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A Pathway To Teacher Autonomy And Learner Autonomy: A study on socioaffective language learning strategies

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The growing popularity of learning English as a foreign language generates a substantial degree of sociocultural pressure for adults to learn or improve their language skills. However, there are …

The growing popularity of learning English as a foreign language generates a substantial degree of sociocultural pressure for adults to learn or improve their language skills. However, there are indications that many EFL learners do not seem to either have appropriate beliefs, attitudes, anxieties, and motivations or make a good use of proper language learning strategies. EFL teachers in general and Colombian EFL teachers in particular should address these issues by engaging in critical reflections to provide their students with appropriate activities to face up to the emotional difficulties of social interaction and language learning, but more importantly, to open their own work to inspection and to construct valid accounts of their educational practices. Action research (AR) and reflective teacher-learning on socioaffective language learning strategies appear to be powerful means for developing both teacher autonomy and learner autonomy. Teacher autonomy is developed because new methodological and pedagogical opportunities are opened up for teachers to develop an appropriate expertise of their own. Learner autonomy is also developed because students can become aware of and identify their strategies, needs and goals as learners in order to reconsider and refashion approaches and procedures for optimal language learning. A particular action research study examined these issues by focusing explicitly on affective factors and socioaffective language learning strategies among learners in a monolingual EFL classroom at the Centro Colombo Americano in Bogota, Colombia. The results of the study suggested that explicit strategy instruction in socioaffective language learning strategies is helpful in heightening learner awareness of the importance of paying attention to their own feelings and social relationships as part of their learning process. The results also showed that when teachers reflect on their practical pedagogical know-how, it becomes rich personal pedagogical knowledge.

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  • 1. Original article published in: Investigación en el aula en L1 y L2: Estudios, experiencias y reflexiones. Melba Libia Cárdenas (Ed). Biblioteca abierta, Colección general Lenguas Extranjeras, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Facultad de Ciencias Humanas, Departamento de Lenguas Extranjeras, pp. 131-145, 2009. Revised version created by author on June 18, 2009. A PATHWAY TO TEACHER AND LEARNER AUTONOMY: A STUDY ON SOCIOAFFECTIVE LANGUAGE LEARNING STRATEGIES SUMMARY The growing popularity of learning English as a foreign language generates a substantial degree of sociocultural pressure for adults to learn or improve their language skills. However, there are indications that many EFL learners do not seem to either have appropriate beliefs, attitudes, anxieties, and motivations or make a good use of proper language learning strategies. EFL teachers in general and Colombian EFL teachers in particular should address these issues by engaging in critical reflections to provide their students with appropriate activities to face up to the emotional difficulties of social interaction and language learning, but more importantly, to open their own work to inspection and to construct valid accounts of their educational practices. Action research (AR) and reflective teacher-learning on socioaffective language learning strategies appear to be powerful means for developing both teacher autonomy and learner autonomy. Teacher autonomy is developed because new methodological and pedagogical opportunities are opened up for teachers to develop an appropriate expertise of their own. Learner autonomy is also developed because students can become aware of and identify their strategies, needs and goals as learners in order to reconsider and refashion approaches and procedures for optimal language learning. A particular action research study examined these issues by focusing explicitly on affective factors and socioaffective language learning strategies among learners in a monolingual EFL classroom at the Centro Colombo Americano in Bogota, Colombia. The results of the study suggested that explicit strategy instruction in socioaffective 1
  • 2. language learning strategies is helpful in heightening learner awareness of the importance of paying attention to their own feelings and social relationships as part of their learning process. The results also showed that when teachers reflect on their practical pedagogical know-how, it becomes rich personal pedagogical knowledge. KEY WORDS EFL, language learning strategies (LLS), socioaffective factors, critical reflection, practice-as-inquiry, living educational theories, reflective practice, action research (AR), teacher autonomy and learner autonomy. INTRODUCTION In the current economic climate of our countries and the growing integration of the modern world, here appears to be a considerable degree of sociocultural pressure for adult learners become proficient at English. However, EFL students seem to be unaware of the impact that certain socioaffective and personal factors play in their success in learning and