Consider how much time instructors and students spend in front of electronic screens and how essential technology has become within the last eight months. Meetings and lessons delivered via Zoom and other online platforms are the new normal. Given the challenging times that we are facing including new approaches to learning, living, and overcoming adversity, the idea of new materialism is gaining momentum.
Noticing theory in the
context of cognitive linguistics seems to offer an interesting insight into the
processes accompanying second language acquisition focusing on the problems of
attention, awareness and memory. “Noticing” – despite disagreements in defining
the term – seems to function as a gateway into these processes in Richard
Schmidt’s (1995) deliberations. An ESL instructor “in the field,” might have burning
questions such as these: How is noticing initiated? Is it totally subjective
and personalized, or does it have some regularities that could be exploited in
the classroom? If the latter is true, then what are the stimulants? How can one
effectively manage the process of transforming “comprehensible input” into
I often think of my classroom, in which I teach advanced English learners, as a laboratory. The analogy seems appropriate since both parties – students and I – are involved in some intense and sometimes experimental brain manipulations. Often by design, but also incidentally. Sometimes stemming from theoretical reflection, often just from common sense and intuition.
does being a skillful teacher mean to you? Is it the same as or similar to
being a powerful teacher? Are there any expectations inherent in unravelling
any difference between these two perceptions?
Stephen Brookfield, a scholar in adult
education, is someone I look up to because his focus is on helping adults learn
how to critically think about internalized ideologies. He believes that we teach to change the world
and that being a sincere and reflective educator can be complex but that we
need to be aware of those complexities in order to learn and empower our
students (Brookfield, 2015). I have always enjoyed learning about his perspective
and determining how I can use it in my teaching techniques.
Why is extensive reading important for
language learning? And how can students be motivated to read for pleasure?
As an international student and immigrant, I
know how difficult it is to read extensively in English. Diverse backgrounds
and school experiences can create different profiles of reading strengths and
needs. As an experienced
EAP/ESL/EFL instructor, I did a case study about Extensive Reading (ER) for my
MA, and I learned things I wished I had known much earlier! Now I would like to
share that knowledge with other instructors because ER touches every skill we
teach (Reading, Writing, Grammar, Speaking and Listening).
When I teach
pronunciation, a feeling of unease claws at my chest. I scan the expectant
faces from Iran, Turkey, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, China, Korea, Columbia and
Cameroon. How do I respond to the needs of such an internationally diverse
Quilting and knitting circles have existed
for a long time for the purposes of pleasure and producing a useful final
product, but how did a handicraft project for a group of Master of Education
students turn into a feel-good, emotional learning journey? It was an
assignment for a research methodology course, but it was so much more than that.
It was also collaboration, self-discovery and an emotional roller coaster all
rolled into some highly memorable academic presentations. At least that was my
observation, if not quite my personal experience.
Bringing the L1 into the
EFL classroom does not need to be an overhaul of current practice in the
classroom, nor does it need to be applied to each and every classroom activity.
It is something that can be applied strategically and with intent at the
teacher’s discretion. The point is not to create a new method, but to
understand that cross-linguistic awareness is one of many useful teaching/learning
techniques that are available to us as language teachers.
Despite the wealth of
research that purports the benefits of a cross-linguistic approach, many
learners and teachers are operating in an environment where the L1 is used with
trepidation and as a last resort if it is used at all. Why is it that teachers
and learners are hesitant to take cross-linguistic and multilingual approaches
on board, despite the value of these tools for language learning?
“You have to get your SBA’s, SUA’s, T’s and A’s in order to have an organized portfolio, Sridatt,” said the Lead Instructor of Portfolio Based Language Assessment (PBLA) implementation. “You also have to get,” continued the official, “peer evaluations [PE’s], learner reflections [LR’s], and inventory checklists [IC’s], all in order to have a good, organised portfolio.” The order and presentation of the portfolio, not the teaching of the language itself, seems paramount. I welcome myself to the new world of English as a second language teaching, even though my new teaching practices are not aligned with my educational philosophy.
By the time the individual was finished, I was beginning to see a sort of preoccupation over skill building activities (SBA’s), skill using activities (SUA’s) tasks (T’s) and assessments (A’s). When the individual was gone, it didn’t take much reflection to conclude that Portfolio Based Language Assessment (PBLA) seems to be a faulty assembly line approach to education. Continue reading →