IED In English Digital
The British Council magazine for teachers of English in Lusophone countries
Cover Image:Paulo Williams/Shutterstock.com
This issue with its focus on Brazil marks the fourth edition of In-English. In earlier editions we have seen what some of the issues are in Mozambique and Angola and the innovative practice of teachers in those markets. Now we turn to Brazil – the biggest market for English language in the Lusophone world. With a population of 200 million and a vibrant economy the expectation is that the needs and the demand for good levels of English will grow substantially over the next few years. The Brazilian government’s Science without Borders scheme that will see 100,000 young Brazilians take science and technology courses overseas over the next few years will boost that demand. Many of the placements will be in English speaking countries – the US, Canada and the UK – around 10,000 expected for the UK. The British Council will be helping with UK placements and with putting in place a programme to enhance the language skills of the participants across the scheme – wherever they are going, wherever their course will be delivered in English. It is of course a growing phenomenon that university courses attracting international students –
It is an exciting and challenging time for teachers of English in Brazil wherever they are in the world – are increasingly being delivered in English, just as science research and academic papers are so frequently published in English.
There will be a natural alliance between the UK and Brazil over the coming year. Following the Olympic games in London this summer the focus of attention will shift to Brazil as the successor country due to host the
games in 2016. The Olympic torch will be handed over in September this year. At that time there British Council Brazil will launch a six months season of arts events leading into a fouryear programme - UKBrazil/ Transform. In addition of course, Brazil hosts the next World Cup and the 12 world cup cities will be a great focus of attention for all of our nations – UK, Portugal, Mozambique, Angola and more…. In this context the British Council office in Brazil is increasing its level of support for the effective teaching of English with a number of programmes under development. You can find out more on the British Council website http:// www.britishcouncil.org/brasil It is an exciting and challenging time for teachers of English in Brazil. The task is huge and the demand growing. Language skills are critical not only in enhancing opportunities of individuals – for better education and career, but also for the growth and prosperity of nation as a whole. Enjoy this issue of In-English and I look forward to hearing more about the achievements in Brazil in future issues.
Gill Caldicott Director British Council Portugal
I S S U E
Introduction Special Feature Brazil Gill Caldicott
Editorial IED4 Fitch O’Connell
Article Digital Literacies Nicky Hockly
Focus Teacher Profile Ana d’almeida
Focus English Language Teaching in Brazil Sara Walker
Article Reflections on Teacher Training Damian Williams
Article Six Acts of Sheep in ELT Adrian Tennant
Archive Routines for Younger Learners Lynn Wilson
Article Autonomous Group Work Fitch O’Connell
Article Teaching Reading in Special Education Marcos Abílio Nhapulo
Article APPI Conference Fitch O’Connell
Lessons from East Timor
Coffee Cup Image adapted from:Regina Jershova/Shutterstock.com
elcome to the latest edition of In English Digital. This issue has a special feature on Brazil, with an overview of English teaching and learning by Sara Walker, some reflections on training for language teachers by Damian Williams, and a look at the work of teacher Bruna Campelo and some of her students. This is the third time we have been able to present a small window into the lives of teachers and students of English in a Lusophone country. While we might take note of the differences that we each face, what seems increasingly clear, though, is how much we share in common, and how pride in achievement and a passion for teaching unite us. In this focus on Brazil we have included some video , which is a first for IED. It is also the main reason why we have changed the platform from Issuu to Myebook as the latter allows us to embed video into the text. If you are accessing this issue from Issuu then follow this link to Myebook.
Also in this edition are articles which touch base with Mozambique and East Timor, and there is a brief look at the APPI Conference in Portugal. Nicky Hockly was a plenary speaker at this conference, and we include an important article on her chosen topic for her talk on Digital Literacies. This challenging nature of this piece is also to be found in Adrian Tennant's Six Acts of Sheep, where Adrian adopts his customary pose by challenging some common perceptions and practices, and again the challenge is given in a piece on autonomous learning in a school in Portugal in Up Close and Personal. In many ways these articles together form the heart of the magazine, and provide a continuous theme that link each issue of In English Digital. Part of our mission is to challenge orthodoxy, to look under the carpet instead of sweeping under it, and explore new ideas and methodology. We hope you find this issue informative and enjoyable. In future editions we plan to include a facility which allows you, the reader, to respond directly to the issues raised by the writers. In the meantime, if you have things to say then please send an email. Even better, why not write an article for the next edition? We are particularly interested in receiving pieces on critical thinking, alternative teaching practices and positive news on ideas that really work!
