Dear HLT Readers,
Welcome to the December issue of HLT. I hope you will find the issue a good and inspiring read. There are a lot of ideas for the classroom. In major article 3: Making Grammar Memorable, Simon Mumford writes about the role of memorising and mnemonic techniques in learning grammar and gives a lot of ideas of how to use them in the classroom. In the Corpora ideas section you will find Teaching Chunks of Language: The Issue of Memory, in which Seth Lindstromberg and Frank Boers also look at the role of memory in remembering language chunks. The article marks the publication of their new book “Teaching Chunks of Language”. Congratulations! Look out for an HLT review of the book soon!
There are a lot more ideas for the classroom, the first two from our regular contributors. In his article: The Heart of the Matter: Image and Text, Lou Spaventa talks about the importance of visual images and how they can help to get students to write. In his column Off the Beaten Path: Training Games, Hall Houston presents some activities from the world of business training which can be easily imported to the ELT class. They can be used as warm-ups and fillers, or to review material covered in the lesson. Monica Hoogstad in Communication Styles focuses on communication in the language class and the role of emotional intelligence (EI). Her activities also are partially rooted in the world of business. In the Lesson Outlines section, in The Language of Communication, Danny Singh looks at the way we teach and the role of grammar as opposed to the role of intonation and body language which are vital in communication.
There are two very interesting contributions dealing with developing materials. In her article Song- Music and Songs in English Language Teaching, Kasia Kuźma shares with us how she chooses and uses songs with teenagers. It is not as easy as it may seem as teenagers are possessive of their world of music and sometimes feel that if we choose a song from ‘their’ music world we are trespassing. Yet when we choose songs from ‘our’ music world we are perceived as ‘aliens’ or even worse ‘dinosaurs’. It looks like a ‘no win’ situation. Kasia shows us that we can win!. In Celebrating International Day of Peace in the Class, Muhammad Iqbal presents his poem writing projects in class. Don’t miss the embroidered poems which combine poem writing and embroidery. Really beautiful and inspiring. Another great idea for CLIL ( Content and Language Integrated Learning).
Another tool for language teaching is translation. In The Place of Translation in English Language Teaching, Alena Štulajterova shares with us her reasearch results on how translation can be an interesting as well as a useful activity in a language class. It develops the students’ ability to communicate in the target language, trains the learner how to search for the most appropriate words to express themselves and how choose them to best convey what is meant. There is more on L1 ( mother tongue) versus L2 ( target language) in Treasuring the Un-motivated: A Humanistic Approach by Louis Butto, whose general approach, at the beginning of the term, is to mix the L1 with L2. Needless to say, there is a limitation to the technique as this means that the teacher must be able to speak the learners’ L1, so the technique may not be suitable for some native speakers who are teachers of English. But the advantage is that the use of L1 makes the students feel more relaxed and comfortable while the use of L2 may activate a strong negative affective filter, which may “prevent input from reaching those parts of the brain that do language acquisition.” (Krashen, 2004).
There are some thoughts on writing materials in this issue of HLT. In major 1. Capacity Building via a Textbook Project, Lena Borovikova writes about a textbook project initiated by the British Council in Russia. The project aimed at training new textbook writers and eventually at ‘creating a new series of new generation ELT coursebooks for primary and secondary level’. Obviously the impact from the project was enormous as writing and developing materials entails much more that finding the right text and creating or ‘weaving’ activities around it. In his article Ghana's economic problems, anyone? Bill George deals with a related subject which is the choice of topic for a language class. He chose “Fighting social imbalance in Ghana” For a class of average 17-year-old students in Germany who knew next to nothing about the socio-economic problems of African countries. They lacked the general knowledge to talk about the subject and had no linguistic resources to deal with the subject. Read the article to find out what happened next.
Class atmosphere is as important as the materials we choose. In major article 4. A New Direction in Feedback, Russell Stannard looks at new ways of giving students feedback on their written assignments. He uses screen capture software which records all screen activity on the computer screen. If a microphone is used, it will also record voices. In this way students work ‘can be opened onto a computer screen, the screen capture software can be turned on and the teacher can begin to correct the word on the screen, highlighting mistakes, underlining problems and writing comments’. The opportunities that open up are immense and appeal to our students who responds well to the use of IT and modern technology used as language teaching aids. In his article Boosting Teenagers’ Motivation: An Action Research Project, Mark Bain presents his research results on various ways of motivating teenagers. Interestingly, he finds, it is not the materials but the teacher that can make a crucial difference, so we teachers can both motivate or de-motivate. It is good if we motivate, but if the reverse happens it leads to ‘disruptive behaviour, the most serious problem teachers face in the classroom’. There were several students who exhibited disruptive behaviour and Mark shares with us the attempts he made to tackle the problem. In God Bless the Teacher Elena Kashina writes about the role of the teacher’s own style and how it helps to create encouraging learning conditions in the classroom.
