assigned a role ( find as many roles as members in the group)
Discuss in advance the position of each member
Create the setting
Role-play

Improvisations/ devise from own experience
The attempt is to create a text from personal experience, and not to re-create a it by using words of others The steps from the “own role-play” activity can be followed. The difference is that this time the stories have to be from own experience, and the participants have to behave as themselves. There are no more assigned roles. Decide on the story with the greatest dramatic potential. You may focus on stories which explore a particular theme, e.g. holiday or a time when you were afraid. Tell the story in four images. Add layer of dialogue/ sound. Add other scenes to make the story more realistic.

Exploring points of view/ perspectives
Augusto Boal is a Brazilian theatre practitioner, most famous for what is called Forum Theatre. This is a methodology he created when working with the poorer communities in Brazil. The aim of Forum Theatre is to enable those involved to work through a problem or oppressions and seek some kind of resolve. This work is often described as conflict-resolution or moving from the real to the ideal. This work encourages the audience to become active rather than passive. The term Boal uses is actor to spect-actor, thus the actors and audience/spectators are interchangeable. Generating materials for this work often comes from the audience, such as problem that they need help to solve.
Possible steps to be taken:
identify your content: a personal story/ material from elsewhere
create a series of scenes which explore the story from a range of perspectives and enable us to obtain a clear view of the facts
present the scene to the group
allow the audience to select a scene they would like to see again
the audience watch the scene a second time
run the scene a third time, but allow the audience to stop it and make suggestions to change the course of action
improvise according to the new suggestion
discuss if anything has been solved
continue until both the audience and the actors have attempted to reach some form of resolve for the conflict in the scene

Although this may appear at first glance to be rather complex and difficult to follow, the results of it may be quite useful for the one who has raised the problem. The protagonists may start to feel more confident and become more involved in solving the conflict. This way of working is ideally suited to exploring personal/ social/ political problems.
 

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Warmers – The Key to Success. A Practical Perspective
by Oana Ştefanache, “Ion Ghica” School Iaşi

 

Keywords: warmers, motivation, positive atmosphere, students’ attention, active involvement

The article presents a few warm-up activities for the English class. Warmers may work like a charm to change the course and the atmosphere of the lesson in a positive way.
As a teacher, it is essential to remember what it is like to be a student. Stepping into our students’ shoes, seeing things from their perspective and acting on the findings is difficult but rewarding. Bearing this in mind, I attended a course in Creative Methodology and Language Skills at Oxford House College in London in July as part of a Comenius Grant and I must confess, I was thrilled to be a student again! What struck me most as a student-teacher during the course and the workshops was the paramount importance of warmers and the way they can influence the rest of the lesson.
First of all, a difference must be noticed between warmers, fillers and coolers. Warmers or ice breakers are activities organised at the beginning of the lesson with the aim of enhancing students’ motivation and of introducing the topic in a smooth, contextualised way. Fillers are activities that may be organised during the lesson, between certain stages of the lesson to link the activities and create a continuum. Coolers are often planned after an activity which involved a high amount of concentration, like a reading or writing task, and their purpose is to relax the students and to liven up the atmosphere in the class.
We use warmers for everything we do on a daily basis. We warm up our day with a coffee or tea, we get ready to enter a classroom and start a lesson by taking the register and quickly going over the teaching process we are about to implement, and we warm up for our favourite TV programme by remembering nice scenes that activate pleasant feelings. We do all these things subconsciously and we might think that it works the same for our students when we start the English class, that just by calling the register they are mentally ready to discuss their past week using regular and irregular verbs in the past tense. Unfortunately, we often start our classes assuming our students are ready and forgetting that their former lesson was a History one and they might have discussed something which had a great impact on them and they might be mentally stuck on that piece of information.
Warmers work like a charm to create a positive and at the same time focused atmosphere in the class, helping teachers to channel students’ attention and to start on a positive note. Here are a few tried and tested warmers which I enjoyed during the course and the workshops mentioned earlier.
• “The human map” – used to smoothly get students ready for a lesson about geographical positions and the names of the countries. The teacher groups students and gives each group a number of country names. There should be plenty of space in the middle of the room for the groups to create the human map by positioning themselves in the right geographical place when the teacher calls the country names. It can be followed by individual response and position on the map at the teacher’s questions ”Where have you been on your last holiday?” or “What country would you like to visit most?”.
• “The human clock” – a wonderful way to work in pairs and to synchronise movements. Students work in pairs, back to back. One student is the hour hand and the other is the minutes hand. The teacher or another student says the time and the pairs have to show the time by using hands.
• “Left or right” warmer – a kinaesthetic activity, as the previous ones, to revise vocabulary. The teacher sits in front of the classroom and the students sit in the middle, in a row. The Teacher shows a picture and says a word and the students have to go one step to the left if the word corresponds to the picture or one step to the right if it does not.
• “Race” – can be adapted and used for various vocabulary or grammar lessons. The teacher sticks flashcards or word cards in different places in the room. The students work in groups and for each race, nominate a different member of the group to run to the correct image. For example, to start the lesson revising the prepositions in, on, at, to the teacher tells the groups some sentences like “I’m working. I’m .... work” and one student from each group has to run to the word card with “at”. To practise actions related to holiday places, the teacher says the action: “I’m swimming” and the students run to the image with the sea or a swimming pool; “I’m walking” – the park.
• “Bang!” – a nice pronunciation game. Students work in groups of four. The teacher gives each group a set of cards with various words and 6 cards with “bang!”, all mixed. Students take one card and pronounce the word. The other students decide if he/she pronounced it correctly. If they did, they get one point. If they take the “Bang!” card, they should put all their cards back in the pile and the “Bang!” card separately, in a bag or on a desk.
• “The disappearing sentence” - for all levels, as it can be adapted accordingly. The teacher writes a long sentence on the board, students work in groups and take turns to go to the blackboard to remove three consecutive words. The remaining part should be correct from the grammar point of view, but not necessarily meaningful. For elementary or pre-intermediate the students can remove only adjectives and for advanced students idioms can be replaced by their correspondent or informal register can be made formal.
• “The appearing sentence” - The opposite warmer of the previous one. It can also be adapted to different levels and/or topics.
• “What’s in my bag?” – one of my personal favourites. The teacher brings a bag with various things in it – a clock, a pen, a memory stick, a coin, a doll, a rubber and puts it on the teacher’s desk. One student has to come to the front, put one hand into the bag, and, without looking, describe the object they have touched. The students in the class have to guess what the object is. For lower classes, it is useful to pre-teach shapes and materials and the structure “It’s used to + short infinitive” or “It’s used for + verb ending in –ing”. As an online tool, the site http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/interactives/in_the_bag/index.html has the same activity.
Other warmers may be easily found on the internet on sites like this one: http://www.developingteachers.com/newsletterplans/News_warmers_nov1999.htm and they may involve a problem solving activity or a race board, picture dictation or treasure hunt, scrambled sentences or grammar gamble.
No matter how limited our time is, we should always start with a warmer and the rest of the lesson and its tasks will require less effort to be achieved. Warmers allow active involvement and are always fun for the students, who can hardly wait for the next English class and its surprises!


Bibliography:
Oxford House College, Creative Methodology Course, London, 2011
 

 

 The Art of Fiction and Literature Classes. Possible Approaches to Making Literature Accessible to Students

by Constanţa Bordea, Colegiul Naţional “Andrei Şaguna”, Braşov

Key words: literature, drama, creative writing, demystifying criticism, literary terms

I first came across David Lodge’s books in his position of a literary critic. The Art of Fiction was one of the main books I used to write my diploma paper “Modern Narrative Techniques in Victorian Fiction”. I particularly liked the way he presented his ideas, his demystifying criticism, as he calls it in The Practice of Writing, criticism whose purpose is shedding light on the creative process. I think that The Art of Fiction could be easily understood by bilingual highschool students as well because the terminology used is accessible. His very clear presentation of each and every aspect of the novel would most surely appeal to students who like literature and try to understand it. It is also a very good way of making students want to become acquainted with the whole novel not only the fragment presented for the sake of demonstration.

The Art of Fiction gathers articles written by Lodge initially for the Independent on Sunday and the Washington Post and is intended, as he states himself, for the general reader. From beginnings to endings, Lodge reveals the devices involved in any work of literature, answering the questions one may ask: from whose point of view is the story told and what does this choice of narrator imply for the novel? What impact does an unreliable narrator have on the story told? How is suspense created? To what extent is a coincidence acceptable to provide a twist to the story? Are the names of the characters meaningful at all? What do "stream of consciousness", "metafiction" or "magic realism" mean?  These questions are answered and many more topics are evoked along with them. “He discusses the technical and thematic devices and resources of fiction, drawing on his own practice as a novelist and his long experience as a literary critic.” (Bergonzi 56)


Lodge illustrates the different topics with extracts from diverse authors, from Laurence Sterne to Paul Auster, including Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Henry James, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Kazuo Ishiguro or Milan Kundera. When this is relevant, Lodge even refers to his own pieces of fiction. As he professes in the “Preface” to the book: “This is a book for people who prefer to take their Lit. Crit. in small doses, a book to browse in, and dip into, a book that does not attempt to say the definitive word on any of the topics it touches on, but one that will, I hope, enhance readers’ understanding and enjoyment of prose fiction, and suggest to them new possibilities of reading – and, who knows, even writing – in this most various and rewarding of literary forms.” (xi)

There are many approaches to studying literature, but in order to enjoy its study thoroughly, I believe we should start by using a critical analysis approach for the students to examine the way great writers shape their thoughts into language and to experiment themselves with some of the techniques the writers use in their own creative writing. Furthermore, students gain a deeper understanding of how literary texts work and a fuller appreciation of the art of writing.

Based on The Art of Fiction as the main support for the course I propose the following modules: the first one for the 9th grade and the second for the 11th grade, since students need to be more mature to be able to understand and appreciate stream of consciousness, intertextuality, symbolism and all the other aspects of the modern novel. Another source for these modules is the anthology of texts and extracts from the literature in the English language Fields of Vision, written by Denis Delaney, Ciaran Ward and Carla Rho Fiorina.



MODULE 1
Topic: Understanding fiction
Objectives:
v To learn terms such as point of view, unreliable narrator, intrusive author, plot, setting, character
v to understand how the choice of narrator or point of view can influence the impact of a text
v to recognise what type of narrator/character is employed in a text
v to understand the impact of beginnings and endings on the reader
v to understand how the choice of external factors (weather, location, time) can influence the impact of a piece of fiction
v to experiment with all these aspects in their own creative writing
Time: 18 hours
Level: 9th grade (intermediate/ upper-intermediate)

MATERIAL ASSIGNMENTS
1. Beginnings and Endings
The Art of Fiction, chapters 1 and 50 (Jane Austen, William Golding) - examine examples of different types of beginnings and endings
- learn techniques of beginning and ending fiction
- experiment with the techniques learnt in their own creative writing
- predict the content of a fictional work based on its beginning/ending
2. Theme
Ernest Hemingway – Old Man at the Bridge - identify the theme of the text
- analyse how other elements in the story support the theme
- identify the connection between title and theme
3. Characters
The Art of Fiction, chapter 14
(C. Isherwood, G. Eliot),
K. Mansfield – Miss Brill - analyse the way authors introduce a character in different ages of literature
- identify types of characters in the texts analysed
- analyse the main character in a short story
- experiment with introducing character and types of character in their own creative writing
4. Setting (Weather)
The Art of Fiction, chapter 18 (Jane Austen, Charles Dickens) - - read, analyse and understand fragments presenting the setting of different novels and the impact of this choice on the whole novel
- - identify symbolic meanings of the choice of weather
- - discuss how the time chosen for the story to take place influences all the other aspects of the writing
- use setting and weather in their own creative writing
5. Point of view
The Art of Fiction, chapters 2, 6 and 34 (G. Eliot, H. James, K. Ishiguro ) - - understanding point of view
- - analyse an intrusive writer in a Victorian novel
- - analyse a fallible or unreliable narrator in a post-modern novel
- - experiment with point of view in a text that contains an unreliable narrator
- - identify narratorial intrusions in a text and understand their purpose
- - experiment with point of view in their own creative writing
6. Extension
Cat in the Rain, E. Hemingway
The Story of an Hour, Kate Chopin - - analyse all the aspects of fiction discussed previously in the texts suggested

I am going to insert as an example a lesson plan for the first lesson of the module.