Fitch O'Connell Editor
IED In English Digital
Fitch O’Connell Editor
Marcus A. Nhapula
Paul Driver (Graphic design & illustraHon)
Hand Illustration: Paul Driver
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Digital literacies: Digital What are they and why should you care? Nicky Hockly
It's a wired world. In our increasingly connected from the emphasis put on This article is being published simultaneously by IATEFL in 'Voices' society new skills are needed. So-called '21st l i f e l o n g l e a r n i n g a n d t h e century skills' are making an appearance in curricula acquisition of ICT skills in all areas the world over as governments and educators of education in the UK, we are recognise the need to educate children (and teachers of the language of global in many cases adults) in how to effectively communication. And that navigate an increasingly digital world. In communication is increasingly most UK schools new media literacy skills digitally mediated. If our learners are now supplement the more traditional 3 Rs to be fully functional citizens in the 21st (reading, writing and 'rithmatic). In century, they need digital skills. We can Australia schools teach 'digital literacy promote these skills in parallel with skills', and in the USA there is a growing teaching English. Indeed, one could awareness of the importance of 'new argue that it is our duty to do so. media literacies'. In Spain and Norway there is talk of 'digital competences' being Four main foci a necessary part of the curriculum. In short, digital literacies are being Mark Pegrum (2009) proposes a useful recognised as fundamental skills for today way of conceptualising digital literacies. and tomorrow's citizens. He envisages four main areas: language,
What are digital literacies? An umbrella term for the media literacy skills and digital competences which appear in national curricula, digital literacies refer to our ability to effectively make use of the technologies at our disposal. We are not just talking about a checklist of technical skills, but also about the social practices that surround the use of new media. So not just knowing how to create a blog entry, but knowing how to use this to connect with a wider community of readers and writers, and what sort of online persona one projects though one's post. Not just knowing how to upload photos to Flickr ( a photo sharing site), but knowing whether to publish them under a Creative Commons license and what this implies in terms of digital rights and usage.
Why digital literacies in the language classroom? What has this got to do with language teaching, you may be asking yourself. Well, everything. Quite apart
information, connections and (re)design. A focus on language: these are key digital literacies which focus on communication via the language of text, image and multimedia, and include: • print literacy: the ability to read and produce online text, such as blog entries, tweets, emails etc. This is clearly related to traditional print literacy, but includes an awareness of online text genres. • texting literacy: an awareness of the conventions of texting language (abbreviations, acronyms, symbols etc), and of knowing in what contexts to use or not use it. • hypertext literacy: understanding how hyperlinks in online text work, and being able to produce texts with effective use of hyperlinking. Here we could include knowing how many hyperlinks to include in a text and why, what to link to, understanding the effects of over- (or under-) linking in a text, and so on.
This article is being published simultaneously by IATEFL in 'Voices'
• visual, media and multimedia literacy: the Internet is a multimedia medium par excellence, and we need to understand how images and multimedia (audio, video) can be used to supplement, enhance, subvert or even replace text communication. We also need to know how to produce multimodal messages ourselves, from sharing our photos on Facebook to creating video clips for You Tube. In the age of Web 2.0 we are no longer passive consumers who need to learn how to sit back and critique mass media (although this is still a key skill). We are now 'prosumers' (producers and consumers) of multimedia artefacts. • gaming literacy: a macroliteracy involving kinaesthetic and spatial skills, and the ability to navigate online worlds (such as Second Life) or use gaming consoles such as the Wii. Although this may seem like a literacy unconnected to education, there is a growing interest in serious games for education. • mobile literacy: an understanding of how mobile technology is transforming our world, from issues of hyperconnectivity (always being connected to the Internet), to understanding how to use geolocation and augmented reality. • code and technological literacy: apart from basic technical skills (such as knowing how to use a word processing program, or how to send an attachment by email), a basic knowledge of html coding can help us understand how online tools and products are put together- and more importantly, enable us to make changes to these to overcome limitations. As Rushkoff (2010) puts it 'If we don't learn to program, we risk being programmed ourselves'. We are not talking here about becoming fully fledged computer programmers, but rather about developing an awareness of the basics. Very basic coding skills can help one customise the elements in one's blog for example, or route around censorship (for good or bad). Focus on information • search literacy: the ability to search for information effectively online. This includes an awareness of search engines beyond Google!
Further reading: Dudeney, G., N. Hockly, and M. Pegrum (Forthcoming 2012): Digital Literacies. Harlow: Pearson. Pegrum, M (2009): From Blogs to Bombs: The Future of Digital Technologies in EducaOon. Perth: UWA Publishing. See this list of resources about digital literacies: hSp://www.theconsultants-‐e.com/resources/ToolsResources/ DigiLit.aspx
• tagging literacy: knowing how to tag (or label) online content, how to create tag clouds and to contribute to 'folksonomies' (user created banks of tags). information literacy: the ability to evaluate online sources of information for veracity, and credibility. In this age of information overload, we also need to develop filtering and attention literacy so as to know what to pay attention to and what not - and when. Focus on connections • personal literacy: knowing how to create, project and curate your online identity. This includes an awareness of issues such as online safety or identity theft. • network literacy: the ability to take part in online networks and to leverage these to help you filter and find information. For teachers, their PLN (Personal Learning Network) - online professional contacts - can be useful as a means of tapping into ongoing professional development. • participatory literacy: closely aligned to network literacy, participatory literacy involves contributing to and participating in online networks. So not just reading professional development tweets on Twitter, but contributing your own tweets. Not just reading blog posts, but leaving comments - or even writing your own blog. • cultural and intercultural literacy: understanding digital artefacts from other cultures, and interacting effectively and constructively with people from other cultures take on even more importance in our global world, where intercultural contact via digital communication is increasingly possible and increasingly likely. Focus on (re)design • remix literacy: the ability to repurpose or change already-made content in order to create something new. Literal videos on You Tube are a good example of this - see the Harry Potter literal film trailer here for just one example: How to operationalise these skills in the classroom is the challenge facing language teachers today. And we can do this by effectively integrating the use of a range of technologies into our day to day teaching practice. The author: Nicky Hockly is Director of Pedagogy of The Consultants-‐E, an online training and development consultancy. Her courses and books have been nominated for or won a range of prizes, including three BriOsh Council InnovaOon Awards (ELTons), and she is currently co-‐wriOng a book on digital literacies for Pearson. The Consultants-‐E run regular in-‐service online teacher development courses on a wide range of ICT topics for language teachers. Further informaOon at: hSp://www.theconsultants-‐e.com.