speaking a foreign language (Rubin & Thompson, 1994). Most of them tend to have poor or limited language learning strategies (LLS) such as literal translation, rote memorization, inadequate note-taking, etc. (Griffiths, 2003). Specifically, Colombian EFL students seem to lack the basic skills to start and maintain their language learning process successfully. Many students, for instance, do not display awareness of how to use a dictionary, knowledge about how to store basic vocabulary, familiarity with the use of classroom instructions, etc. (Fandiño, 2007). Noticeably, EFL students in general, and Colombian EFL students in particular, are not accustomed to paying attention to their own feelings and relationships in class or taking note of their use of language learning strategies. The inadequate familiarity with LLS and the negligible awareness of socioaffective and personal factors that EFL students have are issues that EFL teachers need to address in order to aid their students successfully in mastering English; a tool that can assist them in satisfying certain personal, social, professional and cultural 2
  • 3. needs, wants, and goals. With this aim in view, EFL teachers should ponder on the impact of socioaffective factors and the importance of language learning strategies in students’ learning process. If EFL teachers want their students to develop their inherent potential to learn, socioaffective factors such as anxiety, motivation, self-esteem, beliefs and attitudes can no longer be denied, the inner needs of the learners can no longer be neglected (Andres, 2002). Similarly, teachers can enhance the language learning process by making students aware of LLS, helping students understand good LLS, training them to develop them and, ultimately, encouraging their use (Graham, 1997). Definitely, socioaffective factors and LLS are issues that EFL teachers need to reflect on, not simply to improve language teaching and education in the process, but also in order to help students live more satisfying lives and be responsible members of society. EFL teachers need to reflect on how to provide their students with appropriate activities, materials and principles to face up to the emotional and sociocultural demands of language learning. However, teachers’ efforts must go beyond merely achieving instructional aims. Instead, teachers must strive to observe, question and understand the teaching settings in which they work and the teaching practices they follow. In other words, teachers’ reflections should be directed at bringing to light the implicit rationale behind what, why, and how things are done in class and at examining the beliefs and values that form or shape actions in class. This way, teachers can not only focus on the learner as an individual with affective needs and reactions that must be considered as an integral part of their language learning, but also open their own work to critical inspection and construct valid accounts of their educational language practices (Finch, 2005). CRITICAL REFLECTION In the last 30 years, several authors have assumed that teachers are researchers who should permanently submit their daily practice to rigorous self-examination to overcome their repetitive routine by continuously reflecting on and transforming their practices (See Stenhouse, 1993; Elliot, 1994; McKernan, 1996; Kemmis, 1998, etc). Educational research should aim to explain what actually happens inside the classroom, 3
  • 4. the direct and indirect influence of internal and external factors related to the student, the teacher and the ELT curriculum (Van Lier, 1998). At the heart of teachers’ educational research, there should be a focus on critically inquiring their own practice. In other words, teachers should use educational research to think about their own contexts, to analyze their judgments and interpretations and to distance themselves to make the basis of their work open to inspection. One way to critically open teachers’ work to inspection is what Donald Schön called practice-as-inquiry. This inquiry occurs when the practitioner reflects both while engaged in action and subsequently on the action itself as an attempt to make his or her own understanding problematic to him or herself. The teacher-researcher strives to test his or her constructions of the situation by bringing to the surface, juxtaposing, and discriminating alternate accounts of reality. The point is to see the taken-for-granted with new eyes to be able to come out of this experience with an expanded appreciation of the complexity of learning, of teaching, and a stronger sense of how external realities affect what the teacher-researcher can (want to) really do (Schön, 1983, 1987). Another proponent of practice-as-inquiry is Jack Whitehead (1988). He regarded it as a way to construct a living educational theory from practitioner's questions of the kind: How do I improve my practice? Valid accounts of a teacher’s educational development, explained Whitehead, should be accepted when teachers ask themselves how to improve their practices, undertake to improve some aspect of their practice, reflect systematically on such a process and provide insights into the nature of their descriptions and explanations. With this standpoint, Whitehead did not deny the importance of propositional forms of understanding. Instead, he argued for a reconstruction of educational theory into a living form of question and answer which includes propositional contributions from the traditional disciplines of education. In a similar vein, Bernando Restrepo Gómez (2000) explained that teachers, in fact, do research when they submit their daily practice to rigorous self-examination to face and transform their everyday practices in ways that respond adequately to their working environment, the needs of their students and their sociocultural agenda. To 4
