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

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    • #2739
      admin adminadmin

      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

      • This topic was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by admin adminadmin.
    • #3748

      I teach adults so we do discuss learning English with them. They often bring up the use (or rather no use) of L1 in our classes, and say they are happy with the “only English” policy. We don’t have that many classes a week so we all feel speaking L1 would be a waste.

    • #4251

      Nowadays, since we are surrounded with varieties of English, it also important for teachers to educate language learners about it so that they would not find it mind-blowing or confusing in the future. One way of effectively teaching it is through the use of social media platforms. We also need to emphasize that ‘standard English’ is not always observed even to the native speakers (actually, I have some thoughts that Standard English is just an idea existing in our heads).

      If language educators would just focus on technicalities, students would lose interest and it would be hard to motivate them again.

    • #4570

      Making the students aware that there are different Englishes is itself a challenge as they so much look up to the so called ‘Standard English’. Even their own variety is looked down by ridiculing morphological patterns or phonological variations wanting everyone to talk in the so called standard.
      However, I strongly believe that all teachers should advocate their own varieties at least to a certain extent though provisions may not be available in their curriculums which adhere to the standard norms.

    • #4584
      Dauda PikawiDauda Pikawi

      In many occasions the syllabus is designed without these varieties of teaching and learning methods. The syllabus is designed that some monolithically designed text must be used.

    • #4779

      In my university life, I learnt about World English(es) but in my teaching context, I have never got a chance to explain my students about this particular concept of World Englishes. However, I got a chance to teach English language for a group of students who were lost their passion about teaching English. From the feed back I received from them, enlightened me the fact that they were fed up of the learning language due to lack of adequate teaching strategies and the motivation. I reduced the writing hours that they spent in the classroom time. But, I engaged them in group presentations, pair work, poster presentations and so on. My target was to prepare them for the university and the professional context.

    • #5231

      I teach English with adults and I consider it important to talk with my students about these topics. They will have the opportunity to learn more and put in practice the use of the language.

    • #5254

      The communication process should be spontaneous and help you gain confidence in students’ language skills.

    • #5303

      Spontaneous, anywhere with anybody, anyhow.

    • #5324

      If we cannot do much with our teaching methods and perspectives in regards to the academic courses and tests, we can set the scene for every circle of English teachers, students, and targeted communities to have a say in Englishes which can help them to have positive approach and mindset toward this term. In the future, I am sure many people will be familiarized with this galaxy seeing language as different varieties and still preferable and accepted among nations and worldwide.

    • #5335

      Yes, I always imitate different accens: Scottish, Yorkshire, Scouse, USA Southern, Indian/Pakistani, Italian, Russian and even Cockney.
      They tend to be perplexed, flummoxed and flabbergasted.
      Some of them hate them because they think BBC is the real English.
      Then I tell ’em, a, on BBC you can also hea thee, then they are gobsmacked.

    • #5424

      The British and the American English are largely recognized as the standard form of English , they are therefore use in test in determining learners proficiency in Nigeria’s educational settings. Students also recognize this to be true. Introducing other forms Englishes to them sounds awkward to them even though they subconsciously use other forms of Englishes.

    • #5451

      I teach adult learners and after learning about world Englishes and learning theories I agree that it is important for language learners to be aware of learning English in an global environment where English learning is changing and to give learners the option to dictate how and what they wish to learn.

    • #5466

      In my first classes I always start the class telling to my students that learning english is hard. It isn`t a thing that you gonna study at the moment and will remember of it forever, you have to practice and challenge yourself!

    • #5491

      As a teacher, when you have to prepare the students for exams, such as IELTS, B1/B2 Certificates, you have to focus on the tasks and on the form of the exams, which is in Standard English and you do not have too many options to explain World Englishes to students. On the other hand, if the lessons are not focused on specific exams, learners should be aware of English as a lingua franca and what this implies when you learn a language for communicative purposes.

    • #5528
      Saul SantosSaul Santos

      I have not necessarily talkt to my students about worls Englishes. I try, as much as possible, to include a different varieties, we work of features of spoken English, and I have, very occassionally, introduced non conventional forms such as ‘Have you saw…’ I suppose I am at a struggling point between embracing the things I have learnt in this course, and meeting the exigencies of the educational system in which I work: students have to pass standarized tests.

    • #5546

      Yes, I guess it’s good to introduce learners to Englishes and thus make them aware of the sociolinguistic reality of English.

    • #5606

      I always spend some time telling students that there are going to encounter different types of English, and they’re always interested, especially in the difference between BrE and AmE, but also when they find out there are more types of English between heaven and earth than their philosophy can imagine 😉
      Also, I often tell them about learning processes and try to help them find different ways to learn different things.
      I think both things have great benefits. Reflecting on the different types of English always attracts their attention and makes them reflect more closely on language structures and on the origin of words. Reflecting on learning processes helps them improve not only with English but also with Maths, Literature, etc.

    • #5620

      Living in an English speaking country means that my learners have mostly gained a level of awareness about a variety of Englishes independently. For this reason, they may have issues recognising accents and some important pronunciation features. I have tried to introduce more authentic materials from British TV shows to more advanced students and I have always tried to teach all students some slang and some idioms. This contextualises the language and is really interesting for learners. It also helps to remove the idea of an unassailable standardised English and makes them feel like they can participate in a “native speaker” conversation.

    • #5752

      Do you plan to talk to your students about English(es), learning English, and/or teaching English? Reflect on how you might go about it, what your students’ reactions might be, and how you might respond to them.
      If you already do so, what are the challenges such discussions raise and the benefits they bring? Record your reflections here

      I meet with my private Ss x1 for 1 hour/week and exam prep always takes priority, like it or not. I try and strike a balance between exam prep and more creative activities, invariably preferring fluency to accuracy, lexis to grammar. I remind my S that language is a tool for communicating, not memorising grammar rules but, with their current school experience, memorising grammar rules to get good grades usually wins out unfortunately.

    • #6904

      My first thought was a memory of a music session I delivered about world music. My goal was to promote awareness of musical diversity and curiosity in students. I knew one session wouldn’t be enough to listen to the amplitude of forms that music takes in the different countries, so I chose music quite far away from what they were accustomed to listen, the most provocative pieces I could find. We listened, then I left room for them to share their individual thoughts. I guided the discussion asking: What do you think about the sound, the instruments, the volume, the rhythm? What do you think is the purpose of that music? Why do you think it sounds like that? After that, they discussed about musical diversity in groups and recorded their thoughts and questions. At the end, they had to select a piece music to practice.
      I think I would do something similar with Englishes. I would select some audios of different varieties, discuss about their beliefs about the English language, ask students to discuss in groups about their motivation towards learning a language, and review all the possible scenarios where the English language can be found and how it is used in all those contexts.

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