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New Techniques and Approaches to Language Learning

New Techniques and Approaches to Language Learning

Introducing New Techniques and Approaches to Language Learning_

Communicative Approach or Communicative Language Teaching (CLT).

Its origins can be traced to the 60s, with the changes that occur in the British language teaching tradition. At this point, the foundations of Audiolingualism begin to be questioned, mainly as a result of Chomsky’s cognitivist ideas (cf. section 5).
Thus, on the one hand, CLT appears as a reaction to previous methodological principles, such as those underlying Audiolingualism or Grammar-Translation. Scholars such as Candlin or Widdowson now begin to advocate the development of communicative proficiency in the target language, rather than knowledge of its structures, basing themselves on a wide range of theories, ranging from those of the
British linguists Firth and Halliday, to those of the American sociolinguists Hymes, Gumperz, and Labov, to those of the language philosophers Austin and Searle. Another strong contributor to the Communicative Approach is Wilkins, with his proposal of a notional syllabus, incorporated by the Council of Europe in its attempt to facilitate the teaching of European languages in the Common Market. However, none of these ideas would have prospered if they had not been rapidly applied by textbook writers and equally quickly accepted by language teaching specialists, curriculum developers, and even governments. This provided the impetus for CLT, or the notional-functional approach or functional approach, as it is also termed, to become an international movement.
The latter views language learning as the product of the diverse subcompetences comprised within the general concept of communicative competence; that is, not merely linguistic or grammatical competence, as in previous methods, but also sociolinguistic, discourse, and strategic competences. Hence, the primary goal of CLT is to develop communicative competence, to move “beyond grammatical and discourse elements in communication” and probe the “nature of social, cultural, and pragmatic features of language” (Brown, 1994: 77).
Consequently, learners are expected, not so much to produce correct sentences or to be accurate, but to be capable of communicating and being fluent. Classroom language learning is thus linked with real-life communication outside its confines, and authentic samples of language and discourse or contextualized chunks rather than discrete items are employed. Students are hence equipped with tools for producing unrehearsed language outside the immediate classroom.
This general goal of CLT can be viewed in two ways, since, as Howatt (1984: 279) points out, it has both a “weak” and a “strong” version. The weak version “stresses the importance of providing learners with opportunities to use their English for communicative purposes and, characteristically, attempts to integrate such activities into a wider program of language teaching”. On the other hand, the strong version “advances the claim that language is acquired through communication”, so that language ability is developed through activities simulating target performance and which require learners to do in class exactly what they will have to do outside it.
But let us characterize CLT further, beyond its central aim, by examining its theory of language and learning, its syllabus, activity types, and materials, as well as its teacher and learner roles. At the level of language theory, the Communicative Approach is based, in line with what we have already mentioned, on Hymes’ and Canale and Swain’s view of communicative competence, on Halliday’s theory of language functions, and on Widdowson’s view of the communicative acts underlying language ability.
In turn, this method’s theory of learning has a much less solid foundation. Nevertheless, according to Richards and Rodgers (2001), three main principles can be inferred from CLT practices:
1. The communication principle: Learning is promoted by activities involving real communication.
2. The task principle: Learning is also enhanced through the use of activities in which language is employed for carrying out meaningful tasks.
3. The meaningfulness principle: The learning process is supported by language which is meaningful to the student. Activities should consequently be selected according to how well they involve the learner in authentic and meaningful language use.
Much more discussion has been devoted to syllabus design in CLT, as it is central to this method. One of the first models to be set forth is Wilkins’ notional syllabus, which specifies notional or semantic-grammatical categories (such as time, sequence, quantity, notion, location, or frequency) and communicative function categories (for instance, requests, denials, offers, or complaints). The Council of Europe builds on this proposal and develops a syllabus including objectives, situations, functions, notions, and vocabulary and grammar. The result is Van Ek and Alexander’s Threshold Level English (1980). Further designs have since then been developed, such as task-based syllabuses (cf. section 10.1.) or the movement in favor of the abolition of the concept of syllabus.
Such syllabus types are implemented through a series of clear-cut activities and materials. The former, according to Littlewood (1981) are of two main kinds. One of them involves functional communication activities, where the information-gap principle is the basis for comparing pictures, working out sequences of events, discovering missing features in a map or picture, giving instructions, following directions, or problem-solving. The other consists of social interaction activities, based, as Nunan (1991a: 279) puts it, on the emphasis placed by CLT on “learning to communicate through interaction in the target language”. They encompass conversation and discussion sessions, dialogues and role plays, simulations, or debates.
In turn, materials are, in Richards and Rodgers’ view (2001), of three major types: text-based (e.g. textbooks), task-based (relying on jigsaw or information-gap principles), and realia (here, we are referring to authentic materials, taken from “real life” and brought into the classroom, such as signs, magazines, newspapers, maps, pictures, graphs, charts, or even objects).
One of the teacher’s roles is obviously to act as a guide during the afore-mentioned activities. But (s)he equally fulfills other extremely relevant ones. Among them, we
can distinguish those of independent participant within the group; organizer of resources and resource him/herself; researcher and learner; needs analyst in order to cater adequately for the students’ necessities; counselor, much in the way advocated by Community Language Learning; or group process manager. However, perhaps the most outstanding function of the instructor is to facilitate and provide opportunities for communicative interaction between all classroom participants, always, if possible, in the target language.
The learner thus becomes a central and active member in the learning process. (S)he must negotiate, interact, and cooperate with other participants and should be an important contributing element to classroom learning. In other words, teaching becomes learner-centered.
How can such an influential method in the history of language teaching be appraised? For many years – even decades – CLT is considered a panacea. It appeals to those who see a more humanistic, interactive, and communicative approach to teaching. Ur (1996: 6) perfectly sums up the general feeling: “The coming of the communicative approach represented for those of us involved in teaching at the time a healthy revolution, promising a remedy to previous ills: objectives seemed more rational, classroom activity became more interesting and obviously relevant to learner needs”.
However, once initial enthusiasm has passed, CLT has been criticized on a number of fronts and some of its central claims have been called into question. Let us examine exactly which ones by analyzing what has come to be known as the post-communicative or post-methodology era.
a) Comment on the origins of CLT.
b) Name the author(s) who …
– proposed the notional syllabus.
– produced Threshold Level English (19080).
– distinguished between functional communication and social interaction activities.
c) What is the general goal of CLT? Do you agree this should be the objective in language learning? Why or why not?
d) Which version of CLT would you favour in your EFL classroom? Why?
e) Enumerate the subbcompetences which CLT believes should be included within the concept of communicative competence. Can you briefly describe what you consider each one involves?
f) Work with a partner. Draw up an example of a functional communication or a social interaction activity for a roughly 4th year of CSE level. Swap activities and complete them. Comment on your general impressions. Would you use activities of this type in your class?