  • 5. him, teachers as educational practitioners can use retrospection, introspection and participant observation to clarify guiding theories and to specify pedagogical interventions in order to re-signify and transform unsuccessful practices. He argued that, if done systematically and consistently, the empirical doing of teachers can become a reflective doing, a reflective practice. This “pedagogical know-how” can allow teachers both to overcome their repetitive routine and to objectify their practices, which can ultimately help them reflect on and transform their practices simultaneously. ACTION RESEARCH As stated before, EFL teachers should not simply aim at doing research to create new or improved activities, practices and principles; they should do research to bring to light their rationale behind those activities, practices and principles. In particular, research should allow EFL teachers to engage in critical reflection about their set of beliefs or expectations about what language learning is, how a foreign language is learned and why certain practices or activities are acceptable or not in a foreign language classroom. Evidently, the integration between teaching, researching and learning requires a type of research that proffers reflection and self-examination to teachers. This integration also requires a type of research in which teachers can search for solutions to everyday, real problems experienced in classrooms, or look for ways to improve instruction and increase student achievement (Finch, 2005). Based on these requirements, EFL studies can and should use action research (AR) to provide for a type of research in which teaching, learning, reflection and self-actualization can take place in the classroom. Rightly, Martin Parrot (1996, cited in Madrid, 2000) defined AR as: …not so much something that we do in addition to our teaching as something that we integrate into it. In many ways it is a state of mind – it is skepticism about assumptions and a willingness to put everything to the test… It is a way of ensuring that we continue to learn even as we teach. It helps stave off staleness and routine. 5
  • 6. In AR, a variety of procedural plans have been evolved by different scholars. All adopt methodical and iterative sequences of research. These sequences are meant to offer a systematic approach to introducing innovations in teaching and learning. They seek to do this by putting the teacher in the role of producer of educational theory and user of this theory. The process of researching in AR brings theory and practice together. According to Daniel Madrid (2000, p. 22), there are four classic developmental phases of AR: • Phase 1: Develop a plan of action to a) improve what is already happening or b) identify and examine a "puzzle" or problem area in your teaching; • Phase 2: Act to implement the plan; • Phase 3: Observe the effects of action in the context in which it occurs, and • Phase 4: Reflect on these effects. These basic phases can be seen in the following diagram: Develop a Plan of Action Reflect Act Observe Effects Figure 1. Basic Stages of Action Research (Madrid, 2000, p. 22) Based on the previous theoretical considerations, AR can be regarded as a reflective activity dealing with issues arising from the formative quality of the curricular experiences of the students and about the pedagogical conditions that make them possible. In this endeavor, teachers can be learners interested in studying the curricular and pedagogical considerations surrounding their practices and, at the same time, researchers who regard their practices as provisional and unsatisfactory and who use research to achieve changes that are educational worthy. Thus, AR can be the basis for teachers’ personal and professional development and autonomy. TEACHER AUTONOMY 6
  • 7. Apart from systematization, documentation, understanding and knowledge, AR provides teachers with autonomy. Here, I am in agreement with Richard C. Smith (2000) on understanding autonomy not just as a generalized “right to freedom from control” (Benson, 2000) or as “a teachers’ capacity to engage in self-directed teaching (Little, 1995), but as a capacity for self-directed teacher-learning. Smith explained that the idea that education should embrace teacher autonomy is not at heart a new proposition – advocates of teacher development, teacher-research, classroom-research and so on would appear to share this goal implicitly. To him, what might be a relatively new idea is the emphasis on the development of autonomy through reflective teacher- learning (2000, p. 95). This autonomy can be understood as a critical reflection that teachers do on when, where, how and from what sources they (should) learn. This type of autonomy mainly takes place when teachers monitor the extent to which they constrain or scaffold students’ thinking and behavior, when they reflect on their own role in the classroom, when they attempt to understand and advise students, and, ultimately, when they engage in investigative activities. Actual engagement in and concern with reflective teacher-learning appear, then, to be a powerful means for developing teacher autonomy; particularly, when it is explicitly linked to action research. Reflective teacher-learning and AR are essential for teachers to construct autonomy. This autonomy takes place when teachers gain better abilities and a greater willingness to learn for themselves. It emerges when teachers develop an appropriate expertise of their own. The point I am trying to make here is that teachers become autonomous when they use AR and reflective teacher-learning as a methodology to develop a capacity to open their own work to inspection, to construct valid accounts of their educational development and, ultimately, to foster learner autonomy. LEARNER AUTONOMY As Little (1991, p. 4) explained, cast in a new perspective and regarded as understanding the purpose of their learning programme, explicitly accepting 7
