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TESL Methodology

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  • Question 1a: Self – esteem cannot be taught, it can be learned.’ The duty oflanguage teachers is to teach language, not self-esteem Self esteem is defined as the affective reaction that an individual has towardsmaking judgments of who they are (Woolfolk, 2004). These affective reactions are oftenbased on aspects of emotion, feeling, mood or attitude which condition the behavior ofan individual (Arnold, 1999). There have been many revelations as to how self esteemof an individual is being shaped and what are the factors that helps in shaping them.Based on various readings, most researchers and even psychologists believe that theself esteem of an individual are effects of intrinsic or extrinsic elements which arediscovered through life experiences and developed as each individual matures andbecome aware of their talents, capabilities and strengths. This self esteem is slowlydeveloped into a self perception of how they carry themselves in the world and isassimilated within their personality/ character building as they socialize andcommunicate within their social parameters. In most of the researches done, there do not seem to be an opinion that statesself esteem being taught distinctively by one individual towards the other. Yet, it is moreof an influence where the individual forms conclusions about his self being in this worldas people and situations who are close to him responds to his actions and statements.An example of this influence is found in Neiss, Sedikides and Stevenson (2002) wherethey have quoted on the researches which centre on the issue of family and parentsbeing the most important impact on self esteem. Besides parents and family, the schoolalso influences the self esteem of the individual which is learnt based on theirobservation and understanding towards the experiences that they gather from teachersand peers (Woolfolk, 2004). It is believed that students in school attribute success in 1
  • building self esteem. Thus, teacher’s feedback, grades, communication and discussionwith other students as well as co-curricular activities make a difference in allowing themto know their talents and abilities to further increase their self value and self esteem. Nonetheless, there is an interesting suggestion by Neiss, Sedikides andStevenson (2002) stating that self esteem can be neither learnt nor taught. This selfesteem is existed within the character of the person as it is genetically linked which canfurther incriminates mental issues in the extreme of cases. Having that idea in mind, it ismore profound to realize that the self esteem is not only something that can be learnt(or taught) but also is inborn within a person. For the purpose of language learning, theself-esteem being discussed is more of how the individual view themselves as a secondlanguage learner and whether they are confident and pleased with their addedknowledge. In my opinion, the duty of a language teacher is not only towards teaching thelanguage but also self esteem. Nonetheless, I believe that self esteem cannot be taughtbut is influenced from the methods of teaching by the language teacher which can eitherdevelop or undermines the self esteem. After all, there is no possible way to teachemotions such as respect for oneself or feeling good about a certain situation unlessbeing discovered implicitly or explicitly through imitation of behavior or verbal guidance.According to Shindler (n.d.), the various definitions of self esteem within languagelearning can be concluded into the three areas of concentration which are locus ofcontrol, belonging and self-efficacy, and lastly, the direction of practical and effectiveapplications. Therefore, the role of a language teacher in teaching English as a secondlanguage is important not only to teach the language per se but also to provide the 2
  • condition to instill and promote positive self esteem of students in order for them to beconfident to use the language. As a teacher teaching a second or foreign language, it is important to rememberthat not all learners will undergo the same encounters which affect their feelingstowards the target language (Rubio, 2007). During their language teaching, it would benormal to have students who are highly or weakly motivated in learning the targetlanguage which has been affected by the self esteem of the students. There are manypossible reasons for students to feel so, especially in learning English which in somecases, is hardly exposed to the community where the student lives. The more thesestudents learn the language, the more they are aware of the implications andconsequences in learning ESL and to discover who they are as they learn the languagewhich also encompasses the culture, stylistic manner of speaking the language as wellas the recognition and identity of knowing ESL within their social paradigm. Somestudents experience anxiety when they feel that they are unable to be themselves whenspeaking a new language while others may feel more sensitive towards the differencesbetween their true identity and the version of themselves when they communicate in thenew language (Horwitz, Horwitz and Cope, 1986 as cited in Worde, 2003). Either way,their acceptance towards the new language highly affects their self esteem which in turnreflects upon their perception of themselves as a second language learner in English;whether they are capable or not in communicating with English. A language teacher who knows of such existing dilemma will likely design aclassroom situation where students could discover their own stand, the positive outlooktowards ESL and also their own identity. Thus, the classroom environment is also 3