IED: Tell us about your school and your classes. BC: There are about 4000 students in the school altogether, ranging from nursery to college level, but I teach children between 10 and 15 years old. I have around 45 students in a class. The colégio is a Chris?an educa?onal community and includes in its aims human development through academic excellence, jus?ce, solidarity and pedagogy of inclusion and it is commiCed to ci?zenship, social advancement and the collec?ve good. The main school and college cater for middle and upper class students who, in turn, help run schools for children in less privileged communi?es. Charity work is one of the pillars of DAMAS' work. IED: Can you generalise on your students' a;tude to learning English? BC: In the beginning of my career at the school, some of them weren’t par?cularly interested about learning English. They didn’t see the point of it in their rou?ne. But nowadays it’s completely diﬀerent; they realize how frequently English is used in life and how necessary it is in their present and in their future IED: Tell us something about how you plan lessons BC: I can be very ﬂexible in how I plan my lessons. I can be crea?ve which gives me many diﬀerent strategies for teaching. I use course books, for example, as support materials rather than having to follow them slavishly. IED: What kind of training have you received since becoming a teacher?
BC: I love when 5th grade students call me ‘professora Teacher Bruna’ – they keep thinking my name is 'Teacher Bruna'! IED:
What do you want to see more and less of?
BC: I'd like to see more enthusiasm in teaching and learning, and I'd like to see less professional devalua?on. IED: Anything else you wish to add? BC:
Yes -‐ I love my job!!!
To give some more context to Bruna's work, some of her 7th grade students were asked on video to talk a li=le bit about Brazil. Here is what they have to say: hCp://youtu.be/bLOFCNwOXh4
Other students were asked to address the statement 'I like English because …..'. While some 5th graders decided to sing their way through the idea, others, from 5th, 9th and 11th grades, gave us some short explanaHons.
BC: I have aCended workshops promoted by publishers and schools, besides courses which I've funded myself. IED: What innovaDve things in the school are you proud of? BC: GeTng English established as an important subject and being valued by students, parents -‐ and the school. IED: Can you tell us something about the most frustraDng things that occur in your professional life as an English teacher?
BC: Here in Brazil educa?on in general isn’t a valued profession. Teachers have to work too much -‐ we must work in two or more diﬀerent schools in the morning, aWernoon and night in order to make an reasonable salary. IED: Are there any amusing moments in class you wish to share with us?
Ana d’Almeida www.colegiodamas.com.br
E n g l i s h Language Teaching in Brazil By Sara Walker
1. English in Primary and Secondary Education Primary education [ensino fundamental] in Brazil covers year 1 to year 9 of schooling, with only 3 [sometimes 4] years of secondary education [ensino mĂŠdio]. English classes normally begin in the 6th year. Traditionally, primary- and secondary-school English teaching has not been perceived as effective. There are now signs, however, that many private schools and some State and Municipal Secretariats of Education are beginning to take action to improve school English programmes. In some States and Municipalities attempts are being made to introduce English much earlier, generally for 6-year-olds in Year 1. This will raise questions over teacher training and create a need for teachers of young primary children to be able to teach English alongside the normal curriculum. In Brazil, in the teaching of English as a foreign language, as in education in general, there is a sharp divide between the public sector and the private sector. The Brazilian constitution refers to "the coexistence of public and private teaching institutions,â€? but there is little equivalence, since private education is expensive, generally of a better quality and tends to cater for an elite at primary and secondary level. There is also a divide between administration at the federal level [by the Ministry of Education - MEC], at State level [by the State Secretariats of Education] and at municipal level [Municipal Secretariats], notably in the larger towns. The Basic Education Law of 1996 suggests the municipality should look after primary education, the State should concentrate on the secondary level, while general norms and tertiary education are the province of the federal level Ministry of Education- MEC. But this model is easier to implement in new States [such as Tocantins, founded in 1988] than on a national basis, in a system which has grown organically over the years. There is currently no national policy to foster English teaching in the educational system, as there is, for example, in Chile and Colombia. Indeed, a law passed by Congress in 2005 made it compulsory for secondary schools to offer Spanish, but there is no law making English compulsory in schools. The references in the Basic Education Law are to modern language teaching, leaving the choice of language to the school and the local community. However, the modern language chosen is overwhelmingly English.