  • 8. responsibility for their learning, sharing in the setting of learning goals, taking initiatives in planning and executing learning activities, and regularly reviewing their learning and evaluating its effectiveness, learners, autonomous learners, that is, are expected to critically reflect on and take charge of their own learning. To Little, the autonomous learner takes a (pro-) active role in the learning process, generating ideas and availing himself of learning opportunities, rather than simply reacting to various stimuli of the teacher. In other words, the autonomous learner is a self-activated maker of meaning, an active agent in his own learning process. He is not one to whom things merely happen; he is the one who, by his own volition, causes things to happen (Rathbone, 1971, p. 100 cited in Candy, 1991, p. 271). However, learner autonomy does not mean that the teacher becomes redundant abdicating his/her control over what is transpiring in the language learning process. Instead, learner autonomy involves a dynamic process learned at least partly through educational experiences and interventions (Candy, 1991, cited in Thanasoulas, 2000, p. 115). What permeates this article is the belief that in order to help learners to assume greater control over their own learning, it is important that teachers help them to become aware of and identify the strategies that they already use or could potentially use. In other words, autonomous learning is by no means teacherless learning. As Sheerin (1997, cited in Benson & Voller, 1997, p. 63.) succinctly put it, “…Teachers-- have a crucial role to play in launching learners into self-access and in lending them a regular helping hand to stay afloat”. Thus, the teacher's role is to create and maintain a learning environment in which learners can be autonomous in order to become more autonomous. Learner autonomy can, then, be promoted through AR studies on language learning strategies because, as Dimitrios Thanasoulas (2000) explained, learner autonomy mainly consists in becoming aware of and identifying one's strategies, needs and goals as a learner and having the opportunity to reconsider and refashion approaches and procedures for optimal learning. AR studies on language learning strategies can do just that. They can help students become aware of and familiar with thoughts, behaviors, mental steps or operations to comprehend or retain new 8
  • 9. information, to learn a new language and to regulate their efforts to do so. They can also encourage them to assume greater responsibility for their own language learning and help them assume control over their own learning process. AR studies on language learning strategies can launch students into generating new or improved behaviors and ideas in their learning process and into availing themselves of learning opportunities, which ultimately brings about their own autonomy. ACTION RESEARH ON SOCIOAFFECTIVE LANGUAGE LEARNING STRATEGIES A particular action research study examined critical reflection, teacher autonomy and learner autonomy by focusing explicitly on affective factors and socioaffective language learning strategies among learners in a monolingual EFL classroom at the Centro Colombo Americano in Bogota, Colombia. The overall purpose of this action research was to explicitly teach affective factors and socioaffective language learning strategies in order to make them more accessible and usable for beginner EFL students (See appendix B). Seventeen beginner EFL students participated in this action research study. An initial semi-structured questionnaire and a rating scale gave first data on factors and strategies that needed to be addressed. Observation and teaching logs provided information about how affective-based instruction was conducted and how students responded to it. A post-questionnaire was used to determine the effectiveness and usefulness of this type of instruction. This action research aimed at contributing theoretical findings and pedagogical suggestions to the investigation of socioaffective matters in the ESL/EFL field. It did it by first identifying and describing the beliefs, attitudes, anxieties and motivations of a group of beginner students in a three-month course. Afterwards, it analyzed what affective factors seemed to play a greater role in the language learning process of this group of beginner students. Subsequently, it implemented strategy-based instruction on socioaffective language learning strategies through affect-related activities. Then, it assessed the usefulness of affect-based instruction. On the whole, this study sought to 9