Lesson Plan
Lesson: Beginnings in fiction
Level: upper-intermediate
Time: 2 x 50 min.
Lesson objectives:
to deal with a literary work in context
- to read for gist and for detailed information
- to answer questions based on the text
to develop vocabulary
to practise their own creative writing, starting from the extracts given
to examine examples of different types of beginnings
to learn and practise techniques of beginning fiction
to experiment with the techniques learnt in their own creative writing
to predict the content of a fictional work based on its beginning

Methods: - discussion
- skimming
- intensive reading
- matching
- analysis
- creative writing
Materials:
handout with extracts from Jane Austen’s Emma, Ford Maddox Ford’s The Good Soldier, Oscar Wilde’s The Portrait of Dorian Gray, James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
handout with an extract from the chapter Beginning from Lodge’s The Art of Fiction

 

LESSON 1

Interaction Timing
T-S, S-S 10’

PRE –READING (WARM UP) – Discuss the title

To prepare students for understanding the content of the extracts to be discussed, T writes on the blackboard the four titles and asks students (divided in pairs) to predict what the books entitled that way might be about, the type of story that might follow. They report back to the class after they have finished and compare assumptions. The T writes the gist of the discussion on the blackboard

READING

Interaction Timing
T-S, S-S-S 5’+ 20’+5’
1. Students are given handouts with the four extracts to be discussed and are asked to skim the texts in order to match each extract with the titles already written on the blackboard (in a different order than the one of the extracts).
2. The T asks students to read the extracts carefully, working in groups of 4, and to compare their assumptions with the extracts given. After they have finished they report back to the class what new information they have found about their book. They discuss the extracts and based on it they match each extract with the years when the books were written (1816, 1915, 1891, 1916)
3. Vocabulary work: the teacher asks the students to identify new words in their extracts and she explains with the help of the class.


Interaction Timing
S-S-S 10’
POST-READING
In the same groups as before, the students come up with a possible outline of the story that follows the extract they have read, based on their discussions of the title and the extract.



LESSON 2


Interaction: T-S; Timing: 10’
 
PRE-READING / WARM UP
Students read their possible outlines for the stories and discuss them with the teacher and the other students. The teacher hints at the actual outlines of the novels discussed and encourages the students to read at least one of the novels they discussed, according to their own preferences.


READING

Interaction: T-S, S-S; Timing: 5’+20’+5’
 
1) The teacher explains that they are going to focus only on the first two of the beginnings discussed and asks the students to analyse how that certain type of beginning the story influences the reader.
2) She then gives the students handouts with the analysis of the same texts from Lodge’s Art of Fiction. T asks the students to read the text carefully and to briefly summarise the ideas presented. T asks the students for unknown words and explains.
3) Based on the list of possible ways of beginning a story/novel, the T asks the students to identify the technique used in the other two extracts.


Interaction
:
T-S; Timing: 10’
AFTER-READING / CREATIVE WRITING
Ask students to write one of the following:
1) a more in-depth analysis of one of the two remaining beginnings on the first handout
2) a beginning for a story, using on of the techniques discussed.
The students are encouraged to continue their tasks at home, to be checked the next time.


HANDOUTS 1 and 2

I. Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.
She was the youngest of the two daughters of a most affectionate, indulgent father; and had, in consequence of her sister's marriage, been mistress of his house from a very early period. Her mother had died too long ago for her to have more than an indistinct remembrance of her caresses; and her place had been supplied by an excellent woman as governess, who had fallen little short of a mother in affection.
Sixteen years had Miss Taylor been in Mr. Woodhouse's family, less as a governess than a friend, very fond of both daughters, but particularly of Emma. Between them it was more the intimacy of sisters. Even before Miss Taylor had ceased to hold the nominal office of governess, the mildness of her temper had hardly allowed her to impose any restraint; and the shadow of authority being now long passed away, they had been living together as friend and friend very mutually attached, and Emma doing just what she liked; highly esteeming Miss Taylor's judgment, but directed chiefly by her own.
The real evils, indeed, of Emma's situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself; these were the disadvantages which threatened alloy to her many enjoyments. The danger, however, was at present so unperceived, that they did not by any means rank as misfortunes with her.
Sorrow came - a gentle sorrow - but not at all in the shape of any disagreeable consciousness. - Miss Taylor married.

II. This is the saddest story I have ever heard. We had known the Ashburnhams for nine seasons of the town of Nauheim with an extreme intimacy--or, rather with an acquaintanceship as loose and easy and yet as close as a good glove's with your hand. My wife and I knew Captain and Mrs Ashburnham as well as it was possible to know anybody, and yet, in another sense, we knew nothing at all about them. This is, I believe, a state of things only possible with English people of whom, till today, when I sit down to puzzle out what I know of this sad affair, I knew nothing whatever. Six months ago I had never been to England, and, certainly, I had never sounded the depths of an English heart. I had known the shallows.

III. The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.

From the corner of the divan of Persian saddle-bags on which he was lying, smoking, as was his custom, innumerable cigarettes, Lord Henry Wotton could just catch the gleam of the honey-sweet and honey-coloured blossoms of a laburnum, whose tremulous branches seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flame-like as theirs; and now and then the fantastic shadows of birds in flight flitted across the long tussore-silk curtains that were stretched in front of the huge window, producing a kind of momentary Japanese effect, and making him think of those pallid, jade-faced painters of Tokyo who, through the medium of an art that is necessarily immobile, seek to convey the sense of swiftness and motion. The sullen murmur of the bees shouldering their way through the long unmown grass, or circling with monotonous insistence round the dusty gilt horns of the straggling woodbine, seemed to make the stillness more oppressive. The dim roar of London was like the bourdon note of a distant organ.

In the centre of the room, clamped to an upright easel, stood the full-length portrait of a young man of extraordinary personal beauty, and in front of it, some little distance away, was sitting the artist himself, Basil Hallward, whose sudden disappearance some years ago caused, at the time, such public excitement and gave rise to so many strange conjectures.

As the painter looked at the gracious and comely form he had so skilfully mirrored in his art, a smile of pleasure passed across his face, and seemed about to linger there. But he suddenly started up, and closing his eyes, placed his fingers upon the lids, as though he sought to imprison within his brain some curious dream from which he feared he might awake.

IV. Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nice little boy named baby tuckoo...
His father told him that story: his father looked at him through a glass: he had a hairy face.
He was baby tuckoo. The moocow came down the road where Betty Byrne lived: she sold lemon platt.
O, the wild rose blossoms
On the little green place.
He sang that song. That was his song.
O, the green wothe botheth.
When you wet the bed first it is warm then it gets cold. His mother put on the oilsheet. That had the queer smell.
His mother had a nicer smell than his father. She played on the piano the sailor's hornpipe for him to dance. He danced:
Tralala lala,
Tralala tralaladdy,
Tralala lala,
Tralala lala.
Uncle Charles and Dante clapped. They were older than his father and mother but uncle Charles was older than Dante.
Dante had two brushes in her press. The brush with the maroon velvet back was for Michael Davitt and the brush with the green velvet back was for Parnell. Dante gave him a cachou very time he brought her a piece of tissue paper.
The Vances lived in number seven. They had a different father and mother. They were Eileen's father and mother. When they were grown up he was going to marry Eileen. He hid under the table. His mother said:
--O, Stephen will apologize.


Ways of beginning a novel:
*Presenting the setting of the story *In the middle of a conversation
*Self-introduction by the narrator *Philosophical reflection
*Putting a character in jeopardy *Frame-story

DAVID LODGE - THE ART OF FICTION (pages 5-7)

Jane Austen's opening is classical: lucid, measured, objective, with ironic implication concealed beneath the elegant velvet glove of the style. How subtly the first sentence sets up the heroine for a fall. This is to be the reverse of the Cinderella story, the triumph of an undervalued heroine, that previously attracted Jane Austen's imagination from Pride and Prejudice to Mansfield Park. Emma is a Princess who must be humbled before she finds true happiness. "Handsome" (rather than conventionally pretty or beautiful - a hint of masculine will-to-power, perhaps, in that androgynous epithet), "clever" (an ambiguous term for intelligence, sometimes applied derogatively, as in "too clever for her own good") and "rich", with all its biblical and proverbial associations of the moral dangers of wealth: these three adjectives, so elegantly combined (a matter of stress and phonology - try rearranging them) encapsulate the deceptiveness of Emma's "seeming" contentment. Havinglived "nearly twenty-one years in the world with very litte to distress or vex her", she is due for a rude awakening. Nearly twenty-one, the traditional age of majority, Emma must now take responsibility for her own life, and for a woman in early nineteenth-century bourgeois society this meant deciding whether and whom to marry. Emma is unusually free in this respect, since she is already "mistress" of her household, a circumstance likely to breed arrogance, especially as she has been brought up by a governess who supplied a mother's affection but not (by implication) a mother's discipline.
This suggestion is made more emphatically in the third paragraph; but at the same time, interestingly enough, we begin to hear the voice of Emma herself in the discourse, as well as the judicious, objective voice of the narrator. "Between them it was more the intimacy of sisters." "They had been living together as friend and friend..." In these phrases we seem to hear Emma's own, rather self-satisfied description of her relationship with her governess, one which allowed her to do "just what she liked." The ironic structure of the paragraph's conclusion, "highly esteeming Miss Taylor's judgment, but directed chiefly by her own," symmetrically balances two statements that are logically incompatible, and thus indicates the flaw in Emma's character that is explicitly stated by the narrator in the fourth paragraph. With the marriage of Miss Taylor, the story proper begins: deprived of Miss Taylor's company and mature counsel, Emma takes up a young protegee, Harriet, who encourages her vanity, and on whose behalf she begins to indulge in a matchmaking intrigue, with disastrous results.
Ford Madox Ford's famous opening sentence is a blatant ploy to secure the reader's attention, virtually dragging us over the threshold by the collar. But almost at once a characteristically modern obscurity and indirection, an anxiety about the possibility of discovering any truth, infect the narrative. Who is this person addressing us? He uses English yet is not English himself. He has known the English couple who seem to be the subject of the "saddest story" for at least nine years, yet claims to have "known nothing" about the English until this very moment of narration. "Heard" in the first sentence suggests that he is going to narrate someone else's story, but almost immediately it is implied that the narrator, and perhaps his wife, were themselves part of it. The narrator knows the Ashburnhams intimately - and not at all. These contradictions are rationalized as an effect of Englishness, of the disparity between appearance and reality in English middle-class behaviour; so this beginning strikes a similar thematic note to Emma's, though tragic rather than comic in its premonitory under-tones. The word "sad" is repeated towards the end of the paragraph, and another keyword, "heart" (two of the characters have supposed heart-conditions, all of them have disordered emotional lives), is dropped into the penultimate sentence.
I used the metaphor of a glove to describe Jane Austen's style, a style which itself claims authority partly by eschewing metaphor (metaphor being an essentially poetic figure of speech, at the opposite pole to reason and common sense). That same metaphor of a glove actually occurs in the opening paragraph of The Good Soldier, though with a different meaning. Here it signifies polite social behaviour, the easy but restrained manners that go with affluence and discriminating taste (a "good" glove is specified), but with a hint of deceptive concealment or "covering up". Some of the enigmas raised in the first paragraph are quickly explained - by, for instance, the information that the narrator is an American living in Europe. But the reliability of his testimony, and the chronic dissembling of the other characters, are to be crucial issues in this, the saddest story.