In the public sector, there is a widespread belief among Brazilian teachers and students that it is impossible to teach foreign language communication effectively to large classes. Over the years, this has had at least five effects of major importance to the ELT scene in Brazil. a) Behind this pessimistic belief in school English are the perceptions of low student motivation towards school English classes, too few hours of English on the timetable, and, in many cases, low levels of proficiency among public-sector English teachers, leading to poor teacher motivation and poor student achievement. School buildings are regularly used twice for two four-hour shifts; one set of children in the morning and another set in the afternoon, and often a third set of mature students in the evening.
there is a sharp divide between the public sector and the private sector b) The idea that the school system cannot be expected to teach communication in English contributes to the extraordinary success of the private ELT institutes. For middle class families, sending their offspring to extra-curricular English classes was, and to some extent still is, a useful way of occupying some of their out of school hours. In the private sector, however, many schools have reached agreements for the ELT Institutes to handle the English teaching inside the school, often outside normal school hours. Book Image adapted from:Jiri Flogel/Shutterstock.com
c) Public secondary school English has usually been treated as English for the university entrance exam - (grammar and/ or ESP/Reading skills). d) The National Curriculum Parameters (PCNs), produced in 1998 to guide teachers of foreign languages in their planning, suggest that realistically teachers should concentrate on reading skills, since it is not generally possible to teach communicatively in the school classroom. However, the national [free] school book distribution service has recently included English for the first time, and national and international publishers have been very active in producing impressive-looking materials to fit in with the latest Ministry of E d u c a t i o n s p e c i fi c a t i o n s . Once admitted Critical literacy and interto the school cultural activities are now included. system, teachers may be called on
e) Universities and State Education Secretariats sometimes feel subject for which encouraged to set up their they are only own language teaching remotely institutes for public-sector qualified. students and/or for the community. Some States have also begun to take advantage of the skills available in the private language institutes. While a scheme in SĂŁo Paulo State effectively outsourcing some school English to the private s e c t o r E LT i n s t i t u t e s h a s b e e n reversed, the Municipal network in Rio de Janeiro has a large-scale programme with the massive and wellresourced Sociedade Brasileira de Cultura Inglesa ELT institute to train 2,000 Municipal English teachers on a long-term basis basis, using highquality materials produced by Cultura Inglesaâ€™s own publishing house, Learning Factory. to teach a
2. English teaching in Universities University English programmes are often highly academic with little focus on practical language skills. Outside the major public universities in the large towns, students often enter university with very little knowledge of English and graduate with a licentiate degree, as teachers, still lacking any practical command of the language. For a number of reasons, the Letras [modern languages and literature] courses are less successful in attracting top students than courses like law, medicine and engineering. 3. Teachers and training In order to teach in the public sector school system at levels of Year 6 and above, teachers must have a university degree in the subject they intend to teach and must the national pass a competitive [free] school book examination.The distribution examination is written and, for modern languages, service has contains a language test recently included and some questions on methods and teaching. English for the There is not normally an first time oral test (except in States that run specialised language centres). Once admitted to the school system, teachers may be called on to teach a subject for which they are only remotely qualified. For example, when there is a shortage of English teachers, State Secretariats sometimes ask teachers who took a joint degree in Portuguese and English twenty years ago (and have had no further contact with English) to teach English instead of Portuguese. With only two 45-minute periods a week of English in the school timetable, unless the school is fairly large, there may not be enough work for a specialised English teacher.
E n g l i s h Language Teaching in Brazil
4. Coursebooks and materials The Ministry of Education FNDE programme provides schools with free coursebooks for mainstream subjects, and, since the beginning of 2012, English has been included. A commission drawn from university English departments wrote specifications and selected a limited number of course materials for schools and teachers to choose from. It will be interesting to observe what effects this adoption has on teachers' and students' performances. During the decades in which there were no 'official' materials, the situation was grim. Among more serious English teachers there was sometimes massive photocopying either from a single source or from a variety, often at the teacher’s own expense, sometimes passed on to the students, who bought a set of “notes”. In other cases, a text from a published coursebook was copied onto the blackboard to be worked on, a very small amount of work was done and the lesson ended. The President of a State English Teachers’ Association once commented that some teachers moaned about the lack of books, but used it as an excuse to do little or nothing in their classes. The intriguing suggestion was that this actually suited a large number of teachers, while the distribution of free coursebooks would make them accountable to parents and the school system.
Conclusion With the forthcoming Rio+20 Conference in June this year, the World Cup in 2014 and the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in 2016, the need for effective public-sector English teaching in Brazil can be expected to become more obvious. With this idea in mind, the British Council held the l Forum English Language as Public Policy "English for All" on March l-2, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro. Around 100 Secretaries of Education and senior figures from Municipal and State Secretariats took part in a meeting which marks the start of the English Next Brazil research project and was designed to encourage partnerships between educational authorities and the British Council. At the Forum, a number of well-known Brazilian figures from the fields of journalism, economics, and sports gave talks focusing directly or indirectly on the importance of English, and British Council directors from the fields of ELT, Sport, the Arts and Exams gave briefings on their work and on partnerships in their field. Initial reactions from the authorities represented seem to have been very positive and new partnership projects are likely to come into being in many States. Improved technology and the potential for distance learning will also contribute to a more optimistic picture of ELT in Brazil. Whether this will one day lead to a national policy for English teaching is an open question. But galvanising State and Municipal secretariats from across the country is a good way to start.