  • 10. promote a critical consciousness, which exhibited itself in new educational as well as practical actions for beginner foreign language teachers, students and classrooms. This study adopted Anne Burns’ (1999, p. 35) model of action research because it allows for practical, but critical classroom enquiry and self-reflection which provide a sound source for pedagogical planning and action (See appendix C). It also enables EFL teachers to easily frame the local decisions of the classroom within broader educational, institutional, and theoretical considerations. This study also followed and adopted Whitehead’s (1993) set of reflective questions to help the teacher-researcher to be as critical and reflective as possible because, as McNiff (2002) claimed, these questions also entail a methodology of action research in which one wants to assess and reflect about what one is doing (See appendix D). In doing this type of reflective research, one is not only giving an account of oneself, but also one is showing that one can justify what one is doing with good reason. The results of the study suggested that explicit strategy instruction in socioaffective language learning strategies is helpful in heightening learner awareness of the importance of paying attention to their own feelings and social relationships as part of their learning process. This increased awareness about the socioaffective dimension of foreign language learning seemed to ultimately improve the frequency and the quality of students’ participation and interaction in class. The results also showed that when teachers reflect on their practical pedagogical know-how, it becomes rich personal pedagogical knowledge. I believe that action research studies on language learning strategies and affective factors make it possible for EFL students to become agents in their own learning process. Such studies can lead them to see that language learning is mainly the result of their own self-initiated interaction with their teachers, their classmates, their materials and their own personal, social, affective and cultural attributes. On the other hand, this type of studies can allow EFL teachers to critically and systematically analyze their students, identify potential problems, modify their teaching practices, and evaluate the results. EFL teachers can even face and transform their daily practices in 10
  • 11. ways which let them respond adequately to their students’ needs and sociocultural agendas. In the end, action research studies on language learning strategies can help EFL teachers and students realize that they can and should be active, reflective and autonomous agents of their language teaching and learning processes. CONCLUSION Colombian EFL teachers should address issues of socioaffective factors and language learning strategies by engaging in critical reflections. Not only can these critical reflections provide their students with appropriate activities to face up to the emotional difficulties of social interaction and language learning, but also they can open their own work to systematic inspection and construct valid accounts of their educational practices. Critical reflections in general and AR in particular appear to be powerful means for developing both teacher autonomy and learner autonomy. On the one hand, teacher autonomy is developed because new methodological and pedagogical opportunities are opened up for teachers to develop an appropriate expertise of their own. On the other hand, learner autonomy is developed because students can become aware of and identify their strategies, needs and goals as learners in order to reconsider and refashion approaches and procedures for optimal language learning. In the end, AR certainly helps to bring out to the open the fact that teachers and students’ actions are based on implicitly held assumptions allowing them to make explicit the justifications for their actions and to question the bases of those justifications. The ensuing practical applications that follow are, then, subjected to further analysis in a transformative cycle that continuously promotes changes in the daily practices, activities and materials of the EFL classrooms. REFERENCES Andres, V. (2002, March). The Influence of affective variables on EFL/ESL learning and teaching. In The journal of the imagination in language learning and teaching. Vol. 7. Retrieved August 20, 2006 from http://www.njcu.edu/CILL/vol7/andres.html 11
  • 12. Benson, P. (2000). Autonomy as a learners and teacher’s right. In Sinclair, B., McGrath, I. and Lamb, T (Eds.), Learner autonomy, teacher autonomy: New directions (pp. 111-117). London: Addison Wesley Longman. Burns, A. (1999). Collaborative action research for English language teachers. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge university press. Candy, P. (1991). Self-direction for Lifelong Learning. California: Jossey-Bass. Fandiño, Y. J. (2007). The explicit teaching of socioaffective language learning strategies to beginner EFL students at the Centro Colombo Americano: An action research study. Bogota, 298 p. Master’s thesis. Division of advanced education, University of La Salle, Colombia. Finch, A. E. (2000). A Formative Evaluation of a Task-based EFL Programme for Korean University Students. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis. Manchester University, U.K. Retrieved August 10, 2006 from http://www.finchpark.com/afe/affect.htm ________. (2005). Action Research: Empowering the Teachers. Pleiades: Journal of Teaching Young Learners of English, 1(1), 30-48. Retrieved August 4, 2006 from http:// www.eslteachersboard.com/cgi-bin/articles/index.pl?read=950 Graham, S. (1997). Effective language learning. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters. Griffiths, C. (2004, February). Language learning strategies: Theory and research. In School of foundations studies, Occasional paper, No. 1. AIS St Helens, Auckland: New Zealand. Retrieved August 20, 2006 from http://www.crie.org.nz/research_paper/c_griffiths_op1.pdf Little, D. (1991). Learner Autonomy 1: Definitions, Issues and Problems. Dublin: Authentik. 12
