Contrary to what many think – it is not action, it is not money, it is not the vote which makes this world a better place. It is the interchange of ideas, the free flow of ideas.
In light of the death of Aaron Schwartz, I’m glad others are looking deeply at the protectionist academic journal racket and JSTOR. My own captive mind post written a couple of years ago – throws my own voice and light onto this important issue and if I may be so dramatic, “clash of civilizations”.
It is saddening that nations, politicians, the world – can’t see the value in keeping ideas flowing. That it indeed will be the lifeblood of a better world. That so many more can have access to ideas and knowledge will bring unfathomable benefits and results to all of us. Yet we have a closed academic society and culture. Yet we have an internet more and more walled in. Yet we have a communications network that is becoming mostly about who can pay.
Let’s open the ideas pipeline. Let’s make the internet free. It isn’t something that should have a toll booth where the rich can zoom through and pick at what they want, the poor get the garbage under the crowded roads beneath……
I was picking through a lot of my older posts about copyright, in the light of Aaron’s death. Came across this one – Cut, Snip, Paste. At the bottom, came to this image, my former posting of a wonderful video about the power of remixing and how it breeds brillance. This image fell upon my eyes.
Let’s remember Aaron and work even harder to make the world’s ideas available for mixing and minds everywhere.
Developing the art of questioning can be as simple as practicing. It is with practice that we gain competence and “pattern” the process
Look at the question types below (from low to high order}. Choose one question, ask it and then give two follow up questions.
Who, what, when, where, how _______?
Identifying Errors -
What is wrong with _______?
How is similar to/different from_______?
What might we infer from _______?
What conclusions might be drawn from _______?
Identifying Attributes and Components -
What are the characteristics/parts of _______? Predicting -
What might happen if _______?
How might we organize into categories_______?
What ideas/details can you add to _______?
Give an example of _______. Ordering -
Arrange into sequence according to _______?
Can you summarize _______?
Establishing Criteria -
What criteria would you use to judge/evaluate _______?
Identifying Relationships and Patterns -
Develop an outline/diagram/web of _______?
Identifying Main Ideas -
What is wrong with _______?
What conclusions might be drawn from_______? Verifying -
What evidence supports _______?
How might we prove/confirm _______? Representing -
In what other ways might we show/illustrate _______?
Techniques of Effective Questioning 1. Establish an appropriate environment. Only certain questions should be posed in front of students; “bedside” (beginning) questions should focus principally on knowledge and recall and to a lesser extent on comprehension. 2. Create a climate conducive to learning. A happy facial expression, nod, or verbal acknowledgement of a correct response encourages other students to participate in the discussion. Pose questions in a non-threatening way and receive answers in a supportive fashion. A harsh tone, especially when used to interrupt a response from the student, can be devastating for both the student and his or her peers. 3. Prepare the students for the questioning session and discussion. Explain to students the format, expectations, and how this knowledge will help them. 4. Use both pre-planned and emerging questions. Pre-planned questions are those incorporated into the teaching plan that are asked during the teaching session to introduce new concepts, focus the discussion on certain items, steer the discussion in specific directions, or identify student knowledge / level on the topic. Emerging questions derive from the discussion itself and the specific answers given to previous questions. Think quickly and act decisively to phrase these questions accurately and pose them at appropriate times in the discussion. 5. Use an appropriate variety and mix of questions. One good strategy is to start with convergent questions and then continue with divergent questions, perhaps asking questions in hierarchical sequence and building from the recall of facts to higher levels of thinking and problem-solving. If a question requiring a higher level thinking skill blocks the student, go down to a question requiring lower-level thinking skills and then work up the hierarchy. 6. Avoid trick questions and those that require only a YES or NO response. Trick questions should be avoided, as they frustrate students and tend to encourage frivolous responses. YES or NO questions encourage students to respond without fully understanding or thinking through the issue. When used, such questions should be followed by other questions to determine the thinking process of the student. **** However in English Language teaching, closed questions are encouraged at the beginning stages of language development. 7. Phrase the questions carefully, concisely, and clearly. Improper phrasing and the use of multiple questions related to the same topic may result in unintentional cueing (guessing) and inability to accurately assess student understanding. 8. Address questions to the group, versus the individual. Pose the question to the entire group and wait before identifying a student to respond. The wait time encourages all students to think about the response, as they do not know who is going to be called upon to answer the question. Select students at random to answer questions, as it tends to keep everyone attentive and involved.
9. Select both volunteers and non-volunteers to answer questions.
10. Adapt questions to the needs of the learners. Assess the students’ needs and tailor questions to maximize the number of correct answers while moving toward more and more difficult questions. Remember, no two groups of students will be alike or at the same level. 11. Use sufficient wait time. The teacher can significantly enhance the analytic and problem-solving skills of students by allowing sufficient wait times before responding, both after posing a question and after the answer is given. This allows everyone to think about not only the question but also the response provided by the student. Three to five seconds in most cases; longer in some, maybe up to 10 seconds for higher-order questions. 12. Respond to answers given by students. Listen carefully to the answers given by students; do not interrupt students while they are responding to questions unless they are straying far off course, are totally unfocused, or are being disruptive. Acknowledge correct answers and provide positive reinforcement. Do not use sarcasm, reprimands, accusations, and personal attacks. Repeat answers only when the other students have not heard the answers; other repeats waste time. Keep questioning until the learning objectives for the session have been achieved; this may be the best opportunity to teach a particular concept. Handle incomplete answers by reinforcing what is correct and then asking probing questions. 13. Use questions to identify learning objectives for follow-up self-study. Pose questions towards the end of the teaching session to identify specific areas for additional learning opportunities that students can pursue on their own time. Adapted from: The office of curriculum development, University of Alberta http://www.uab.edu/uasomume/cdm/
Watch this video from Teacher.tv What do the experts say about questioning? Complete the statements below.
1. The main purpose of asking questions is to find out
2. The teacher has to help the students _________________.
3. “What do you think?” is a kind of ____________________
4. What are the Teaching Strategies discussed.
Questions give students confidence and let them express their learning and communicate. Questions should be taught either explicitly or through practice at an early stage of student English acquisition. Classroom’s which are “quiet” and where there is little student interaction in English are often due to the students not being able to engage in “dialogue”. Why? Because they don’t know how to phrase the questions quickly and
Interviews are a fundamental way of getting students to ask / make questions.
The simplest way is get them to write down the questions they’d like to ask a partner/friend. Role playing is even better. Give students a role play card and using the card, they ask each other questions about their “friend” to find out information. Start with a whole class interview and then have the students interview in pairs.
If you really want to get “digital”, have your students interview Dave the “bot” and then copy and paste/print the interview and bring to class. They can then practice the interview in class for others!
What did you say?
In 3s, one student reads out a sentence, leaving out a word. The other students then ask the follow up question.
Example: A) I went to )*&)**_*( this weekend.
B) Excuse me but, where did he go this weekend?
C) He went to Jeju Island this weekend.
Photo and word prompts?
In 3s, students are shown photos (either on a big screen or with flash cards). They make a question each about the photo. The Question Making Schematic (Appendix 5) can be used to help students. Alternately the “Who / What / Where game can be played.
Appendix 3 illustrates a great Korea oriented lesson using the same method.
Class walkarounds – post it!
This activity is meant to get students on their feet and speaking. Give students some post it notes. On one Post it note, they write something about themselves. Example, “I love potato chips!” Students then “post it” on themselves and walk around the class. They ask each other questions about the post it. After one question, they change to another person.
Example: A) What kind of potato chips do you like?
B) I really like sour crème and onion!
(I hate mornings).
A) What time did you get up today?
B) I got up at 6:30 am ! [change partners]
This activity can even be “larger” by having students write questions on their post it notes. Students walk around the class asking other students and “posting” the note on them. After the walkaround, students return to their seat and with a partner, use the post its to interview a partner.
Class walkarounds – Surveys / Find someone who!
Surveys and “find someone who” activities are excellent at getting students asking questions. Give each student an index card. Ask them to choose one question to ask the class on your given topic. Use “prompt” words on the board to help students. (see Appendix 2).
Students walk around the class asking students and compiling the results on their index card under YES Maybe No. Students after the activity, report back
Listening – The 5 ws!
Play any short clip or news report. Even a short story. Ask the students to list the “reporters” 5ws on a piece of paper.
This activity can also be done for any reading/text in the textbook. It is invaluable to get the students themselves forming the comprehension questions for your class readings.
This should be your goal – get them to TEACH THEMSELVES!
20 questions / what is it?!
(Appendix 4) These games are popular and any guessing game with objects is great.
See www.20q.net for a computer version. Your students will be amazed!
Also for celebrities and famous people – see http://en.akinator.com/#
BAAM – Ask the Teacher!
