Reflective Essay: Skills for Life

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(831 Words)

Skills for Life, through embedded learning, have been seen to be vital these days. These skills, literacy, numeracy, and ICT are skills that are fundamental for any student to have as a minimum requirement. This fact was exacerbated many years ago by the Moser report ‘A Fresh Start’ (DfEE 1999) that highlighted 7 million adults literacy skills were below those expected of an 11-year-old.  This worrying figure emphasised the need for teachers to use any opportunity to embed these key skills in their lessons. I would like in this essay to reflect on my experiences of embedding which asserts “learn by doing”. Moreover, research has suggested if the skills are embedded the students actually feel more motivated (Roberts et al. 2005). I faced this with a research project I did involving Howard Gardeners Multiple Intelligences (1983). I studied students’ learning characteristics in an ESOL class and reflected on them using various techniques to aid their learning.

To begin, multiple intelligence suggests that students learn in different ways, so, for example, one learns more by being active (body kinesthetic) while another learns more from pictures (visual spatial). Of course, in an ESOL class language and literacy are paramount, but this had to be done in ways that were learner-centred with active learning which kept the students focused on the task, so they still used their English language. For instance, I gave each of them a picture of a famous person with some text about that person. I gave them the grammatically formed questions and answers to ask each other about their famous person (verbal linguistic). Incidentally, I had a higher level class get their information from the internet. So, they first had to read the text and write down the answers to the questions. They would then get to ask and answer each other who the famous person was, where they were from, how old, and an interesting fact.  I collected the faces, got the students into groups (interpersonal) and each group had to ask questions (logical mathematical) to find out who it was I was thinking about. It was like a game show. The winner was the one who guessed right first. Language was guided by myself, the teacher, to use complete answers and questions and the discussion in the groups was prompted by me also. The embedding here involved having a fun activity while pressing home language proficiency which is similarly shown in LLUK standard BS1, of ‘maintaining an inclusive equitable and motivating learning environment’. This class had competition, interest and a challenge which was valued as much as with English and literacy.

Still staying with learning languages, but this time related to numeracy, I had been teaching a class about nouns. I had had them in groups outside (naturalistic approach) describing objects. It was a kind of treasure hunt. They then had to write about what they found and present it. The presentation involved the characteristics of the object. The progression from objects was onto using nouns involved with shopping. I also felt for this subject the students should get used to prices. I found some newspapers, magazines, and door-to-door fliers that were filled with adverts for shops, filled with writing and numbers. So, I proposed that the students go through newspapers, magazines, and door-to-door flyers. The students needed to read them, cut out eight objects and stick them on a large sheet of paper (Bodily/Kinesthetic). However, the pictures had the prices missing. Then, they had to write about their object, ready for selling.  A few times, I actually did this part of the lesson with the computers and had the students make up a catalogue for their objects. There was certainly less clearing up. Once they were finished sticking, the challenge for the exercise was for each group to get the other groups to guess the answer to the price of the object. The students had to work in their group to guess the price. This meant they had to work in their group to come up with answers using their English. It ended up as ‘Price is Right’ competition with myself telling them they could not go over the real price. The nearest won, so, they had to work out the prices higher or lower which as embedded numeracy skills worked well.

To sum up, in this reflective essay I have shown that through my work and reflection with multiple intelligences, which was actually part of my ongoing continual professional development (CPD), as a teacher I try to embed key skills into my lesson. This I feel goes a long way to ‘discovering, respecting, and meeting individual needs’ (FENTO, 1999). My ESOL classes are full of opportunities to use not only to use literacy coherently in reading and writing but also in numeracy where for example we talk about telling the time and buying goods. Not forgetting, the use of ICT to allow the students to work on projects in groups or an individual basis.


Further Education National Training Organisation  (FENTO, 1999)

Moser, C. (1999), A Fresh Start. London: DfEE. Retrieved on 15 June 2008 from http://www.lifelonglearning.co.uk/mosergroup/

Roberts, C., Baynham, M., Shrubshall, P., Brittan, J., Cooper, B., Gidley, N., Windsor,

V., Eldred, J., Grief, S., Castillino, C. and Walsh, M. (2005), Embedded teaching and learning of adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL: Seven case studies. London: National Research and Development Centre for adult literacy and numeracy.

Vocabulary building in young learners

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(933 Words)

For this writing task, I was asked to give my response to 5 statements about how young learners can help build their vocabulary. I will answer true or false statements 1- 5 and explain why.

1. In a young child, a single word may constitute a considerable degree of meaning.

Is this True or False?

2. Words categories and concepts normally exist in isolation from each other.

Is this True or False?

3. Vocabulary development comprises at least three stages.

Is this True or False?

4. All languages have the same relationship between time and tense.

Is this True or False?

5. Where possible we should draw upon as many of the senses as possible when teaching vocabulary.

Is this True or False?

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Syntax – a Reflective Essay

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(589 words)

I see syntax as an important part of language study and reading books like The Language Instinct by Stephen Pinker has inspired me to take a closer look at how we use our language and how a sentence is formed. I hope with this essay I can give a little insight into how syntax is used.

