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The language-learner

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  • Motivation involves both the reasons that learners have for learning a language as well as the intensity of their feelingsAnxiety includes uncomfortable feelings when learning or using the new language.Beliefs about language learning are important because they influence how students approach language learning and the language learning strategies that they choose to use.
  • Learners with an instrumental motivation want to learn a language because of a practical reason such as getting a salary bonus or getting into collegeIntegratively motivated learners want to learn the language so that they can better understand and get to know the people who speak that language. Personal affinity. Boyfriend who speaks the language.
  • Student motivation tends to be stronger when the learner has specific rather than general goals for language learning.Motivation for language learning can be lessened when students have negative attitudes or prejudices toward the target language and/or the people who speak that language.
  • -Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope (1986) argue that foreign language anxiety (FLA) is a specific anxiety that some people experience when learning or using a second language. They suggest that foreign language anxiety is similar to some other well-known anxieties such as public speaking anxiety or test anxiety-Gregersen and Horwitz in 2002found that perfectionists did tend to have higher levels of FLA than learners who were not perfectionists.
  • A number of studies (see Horwitz, Tallon, & Luo, 2009) have suggested that about a third of language students experience some foreign language anxiety
  • While some anxiety increases adrenalin and actually facilitates performance, too much anxiety greatly hampers performance (e.g., the well-known phenomenon of a student who "goes blank" when called on by the teacher). One of the most effective ways to help your students to deal with anxiety is to attack their negative thoughts.Help students set reasonable standards and help them recognize their successes.Make sure activities are not embarrassing.Create opportunities to discuss anxiety.Mention Horwitz’s suggestions:Use group work to give students practice saying new phrases before asking them to perform individually. Acknowledge students' anxious feelings and help them realize that anxiety is a widespread phenomenon. Encourage students to concentrate on communicative success rather than formal accuracy. Ask yourself how it must feel to be a student in your language classroom from time to time.
  • Have students answer with true or false and then discuss in groups
  • SURVEY OF LANGUAGE LEARNING BELIEFS  Purpose of this activity: To think about our own beliefs and experiences regarding language learning because they influence how we interact with international students in libraries. Becoming aware of them can lead to better communication exchanges.  1. Languages are learned mainly through imitation. Imitation plays a role but it is not the only factor because people come up with all kinds of new utterances that they make up themselves rather than repeat from others.  2. Parents usually correct young children when they make grammatical mistakes. Parents tend to correct for meaning, and generally only correct a particular form if it interferes with communication.  3. People with high IQs are good language learners. This is true mainly in classroom settings where students learn about a language. In real settings, people of all abilities can be successful language learners. 4. The most important factor in second language acquisition is motivation. Not necessarily. Motivated students can learn more, but motivation may be influenced both negatively and positively by aptitude, whether or not a student feels successful, and through interactions with others. 5. The earlier a second language is introduced in school programs, the greater the likelihood of success in learning. Yes, if the goal is native-like proficiency. If the goal is effective communication with native speakers, another language may be learned successfully at any age. 6. Most of the mistakes which second language learners make are due to interference from their first language. This is a possible factor, but not the only one. Often the same mistakes are made in English by speakers of many different first languages. 7. Teachers should present grammatical rules one at a time, and learners should practice examples of each one before going on to another. Language learning is not linear. Language learners need to fit new rules into the existing system of rules by constantly readjusting and restructuring what they already know. 8. Teachers should teach simple language structures before complex ones. No matter in what order language structures are presented, certain structures are acquired before others. 9. Learners’ errors should be corrected as soon as they are made in order to prevent the formation of bad habits. Errors are a necessary part of language learning. A correction may only be useful if the learner is developmentally ready to understand it at a particular point in time. 10. Teachers should use materials that expose students only to language structures which they have already been taught. Students need to be challenged at a level appropriate to their development (too little and they get bored, too much and they get frustrated). Exposure to authentic material helps students more successfully learn English. 11. When learners are allowed to interact freely (for example, in group or pair activities), they learn each others’ mistakes. Second language learners do not make any more mistakes when talking to other students at or below their own proficiency level than they do when talking with native speakers. 12. Students learn what they are taught. No. Students do not learn everything they are taught and often learn much that they are not taught.  Adapted from Lightbrown, P.M. & Spada, N. (1998). How languages are learned. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 111-116.