MODULE 2
Topic: The Prose of the Early 20th Century and Modernism
Objectives:
v to become familiar with the works of some major writers of the period
v to identify and analyse some of the techniques that characterised modernist writing
v to get an insight into the literary and historical background of the period
v to express opinion on the content of the texts and related issues
v to experiment with the modernist techniques in their own creative writing
v to dramatise the main events in the texts discussed
v to experiment with drama techniques in order to understand the text better
Time: 20 hours
Level: 11th grade (advanced level)


MATERIAL ASSIGNMENTS
1. Henry James – The Ambassadors, What Maisie Knew
The Art of Fiction, chapters 6 and 33 (Point of View, Coincidence) - read, understand and analyse extracts from the novels suggested
- identify theme and types of characters
- focus on point of view and coincidence in fiction
- experiment with point of view through drama techniques
- analyse style of writing
2. Joseph Conrad – Heart of Darkness
The Art of Fiction, chapters 21, 30 (Intertextuality, Symbolism)
- have a class discussion on colonialism
- read, understand and identify symbols in an extract from the novel
- analyse the connection between this text and other literary texts
- discuss the characters and their values based on the extracts analysed
- use hot seating to understand the characters better
3. D. H. Lawrence – Sons and Lovers
The Art of Fiction, chapter 30
(Symbolism) - have a class discussion about relationships between mothers and sons
- identify types of characters in the texts analysed
- analyse setting, symbols and the emotional bond between mother and child
- analyse dialogue and the relationship between mother and child
- express opinion on the texts discussed
- dramatise main events and coming up with a possible ending for the novel
4. James Joyce – Dubliners, Ulysses
The Art of Fiction, chapters 10, 36 (Interior Monologue, Chapters) - read, understand and analyse a complete early 20th-century short story
- understand what an epiphany is
- try to write a short story containing an epiphany
- identify stream of consciousness and analyse interior monologue
- discuss intertextual connotations
- write about their thoughts and feelings by using the interior monologue
5. Virginia Woolf – Mrs Dalloway
The Art of Fiction, chapter 9 ( The Stream of Consciousness ) - - reflect on the idea of introspection
- - read, understand and analyse extracts from the novel
- - analyse stream of consciousness and the character of the protagonist
- - analyse the theme of memory and happiness
- - understand the internal representation of events -
6. George Orwell - 1984
The Art of Fiction, chapter 29 (Imagining the Future) - - analyse a dystopian novel
- - discuss the theme of totalitarianism
- - write a personal version of the future

Bibliography
1. Bergonzi, Bernard – David Lodge, Northcote House, 1995
2. Carter, Ronald and Michael N. Long – Teaching Literature, Longman, 1991
3. Delaney, Denis, Ciaran Ward, Carla Rho Fiorina – Fields of Vision, Longman, 2005, volumes 1 and 2
4. Duff, Alan & Alan Maley – Literature, Oxford University Press, 1990
5. Lazar, Gillian – Literature and Language Teaching, CUP, 1993
6. Lodge, David – The Art of Fiction, Hardmonsworth, Penguin, 1992
7. Lodge, David – The Practice of Writing, Secker & Warburg, London, 1996
8. McRae, John – Literature with a small “l”, Prentice Hall Europe, 1997
9. Neelands, Jonothan – Beginning Drama 11-14, David Fulton Publishers, London, 1988
 

 Methodological Directions in the Integration of Language Skills

by Ştefana Balan,
“Vasile Alecsandri” National College, Bacău

Keywords: language skills, TBLT, task, communicative, integration of skills, segregation of skills, methodological directions

1. The language skills and their integration

My starting point for the article was given by Jeremy Harmer who pointed out that treating the four skills in a segregated way is “ridiculous” since “one skill cannot perform without another” and “the same experience or topic leads to the use of many different skills”[i].

In the study Integrated Skills in the ESL/EFL Classroom, Rebecca Oxford compared teaching English as a second language with waving tapestry. “The tapestry is woven from many strands, such as the characteristics of the teacher, the student, the setting and the relevant languages...In a practical sense, one of the most crucial of these strands consists of the four primary skills of listening, reading, speaking, and writing.”[ii] Additionally to the basic skills, the author brings forth the associated/related skills of vocabulary, spelling, pronunciation, syntax, meaning, and usage and insists on the fact that only by combining all these skills together, can we get to optimal ESL/EFL communication.

2.  From Segregation to Integration

2.1. The Segregated-Skill Instruction

The segregated skill approach had some supporters in the past [iii] but the modern views we are going to present later on are about to replace it in the teaching styles. Yet, it is not to be discarded completely, especially in the ESP and teaching for specific exams.

Segregated teaching is done by dealing with each primary or secondary skill separately, even if some activities imply integrating other skills as well. It follows the PPP stages (presentation-practice-production) with such activities as pre-task, while-task and after-task. Generally, the other skill used was speaking in all three stages and as assignment, some writing task. It is of course clear that one cannot deal completely separately with the skills, but as I have mentioned, some cases may create conditions for one-skill practice.

For instance, English for Specific Purposes such as business, technical, medicine, or aviation English may require activities focused on specific skills. For instance, when teaching telephoning English or English for the meetings, there will be a great focus on the speaking skill and on vocabulary.

Listening activities will be much focused on when preparing pilots or air traffic controllers who may even have to deal with different pronunciations and for whom accurate comprehension may mean the difference between life and death.

The reading and writing skills are extremely important in legal English, for example, where understanding of the provisions of contracts or being able to draw up one, especially when English is the language of the contract, are vital for the specialist.

Nowadays, international and national exams are organised based on the four basic skills and contain tasks accordingly. For instance, the Cambridge examinations (PET, FCE, CAE, CPE, BEC, ILEC, ICFE etc), IELTS, TOEFL, BULATS, and even the Baccalaureate competency test comprise separate tasks for reading-comprehension, listening-comprehension, writing, speaking and in some cases English in Use (vocabulary and grammar) organised in so-called papers.

Yet, preparing for such exams needs to be done after acquiring a certain level of knowledge, and passing such an exam cannot be the only purpose for learning a foreign language (even if it may represent an important motivating factor).

2.2. The Integrated-Skills Instruction

Without getting into many details regarding approaches and methods of teaching, from the Grammar Translation Method to the Total Physical Response and Communicative Approach, we need to specify that the Communicative Approach is the basis of the Integration Teaching.

There have been many programs based on the skills integration: the Immersion Program in USA and Canada, CALLA (the Cognitive Learning Approach), CBI (Content-based Instruction) in USA and CLIL in Europe and the TBLT (task-based learning teaching) – which represents the core of our approach.

a.    The Language immersion is a method of teaching a second language in which the target language is used for instruction and is different from a traditional language course since it uses the target language for teaching by "immersing" the students in the SL. All activities in-class and outside are conducted in the target language. The immersion programs today were founded in the 1960s in Canada.'

b.    The Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (CALLA) guides teachers in the explicit teaching of learning strategies within a foreign language context. CALLA involves five phases of instruction: preparation, presentation, practice, evaluation, and expansion.

c.    The CBI approach is comparable to English for Specific Purposes (ESP), which usually is for vocational or occupational needs or English for Academic Purposes (EAP). The goal of CBI is to prepare students to acquire the languages while using the context of any subject matter so that students learn the language by using it within the specific context. Rather than learning a language out of context, it is learned within the context of a specific academic subject.

d.    Content and language integrated learning (CLIL) is an approach for learning content through an additional language (foreign or second language), by teaching both the subject and the language. It is, in fact, a term which comprises bilingual education, content based instruction, immersion, English (or other languages) as medium of instruction and other methodologies.

e.    The Task-based language learning (TBLL), also known as task-based language teaching (TBLT) or task-based instruction (TBI) focuses on the use of authentic language and on asking students to do meaningful tasks using the target language. Such tasks can include visiting a doctor, conducting an interview, or calling customer service for help. Assessment is primarily based on task outcome (in other words the appropriate completion of tasks) rather than on accuracy of language forms. This makes TBLL especially popular for developing target language fluency and student confidence. TBLL was popularized by N. Prabhu while working in Bangalore, India. Prabhu[iv] noticed that his students could learn language just as easily with a non-linguistic problem as when they were concentrating on linguistic questions.

According to Jane Willis[v], TBLL consists of the pre-task, the task cycle, and the language focus. The core of the lesson is, as the name suggests, the task. All parts of the language used are emphasized during the activity itself, in order to get students to focus on the task.

3.  Conclusions

            The process of language teaching is a complex one and needs to take into consideration numerous aspects: types of learners, differences between mother tongue of the learners and the target language, activities, resources etc. My teaching English used many methods and directions, from the Grammar Translation in some cases, to the Communicative Approach, TBLT and CLIL. Yet, the best results were attained when I integrated two or more skills in the class and I taught grammar and vocabulary using communicative methods.

 

Bibliography

Breen, M. (1984) : Student Contributions to Task Design,  Oxford University Press, Oxford

Ellis, R. (2003): Task-based language learning and teaching, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Harmer, Jeremy (2000) :The Practice of English Teaching, Longman, London

Krashen, S. (1981) : Second language acquisition and second language learning, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Krashen, S.(1985) : The Input Hypothesis :Issues and Implications, Harlow: Longman, London

Long, M and Crookes, G. (1992): Three Approaches to task-based syllabus design, Tesol Quarterly, London

Long, M.H. (1985):A role for instruction in second language acquisition: Task-based language training, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Mohan, B. (1986): Language and content, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Norris, J. and Ortega, L. (2000): Effectiveness of L2 instruction: A research synthesis and quantitative meta-analysis, Language Learning, London

Nunan, D. (2001): Task-based language teaching, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Prabhu, N (1987): Second Language Pedagogy: a perspective, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Richards, Platt and Weber (1985) :Longman, London Dictionary of Applied Linguistics, Longman, London

Willis, J.(2001):A Framework for Task-based Learning, Longman, London


 

[i] Harmer, Jeremy (2000) :The Practice of English Teaching, Longman, London, p.52

[ii] Oxford, Rebecca  (2001): Integrated Skills in the ESL/EFL Classroom, www.Online Resources: Digests, September 2001.com, accessed 15th June 2010, 18:14

[iii] Mohan, B. (1986): Language and content, Oxford University Press, Oxford, p.18

[iv] Prabhu, N (1987): Second Language Pedagogy: a perspective, Oxford University Press, Oxford, p.16

[v] Willis, J.(2001):A Framework for Task-based Learning, Longman, London, p. 18



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Multiple Intelligences and Learning Styles. Using Multiple Intelligences in Teaching Highschool Students

by Ştefania Dobrin, Colegiul Naţional "Emil Racoviţă", Braşov

Keywords: multiple intelligences, language learning, culture


Learning takes place in a quite natural and imperceptible manner in many cases. We may meditate on the way that kids can do something which they could not do earlier and we may be surprised to find out how much a young child has advanced over a short period of time. This is called unplanned learning and as such it is perceived as distinct from the planned learning that occurs in the more formal locations of our educational system such as schools, nurseries and playgrounds.
While developing, children follow what is considered a normal method of learning and they become experienced and educated. However, in order to improve this process we need a well-established system where students are taught and where they are introduced into the accepted knowledge and abilities basis that is regarded to be fundamental if they are to grow into citizens of our society who are capable of working and have an effective contribution, as well as lead contented and comforting lives.
The methods by which the initiation is accomplished in particular the ways in which learning improvements and the most adequate approaches which teachers can use are at the heart of my paper. Learning does not take place out of the clear blue sky, although children will learn many things that are not prepared for in advance, and a comprehension of the ways in which we think learning happens is essential for those responsible for planning and carrying out programmes of learning- the teachers.
Teachers are able to provide wonderful opportunities for permitting children’s learning to progress. This article is aimed to provide details which teachers can make use of in their planning and teaching in order to supply favorable circumstances for effective and lifelong learning.
Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences makes teachers identify the different learning styles of the learners, the learning possibilities for achievement, etc. and acknowledge the learner’s development of learning strategies. All along my teaching experience, I noticed that many students or parents did not have accurate concepts about learning English. Their English learning being related to negative experiences brought about frustration in learning this language. My purpose in this paper is to introduce the MI theory and its uses in the classroom as well as help high school students develop effective learning strategies for bringing to a successful conclusion lifelong learning. With a comprehension of Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, teachers can better understand the learners. They can allow students to safely investigate and learn in many ways. Grown-ups can facilitate the pupils’ understanding, make them hold in high regard their strengths and pinpoint real world activities that will foster more learning.
Language learning would create the impression of being essentially a linguistic process, but someone with a notably developed linguistic intelligence, as measured by common IQ tests, is not by definition a successful second language learner. Gardner’s (1983) theory of Multiple Intelligences, with its ubiquitous, culturally based outlook of what embodies intelligence, suggests that, as with all human activities, language learning is the interaction of a number of intelligences. This model proposes a cognitive explanation for the differences in teenage student second language communicative competence, which the traditional views of intelligence do not.
Language is a social interchange. During the communication process, the interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences interact in complex and subtle ways. Interpersonal intelligence is considered to have an important role in second language learning. Empathy which is an aspect of interpersonal intelligence involves the ability to understand people and respond to them appropriately and those with a high degree of empathy appear to more successful second language learners. Language is one of the ways in which people react to each other. Effective communication needs empathy, which permits a continuous assessment and adaptation of what is being said, how it is being said and the body language that goes together with it.
Intrapersonal intelligence is highly involved in teenagers’ second language learning. Many of the affective variables that are important factors in second language mastery, such as self-esteem, inhibition and anxiety, are aspects of intrapersonal intelligence. Horwitz (1995) considers that “successful second language learning depends on the emotional responses of the learner” (p. 576). A well-developed intrapersonal intelligence enables one to understand both personal strengths and weaknesses, and recognises the way in which these are challenged by second language learning.
Learning a language is learning about a culture. The cross-cultural aspects of language learning are closely linked to interpersonal intelligence through the expression of the positive or negative attitude of the learner towards the culture of the language to be learned. Horwitz (1995) notes that the learner’s wish to assimilate into the new culture is an important motivational factor that enables them to use effective communicative skills not rudimentary ones. According to Diaz and Heining-Boynton (1995) authentic cultural understanding can be obtained through the interactions of various intelligences, and especially by the implications of the intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligences.
Non-verbal communication has another important role in the communication process. Wolfgang (1979) states that language and non-verbal language are “interdependent, used simultaneously, and are largely culturally bound” (p. 162).He argues that communication needs an understanding of such “non-verbal signals as gestures, spatial relations, touch and temporal relationships” (p. 161).There are many subtle differences in facial expression, gesture, posture, and head movements used in communication between cultures. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence may enhance awareness of, and it enables the learner to use appropriate body language.
The way space is handled, and the degrees of physical contact in interpersonal interactions vary between cultures. Spatial intelligence may augment sensitivity to attitudes about personal space, and permit the learner to get culturally proper behaviours more quickly. Brown (1994) also insists that spatial intelligence may influence the degree to which learners can feel comfortable in new surroundings.
There are some important characteristics of language that may have connections with musical intelligence, and are even characterized using the same terms. The pitch, tone, intonation and stress are the most important of these. Speakers of all language change the pitch of their voices when having a discussion. Most languages are tonal languages, languages which vary pitch on individual syllables to change the meaning of the word. In some languages, such as English, the meaning of the whole sentence is changed by the pitch contour or intonation of a phrase, or indicates the attitude of the speaker. “In many languages one or more of the syllables in words are stressed, or receive more emphasis. When words are combined in sentences, one of the syllables receives greater stress than the others (Fromkin et al. 1990)”.
It is complicated for someone whose native language is tonal to become familiar with and able to use pitch changes to give meaning to a whole phrase rather than individual syllables. As an alternative, for those whose first language is based on the use of intonation, telling the difference between tonal variations can be difficult. Musical intelligence might explain the difficulties some learners have in perceiving changes in pitch, differences in intonation, and stress patterns, and the apparent ease which others seem to manage this aspect of language learning.
Brown (1994) suggests that bodily-kinesthetic intelligence may also be important for learning the phonology, or the sounds, of a second language. Speech requires the use of several hundred muscles that control the mouth, tongue, larynx and throat. All along childhood children cultivate the control necessary to make the complex sound combinations used in speech. Brown (1994) points out that “it softens difficult for teenagers and adults to acquire authentic pronunciation of a second language. It takes much practice and repetition to learn how to make unfamiliar sounds, and to use them fluently. However, some individuals are able to learn to speak a second language with little or no accent, and it may be that having a highly developed bodily-kinesthetic intelligence assists in the control of speech muscles to reduce first language accent interference.”
To conclude, linguistic intelligence is important in the complex process of communication, but intrapersonal, interpersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, and spatial intelligence are also highly involved in the process of learning a second language. There may be aspects of logical-mathematical intelligence involved in second language learning, but these are less apparent than the other intelligences. Gardner’s complex theory of Multiple Intelligences, with its fundamental acknowledgement of diversity in human abilities and skills, which associate to create a unique intellectual profile, offers a comforting explanation for these differences in communicative competence.