By Sara Walker with comments and contributions from Eddie Edmundson, Ana d'Almeida and Graeme Hodgson.
Reflections on Teacher Training in the Brazilian Private Sector: The Current Situation & The Challenges Posed My background For the last 6 years I’ve been working as a teacher market, assessment and observation of teaching often trainer out of Rio de Janeiro, involved both in formal, involves ‘keeping the students happy’. When this internationally-recognised training courses and more means providing real opportunities for learning, then informal, tailored workshops, observations, etc. Before it’s obviously a good thing. When it means, for that I was working as a teacher trainer in London, and example, playing a whole-class game instead of so this has given me an insight into the situation on making principled choices as to how to improve key both sides of the pond. Now would therefore be a good skills, however, it’s not. time to reflect on the current state of Damian Williams play and Brazil and the upcoming During my time in Brazil, I’ve had the challenges an ever-growing EFL sector pleasure of being able to work with here poses. some excellent teachers, however, and what has always taken me aback has The current situation in Brazil been the fact that every single teacher I’ve met here has been more than willing In recent years, and due to a combination to learn, explore and develop. Very often, of political, social and economic factors, however, the opportunities don’t always Brazil has seen unprecedented growth. In exist (or if they do they are prohibitively fact, it was recently reported by the BBC expensive). So what types of training are that Brazil has now overtaken the UK as currently available? the world’s sixth largest economy. This has meant the majority (especially here in Formal training routes the south of Brazil) have been able to make significant improvements in their The two courses which are most widely daily lives. This has brought new recognised and standardised globally are opportunities, coupled with a need to learn English in the Cambridge ESOL CELTA and DELTA. The former order to capitalize on those opportunities. Private is designed as an entry-level course for teachers with language schools are doing well, and this means more no experience, and the latter is for teachers with more demand for teachers. experience who wish to build on this and extend their knowledge of teaching practices. Most EFL teachers are non-native speakers, as is to be expected in a non-English speaking country, and as Both of these courses are currently available in Brazil, such bring with them expert knowledge of the unique to varying degrees, and interest in them is growing. challenges Brazilian Portuguese learners of English However, two current aspects at present limit their face, and how to best help them. In fact, the key availability; a lack of approved trainers, and very high requirement of most private language schools here prices. Another significant problem is that Cambridge when recruiting teachers tends to be knowledge of has very strict rules on the administration of these English, supported with an international certificate courses for centres, in order to provide fair assessment (Cambridge main-suite usually being the certificate of for all. These require careful study in order to know choice). exactly what’s involved. Due to the high demands placed on a lot of centre administrators in this busy However, this also means that there is a large bank of market, mistakes often occur which are detrimental to teachers who have had little (and sometimes no) the effective running of the course. This is something I formal training in teaching skills, despite expert have experienced both as a trainer and assessor for knowledge of the language. Combined with the these courses. However, to be fair, this is not true for commercial pressure of running a successful private all centres, and some cope extremely well with these language school in a very competitive and crowded administrative demands.
image: Three Spheres II, M. C. Escher 1946
Another formal course, and a cheaper alternative, is the Cambridge TKT course, which is aimed specifically at the kind of teachers in the majority of private language schools here. A few places run it, though there’s still a lot of scope for growth. This is a formal training course which I could see doing very well here in the future. Another alternative in terms of formal teacher training is the online route, with several well-established international courses such as the excellent joint British Council/IH London Distance Delta. Informal training routes As mentioned above, I have almost always found Brazilian EFL teachers to be enthusiastic – even passionate – about their work and willing to develop their teaching skills. This can be seen in some excellent, more informal online avenues such as #ELTchat on Twitter, and its Brazilian partner #BReltchat . The former meets twice a week (Wednesdays at 1200 and 2100 GMT), while the latter meets once every two weeks. You can suggest a topic on their websites and these are then voted on, with the two most popular choices providing the basis for a discussion on Twitter. It’s open to everyone, regardless of experience – all very
democratic. Summaries of the discussions are posted on the sites by volunteers. Technology in the classroom has seen huge developments in Brazil in recent years, and all teachers I’ve met have embraced this in innovative and engaging ways, where possible. The biggest drawback with technology in the classroom at the moment is that it’s fairly uneven. Only the wealthier schools tend to have IWBs/internet access in-class, so that while teachers are willing to use new types of technology, schools in poorer areas are less able to do so. Another issue here (though one that is currently improving) is that technology is still sometimes used as a ‘crowd pleaser’, in order to ‘wow’ learners rather than being the best way to improve linguistically. More research and betterinformed choices are needed in order to ensure the end justifies the means. Workshops and systems of observation abound, which is all very healthy, and teachers attend enthusiastically. Along with my colleague at TailorMade English, we have designed and delivered a number of short courses for teachers, specifically tailoring content towards teachers’ needs (see my blog post for a review of a recent course). These have provided a useful and more accessible framework for teachers who have been able to attend.
