Reducing asymmetrical power relations in the language classroom<br />Using technology as a strategy to empower learners in...
Background<br /><ul><li> Teaching English at a University in France
 Mix of French native speakers and native speakers of Mandarin
Limited class time
Inflexible curriculum with pre-chosen topics and activities
 Focus on learner presentations and conversation classes
Motivated learners</li></li></ul><li>Issues<br /><ul><li> Lack of learner engagement in the course due to lack of ownershi...
Lack of interaction between French and Chinese learners</li></li></ul><li>Aiming towards a classroom where:<br /><ul><li> ...
 Awareness-raised around identifying goals, specifying objectives, identifying resources and strategies needed to achieve ...
Willingness to grow individual learner awareness and develop learning strategies
 Activities and tasks reduce classroom divide
Learners are able to question the role of input texts and tasks, trial alternative strategies, and seek feedback on their ...
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Gemma Williamson - Reducing asymmetrical power relations in the language classroom

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Gemma Williamson - Reducing asymmetrical power relations in the language classroom

  1. 1. Reducing asymmetrical power relations in the language classroom<br />Using technology as a strategy to empower learners in a foreign language EAP environment<br />
  2. 2. Background<br /><ul><li> Teaching English at a University in France
  3. 3. Mix of French native speakers and native speakers of Mandarin
  4. 4. Limited class time
  5. 5. Inflexible curriculum with pre-chosen topics and activities
  6. 6. Focus on learner presentations and conversation classes
  7. 7. Motivated learners</li></li></ul><li>Issues<br /><ul><li> Lack of learner engagement in the course due to lack of ownership(?)
  8. 8. Lack of interaction between French and Chinese learners</li></li></ul><li>Aiming towards a classroom where:<br /><ul><li> Interaction is varied and multidimensional
  9. 9. Awareness-raised around identifying goals, specifying objectives, identifying resources and strategies needed to achieve goals, and measuring progress
  10. 10. Willingness to grow individual learner awareness and develop learning strategies
  11. 11. Activities and tasks reduce classroom divide
  12. 12. Learners are able to question the role of input texts and tasks, trial alternative strategies, and seek feedback on their performance</li></ul>Source : van Lier, L. (2001). Constraints and resources in classroom talk: Issues of equality and symmetry. In C. Candlin & N. Mercer (Eds.). English language teaching in its social context. London: Routledge. (pp. 90-107)<br />
  13. 13. How could the power structure(s) move towards balance within the constraints? <br />Many ways. Our focus is on…<br />
  14. 14. …The role of technology<br /><ul><li> Can be employed in classes to help equalize relationships between; learners and learners and learners and teachers
  15. 15. Useful for the scenario as can be additional and complementary to the curriculum
  16. 16. Using technology can provide extra possibilities for language production and practice</li></li></ul><li>Some thoughts…Technology can be used for the creation of personal learning environments; addressing both learner autonomy and use of technology<br />Retrieved 3 October 2010 from http://encouraginglearnerautonomy.blogspot.com/<br />
  17. 17. Pros<br /><ul><li> Use of technology can remove obstacles that silence many students in traditional classrooms e.g. accents, introversion, cultural differences
  18. 18. Ability to create identities e.g. heteroglossia (Oxford, Massey, Anand. 2005:245)
  19. 19. Access to vast amounts of information (Casanave, 2004:213)
  20. 20. Providing learners with more input and output than in the traditional classroom enriching the quality and efficiency of learners work (Casanave, 2004:213)</li></ul>Sources : Casanave, C (2004) Controversies in second language writing (pp.211-223). Ann Arbor; University of Michigan Press. <br />Oxford, R., Massey, R. & Anand, S. (2005). Transforming teacher-student relationships: Toward a more welcoming and diverse classroom discourse. In J. Frodensen & C. Holten (Eds.), The power of context in language teaching and learning (pp. 249-266). Heinle: Boston.<br />
  21. 21. Cons<br /><ul><li> Technology alone won’t change power imbalances
  22. 22. Politics associated with use of technology
  23. 23. Hardware and software distributed unequally among the world’s populations
  24. 24. Teachers and learners are often uncomfortable with the use of technology
  25. 25. Technology tends to have a global identity</li></ul>Source : Casanave, C (2004) Controversies in second language writing (pp.211-223). Ann Arbor; University of Michigan Press. <br />
  26. 26. And so? <br /><ul><li>Consult, discuss, and evaluate</li></ul>learner’s and teacher’s attitudes to technology before introducing this to the classroom<br />
  27. 27. Conclusions<br /><ul><li>Technology can be a useful tool to balance power structures, if used correctly
  28. 28. Keep in mind that some cultures and learners prefer the teacher in an authoritative role </li></li></ul><li>If we, as teachers, can’t be forward thinking and motivated about the use of technology, how can we expect learners to be? <br />

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