BA in ELT Study Guide 6
TEACHING AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
©2005 Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa
Unit 1 Classroom Language...
BA in ELT Study Guide 7
TEACHING AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
©2005 Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa
It is important to consid...
BA in ELT Study Guide 8
TEACHING AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
©2005 Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa
Using English to Teach En...
BA in ELT Study Guide 9
TEACHING AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
©2005 Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa
Here are some other conce...
BA in ELT Study Guide 10
TEACHING AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
©2005 Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa
Teacher does not know if...
BA in ELT Study Guide 11
TEACHING AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
©2005 Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa
Ss: Yes.
T: Did you? Yes...
BA in ELT Study Guide 12
TEACHING AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
©2005 Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa
The teacher should show ...
BA in ELT Study Guide 13
TEACHING AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
©2005 Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa
Summary
There are many t...
Week 1
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  1. 1. BA in ELT Study Guide 6 TEACHING AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS ©2005 Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa Unit 1 Classroom Language In this unit 1.1 The Purpose of Teacher Talk in the Language Classroom 1.2 The Use of English to Teach English 1.3 The Use of Mother Tongue 1.4 Social English 1.5 Giving Simple Explanations Teachers do a lot of talking in classrooms. They often get criticized for this because they are not giving students enough opportunity to talk. But we need to consider first the purposes for which teachers use talk in the language classroom. It is through our talk that the teaching gets done. We manage the classroom through talk: We instruct students what to do; we control them; we motivate them; we provide feedback. We also provide language input for learning. But it is not just what we say that is important; it is also how we say it which may be important in terms of what students learn and how they learn. 1.1 The Purpose of Teacher Talk in the Language Classroom Teachers tend to use some types of talk a lot more frequently than others, eg for managing, checking answers and controlling, while other types are neglected, eg asking for real information about students, praising, getting students to think. Task 1 Talking for What Reason? • Below are some reasons why teachers talk in the classrooms. Add other reasons you can think of. • Put a number in the Frequency column to show how often you talk for that reason (1: very frequently; 2: frequently; 3: sometimes; 4: never) • In the end column indicate which language you use: English (L2) or your own language (L1) or both sometimes. Reasons for talking in the classroom Functions of talk Frequency Which language(s) To give instructions To control discipline To give feedback To praise To ask for information To give information To provide examples of the target language To give models of procedures or strategies To check or test students’ understanding To joke To maintain a good atmosphere Other Complete this chart with your answers.
  2. 2. BA in ELT Study Guide 7 TEACHING AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS ©2005 Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa It is important to consider which types of talk you use in the classroom because this affects the kind of learning environment you create. If you mainly use talk for controlling, giving information, providing examples, and testing, then you are doing most of the talking and your relationship with students will probably be quite formal. Consider what would happen if you used talk for other kinds of purpose as well. For example, what would the students’ response be if you asked for real information about them more often or joked more often or asked thinking questions? Delwar, a Bangladeshi teacher trainer, worked with a group of primary teachers to improve the way in which they responded to students’ answers by encouraging them, and showing more interest in what students said. He found that later when he visited those teachers’ classrooms, students were more willing to speak than they had been on previous visits. So one of the effects was to increase the amount of talking students did. They were also more enthusiastic about their lessons. Teachers vary widely in how much English they use in their classrooms. It may depend on how comfortable they feel using English, the level of their students’ language or the purpose of the talk. For example, a teacher may want to use the L1 if a student is upset or very angry in order to reduce any barrier of communication. A teacher may also sometimes use the L2 for a particular purpose. For example, when introducing a new activity, some teacher may use the L1 initially if the instructions are rather complicated, but then use the L2 on subsequent occasions when children are familiar with the activity. One of the points to keep in mind here is that the teacher’s talk provides the main or only form of language input for students in a foreign language situation like ours here in Mexico. So if we restricted our input in English to only giving them examples of the language and we didn’t use English for the other purposes listed above, eg joke with them, give instructions, etc, we would be providing them with a very limited range of input. This is an issue which we will discuss more in the next section. 1.2 The Use of English to Teach English Teachers vary considerably in their views on whether they should use their own language while teaching English. There is often a gap between what they would ideally like to do, ie use English to teach English, and the reality, which is that it is often difficult to make students understand or that students demand the use of Spanish. However, as an English teacher, it is important for you to understand both the advantages and disadvantages of using English to teach English so that you can make up your own mind what to do in your situation. Task 2 Why Use English to Teach English? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of using English to teach English? Write them in the grid below. Compare your views with those of a group of teachers who discussed this issue at a training workshop on teaching English to children. (From Vale, D. 1995) Do you agree with their views? Did you think of other advantages or disadvantages? Advantages sdgvgsavgfvgfvgvhjfv Disadvantages dkjfhkjdhbjdhgjkdhjd Complete it with your answers.