What I’d like to see in the coming years
More Cambridge-approved tutors for formal training courses. Better training for administration of formal courses, in order to ensure these are delivered fairly and
More training courses which are specifically designed according to teachers’ needs within a specific teaching context.
• • •
Establishment of a formal framework for experienced trainers to share ideas. More access to technology across the board.
Proper assessment of uses of technology, with clear aims and evaluation.
Adrian Tennant's Six Acts of Sheep in ELT As with many other professions, teachers tend to follow the latest trends and particularly if it’s associated with a famous name in the field. Now, in many cases there is nothing wrong with this, but occasionally a little more thinking would enable people to realise that the idea is not quite as good as it first appears. Here are 6 that I’d highlight.
Universal Grammar (and Chomsky) Yes, I’m going to attack Chomsky. My ‘bone’ with his idea of Universal Grammar is that it simply doesn’t hold water when put to the test. There are languages, such as Piraha (an indigenous language from the Amazon) which simply don’t fit the theory. And, of course, it’s a theory rather than reality. Can language really be innate? I haven’t got a lot of space here so to keep it simple I’d say that we use language through necessity – a need to communicate. Our environment and culture dictate what we can talk about and, if anything is innate, it’s our cognitive ability and not an underlying grammar that enables us to use language.
The Four skills
TTT / STT
I’m not sure who the genius was that came up with the idea of having discrete skills. I’m hard pressed to think of any other than reading that don’t entail at least one of the other skills at some point. And, unfortunately, it’s got to the absurdity where people teach ‘Speaking lessons’! Does nobody listen during these lessons? The sooner we think of what people actually do and stop dividing things into false ‘blocks’ the better for everyone – both teacher and learner.
This is one of the silliest of ideas that abounds. Simply put the less the teacher speaks the more the students will! It appears to be based on statistics or percentages rather than the reality of the classroom or possibly on the fear of silence. In fact, if the teacher doesn’t say anything then the likelihood is that neither will the students. Surely the key should be the quality, not the quantity?
sheep Image adapted from:Ociacia/Shutterstock.com
Of course we have to test students, but the question is what are we testing them for? Do we want to find out what they know, or are we more interested in finding out what they don’t know?! Unfortunately, the majority of tests are designed for the latter – if you don’t know the answer …. Of course, open tests, which are the ultimate way of finding out what students actually know, are extremely hard to mark both in terms of the breadth of information they may contain and also in the subjectiveness inherent in their design.
A personal bug bear if ever there was one. It’s not that I don’t like pre-teaching vocabulary – I quite enjoy it. Ten minutes focussing on eight words that might cause my students some problems when they read a text or listen to the CD. My issue is that it just isn’t natural or authentic. I mean, when was the last time you were walking down the street and somebody came up to you and said, “We’re going to have a conversation, but before we start here are six words you might not know.”? Absurd! Much better to help our students work out vocabulary from context than give it to them on a plate.
Authentic materials There is certainly nothing wrong with authentic materials, but why is it that we use them with inauthentic tasks? To be honest, I think we’d be better off using inauthentic materials with authentic tasks. What do I mean? Well, you have a nice meaty newspaper article full of ‘rich’ language and then a set of multiple choice (True / False) questions. Now, honestly, when was the last time you read something in the newspaper and then answered ten multiple choice questions? If we are going to go after ‘authentic’, I think we need to think of what we really do in life and not pay lip service which is what we seem to be doing much of the time.
Lessons from East Timor
A group of 26 teacher trainers from East Timor recently spent six weeks at Aveiro University, Portugal, to undergo a training programme which focussed on the syllabus for secondary education. This was funded by the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Instituto Português de Apoio ao Desenvolvimento, the Timorese Government and Ministério de Educação, Portugal, together with sponsorship from the Universidade de Aveiro. A team of academics based in Aveiro has been the driving force behind developing the national curriculum for English at secondary level in East Timorese
Dra Flávia Leite
Dr Alberto Melo
since independence, and close professional ties between the two countries have resulted.
Two of these Timorese teacher trainers, Dra Flávia Leite and Dr Alberto Melo, broke away from the main group for a few days to visit Porto and observe Dra Teresa Pinto de Almeida at work with her classes at Escola Secundário Carolina Michaëlis. In English Digital went to talk to Dra Flávia and Dr Alberto at the school, and later at the British Council office in Porto. In some ways, they agreed, it was quite difficult to take in all the differences between the system that they were witnessing and system that they worked within. For a start, the size of the classes they habitually dealt with meant that their approach had to be completely different, and at times they rather more correctly referred to their classes as lectures, for while Dra Flávia reckoned she would have around fifty students in a class, Dr Alberto said that his top number was nearer one hundred at any one time. The students were also working with additional difficulties – a lack of furniture and basic pedagogical tools adding to the problems, and frequently the only book in the room belongs to the teacher. They were, then, rather goggled-eyed when shown a school where every classroom had at least a data projector and where many had interactive whiteboards, but the real challenge was in trying to decide how much of what they were witnessing could be translated back into useful practice within their own working environments.
clearly, with up to a hundred in a class, exploring chances for developing the individual oral and aural skills evenly across the whole group was all but impossible. We discussed the possibility of radio being used to support English language teaching in the classes in East Timor, and reference was made to a very successful project recently undertaken by the British Council in sub-Saharan Africa where 15 minute programmes were made for language teachers and learners to go out over local radio. Might this be of use? Heads were nodded enthusiastically. British Council, take note.
