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 Making the short story long: An approach to Meeting the Needs of Low Level University Students in South Africa

Making the short story long: An approach to Meeting the Needs of Low Level University Students in South Africa



Presentation by Susan Ntete at the ELT conference in Sudan/Khartoum University /March 1-3

Presentation by Susan Ntete at the ELT conference in Sudan/Khartoum University /March 1-3



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     Making the short story long: An approach to Meeting the Needs of Low Level University Students in South Africa  Making the short story long: An approach to Meeting the Needs of Low Level University Students in South Africa Presentation Transcript

    • Making the short story long: An approach to Meeting the Needs of Low Level University Students in South Africa Susan Ntete, PhD. University of the Western Cape (UWC) [email_address]
    • Introduction: Background
      • UWC’s HDI status and admissions policy- open access – attract a mixed-bag of abilities
      • My background- ESL rather than EFL
      • Talk to address practices offered in the English Intensive (E105) course at UWC
      • The Sudanese to chop and change, cut and paste- to suit unique circumstances
    • The E105 Course
      • A semester-long foundation course
      • To meet academic needs of students with low proficiency levels in English
      • Communicative approach to language teaching- ‘language as social behaviour’
      • Intensive- three hours/week, small groups
      • Literature used as vehicle to teach language and grammar
    • Assessment Criteria
      • Continuous Evaluation
      • Exam Mark (EM) = 40%
      • Coursework Mark (CM)= 60%
      • 25% - Term 1 Major Assignment
      • 25% - Term 2 Major Assignment
      • 30% - Short class-based assignments
      • 20% - Participation: Oral (Individual and Group) + Attendance
    • Some Objectives of E105
      • To demystify the language of the book
      • To present reading as fun and to promote it as a way of life
      • Provides a non-threatening environment for students to take ideas for a test-drive
      • To help students form opinions, argue convincingly, develop an academic voice
    • Course Material
      • Course Reader with carefully selected:
      • (mainly) SA-based short stories
      • Articles of interest - topical issues
      • Poems
      • Extra material includes:
      • Newspaper articles- hot off the press
      • Cartoons
      • Any material considered relevant
    • E105 Student Profile
      • Differentiated according to:
      • Origins
      • Competence levels, and
      • Needs
    • Origin
      • Local and visiting international (Africa, Chinese, French, etc.) students
      • Rural (disadvantaged) and urban (ex-Model C/township) learning backgrounds
      • Multilingual and multicultural (SA alone with 11 official languages)
    • Competence Levels
      • New enrolments (young/old) and mature students (extensive working experience)
      • Most transitional- use English only at UWC; ESL and/or 3 rd language speakers
      • Majority not from a reading culture- little familiarity with language of instruction and the book, and some lecturers’ accents
      • Not considered English 1 material
    • Needs
      • Some Chinese- affordable access to English for survival in the USA
      • Some French students- to make sense of the new environment, and to get by
      • Some senior students- a filler course
      • The majority- their academic survival dependent on E105
    • Some Pedagogic Principles informing E105
      • Caine and Caine’s concept of brain-based learning
      • Krashen’s theories on L2 acquisition
      • Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development
      • Freire and Giroux’s concept of border pedagogy
      • My own experiences as an ESL speaker
    • Pedagogic Principle 1
      • Caine & Caine’s brain-based learning theory:
      • The brain - a physiological organ
      • School and life experiences that affect physiological function impact upon the capacity to learn
      • Learning highly influenced by emotions
    • Pedagogic Principle 2 ...
      • Krashen on L2 teaching advises:
      • Creation of natural communication situations rather than explicit teaching
      • Necessary for learning- comprehensible input and a low affective filter (anxiety, attitudes, etc.)
      • Language to be slightly beyond students’ current level of L2 competence
    • Pedagogic Principle 3 …
      • Freire & Giroux- ‘border pedagogy’
      • story-telling effective – where students divided by invisible but concrete walls of race, ethnic-nationality identity, social and economic class
      • Literature being said to move students beyond their present circumstances
      • Readers get lost in a story/situation
    • Why the short story?
      • Language not innocent
      • Difference between what is said and meant