Bibliography:
Brown, H. Douglas Principles of Language Learning and Teaching.Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Prentice-Hall. Inc.1994. Print
Diaz, L. and Heining-Boynton, A.L. Multiple Intelligences, Multiculturalism, the Teaching of Culture. International Journal of Educational Research 27(7), 607-617. 1995. Print
Fromkin, V., Rodman, R., Collins, P. and Blair, D. An Introduction to Language. Second Australian Edition, Sydney: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 1990. Print
Gardner, H. Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York, Basic Books. 1983. Print
Horwitz, E.K. Student Affective Reactions and the Teaching and Learning of Foreign Languages.International Journal of Educational Research, 23 (7).573-579. 1995.
Wolfgang, A.The Teacher and Nonverbal Behaviour in the multicultural Classroom. In Wolfgang, A. (Ed.), Nonverbal Behaviour : Applications and Cultural Implications. New York: Academic Press, Inc. 1979. Print

 

 

 Using the English Passive Voice. Difficulties Encountered by Romanian Learners

by Ioana Dugan, Şcoala nr.31, Bucureşti


Keywords: grammar, passive, procedure, Language structures

Teaching grammar does not mean lecturing on grammatical patterns and terminology. It does not mean bestowing knowledge and being an arbiter of correctness. Teaching grammar is the art of helping students to make sense, little by little by little, of a huge, puzzling construct, and engaging then in various activities that enhance usage abilities in all skills areas and promote easy, confident communication.
For native speakers the amount of time and motivation devoted to learning is so great that there is no necessity for conscious planning of the learning process. In a formal course of study, there is much less time available, and often less motivation, that is why learning time has to be organized for optimum efficiency.
Grammar may furnish the basis for a set of classroom activities during which it becomes temporarily the main learning objective. The learning of grammar should be seen in the long term as one of the means of acquiring a thorough mastery of the language of the whole, not as an end in itself. Teaching grammar means teaching structures. Thus, teachers get students to learn quite a large number of different, through related, bits of knowledge and skills. The following table presents the main aspects of teaching / learning of structures in the way that Penny Ur (1995) perceives them:


 

Skills

Form

Meaning

Listening

Perception and recognition of

the    spoken    form    of  the structure

Comprehension of the spoken

structure means in context

Speaking

Production   of well-   formed examples in speech

Use of the structure to convey meanings in speech

Reading

Perception recognition of the written form

Comprehension of the what the

written   structure   means   in

context

Writing

Production   of well  formed examples in writing

Use of the structure to convey meanings in writing

In The Practice of English Language Teaching, Jeremy Harmer gives the definitions of the following three concepts: approach, method and procedure. An approach describes how people acquire their knowledge of the language and makes statements about the conditions which will promote successful language learning.
A method is the practical realization of an approach, pointing out the types of activities, roles of teachers and students, the land of material, which will be helpful.
A procedure is an ordered sequence of techniques, in this research the audio lingual method has been used, based on the principle that language learning is habit formation. The method fosters dependence on mimicry, memorization of set phrases and over- learning.
It is clear that when we introduce a new piece of grammar, we must teach not only the form, but also one of its functions, and not only meaning but also use.
The rules of grammar, as the dictionary suggests are about how words change and how they are put together into sentences. Grammar is the way in which words change themselves and group to make sentences. The first problem appears. Here is the teacher's role to simplify the grammatical problem in order to solve this hard task to learn students' grammatical features in a foreign language. Teachers also have to be clear about the grammatical form of a new structural item. Once we are clear about the function and form of the new language we then have to decide what pattern it is going to be taught in.
The second reason why English grammar is difficult for students lies in the differences between English and their own language. A third reason for which English is considered hard is that it is full of exceptions to grammar rules.
The new material was presented in the form of a dialogue. The structural patterns were taught using repetitive drills. Grammar was taught inductively. Vocabulary was learned in context. The teaching points were determined by contrastive analysis between LI and L2. A lot of tapes and visual aids were used. Sometime the mother tongue was used when the uses and values of the English tenses were .explained. All successful responses were reinforced.
Drills were conducted as rapidly as possibly so as to ensure automatic learning and to establish a system. They were introduced in this way: focus (by writing *on the board), exemplify (by speaking model sentences) explain (if a simple grammatical explanation is needed), drill. The drill material was always meaningful.
When the content words were not knows the students were taught their meanings. There were used both shortcuts to keep the pace of drills at a maximum and hand motions, signal cards, notes to cue response. Short periods of drill (about 10 minutes) were interspersed with very brief alternative activities to avoid fatigue and boredom.
Normal English stress, intonation and juncture patterns conscientiously were also used. The teacher did not stand in one place, moving about the room, standing next to as many different students as possible in order to spot check their production and to know who to give more practice to during individual drilling. The backward buildup technique was used for long and/ or difficult patterns.
The drills were presented in the order of increasing complexity of student response: imitation first, single slot substitution next, then free response last. The students and the teacher talked about language, reporting about things, actions, events, or people about the environment or about the past or the future.
Here are some examples: asking for a description of someone or something, explaining or asking for explanations of how the English tenses works, comparing or contrasting things, discussing possibilities, probabilities, or capabilities of doing something, requesting of reporting facts about events or actions, evaluating the results of an action or event.
In order to improve the students' communicative ability, the audio lingual method was combined with the communicative approach.
Language structures are selected according to their utility in achieving a communicative purpose. Focus is on transmitting and receiving the message. Students participate at their own level of skill and comprehension.
Activities, such as role- play and simulation, involved the students in real communication, cooperative groups and pairs increasing interaction. To accomplish communicative intent many visuals, graphs, and displays were used.
These activities were practiced within the class as most of the students had a real desire to communicate. They also focused on the content of what they were saying or writing and they used a variety of language. The students had interesting discussions involving elements of creativity and artistic expression; namely: recombining familiar dialogues or passages creatively, suggesting original beginnings or endings to dialogs or stories, solving problems or mysteries.
After discovering the common mistakes made by the students during the English classes, in order to correct them, grammatical and syntactic elements were isolated in order to be taught inductively or deductively in a predetermined sequence. Thus, the structural approach was also used, being based on structure of language and contrasts between languages.
Penny Ur (1995) suggests four stages in organizing the grammar teaching: presentation, isolation and explanation, practice and test.
The aim of the presentation is to get the students to perceive the structure (its form and meaning) in both speech and writing and to take in into short- term memory. A good presentation should be clear, efficient, memorable, and should use standard terminology and informative terminology.
In the class was presented a text in with grammatical structure appeared. The text was first read loud by the teacher, then by the students. As a following-up activity, the students were asked to repeat, reproduce from memory, or copy out instances of the use of the structure within the text.
In order to better present different points of grammar, the following steps were used: -motivated the teaching of structures by showing how they were needed in real- life communication;
stated the objective of the lesson;
reviewed the familiar items in the target language that was needed to introduce, explain, or practice the new item;
used the new structure hi a brief utterance in which all to other words were know to the students;
modeled utterance several times;
engaged hi full class, half- class, group and individual repetition of the utterance;
gave several additional sentences hi which the structure was used;
wrote two of the sentences of the board; the new structure was underlined and curved arrows or diagrams were used to illustrate the relationship of the structure to other words and/or/ parts of the sentence;
pointed to the underlined structure as the questions were meant to guide the students to discover the sounds, the written form, the position hi the sentence and the grammatical function of the new structure;
-helped the students to verbalize the important features of the structure; charts and other aids were used to relate to other familiar structures such as verb tenses in passive forms;
engaged the students in varied guided oral practice;
required the students to consciously select the new grammatical item from contrasting one learned in the past, -had the students use the structure with communicative expression and familiar or new notions.
After this first stage of presentation, the next step was to move away from the context, and focus, temporarily, on the rules that governed the grammatical items. The aim was that the students should understand the various aspects of the structure.
 

Bibliography

A good explanation should be correct, simple, complete, general and productive. This should not contradict itself, or any other explanations the students might have been given. The grammar rules were explained to the students as simple as possible, but no simpler.
1. Harmer, J., The Practice of English Language Teaching, Longman, 2000
2. Vizenthal, Adriana, Metodica predarii limbii engleze – Strategies of Teaching and Testing English as a Foreign Language, Ed. Polirom, Iasi, 2007
3. Stanisoara, Codruta Mirela, The Language of Teaching and Learning, A Guide to English Language Teaching Terms, Ed. Didactica si Pedagogica RA, Bucuresti, 2008
4. Paidos Constantin, English Grammar Theory and Practice, vol. I – II, Ed. Polirom


 

 E-learning: New Interfaces in Education
by Ramona Elena Gavriloaia, “Vasile Alecsandri” National College Bacău

Keywords:
multimedia, pedagogy, technology

In 1801 a Scottish Geography teacher revolutionised the educational context by presenting his new invention: the blackboard. Time has passed and nowadays, the blackboard has become obsolete and it tends to be a thing of the past. The black slates with wooden frame have been replaced by white and interactive boards. A modern effective class can no longer be seen in the absence of a computer, a CD-ROM or even a video projector. Once, the lesson involved both the teacher and the students in a traditional gestual system of using the blackboard, where energy and work was achieved by the intensity and distribution of force. Later on, when they shifted interest in interactive boards and mimios, the gestual system in the classroom has given way to the simple contact of hand or even the effortless surveillance of eye or ear. This should not come as too much a surprise as the reality around us has shown that people are entirely immersed in technology. The promise of revolutionizing education through the use of multimedia can be found as early as 1922. Richard E. Mayer (cited by Gregory Krippel) brings evidence of the beliefs of Thomas Edison who considered that “the motion picture is destined to revolutionize our educational system and that in a few years it will supplant…the use of textbooks” or Benjamin Darrow who proclaimed that the radio would “bring the world to the classroom”. Moreover, the 1950s educational television was considered a way to create a “continental classroom” that would provide access to “richer education at less cost”. And, if to all these you add the overwhelming phenomenon of the Internet you get an impressive social context. The reality which teachers have to keep up the pace with and find ways to motivate their students is that where it took the radio 38 years to reach 50 million users, while Facebook needed only 9 months to reach 100 million users.