Transcript

  • 1. The Language LearnerNovember 2-4, 2010
    Dr. Elaine Horwitz, The Language Learner module instructor
  • 2. Discuss
    How would you define a successful language learner?
    [You may wish to consider such items such as age, immersion, early exposure, intelligence, personality, motivation and attitude, strategies]
    Consider and discuss the following statement: “Good language learners are born, not made”
  • 3. What teachers need to know about learners
    The Learner’s Perspective
    We tend to think about learning from our perspective as teachers, rather than the perspective of learners
    Question: As a new language teacher, what are your most important concerns?
  • 4. Disconnect between teachers & learners
    What do learners want to tell teachers?
    Task: In groups of two, go out around the building and talk to as many students as you can.
    Ask them if they take or have taken a foreign language class.
    Introduce yourself as a new language teacher seeking to make language classes better.
    Ask :
    As a student what would you want to tell your language teacher?
    What do you wish your language teacher would know?
    You must come back in 15 minutes!
    We will share results and discuss as a class.
  • 5. Discuss
    What is it like to be a student in our classrooms?
    Think about your experience as a language learner. Can you remember any instances where you thought that you were doing what the teacher wanted but later realized that you were supposed to be doing something else?
  • 6. Learner Characteristics
    Three learner characteristics have consistently been found to be consequential for language learning:
    motivation
    anxiety
    beliefs about language learning
    How does Horwitz define these concepts?
  • 7. Learner Characteristics - Discuss
    Think about why you chose to study your target language in the beginning? What made you decide to become serious about learning your language?
    Did you ever feel anxious when using your target language? What did you do to overcome that anxiety?
    Think about some of the advertisements for language study, such as ads for Rosetta Stone or Berlitz that you have encountered. What do these advertisements imply about how long it takes to learn a language? How might such advertisements influence your students' expectations?
  • 8. Motivation
    Motivation predicts success (Gardner, 2003)
    Can you explain instrumental motivation and integrative motivation? Give some examples of these different types of learners
    Why are your students motivated to learn a second language? What motivated YOU to learn a second language?
    Think about your own motivation(s) for language learning. Was your motivation primarily integrative or instrumental?
  • 9. Maintaining Motivation
    Why does motivation change?
    Why might students lose motivation?
    How can motivation be maintained?
  • 10. Anxiety
    Have you ever encountered students or classmates who experienced foreign language anxiety? What did they say about their difficulties in language learning? Have you yourself ever experienced FLA? What factors seem to encourage people's anxieties? What aspects of language classes would tend to increase students' anxieties?
  • 11. Sources of Anxiety
    Horwitz et al. suggest that anxiety possibly results when people don't feel like themselves when speaking the other language. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
    Do feel like yourself when you speak a second language? If you make compromises between what you want to say and what you know you will be able to articulate, does that bother you?
    Imagine that your language teacher asked you to share something personal in the target language, and just as you were getting to the important part, he or she interrupted you to correct a grammatical error. How would you respond/feel?
  • 12. Ways to decrease Anxiety
    How much anxiety is good for learning and when does it become detrimental?
    Brainstorm a few practical techniques to reduce your students' anxiety.
  • 13. Learner Beliefs
    What common folk beliefs about language learning have you encountered among your students?
    Example: If you are good at math you will be a good language learner.
    Have any of your beliefs about language learning changed so far since you started your program in August?
  • 14. Language Learning Beliefs – true or false?
    Languages are learned mainly through imitation
    Parents usually correct young children when they make grammatical mistakes
    People with high IQs are good language learners
    The most important factor in second language acquisition is motivation
    The earlier a second language is introduced in school programs, the greater the likelihood of success in learning
    Most of the mistakes which second language learners make are due to interference from their first language
  • 15. Language Learning Beliefs – true or false?
    Teachers should present grammatical rules one at a time, and learners should practice examples of each one before going on to another
    Teachers should teach simple language structures be
    Learners’ errors should be corrected as soon as they are made in order to prevent the formation of bad habits before complex ones
    Teachers should use materials that expose students only to language structures which they have already been taught
    When learners are allowed to interact freely (for example, in group or pair activities), they learn each others’ mistakes
    Students learn what they are taught
  • 16. Beliefs survey
    Share results in groups and discuss together.
  • 17. Learner Beliefs
    Think about language learning beliefs your students might hold. (Ex. Belief that language learning is learning grammar; Belief that you can learn a language in 2 years or less, etc.)
    Which language learning beliefs might have a negative impact on academic performance?
    To keep in mind:
    Learner beliefs influence the strategies they use.
    Learner beliefs influence motivation and anxiety.
    Learner beliefs are related to people’s self concepts as language learners.
  • 18. Responding to Beliefs
    Use conversation activities/class discussions to talk about language learning (e.g., a debate whether children are better language learners than adults).
    Make sure your instruction reflects what you tell students about the nature of language learning (e.g., don't tell students that language learning is much more than grammatical study and then spend all of your class time explaining grammar).
    Help students develop realistic goals for language learning.
    Encourage students to examine their own beliefs about language learning throughout the course they are teaching.
    Other ways you could respond to beliefs?
  • 19. Homework
    Portfolio #2 due this week
    Prepare Module on Classroom Management
    Reflection #11 Spruz
    Observation #3 due Nov. 16-18