  • 13. ________. (1995). Learning as dialogue: The dependence of learner autonomy on teacher autonomy. In System, 23 (2), 175-181. Madrid, D. (2000). Observation and research in the classroom. In Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Barcelona: The Australian Institute, pp. 1-100. McNiff, J. (2002). Action research for professional development: Concise advice for new action researchers. At Jean McNiff, booklet 1, No. 6. Retrieved August 20, 2006 from http://www.jeanmcniff.com/booklet1.html#6 Parrot, M. (1996). Tasks for language teachers: A resource book for training and development. UK: Cambridge University Press. Rathbone, C. H. (1971). Open Education: The Informal Classroom. New York: Citation Press. Restrepo, B. (2000). Maestro investigador, Escuela investigadora e Investigación. In Cuadernos Pedagógicos 14. Medellín: Universidad de Antioquia. Rubin, J., and Thompson, I. (1994). How to be a more successful language learner (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle. Sheerin, S. (1997). An Exploration of the Relationship between Self-access and Independent Learning. In Benson, P. and Voller, P. (Eds.), Autonomy and Independence in Language Learning. London: Longman. Schön, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic books. ________. Educating the Reflective Practitioner. Presentation to the 1987 meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Washington, D.C. 13
  • 14. Smith, R. (2003). Teacher education for teacher-learner autonomy. In Gollin, J., G. Ferguson and H. Trappes-Lomax (eds), Sysposium for Language Teacehr Educators: Papers from Three IALS Symposia (CD-ROM). Edinburgh: IALS, University of Edinburgh. Also available online via http://www.warwick.ac.uk/~elsdr/Teacher_autonomy.pdf Thanasoulas, D. (2000, November). What is learner autonomy and how it can be fostered? In The Internet TESL journal 6 (11). Retrieved July 17, 2007 from http://iteslj.org/Articles/Thanasoulas-Autonomy.html Van Lier, L. (1988). The classroom and the language learner. Ethnography and second language classroom research. Harlow: Longman. Whitehead, J. (1988). Creating a living educational theory from questions of the kind, How do I improve my practice? In Cambridge journal of education. Vol. 19, No.1., pp. 41-52. Retrieved August 20, 2006 from http://www.bath.ac.uk/ %7Eedsajw/writings/livtheory.html ________. (1993). The growth of educational knowledge: Creating your own living educational theories. Hyde: Bournemouth. Appendix A Affective Factors and Socioaffective Language Learning Strategies (Yamith Fandiño, 2007) AFFECTIVE FACTORS SOCIOAFFECTIVE LANGUAGE LERANING STRATEGIES 14
  • 15. Beliefs The constructed Affective language learning strategies assumptions, opinions, conceptions and Lowering one’s anxiety: Using progressive expectations that EFL relaxation, deep breathing or meditation; learners have about using music, and using laughter. themselves as learners, the language, their classroom Encouraging oneself (self-reinforcement): and the learning process. Providing personal motivation by arranging rewards for oneself, making positive statements and taking risks wisely. Attitudes The evaluative and socioaffective reactions, thoughts and predispositions that EFL Taking one’s emotional temperature: students have toward Listening to your body; using a checklist; language learners, English writing a language learning diary; and its culture, the learning discussing your feelings with someone situation itself, and the else. value of the learning Self-talk: Mental techniques that make one process. feel competent to do a learning task Anxiety A subjective state of Social language learning strategies apprehension, nervousness, and worry associated with Asking questions: Asking for explanation, an arousal of the autonomic verification, rephrasing, or examples about nervous system which the material; asking for clarification or occurs at the learner, verification about the task; posing language, classroom and questions to the self. learning level when a Cooperating with peers (others): Working student is expected to together with peers to solve a problem, perform in a foreign pool information, checking a learning task, language. modeling a language activity, getting feedback on oral or written performance, cooperating with proficiency users of the new language. Motivation The desire, the interest, the satisfaction, the persistence and the effort that learners Social-mediating activities (Exposing have to achieve tasks or oneself to social activities in TL) and reach goals satisfactorily at transacting with others: Active the learner, language, participation in learning tasks, start and classroom and learning maintain conversations (show interest, use levels. follow-up questions, make comments, etc). Empathizing with others: Developing cultural understanding and becoming aware of others thoughts and feelings. 15
