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I would like to reflect on the attitude of teachers as listeners with regard to the classroom. It has made me think more about the person (teacher) I am. When I think about how I am in the class, it makes me reflect on the attitude I should have towards students who are trying to speak in class, thus the essence of this essay is, am I a good listener and reciprocator?
I think when people speak ideas begin to grow. These ideas growing within us is thinking of the students in the class with something to say and the teacher letting them speak but encouraging those students to expand on their answers. Thus, the teacher is the listener to the students expanding their ideas and their second language. The proposition is, how do we listen to others? I think people listen, the fact is sometimes this may not be attentive. Referring to a classroom setting, I think there could be a moment where the teacher does not listen to the students as attentively as one should. This does not mean the teacher is being rude; he or she might have their mind on completing the lesson or the fact that the student has answered the question, so the teacher can move on. I think here is where the teacher should take a step back to think about their attitude. I think when the teacher has these moments in the class where the students have a chance to speak, they can expand on those junctures because they are courteous listeners who provokes the students to speak more.
It could be said there are lecturers (teachers) out there that love the sound of their voice and do stifle people’s thinking that stop them talking. They may be brilliant performers but by not giving the students a chance to talk, they do not let all involved express their thoughts and expand. I think that as a teacher one could get confused that they are doing a great job teaching, but why are the students not talking? As such the teacher never realizes that it could be them (the teachers) that are the problem. I think that this creative spark from the students has got to be given time, and some teachers may not give time to let this creativity start working. Students can be given too much work that they are not sure where to start. I think with clear and modeled instruction which specific objectives the students know what to do, they then have focus, thus they know what to speak about to which the teacher can listen with captivated attention.
The formulation of ideas has to be a task that most students find difficult to complete especially with their limited knowledge of second language vocabulary. Those that do have a wider knowledge, for them fluently remembering all this vocabulary is still a problem. For myself, I have had times when I know the word in a foreign language, but I just forget it only to find out later that, of course, I knew it. This goes along with sentences as well. I make this point because a student talking, although their language may be limited at first when they begin to think, speak and use their English language, can show their true self. For example, I had a situation in my class where a woman student was translating everything that I said. It was, I thought, stopping the students in the class from actually understanding me. Anyway, one break-time another female student wanted to tell me she was leaving after break time for some reason. As the student, who wanted to leave, was trying to tell me her problem this “translator” woman came over, translated, and tried to tell me the student’s problem. As diplomatic as I could, I explained to her that this was not her problem, and I wanted this student to tell me herself. Being a forceful woman as she was, she did not really listen, so as she was hearing the student having problems she again tried to help. Again, I said I wanted to hear the student. Well, the student took about a few minutes to tell me her problem and after trying really hard and me being an active listener, she got her point over. I think by me listening and understanding that she was not proficient in English and that I would have to take my time to let this student build up the confidence to tell me made for a more relaxed situation. Thus, she was able to speak English, and her vocabulary was enough for me to understand. I felt good because some students are not listened to because at that first moment they do not have the vocabulary or are a little nervous, but they can actually formulate what they want to say given time.
Finally, it just makes me think about what relationship the teacher has with each student. Hopefully, by writing this, it does make me think that we should be more attentive that leads to expansive language from the students.
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.
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Reflection on an Article
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.
What motivates a teacher to start in the profession? For sure many reasons make someone begin a career in teaching. Is it pay or job security or is it a fall back option? This being said, initial motivation does not mean that years later the same can be said. The fact of the matter is the evolution of the new teacher into a mature tutor. This is then the professional person who has recognized the true meaning of teaching. This person recognizes their role in helping to shape young minds and impart moral values through education. Teaching has to be a vocation. In part an autobiographical story highlighting aspects of Asian teaching and also analysis, there are many aspects that any teacher has to realize to fulfill true potential.
Certainly, ongoing professional development highlights certain challenges in teaching that a teacher has to face up to. A focal point has to be the realization that students do not really know how to learn. How can any teacher, great as they may think they are, not realize that the students are naive about how to get the most benefit from a lesson? Any teacher has to look at the students’ own learning traits in light of today’s imperative that they both foster lifelong learners in their classrooms as well as become lifelong learners themselves. It’s the teacher’s inspiration that plays a huge part in a student’s education although every student and the class as a whole have to progress to help the teacher get the most out of them.
Different countries have varying approaches to learning and teaching. How does a foreign teacher survive in another country’s learning environment? Any foreign teacher working abroad has to adapt and work within the culture. It can be hard to change teaching methods to what has been ingrained from school through to university. Motivation to rise above some of another country’s inequalities as you see them is paramount. In some of these cultures, students tend to be passive and may be reluctant to participate in communicative exercises. A change in the style of teaching to suit these learners’ needs is essential because completely following an Asian model would be alien to any foreign teacher; a balance has to be met. A new foreign teacher would think it is strange to see no encouragement given to the students to think independently while just following the examples of the teacher, who is held in high esteem. Progression as a teacher means drawing attention to many facets of teaching. Inspiration has to come from somewhere. Breaking the barriers that slow students’ learning and build foundations that provoke students’ development has got to be a motivator.
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I feel aspects of melody in language are important to me in teaching English, as this is one of the issues that have been salient in teaching. By melody, I mean the fluency of your speech highlighting that transformation of the quality of the teacher’s voice adding grace to the student’s self-expression, thus helping them to convey meaning on a higher plane. This upholds a belief of mine because I feel as though making your voice clear and giving your voice that purposeful sound and intonation makes your expressions interesting to listen to. I think that these clear utterances add to your lesson and bring the students more in touch with you.
For the students, I think melody is one of the hardest aspects to grasp that incorporates intonation, stress, and rhythm. As a teacher, you and the students have to be aware that the improvement of their expressions is the result of endeavored attempts at a likeness to natural English. I relate to this because in one post-lesson reflection I recognised that I was modeling, and a model for, the English language for the students. Now, if that melody is lost, as I reflected upon, trying to give clear instructions slowly and with unconnected speech, the students will end up speaking the same slow way which is not the melody of English. It is not only the fact of having a natural voice in class, but also that melody can be achieved by incorporating into one’s teaching precise techniques designed to facilitate learning of melody of the target language creatively.
There are implications for the students, which is what the main point of this reflective writing, and that is the students come to the teacher already being equipped with the capacity to work on themselves. You could say they are like a sponge soaking up all that you say and if you are the teacher they will follow you. This is where your teaching direction is so important and that is to teach them the correct and normal melody of speech. They will change their utterance to your melody because you are teaching them.
To conclude with something I have learned from this reflection is that you are an advert for the promotion of English language. Learners are looking at you to better their language and this means using the right tone, stress, intonation and rhythm. This melody your students will be using in the outside world, and you as the teacher certainly wouldn’t like your students to be misunderstood and frowned upon.
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