Dear HLT Readers,
First of all I would like to welcome you in the New Year 2008. At this point I would like to call upon Lou Spaventa, our regular contributor, to do this on my behalf:
2008 is upon us. Here are some of my wishes for the New Year.
I wish for a political leader who believes in his constituency and listens to their voices, and makes decisions based upon the common good.
I wish for the religious leaders of the world to take a page from Perrenialism and realize that human kind's spiritual yearning is of the same cloth for everyone.
I wish men would realize that the final judgement of ignorance comes through pulling the trigger of a gun.
I wish that we all hold the living world around us in esteem and honor the beauty in all creation, not just among human beings.
I wish that the world doubles and triples the number of poets, musicians, artists, dancers, singers, film makers, photographers, scholars, writers, and philosophical and scientific thinkers among us. Indeed I wish that thousands of them are born with the new year.
I wish that all those I know or have met in the past I will greet with a smile one day in the near future.
God speed to all of you,
Thank you Lou.
In the January issue of HLT you will find, as usual, a wealth of articles. The first theme is various teaching and learning situations. In major article 1: Bilingualism: Social Influences Regulating Dual Language Usage, Acquisition and Development within Biracial Children Living in Japan, Damian Rivers offers a very interesting insight into the world of bilingualism and multiculturalism, two concepts that are taking on greater importance in Japan as the country progresses into the 21st century. Major artcile 4: Strategies of Accommodating Mixed Ability Classes in EFL Settings: Teachers’ Armour in an Ongoing Battle by Maria Xanthou and Pavlos Pavlou is related in a sense to the Japanese case, as it shows another aspect of language teaching in a concrete national context, i.e. Cyprus where English instruction is provided both by the public and the private sector. Therefore many children start learning English in private schools before they attend English classes in state schools, a practice which is an additional factor in the creation of mixed ability classes in state schools. In Do Teachers Speak the Same Language with the Students? It is Time to Tune in, Evrim Üstünlüoğlu raises the issue of goal orientation rather than process orientation in many schools and school systems. In practice it means that many educators, teachers, and policy makers overlook the issue of long term harms in this process by concentrating on "what" rather than on "how" the educational process takes place. There are many and various consequences of this way of thinking as teachers and educators, should be concentrating on whether students really go out of their schools equipped with all the advantages promised by the curriculum, whether students really develop competence in the skills needed to participate effectively in society, and whether they acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes to make the most appropriate choices in relation to their health and well-being or whether they leave school with a head full of facts and figures.
The second theme is the sphere of psychology. In major article 3: Choice theory for teachers, Mojca Belak introduces us a to a psychological model and theory that differs from other psychologies. It rejects the commonly accepted view that outside events influence somebody’s behaviour. Instead it stresses that people can and should take control of their own lives and stop trying to control others. The theory has significant humanistic implications as Choice Theory, among others, overlaps with personal growth. In his article Misconception Analysis, Khoram Balaee talks about how we learn about the world around us. It takes place in two main ways: we either experience things directly by ourselves, or others feed us with their experience. Different stages in life seem to prefer different modes. In his article Dance with your Students: Paradoxes for Change Chaz Pugliese looks at the way we think through polarities especially in Western societies, e.g. black and white, good and evil This way of thinking is so ingrained that it is very hard to escape it even if we try to. Binary logic is ingrained in our thinking about the world, for example in science and religion. The ELT examples he gives relate to for example Teacher Talking and Student Talking time. It is undeniable that this way of thinking has provided us with a rather distorted, fragmented view of reality that has had an impact on teaching. In the article The Teacher as a Leader: Which Qualities Make a Teacher a Leader in the Classroom? we find out more about leadership. Beate Walter has attended a course by Adrian Underhill on leadership and she implemented some of the ideas. Anna Vilhanova worked under the guidance of Beate Walter. The outcomes are presented in their joint article.
