Second Language Learning
Reflection on the Article
I would just like to reflect on an article with some of the sentences I picked out that I thought summed up the attitude to have in a teaching experience.
1. ‘The quality of that thinking (about objectives) is what makes the difference’.
Again, as I have said in my other reflections these sentences are great facts that if remembered would always pay dividends. I think that the amount of time you put in the amount of satisfaction you will get out of the class. There are many points to think about and you would only be letting yourself down. However, not only by thinking but also it is the degree of excellence, you can achieve from the quality.
2. ‘If I am thinking in terms of activities I am concerned with management. My focus is on giving directions and having everyone engaged’.
100 percent concentration in a class is hard but to have everyone engaged with clear objectives is able to be achieved. I mean that if the students have that focus and know what is to be done objectives can be reached. This also leads to management where the activity is set up properly and modeled and the students know what to achieve. That little bit of planning and giving direction can help so much.
3 ‘Fun doesn’t mean necessarily equal learning’.
This goes with number two that even though you have set the activity up correctly and it is fun, your clear objectives that the ‘students will be able to …..’. may have not been met. This of course can be checked to see if you have reached your objectives. Just because they are laughing is their English any better than when they came in the door?
4. “Time tables are flexible and what’s important is that the students learn well, even if less is covered’.
This relates to a lesson plan that will have time on it. You think the lesson will take this long. However, again you don’t know how the students will act. You could find yourself teaching them and not achieving your goal of finishing your lesson plan. The important fact is: did they learn all the way through?
Reflection on an Article
To begin with, I thought this article was a fascinating read and made me want to know more. I say this because an ESL instructor can be a fantastic teacher but how does he/she know if the students are ‘acquiring the language’ how they should which is natural and not forced? I think this article alludes to the point of ‘acquiring language’. I use the word ‘acquiring’ because the article refers to this entirely through the text. One of the salient points from the article I remembered was about children’s acquisition of a language. The article says ‘children, in natural settings, learn language rapidly and without formal instruction’. It makes me think that children are not given formal education when they are very young yet they acquire their language. It makes me think of some Thai schools where they barrage the students with grammar that is in such a formal setting that doesn’t leave any room for talking. The students are very good at grammar but cannot speak. Furthermore, if the students are not relaxed in the classroom (the setting) the teacher cannot expect them to learn. You would hope they learned their second language the same as their first language in a natural way that children never felt the language was hard or pressured.
The classroom as a setting I think should not be a place that is far from reality such that students can only speak in the classroom not outside where it is most important. I think that as a teacher the authenticity of the teacher’s teaching and the classroom has to be right so as to enlighten the learning experience. I allude to an issue from the article which states ‘ people often learned second languages through grammar study so the similarity between natural, childhood, first language acquisition and later second language acquisition were not apparent. I think this makes me aware that creating a real classroom experience is a must for the students. The use of real objects, pictures, situations, etc to get the feeling that the students will use this language outside the classroom is a must.
One of the authors quoted in this article, Stephen Krashen whose ‘acquisition theory’ is used in teaching, states that ‘language learners need language ‘input’ which consists of new language along with clues as to what the language means’. I guess as a teacher you should follow this path that allows the students to speak in class while giving them that little bit more to expand their language. The teacher should build on what the students already know.
I think this normal delivery of speech and with ‘hands on’ language acquisition experience facilitates the natural learning process. If you remember when you were a child and your parents never really gave you formal education in language acquisition, this article refers to this point as ‘comprehensible input that naturally supplies their children: it is slower and simpler, it focuses on the here and now, it focuses on meaning over form, and it extends and elaborates on the child’s language’. I think the students should not be treated like kids but from the views of this article, you should allow the students to speak and acquire more language as they use their already known language such that the process will follow that the students will acquire more.
I think this was an interesting article and very thought provoking.