  • important to help promote self esteem where students can feel more support andcomfort in language learning (Shindler, n.d.). Within the language teaching, thelanguage teacher should provide time and opportunities within the activities for studentsto learn their sense of worth. Oxford (1990) as cited in Rossiter (2003) believes thatsuch activities should involve cooperative learning activities which are more student-controlled. In these activities, the teacher should be able to teach students to set smallgoals which are achievable either individually or through group involvement. The wholeobjective of such activities is to develop the positive self esteem which is related to highacademic performance (Rodriguez, 2004). Nonetheless, Rodriguez did mention that in language learning, self-esteem ishighly difficult to be measured and should be viewed in a separate continuum as towhether it should be on academic self esteem or language learning self esteem itself.Circumstances such as in Malaysia, the English learnt is majorly to pass one of thecompulsory papers for examination for most students while the importance andadvantages of learning a new language is simply not concentrated. More than not,these second language learners will always be indoctrinated to be able to achieve acertain level of English which is then deemed proficient. This can affect the self esteemof students depending on which continuum they view their language learning exists.This continuum sometimes becomes more intense when it is of the teachers’ coachingand the learning environment that causes students to be compared to native speakersof the language (Rubio, 2007). Their ability to accept themselves based on thiscomparison would likely contribute to their self-esteem; whether favorably or poorly. 4
  • Prior to this argument of the difference in the self-esteem paradigm, Richard-Amato (1997) believes that when a person feels he would like to be intellectual or anactive participant as a social being, then he or she will be able to engage in the hardprocess of acquiring the second language. Such an attitude is developed as an effect ofself esteem which again cannot be taught but is learnt throughout their livelihood basedon what the evaluation and judgment made towards themselves. Therefore, it isimportant that the language teaching facilitates them in developing the direction ingaining positive self esteem against themselves which later can allow them to acceptthe second language and use it confidently as a tool in socializing within this globalentity. 5
  • Question 1b: True responsibilities of an ESL teacher In my opinion, there is no true responsibility of the ESL teacher as differentteachers within different cultural situation will have different responsibilities dependingtowards their purpose of teaching English. Reflecting back, the responsibilities of theESL teacher highly depend on the students as they shift their roles in teachingaccording to the students. This can include the students’ age, culture, profession, timeand even their affective filter towards English. Thus, the students will be the coretowards shaping the ‘true’ responsibilities of a language teacher. In general, all teachers must encourage their students to take more responsibilityfor their own learning, especially where they have to be an active participant andbecome more autonomous towards their learning (Rubio, 2007). This autonomy isdefined as people taking more control over their learning in and out of classrooms andalso taking control over the purposes for which they learn languages and the ways inwhich they learn them (Benson, 2006). In being able to take control of their learningstudents will be aware and can discover by themselves various aspects towardslanguage learning. This not only will develop their intuitiveness and curiosity towardsexperimenting with the language but also increase their motivation and self-esteem inlearning the language. Thus, the responsibility of a teacher in a wider spectrum shouldprovide a conducive classroom atmosphere which allows students to be in control oftheir learning. There needs to be a deeper attention to ideas which have potential forwider application and adaptation in exposing students to activities which will engagehigher order thinking skills (Bolitho, 2002). Students are able to not only develop their 6
  • maturity and cognitive level but also able to practice the ability to adapt tocircumstances in both language as well as the real world. Nonetheless, the responsibilities will be different for language teachers whencompared to other subjects taught in school. Language teaching does not only confineto the linguistic aspects of the language but also in learning the cultures and behavioursof the native speakers of the language itself in order to understand the mannerism forthe language usage. Language teachers have to be familiar not only with the languageconcepts, but also with the skills and strategies to teach for intercultural understanding.(Kelly, Grenfell, Allan, Kriza & McEvoy, 2004). This implies that the language teachersshould be trained in being skillful when they deal with social and cultural values whichaffect the linguistic and cultural diversity and citizenship of the language learners.(Galrido & Alvarez, 2006). Therefore, the teacher in such situation has a hugeresponsibility in providing the needed exposure of the language usage besidesproviding a positive experience in enhancing students’ language learning. This includesthe fact that for some cultures, there are certain issues that is deemed inappropriate tobe discussed openly compared to another culture. A language teacher should thus be professional when juggling both cultures andtrying to assimilate them during their presentation. A major challenge which might befaced by language teachers during their teaching of the language is to eliminate thefeeling of ethnocentrism. McLaren (1995), Willinsky (1998), Norton & Toohey (2004) ascited in Royal (2007) has emphasized this responsibility of language teachers such asthose teaching ESL have since English language education has been linked historicallytowards the colonial period. It is therefore important for teachers to reflect on their own 7