Baam is a great game with lots of interaction. Students choose a number and try to avoid BAAM. The “Ask the Teacher” game gets the students asking the teacher (or another student) and helps them practice basic personal questions.
Spin the Question!
Use the “Spin the Question” power point when you need a little “chance” in your activity. Students spin and then must make a question with the chosen question word. Lots of fun!
“I can’t say it works everywhere but it works for me and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Is it easy? NOPE! It took a lot of hard work, relationship building and there were snags along the way but so far it is working!”
“I have a good friend and we share all the time. She rocks at assessment I rock at presentation. We meld our lessons and constantly trade information and lesson plans. What comes out in the end is great lessons and great assessment.”
2 native English speaking teachers (2006)
This paper will explore the collaboration and relationship between Native English Speaking teachers (NESTs) and Korean English teachers (NNESTs). It isn’t always easy but with a little knowledge, most teachers can adapt and succeed as co-teachers. Two heads are definitely better than one!
1. Why co-teach?
There are significant benefits to co-teaching which have been researched and validated. The benefits include those for both teachers and students.
ü better student to teacher ratio and more individual attention (especially helpful to lower level students.).
ü a wider use of instructional techniques, to better student learning
ü more and better critical, planning and reflective practices by teachers
ü social skills improvement / better classroom management.
ü a more “community” oriented classroom
ü increased score results.
Benefits for Teachers
ü Teacher training in-house. The Korean English Teacher betters their own language skills while teaching.
ü Both teachers develop new instructional techniques while teaching and sharing.
ü New teachers can be given guidance and mentoring.
ü Effective modeling for students.
ü NESTs > less cultural adaptation.
2. The 4 “Knows” of Successful of Co-Teaching:
Know Yourself- Teachers that know their own teaching style, their own beliefs and teaching philosophy are more successful at co-teaching.
Know your co-teacher – Teachers who spend time to get to know each other BOTH socially and professionally, have more success at co-teaching.
Know your students – Co-teachers should discuss students regularly and this will allow a common point of reference on which to build a successful relationship.
Know your “stuff”- Teachers who are motivated to grow professionally and who make a concerted effort to learn on the job are more likely to be successful at co-teaching.
Keefe, Moore, Duff, (2004)
3. The Personal Qualities of a Successful Co-Teacher
Professional Respect / Rapport: Sharing and helping each other.
Adaptability: Able to change, accept criticism and feedback
Belief in Inclusion: student centered philosophy, every student counts.
Humor: don’t sweat the small stuff! It’s cross cultural!
4. What things should co-teachers do
The first thing co-teachers need to do (above and beyond getting to know each other) is to discuss their roles and responsibilities in their classroom. Each co-teacher should fill out the S.H.A.R.E. co-teaching questionnaire individually (see the appendix) and then allow their co-teacher to read their thoughts. Finally, discuss together and go through each item individually.
The 3 Keys to Co-teaching: Planning / Disposition / Evaluation
1 ) Co-teachers need to plan regularly together (Sileo, 2003). Planning is crucial to any successful co-teaching. You should set up a weekly planning session or if that isn’t possible, plan and communicate through email or messenger.
2) A teacher’s “personality” should be one that is flexible and good social skills are a primary feature of successful co-teaching questionnaire. Be prepared to “wear several hats” and to adapt your personality for each co-teacher.
3) Teachers with similar teaching philosophies and beliefs are also highly successful (see the Stages of Co-teaching diagram). This also goes for beliefs regarding evaluation (how, how often, type).
3 Warning Signs to look out for…..
If you are co-teaching and the following situations seem familiar, you should be taking steps to change things. This might include talking to your co-teacher(s) and school administration or taking your concerns to your district supervisor.
1. The foreign expert.
Foreign teachers are viewed as “all knowing”. This creates an imbalance in the classroom and eventually resentment. There must be a shared power in the classroom. There is no expert or rather, a Native expert and a Foreign expert. Each have their particular skills and experience and relevance.
2. The “walking tape recorder”.
In this case, the Korean teacher feels that the foreign teacher lacks instructional skills and uses the NEST as a kind of puppet, only good for pronunciation and laughter, cultural communication.
3. The “token foreigner”.
Here, the NEST is only there to give the school pride as being progressive. They aren’t used as teachers. They are just a symbol of being “international” and progressive. (P. Struman, 1992)
A Teacher’s Model for Co-Teaching
I. THE CORNERSTONE: A PHILOSOPHICAL BASIS
The members of successful co-teaching teams share several common beliefs that constitute a philosophy or a system of principles that guide their practice.
II. INDIVIDUAL PREREQUISITES
Individual teachers voluntarily bring certain characteristics, knowledge, and skills to the co-teaching situation.
A. Co-teachers have personal characteristics that enable them to work effectively with another adult.
B. Co-teachers have sets of common knowledge and skills.
C. Co-teachers have discipline-specific knowledge and skills.
D. Co-teaching is voluntary (NOTE: This teacher perception is not
recommended practice for long-term program success).
III. THE PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP
Co-teachers have unique professional relationships.
A. The professional relationship is built on parity, communication, respect,
B. Co-teachers make a commitment to building and maintaining their professional relationship.
IV. CLASSROOM DYNAMICS
The interactions in a co-taught classroom are unique to this teaching arrangement.
A. Co-teachers clearly define classroom roles and responsibilities.
B. Co-teachers’ instructional interactions reflect their professional relationship.
C. Co-teachers successfully maintain the instructional flow of the whole class by providing support to individual students.
D. The curriculum in co-taught classes explicitly addresses academic, developmental, compensatory, and life skills and reflects the needs of students in the class.
E. Co-teachers monitor their efforts.
V. EXTERNAL SUPPORTS
External support facilitates successful co-teaching.
A. Administrators support co-teaching
B. Appropriate professional development activities enhance co-teaching.
Co-teaching Types and Instances
1. One Teach, One Observe. One of the advantages in co-teaching is that more detailed observation of students engaged in the learning process can occur. With this approach, for example, co-teachers can decide in advance what types of specific observational information to gather during instruction and can agree on a system for gathering the data. Afterward, the teachers should analyze the information together.
WHEN TO USE
In new co-teaching situations
When questions arise about students
To check student progress
To compare target students to others in class
AMOUNT OF PLANNING
2. Station Teaching. In this co-teaching approach, teachers divide content and students. Each teacher then teaches the content to one group and subsequently repeats the instruction for the other group. If appropriate, a third “station” could give students an opportunity to work independently.
WHEN TO USE
When content is complex but not hierarchical
In lessons in which part of planned instruction is review
When several topics comprise instruction
AMOUNT OF PLANNING
3. Parallel Teaching. On occasion, students’ learning would be greatly facilitated if they just had more supervision by the teacher or more opportunity to respond. In parallel teaching, the teachers are both teaching the same information, but they divide the class group and do so simultaneously.
WHEN TO USE
When a lower adult-student ratio is needed to improve instructional efficiency
To foster student participation in discussions
For activities such as drill and practice, re-teaching, and test review
AMOUNT OF PLANNING
4. Alternative Teaching: In most class groups, occasions arise in which several students need specialized attention. In alternative teaching, one teacher takes responsibility for the large group while the other works with a smaller group.
WHEN TO USE
In situations where students’ mastery of concepts taught or about to be taught varies tremendously
When extremely high levels of mastery are expected for all students
When enrichment is desired
When some students are working in a parallel curriculum
AMOUNT OF PLANNING
5. Teaming: In team teaching, both teachers are delivering the same instruction at the same time. Some teachers refer to this as having “one brain in two bodies.” Others call it “tag team teaching.” Most co-teachers consider this approach the most complex but satisfying way to co-teach, but it is the approach that is most dependent on teachers’ styles.
WHEN TO USE
When two heads are better than one or experience is comparable or complementary
The teachers have a high sense of comfort and compatibility
During a lesson in which instructional conversation is appropriate
When a goal of instruction is to demonstrate some type of interaction to students
AMOUNT OF PLANNING
6. One Teach, One Assist. In a secondapproach to co-teaching, one person would keep primary responsibility for teaching while the other professional circulated through the room providing unobtrusive assistance to students as needed.
WHEN TO USE
When the lesson lends itself to delivery by one teacher
When one teacher has particular expertise for the lesson
In new co-teaching situations–to get to know each other
In lessons stressing a process in which student work needs close monitoring
AMOUNT OF PLANNING
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND REFERENCE MATERIALS ON CO-TEACHING
Adams, L., Cessna, K., & Friend, M. (1993). Effectiveness indicators
of collaboration in special education/general education co-teaching: Final report.
Denver: Colorado Department of Education.
Bauwens, J. & Hourcade, J. J. (1991). Making co-teaching a mainstreaming strategy. Preventing School Failure, 35, (4), 19-24.