      • Analogy- the short story as an ‘ice-berg’
      • More to the short-story than meets the eye
      • Encourages students to be actively engaged- dig beneath surfaces, determine what’s left unsaid, read between the lines
    • How to use the short story?
      • Careful selection key- length, interest, relevance, suspense, topical, reflection ...
      • From the familiar to the abstract
      • Employs all 4 skills necessary for learning a language- listen, speak, read, write
      • Language and grammar taught in context
      • Tools of the trade- active engagement, dictionaries, reading as a way of life, etc.
    • The short story in action: Ursula K. Le Guin’s ‘ The Wife’s Story ’
      • Unlike most in E105 Reader- not SA
      • Confusing, interesting and full of suspense
      • Zone of proximal development- Greek mythology; fiction, creative writing
      • Demonstrates need for high level of active engagement - for understanding to occur
      • Sequencing of material important- sets the tone/level/pace for student participation
    • How to use story: Activities based on the story
      • Brainstorming session- individual
      • Close reading: collaboration (pairs)
      • Role Play – collaboration (small groups)
      • Major Assignment- personalized writing- after the necessary scaffolding
    • Activity 1: Brainstorming Session
      • The title – who they expect to be the main subject of the story
      • The kinds of marital issues they expect the story to throw up
      • Students tap into their own understanding of relationships between married couples
      • They learn that their ideas, thoughts and experiences are important
    • Activity No. 2: Close Reading
      • Detecting ‘tone’ in first few lines
      • Analysing tenses- relevance of past tense
      • Language usage – what it suggests about identity of speaker- characterization
      • Words as used in context- e.g. what these suggest about eras, characters, events ...
      • Vocabulary – identification of words suggesting mystery in the story …
    • Activity No. 3: Group effort and Role Play
      • Students sensitized - the different tones in opening lines of the story;
      • May be followed by a reading and detailed analysis of ‘ Death be not proud ’ by JD.
      • Imaginary dialogue scenes between the various characters in the story are created
      • In groups students write dialogue capturing different tones- roles: scribes …
      The beginning of creative writing
    • Activity No. 4: Assignment Topic
      • In the given extract the wife is presented as having buried her head in the sand, … with bad consequences… Have you/ someone you know ever been in a similar situation …? Describe in detail what your circumstances were. What excuses did you use …? What lesson did you learn? What advice would you give? Provide a title that captures your experience …
    • Academic benefits of the short story approach
      • Students become engrossed in the story-line
      • They see a bit of themselves in the characters, forget their linguistic shortcomings and fears
      • Familiarity with issues raised in story gives them confidence to participate
    • Academic benefits of the short story approach cont.
      • Student at centre of learning experience, teacher provides necessary scaffolding
      • Talk about own experiences helps them take the story out of the Course Reader
      • Transfer of knowledge and skills across courses and spaces important
      • They learn to apply knowledge gained in real life contexts
    • Academic benefits of the approach cont.
      • The tendency to lock up acquired knowledge in neat little boxes challenged
      • They learn to use themselves as useful resources
      • The story provides foundation on which students may model their own writing
    • Measurement and Evaluation
      • Transfer of skills difficult to monitor and evaluate
      • Students’ evaluations at the end of the semester- +90% comments positive
      • Calls for the course to be extended to the second semester
    • Measurement and Evaluation
      • Annual pass rate of about 80%
      • E105 students who are able to hold their own in second semester of Eng 1 (E121)
      • New students who join the E105 class on the basis of recommendations from previous students
      • Senior students and friends not registered for E105, who prefer my lunch hour classes to the music in the student centre
    • Some Sources
      • Bee, B. The politics of literacy …
      • Giroux, H. 1992. Border Crossings: Cultural Workers and the politics of Education …
      • Mackie, R. (ed.) 1980. Literacy and Revolution: The pedagogy of Paulo Freire
    • Appendices: Guided Writing
      • Cartoons and Cartoon strips:
      • A. Students’ own title- genre, visual clues
      • B. My Title: out of the comfort zone
      • C. The story behind the cartoon, etc.
      • Other activities:
      • Free writing
      • Guided writing: the fable