  • embedded worldviews, to be vigilant and objective on the knowledge is going to teach,by whom the teacher has learnt it and for what purpose will the knowledge be important.By doing so, the teacher can be aware of sensitive issues and can also provide logicaland acceptable answers when being questioned over the purpose of learning the targetlanguage by the students. It is after all an important aspect to discern as mostlanguages learnt has become global languages since many countries in this modern erahas opened up their economic status and have various dealings and trading across theglobe. In making sure a country has what it takes to be productive holds a strongeconomic status, the educational policy created by far should be outlined toaccommodate to providing the needed workforce. A language teacher will have theresponsibility in interpreting government and institutional statements from theseeducational policies which emphasize the importance in learning and the effectstowards becoming a more refined human being with a wider outlook towards the culturalvalues of humanity (Galrido & Alvarez, 2006). In many countries, they should haveeducation policies that are specifically written based on their vision and mission oneducation to be used as their guide in teaching. Thus, the language teaching has to betaught parallel to the intended outcome. Thus, the language teachers will be responsiblein adapting the various methodologies, coming up with possible and practical newapproaches as well as modifying the materials and exercises for students to learn anduse the language. 8
  • Question 2: Why formal teacher education in Malaysia has tended to avoid thearea of affect? The affective domain generally is linked to the behavior and emotional responseof individuals. According to Krathwohl’s affective domain, affective elements isdemonstrated by behaviors indicating attitudes of awareness, interest, attention,concern, and responsibility, ability to listen and respond in interactions with others, andability to demonstrate those attitudinal characteristics or values which are appropriate tothe test situation and the field of study (Krathwohl, Bloom & Masia, 1964). Based on thisdefinition, the affective domain focuses on the awareness of the students towardsthemselves being a teacher in training as they become aware of the responsibilitieswhich they bound to shoulder on. In Malaysia, the formal education in Malaysia avoidsthis area of affect because of various reasons from the different levels of authoritieswhich has an effect in the teacher training process. At the level of teacher training colleges and institutions, Lee (n.d. as cited inThomas, 2003) states that Malaysian teacher education programmes devotes a majorportion of their time to generic teaching skills such as preparing lesson plans andclassroom management in providing a connection between the classroom life and abroader societal forces and structures. He advocates that the reason for such atraditional method in teacher training still exists is because of the lack of research donewithin the local context by local researchers. Thus, the possible reason in searching forthe reason that Malaysian teaching training programmes avoid the area of affect isbecause of the lack of research done in focusing on such issues. As most are deludedby the fact that a teacher should be well-equipped and prepared to learn the skills ofbecoming a teacher, it is not within a choice or option for that person in training to 9
  • question their own feelings towards the profession. It is after all ideally accepted thatthose who are training to be teachers are interested to be in teachers and will be aproductive teacher. In Malaysia where the teachers are of diversed cultures and ethnic groups, it isonly logical to have the teacher training institutes being controlled at the centralgovernment which is the Education Ministry (Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia),specifically by the Teacher Education Division (Bahagian Pendidikan Guru). Lee (n.d.as cited by Thomas, 2003) explained the dilemma in training these diversified teachersin order to create positive and amicable individuals in teaching the students at school.Therefore, a general approach is used within the curriculum of the teacher trainingprogrammes in order to avoid getting too in depth on the affective values which mightbring about a negative impact. This is further supported by Lee (n.d. as cited by Thomas,2003) who concluded that there are by far very little subjects on cultural diversitycourses which can cause an individual to question various sentiments aboutindividuality and their main purpose in being a teacher. Many believe that teaching is a conservative profession where it is slow torespond to any changes in society at large (Bolitho, 2002). Being a conservativeprofession, the traditions and the style where the lectures are carried out ironically willbe more towards one way communication; having the lecturer as controller of the class.Such a situation is quite common in Malaysian teacher training programme lectures.From a personal level of the relationship between lecturers and the teacher trainees, itcould possibly be that the training programmes avoid the area of affect because of theconservatism of some lecturers towards their lecturing style and mannerism when 10