Values have changed and education had to look for new approaches. One of these starts from the idea that humans receive data through multiple channels, or media, including audio and visual channels as well as touch, taste and smell. Multimedia is most commonly defined as the use of at least two of these elements: sound (audio), and text, still graphics, and motion graphics (visual). Researchers such as Robert Tannenbaum or Timothy Ellis (cited by Gregory Krippel) have confirmed the importance of multiple channels for delivery of education because when information is presented by more than one channel, there will be addition reinforcement, resulting in greater retention and improved learning. Others also add the utmost importance of the interactive component that allows the learner to interact with the material in such a way as to control the outcome of the presentation.

However, we should keep in mind that there is no such a thing as a universal applicability of multimedia to all areas of the educational environment. In order to avoid the dissatisfaction caused by unrealistic “great expectations”, educators have to take into consideration the types of learners they are addressing. Research indicates that spatial learners and those with low prior knowledge outperform high-prior-knowledge students and have the most benefits by the use of multimedia. Multimedia may also appeal to surface learners, who usually seek ways of avoiding working too hard or failing. In this case standard multimedia can also be effective and if interactivity is added in order to become a challenge for deep learners, as well. However, teachers should know that multimedia is not beneficial to deep learning of internally motivated, knowledgeable achievers. Multimedia has been found to be highly beneficial to visual learners but detrimental to highly verbal individuals. On the other hand, adding animated pedagogical agents does not seem to increase learning and may diminish instructional effectiveness, because agents often produce cognitive overload for students. Personality types also provide clues as to the efficiency of multimedia. Thus, the introverted, intuitive, feeling, judging personality types would prefer multimedia training, while the extrovert, sensing, thinking, perceiving type would prefer lectures.


A very fashionable multimedia tool (over-)used in both the classroom and the boardroom is the PowerPoint. Once a must-have, these types of presentations have undergone a series of critics and have turned out to be considered a “weak” form of multimedia, as few utilize its interactive components. Russel J Craig and Joel H. Amernic (cited by Gregory Krippel) studied whether or not the use of PowerPoint led to more effective learning and cite researchers who argue that PowerPoint elevates form over content, that it is denounced by academics and CEOs for producing detrimental effects on dialogue, interaction, and thoughtful consideration of ideas, and replaces clear thought with unnecessary animations, serious ideas with ten-word bullet points, substance with confusing style.

In order to create a valuable pedagogical tool we should base our multimedia products on the principles proposed by R. E. Mayer (cited by Derek A. Muller, John Eklund and Manjula D. Sharma) after conducting a series of experiments.

1. Multiple Representation Principle: It is better to present an explanation in words and pictures than solely in words. For example, students who listened to a narration explaining how a bicycle tire pump works while also viewing a corresponding animation generated twice as many useful solutions to subsequent problem solving transfer questions than did students who listened to the same narration without viewing any animation. The explanation is that students are able to build two different mental representations, a verbal model and a visual model, and build connections between them.

2. Contiguity Principle: When giving a multimedia explanation, present corresponding
words and pictures contiguously rather than separately. It has been proven that students better understand an explanation when corresponding words and pictures are presented at the same time than when they are separated in time because corresponding words and pictures must be in working memory at the same time in order to facilitate the construction of referential links between them.

3. Split-Attention Principle: When giving a multimedia explanation, present words as
auditory narration rather than as visual on-screen text. For example, students who viewed an animation depicting the formation of lightning while also listening to a corresponding narration generated approximately 50% more useful solutions on a subsequent problem-solving transfer test than did students who viewed the same animation with corresponding on-screen text consisting of the same words as the narration.

4. Individual Differences Principle: The foregoing principles are more important for low-knowledge than high-knowledge learners, and for high-spatial rather than low-spatial learners. Students who lack prior knowledge tended to show stronger multimedia effects and contiguity effects than students who possessed high levels of prior knowledge. According to a cognitive theory of multimedia learning, students with high prior knowledge may be able to generate their own mental images while listening to an animation or reading a verbal text so having a contiguous visual presentation is not needed. Additionally, students with high spatial ability are able to hold the visual image in visual working memory and thus are more likely to benefit from contiguous presentation of words and pictures.

5. Coherence Principle: When giving a multimedia explanation, use few rather than many extraneous words and pictures. Students learn better from a coherent summary which highlights the relevant words and pictures than from a longer version of the summary as a shorter presentation primes the learner to select relevant information and organize it productively.

In the end, we might conclude that educators have to identify and define the characteristics of the educational environments in which the new technology are used and decide upon their efficiency.



Bibliography

Derek A. Muller, John Eklund and Manjula D. Sharma, The future of multimedia learning: Essential issues for research,
(on http://www.aare.edu.au/05pap/mul05178.pdf).

Ellul, Jacques (1980), The Technological System, Translated from French by Joachim Neugroschel, Originally published as Le Systeme technician by Calmann-Levy, The Continuum Publishing Corporation, New York.

Khlyzova N., Multimedia as leading means of media education at teaching English to linguistic university students,
(on http://www.montenegro-science.org/files/2008/03/2008_03_33.pdf)

Krippel, Gregory, Multimedia use in higher education: promises and pitfalls, Journal of Instructional Pedagogies, (on http://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/09329.pdf).

Mayer, Richard E. and Moreno, Roxana, A Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning: Implications for Design Principles (on http://www.unm.edu/~moreno/PDFS/chi.pdf).
 

 

 Killing Two Birds with the Same Stone. Higher Order Skills Embedded in E-teaching Strategies
 

by Monica-Catia Giuchici, Liceul Teoretic Traian Lalescu, Reşiţa
 

Keywords: taxonomy, foresee model, memletics, MI, six hats theory

 

Introduction
Meta-cognitive skills have become a sine qua non in any 21st century teaching approach from primary, lower- and upper-secondary education, tertiary or university level. Whilst the traditional recipe of instruction based on “what to teach” has consumed so much effort, time, and energies meant at transmitting and acquiring knowledge, little or no attention has been allotted to higher-order skills which, once embedded in a curriculum and further-on released within a teaching-learning-evaluating paradigm, could make a qualitative difference. Provided the whole procedural approach is released online, any specialist in education can “kill two birds with the same stone”.
Purpose and Rationale
Owing to the fact that the fall of 2010 is the starting point of piloting a 3rd generation Curriculum based on meta-cognitive competences within the Romanian educational system, this article is meant at building a learner-centered strategy based on the latest most acknowledged taxonomies to be further nourished by as many possible replicating techniques to help Romanian teachers, teacher-trainers, and specialists identify, develop, and adapt the present material to their own educational environments, only to be later released on a professional blog as an ongoing process of curriculum writing.
 

The Why’s of the Process
Any shift of paradigm in education brings us back to main stream taxonomies whilst reorganizing curricula, syllabi or textbooks. Subsequently, we are going to tackle, discuss, and analyze a set of seven cognitive, socio-affective, and meta-cognitive models as follows:
1.Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956)
Based on vertical thinking, Bloom’s taxonomy delineates the sequential steps of building logical thinking, from remembering and retrieving previously learned material (“knowledge”), grasping and constructing meaning(“comprehension”), implementing material in concrete situations(“application”), deconstructing material into its components(“analysis”), reconstructing the elements into a coherent whole(“synthesis”), only to finally check the value of the new construct(“evaluation”). Yet, within the stage of “synthesis”, elements of higher-order skills can already be identified to be successfully used within a meta-cognitive educational paradigm.
2. Anderson and Krathwohl’s Taxonomy (1995-2000)
The revisited version of Bloom’s taxonomy includes new types of knowledge from “factual”, “conceptual”, “procedural”, to “meta-cognitive” elements. The major difference between the two taxonomies is gradually built from the very first stage. As such, starting with the process of retrieving knowledge from memory, the approach shifts from “what to teach” to “how to teach” thus directing the whole approach to the learner’s self participation within his/her educational development. Consequently, the second stage of the paradigm deals with constructing meaning from varied sources by using a large array of mental operations, i.e., interpreting, comparing, and contrasting elements, the last but one involving the learner’s direct participation into his/her own training and coaching . Thus, the following step represented by “executing” and “implementing” the material easily shifts towards the evaluation or check-in point through engendering ever new patterns and structures of the elements tackled only to reach the last stage of creativity. Such an approach would deal away with the constraints of any curriculum, giving the learner the extraordinary opportunity of building his/her own curriculum.
3. Bonaiuto’s Taxonomy of Gestures (2002)
When it comes to the socio-affective implications of an educational paradigm, Bonaiuto’s taxonomy of gestures comes to mind within a dyad-type of approach of “discourse linked” and “discourse non-linked” elements. Whilst the former component refers to “cohesive”, “rhythmic”, and “ideational” elements, the latter includes “iconic”, “metaphoric”, and “deictic” representations. Both divisions deal with the taxonomy of gestures only, the latter half being interpreted as follows: the “iconic” gestures reproduce the form of the material world (objects), the “metaphoric” gestures point out the abstract concepts, whilst the “deictic” references deal with the circumstances of the non-verbal communication. Both the “discourse linked” as well as the “discourse non-linked” gestures help the interlocutor to swiftly understand, foresee, and adjust his/her discourse on an ongoing principle and thus to get immediate effect of his/her turn-taking in any face to face real life approach.

4. Kolb’s ELT Model (1984)
Originating in Roger’s, Jung’s, and Piaget’s theories, David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory represents a further model of human learning and understanding. In his conception, the process of personal learning is a continuum built around a procedural crossing of two-by-two concurrent developments, i.e., a “perception continuum” and a “processing continuum”. The former deals with “thinking about things”,connecting, in Kolb’s terminology, Concrete Experience (CE) to Abstract Conceptualization (AC), whilst the latter conjoins Active Experimentation (AE) to Reflective Observation (RO). Within this dyadic crossing of continuums, each double intersects within another four-stage process, starting from “diverging” (CE/RO) passing through a process of “assimilating” (AC/RO), ongoing through “converging” (thinking and doing, i.e. ,AC/AE) to finally “accommodating” (coming back to “feeling”, but actually “doing”, i.e., CE/AE). Consequently, the large array of combinations leads us to 16 combinations and variations of the model within a “two-by-two matrix” of four-stage cycle styles. Whilst the perception and processing continuums act together, the whole model reaches a “dialectical” stage interpreted by Kolb as a positive phenomenon which indicates “choice”, and, thus the overall learning construction becomes operable in dyads only. The result is the working out of individual learning styles enabling both the learner, the teacher or the teacher-trainer to easily identify their learning strategy and style, from the “reflector” ( diverging-feeling and watching-CE/RO), the “theorist” (assimilating-watching and thinking-AC/RO), to the “pragmatist” (converging-doing and thinking-AC/AE) to finally reach the “activist” (accommodating-doing and feeling-CE/AE).Subsequently, the four variations support quality, personal and professional development through the roles assumed and made optimum use of within group dynamics.
5. Rebecca Oxford’s Foresee Model (2003)
The four taxonomies discussed above pave the way towards academic learning, including the three main components used by Chamot and O’Malley ,in 1994, in their CALLA approach, i.e., “language”, “”content”, and “learning strategies”. Starting from their theory, Rebecca Oxford pushed the process a step further in her “Foresee Model” (2003) by changing the order of the three element-strategy and making the “content” the apex of her triangle as follows:
a). Content component (facts, processes, skills);
b). Language component (linguistic knowledge, functions, skills);
c). Learning strategies component (cognitive strategies, meta-cognitive strategies, social-affective strategies).Mention should be made that each triad within the components are interconnected by a double arrow, thus mutually making the model stand as a whole.
Moreover, Rebecca Oxford emphasizes within the skills development strategy the importance of IT competences irrespective of the type of subject-matter, whilst for the technique to successfully build the formerly mentioned component, she identifies problem-solving as an overall binding material.
As for the language component, the author sees it differently from Chamot and O’Malley, i.e., she groups vocabulary with structures and discourse features within the language component. However, just like the authors of CALLA, Rebecca Oxford recognizes the importance of “sufficient practice in using language in academic contexts” (Chamot and O’Malley, 1987), underlying the importance of teaching academic conventions for raising awareness in academic language development, another “must” within a meta-cognitive curriculum.
6. Howard Gardner’s MI Theory (1983)
Questioning the importance of the G factor in education, yet not denying it, Howard Gardner identified seven multiple intelligences a person can be endowed with when representing himself/herself into the world. Starting with the logical-linguistic and logical- mathematical intelligences, ongoing with the kinesthetic, musical, spatial, and reaching the intra- and interpersonal ones, the author has proved with statistics and actual research that the age of the famous IQ tests has come to an end.
Moreover, whilst discussing exceptional performances of master minds such as Shakespeare, Mozart, Goethe, Velasquez or Rembrandt, Howard Gardner rightly commented that “some creativity can be manifest prior to a determination that someone has attached the level of master”(1999), leaving the specialists in education even more baffled. Fortunately enough, the vast majority of learners possess all the seven range of intelligences, further expanded by Gardner with two more, i.e., the existentialist and naturalist ones.
Subsequently, an expert in education has the opportunity of identifying, develop, and foster all the aforementioned intelligences within the learner provided a multiple array of learning strategies and styles are met with along a larger time span so that eventually none has been neglected. The integration and organic development of the abovementioned styles into a meta-cognitive curriculum can make all the difference in shaping the whole person learner.