In this issue of HLT there are a number of articles reflecting on our teaching, the methods we choose and the paths we take in our careers. In Eggs and Scrambled Bacon: A Different World?, Carol Griffiths writes about the changes in her approach that have taken place in her long teaching career. In From Teaching Modern Foreign Languages to Meeting Special Educational Needs: A Professional Odyssey, David Wilson writes about how unfamiliar or inappropriate teaching methods and resources can impede or even reverse progress. He defines “special educational needs” in his own way as a mismatch between what the individual brings to the school and what the school system expects of the individual. There is also another voice, the voice of late John Morgan who in TESOL Greece March 1990 An Interview With John Morgan talks about his path to teaching and various choice we take in teaching as a career. Relationships among teacher are part of our profession, a subject rarely touched upon. In major article 2: Establishing a Collaborative Relationship Between Instructors of Mainstream Courses in English and Language advisors, Ezana Habte-Gabr writes about collegial relationships. The model he writes about is teaching English Content Based courses (CLIL) at the tertiary level. The focus is on the nature and relationships between mainstream instructors and language advisors. Ezana refers to the misconception that being a language specialist or a content specialists’ could lead to a detrimental relationship, culminating in the objectives of this collaborative being far from met’. And then in Nightmare or Opportunity in UK Education, Grethe Hooper Hansen writes about the administrative changes in the UK - EYFS (Early-Years Foundation Scheme). This educational reform that has raised the concern of Philip Pullman and many other leading writers, academics and psychologists that became law in September. It is perceived by some as a national tragedy, a system somewhere between Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. And although it may seem far removed from teaching English as a foreign language, teaching young learners humanistically is our concern, we never know how soon similar reforms may become the concern of ELT teachers. Hopefully it will never happen.
In the Student Voices section there are two very interesting contributions: David Heathfield interviews his son on an event he attended, and Kamila Kaczmarczyk discovers that special educational needs may be More Than a Touch of Autism. The Students Voices section regularly publishes projects pre-service teachers carry out in classes with learners who have special educational needs (SEN).
There is much going on in the publishing world. There are books that have already appeared on the market and those about to appear. In the Publications sections there are three reviews in the new regular column by Hanna Kryszewska Short Book Reviews, a review of Dialogue Activities written in dialogue form by Lindsay Clandfield, and a review of Teaching Academic Writing by Neil McBeath. As for books about to appear there is a taster from Niu Qiang and Martin Wolff in China: Grade Inflation in Higher Education, who write about administration politics and grades. Thank you for raising this issue as humanism sometimes has to fly out through the window under pressure from decision makers. If we started talking about it we might find out that grade inflation is out of control not only in China.
These days ‘publishing’ does not only mean books, but also various ELT developments available on the Web. Among them are e-books. In his article E-books for the Language Classroom – An Easy to Use Resource by Brain Friendly Publications by Richard Munns introduces us to this world.
Don’t miss the joke submitted by Simon Marshall: From a Friend of Mine who Runs his own Computer Company and a poem in mind map form: Goethe by David Warr; Both of which have CLIL at their core.
Finally, there are new Pilgrims courses to look forward to. One of the new trends in ELT is coaching. In the Course outline section: From Teaching to Coaching, Bonnie Tsai explains how in the demanding contemporary world we need to make gigantic leaps in flexibility and adaptability. The new situation calls for special qualities and inner resources. This also applies to teaching. Now teachers not only need to facilitate. Teachers need to help their learners to deal with unexpected situations, challenge, change and crisis. Coaching develops not only skills to learn quickly, but also the knowledge of where to go and find what they need, how to use the resources they have found and develops self-knowledge. In this way our learning and teaching is connected to our own deep human values and is very humanistic. We help our learners less as teacher and more like a coach.
Soon it will be 2009. How time flies! The new year has much in store for HLT and its readers. Next year we will celebrate 10 years of HLT. Please write to me about the role HLT has played in your professional development and what would you like to change in the magazine. As you can see in the Readers letters section your letters are treasured and always appreciated. There is a mini anniversary celebration to look forward to at the Pilgrims summer conference in August held in Canterbury at Pilgrims. Please come and join us there. More information coming soon. Just mark the dates 17 August - 21 August 2008 in your diary.
A Happy New Year with HLT.
PS. Here is a message from GISIG at IATEFL
Dear Authors, Writers and Poets
IATEFL (the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language) is a UK based association supporting English language teachers from all over the world (www.iatefl.org). One of its 14 Special interest Groups focuses on Global Issues and I am a committee member of this SIG (Membership Officer). We publish a newsletter and are looking for new writers and authors focusing on Global Issues in the language classroom, and also on poetry (which could also be used with language learners).
If you are interested in your work in global issues such as peace, environmental protection and other matters relating to an increasingly globalised world, reaching new generations all over the world, and if you would like to join a forum where your poems, songs and other kinds of work related to Global Issues may be published, please visit our site (http://gisig.iatefl.org) and join us. You do not have to be a practicing teacher.
We are very eager to welcome you to our community as we believe your views and presence will be of interest to the wider global community bring a change in the world.
Hope to hear from you back very soon.
Mike Solly, GISIG Coordinator M. Iqbal Membership Officer GISIG (iatefl)