Teaching

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.

Reflections on a lesson (the Critical Incident)

Posted on Updated on

(348 Words)

John C. Flanagan talks about a ‘critical incident’ (Flanagan, 1954) that can happen. With respect to this theory from an observation I had for my lesson, once this class had finished I had a meeting with the observer and he mentioned my teacher training was more about discussion than actual instruction.

Although I was actually teaching the subject matter to a certain level, I assumed this was myself basing the lesson more on communication and giving the students access to have thoughts and opinions on the topic mentioned by me. All the same, this was now my ‘critical incident’. My observer had mentioned something that stunned me a little while making me contemplate and reflect upon. In the class, I was raising issues and theories about teaching and talking about those elements of being a teacher with the students, but my observer was highlighting that I should be wholly teaching the students the subject matter.

Although completely taking over the class could be unjust to the students, I felt this observation was quite true that the students should have been given more of solid background knowledge about the subject. I need to fully (if not more) do/complete my job and give them the whole picture. It could be the case that the students can be just speaking about the subject as they (could) do without any prior knowledge of teaching. Generally speaking, we can all talk about various topics as if we have knowledge of them.

This is why this ‘critical incident’ where my observer highlighted a factor in my teaching, I have now felt (after reflection) that I have to fully complete my task as a teacher and stand there in front of the students and truly show them what I know and how the subject of the lesson should be known. It means espousing my knowledge in ways that show the students I am a qualified, professional, and proficient teacher that clearly demonstrates the topic on a level that challenges and informs the students. Thus, the level of discussion will hopefully be raised thereafter.

Flanagan, J.C. 1954. The critical incident technique. Psychological Bulletin.

A critical appraisal of an article –  Teaching: the Reflective Profession Incorporating the Northern Ireland Teacher Competences

Posted on Updated on

There are always areas of any profession people are in to which they feel may need change and/or improvement. Teaching is no exception, I feel. Any teacher needs to be enthused to bring light to new areas of interest in their line of work. Having read many articles on professional teacher development, I came across a document that inspired me with some core beliefs. It made me read more, delve deeper, and look at a specific area of the teaching profession that I hope empowers me. The document is ‘Teaching: the Reflective Profession’. It was published by ‘The General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI)’ to show competence for reflection and discussion. It was written to address the issues and recognise the complexities of teaching. In this appraisal, I will address how this document gave me an insight into an area I feel may be missed by teachers in their daily toil.

One true fact is that children need to develop not just as ‘rounded individuals able to prosper in the world but, as importantly, to live together in a culture characterised by tolerance and respect for diversity’.  These words speak volumes when I consider the position and the factors I face every day with my school. From observations of various teachers in my school, I feel, they do not, in reality, recognise their students’ true needs for the outside world they will be entering. The teacher is usually sat at a desk. A microphone is always used because the students are so loud. The students are there solely as listeners in nearly every subject. The situation reminds me of Charles Dickens‘ ‘Hard Times’ where the students learnt facts and imagination was not on the syllabus. There seems to be no thought process involved. I see students turning off, then, just copying other people’s work to get a mark. I feel it is a culture of ‘It’s there if you want it’ mentality. The brighter kids are at the front and the ones that really need help are at the back where there left behind. This cannot help them to survive in the real world. The students are only worried about final marks not what went into getting that mark, be it copying or cheating.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

How do you deal with student behaviour?

Posted on Updated on

(Words 1304)

Teachers can face many different types of students. Mostly students are respectful and good learners, but occasionally, there are students that persist in making the teacher’s life hard work. These are the times when the teacher must use classroom management to overcome any such problems. A teacher can deal with difficulty, but these issues must be dealt with sufficiently without disruption to the other students who are willing learners. A teacher studies how to teach and be proficient in their profession but can easily come undone by a disruptive student. This is where the rest of the class can be disturbed and all the teachers’ quality lesson planning comes to an abrupt delay in proceedings. In this essay, I will highlight problems in the classroom and provide ideas to help minimize bad discipline.