7. Sean Whiteley’s Memletics (2003)
Originating in the Greek word “Mnemosine”, i.e., the Goddess of memory, Memletics is meant to be a new science and model of accelerated learning. Using as a starting point the comparison between NLP (Bandler and Grinder, the early 1970’s) which covers the mental state in detail ( visual, aural, and kinesthetic) the latter does not cover a huge array of accelerated learning topics in Whiteley’s opinion.
A further connection is made by Sean Whiteley with Mind-Mapping (the late 1970’s) which proves of great help for visual learners again, yet seriously neglecting all the other learning styles and definitely not meeting important educational challenges such as motivation, stress, error correction, and many others. Consequently, Sean Whiteley’s Memletics and Learning Styles Inventory is delineated by the following seven-pattern learning strategies and styles as follows:
· The visual learning style ( with preference for images, pictures, spatial orientation);
· The aural learning style ( motivated by sounds and music);
· The verbal learning style (Broca’s brain and Howard Gardner’s logical-lingiustic intelligence);
· The physical learning style (Gardner’s kinesthetic intelligence);
· The logical learning style (the logical-mathematical intelligence);
· The social learning style (the interpersonal intelligence0;
· The solitary learning style (the intrapersonal intelligence).
Boosted by a series of well-designed online tests, quizzes, and questionnaires, Memletics has become a source of learning and personal discovery within the Life Long Learning continuum.
 

The How’s of the Process
Matching the aforementioned taxonomies of cognitive, socio-affective, and meta-cognitive skills, we are going to propose a plethora of seven strategies of collaborative learning meant at smoothening the path towards an integrative learner-centered paradigm as follows:

1.Think-Pair-Share
A learning strategy developed by Lyman et. alia, Think-Pair-Share provides “food for thought” on varied topics, helps learners to discover the terminology of a subject-matter, to place information within a formerly acquired material as well as to do away with stressful learning contexts. Starting from assigning partners by the teacher, the strategy involves random selectiveness of the dyad to tackle one or several questions, so as to finally find answers for. The result is increased learner’s accountability, motivation, and self-esteem.
2.Retrospective Self-Reports
Being an introspective learning strategy or what Wenden (1998) called “stream of consciousness” applied within an educational approach to build meta-cognitive skills, retrospective self-reports have been divided into “semi-structured interviews’ and “structured questionnaires” (Thanasoulas,2000). As for the former subdivision, this deals with getting information about the learner’s feelings about the task, identifying the problems they have encountered while solving the task as well as finding the best strategies to successfully solve it.
When it comes to the second subdivision, i.e., the “structured questionnaires”, these help the learner to acquire and retain information through the dichotomy “agree/disagree”, which helps the teacher to reorganize both the teaching and the assessment strategies.
3.Problem-Solving Approach
Having been defined as a higher order cognitive process including “problem finding” and “problem shaping”, problem-solving represents both a strategy and a skill involving clarifying the problem, analyzing its causes, formulating alternatives, and assessing the choice voted for. Being a continuum, the process determines the learner to make decisions, to implement them, and, to finally, evaluate the assumed choice. Consequently, the strategy fosters the learner’s self-esteem, shaping his/her accountability and shaping his/her responsibility for the solutions engendered. As a self-assessment strategy, the approach can be evaluated and checked through the KWHL paradigm (know, want to know, how I learnt, learnt, and sharing it – Paul and Elder, 2006).
4. Socratic Questioning
Socrates used to ask his disciples a set of six types of questions to discover the ultimate truth of a problem by “leading out” (“ex duco”) the root of the issue under discussion. The purpose of such an elaborate process was to lead his trainees through an extremely accurate process of thinking whose main features were clarity, meticulousness, consistency, and relevance, and, thus, reaching the learner’s “completeness of thinking”. (Agnieszka Alboszta, 2010).
As a result, the six categories of Socratic questions to drive learners reach their goal are the following:
· Conceptual clarification questions (defining the background of a problem);
· Probing assumptions (building presuppositions and making hypotheses);
· Probing rationale, reasons and evidence (building arguments as well as their rationale);
· Questioning viewpoints and perspectives (challenging varied positions with extra arguments and reasoning);
· Probing implications and consequences (disentangling the unwanted negative consequences of a viewpoint);
· Questions about the question (turning the question on all its sides throughout a reflexive process).
The result of the formerly displayed six stage questioning process helps the learner to become proficient not only in language, meta-language, but also in shaping his/her critical thinking.
5. The SEEI Strategy
This is a procedural technique of defining concepts by “stating” the definition of the term, “elaborating” on it by adding details, “exemplifying” by giving concrete examples, to eventually “illustrating’ the concept through an image, metaphor, drawing. The technique has been developed by Elder and Paul in 2006.
Just as Socratic questioning helps the learner to discipline his/her mind and finally reach his/her ultimate goal, so does the SEEI strategy assist the trainee to fully understand any idea or terminology of a subject-matter and, through clarity, accuracy, depth of logic and significance, the latter can transfer knowledge to any other context.
6. Graphs
Being a special application of the problem-solving technique, graphs involve a multiple array of components: “perceptual” (intuitive-automatic as analogical ways to personal experiences), “cognitive” (discipline specific), as well as “meta-cognitive” (by including the critiquing of symbolic graphics). The latter, as investigations confirm, represent a multifunctional system of developing spatial intellect as cognitive visualization engenders solutions for abstracting, self-completing, and self-developing the individual’s creative potential.
Even if criticized by Sean Whiteley (2003), in his book “Memletics”, graphs represent an extraordinary asset of transferring information by making inferences, reorganizing the material according to the learner’s needs, interests, ultimate goals as well as a way out towards lateral and creative thinking (Edward de Bono, 2009).

7. Six Thinking Hats (Edward de Bono)
Considered as the most robust change within human thinking since Socrates, “The Six Hats Theory” represents a system of self-organization amidst a world of perpetual change and instability. As such, the traditional question in education of “what is it?” changes into its replacement of “what can it be?” irrespective of the number of parallel contradictions, controversies or dialectal situations.
The key problem of the strategy is that the experience and intelligence of each and every member of a team can be used in the same direction. The approach represents Confucius’ theory in as much as family members, peers, employers, and employees focus on a certain pattern behavior. As a result, conjoint behavior represents a magnet which determines all the team-players to make use of their fully-fledged intelligences, experience, and knowledge by acting towards the same goal.
Whether by using the white hat (facts and figures), the red hat (rendering anger and emotions), the black hat (precaution and care), the yellow hat (positive thinking), the green hat (creativity), or the blue hat (coordination and leadership), the whole strategy includes all the skills categories specific to meta-cognitive competences, i.e., cognitive, socio-affective and meta-cognitive, thus leading to a complete personal development.

Conclusion
All in all, the seven aforementioned taxonomies can help any curriculum designer in planning the core construction of a meta-cognitive referential ensemble by organically matching them to the other seven learner-based strategies. While the former offer the scaffold of the design, the latter suggest the learning tools for making the ensemble function. The result is an autonomous learner capable of engendering and steering his/her own life-long itinerary. Yet, we do know that “the map is not the territory” and any educational paradigm is relative, even if we, as educators, are able to “kill two birds with the same stone” at a certain time.

Reference

1.Anderson, N.J., Krathwohl, D.R. (2001) “A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing. A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives”. Allyn &Bacon, Boston (Pearson Education Group).
2.Alboszta, A., (2010) “Critical Thinking: Getting Students There”, UMBC Summer Program: E-Professional Workshop.
3. Bloom, B.S., (1956) “Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals”, by a committee of college and university examiners Handbook I: Cognitive Domain, NY, Longmans, Green.
4. Bonaiuto et alia (2002) “Proposta e verifica di una tassonomia per la codifica dei gesti delle mani”, in “Giornal Italiano di Psicologia, 29, 777-807.
5. Bono (de) E., (1998) “Six Thinking Hats”, Penguin Books, Suffolk, England.
6. Crandall, J.A., (1999) “Cooperative Language Learning and Affective Factors”. In J. Arnold (ed.) Affective Factors in Language Learning, MA: CUP.
7. Elder, L., Paul, R., (2006) “Critical Thinking and the Art of Substantive Writing. Part III (Fall 2006), Issue 1, pp. 32-33.
8. Fantuzo, J.W. AND Rohrebeck, C.A., (1992) “Self-managed Groups. Fitting Self-management Approaches into Classroom Systems, School Psychology Review.
9. Kolb, D., (1984) “Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory. Learning Styles Model” (1984).
10. Knowles, M.S., (1983) “Andragogy: An Emerging Technology for Adult Learning. In M. Tight (ed.). Adult Learning and Education, London: Croom Helm.
11. Littlejohn, A., (1997) “Self-access Work and Curriculum Ideologies’. In Benson P. and Voller, P., (ed.). Autonomy and Independence in Language Learning. London: Longman.
12. O’Malley, J.M. and Chamot, A.V. (1990) “Learning Strategies in Second Language Acquisition”. London; MacMillan.
13. Oxford, R.L., (2001) “Language Learning Styles and Strategies”. In M. Celce – Murcia (ed.). “Teaching English as a Second Foreign Language”. (3rd ed.), pp.359-366. Boston : Heinle & Heinle/ Thompson International.
14. Rinvolucri, M., (1984) “Grammar Games. Cognitive, Affective, and Drama Activation for EFL Students”. Cambridge: CUP.
15. Sang, M.L.& Suzanne, J.P. (2000) “Culture, Entrepreneurial Orientation and Global Competitiveness.” In Journal of World Business, vol.35, issue 4.
16. Thanasoulas, D. (2000) “What Is Learner’s Autonomy and How Can It Be Fostered?”In The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 11, November.
17. Valais, T.H., (2010) “Learning Styles and Learning Strategies for ELLS”, UMBC E-Teacher Scholarship Program. “Professional Development Program”.
18. Wenden, A., (1998) “Learning Strategies for Learner Autonomy”. Great Britain: Prentice Hall.
19. Whiteley, S., (2003) “Memletics.” High Performance Learning. Learning Styles – online. Com.
20. *** http://changingminds.org/techniques/questioning/socratic_questions.htm
 

 Varieties of English in the Classroom. Standard and Non-Standard English in the Eyes of Our Students
by Anca Patrichi, Gr. Sc. Virgil Madgearu, Iaşi