At a more basic level, the listening activities which they witnessed were quite an eye opener as usually they had little or no access to equipment that could reproduce sound, other than the human voice. And
If nothing else, the exchange of shared values and goals over coffee and pastéis de nata further cemented relationships.
However, the biggest eye-openers were for the Portugal-based teachers who have become so used to the benefits of the contemporary classroom in Europe that they take them for granted. Teachers used to the infrastructure in Portugal, including your intrepid reporter, were measuring themselves against the benchmark of their Timorese colleagues and left wondering if they could handle the job that Dra Flávia and Dr Alberto seemed to take for granted. While envy for small class sizes and more than adequate teaching resources might have come from our colleagues from Timor (not that they displayed any signs of green-eyed activity), in fact the greatest amount of respect was due to them.
From the Archives LOST TREASURES FROM THE DEPTHS OF THE IN ENGLISH VAULTS
Routines for younger learners Lynn Wilson (first published in 2006 by 'In English') It can be incredibly daunting for primary learners to come to class where the teacher speaks most of the time in an unfamiliar language, English. Initially they may be curious, but they can soon become lost and bewildered and transfer their interest to their pencil case, their classmates, their coloured pencils, the space under the table, and so on, if they are not given some simple strategies to help become involved in the lesson For this reason, establishing some simple routines early on is extremely important. Simple routines help the learner to understand what is expected of them, why and when. This in turn helps to create a safe learning environment, in which learners can gradually become more autonomous. Routines help establish patterns of accepted behaviour, helping to prevent potential problems in classroom management. Routines provide simple opportunities to build learners' confidence in using English, and helping it to become more natural.
Once children are comfortable with your routines, they usually find their own ways to improve them or make them more challenging. For example, each lesson, one of my 8 year old learners takes the register. I used to change the register taker each lesson at random, but the learners got very upset if someone missed or jumped a turn, so it is now done in strict rotation!
them and how to respond for the next lesson.
Initially, learners had to ask each classmate two questions, always starting with how are you? and followed by something from the previous lesson, so at the start of the year they asked questions such as:
The learners also adapted the routine, first so that the register taker could nominate someone to ask them questions, and second, as we built up a range of phrases and questions in certain lexical areas, the register taker started to build a mini dialogue asking follow up questions. For example have you got a pet? became:
How old are you? Have you got a pet? What's your favourite colour/ animal / game / cartoon .... ? For the first few lessons, I reviewed questions and appropriate responses and wrote them on the board for the register taker to refer to, but over the course of the year this became unnecessary because learners knew they would need to know
Every few lessons, I was also able to build the range of questions they could ask. They got bored with how are you? so we looked at alternatives: How are you doing? How's it going? How's life?
have you got a pet? yes, I've got a dog What colour is it? black and white how old is it? two years old what's its name? Tarzan.
I set up the routine, but as they have gained confidence in the classroom, they have developed it and it has now become theirs. The side benefits of this are they pay attention when we learn new phrases because they know they will need them, they use English automatically during this activity, and as confidence has increased, this has overflowed into other activities, and last but not least, they listen to each other. Below are a few other ideas for simple routines and classroom management techniques adapted from a collection put together by teachers from the British Council in Lisbon. Try a couple out! Lining up It is important to establish this right from the beginning. When to and how to encourage the children to do it well: - Always - when the children are entering or leaving the classroom, make them line up. - When the children begin class, even if some of them have put bags etc in the room, ask them to leave the " classroom and line up. - While outside, encourage a straight line by going down the line with a hand, or putting your hand on " top of the first student's head. - Alternatively, make it more of a game. Imagine that they are smart soldiers, marching in a line. Passwords for entering and leaving the classroom (or O&A to review language/lexis) - Using passwords to enter and exit the room is good to help build up vocabulary. It also keeps the children calm as they enter the room. At the end of the
lesson they do the password for next time. Coats and bags - When the students are in the classroom, get them to take off their coats. Get them to have the same coat hanger/share one with a friend. - Put the bags in a corner which is not near the door or blocking the work space in any way. Getting things out of bags - Ask children to get out their files and pencil cases at the start of the lesson. Try to discourage them from going back into their bag" unless it is urgent. - Return everything into their bags only at the end of the lesson. Mobile phones - At the start of each lesson, ask students to turn off their phones. Check they have done so. Going to the toilet Children constantly asking for the toilet can cause chaos in the classroom. One routine can be to get the children to say toilet please during class time. However, try to establish fixed times for them to go to the toilet, as sometimes after the break they will immediately ask for the toilet. It is therefore important for students to know why they have a break: - Going to the toilet - Eating - Drinking - Playing Chewing gum Ask students if they have gum to put it in the bin at the beginning of the lesson, similarly after a break.