  • conducting the class. They tend to be rigid and skeptical in allowing the teacher traineesto question on their affective domains for fear of being unable to provide a goodexplanation. Thus, these lecturers when facing the diverse group of teacher traineestend to follow a conservative backlash in teaching critical multicultural pedagogy, socialjustice or social responsibility (Royal, 2007). These lecturers may not believe incontemporary methods in teaching which involves interaction and delivery of ideas fromthe teacher trainees which in turn, provides a minimal exposure towards the existenceof such element. Therefore, it is basically understood that in dealing with the area of affect, there isa need for expertise and also qualified people to handle it since each individual isdifferent. Another possible reason for the fact that the area of affect is being avoided isalso because of the exam orientedness that has been indoctrinated since the days oflearning and schooling. The emphasis on examination has somewhat isolated theaffective feeling and that it is left being a different entity which was never used to belinked with professional issues such as this teacher training course. 11
  • Question 2 b: The benefits that teachers in training might receive from practicalcourses in reflection, facilitation, interpersonal skills, group dynamics and relatedaffective work. Reflection is basically used when teachers in training needs to think backtowards the effectiveness their feelings and the teaching practices that they have beenthrough. According to Woolfolk (2004), a reflective teacher is thoughtful and inventive ashe/she thinks back over a situation, analyze what they had done and the purpose ofdoing it before considering how it might improve the language learning of the students.Reflection process will definitely need a higher and matured thinking which is used toanalyze and view an action that has happened in an objective manner. Being a currentmethod towards professional development of teachers, reflection can help teachers intraining prepare themselves to be able to reflect upon their own teaching and learningpractices/ strategies once the lesson has ended. This is to ensure that the traineeteacher is able to modify and change any aspects of his/her teaching methods prior tothe next lesson or class. Moreover, a reflection helps the trainee teacher to moderate his/her ownbehavior towards the familiarity of becoming a teacher who holds variousresponsibilities as an educator in class. As part of a diary like written piece where thetrainee teachers can write out their thoughts and feelings, the reflection provides aninsight towards the subconscious outlook of his/hers towards the profession.Subramaniam (2001) suggests that there are many functions of a reflection besidesputting thoughts into words. According to him, besides the obvious, reflections are alsoaimed at helping trainee teachers in documenting their involvement at school andreevaluating the duties and responsibilities that has been carried out as well as 12
  • developing their sensitivity towards the pupils’ behavior as time goes by. Judging fromthis, reflection is not only a beneficial effort for the teacher trainee but also for thestakeholders in the school such as the school authorities and the pupils. It develops acloser bond between the three entities as each value the experiences one could give. Facilitation in general is defined as the act of making it easy or easier(Answer.com, n.d.). In language learning, facilitation is used to provide the neededsupport when giving an autonomous behaviour to students as they learn a language. Asthe paradigm being stated here is the teacher training programme, facilitation will bebeneficial for them depending on the roles that they take in. As the teacher traineeundergoing training to be a teacher, facilitation is deemed beneficial for them as itallows them to take control of their learning while the lecturers or mentors provideguidance or support. This is because, the teacher trainee are still inexperiencedcompared to the senior teachers towards the working environment as an educator. Thus,these senior teachers could help to provide an easier atmosphere for the teachertrainee to learn and getting used to the system by providing minor ‘boosts’ in gainingexperiences to create a positive outcome (Neill, 2004). Nonetheless, the facilitationprovided needs the participation of the teacher trainee themselves to analyze andcomprehend their own thoughts, feelings and behaviours as the senior teachers will notsolve issues and problems but rather, raise questions or provide options to choose fromwhen the situations gets rough. Interpersonal skills is usually linked to the ability of someone being able tocommunicate or socialize with other people and is generally and outgoing person or anextrovert. Based on the theory by Howard Gardner in understanding the meaning of 13
  • interpersonal skills deeper, Howard Gardner (1999 as cited in Woolfolk, 2004) says thatn individual who has the interpersonal ability is able to discern and respond toappropriate moods temperaments, motivations and desires of other people. That said, ateacher trainee will need to equip themselves with this skill and ability is becauseteachers in general deals with the human from all ages and positions; parents, students,school authorities and even the higher authorities such as officers and ministers.Therefore, it will be an advantage for the teacher trainee if he/she is able to determinethe actions of other people and respond accordingly as to avoid any misunderstandingfrom happening. Therefore, the teacher trainee who has the interpersonal ability usuallytend to be more flexible as they are exposed to the various aspects of socializationduring their communication within their working environment (Bolitho, 2002). By beingadaptable to all situations, the trainee teacher will be protected from the many negativeemotions such as anger, frustration or disappointment towards their job or their teachingand learning approaches. Group dynamics is defined as the interaction between a complex intra- and inter-personal forces operating in a group which determines its character, development, andlong-term survival (Answer.com, n.d.). Nonetheless, in the aspect of teaching andlearning, group dynamics is referred to the relationships between learners in a groupand the impact that this has on the way they work (British Council, n.d.). In view of boththe explanations towards group dynamics, there seem to be a form of communicationamong the participants in the group; which in this case is the teacher trainee towardsinfluencing their way of work. This group dynamics can be between the teacher traineeand the people within his/her teacher training college or between the teacher trainee 14