Keywords: English varieties, standard and non-standard English, slang

Reality always strikes us teachers and awakens us from the dreams we have just before we step into our beloved students’ classes. Their wandering eyes, some more bored than others, remind us it is not exactly how books describe the teaching process. After finally getting their attention in lead-in activities, the teacher feels engaged, energized and ready for anything. Then, suddenly, two fingers rise boldly and ask a simple question: ‘Why should we say I haven’t got any, instead of I ain’t got no ....? - it’s what everyone else says in songs and on TV’. It is rather difficult, but also challenging to insert such a lengthy explanation into the lesson. Taking nowadays’ trends into account, why should they speak like their teachers? And this is the point in which everything turns blurry and the running towards the end of the tunnel begins. For many of our students this end is represented by non-standard varieties of English.
Unfortunately, we tend to forget they do not understand the notion of variety too well. They generally ask “So, which of these two is correct – American English or British English?” A first step in dealing with this predicament would be explaining what a variety is. Language is dynamic, so it is permanently marked by variation, which is a never ending process of change. Varieties represent the relatively stable and homogeneous results that variation yields. There are different types of variation, which affect the language and lead to the forming of varieties: language change (in time), regional variation (in space), social variation (on the social ladder) and stylistic variation (occasion of use). Language is dynamic and this is shown by the changes noted in the history of language. Even nowadays there are differences noticed from one generation to another. For example, in the case of English, in the last few decades there has been a tendency towards simplifying certain diphthongs and triphthongs: /ai∂/ loses the medial vowel and is thus replaced with a diphthong /a: ∂/. There are also lexical changes. New terms denote new realities: computer, mp3-player, CD, DVD, or new items replace the existing ones: record player has taken the place of gramophone. The changes in grammar have much slower rhythms. Trudgill & Hughes mention the present tendency to use the present perfect tense in conjunction with expressions of past time reference (e.g., “And Roberto has played for us last season” probably meaning “And Roberto has played for us. He played last season”). Thus, students ought to be explained that regional variations and social variations are the main causes for many of the confusions created among English speakers. Such confusions are bound to appear because there are approximately seventy-five territories where English is spoken either as a first language, or as an official second language in different fields (government, law, education).
Once they acknowledge the existence of these different varieties without a desperate look on their lovely faces or the desire to run from the classroom, teachers must inform them about ‘standard’ varieties and ‘nonstandard’ varieties. We know that the main levels on which non-standard Englishes differ from Standard English are the following: pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and discourse style. Thus, let us have a closer look at what some of us should know.
Regarding pronunciation, the dental fricative sounds /θ/ and /đ/ as in ‘thin’ and ‘this’, are spoken with an RP accent by a minority, but most foreign speakers pronounce them differently. For example, speakers of West Indian English use instead the sounds /t/ and /d/, so that words are pronounced ‘tin’ and ‘dis’. On the other hand, speakers of Sri Lankan, Malaysian, many African countries and Singaporean often use the sounds /tθ/ and /dđ/, so the sounds are pronounced ‘t-thin’ and ‘d-this’. In the same regions, but also in some Eastern European countries there is little difference between short and long vowels /i/ and /i:/, so the words ‘sit’ and ‘seat’ tend to be pronounced both as /i/. The above and other non-standard characteristics of pronunciation do not have to become more than informative and ideally, our students must first of all learn the standard dictionary pronunciation in the two main standard varieties (British and American English).
In terms of grammar things should be more clear. For instance, we know that multiple negation is found in non-standard varieties throughout the world. (I didn’t have no money. instead of I had no money/I didn’t have any money., which is correct in Standard English). The form ‘ain’t’ is not found in Britain, but it is extremely common in non-standard varieties. It is equated to the verb to be and the auxiliary have, but never to the full verb to have, e.g., ‘I ain’t coming’. The form ‘aren’t’, which is standard for the second person singular, for plural forms and first person interrogative, can also be used in negative sentences in West Midland and Scotland: ‘I aren’t…’. ‘Never’ can refer to a single occasion, just as ‘didn’t’. I never done it. = I didn’t do it.
Another confusing problem is verb forms. Students ask why they are forced to use ‘I have’ and ‘He has’, if many Afro-Americans in USA say in Black English slang ‘I has a lot of dough’. Social class excluded, the third-person-singular ending –s is absent in East England and in many American varieties: He don’t know. In other parts of Britain (north and west), the paradigm is regular in the sense that all persons take –s: I likes it. Concerning past tense verb forms, there is a tendency in leveling in non-standard dialects. Thus the Standard English paradigm see-saw-seen is replaced by see-see-seen. All these are not grammatically correct, thus, we shall not present them as models to follow. We can however point out such instances, making them feel proud they know the standard verb form.
Concerning vocabulary, there are some examples that show the creative capacity of speakers of New Englishes (varieties, often called “Englishes” - a notion which appeared in the context of the spread of English in different remote places of the globe) and their openness to indigenous languages. The impact of such creative new words on our students is sometimes quite strong because they tend to remember the standard phrases more easily and make fun of the others. Creativity is often observed in coinages, which most commonly arise in two ways: by addition of a prefix or suffix to an existing word or by compounding. Here are some examples of strange coinage: spacy = ’spacious’, teacheress = ’female teacher’, key-bunch = ’bunch of keys’ – Indian English; peelhead = ’a bald-headed person’ – Jamaican English, dry coffee = ’coffee without milk and sugar’ – East African English. However, most of the native speakers classify creativity as error. Thus, there is a thin line between giving examples of non-standard English and actually encouraging the use of it.
This thin line is tightly connected to the teachers’ creativity, which is the basis of everything, not only for forming indigenous language combinations. Thus, we should creatively explain to our students that what they hear is not always correct and exemplify with some of the ‘trends’ in non-standard varieties (Afro-American English, Indian English, Caribbean English and so on). On the other hand, they ought to be told that there is a standard which we should try to follow in order to get closer to native English. However, there is no ‘correct’ standard variety – they are simply different ways of speaking the same language (American English, British English, Australian English or Canadian English). They just exist according to some coordinates which we cannot control and there is no variety better than the other. As for students, they have to deal with their existence with our help. Perhaps the best approach would be comparing these varieties with our regional different dialects. In reference to non-standard street language, positive results could be obtained after telling them that the slang used by some rude rappers will not really help them in becoming successful business people, doctors or presidents...

Bibliography:
1. Albu, Rodica, Using Englishes, Ed. Ars Longa, Iasi, 2003;
2. Baily, W., Richard, Görlach, Manfred (ed.), English as a World Language, The University of Michigan Press, 1982;
3. Bryson, Bill, Mother tongue – The English Language, Penguin Books, 1990;
4. Jenkins, Jennifer, World Englishes, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, London, 2003.
 

 

 The Never-ending Story of Cultural Explorers. Integrating culture and civilization in ELT
by Alina Stancu, “Miron Costin” High School, Iaşi

Keywords:
education, identity, cultural awareness, Culture, cultures, resources

“So many men, so many minds”, wisdom has it. For all these, life presents itself with a great challenge – that of growth and refinement, in a nutshell, of cultivation. The fascinating side of this process consists not only in the complex of elements conditioning the “root” and the “fruit“, but also in that both the means and goals of cultivating human nature are the ways, norms, conventions of the world and especially language. Thought-ordering and expressive of our beliefs and attitudes, language also gives us cultural identity. Rather old news so far, our fellow teachers of modern languages might say while seriously trying to correlate the ministerial expectations and standards prescribed by the Law of National Education with their own real professional needs and objectives.
What and how to teach for better visible effects against an ever-reforming status of the Romanian formal education, that is the question: whether it is mainly the mastery of the structural system of the foreign language, or a privileged communication of meanings, which are at times unpredictable and resistant to patterning. For the reason that studying a foreign language involves cultural acquisitions, whereas teaching the language is also the transmission of culture, the topics of English as foreign language for general purposes must be made relevant to the learners’ cultural needs and interests. The content of the English language course will reflect not only the structural prerequisites of communication and a repertoire of linguistic functions, but also the topical framework necessary to the learners’ validation of the language learnt. The topic areas in the textbooks and auxiliary resources we use for class work anticipate the life situations the students might encounter and the communicative tools they need for optimal performance of their roles in society. For this, a selection of cultural topics must be made within the adequate parameters of accessibility and relevance so as to raise in young learners their cultural awareness and to develop intercultural competence (“the fifth skill” referred to by our national curricula for English for secondary grades), integrative of culture both as big C and little c in terms of ideology, behaviours and their products.
In our common class-room practice and with no claim to have reinvented the wheel, we can plea for the constructive-reflexive approach of the student’s own achievements in terms of language and intercultural competences, corroborated with the student’s sharing knowledge with the class peers and discussion of viewpoints, on the basis of the understanding of human rights and mutual respect. This means students learn not only from the teacher and the textbook, but also from one another, while comparing individual cultural contexts with the ‘foreign’ contexts into which language learning invites them.
In addition to the class regular feed-back from students, we have used interviews and questionnaires as instruments toward a more comprehensive perspective on their levels of linguistic and intercultural competences and their motivation to learn. In a recent survey among lower and upper high-school graders about their understanding of culture, their rating of individual cultural acquisitions and the relationship between the school offer and the students’ demands of cultural formation, most interviewees defined culture as a stock of knowledge and manifestations of values, traditions, customs, which are representative of peoples and nations. A few drew on the link between the study of English and the larger context of culture, especially the aspect of social communication. Students qualified and quantified their own cultural acquisitions diversely, while taking into account their ability to deal with literature, appropriation of behavioral codes, general knowledge, most of which via schooling. Some mentioned the national cultural legacy worth studying at an intensive level. There were students who also pointed out the formative impact of learning English on their personality. This has confirmed to a large extent that, as educators and teachers of English, we are expected to provide for the development of interpersonal, intercultural, socio-civic competences and cultural awareness a sphere of interculturality, in which cultures connect; the strategy for this is to view the teaching of culture as an interpersonal process that is not merely informative, but it arranges the premises for the understanding of ‘foreignness’ by comparing or contrasting certain values and attitudes.
Thus, culture should be taught as difference, regardful of its multiplicity: national features, ethnicity, race, gender, age, social class. To achieve that, we consider the cross-disciplinary approach as most suitable since knowledge and resources are also available from other domains like sociology, ethnography, traditions, history, geography and institutions. The skills enabling students to develop awareness of their own culture in relation to other cultures include the following: observing, recognizing, comparing, negotiating meaning, managing ambiguity and message interpretation, limiting possible misinterpretation, sustaining one’s own opinions as well as acknowledging the others’ opinions, accepting difference.
The topic areas recommended for the high school study of English refer to the public, personal, occupational and educational domains, specifically focused on: interpersonal relationships, education, culture, art, sport, lifestyles in the English speaking world from a synchronic and diachronic perspective, countries and cities, issues of contemporary life (social, environmental, technological, literary), mass-media, jobs and employment, cultural events.
Intercultural projects, although considerably resource-consuming, bring together people of diverse cultures. Direct contacts with native and non-native speakers of English during the lesson or on exchange trips, in e-mail and video conferences will reflect the dialogical side of culture and provide experiential learning. So are the recent and the ongoing Comenius projects we have been developing with students from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds or our own participation in the Comenius-LLP on the course about British Institutions, Language and Culture in UK this year.
The students’ cultural representations could benefit from a broadened interpretative approach to the culture discovered at multiple levels (minority culture, pop culture, taboos, mainstream journalism and politics). Authenticity of materials and of the learning experience is a gain. What is more, factual cultural information is accompanied by the interpretation of cultural issues through cross-cultural understanding, by comparison and contrast with the student’s native culture and the foreign. To exemplify this, here is the recollection in brief of a rewarding learning experience planned for grade 10:
o Activity: Discussing cultural identity and distinctiveness against stereotypes and biases
o Resource: “10 Things I Hate about You”, a film production directed by Gil Junger (1999), a loose adaptation of the Shakespearean comedy The Taming of the Shrew
o Aims:
· to enhance ability to identify and refer critically to gender/ group age/ ethnic origin/ family roles/ economic status stereotypes in contemporary life and in youth culture in particular
· to access cultural values mediated by the cinema
o Level: upper intermediate and above
o Appetizer: Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem included in Sonnets from the Portuguese, 1850 (listening or reading for responses to art for its own sake)
o For the 1h30’ film runtime, the students are asked to watch and progressively fill in the grid “Who’s Who and Saying What? “on a task sheets .
o Open class discussion of the factors influencing teenagers’ grouping into cliques, clues in the film about the characters’ social status, features of teenage culture, the educational system elsewhere, racist attitudes, misogyny and social class discriminations represented in the video material but also in the students’ real backgrounds, inter-textual elements in the story of Shakespearean inspiration.
o Take away: essay writing about stereotypes and biases as represented in the movie and real life/ a film review