Cook, L., & Friend, M. (1995). Co-teaching: Guidelines for creating effective practices. Focus on Exceptional Children, 28(3), 1-16.
Dieker, Lisa, (2003) An Introduction to Cooperative Teaching, University of Central Florida.
Friend, M., Reising, M., & Cook, L. (1993). Co-teaching: An overview of the past, a glimpse at the present, and considerations for the future. Preventing School Failure, 37(4), 6-10.
Keefe, Moore, Duff (2004), The 4 “Knows” of Collaborative Teaching, Journal of Teaching Exceptional Children, 4(3), 36-41
Sileo, J. M. (2003). Co-teaching: Rationale for best practices. Journal of Asia-Pacific Special Education, 3(1), 17-26.
Sturman, P., (1992), Team Teaching: A case study from Japan, Collaborative Language Learning and Teaching, Cambridge University Press, Nunan, D., 141-161
Walther-Thomas, C. , (1997) Co-Teaching Experiences: The Benefits and Problems That Teachers and Principals Report Over Time,Journal of Learning Disabilities
(Please see my Research folder at http://mediafire.com/eflclassroom for these articles and many, many more on co-teaching. You might also look at my co-teaching recommendations for the ETIS program. Further, the Professional Development page on EFL Classroom 2.0 http://eflclassroom.com offers further material. Please check the forums there for many discussions on co-teaching). You might also find useful – http://setiteachers.ning.com . Please find the co-teaching discussion there.
Co-teaching survey: Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education
Native Speaking English Teachers
CIRCLE THE CORRECT ANSWER
I can easily read the nonverbal cues
of my co-teaching partner. RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
I feel comfortable moving freely about
the space in the co-taught classroom. RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
I understand the curriculum standards with
respect to the content area in the classroom.
RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
Both teachers in the classroom agree on
the goals of the classroom RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
Planning can be spontaneous, with changes
occurring during the instructional lesson
RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
I often present lessons in the co-taught
class RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
Classroom rules and routines have been
jointly developed. RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
Many measures are used for grading
students. RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
Humor is often used in the classroom. RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
All materials are shared in the classroom. RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
I am familiar with the methods and materials needed to teach the curriculum.
RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
Modifications of goals for different level
students are incorporated into this class. RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
Planning for classes is the shared
responsibility of both teachers. RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
The “chalk” passes freely between the
two teachers. RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
A variety of classroom management techniques
is used to enhance learning RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
Communication is open and honest. RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
There is fluid (changing) positioning of
teachers in the classroom RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
I feel confident in my knowledge of
the curriculum content RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
The administration encourages and
supports both teachers and co-teaching. RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
Both teachers share curriculum resources;
audio-video, books, tests, blackline masters
RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
Students accept both teachers as equal
partners in the learning process RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
Time is allotted (or found) for
common planning. RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
Behavior management is the shared
responsibility of both teachers. RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
I feel happy about my relationship
with my co-teacher RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
We hold meetings and give honest
feedback about lessons RARELY SOMETIMES USUALLY ALWAYS
SCORING: RARELY = 1 SOMETIMES = 2 USUALLY = 3 ALWAYS= 4
< 50 = a poor co-teaching relationship
51 – 75 = a satisfactory (but in need of improvement) co-teaching relationship
76 – 100 = a healthy co-teaching relationship
Discuss afterwards with your co-teaching partner. What differences did you see?
How can you improve those parts of your relationship?
To get started – let’s warm up with Philosopher’s Soccer by Monty Python!<br>
A dialogue on educationbetween Plato,Dewey and Marx.
Setting:The lost city of Atlantis, in a time neither now nor then or to be.
Plato, Dewey and Marx are sitting around the staffroom table.
Plato very stoic in appearance. Dewey with a sparkly eyed look. Marx, rubbing his beard and scratching his head.
Dewey:So let’s get to work men! We have to decide on the curriculum and materials for this course!If Atlantis doesn’t learn English, they will fall back under the sea and I’m not just speaking metaphorically. Progress never stops and if we hesitate, Atlantians will be forgotten by history.
Marx:I agree, let’s start liberating them! They have been victims of the inexorable march of history too long.Long live the proletariat!
Plato:I can agree with that Mr. Marx. They are so blind and us teachers must lead them into the light! So what do you propose, if I maysuggest so “cratically”? (hahaha – he laughs to himself)
Dewey:Well I propose we ask the students and citizens of Atlantis what they want to learn and what they want their schools to be like. We have to respect the individual! Let’s continue their emancipation cooperatively.
Marx:Respect the individual?What do they know, they are ignorant and until they know how they are oppressed “materially” no real education can take place. We have to get them organized andeducate them on economics.
Plato:Well said Karl, we can’t have the blind leading the blind.But I wouldn’t want economics in our schools! That is a pseudo science and just mumbo jumbo. We need classic oratory, presentation, rhetoric and logic, math and of course ethics.
Dewey:Aren’t we teaching them English? What are you guys talking about?I
recommend we bring them up to speed and get all the best technology for the
classrooms. I’m not too concerned about the content – it’s the “how” that is
big and to compete these days, they need computer skills. They need to learn
the kind of English that they will use in their daily lives – English for Special
Plato:ESP? What quackery! What they need is good training in the basics.
Let’s get them drill and repeatbooks. They must master their subject
through the use of their mind. Onlythen by control and rationality will they
attain the “Good”.
Marx:What’s this about God? Keep him out of it, he’s just more opiate for the masses.
Plato:I said, “Good” not “God”.
Marx:Same thing, just some stupid, non material idea to lead people astray.
False ideology! This school needs books, books not written by the established powers but by those who see how the workers are exploited and who see the bright future where there will be no division of labor. Paradise on earth, now that is GOOD!
Dewey:I also recommend that students talk a lot. Just talking and discussing will help them discover and test what experience teaches them.
Plato:Only the teacher should be talking until they master the fundamentals at least.
And no materials except those from the great authors of the past!
Marx:What! That’s blasphemy!
Dewey:I thought you didn’t believe in “god”?
Marx:Well, you know what I mean. It’s outrageous, with all due respect Plato, to keep feeding the masses the same old content from the same tired
“authorities” who keep enslaving the masses with false ideology and
“carrots”. I agree the teacher should talk – forget books. But it should be
about raising consciousness and not any blather about noble “fundamentals”.
Dewey:You guys are losing the point. We have to create good citizens and our curriculum should focus on the democratic ideal. We are free and we need a school where students can experience the world. In fact, why don’t we just
have school outside, in the real world. Let’s learn English on the street
where people actual use it!
Plato:Have you lost your mind?“Experience the world”????There is no real
except for the forms. Our students must study and control their desires and
not run around the streets like “noble savages”. Good citizens yes
but they should know their place.
Dewey:Again, man is free! Why do you see our students in such a poor light?
Marx:I think John has a point, we should take students out of school but not
into the streets but into the factories and offices. There, they can talk and
learn English and truly learn how enslaved the capitalist class is!
Plato:Nothing is learnt by losing one’s head. They need repetition, drill – that’s
how they acquire a skill. Let’s get lots of audio stuff for them to listen to.
Dewey:Let them listen to each other! And what of the scientific method – have you forgotten that or is it unimportant?Our students will learn by us letting
them experiment and “use” English. We need controlled conversation
and things like language gaps and carefully scaffold lessons so to support
student language acquisition through the forming of hypothesis and testing.
Students need to become good citizens by learning how to learn.
Plato:Why so?Language is not so complex and it is also a means not an end. The end should be the Republic and the creation ofmen capable of “thought of
the good”.Form is good but it shouldn’t be left to the individual.
Marx:Ah, here you go again with “the Good”.There is nothing “good” except the conscious awareness of our role in history and the nature of “class society”.
Our schoolshould be a place to emancipate the working class, English for
the purpose of class liberation — forget the individual!
Dewey:But they are already free and I don’t think learning English will help
people learn about “class consciousness”. They need to know how to read a
recipe book or a menu, things like that.
Plato:But if they want to learn English they will, this has already been decided.
We just need to teach grammar, the basic rules. All should focus on that.
Marx:The deck is rigged! We can’t have that!If we have to teach anything, let’s teach them skills and trades – not the poppycock, abstract stuff!
Dewey:I agree and so too would Voltaire, “ecrasez l’infame!” “Fight the infamy”
We need to really get utilitarian and ask “what will the students need to use English for?” and proceed from there.
Marx:Now I can see your agenda John. You are a capitalist dupe. A “dogooder” keeping everyone enslaved anon……
Plato:Marx, you would make a formidable opponent in debate!
Dewey:Yes, he would. But he’d still be wrong. There is nothing practical about his world view and he hasn’t given one good idea for student learning except economics and “conscious raising”. These are good but are they pragmatic?