  • and the group of colleagues and students that he/she work with. Either way, the traineeteacher does benefit from such interactions as the exchange of ideas between all theseentities will influence his/her character. The experiences gained would later help thetrainee teacher to develop their teaching practices and be skillful in it to last throughhis/her profession. This include having the trainee teacher refine the educationaltheories and methodologies in adjusting their teaching practice as they reflect and applywhat they deemed is best and suitable for themselves. Teachers in training should build more confidence as other aspects will only belearnt through experiences as a full-fledged teacher in the profession. When thelearning process of becoming a teacher that they are in focuses on the affective work, itprovides a sense of belonging for the trainee teacher as he/she continuously reflects onthe responses gained. This reflection reaffirms their stand and aim to the reason forthem to be an educator in the first place, considering that the job description for theteaching profession is vague because it deals with the human mind and behavior; unlikeother professions. By providing a more holistic approach rather than the currentcurriculum, these future teachers can see the links between principles and practice, andcan perceive how the different elements of their course relate to each other. After all, toproduce ‘whole’ teachers, there is a need to attend to their cognitive and affective needsduring the course, and helping them to find the inner balance they will need in order tofulfill their potential as teachers (Bolitho, 2002). 15
  • Reference ListArnold, J. (1999). Affect in language learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Benson, P.(2006). Autonomy in language learning. Retrieved from http://ec.hku.hk/autonomy/what.htmlBolitho, R. (2002). Reconceptualising language teacher education for the 21st century. A paper presented during the International Conference on English Language and Development for Equity in the 21st Century. Retrieved from http://apps.emoe.gov.my/ipba/rdipba/cd1/article136.pdfBritish Council. (n.d.) Teaching English: Group dynamics. Retrieved from http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/think/knowledge-wiki/group-dynamicsFacilitation. (n.d). Answer.com. Retrieved from http://www.answers.com/topic/facilitationGarirido, C. & Ivarez, I.A. (2006). Language teacher education for intercultural understanding. European Journal of Teacher Education, 29(2), 163–179Group dynamics. (n.d.). Answer.com. Retrieved from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/group-dynamics.htmlKelly, M., Grenfell, M., Allan, R., Kriza, C. & McEvoy, W. (2004) European profile for language teacher education: A frame of reference. A report to the European Commision Directorate General for Education and Culture. Retrieved from ec.europa.eu/education/policies/lang/doc/profileannex_en.pdfKrathwohl, D.R., Bloom, B.S., and Masia, B.B. (1964). Taxonomy of educational objectives: Handbook II: Affective domain. New York: David McKay Co. 16
  • Neill, J. (2004). What is facilitation? Retrieved from http://www.wilderdom.com/facilitation/FacilitationWhatIs.htmlNeiss, M., Sedikides, C & Stevenson, J. (2002). Self-esteem: A behavioural genetic perspective. European Journal of Personality, 16, 351–367.Richard-Amato, P. (1997). Affect and related factors. Virginia: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc.Roehler, L.R. & Cantlon, D.J. (1996). Scaffolding: A powerful tool in social constructivism classrooms. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.116.6521&rep=rep1&ty pe=pdf.Rodríguez, R.M. (2004). All the way up? All the way down? From cognitive science to cognitive curriculum; What about the affective component? Retrieved from http://revista.inie.ucr.ac.cr/articulos/1-2004/archivos/alltheway.pdfRoyal, W. (2007). Global issues, social responsibility and teacher education. Global Issues in Language Education Newsletter, 64, 10-13.Rubio, F. (2007). Self-Esteem and Foreign Language Learning. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars PublishingShindler, J.V. (n.d.). Creating a psychology of success in the classroom: Enhancing academic achievement by systematically promoting student self-esteem. Retrieved from http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/jshindl/cm/Self- Esteem%20Article%2011.htmSubramaniam, M. (2001). Journal writing as a tool for teacher trainees’ reflection on teaching. Retrieved from http://www.ipbl.edu.my/inter/penyelidikan/2001/2001_man0.pdf 17
  • Thomas, E (2003). Teacher education: Dilemmas and prospects. International Review of Education, 49(3/4), 399-401Woolfolk, A. (2004). Educational psychology: 9th ed. Boston: Allyn and BaconWörde, R. (2003). Students’ perspectives on foreign language anxiety. Inquiry, 8 (1). Retrieved from http://www.vccaedu.org/inquiry/inquiry-spring2003/i-81- worde.html 18