Home Forums Reflection Forum Reflection 4.1 – Talking to students about English(ee), learning/teaching it

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      After I became more comfortable as a teacher and after studying more about SLA and World Englishes, I started talking to my students about the idea of Englishes and teaching & learning English. I did not always have this freedom (i.e. when teaching test prep I had to stick to test tasks and it was quite a rigid class from a language standpoint, very form-focused and emphasizing standard-English) but when I did, I relied particularly on 2 TED Talks in order to introduce them to some concepts. One was by a lexicographer who encouraged making up new words and so we had a follow-up activity in which students created their own words through different approaches like borrowing from their L1 (which they loved) or backformation, compounding etc. They really enjoyed this activity and came up with very creative and fun vocabulary. I told them to never let anyone tell them “that’s not a word” and to feel free to play with language and make it their own. They seemed to love this and were quite surprised that a teacher was telling them this.

      The other talk I use focuses on using language with confidence instead of focusing on accuracy and for the purpose of getting your idea across. After we discuss the talk in depth, my last question for them is related to a quote from the speaker: “English is not an art to be mastered, it is a tool to use to get a result. And this tool belongs to you” – I ask if they agree and what this means to them. Opinions always seem to be divided and many cannot get behind the idea that even though the person in the examples form the talk managed to make themselves understood, they did so very grammatically incorrect. Like the teacher from Japan said in the course, for Japanese learners of English it is simply inconceivable not to follow the rules of grammar or vocabulary. The teacher is expected to be a lecturer you listen to and who is always right. If I tell my students to read more and not necessarily believe what I say, I get these gigantic eyes staring back at me in disbelief, haha! It’s difficult to introduce the concept of Englishes when all their life they were made to memorize this one set of rules and apply them (I learned in the same way!) and that the rest is a mistake. I want to explore this more in the classroom but in academic contexts we are expected to zero in on the kind of English the students will use at university, so I think this is where the idea of teaching for their purposes comes in.

      To view past replies go to: https://changingenglishes.proboards.com/thread/20/talking-students-english-learning-teaching

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