Throughout the teaching process, it becomes evident that the know-how of education and instruction dwells considerably on actually knowing where to look for those resources. In order to meet the learners’ expectations and the curricular requirements, prose, poetry, plays, proverbs, musical bits, film productions (fictional and documentary), magazines and journals are definitely depository of both stylized and authentic cultural information.
Although the perspective on languages as encoders of mankind’s inner and outward life lies at the core of any teaching philosophy and approach, fact is that not all the clients and beneficiaries of what a teacher is enabled to deliver as linguistic knowledge may actually be aware of the relevance of studying, or even inclined to study the foreign language for its own sake. A keener sense of purpose then should be attached to the teaching-learning endeavour. The cross-curricular approach enhances learners’ sensitivity to the study of the foreign language because interesting useful content from many subjects such as history and geography, arts, mathematics, psychology, et caetera can be mediated through the target linguistic code, or even become the actual focus of the language class through the CLIL approach. That can be challenging in terms of resources and even qualification for the teacher of English, but the integration of specialized language and of topical information is worthwhile. Moreover, English is still the learner’s priority in the process with a view to achieving linguistic accuracy and fluency as well as cultural fluency. For the language lesson, the content and language integrated learning (CLIL) based on the usage of multimedia such as documentary productions, magazine clips, authentic interviews, addresses both individual and team work and meets all learning styles and intelligences. Film productions, paintings and photography, musical products of various genres, printed, audio and visual news and reports — all can generously supply with stimulating valuable material any English lesson format. As long as both student and teacher have it clear from the stage of practice to that of evaluation that it is the linguistic competence that remains the main stake, the informational content can refer to any field of knowledge.
On the other hand, this does not impede the extraction of the many opportunities from the study of foreign literature; a presentable and easy to access selection of reading materials from the canonized or less mainstream literature of English expression like the one proposed within the limits of this chapter, can enhance the students’ linguistic competence and cultural awareness. Literature is still a reliable traditional source of insights into culture. Literary excerpts from fiction, drama, poetry give students of all specialisations the opportunity to study not only the evolution of words and artistic trends but also currents of thought and their manifestation. The literary discourse remains a great pretext for the discovery of the surprising intricacies and power of language and also a valuable feeder-field for the integration of cultural issues in the language lesson.
Our experience of teaching English to a large range of age groups and interests has granted us the confirmation of the double stand of language as hard border and as unifying agent between cultures and between individuals. Under whichever historic circumstances, language is and will be the revelator of the people’s system of values, their power relations, the sublime and the ‘sublimated’ of their minds. It almost goes without saying how tempting to learn how to access and appropriate that language appears to all of us. Here, school grants us the passkey: knowledge about Culture and knowledge about cultures.
Opening up to the wide world of culture, one may come across a learned French man’s remark: “We receive three educations, one from our parents, one from our schoolmasters, and one from the world. The third contradicts all the first two teach us.” Controversies of the sort have been troubling, constructively at times, many teachers’ conscience. Well aware that school curricula are influenced by particular cultural representations favoured by the dominant ideology, a language educator must deal with his/ her own teaching issues: what values? which methods? to what purpose? how many of my students’ questions have found their answer? how many questions (if any) have I started up in the students’ mind about that issue? Chances are that from these inner debates to the English class debate, there is at least one way of superseding such challenging views as Erich Fromm’s: “Education makes machines which act like men and produces men who act like machines.”

Bibliography
Tomalin, B. and Stempleski S. (1993) Cultural Awareness, Oxford University Press
Kramsch, C. (1998/ 2000) Language and Culture, Oxford University Press

 

 

 Funny Grammar. How to Make Grammar More Interesting
by 
Georgeta Gabriela Udrea, Colegiul “Grigore Antipa”, Bacău

Keywords: grammar, game, fun, foreign language, gap filling, scrambled sentence, auction, race, treasure, football, board game

Grammar is an important step in learning a foreign language because it is the part that makes it possible for us to talk about language. Grammar names the types of words and word groups that make up sentences not only in English but in any language. As human beings, we can put sentences together even as children--we can all do grammar. But to be able to talk about how sentences are built, about the types of words and word groups that make up sentences--that is knowing about grammar.
People associate grammar with errors and correctness. But knowing about grammar also helps us understand what makes sentences and paragraphs clear and interesting and precise. Grammar can be part of literature discussions, when we and our students closely read the sentences in poetry and stories. And knowing about grammar means finding out that all languages and all dialects follow grammatical patterns.
The following article provides teachers with an authoritative and practical piece on teaching grammar more interesting and helps to make preparing grammar lessons easy and straightforward.

1. Scrambled sentence:
The teacher cuts up three sentences. The students (in groups) have to put them back together again.

2. Incomplete question mingle:
The students each get a question with the relevant form aspect omitted. They complete the question (in their head only, not on paper), then mingle to ask other students the question. With each person, they exchange the question.

3. Consequences:
(best with conditionals)
Give students (in pairs) a conditional clause; the students must complete with the main clause, at the top of a piece of paper. Pass the page to the next pair, who must transform the main clause into a conditional, then complete. Pass on again, etc.

4. Skirt:
Or “the Hawaiian skirt”
Enlarge a gapfill or a sentence head, and slice between each number on the exercise, leaving it attached to the end. The students are divided into groups. One from each team runs to take a number, complete in groups, run to the teacher to check correct. Only when it is correct they can take another sentence. It is a competition.

5. Four-in-a-row:
The students are presented with a grid that contains incorrect examples of the target grammar. In groups, they spend a few minutes discussing some errors. The students must then challenge each square and correct it, aiming to get four-in-a-row on the grid.

6. (Similarity) Tic-tac-toe/ Noughts and crosses:
The students win squares on the grid when providing the right answer.

7. Board race:
(best with tenses)
Enlarge a gapfill and project onto the board (or write it on the blackboard). In two teams, the students line up in front of the board with different colour pens. The front two (one from either team) race to the board to complete the first gap, then give the pen to the next in line from their team. The teacher checks at the end and awards points accordingly.

8. Reported speech football:
(can also work with conditionals, sentence transformations, etc.)
The students in teams, two teams playing per “match”. Card with (or teacher dictates) original sentence (or gapfill), first team plays by transforming sentences using the target language. If successful, ball is played to the next part of the pitch. If unsuccessful, ball can be tackled by the opposition giving the correct answer. The advanced students have to give the answer without writing the transformed sentences. The teacher may ask them not to use the familiar reported verbs: “to say” and “to tell”.

9. Transformation race:
(with conditionals, wish, reported speech)
The teacher calls out the original statement and the students (previously divided into groups) race to write it (visibly) in the target language. They shout “stop” when finished and the other groups judge whether it is correct. If yes, a point; if not, the next quickest group can try to claim the point.

10. Round-the-room/ Treasure hunt:
The students have a gapfill with answers (plus distracters) stuck on the walls or in the corridor. They must quickly find the answers and complete the gapfill. As a race. The best wins.

11. Grammar auction:
(this could be done as a review, or error correction, or just a spot-the-wrong-answer.)
The students in groups are given a number of sentences some of which are correct but others that are wrong. They get time to decide which are correct and which are not. Groups are given (fake) money that they can use to “bid” for the correct sentences, in order to buy them. They must avoid the incorrect sentences. The winning team is the one with the most correct sentence. If it is a tie, then the remaining money is counted and the group with the most money wins the game.

12. Grammar gamble:
It is similar to auction. The students analyse the sentences and “bet” on the correct answer (or, if a gapfill, the correct answer they provide). During feedback, if correct they ‘win’ the money they bet (maximum 100 pounds, minimum 10 pounds) but if they are wrong they ‘lose the money they have bet.


Bibliography:
- English Course “Creative Methodology” – Oxford House College, London
 

 

 Multimedia Resources in TEFL. Teaching Responsible and Creative Use
 
by Cosmina Almăşan, Colegiul Naţional „Octavian Goga” Sibiu and
Victoria Hlenschi-Stroie, Liceul Teoretic „Onisifor Ghibu” Sibiu


Keywords: media literacy, online tools, media consumers, media creators



Media education is no longer a new concept in some parts of the world where educational institutions take an interest in developing media literacy in teachers and students alike. One such institution is Acrosslimits Ltd. based in Hamrun, Malta, which offers a course on “Media and Education as Tools towards Democracy” to be found in the Comenius database for in-service training programmes. Participating in this course has given us the incentive to approach this field of education which is relatively new in our schools.

Besides our attempt at making our students fluent speakers of a foreign language, we must also aim at equipping them with skills that will allow them to function in an increasingly demanding society. Teachers need to help their students make sense of the complicated and discordant world around them and winnow the reality from the illusion presented to us by some of the media. Students must learn how to benefit from the abundance of information at their disposal, how to become aware of issues affecting society as a whole, how to do research and identify sources that are truly trustworthy. It is so easy to get information these days, but it is becoming more and more difficult to select sources and bring them to class.

Media literacy is already considered a worldwide movement created to help students become critical consumers and citizens in relation to the media. We can do this by teaching students how to analyse media texts, how to look for secret meanings introduced in texts and how to steer clear from the distorted perception of reality presented to them. The media provide teachers and students with creative and practical ideas, while allowing the students to practise the language in meaningful, true to life situations. The analysis of media texts is closer to real situations students will encounter in their later life than the analysis of texts specially created for teaching purposes. It also offers a lot of variety through the integration of all language skills and helps encourage reading, both inside and outside the class.

The materials at our disposal in the media may be exploited in various ways that are motivating and challenging for students. Here is a series of activities we can do with our students using the media as resource:

Using newspapers and magazines
 Newspaper reading activities: guessing the headline/the article based on key words, spotting newspaper lies, newspaper treasure hunt, reconstructing articles
 Speaking activities: role-playing the news, using news as prompts to start a discussion, comparing and contrasting articles from tabloids and broadsheets
 Writing activities: letters to the editor, brief news items, articles for the school newsletter
Using advertisements/commercials
 recognizing and analysing basic advertising strategies
 comparing different commercials
 critical viewing (e.g. stereotypes, false images)
 creating and advertising new products
Using television programmes
 watching different programmes to improve listening skills
 analysing and creating items of TV news
 comparing different types of TV shows
 My ideal TV programme
Using videos/films
 vision on-sound off / vision off-sound on activities
 choosing what film to watch (analysing film trailers)
 writing film reviews
 identifying/discussing different roles in the film industry
Using the internet
 analysing advantages and disadvantages
 using online newspapers/articles/videos etc.
 writing emails

Another important role of the media literacy movement is to teach students how to turn from media consumers to media creators: how to make their own media. Students can use the media tools at their disposal to find their own voice and express themselves freely. They can be encouraged to post information and opinions online and in this way they will learn how to be more responsible with their work and opinions, and also how to read critically other people’s posts. They can thus become equipped with the literacy skills required in the information age. Here are some online tools which can be used in and out of class:

E-books are easy to make and share with users all over the world by uploading files from a computer on specialized websites such as www.lulu.com or www.blurb.com. These websites offer the users the possibility to price and promote their own books.

Blogs are websites with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material (graphics, video, links). Writing blogs and posting comments on other people’s blogs are perceived as aspects of civic journalism worth taking into account. This activity can improve the students’ writing skills as well as their communication skills involved in the interactive element given by the readers’ comments. It can also teach students how to deal with constructive criticism in order to improve their writing style or their perspective over the events covered by their blog posts. Class blogs can be set up for students who want to engage in a collaborative effort. Some sites that are easy to use by beginners are http://wordpress.com/ and www.blogger.com.

Newsletters are normally used by companies to keep clients updated and are a very popular form of marketing in the 21st century. Students can use newsletter format to send information to classmates and friends. They can act as journalists and cover events from their school or from their town and sending such newsletters by email will give them a sense of purpose in ways that contributing articles for a traditional magazine would not. Websites like https://www.icontact.com/login, http://www.comm100.com/emailmarketingnewsletter/ and http://www.benchmarkemail.com/ offer features such as numerous free templates (more than 500), Twitter and Facebook integrations as well as tracking and reporting support that allows students to see who actually reads their newsletters.

Photostories are popular activities with students as they allow them to create visual stories using images, text, videos and sounds and add narration, effects, transitions. With the help of user-friendly software such as Microsoft Photo Story, Windows Movie Maker, ProShow Gold young people can create book trailers, commercials and interesting presentations on topics of their choice or suggested by the teachers.

Wikis are websites that allow the creation and editing of interlinked web pages using a simplified markup language. They are free and offer unlimited storage for digital materials while being fantastic opportunities for teachers and students to share information. They are ideal for project-based learning, as students can work from home and collaborate towards the creation of a common end product available online. The most popular website to be used to set up educational wikis is www.wikispaces.com.

Educators can find numerous reasons to introduce media literacy as part of the curriculum. Whether it is meant to build relevance into classes, to create links between the classroom and the outside world or to turn young people into responsible media consumers and creators, media education can and indeed should become an integral part of our educational efforts in the 21st century.

Bibliography:
Buckingham, David, Media Education. Literacy, Learning and Contemporary Culture, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2003
French, David, Richards, Michael, Media Education across Europe, London: Routledge, 1994
Jenkins, Henry, Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture. Media Education for the 21st Century, Cambridge, Massachussets: The MIT Press, 2009
McDougall, Julian, Potamitis, Nick, The Media Teacher’s Book, London: Hodder Education, 2010
http://www.acrosslimitstraining.com
http://busyteacher.org/
http://mediaeducationlab.com/curriculum/materials
http://www.onestopenglish.com
http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/
http://www.teachit.co.uk/
http://www.webenglishteacher.com/media-ads.html



 

 
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