Why digital citizenship is important

Originally posted on :

Are you busy preparing new content and learning experiences for your students?  If you are, never miss the opportunity to include digital citizenship in relation to online environments.

This video cleverly highlights the scary truth about how much personal information is available about those who are not careful. A fun way to make a point!

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Session about Music

Session about Music

Music in English Teaching
A. Benefits essential to using any music
High-interest high motivation memorable
Lowered inhibition level
Reaches learners with right brain strengths
Reaches learners with auditory strengths
Help promote class bonding
Help create shared frame of cultural reference also illustration of grammar in context
High-interest topics and themes
Prestige value of knowing songs from Target Culture
Rhythmic element helps reinforce English prosody and fluency

B. Some Criteria for choosing songs for classroom use

Most importantly: you like the song and want to share it!
Words easily intelligible
Enough repetition to provide oral practice
Song is famous, or a “classic” likely to be heard by students outside class
Well-written from a native speaker perspective
If students will sing it, range of notes suitable for average mixed voices
Contains values and themes you want to introduce into the class
If part of a unit of songs, good to draw upon different musical genres
C. For listening comprehension – with CD or video
a. Fill in before listening to cultivate guided listening and
hypothesis formation
b. Fill in during listening
c. Scramble lines of lyrics on large index cards can be ordered as students listen
d. Mark stress patterns (“beats”) on lyric sheet while listening
e. Transcribe entire song while listening, dictation style (or assign
small groups one verse each), then check w/ master copy of lyrics
5. Play song while displaying accompanying pictures as aids to meaning
D. For reading comprehension
For reading comprehension/cultural studies – Gangsta’s Paradise is an excellent song.
1. Explain target vocabulary and idioms, then illustrate in context
2. Study as literature, examining prosodic and thematic features
3. Compare and contrast w/ a related reading

