Saturday, 30 April 2016

We don’t teach English. We teach people. Part II

We can’t walk into a classroom at the beginning of the year and say, “This year I expect you all to be fair, kind, honest, careful, friendly, helpful and on time.” It won’t happen. But we can set specific, small goals and ask students to try to stick to them.

So, first of all, let's give these questions a thought and select what values we want our students to work on this year or term:

What is one value that is important to you that you worry is lost to the current generation of children?
What 5 values would you say are the top moral values that you would like your students to understand and adopt?

In order to implement values education in the EFL classroom , we should centre around creating an active learning environment. Active learning involves building an open classroom climate characterised by intensive student participation and interaction, respect for students and teacher, open discussion, and positive reinforcement.

Cooperative learning
The first method of presenting values education in the classroom is the cooperative learning model of classroom interaction. Cooperative learning embodies many of the values and concepts inherent in moral education: interdependence, tolerance, respect for others, cooperation, development of social skills, and individual accountability.

Another major method of approaching moral education discussions is dialogue; an interactive approach that allows learners to decide for themselves after debating an issue. Students should learn the value of conducting dialogues on issues: they learn the value and rightness of consensus and when they disagree, they learn about the alternatives and withhold judgment.

The fourth method recommended for implementing moral education in the ESL/EFL classroom is that of modelling. Teaching by modelling could take one of two forms. In the first form, the teacher sets himself as an example. Another way comes through the presentation of characters from history or literature who could serve as models.

Active involvement
 This is particularly relevant to language classrooms where the language experience approach is one of the most popular methods of teaching, especially in beginning classes. 

By breaking values into small, meaningful chunks, stating our expectations, following up during the week and rewarding students for good behavior, teaching values becomes not only manageable, but incredibly helpful to your image as a teacher. Imagine being a mother whose child suddenly starts saying ‘please’ or sharing with his little sister? When that mother finds out it’s because his English teacher suggested it, you’re a star!

Telling and Reading Stories: Folktales, fairy tales, and stories where animals are the main characters. This may be followed by role playing and dramatizing. Most children like dressing up and acting out the roles of different characters.

One of the best sources of stories about moral values can be found in Aesop's Fables. They are simple in expression, and they convey the truth of human life. Four fables which immediately come to mind are: Androcles and the Lion and Never Cry Wolf. In the fable Androcles and the Lion, students will learn that gratitude and compassion are the signs of a noble soul.  Never Cry Wolf teaches children that it is bad to tell a lie.

 The Little Red Hen

In all versions, the little red hen is a hard working character.  Most of the versions have a lazy cat, but depending on the storyteller or writer the other characters may be a mouse, a dog, a goose, a duck, a cow or a horse.  Sometimes these characters are dozing off, sleeping or just playing.  Sometimes the hen bakes bread, or a cake, and yes in one version the hen bakes a pizza!  The animals don't want to help and the hen does not share what she has baked, well, with one exception.  The hen does share the pizza in a contemporary version you may want to explore.

The story of the Little Red Hen has been told for ages to teach young people basic moral values. Using farm animals for the characters makes it interesting and fun for children, and stimulates their imaginations as they learn some important life lessons. Even though this folk tale has been passed down for generations, its message is timeless. We can all relate to practical lessons learned from the Little Red Hen.

What values would you teach through The Little Red Hen? 

Thrift – The story begins with the Little Red Hen finding some discarded grain seeds. Nobody else saw the value of these seeds, but she knew they had potential. The thrifty hen knows better than to let her fortunate find go to waste.

Initiative – Nobody had to tell the hen what to do with the grain seeds. She took the initiative to pick up the seeds and take advantage of her good fortune. People can learn a lesson from her initiative instead of waiting to be told what to do.

Plan ahead – The Little Red Hen could see the future potential of those seeds if they were planted and harvested. Instead of just focusing on the present, she could plan ahead to improve her situation.

Work hard – The hen wasn’t afraid of hard work even if nobody else on the farm would help her. She knew that her labor would pay off in the end and didn’t hesitate to get busy. Kids can learn how important it is to work hard if they want to succeed.

Self reliance – The Little Red Hen didn’t count on anyone else to help her out even though she asked. When the other farm animals refused to help she just went ahead and did all the work on her own. This story has the practical lesson of self reliance that is important for young people to learn.

Persistence – At every stage of the project, the Little Red Hen didn’t give up. Even though she didn’t have any help and the work was hard, her persistence and perseverance paid off in the end.

Ignore naysayers – The other farm animals surely told the hen she was crazy to do all that hard work while they were lazing about and having fun. It’s important for kids to learn to ignore the naysayers while doing the right thing.

Rewards – Of course the most practical lesson is that the initiative and hard work paid great rewards in the end. The Little Red Hen had some delicious bread to eat and share with her family while the other animals had nothing.

Fairness – And finally, the animals who didn’t share in the work didn’t earn any of the bread. This is probably the most important lesson of all in today’s society. With all the talk of fairness, the other farm animals really did get their “fair share”. The Little Red Hen had every right to keep the fruits of her labor and not share it with anyone who didn’t help.

Secure a book and/or video from the library that best meets the needs of the children's age and tastes.  A book with rich illustrations is highly recommended for this activity, followed by the use of flannel board characters and other support materials. 

