Second Language Learning

Classroom-Based Research Project Aspects of Language Acquisition

Posted on Updated on

(8591 Words)

For this project, I have focused my inquiry on the way students acquire language. The question that I would like answered is: How do students acquire language in the classroom environment and what best techniques fit their style of learning? This includes styles that I think do/did not fit in the classroom environment and could actually hamper students’ learning and their acquisition of a language. The classroom data that I used for this essay comes from the teacher (me) and the students that I was teaching. To add to this data in the inquiry, I also observed another teacher, who for one period taught the same class of students. For this essay, I wanted to work out, through analysis, how certain commands such as asking the students to do tasks, either work or not. A few subset questions came to mind such as: how do the teacher’s concise instructions alter students’ concentration or understanding in the acquisition of their language? In what way does the lesson move ahead through controlled teaching? What gives students that drive to a better understanding? I would like, through analysis, to delve deeper into the teaching methods and come to realize for myself, that much more, how the students’ minds work. This better understanding means that my methods of teaching, hopefully, make those students speak more fluently, without hesitation, or worry about their mistakes and aids their learning. I have, through this essay, tried to equally use my thoughts as well as the students. I hope that this essay gives a clearer picture for the reader, as well as myself, on helping students acquire language.

I would just like to add that, apart from studying/researching the class, the most intriguing and challenging part of this classroom research for me, was the research that occurred in the privacy of the staff room. There was a lot of material to be sifted through and connections to be made. This made me make sure that the students provided me with the best possible information untainted by fears of evaluation and embarrassment. I had to analyze the information I received: “How were they thinking about this subject? Why? What shall I do next?” Classroom research for me was intellectually very demanding and at times, quite perplexing. Also, I had to take criticism from some of the tasks that maybe didn’t work in class. The advantages for me as a teacher of using self-evaluation for this research are hugely beneficial for my deeper understanding of the students’ acquisition of language. The scrutinizing of a teacher’s instructions and seeing their students’ reaction to extra instruction, where it is realized that the students don’t get the meaning, is enlightening in respect to the analysis of the teacher’s methods.  A teacher can often see their mistakes with a bit more thought. I found that it made me think more about my techniques.

I also think for many reasons my students benefited immensely from my research. Firstly in the act of self-assessment, I think the students developed some knowledge/abilities to see themselves more clearly as learners in relation to their course objectives. Secondly, students who were in small group discussions got to compare and contrast their experiences with others and through large group discussion they developed a sense of the whole class learning and where it’s moving. Thirdly, I not only got insights into how this group of students were doing, but it also opened up channels of collaboration for me to work with individual students on their progress in the course. I think for the students, in hearing what their peers thought, students were able to overcome the isolated, individual student/teacher relationship. They could see themselves as part of a group (including myself) that was marked not by competition, but by solidarity in a common enterprise of understanding and using the subject matter with competence and confidence. For me, I think the students were not used to evaluating their learning or the teacher’s teaching, so it was an enlightening experience, I think for us both. And a process I will continue with the same students as I feel we have a better understanding, now.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Unconscious Acts

Posted on Updated on

It’s all well and good teaching language in conversation, but have you ever noticed you open your mouth when you are about to ask a question, or raise your eyebrows when surprised or expecting a question, or even rapidly inhale when you are ready to speak? It all adds to the flavour of practicing conversation and students’ nonverbal actions.

Chunking and phrases

Posted on Updated on

(300 words)

So, what is so important of moving from vocabulary to adverbial phrases, complements, and objects such as “on the way”, “one night”, “from outer space”, or even “a monster from outer space”. Here lie examples of chunking of words and the Lexical Approach. The principles of the Lexical Approach have been around since Michael Lewis published ‘The Lexical Approach’ in 1993. The principles of the Lexical Approach have [been around] since Michael Lewis published ‘The Lexical Approach’ [20 years ago]. [It seems, however, that] many teachers and researchers do not [have a clear idea of] what the Lexical Approach actually [looks like] [in practice].

All the parts in brackets are fixed or set phrases. Different commentators use different and overlapping terms – ‘prefabricated phrases’, ‘lexical phrases’, ‘formulaic language’, ‘frozen and semi-frozen phrases’, are just some of these terms. We use just two: ‘lexical chunks’ and ‘collocations’.