Marx, let’s give the people what they want, that’s what is good for history.
Marx:The people don’t know, nor will our students.
Plato:Here! Here! Now that is an ideal I support. Some students are just not cut out for higher learning or “the way of the good”.
Dewey:Why can’t we just cooperate? We are all on the same ship.
Plato:Apparently not and I don’t think it is in man’s nature to cooperate unless
truth and beauty are agreed upon.
Marx:I’ll cooperate if you do what I propose…….or you both go back to your “superstructural” ideological illusions.
Plato:Marx, now you are talking like a poet. And they have no place in my
Dewey:Well, I have to run. Another meeting. Lots to do…..
Plato:Yes, I have a book to finish also and then some writing.
Marx:Yeah, let’s meet again next week and in the meantime I’ll get some
pamphlets printed from my printing house and call a mass meeting where
the workers can have their say.
Dewey:Okay, let’s disagree to disagree. Until then.
Part 2: Postscript. A discussion on educational views and philosopies.
“Critical thinking means that teachers are objective and unbiased, encouraging students to examine all sides of an issue.”
The above statement is certainly something that would sit well with a liberal. The liberal views as primary, the process whereby the student is empowered through their own “critical awareness”.Whether that be Dewey’s “Complete Act of Thought” or just students coming to terms with their own individuality and freedom.
Education to a liberal is about both the progress of the individual and society in concert. A liberal would have no problem with this “relativistic” approach and this is probably at heart, why so many conservatives detest liberalism so much – for their faith in students and student centered approaches.
Society changes constantly and liberals view “issue” oriented education as a must. Otherwise, mankind is not ready for the world as it is. Reality changes and demands vigilance and individual responsibility. Society and democracy also demand it. As John Stuart Mills suggests, people need to choose and participate in society — this is the goal of all teaching, the creation of a meritocracy of respectful citizens.A teacher must encourage that through objective examination of the “issues”.Let the students come to their own conclusions and become “choosers” and not those who amorphously follow public opinion or their teacher’s opinion. Student government and leadership are encouraged, tolerance is a rallying cry and so too is pluralism. We must respect even the dissenting view.
Critical theorists on the other hand would be wary of the above notion of “teacher objectivity”. A critical theorist is acutely aware of the power structures within schools, educational bureaucracies and society enlarge. They would point out that one can hardly expect a teacher to be “objective” however well intentioned he or she may be. While in favor of critical thinking, they would point out that educational institutions maintain and reproduce the dominant group however well intentioned the dialogue and discussion. They challenge who controls the curriculum and the very nature / place of where this discussion takes place. It is not only what is said that is important but the underlying conditions – a critical theorist would argue.
Critical theorists would also be wary of the notion that school consists just in “discussing” values. Praxis is vital to a critical theorist and they believe ardently in the notion that schools and students should be involved in actions to change the world for the better. Empowerment is not just “knowing” but also “doing” and they value a more experimental and radical approach to education than the liberal.
Liberals on the other hand are wary of the “revolutionary” agenda of critical theorists. Issues like Illych’s deschooling, the home schooling movement or many progressive ideas are too radical.They would say that there is too much “fire in their kitchen” and they shy away from the collectivist ideas and more strictly adhere to the spirit of the above quotation – that of respecting values and individuality. In a word, civilized discourse.
I think about this, Henri Giroux outlines the translucent dividing line rather well. He speaks of his early years of education…..
“Where I grew up learning was a collective activity. But when I got to school and tried to share learning with other students that was called cheating. The curriculum sent the clear message to me that learning was a highly individualistic, almost secretive, endeavor. My working-class experience didn’t count. Not only did it not count, it was disparaged” – from Border Crossings
“ Education, especially instruction in schools, should arise from the interests and needs of the students.”
This statement is at the core of the Progressive belief system. A full respect for the freedom and validity of the child. It is child centered and Progressives believe not just in the sanctity of the child but that education is for their benefit and thus should have their interests at heart.
Progressives firmly espouse the view that routine is a killer and that the teacher should try to arouse student interest and motivation through the use of student centered activities and interests in the classroom. The curriculum should in no way be prescribed and should come from the “interests and needs of the students”. It should in no way be “set down” upon students from above.
Nel Noddings, a major thinker in the Progressive camp outlines this succinctly when she writes, “There is more to life and learning than the academic proficiency demonstrated by test scores.”Progressives believe that standard curriculum leads students to hate learning and this in turn leads to many social ills in our society. A progressive believes there is something much greater than just “school” and thatschool should be less about “content” knowledge and more about what is and will be important for students in their lives ahead. The literally definition of “progress”.Noddings illustrates this point well with her quip that, “There are few things more central to our daily lives than money, family, and food. Yet our schools pretty much ignore all of them.”. Progressives focus as much on the emotional needs and creativity of students as the
“knowledge” that is external to them.
The Progressive position is encapsulated by these wise words of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi,
“Teachers must not instruct students with the arrogant attitude of ‘Become like me!’ It is far more important for teachers to adopt the attitude, ‘Don’t satisfy yourself with trying to become like me. Make your model someone of higher caliber.’ True teachers (who are genuinely concerned for the development of each student), therefore, are those who have the humility to advance together with their students. Education must never be coercive. The heart of education lies in the process of teacher and pupil learning together, the teacher drawing forth the pupil’s potential and raising the pupil to surpass the teacher in ability.”
Essentialists would argue that we have to give our students guidance and prepare them for the future with knowledge – facts/figures/focus.Students need to “know” before they can do and progressives are putting the cart before the horse. Essentialists are firm believers in tradition and the notion that a teacher imparts knowledge to which the students absorb. Thus, their belief as Bestor suggests in “fundamentals” which will provide the basis for success in life. Essentialist would never tolerate the notion that a student could decide what they wanted to learn.
Essentialists are conservative and believe in tradition and the proven time worn standards, like the 3 Rs. Accountability features high on their list and standards based approaches are their bulkhead. There is some “essential” knowledge that all humanity should know and it is for the teacher to instruct their students in these foundations and skills. A child needs routine andEssentialists through discipline, order and authority believe they can promote learning using the very condition ofteacher driven structure. The teacher sets the agenda, schedule, tone, mood and process. The teacher delivers time honored curriculum, the “canons” included – to which students should masters through memory and obedience.An Essentialist sees students reaching benchmarks and not wasting time on any student centered “fun” stuff..
These two educational philosophies (I’d rather say perspectives) are diametrically opposed. Very hard to reconcile the two and in one. Essentailists envision a school system where every student in a grade is learning the same thing at the same time. Learning is methodical and usually by the book. On the other hand, progressives would have children learning this or that dependent on the school or the local — the individual needs of those students.I would argue that there must be a middle ground. Life is not either/or, however much Kierkegaard proclaimed such….
Nationalism and in particular that peculiar breed of nationalism labeled, “ethnonationalism” are ideologies that I fundamentally believe are outdated yet continue to live on, in particular in our educational systems, simply because they can be used so easily to such horrible ends. Yet still, there are many, too many who believe that a nation state is the basis of all “being” and who suggest that education is a means of becoming not just a good citizen but a “zealous” and “proud” citizen.
Nationalists view the learning of other languages at a young age as detrimental to the proper development of a child. The mother tongue is paramount and almost godly. Nationalists suggest that he who controls language, controls the future. Children learning another language at an early age risk “corruption” and would weaken the nation state, a state formed through myth and collective narrative coated in language to become that “we-feeling”. In Korea, many suggest that learning English could destroy the moral fabric of youth and corrupt their “Koreaness”. Nationalists believe it wrong and are strongly against any foreign travel or “learning” at an early age. The nation is paramount and all resources of society should be used to “bond” the child to the nation state – their “mother”land.
Nationalists of today are not only those who in the past promoted raciallybased societies through the national agenda (racial purity – aryanism etc…). Presently, they might include many cultures in the “nation”– yet still schools should be about allegiance and patriotism and all the signs and symbols, paraphernalia and illusions of the “nation state”.
I believe the only proper response to a nationalist is to show them how outdated they are. As an English teacher, I would point to the innumerable studies that show that children who learn multiple languages at a young age suffer no ill effects. Rather, they excel far above other children in intelligence.The sanctity of the mother tongue at an early age is a myth. Identity is much more complicated..
I would also argue that given the world as it exists today and will exist, it is encumbent that we look more “internationally”. The children who succeed, and by succeed I mean that they leave a little more on this planet than they destroy, will be those who join in the global village and not those who seek to create a boogie man of it.Education is for the student’s own emancipation I believe and nationalism puts bars on each person’s windows. It is a prison and contains all the same violence and isolation despite the chants of togetherness from the cellblock.