  3. 3. BA in ELT Study Guide 8 TEACHING AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS ©2005 Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa Using English to Teach English Advantages Disadvantages It increases the amount of exposure students get to English. It can take a long time to explain things, even using gestures, etc. Students who are anxious to do the activity may lose interest or lose concentration. It develops students’ confidence in the language. Weaker or slower students may lack the confidence to believe they can learn through English; they may be frightened or put off English. It provides real reasons for using English to communicate, eg in giving instructions, getting information from students. Teachers may have limited English or insufficient fluency in the language. They may give pupils incorrect models. Much classroom language, eg instructions, has a simple and repetitive pattern which can be picked up by students without them being aware that they are learning. It may be very difficult to do any reflection on learning or discuss students’ opinions about their learning in English because they have limited English. It can motivate students to want to learn. For students who are not highly motivated, it may involve too much effort to try to understand. It develops greater fluency, as students are encouraged to think in English from the early stages. It may take longer to cover the syllabus. If we look at the debate simply in terms of learning English, then it does seem best to use English for teaching English because it gives students more exposure. However, there are many other things to consider; for example, your own confidence in using English, students’ age, their motivation and previous experience with the language, which may make it unrealistic or difficult to use English all the time. If you think that it is useful to teach through English, set yourself a goal to gradually increase the amount of English you use. Task 3 Overcoming problems in using English to teach English Write down some of your concerns about communicating with students in English and possible ways to deal with these concerns. Here is an example. My concerns How to overcome them My English is very limited. How can I use it to teach? Maybe I can try and do part of a lesson in English everyday to give myself more practice. I can take an English course locally or go on a course in the vacation. Complete this chart with your answers.
  4. 4. BA in ELT Study Guide 9 TEACHING AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS ©2005 Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa Here are some other concerns commonly mentioned by teachers together with suggested solutions. If students do not understand clearly what I want to say they lose interest immediately. • Try to make using English into a game for them, ie guessing what the teacher is saying in English. Students want me to teach in L1. • Talk to them about the reasons for using English. Get agreement to try using English for some activities. • Invite English speakers to visit the class and so give students a reason for wanting to speak. It’s difficult to make students understand me. • Write down what you want to say so that you can focus on keeping things simple. • Tape record yourself and then analyze your talk so you can identify language which is too complex. • Listen to your friends talking to their students. Notice the language they use. 1.3 The Use of Mother Tongue ( L1 ) You have considered how you might increase the amount of English you use in the classroom. But how do you feel about the use of L1 (Spanish, in our case) in the English language lesson? Are there some situations where it is appropriate for you or you students to use the L1? Let’s consider what these may be and the reasons for using L1 in those situations. Ad you read through the list below, compare with your own situation. Do you use Spanish in the same way? If no, think about when and how you use it and the reasons for it. Here are some situations where L1 could be used in an English lesson and the reasons for its use. Situation Reason for use of L1 Student is upset. To soothe the student and demonstrate sympathy / closeness. Student knows the answer to a question the teacher has asked but does not know how to say it in English. To show knowledge of the answer. To communicate the answer to the teacher. Student wants to share an experience/real information with the teacher/students in an English lesson but has limited English. To communicate a message to friends/the teacher. Teacher or student wants to joke. To develop rapport/closeness with teacher/students. Teacher wants to introduce a new game which has complicated rules. To save time. To assist communication of a message.
  5. 5. BA in ELT Study Guide 10 TEACHING AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS ©2005 Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa Teacher does not know if students have understood. Wants to check if students have really understood. Teacher wants to get students to think about the reasons for learning English or to be aware of strategies to help learning. To assist language learning when children do not have sufficient levels of language to discuss through L2. From: Moon, J. 2000 Giving explanations in English is worthwhile if it can be done successfully and without too much. However, there are many occasions when it is best to use the students’ own language – either because the language needed is too complex, or because it is easier, quicker and more convenient. 1. You want to teach these words: skiing, government, liver. How would you explain their meaning: English only or English and Spanish? 2. You want to teach these structures: How many eggs/ oranges are there? How would you explain the difference: English only or English and Spanish? 3. You are organizing a role play. You want students to act out a conversation based on this situation. How would you explain the situation: English only or English and Spanish? Comments. 1. Any explanation in English could be very confusing, especially if the concept is unfamiliar to students as well as the word. It would be better to give examples in English, and then to give a translation of the word. 2. It is possible to make the difference clear using simple English (e.g.’I can count eggs- one egg, two eggs, three eggs….’), but it could be misunderstood (e.g. we can count loaves of bread, we can count money). By using students’ own language, we can give a clearer and fuller explanation, and refer to equivalent expressions in their language. It is best not to rely only on explanations in either language; it is more important to give plenty of examples and a change for students to practise. 3. An advantage of using the students’ own language is that the situation can be given more quickly and easily, leaving more time for practice. An advantage of using English is that it provides useful listening practice, and helps students by giving them some of the words they need (e.g. travel, leave, contain, towel). It is probably best to give the situation in clear, simple English, but repeating some parts in the students’ own language (e.g. lost property office) to make the meaning clear. 1.4 Social English Instead of going straight to the textbook at the beginning of a lesson, you can spend a few minutes “chatting” to the class about topics of interest. After the very early stages, this can be done in English. • You can talk and ask questions, but get the students to give only short responses, eg: T: Did you all enjoy your vacation? Answer these questions.