Words are used in a combination to make others understand our desired thoughts. The grammar we use to communicate, the context, the people with whom we are communicating with and whether we are writing or speaking has to be in a form that is fully recognized. Sentences are not unordered strings of words; rather the words and morphemes are grouped into functional constituents such as subject, predicate, direct object, noun phrase, verb phrase and so on. It means that we take a finite number of discrete elements (words) and combine them to create larger structures that are different in meaning from the original words themselves. The choices for expression make use of many patterns in the English language. All human languages have very similar underlying structures; they all have phrase structure rules and transformational rules. The use of these words is systematized according to syntax.

It is clear to see that the sentence ‘Man hits animal’ is not the same as ‘Animal hits man’.  We know this because we use a code, or set of rules, to translate between orders of words and combinations of thoughts. Generally speaking, this set of rules is called a generative grammar. Syntax works on a prescriptive use of grammar although spoken English is not as formal as we think and works along the lines of a more descriptive method. Descriptive syntax is about understanding the rules that a speech community employs by examining the way that the members of that community actually do talk.

English language holds rules that can create larger more complex structures. It is by learning phrase and clause structures that gives us a clearer picture of syntax. These structures are what make the syntax rules. We find that it is possible to create an infinite number of sentences, all of which can express meaningful thought. Thus it is possible to construct sentences that the speaker has never used before. It can be said that English has a finite number of rules which facilitate an infinite number of sentences. Syntax shows that sentences and the relationship of their component parts works in English. To understand a sentence one cannot merely pay attention to the order of words. For example, in the class we learnt about complex, compound and simple sentences and components in them.

1. They were the boys who arrived to see and I knew all of them who came.

And = FANBOYS (For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So)

Independent Clause (x2) = They were the boys / I know all of them

Dependent Clause (x2) = who arrived to see / who came

Who arrived = the WHO is subjective case

Infinitive phrase = to see

Sentence type = compound complex

As above, syntax is the system that speakers and writers use when they combine words into phrases and clauses, ultimately creating meaning in their structures.

To conclude I have noticed that all sentences have basic patterns. I can now say that in many respects there is a mechanical basis in the brain, and all thought has a syntax, or code. So, we see that our utterances represent this internal coding by way of our common syntax.

Explain Gagne’s Events of Instruction

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(Words 1110)

It was during the 1960s which saw a flurry of activity in the study of instructional design that Gagne’s book the ‘condition of learning’ came out. In 1965 Robert Gagne published his book entitled The Conditions of Learning. In his book, Gagne (1965) described the analysis of learning objectives, and how these different classes of learning objectives relate to the appropriate instructional designs. Gagne famously tried to explain the methods of learning of students. His theory centered on the acquisition of language and how students do this through the process of learning and the different stages that are done. He exposed the stimulation that the students get or have to move onto the next stage of learning.

  1. Gaining attention (reception)
  2. Informing learners of the objective (expectancy)
  3. Stimulating recall of prior learning (retrieval)
  4. Presenting the stimulus (selective perception)
  5. Providing learning guidance (semantic encoding)
  6. Eliciting performance (responding)
  7. Providing feedback (reinforcement)
  8. Assessing performance (retrieval)
  9. Enhancing retention and transfer (generalization)

These changes that the students’ experience can move them onto further learning. Of course, all this was meant for the students to learn to their full potential. Internal and external factors were taken into consideration. In this piece of writing, I will explain the methods and how they work in the classroom.

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A Study of Phonology/Syntax/Morphology

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Language is one of man’s greatest abilities. It is a human instinct. Where would we be without language? Language is a complex system that is used in all its complexity in many facets around the world. The function of language is to build symbols for concepts by means of sounds. We can wonder, predict, order, and ask, from the myriad of verbal uses. One language may have various dialects, which is seen by those who use them as languages in their own right. There are about 6,000 languages spoken worldwide. These languages around the world still use the same kinds of grammar although different patterns were formed from the many races of people. This is what we come to recognize, as our own colloquial methods of using language, be it by rules or duplication of others. All known languages have words or word-like elements combined in accordance with certain rules into sentences. Nouns and verbs are the two fundamental grammatical categories that appear in all these language around the globe. Nouns and verbs are used in grammar which is the branch of language study or linguistics. It deals with the means of showing the relationship between words in use. It seems so simple to speak but underneath that simplicity marks rules that show how all the vocal sounds fall into place. It is below the surface of language that I will talk about in this paper. I will focus on syntax (order of words), morphology (the form of words), and phonology (speech sounds) which are some of the specific rules inside of language/grammar. I would like to show how language works in its fascinating way, looking at these three linguistic usages.

There are rules for grammar that, if some of us can remember, were studied at school. This is what we call prescriptive grammar that lays down rules of usage. Such prescriptions amount to a kind of linguistic etiquette that we are supposed to uphold but actually bear little to the underlying grammar that makes communications possible. On the other side, there are descriptive colloquial methods that are characterized in different dialects in conversation. ‘I seen’ or ‘I done’ may not conform to the standard of correctness demanded of cultivated speech, but these expressions cultivate a meaning. This is the study of how people communicate despite the rules. Wherever we live, in each person we are given the ability to say an endless amount of sentences that may never have been said by anyone before. Linguists study this language, their aim is to describe all the permissible patterns of combinations and formulate them as abstract rules that underlie everyday linguistic behavior. These studies notice the language’s syntax, morphology, and phonology. It is noticed that between human individuals, there can be wide differences in cognitive strategies and specifically in modes of perception or action. These differences between individuals, generalized to a language community, provide the basis for differences between the lexicons and syntaxes of different languages.

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