As an educator, I feel sad seeing how societies, even the supposed “enlightened”like our own, hold up nationalism as a “beacon”.I believe it the role of all educators to bring the world together through encounters and knowledge of the “other”. Given the new technologies, this is becoming much more a part of education and I’m actively promoting this. Students will no longer have just the prism of their nation to view the world through – they will see as McLuhan suggested, “On spaceship earth, everyone is crew.”
As the world burns, still burns with the fanning effects of nationalism, I would argue to a nationalist that nothing but destruction has come of this creed and thus, it is not the “knowledge” or way of being that we should impart to children. The nationalist denies that the student needs to participate in and be a part of other cultures. I would suggest they must – that isolation as in the case of the U.S. and much of its passport less population only allows rabid violence through nationalism to ensue. Travel at a young age, encountering other cultures at a young age breed a “healthy” pride of country and temper nationalism. We have wisely secularized our schools but I now believe we should begin the process of “de-patriotizing” our public schools.This indeed was Dewey’s call so many years ago and I’ve returned to him again recently through this course(and I thank you, he is inexhaustible). I’ll end with his wonderful words:
“We are now faced by the difficulty of developing the good aspect of nationalism without its evil side; of developing a nationalism which is the friend and not the foe of internationalism. Since this is a matter of ideas, of emotions, of intellectual and moral disposition and outlook, it depends for its accomplishment upon educational agencies, not upon outward machinery. Among these educational agencies, the public school takes first rank. When sometime in the remote future the tale is summed up and the public as distinct from the private and merely personal achievement of the common school is recorded, the question which will have to be answered is, What has the American public school done toward subordinating a local, provincial, sectarian and partisan spirit of mind to aims and interests which are common to all the men and women of the country – to what extent has it taught men to think and feel in ideas broad enough to be inclusive of the purposes and happiness of all sections and classes? For unless the agencies which form the mind and morals of the community can prevent the operation of those forces which are always making for a division of interests, class and sectional ideas and feelings will become dominant, and our democracy will fall to pieces.”
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”
In classrooms all over the world, students are learning second languages in increasing numbers. By 2030, it is estimated that 40% of the entire school population of the United States will be English language learners (ELLs) ( McKibbin and Brice, 2005). Not only are the numbers increasing exponentially but students are not only learning the language (in classrooms) but are more usually “pushed in” and having to learn the language “on the fly”, in classrooms where the content too has to be mastered.
Teachers are confronted with the dual task of having to teach the curriculum and also having to help students learn the language of instruction. Not an easy task for even a specialist in English language instruction. Discrepancies in test results between ELLs and non-ELLs have become alarming ( Goldenberg, 2008). Teachers are under a lot of pressure and find it almost impossible to cope or keep up. The result of this situation is the overrepresentation of ELLs in special education (Brown, 2005). Teachers and administrators are too quick to refer ELLs to special education programs (for many reasons – see Appendix A). This creates not only undo stress on the educational delivery system but also a kind of “Mathew’s Effect” (Stanovich, 1986) whereby because of inadequate language instruction, those ELLs assigned to special education fall further and further behind until it is too late to catch up. On the other hand, if indeed a student does have a learning disability and not a second language acquisition issue, they too can fall further and further behind.
So we must understand more clearly the issues involved when differentiating between a learning disability and a second language acquisition issue. Both to help stem the over-referral of ELLs and also to correctly diagnose student learning disabilities. The question is, how? Is a student who is having difficulties remembering words or writing basic sentences in English, just in need of specific English language learning attention or do they really need special needs assessment and treatment? How do we as teachers decide? There are many important considerations that must be made.
The L1 – L2 Relationship – What causes the difficulty?
It is important to note “what” causes the difficulty in learning a language. This will help us as teachers eliminate a lot of false notions when looking for the cause of an ELL’s difficulty in our classroom
There have been a lot of causes attributed to language acquisition difficulties, most notably; anxiety, motivation/effort, learning habits and “low” ability. However, these are most often just masks hiding the real problem. Dinklage (1971) studied why some great students at Harvard had problems learning a language. It didn’t seem right that such excellent students would fail miserably at language. He found out that the cause was not those normally assigned (effort, motivation, anxiety, access, strategies) but rather one of “disability”. Dinklage’s remedy to the student’s language learning difficulty was to have them taught in ways that worked for the learning disabled and in fact it worked.
What we need to realize is that almost all people suffer from a learning disability when it comes to learning a second language. Especially after our early years (>9). Compared to our first language (L1), our brain is clunky, our learning “stop and start”. It is no longer natural and some subconscious processes of learning are cut off. So we teachers must think of language learning ability along a continuum and further, fine tune our own classroom instruction more towards that of special education delivery (specific strategy focus, use of supports and modifications etc…). We should assume a wider range both in terms of time and content when it comes to acquiring language. One might even go so far as to suggest that because everyone does suffer from a second language learning disability, we should not refer any students to special education that have difficulties with language acquisition. If everyone has it, we should address the problem “systemically” and not piece meal through special education. Brown alludes to this in her finely argued work, “Reducing the Over-referral of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students (CLD) for Language Disabilities”. She writes,
“One underlying problem consistently contributes to the over-referral of CLD students for language disabilities: The characteristics of second language acquisition – a language non-disorder – are mistaken for language disabilities. In other words, some language aspects observed in CLD students who do not keep up with their peers are not necessarily disorders, difficulties, or disabilities; they are simply an inherent feature of acquiring a new language” (Brown, 2005, p. 227)
What causes a language acquisition difficulty is not precisely known. Memory, our experiences and socialization, our physiology and the very nature of thought all play a vital role. We might posit that how we learned our L1 (the deficits and nature of that process) would affect our ability to acquire an L2. Especially concerning age (1). The exact nature of this dynamic is unknown but what counts is that we teachers respond with instruction that takes this into account. Further, we can say with certainty that some ELLs do have a learning disability as opposed to a language non-disorder (given that up to 15% of students will (Root, 1994) and it is this issue of how to identify such, we now must address.
Questions To Consider:
1. What is the student’s L1 literacy?
This is the most important question. In a perfect world, the teacher would speak both English and the student’s mother tongue. The teacher would also have student records from their L1 school. Assessment would be much more precise and easier. However most often this isn’t the case and the teacher will have to interview the parents and caregivers to obtain a more precise learner history. Students who have significant processing difficulties in their L1 are much more likely to experience difficulties in the second language classroom than not. Perhaps, there is no learning disability but rather a lacking in literacy in the L1 which is transferred to the L2. This is very often the case and before any intervention takes place, the student’s literacy needs in the L1 should be addressed through sheltered and intensive instruction. Primary language instruction can provide modest gains to most students (Goldenberg, 2008).
2. Time. How long has the student been studying English?
Often, teachers don’t understand just how long it takes to become fluent in another language. Students seem to make progress in social language and the classroom teacher assumes that because he/she understands the teacher conversationally, he/she understands academically. However, that is usually far from the case. It takes at least 7 years of study to acquire the academic language needed for the classroom (Genesee, Lindholm-Leary, Saunders, Christian, 2006). Often, students need more time than the school system with its test driven nature will allow. Individual differences play a much stronger role in language acquisition than any other subject. Teachers should be aware time might be a factor. It seems simplistic but too many students are wrongly referred to special education because they rightly go through a “silent period” (normal for ELLs). Education should not be run as a race, especially when it comes to language which is more organic and deep than many content based disciplines. Language is of the heart, not the mind.
3. Are there any other barriers to learning?
Second language learners in many cases, are experiencing significant social displacement. They arrive in a new language, without the traditional social supports. Teachers should ask themselves whether the student is making a smooth transition and the student’s learning is not being impeded by social factors such as social estrangement, culture shock, family problems, income disparity etc… Very often, students are strongly affected by the transition to a new country/land. Gonzalez (2001) suggests that much over referral to special education is because of the cultural and social differences between instructors and students. Further, perhaps the student isn’t getting enough integration into the wider community to facilitate their language development? Given the multicultural dynamic in many cities, this often is a factor dramatically slowing English language acquisition.
4. Have adequate formal assessments been done?
Too many second language students fall through the cracks in the system. They are inadequately screened for problems and don’t receive the early intervention that is imperative for success at school. Assessment should be done through a well coordinated team (see Appendix B). Both formal and informal assessments should take place. Assessments should be done in a culturally sensitive and appropriate (standard) manner. If possible, they should be functional (for language is all about “function” ) and about what the students “can do” and not just what they “know of”. If possible, the gold standard of assessment in the L1 for cognitive and psychosocial development should be given. If not available, at least assessment for phonological awareness in their L1 should be provided. Ganschow and Sparks’ Linguistic Coding Deficit Hypothesis (LCDH), states that difficulties with foreign language acquisition stem from deficiencies in one or more of the linguistic codes in the student’s native language system (Schwarz, 1997). Thus, a possible quick way to assess for underlying language processing disability would be phonological testing in the L1.