E. For pronunciation/speaking practice

  1. Speak/chant/whisper lyrics as a group along with tape with lyrics
    supplied, pausing tape during practice, then at full tempo
  2. Same as point 1, but singing along with audio

  3. Sing along with music track only – “karaoke” style

  4. Sing/chant song in alternating assigned solo parts

  5. Memorize and perform song(s) for class, especially for last day
  6. Discuss topic or content of song in large or small groups
  7. Have songs sung as part of daily routine
  8. Role plays the lyrics of pop songs in front of the class
    F. For writing practice

  9. Add other verse to song in small groups (can use recorded
    instrumental break to fit in extra verse)

  10. Write verses to “zipper” songs or blues songs

  11. Write parody or new set of words to known melody

  12. Make written response/reaction to the song topic; examples:
    a. Does this song remind you of anything in your life?
    b. What do you think happened next, after the story in the

c. Do you agree with the point of view of the singer? Why or
why not?

d. Write down what happens in the song, in your words.

e. Think about the relationship between the two people in the
song. Write it as a dialog.

  1. Have students prepare 5 minute written reports about their favorite
    song, then play the song for the class
  • Compare and contrast two songs

  • Give writing assignment based on listening to classical piece and
    writing a story response, then sharing it with the class as music plays

  • G. For culture-based activities

    1. Use with accompanying readings to teach values, history
  • Use as part of unit on teaching tolerance, or as intro to minority

  • Use as lead-in activity for a cross-class session w/ a class of
    nearby native speakers

  • b. What do you think happened next, after the story in the

    c. Do you agree with the point of view of the singer? Why or
    why not?

    d. Write down what happens in the song, in your words.

    e. Think about the relationship between the two people in the
    song. Write it as a dialog.

    1. Have students prepare 5 minute written reports about their favourite
      song, then play the song for the class
  • Compare and contrast two songs

  • Give writing assignment based on listening to classical piece and
    writing a story response, then sharing it with the class as music plays

  • G. For culture-based activities

    1. Use with accompanying readings to teach values, history

    2. Use as part of unit on teaching tolerance, or as intro to minority

    3. Use as lead-in activity for a cross-class session w/ a class of
      nearby native speakershttps://youtu.be

    Music in English Teaching

    What is Micro Teaching?

    Micro teaching is a teacher training technique that provides inexperienced and experienced teachers with opportunities to practice teaching in small groups and learn from one another. According to the University of Toronto, Micro teaching allows teachers to:
    ◾focus on practicing teaching skills in a confidential, non-threatening environment;
    ◾receive feedback on their teaching from multiple perspectives;
    ◾receive supportive feedback from peers

    Most teachers feel excited and nervous before micro-teaching, but the experience is always gratifying and lots of fun because the practice lessons are done in small teams of 2 -4.

    Learn to Blend and Flip with Technology

    Many teachers feel alone when it comes to teaching with and without technology. They wish they could share information and ideas with other teachers in their schools and around the globe. Learn to Blend and Flip with Technology course provides teachers with opportunities to collaborate with other teachers on how to blend and flip their classes with technology. You can access the content and class recordings here:

    Teaching with Technology

    Learn to Blend and Flip with Technology is a free hands-on professional development course for educators and/or anyone who wants to share information in a socially meaningful way. The course includes live online classes (with recordings), content (via the courseware), discussions (via the course feed), and hands-on activities.

