July 30, 2009

Where should I get with these instructions?

Tricia Hedge states in Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom that "a Communicative Class involves learnes in face-to-face encounters in the classroom with a teacher in a wider range of roles beyond that of providing and presenting new language".
What happen if under unexpected circumstances the face-to-face class needs to be carried out from home? This winter break was unusual, since due to the Pandemia lots of homework needed to be assigned. Learning would have to take place on autonomous basis more than ever had and teacher's role would include setting up activities and organizing resources for a month!
If I were to isolate what I've learnt from this observation, I will go for the idea of keeping a Communicative Classroom at all times!!! Would you like to share with me some of the instructions this teacher needed to give to her students for this unusual winter break?

Observation 3 - 3rd year - Colegio C. - Methods2 - 2009

July 25, 2009

Grammar Ways & Whys

John and Liz Soars, authors of Headway Upper Intermediate TB, give a list of reasons to teachers to explain their prominence of grammar in their materials:

  • It is the mechanism that generates the infinite number of sentences that we produce and receive.
  • It is a tangible system, and can provide one element of a systematic approach to teaching a language.
  • It develops students' cognitive awareness of the language. Language is rule-based, and conscious or sub-conscious knowledge of the rules is the key to "generalizability" and creativity.
  • It conforms to students' expectations of language learning, and meets an often-heard request for "more grammar".
  • It will be of assistance to teachers in the planning of their lessons.

Now, if I were to express my viewpoints without referring to the discussion whether language is lexicalized grammar or grammaticalized language, I consider grammar a tangible system that develops cognitive awareness. It helps us, teachers, to give an order to the teaching of a foreign language and allows students to raise their awareness in learning strategies and conscious knowledge. However, I don´t believe that students associate "more grammar" with "more English". Language is broad enough to cater all appetites. One the one hand vocabulary is what makes the difference between an intermediate learner and an advanced one; on the other hand, learning the grammar rules is handling the ABC of the language. It is up to us to decide in which way to design varied syllabi with the proper combination between vocabulary and grammar. Either one or the other needs to serve our purpose of contextualizing the other; there is no language if one of the areas is missing. What's your idea about it?

Based on Tricia Hedge, Teaching and Learning in Language Classroom, Oxford, 2000
(Chapter 5)