Has everything been done right to assist the student in learning the language?
Before any decision about language disability can take place, the teacher or school must assure that adequate instruction and opportunity (also time – see point 2 above) was given the student. In terms of language acquisition, children learn in so many different manners. We should ask regarding effective classroom practices;
A) Has a variety of learning styles been accounted for in the instruction? Has the instruction been clinical and strategy based?
B) Has there been adequate comprehensible input provided? (often not, in the U.S. over 50% of ELLs receive all-English (according to the CREDE (Center for Research on Education, Diversity, and Excellence) in class immersive instruction and are expected to “sink or swim” in many cases)
C) Has the curriculum / assessments been modified and instruction not just text or oral in nature (audio support, leveled readings, visuals etc..)?
D) Has the curriculum been taught with a sensitivity to the student’s background and cultural experiences?
E) Have explicit learning strategies been taught and the student / family given support in their use?
F) Have the instructors and staff been given training in teaching ELLs and aware of the normal phenomena and processes that accompany learning a second language?
G) Has the student been given extra instruction and support? Was the intervention intense enough and of a long enough duration?
H) Has peer assisted learning been put in place (we learn language through social interaction and without this, language will be only slowly been acquired)?
I) Has the school provided the resources to make both English language learning possible and for student integration into the wider culture?
J) Has the student been assessed and monitored enough to suggest that the learning difficulty is not just something temporary or short term?
ELLs really face a hard struggle and we should lean on the side of caution when thinking of referral to special education. ELLs face 2 times the cognitive load in a sense – One, they must learn the content of lessons and second, they have to learn the language. This is a big task and it isn’t any surprise that many have difficulty. It is probably even more surprising that the gap between ELLs and non-ELLs in testing (mentioned at the beginning of this paper) isn’t much wider.
The nature of language acquisition is still in the early stages of being discerned. Only a few decades ago we thought that learning a language was simply a matter of repeating phrases — how different are our assumptions nowadays! I’ve tried to suggest some ways that teachers and all stakeholders might reflect and look into the mirror their ELLs face – how they might see the issues that mask the true nature of their language learning difficulties. English language teaching would do well to borrow much of the instructional focus and philosophical ground that special education has brought to the pedagogical table. I believe that if we can see all ELLs in a sense as “learning disabled” (or even defined by the term SLAAP (Second Language Acquisition – Associated Phenomena) which Brown (2005) uses), we’d be much better at teaching them and much better at catching those with real learning disabilities and who especially need rapid and early intervention. Part of the challenge for the future in TESL will be to more clearly delineate the line between language learning and language disability. Doing so will much benefit our students and give teachers firmer ground to stand upon.
(1) There is most definitely a relationship between the first language of a child (L1) and their acquisition of a second (L2). However, among researchers, there is no clarity. Many believe in an innate “language window” or “critical period hypothesis” ( Lennenberg, 1967). This suggests that there is a set time for learning a language correctly and that outside this period, there is substantial difficulty in learning a second language, especially in terms of syntax. These advocates point to a biological basis for language and contend that somehow through age, we have less and less access to our “Language Acquisition Device” (Chomsky, 1959), either because the brain loses plasticity or it simply shuts off certain functions. Others contend that language can be learned well and fluently at any age, this is known as the “Relational Frame Theory”.
Brown, C.L. (2004), “Reducing the Over-Referral of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students (CLD) for Language Disabilities. NAHE Journal of Research and Practice 2 (1): 225-43. http://njrp.tomu.edu/2004/PDFs/Brown.pdf
Burnette, J. (1998). Reducing the Disproportionate Representation of Minority Students in Special Education (ERIC/OSEP Digest #E566. Arlington, VA: The ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education. http://ericec.org/digests/e566.html
Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin and Alejandro Brice, (2005), What’s “Normal”, What’s Not: Aquiring English as a Second Language,http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/5126
Chomsky, N. (1959), A Review of B.F. Skinners Verbal Behavior. Language, 35, 26-58, Reprinted in.Chomsky, N. (1965). Aspects of the theory of syntax. Cambridge, Mass: M.I.T. Press
Dinklage, Kenneth T. “Inability to Learn a Foreign Language” in G. Blaine & C. MacArthur(Eds.) Emotional Problems of the Student. New York, 1971: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Ganschow, Leonore, Richard Sparks & Elke Schneider. “Learning a Foreign Language: Challenges for Students with Language Learning Difficulties.” Dyslexia (Journal of the British Dyslexia Association) 1, (1995):75-95.
Genesee, F. , Lindholm-Leary, K., Saunders, W.,and Christian, D. 2006, Educating English Language Learners. New York: Cambridge University Press
Goldenberg, Claude, (2008), Teaching English Language Learners. What the research does – and does not – say. American Educator, Summer. http://www.aft.org/pubs-reports/american_educator/issues/summer08/goldenberg.pdf
Gonzalez, V. (2001). The role of socioeconomic and sociocultural factors in language minority children’s development: An ecological research view. Bilingual Research Journal, 25 (1&2), 1-30
Sparks, Richard, & Leonore Ganschow. (1993), “The Impact of Native Language Learning Problems on Foreign Language Learning: Case Study Illustrations of the Linguistic Coding Deficit Hypothesis.” Modern Language Journal 77,i 58-74.
I grew up on a farm, always outside, always with dirt under my finger nails and a pulse that mistrusted intellectuals. Pencil pushers we called them. This despite the fact I always had my head in a book when time would be so kind, this despite my own “airs” and pseudo intellectual pretensions.
As I grew older, I realized a lot about the power of knowledge. Libraries were like my second home and I knew they were a portal to somewhere better, some place “more”. Gyorgy Faludy, one of my “book” mentors called libraries, “the headquarters of civilization”. He was right, they allowed any and all, free access to information and knowledge. They were the headlights of the enlightenment.
Civilization is a thin film. The heart of darkness is always encroaching. Progress, advancement, development, economic growth depends on greater and greater access to information, a wider dispersal of information. The cars we drive, the rockets we shoot into space – all this is because of the free and to a minimum, unfettered access to information and knowledge. Access to knowledge is so important for the health of this planet. It really is, I’m not over exaggerating.
Today, the internet holds the potential to unleash a torrent of access to information. Free (or low cost) access to information for any and all. However, we have a problem, some problems actually. Copyright, rising internet costs, declining standards of knowledge…..
The one I’d like to talk about however is access to higher knowledge. As a professor, I can go online and get any and all the information I want. All the papers, references, reports I need. But what happens when I am no longer a professor (in a month this will be the case)? What happens is that the water hole dries up and I begin to die. Even some universities too are cutting back on access to academic journals because of cost. Talk about a train without any diesel!
Online academic libraries, Highbeam, Sage and the like, are like fortresses where academics hide and knowledge/light never seeps out.
Academics are captive minds. Servile, they sit in an old system of publishing while the publishers make money off their “academic work”. Charging heavy fees for access so that unless you are in “the boy’s club”, you won’t get this/that knowledge. You’ll be outside, looking in. Even the authors who publish get ripped off – very few can afford to read their work. The only option is to go “trash time” and publish something sensational and non-academic. The door is even tighter – once you publish, the publishers retain the rights and you can’t even put it online if you wanted to (or face the wrath of the “dream police”.).
Here’s what happened to Dana Boyd;
On one hand, I’m excited to announce that my article “Facebook’s Privacy Trainwreck: Exposure, Invasion, and Social Convergence” has been published in Convergence 14(1) (special issue edited by Henry Jenkins and Mark Deuze). On the other hand, I’m deeply depressed because I know that most of you will never read it. It is not because you aren’t interested (although many of you might not be), but because Sage is one of those archaic academic publishers who had decided to lock down its authors and their content behind heavy iron walls. Even if you read an early draft of my article in essay form, you’ll probably never get to read the cleaned up version. Nor will you get to see the cool articles on alternate reality gaming, crowd-sourcing, convergent mobile media, and video game modding that are also in this issue. That’s super depressing. I agreed to publish my piece at Sage for complicated reasons, but…
This is not healthy, that’s not what makes for economic or social progress. The internet potentially allows for everyone to be able to access information and they should have that access. You might call that “entitlement” but I call it a human right. I want the most possible to read the most thoughts possible. It is this democratic demographics of discourse which we must aim for…. But it is hard to even talk about this sanely — people are making money off of this.
Google books has made some headway but in the area of academic research, it remains a wasteland and desert.
