Teaching

Classroom-Based Research Project Aspects of Language Acquisition

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(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.

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Teaching Young Learners – Writing Activities

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(924 words)

For this writing task, I was asked to give my response to 5 statements about writing activities to support young learners to improve their writing and learn a language. I will answer True or False to statements 1- 5 and explain why.

1. Writing should be developed in isolation from other skillls.

Is this True or False?

2. We should not restrict the age at when children begin to write.

Is this True or False?

3. Handwriting and spelling are only part of the process of writing.

Is this True or False?

4. Attention should be paid to developing good habits in alphabet letter formation.

Is this True or False?

5. Using joined-up writing may help develop the learning of the common letter strings found in English.

Is this True or False?

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Unconscious Acts

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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

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(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

Task Analysis / Educational Objectives 

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(1062 words)

Professionals in the teaching field have two main questions concerned with their educational practices: What to teach and how to teach it. Organizing for instruction provides the information that allows the teacher to determine what to teach. It is their analysis of their instruction and tasks involved that contribute to comprehensible education. This means that there are educational objectives that outline what will be learnt and what the students should be able to do at the end of the period of study. With respect to this I will, in this essay, outline what is contributed into this discipline and reflect from what I noticed from an initial assessment of my teaching. 

To begin with, I realized that education for each student has to be more than being in just being in school. It is being an active student in life. This means that students become natural learners and recognize not only their role in the learning world, but also the world as a whole. They can gain knowledge in the classroom but how do they apply it outside the classroom. This means that through education, within my objectives, there should be provisions for each individual with opportunities to develop abilities, so that each student is able to demonstrate that he or she can do a specific task to a reasonable standard. However, I must recognize that there are different types of objectives. They can be developed into separate areas. Three such areas exist. Each of the three areas or domains are of human functioning. There is the affective domain which involves feelings, the psychomotor area includes coordination and other physical skills. The cognitive domain includes those activities directly associated with doing academically relevant work. With these three domains each objective shows prominence as observable actions that are what I want to observe after having broadly educated the students. 

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