Reading and discussing this story will greatly vary depending on the age of the children. 
For young learners, it is probably best to keep the discussion simple, focus on:
1. The repetition of the story and having them participate in role playing with (an easy craft below) puppets and/or felt board characters.  
2.  Some basic discussion about sharing and helping. Relate this to how much sharing and helping they do at home.
3. Think about the story
Who are the characters in this story?
Which characters are not very helpful?
Does the story have a happy ending or a sad ending?
Why do you think this?

*Arts & Crafts:  Various suggestions for crafts to make to support the story that allow the children to be creative in making one of the characters of the story and engage in dramatic play.

*Farm Theme:  This story can definitely be incorporated in a farm themed unit, and the importance and contributions of the hen/chicken and other characters to the farm.

*Science/Plants:  The process of wheat planting, caring, harvesting, milling process, baking and nutritional value of the final baked good.

*Nutrition:  The nutritional value of products derived from the wheat, food pyramid - breads and grains.

More to come in the next few days!

Forum on special educational needs - creating positive inclusive learning opportunities

Session details:Special educational needs: let's celebrate diversity and inclusion in learning
Phil Dexter
We all have learners who have difficulty in achieving and many are diagnosed/identified as having special educational needs. These cover a multiple range of needs which we label as special educational needs. These labels are often not helpful and in this session I will present an approach which celebrates positive diversity and inclusion in learning.

International students with specific learning differences: implications for universities
Sharon Noseley (De Montfort Universtiy)
As British universities welcome international students, many EAP/EFL tutors ask why some students are successful whilst others appear to struggle. This presentation will consider typical staff room questions such as, is this due to English proficiency levels or a specific learning difference, such as dyslexia? Support for these students will be explored based on evidence from my dissertation research.

Differentiation for special needs: practical ideas for the classroom
Sophie Farag (The American University in Cairo)

Inclusive learning gives equal opportunities to all students and requires the teacher to address the individual needs of each student, including those with special needs. However, this can prove challenging for the teacher. This presentation gives practical ideas to differentiate tasks in an English language classroom to allow learners with varying needs to reach their full potential.

The ‘native factor’, the haves and the have-nots

 ...and why we still need to talk about this in 2016. Plenary by Silvana Richardson

It is often claimed that much has changed in the field of English Language Teaching since 1983, when Peter Medgyes first described the struggle of ‘non-native’ teachers for visibility and due recognition. But has it? Away from academic circles, where the discourses that equated the ideal teacher with the ‘native speaker’ have been interrogated and critiqued, how has the situation really changed for the professional teacher of English whose first or home language is a language other than English?In this talk I will draw on research studies, anecdotal evidence and my own and my colleagues’ personal experiences to examine the state of equality and social justice in ELT with reference to the so-called ‘non-native speaker teacher’ thirty years on. I will look at how the logic of the market is used to justify current discriminatory recruitment practices that still perpetuate theview that a(n unqualified) native speaker is preferable to a qualified and professional ‘non-native teacher’.I will reflect on the impact of the native-speaker bias and its dominance on developments in English Language teaching methodology, and how this dominance seems to have affected the emergence of context-appropriate pedagogies. Finally, I will address the ‘second best’ view of the ‘non-native teacher’ and its impact on their own construction of a legitimate professionalidentity and on their confidence in themselves as teachers, users and experts of an-other language.

White Native English Speakers Needed ...

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Hi, I'm back!

... well, sort of. I'm still in Birmingham, a few hours short of taking the plane back to Spain after a wonderful conference IATEFL 2016, which I'm sure most of you have followed online if you weren't there. 

This was only the second IATEFL conference I have attended, the first was Liverpool three years ago, although I followed Manchester 2015 online, and I must say that the level and quality of the plenaries and sessions was very high. I particulary enjoyed David Crystal's opening plenary and Silvana Richardson's on Thursday moved not only me to tears, proof of which is the standing ovation she received at the end. 

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting my impressions on the talks I attended and some of the videos that IATEFL 2016 have posted for everyone to see kindly sponsored by the British Council. 

As I'm attending APPI's Annual Conference in Aveiro next week, I'll be sharing my impressions on that also. Lots of work ahead!  

Here's the first! 

Who would of thought it? The English language 1966-2066
Complaints about a supposed decline in standards of English continue to be made, with increasing frequency, in the British press. Although these are nothing new - as the long history of use of would of for would have illustrates - they do draw attention to the way we seem to be going through a period of unusually rapid language change. This paper illustrates the main changes in pronunciation, orthography, grammar, and vocabulary, discusses the chief factors involved - social mobility, globalization, and the Internet - and compares the changes that have taken place in the past fifty years with those that are likely to take place in the next fifty.

David Crystal is honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Bangor, and works from his home in Holyhead, North Wales, as a writer, editor, lecturer, and broadcaster. He read English at University College London, specialized in English language studies, then joined academic life as a lecturer in linguistics, first at Bangor, then at Reading, where he became professor of linguistics. He received an OBE for services to the English language in 1995. Recent books include The Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary (with Ben Crystal), Making a point: the pernickety story of English punctuationThe disappearing dictionary, and The gift of the gab: how eloquence works

His current research is chiefly in applied historical English phonology, with particular reference to Shakespearean original pronunciation. He is the patron of IATEFL.