I’ve published and been read and then forgotten by 30 – 40 people. Why bother anymore when I can post my research and papers online and have them read by thousands, even tens of thousands? So that’s what I’m going to do. No more sleepy book stuff. I’ll put it up and let everyone advance, not just the guys in the boy’s club or those who can pay Highbeam or whoever “x” dollars / article. Let’s stop publishing and letting ourselves become “captive minds”.
I believe in a free mind, not that captive mind, the servile intellectual, as first described by Czeslaw Milos. Let’s all start having the courage to “walk the talk”. Go here to see the first of many articles I’ll be putting up for “public” and “profitable” reading…. Ecrasez l’infame was Voltaire’s battle cry for the enlightenment. Mine too.
[see my workshop materials for teaching teens - here. / Also this post is a reply to this post- The Captive Mind]
The best substitute for experience is being sixteen.
Teaching teenagers is often the dread of many language teachers. In America, middle school teachers have an alarming professional drop out rate and the frustrations are evident if one talks with any teacher teaching teens. Consider these teachers’ comments from a podcast on teaching English to teenagers (Harmer, 2003 pp. 1-5) ;
“I am teaching a class of teenagers for the first time but I find it difficult to get through to them. They are so unmotivated compared to adults.”
“I’ve found that when I’ve taught a good group of teens, it’s been really good, but when I got a bad group? I don’t want to remember!”
“It’s so difficult that (getting them to study outside of school), isn’t it? “We” know that you get along much faster if you do some self-study, but teens don’t get it.”
Frustration and classroom management issues take precedence over learning. Why is this so? Is it true they really don’t care? Or is it something to do with who they are and how they encounter classroom learning? We need to examine the reasons for teen “apathy” and also how teachers might better adapt their pedagogy to this very unique age group.
Teenagers are different. They are not children nor are they adults. They bring to the classroom and the learning situation a very unique set of cognitive, emotional, social factors which teachers must consider when delivering content. They learn differently, they are “wired” differently. This paper will outline some of the major unique features of the teenage learner and most importantly, suggest what they mean for the language teacher.
A quick review of second language acquisition literature shows a startling dearth of attention to this very important age group. Most comparative studies focus on children and adults to the neglect of the teenage learner. Teenagers are just “sort of in the middle”. When attention is paid to teenagers, it is mostly about pedagogy and how to “entertain” them, not how they learn language differently. Other times it is with exaggerated claims. For example, that teen laziness and emotional “angst” is because of genetic or developmental differences (small frontal cortex). In fact there is no evidence to suggest such (Epstein, 2007, p. 60).
Age and Second Language Acquisition
There is a popular misconception (even among teachers) that children are better at languages. In fact, there is no real “innateness” about language and even children have to learn language (Singleton, 1999 pg. 56) In general, adult learners are much better at the initial learning of language (Gaas , Selinker 2001, p. 336) because of their conscious metalinguistic skills but children perform better in the later stages of language acquisition (obtaining vocabulary, accent, patterning). This may be because of great plasticity and natural acquisition strategies in the young brain. Risk taking and affective factors also play a part. In any case, it can be said that the apparent “ease” by which children learn language is because of the immense opportunity they have and also the amount of time they can spend “learning” and not from greater ability.
I argue teenagers have the best of both worlds. They still have a very flexible and still developing cognitive network. Yet, they also have more “conscious” control of language and the ability to categorize, manipulate and test logically, the language they encounter.
Recently, a good deal of attention has been paid to teenagers as digital learners or as Prensky ( 2001) in his seminal paper labeled it, “Digital Natives”. Teenagers learn differently, they have hypertext minds. They don’t learn in a linear fashion anymore. Images are the driving force of learning and text supports. Experience teaches and changes or “trains” their brain as they spend hours upon hours using computers, watching video, text messaging. This too often is not considered by the language teacher.
The Teenage Language Learner – Main Differences.
In so many ways, teenagers are like all learners. They respond to different forms of motivation, they take in language and try to make sense of it, they struggle with pronunciation and remembering vocabulary……. Still there are some very important differences (mostly in the affective realm) that need to be highlighted and noted so that teachers can adjust their curriculum.
Teenagers are ego driven. They are becoming adults and want more control over the learning situation. Their world revolves around one question; “What does it mean to ME?”. Anderson ( 2008) sees a need to let students have more choice and begin to take responsibility for their own learning. Harmer (2003 p.1) states;
“Get them to write the questions, cut up texts (a bit too primary – like sometimes), write their own grammar exercises. I mean somehow getting the ownership of the material over to them……put them in the center of the frame”.
Harris ( 1991, pp. 1-5 ) suggests many ways on how to get students more “into the frame”. These include; giving them roles to help the teacher and the class, highlighting students in a positive fashion and using rewards.
Teenagers learn language because it is meaningful to them. Children learn language because they have a natural affinity and also there is evidence of a deep need. Adults learn languages for many intrinsic reasons (and this may be a reason why they can be so good at learning languages, all things considered). Teenagers learn a language not only for marks but because it is meaningful. Relating the rationale and purpose of language learning is a must with teenagers. As well, a thematic curriculum should be developed that centers on their interests and their world. Presentations, role plays, projects are all language activities that give learners more autonomy.
It should be noted here that it is very difficult to learn a second language in “a class”. There just aren’t enough hours in the school year and the classroom is also a very artificial and many times “wasteful” language learning environment. Giving students more autonomy also means giving them more opportunity to become independent learners. Teachers should direct students to resources for learning outside the classroom and provide them with these opportunities. In the present age of telephony, this will become increasingly the case with successful language classrooms. Students can learn much more efficiently by themselves through input and the classroom can be time for more social and instructional focus on language.
“The Cool Factor”
Teenagers are forming their social identity. As such, they are heavily influenced by their peer groups (Waqui , 2000) . Learners of a second language want to “belong” and not be “strange”. Speaking in a foreign language can be a scary experience and very necessary comprehensible output can be hard to achieve. Teachers must be sensitive to this and spend much time creating a very warm, inviting and risk taking atmosphere in the classroom. Teachers need to reflect upon the activities they undertake in the second language classroom and ask themselves – “Does it help or hinder peer bonding?”
Group work is essential and a less teacher centered delivery method a must. Teenagers along with control, want to learn in and by their peer group. Social networking and Web 2.0 tools are a big help for the computer literate language teacher in this area. Teachers need to move toward more richly interactive language use and more cooperative learning.
The social nature of learning will only grow in importance. Teenagers are much more “social learners” and networking will become a larger focus of the learning paradigm. Chaos theory and everything being related to everything – knowledge growing exponentially – new technology which allows us to be “everywhere”, this will all change how we learn and live. The burgeoning field of “connection” will also play a part in describing this changing world (Siemens, 2005)
The downside of the “cool factor” is learner anxiety. Language learning can be traumatic and frustrating. Learners very often suffer from acute anxiety which effects acquisition and leads to fossilization. Many studies have concluded that anxiety and achievement are negatively correlated. (MacIntyre and Gardner, 1994). Hoffman (1986, p. 261) suggests, “affect can determine the extent to which semantic and non-semantic modes of processing are brought into play”.
Na (2003) in her study of high school students in China, found significant anxiety negatively correlated with achievement. Boys suffered more and it often became a vicious circle (anxiety – low achievement – more anxiety – low achievement ……). She suggests teachers plan appropriately and focus on making a positive classroom environment (no negative evaluations, less error correction, no ranking, less test focus, allowing students to express their own views).
Anxiety depends on the language learning situation students encounter (Gass, p. 357 ). It is situational and depends on a multitude of factors. For example, in some classrooms competition and games may be seen as “anxiety producers” whereas in others, they may be a very beneficial way to foster language acquisition. Best practices would dictate that we give our learners the 2nd language anxiety survey (appendix) in their L1 to see if anxiety is indeed, a serious issue.
Nothing dampens the spirit of the teenage learner more than drudgy, old, 30 year old language learning materials. Teenagers crave “the new” and “the now” , driven as they are by peer socialization. Content should be up to date and authentic materials promoted. Further, teachers should students more opportunity to produce materials in their classrooms and thus “ensure” current content.
We are only just now starting to understand the brain and recent efforts in SLA research into connectivism may shed light into how the teenagers use their brain and learn language. They crave rich and multimodal content. An adult might not like all the sensory input that a teenager would.
Prensky (2001, p. 3) elaborates;
Children raised with the computer “think differently from the rest of us. They develop hypertext minds. They leap around. It’s as though their cognitive structures were parallel, not sequential.”
Oblinger (2005, p.16) notes a number of differences with the “Net Generation”
Visual – ability to read visual images
Visual – Spatial skills – integrate the virtual and real
Attentional Deployment – shift attention quickly, focus on only what concerns them.