‘Lexical chunk’ is an umbrella term that includes all the other terms. We define a lexical chunk as any pair or group of words that are commonly found together, or in close proximity.

‘Collocation’ is also included in the term ‘lexical chunk’, but we refer to it separately from time to time, so we define it as a pair of lexical content words commonly found together. Following this definition, ‘basic’ + ‘principles’ is a collocation, but ‘look’ + ‘at’ is not because it combines a lexical content word and a grammar function word. Identifying chunks and collocations is often a question of intuition.

Here are some examples.

Lexical Chunks (that are not collocations)

by the way
up to now
upside down
If I were you
a long way off
out of my mind

Lexical Chunks (that are collocations)

totally convinced
strong accent
terrible accident
sense of humour
sounds exciting
brings good luck

Setting out some ideas for developing and maintaining motivation in either young children or teenagers

Posted on Updated on

(409 Words)

The teacher’s skills in motivating young children should be seen as central to teaching effectiveness. This means motivating them to learn and acquire new skills. Finding what interests these learners is the way to inspire them to learn. Interest is an intrinsic motivator. These engaged children are more likely to employ a deeper level of study if the teacher can provide opportunities for likable learning. All young children are motivated by different reasons to learn to which the teacher has to recognise. It is the teacher’s attitudes to perform these tasks in learning that affect learners’ attitudes. Furthermore, while they are learning, the teacher has to maintain the learners’ interest. The learners have to feel that the teacher respects and accepts them for who they are and allows them to express themselves without the worry of criticism for honest errors. This is why young people need a lot of support and time.

The teacher’s teaching methodology should be to sustain learners’ motivation and engage in activities that lead to learning. There is no point in playing games that are fun and exciting if the learner is missing out on chances to learn new vocabulary and absorb and use new phrases. The teacher has to realize that the holistic development of the children is not only their language development but also in their social, cognitive, and emotional growth. For example, lessons that have an activity-based approach in which children engage in meaningful tasks and activities elevate learning. The children can use English genuinely, learn something new, and develop as whole individuals as well. Lessons should also be varied; drama and role play can be a good platform for motivating children, especially if costumes and props are involved. This should promote interaction among students. So, in these respects, the teacher has a broader educational role in their relationship with their learners. This entails the teacher being aware that each child is at a developmental stage and some tasks can be impossible for them. Learners all have motivation but on what level. It is the teacher’s job to put this to learning where their lesson has clarity and purpose. Moreover, the syllabus has to take in the fact of age, cultural and social background of the children to be taught. A teacher can personalize teaching if the children are allowed to talk about their own interests and families. The teacher could well have to adapt the syllabus to address particular students or groups of students.

Classroom based report on Second Language Learning

Posted on Updated on

(11970 Words)

Abstract

Learning any second language can be challenging. Lower level students, who are new to learning, are those students that need all the support and understanding for their acquisition of a new language. For this paper, I have produced a research plan for a new class of lower-level students. This was devised to create thinking on how students were learning their second language. I wondered how I could facilitate their learning and their classroom experience that would help make the English language easier for them to comprehend. My initial thoughts were on using as many different ways to reinforce a language point. My thinking was that if the students get to look at a specific grammar/language point, whilst using it and thinking about it, in different ways, the language will stay in their memory that much easier. I felt that if you used the language in various ways such as activities, methods of teaching, and games, their possession of the language could be helped.

I looked at my ideas for lesson plans and checked how I planned to use the time in class to vary my methods. I also looked on the internet for any information that would correspond with my area of interest. I tried reading as much material that honed in on my specific area of interest. This was the material that was related to different methods and activities. It was while I was acquiring my new knowledge that I got to read about an interesting theory where different activities were used regarding multiple intelligences. This I found on a website called ‘developingteachers.com’. The article in question that took my interest was called ‘Starting with multiple intelligences – activities for foreign language teachers’ by Rolf Palmberg. I immediately realised this article was very much linked in with my ideas, that I had proposed. I did a lot of preliminary reading on the subject until I felt that I should put my old and new ideas about how to get the students speaking more into effect. This paper and the theories within is helped by what I found from the initial article by Rolf Palmberg and increasingly by reading about American psychologist Howard Gardner who developed ‘The Theory of Multiple Intelligences’ documented in his book Frames of Mind: Theory of Multiple Intelligences.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.