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There have been noticeable effects on language that have come about due to explorers and the like that journeyed from their motherland many years ago. The journey of Christopher Columbus in 1492 was one that would herald the changing of the times for world languages. Such were these countries, a la, Great Britain with its English language and the colonies, and Spain with its Spanish in South America, that they spread their voice over many continents. This being said, there is still an emphasis that language existed long before the arrival of these powerful empires to far away lands. Languages such Chinese, Hindu and Arabic are still spoken by many millions of people around the world. We also have to recognise that many indigenous people still use their native language. In many respects, any of these rarer languages, relatively speaking, could have spread through the world as much as English and Spanish as we are all homo sapiens and have remained one species.
So, what do languages distinguish? Some of the aspects of many languages that although they evolved generally on their own, there is a general likeness found; for example the use of singular and plural nouns. English, French and Spanish retain in their language the distinction of one or more of something. However, in these languages, there is sometimes not a clear distinction as to what we are talking about, as with ‘I have some flowers’. There could be an array of different types of flowers and no actual number. This is opposed to Chinese which can use the same word for one or more than one. There are also other languages that will distinguish between the flowers being all of one kind or a mixed bunch.
Moreover, looking at world speech, it shows some languages make the clear distinction with a sentence to show that an object can be seen as the speaker speaks or not in eye sight. Visibility is central to their language. One example is of a woman with her arm in a sling, and how would an English speaker refer to this picture. English people could say ‘she has broken her arm’, but there is no certainty. English people can report the evidence and assume. Other languages have to make it clear how they know the information and not let a statement be glossed over.
Furthermore, over the world within languages, related words may take on different meanings. The sentences the ‘The colours are nice’ and the ‘The curtains are red’ have the same structure and relate to the same word types; nouns, verbs and adjectives but they are not the same in meaning. Other languages do not see the same as an English speaker sees, and end up putting the same sentences into other grammatical orders to explain the same sentence such that it may end up as ‘it is nice in colours’. This can also cross over to objects in space and the angle that people see objects in the world. All people look at a picture differently and can only give a subjective view. Also, some languages do not have words like the English ‘inside’ or ‘between’ thus their explanation is different for spatial objects. What’s more, some speakers only see an object from their exact position in the world. English speakers may not need to be so accurate.
To conclude, this essay highlights the diversity of language throughout the world, and the myriad of approaches to explain any situation where language is used.
The first aspect of IELTS preparation is that candidates should only enter the course if they are at least intermediate level of proficiency in the English language, so at this point, they should be conversant with the features of grammar and vocabulary. I think it is the teacher’s job to emphasise improving candidates’ general proficiency of these features without inundating them with too much grammar and vocabulary. I think there needs to be an overall consolidation of the system of grammar, vocabulary, and also pronunciation. In my viewpoint, I think the aim of the IELTS preparation course should be to build vocabulary in the topic areas to enable candidates to comprehend vocabulary they will encounter in the reading and listening sections and to correctly use vocabulary in the writing and speaking sections. I think the underlying design of teaching IELTS preparation and the distinctive core methodology is teaching ‘in context’. The language needs to be delivered ‘in context’ in a manner that is as authentic as possible.
Grammar and vocabulary are important for the test. I think the potential for classroom lessons where grammar and vocabulary are highlighted and discussed in interesting communicative activities is vital to learning. I think it is the teacher’s choices of task-based, often inter-related skills activities, involving IELTS-relevant micro-skills of the test that help promote grammar and vocabulary.
Outside class, I would advocate reading for pleasure with the candidates having an opportunity to discuss their reading in the class. This all has to do with changing learning patterns. For example, some students are taught grammar which is deciphered while they sit down and listen to the teacher. They need to put new words into context, know what part of speech it is, and break them down into syllables and stress. In the test, they may encounter words they do not understand. A simple reading of the text can put the word into context Furthermore, candidates should learn, practice, and use their new language forms in contemporary, realistic situations. Candidates need to build confidence with their grammar and vocabulary through clear course focus and goals helped by the teacher.
I think grammar and vocabulary cannot be avoided. If the teacher has a student-centered lesson, with the help of the teacher, grammar and vocabulary can be learned through the students undertaking meaningful tasks.
After the workshop, please take a few minutes to jot down any ideas, teaching tips or techniques, etc that were covered, and which you felt were useful to you. How was the content of the workshop relevant to the courses that you teach? What did you gain from attending this session?
The main point I got from this workshop was about having objectives in my lessons. If I do not have objectives, and objectives that I want the students to achieve the lesson does not really have a flow and a definite conclusion. Sometimes a teacher can go through the exercise book and feel they have achieved their quota of the language learning book but has not really focused on the students achieving a goal for that lesson which is to be using the vocabulary, grammar and language speaking associated with that lesson.
I think what I got from this workshop was to be more focused on the students’ needs, their use of English language and achieving goals. The workshop made me think more about the book I use. I recognized more how the Interchange book is structured into cycles. This is that the students have a snapshot, conversation, grammar focus, and listening to assist them with their learning and thus at the end of the cycle, it should give them a freer practice to make sure they can use their newly acquired English language.
For myself, I try to get as much as I can out of each English language lesson I teach. With the information I have been given by the workshop host, I see our team of teachers are finding their way to the end of a cycle. However, there may be a question about objectives being reached for each student. I think from what the workshop talked about is that teachers should try to focus more on students’ objectives. This is the acronym SWBATs. The crux of the workshop was Students Will Be Able To’.
I think SWBAT is a focal point for me. I should be able at the end of the cycle in the book as well as the end of each lesson be able to see and hear the students using the grammar and vocabulary which I have been teaching them, hopefully without major problems. I need to know that each student knew their objectives at the start, worked through the class and hopefully achieved them by the end.
To conclude, what I took from the workshop was that teachers should remember to focus on their objectives while giving students objectives, so in the end there is a purpose to the lesson and a feeling of achievement. Thus, all students will achieve their goal of ‘students will be able to’. and teacher will be asking each other, ‘what are your SWBATs for today’s class?
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