    Micro Teaching in Pairs on WizIQ

    Halina from Poland:

    Microteaching is an excellent way to build up skills and confidence, to experience a range of lecturing/tutoring styles and to learn and practice giving constructive feedback. Microteaching gives instructors an opportunity to safely put themselves “under the microscope” of a small group audience, but also to observe and comment on other people’s performances. As a tool for teacher preparation, microteaching trains teaching behaviors and skills in small group settings aided by video-recordings. In a protected environment of friends and colleagues, teachers can try out a short piece of what they usually do with their students, and receive a well-intended collegial feedback. A microteaching session is a chance to adopt new teaching and learning strategies and, through assuming the student role, to get an insight into students’ needs and expectations. It is a good time to learn from others and enrich one’s own repertoire of teaching methods.
    A microteaching session is much more comfortable than real classroom situations, because it eliminates pressure resulting from the length of the lecture, the scope and content of the matter to be conveyed, and the need to face large numbers of students, some of whom may be inattentive or even hostile. Another advantage of microteaching is that it provides skilled supervisors who can give support, lead the session in a proper direction and share some insights from the pedagogic sciences


    Originally posted on english4blogging:

    Well finally I’m getting some time to update the information on my intervention in the Online Conference CO15 – Connecting Online 2015 organized by Dr Nellie Deutsch and run by the WizIQ platform.

    The intervention was in conjunction with my online pair Teacher Thomas Hodgers and our slide presentation now on slideshare is shared with my readers here too.

    Our experience in Micro Teaching is the culmination of much hard work and many online hours in research and communication that participating in the CO15 became a natural extension. We (Tom and I) have also collated our work into a book chapter which is now under review and hopefully will be accepted for publishing. I will keep you my faithful readers updated on any movements in that direction.

    Presently Tom and I are working on an Action Research project and also recently prepared a WebQuest as part and parcel of our continuing learning…

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    21st Century Teacher Education

    Halina from Poland:

    Teachers must look at the why underpinning the use of technology. The role of the teacher is not diminished but repositioned. It’s not a threat but an opportunity. 21st Century skills creativity and innovation in use of technology critical thinking and problem-solving collaboration and teamwork flexibility and lifelong learning.

    The knowledge and expertise we need to teach with digital technologies – David Coulson

    Originally posted on Reflections of an English Language Teacher:

    Teacher education time!

    David Coulson is from Brighton, the University of Sussex and Brighton. 20 years ago he did a BA in modern languages and recently finished an MA in media-assisted language teaching. (Hadn’t made the connection between this talk and having met him yesterday until he stood at the front! Shows how good I am with names…)

    Teachers, if given confidence and left to work together, will be able to create. That is what we do. We are in an important time at the moment – a tipping point. David’s children use mobile phones and have a great aptitude for this, proficient but not in an educational way. But the devices have a great capacity for being used in an educational way. On the other hand, he lived on a farm with some horses, a goat, two dogs and two children, in Portugal, for 15 years. From…

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    Topic knowledge and IELTS success

    Halina from Poland:

    We can ‘Google’ the old classmate, find articles online, or look up the actor who was on the tip of our tongue. When faced with difficult questions, people are primed to think about computers and that when people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it’.

    Originally posted on Oxford University Press:

    Girl on sofa with laptop and papersLouis Rogers, author of Skills for Business Studies and an EAP teacher, discusses whether topic knowledge and fluency is key to performing well in IELTS testing. He speaks on the subject at this year’s IATEFL.

    Prior to the internet we had limited sources of information and limited access to it. Therefore if we wanted to access the information we had to develop ways to store it in our minds so that we could easily access it at a later date. With the internet we have fast access to a range of information and we have such instant access to the internet that we do not need to exert such energy on encoding it in our minds. According to Sparrow et al ‘No longer do we have to make costly efforts to find the things we want. We can ‘Google’ the old classmate, find articles online, or look up the actor who…

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    My Certificates from 2015

    My Certificates from 2015


    Here is my presentation.

    Halina OstankowiczBazan – eLearning Industry

    Halina OstankowiczBazan – eLearning Industry.

    ICELW 2015 brings together researchers and practitioners from around the world, welcoming anyone with an interest in the uses of technology to improve performance.

    The ICELW 2015 program will explore a broad spectrum of topics relating to e-learning in the workplace and the use of technology to improve job performance. Our aim is to present the most relevant and promising ideas in research and practice, then build on them to bring about excellence and innovation in workplace e-learning.


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