  6. 6. BA in ELT Study Guide 11 TEACHING AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS ©2005 Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa Ss: Yes. T: Did you? Yes, I enjoyed it, too. I went to the beach with my family. Did you go to the beach? Anyone? S: Yes. T: Who did you go with? (and so on) • You can prompt individual students to talk more about things they have done, eg: T: What did you do? Did you go out? S: Yes, I went to a party. T: A party? That’s nice. A birthday party? S: Yes, my friend’s birthday. T: OK, tell us….what happened? What did you do at the party? (and so on) • You can get students to talk and ask questions, eg: T: Right. José Luis went to a party. Ask him some questions about it. What do you want to know? Yes? S1: What did you eat? S2: Was it a good party? S3: Were there many people there? “Chatting” in English in this way creates an opportunity for real language practice, and creates an English language atmosphere in the class. Even more important, it establishes contact with the class, and helps students to feel relaxed and ready to learn. If we have a business appointment or meet a friend, we begin by chatting to establish a friendly atmosphere; it is just as important to do this when we meet a class of students. Task four Using Social Language Look at the topics in the chart below. What questions might you ask about each one? Write “follow up” questions which would get the students to talk more and involve more of the class, eg: What did you do yesterday? Did anyone go out? Where did you go? Who watched television? What did you watch? Did you like it? What was the movie about? Tell the others about it, etc. Topic “follow up” questions Topic “follow up” questions Festivities and holidays A movie on at the theater Local news TV shows Sports events Other topics? 1. What questions could you ask about each topic to encourage the students to talk? 2. Work in groups. Take it in turns to be the ‘teacher’ –the rest of the group are your students. Choose one of the topics and ‘chat’ to your ‘students’. The ‘students’ should respond in a similar way to students in their own class. Complete this chart with your answers.
  7. 7. BA in ELT Study Guide 12 TEACHING AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS ©2005 Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa The teacher should show genuine interest in students’ answers, and should not pay too much attention to mistakes –the aim is to create a good atmosphere in the class. What questions could you ask about each topic to encourage the students to talk? e.g. Did you enjoy the holiday? /Did you go on a picnic? /Who did you go with? What happened last Friday? /Did you hear about the bank robbery? Do you watch TV on weekends? /Did you watch the concert on TV? Did you go to the soccer match on Sunday? /Did the ‘Dorados’ win? 1.5. Giving simple explanations Read and complete the following sentences with your own ideas: Simple explanations are ______________________________________________. Simple explanations can _______________________________________________. …share your ideas with a person next to you. Most of the language we need for organizing the class consists of simple expressions which can be used again and again –this provides an easy opportunity to use English. However, teachers do not only need to give simple commands and instructions to the class. Often they need to use more complex language, for example when explaining a new word or a grammar point, or explaining how an activity works. If the teacher can give these explanations in English it will provide very useful listening practice for the class; but of course the explanations must be as simple and clear as possible, so that the students understand. Simple explanations are very useful to help students understand new information –input- in class. Simple explanations can motivate learners to use English more frequently in the classroom activities as well as outside the classroom. Task six. Give one of these explanations as simple as you can in English. Imagine you are talking to people who speak very little English. Use gestures, drawings, and any other resources to help! Explain how to make hot cakes. Explain how a mousetrap works. Explain how to bandage a wound. Explain everything you know about volcanoes. You should rehearse it until you can give it in the simplest way possible. When you consider that you are ready try it saying it to a classmate. Were you understood? Did you have any problems sending the message? What helped you out? Choose one of them and explain it so " poor" students can learn. You may use any material you want but you must share the material and the explanation
  8. 8. BA in ELT Study Guide 13 TEACHING AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS ©2005 Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa Summary There are many things to consider when we talk about classroom language: The kind and frequency of talk used in the classroom. This is very important, as the type of talk may affect the kind of classroom relationship you build with learners (relaxed or formal and distant) and in turn their willingness to respond and take risks with language. Your talk is also their main source of exposure to English. So the amount and type of English you use will affect the quantity and quality of input they receive. The advantages and disadvantages of teaching English through English. While teaching through English is essential in providing input in a foreign language situation, there are also occasions when the L1 may be entirely appropriate. You considered strategies for using English in very simple ways so you could build up learners’ confidence with English, which is the ultimate aim of your teaching, but in ways which valued students’ L1. Teachers’ concerns about using English or Spanish in the classroom. In this aspect of teaching teachers are aware of their own level of English, the use of L1, problems in using English, the advantage in changing their personal style of teaching to create a more informal relaxed classroom environment where learners use L2 to talk about personal, social issues. Changing the way to talk in order to create a friendly classroom environment means being aware of your talk and its effect on students. Consider this story… I remember working with two trainers, Alana and Lisa. Alana was lively and vivacious and was very popular with trainee teachers; Lisa was serious and formal in her style of teaching. She was very unhappy because she felt that trainee teachers did not like her classes as much as Alana’s. However, Lisa received positive feedback from trainees at the end of the course. She came to realize that personality is not as important in the end to learners as their perception that we are genuinely concerned about them and interested in them. Learners are astute and distinguishing between teachers who really care about them and those whose friendliness is only superficial. How do you feel about your learners?

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