  • 16. Appendix B Anne Burns’ Model of Action Research (1999, p. 35) Exploring This is a very open and uncertain phase where teachers “feel their way” into the research questions. It involves identifying and agreeing upon a general idea or issue of interest. Identifying This involves a “fact finding” process which enables the researchers to refine their ideas about the general focus area and to prepare for more systematic investigation. At this stage, a short period is spent recording and documenting observations. Planning This phase involves developing a viable plan of action for gathering data, and considering and selecting a range of appropriate research methods. The plan is aimed at trialing a particular course of action and collecting data on the outcomes of this action. Collecting data During this period, the procedures selected for collecting data are developed and put into action. These might not be the only data gathering events, but this period begins the process of going more deeply into the issue being researched. Analysing / This phase is considered as a combination of both analysis and reflecting reflection. At this stage, the data are analysed using a systematic process of analysis and interpretation according to agreed criteria. Hypothesising / In this phase, teachers may be in a position to draw out hypothesis speculating or predictions about what is likely to occur. These hypotheses are based on the data that have been collected to this point, on their analysis and on the reflections that have arisen from the analysis. Intervening This phase involves changing classroom approaches or practices in response to the hypotheses one has made. It may involve some further deliberate experimenting with different or non-usual teaching methods or testing out developing hunches or predictions by moral means. Observing This phase involves observing the outcomes of the intervention and reflecting on its effectiveness. This involves a new set of teaching strategies and activities and a recycling back into a period of further data collection. Reporting This phase involves articulating the activities, data collection and results that have come out of the research process. Verbalising these activities through discussion results in “problematising” the analyses and observations by extending and critiquing them with other members of the community. Writing and This is a “summative” phase where the research questions, the presenting strategies developed, the process of the research, and the analyses and results observed are drawn together by writing up an account in a report or article. This phase also aims at ensuring that the research is presented to a wider audience. 16
  • 17. Appendix C Jack Whitehead’s Set of Reflective Questions (1993) • What issue am I interested in researching? Ask yourself: What is especially high in my mind at the moment? You should be practical and ask: Can I influence the situation, or is it outside my scope? • Why do I want to research this issue? You need to be reasonably clear why you want to get involved. The reasons for our actions are often rooted in our values base, that is, the things we believe in and that drive our lives. • What kind of evidence can I gather to show why I am interested in this issue? You need to gather data about the situation, and you can use a variety of methods for this – journals, diaries, notes, audio and videotape recordings, surveys, attitude scales, pictures, etc. • What can I do? What will I do? You need to imagine ways in which you might begin taking action. You might want at this stage to consult your critical friend or validation group about how you could move forward. You need to consider your options carefully and decide what you can reasonably expect to achieve, given the time, energy and other resources you have. • What kind of evidence can I gather to show that I am having an influence? This is your second set of data, which will also turn into evidence by meeting your nominated criteria. You can use the same, or different, data-gathering methods that you used before. You should try to show, through this set of data, whether there is an improvement in the situation, even though that improvement might be very small. • How can I explain that influence? You are aiming to show a development of influence, an unfolding of new understandings and actions from people working together in new ways, and their influence on one another, that is, how they learn with and from one another. To gauge your impact on them, you need to get their reactions or perceptions about their relationship with you. • How can I ensure that any judgments I might make are reasonably fair and accurate? If you say, “I think that such and such happened”, you can expect someone to say, “Prove it.” The answer is that you can’t. You can’t prove anything. You can, however, produce reasonable evidence to suggest that what you feel happened really did happen, and you are not just making it up. You need that other people consider your claim and agree that you have good reason for making your claim. • How will I change my practice in the light of my evaluation? You will probably carry on working in this new way because it seems to be better than the way you were working before. This does not mean closure. Each ending carries its own potentials for new creative forms. Author Yamith José Fandiño holds a BA in philology and languages from the National University of Colombia and an MA in teaching from La Salle University. He has 17
  • 18. worked at different EFL institutes and has attended and participated in different symposia and conferences. His research interests range from learner empowerment to educational research. Currently, he is working at La Salle and Distrital universities in Bogotá, Colombia. 18

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