To begin with, it is important for the teacher to instill good discipline in the class. They must start off by getting to know the students. The teacher can greet the students as they come in; this may spot potential trouble makers. The teacher must learn all students’ names as soon as possible – within the first three days of school. The teacher needs to establish a routine in his classroom as soon as possible. The teacher should have a plan that incorporates what they expect from the students as well as expectations of themselves. The teacher should have a few (three to five) basic overarching rules in place to help govern student behavior in the classroom. The students should know and understand the rules. These must be taught and reinforced as if they were curriculum, repeating them often as needed. All of these rules should be practiced from the off. From day one, the teacher should have a classroom management plan and stick to it. The teacher can not have double standards, what the teacher says, they should maintain. The teacher when possible could even involve their students in developing the rules. Above all, the teacher needs to be regimented if they are to make sure each lesson is not inhibited by any disruptive students. They can set homework and check to see who has done it. This will show who is willing to learn. All work must be checked thoroughly. If the students see that they can get away with poor behaviour they will do it. For example, if a student’s behaviour steadily gets worse and worse, with no discipline given by the teacher, the one time the teacher has reached their perceived limit, the teacher may have a hard task of trying to stop the behaviour which should not have been allowed to reach this level in the first place. The teacher should be aware of problem students and situations that may disrupt the class and put a stop to it before it escalates. 

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Helping Students Create Their Own Learning Goals By Greta. J. Gorsuch

Posted on Updated on

Reflection on an Article

(756 words)

Students learn (language) for various reasons from those who need English to study in university to those that just want to talk to more people from around the world. But what makes them achieve what they set out to do which is speaking English competently? You could say it is a goal, their intention, their aspiration to be this person who has no problems with language. The only difficulty is, do they really know what their targets are? These can be for a course of English language, for example, thirty hours or the end product over a longer period. I will try in this piece to explain some points regarding learning goals in relation to the article by Greta J Gorsuch.

First of all, I have to talk about the teacher and their role in the classroom with regard to student learning goals. What do the students think they are there for? Is the teacher there to do everything? Is the teacher there to spoon-feed the students so to make it easy for them? These are the sorts of questions that might be asked but is the teacher there to do everything? Greta’s article mentions that teachers are ‘traditionally the primary source of information and inspiration’. It is true that the students can be sat waiting for the teacher to speak, the idea that the students do not speak unless spoken to. They can actually feel afraid to ask further questions or just get the exercise done. This is where concrete learning objectives can try to make the students come away from relying on the teacher to create goals for themselves as students and as such putting more emphasis on themselves (students) and what they want to achieve.  Greta says, ‘language students themselves are the best source of information’. To be a language learner does not just involve coming to class and listening to a teacher then going home. It involves being a language learner for life in and outside class.

It is here inside the class (not to mention outside) that the teacher if they want to create a learning environment they should encourage these learning goals for the students. Some teachers do not have ‘effective strategies’, Greta says. I agree with her as they can go into the class and teach a great lesson, but there could be more from the students. Greta mentions, ‘simple goal clarification activities’. This, I think, is the ‘use’ part of the lesson where the teacher actually gets the students to show that they have achieved their goal if only for that week by speaking and presenting what they have learned. This incentive, I think at least, gives students that pleasure of reaching a goal and then setting another one. The satisfaction to think that they set a target and have reached it must be beneficial in scaffolding their learning for future progress.

Greta’s ideas for future progress relate to giving cards out, getting the students to fill in their goals, making sure they are achievable and realistic ones at that. The only part, I think, that they must do is share these with other students. I think this honesty in class will get the students to realize what they are in class for. They must also be kept focused on these goals. Greta says, ‘ during the next few weeks, get students to look back at their card, and rewrite their responses’. Again, the teacher should never shy away from keeping the students focused on their goals. If one student does not feel they have reached their goals this is a great time to focus on why. It is true that a student may do, for example, thirty hours of study and then go up another level. In this student’s mind is that they are now a level higher, so their English language must be a level higher. This idea could be far off the mark, thus having students with achievable goals makes the students fully aware that they have reached that goal or not, and when this goal is relayed to the teacher he or she can give advice on what they can do next.

To conclude, it can be said teachers have to do their job but just as much the students have to do their job too. This does not mean forcing them; it means giving them that focus. Hopefully, the students will realize that a new foreign language is part of their life not just in the classroom for a few hours every week.