Quick Response Time
These have important implications for the second language instructor. Teenagers brains are quite malleable and instructors need to provide very “rich” content. Text to Speech and video / music are essential for not only motivating teenagers with the “new” but also allowing them to learn effectively. Instructors should limit activity time (Anderson, 2008) . Language teachers should use more media and visual content to assist learning. More control should be given to students in terms of what they wish to study. Games will become an important component of any future successful language learning curriculum.
The “Romantic” Learner
Teenagers respond to the “humanistic” learning environment. They are very idealistic and emotions seem to dominate their character. “ Loving at one moment, monsters at the next”, as one teacher put it. Waqui (2000, p.3) suggests that the success of a language teacher is partly in being a good, empathetic role model. Learners will respond to a teacher that cares, especially teenage learners who carry a romantic spirit and crave authenticity, personality and presence over content.
The affective filter can also be reduced by giving students an emotional attachment to language and words (Harmer 2006, p. 58). Language is best retained when it has personal relevance and teachers can foster this. Further, as the preeminent psychologist Carl Rogers noted , “learners need to feel what they are learning is personally relevant to them, that they have to experience learning (not being taught) and that their self image needs to be enhanced”.
Taking care of the affective side of the teaching equation can be a huge task. Further, it should not be done at the expense of attention to the cognitive and intellectual development of the equation. Still, it can be accomplished through a teacher that shares their life with the students and also encourages language learning through personal growth and sharing. Anything creative is a proven classroom winner for the teenager “romantic” learner.
I have briefly outlined some important considerations for teachers when teaching teens. Teenagers crave autonomy (and there are some critics who see the problems of the teen years as arising from restricting teenagers and delaying their adulthood (Epstein, 2004) ), they also want to be “cool” and desire “new” materials. Teens also need much peer interaction. Personalization of content and delivery is essential and attention must also be paid to the “anxiety” levels of language learners.
The future is like a double edged sword for today’s teenage students. The world is changing under their feet. Will technology and rich content enable them to learn languages much quicker than traditionally? Or will it be a crutch, decreasing motivation, full of translators and “help” and allow them no “drive” and need to learn the language?
We should certainly hope for the former.
(get more resources/info. about teaching teens HERE)
Anderson, Gary, (2008), “Teaching Teenagers English”, English in Mind, Cambridge Univ. Press, Retrieved Aug. 01, 2008, http://www.cambridge.org/elt/englishinmind/teacher_resources/teaching_teenagers.htm
Driscoll, M. (2000). Psychology of Learning for Instruction. Needham Heights, MA, Allyn & Bacon.
Epstein, Robert, (2007) “The Myth of the Teen Brain”.Scientific American Mind, pg 57-63.
Epstein, Robert,. (2004), The End of Adolescence. Philip Graham. Oxford University Press.
Gardner, R., and Lambert, W. (Eds.) (1972). Attitudes and motivation in second language learning. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Gass, M. Susan and Selinker, Larry. (2001). Second Language Acquisition, an introductory course, London., Lawrence Erlbaum Associates,
Harley, B. (1986). Age in second language acquisition. London: Multilingual Matters
Harmer, Jeremy,. (2006). The Practice of English Language Teaching, 4th Edition, Essex, Pearson Longman.
Harris, Robert,. (1991) Some Ideas for motivating students, Retrieved Aug. 01, 2008, http://www.virtualsalt.com/mla.htm
Hoffman, M.L., (1986), Affect, cognition and motivation. In R.M. Sorrentino & E.T.
Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of motivation and cognition (pp.244-280). New York, Guilford.
Jeremy Harmer,.“Teaching Teenagers”, ELT Forum, Sept. 2003. Retrieved August 01, 2008 from http://www.eltforum.com/articles/free/transcripts/23.pdf
Little, D. (1999). “ Developing learner autonomy in the foreign language classroom: a social-interactive view of learning and three fundamental pedagogical principles”, Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 38: 77-88.
Marc Prensky, “Do They Really Think Differently?”, On the Horizon,. MCB University Press, 9(6), 1-6. Dec. 20001.
Marc Prensky, “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants”, On the Horizon,. MCB University Press, 9(5), 1-5. Oct. 20001.
Na, Zhao., (2003) “A Study of High School Students’ English Learning Anxiety.”, Asian EFL Journal 9 (3) Article 2,
Oblinger, G. Diane and Oblinger, L. James, (2005), “Educating the Net Generation”, Educause.
Rogers, C., (1969) Freedom to Learn, Charles Merrill.
Siemens, George,. (2005) Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age, Retrieved Aug. 01, 2008, http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm
Singleton, David,. (1989), “Language Acquisition, The Age Factor.”, Multilingual Matters, Avon, England.
Twyford, Charles William,. (1988), “Age Related Factors in Second Language Acquisition”, NCBE Winter (2) 1-9.
Walqui, A. (2000). Contextual Factors in Second Language Acquisition. Washington D.C., Center for Applied Linguistics
Twelve Things to Keep in Mind when Teaching Teenagers
by Gary Anderson
It seems that all teenagers are interested in pop songs, so exploit that interest by bringing music – and the feelings that can be expressed through songs – into the classroom.
Teenagers (perhaps especially the current need-to-know generation) like to be seen as cool and up-to-date, so bring in topics of current interest from IT, sport, entertainment and media, and English-speaking cultures that is personally relevant to your learners.
Teenagers are discovering (often with difficulty) a different relationship with others and group work allows individuals to interact with different classmates in a less stressful, collaborative atmosphere.
Teenagers are starting to define their proper personalities (sometimes it seems they have multiple personalities!) and role-play activities can allow them to try to express different feelings behind non-threatening, face-saving masks.
Part of growing up is taking responsibility for one’s acts and, in school, for one’s learning, so a measure of learner autonomy and individual choice can be helpful for teenagers.
It’s amazing how some teenagers will have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of a particular field, so let individual students bring their outside interests and knowledge into the classroom through cross-curricular work.
Variety – including surprise and humor – is the spice of classroom life (perhaps particularly with teenagers and their infamous short attention span), so try out different warmers, starters and fillers to change the pace and enliven the organization of your lessons.
Teenagers are discovering their (often awkward) bodies so use movement by giving students an opportunity to move around during class.
Teaching in secondary school often means teaching multi-level classes, but effective classroom management can help even with very large classes.
Use of the mother tongue can not only steer a whole class activity away from misunderstanding, confrontation and potential discipline problems (always a risk with teenagers), but also help avoid pressure on an individual by removing the impression that one person is being tested and put on the spot.
Games can provide not only purposeful contexts in which to use language but they also stimulate interaction, provide competition and are fun – as long as rules are clear and clearly followed by all participants.
Project work offers each individual a chance to use their individual talent to do something personally meaningful and motivating with the language they are learning – and the resulting posters and other visuals can be displayed around the classroom (just as teenagers decorate their rooms at home).
English version of FLCAS (Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale)
1. I never feel quite sure of myself when I am speaking in my foreign language class.
2. I don’t worry about making mistakes in language class.
3. I tremble when I know that I’m going to be called on in language class.
4. It frightens me when I don’t understand what the teacher is saying in the foreign language.
5. It wouldn’t bother me at all to take more foreign language classes.
6. During language class, I find myself thinking about things that have nothing to do with the course.
7. I keep thinking that the other students are better at languages than I am.
8. I am usually at ease during tests in my language class.
9. I start to panic when I have to speak without preparation in language class.
10. I worry about the consequences of failing my foreign language class.
11. I don’t understand why some people get so upset over foreign language classes.
12. In language class, I can get so nervous when I forget things I know.
13. It embarrasses me to volunteer answers in my language class.
14. It would not be nervous speaking in the foreign language with native speakers.
15. I get upset when I don’t understand what the teacher is correcting.
16. Even if I am well prepared for language class, I feel anxious about it.
17. I often feel like not going to my language class.
18. I feel confident when I speak in foreign language class.
19. I am afraid that my language teacher is ready to correct every mistake I make.
20. I can feel my heart pounding when I’m going to be called on in language class.
21. The more I study for a language test, the more confused I get.
22. I don’t feel pressure to prepare very well for language class.
23. I always feel that the other students speak the language better than I do.
24. I feel very self-conscious about speaking the foreign language in front of other students.
25. Language class move so quickly I worry about getting left behind.
26. I feel more tense and nervous in my language class than in my other classes.
27. I get nervous and confused when I am speaking in my language class.
28. When I’m on my way to language class, I feel very sure and relaxed.
29. I get nervous when I don’t understand every word the language teacher says.
30. I feel overwhelmed by the number of rules you have to learn to speak a foreign language.
31. I am afraid that the other students will laugh at me when I speak the foreign language.
32. I would probably feel comfortable around native speakers of the foreign language.
33. I get nervous when the language teacher asks questions which I haven’t prepared in advance.