The third theme is teaching as a profession and how teachers never stop learning and being students. In The Heart of the Matter: Talking to Students Lou Spaventa shares with us his observations about sociograms in class, the ‘groupie’ set-up of classes and the relationship between the individual versus the whole class. Talking to students helps us to find out more about the aspect of the class. In their articles A Teacher Never Stops Being a Student (Georgeta Stoenescu-Galati), Teaching English to Blind and Visually Impaired Pupils (Anna Maria Aiazzi) and Case Study: Special Educational Needs Children in Mainstream Education in Poland (Anna Hyzniak) the authors practising and sometimes seasoned teachers, describe experiences in which they were put in the position of a learner, a kind of novice teacher. In their articles they tell us what they have experienced when working with students, especially those with SEN (Special Educational Needs).
In this issue you will also find many ideas and inspirations for language teaching. In major article 2: The Creative Self: Experiencing Literature through the Inward Eye, Giovanna Zappu turns to art for inspiration as using art in the classroom is one of the ways to motivate students. There are more ideas along these lines in Motivating Young Learners and Teenagers - From Research to the Classroom: A Few Ideas by Roger O’Keeffe and Off the Beaten Path: Project Work by Hall Houston (although project work may not be so much off the beaten path in some countries). The next five articles show how technology and recent developments can help us in motivating our students: Developing English Proficiency and Intercultural Competence, Through English-language Websites by Caroline C. Hwang and Grammatical Creativity in Learner Corpora by Wayne Rimmer (in Corpora ideas), Tick-Tack: A Novel Approach to Language Learning by David Sephton and EUROCALL Review Recommends ESOL Teacher's Unique Website, Susan Alyn.
Sometimes inspiration for language teachers comes from seemingly remote spheres such as the Kabbala (see: The Way of the Kabbalist by Michael Berman). In the past Michael Berman’s articles evoked some reaction, surprise, if not criticism; some HLT readers believed that ‘humanism’ is going too far. In her article On Making Assumptions Bonnie Tsai responds to these arguments and supports Michael’s argument.
There are also some very practical ideas and ready made lesson plans or activities in Lesson Outlines section with Alphabet and Spelling Games by Simon Mumford, Make Your Brain Hurt by Marcin Wolańczuk, An Integrated Lesson Plan by Azra Ahmed, Final Lesson: Chinese Songs by Jennifer Wallace and Story Skeletons, collected and written by John Morgan (in the Old Exercise section).
You will also find inspiration for teaching culture and about culture. In Englishness and other Problems by Monica Hoogstad and in A Touch of Culture by Gill Johnson and Mario Rinvolucri you will find some classroom activities for teaching about culture. A Touch of Culture offers us a glimpse and preview of the new book Gill Johnson and Mario Rinvolucri are at the moment working on. The joke Gill submitted: Adding a New Wing, also has a strong touch of tongue in cheek culture.
In the Publications section you will find two invitations. In A Message from Tessa Woodward - the editor of TTTJ - The Teacher Trainer Journal, Tessa Woodward the editor of TTTJ invites contributions to her journal while in Doing EFL Terminology the Wiki Way or How to Create a Free, Democratic and Useful Resource Jeremy Harmer invites you to his new website which we all can help create. In this section there are also reviews: New Headway Advanced Student’s Book, reviewed by Neil McBeath, People will never forget how you make them feel by David Warr and A Checklist for a Humanizing Approach to Language Teaching by Francisco Gomes de Matos
Last not least in the Course outline section Mario Rinvolucri introduces to you three new Pilgrims Courses: Our Three New Courses in 2008, and Adam Borowski shares with you his experiences - Pilgrims summer 2007 in My Pilgrim’s Memories.
Of course. there are some interesting readers letters and also poems by Francisco Gomes de Matos (Language Learning for Peace), by Muhammad Iqbal (So My Enemy).
Enjoy and please get in touch if you think you would like to contribute an article or share a view. Please introduce HLT to a Friend.