Taking the register - At the start of the year, say names out loud. - Get them to reply I'm here. Takes a bit of time to train them but they soon get used to it. - You can gradually build on this by giving the learners responsibility for taking the register as described earlier. Classroom language and routines Getting learners to use English for classroom language can be a great way to make speaking English feel more natural as they will use it frequently. - Getting the children used to doing simple classroom actions, from the beginning, will help speed up things. - Stand up, sit down, chairs under, make a circle, sit on the carpet make a line, tidy your things away etc. are very useful to practise with the children as a game /competition. - If you get learners writing at the board, make sure they put the top back on the pen! Sitting in Seats - Always begin explaining activities with students sitting on their seats. - Request that during question and answer sessions that the students still sit on their seats and put up their hands. Hands up to answer questions - Do not accept any answers from students that shout out. - Ask students to put hands up and hands down. Again try to make it a game to establish a routine.
Moving around the classroom -For some activities you will want students sitting in a circle, perhaps on the floor. For others they will be sitting around tables. You need to organise the move. - Get them to carry out the move in steps. Stand up. Come over here. Now sit down. - Some students are slower than others to move, so do a countdown from 5, to get everyone to arrive at the same time. Students will eventually join in with the counting. - If you have a big group, you can get them to move in groups, e.g. give each table a name such as red table, blue table and get them to move. Chairs under tables - Ask students to do this like a game with classroom routines. - Again be strict about this because it links with tidying up the classroom at the end of the lesson. Quiet times/noisy times - Establishing when the students are quiet and when they can be noisy is important You could design visual signs to go on the board to indicate if iy's a quiet time or time to talk. - A good idea is put on English songs/music for background noise. Children do tend to sing-aIong. Class monitors - A great idea to save lots of time is to have 1 child as pencil, monitor, pencil sharpener/ rubber monitor etc. They can quickly give out and collect at the end of lessons. - This obviously saves time and stress when it comes to the big tidy up at the end of the lesson. - Remember to rotate them! Chefe de Sala - Having a child in charge of the classroom is also useful for classroom management, as they will be much stricter than you about how tidy the room is. Again, rotate. Good work stamps/ smiley faces If you can buy yourself a selection of rubber stamps, the students will enjoy getting them for good work.
- You need to be selective about what you give credit for. - The students will want you to put lots of stamps, but be limited. Lots of positive language to praise them You can never give enough praise. - This is the key to good discipline. - Begin as soon as the students are lining up . - It will seem unnatural at first if you're not used to it. Tidying up time: 10-15 minutes - Children take an unbelievable time to get packed up and ready to go. Leave at least 10 minutes at the end of class to tidy, put things in bags, coats on etc. - Sometimes I get students to tidy 20 minutes before and then do songs and games on the carpet/board, This saves you getting stressed at the end of the lesson and shouting at students to tidy. At which point you may end up tidying the room yourself! (not recommended . ..Iearner responsibility etc. .. ) Good behaviour stamps and smiley faces - Use action/mime to determine what is good/ bad behaviour and use smiley and sad faces on board or on cards to refer to during lesson. - At the end of each lesson, ask learners to evaluate themselves as good, so-so or not good and make a record in your register, or on a poster in the classroom. This is very good to raise their awareness of how their behaviour contributes to, or disrupts the class, and also enables them to take responsibility for their action. They also have numerous opportunities to improve in the following lessons. Certificates - web sites - You can make your own customised certificates from the web. - Give them on a monthly or termly basis. - Ideas- tidy writing, best drawing, cooperation, etc
Lynn Wilson British Council, Lisbon. This article was originally published in 2006 by 'In English'
There is a low hubbub of voices deep in discussion, groups of four students around each table, the course book plus additional papers are spread around between them. Look at the groups carefully and in one you will find the teacher. She is as intent on the discussion as the students, but she isn’t leading it. Try to put your finger on who is leading the discussion and you will surely fail for it seems to be equally balanced and equally shared and everyone has a contribution to make. Most of the conversation is in English, with the occasional Portuguese word thrown in when the command of the foreign language gives out and other gaps are filled with unconscious but positive body language. Find another group where the teacher isn’t and you will find the same thing: good-humoured engagement in the topic and the complete involvement of the group. Become a fly on the ceiling and survey the whole class and you will witness the same degree of activity in all the groups, the same controlled energy. The teacher glides quietly to another group and is asked a
question. You expect the teacher at any time to stand up and assume the traditional role of the teacher at the front of the class and for the group work to give way, as it inevitably does, to the ubiquitous plenary of the language classroom. It doesn’t happen. It won’t happen. The teacher seamlessly becomes part of another group for a while then, guidance offered, reassurance handed out, she moves on, a nomad in the class moving from one oasis of learning to another. It’s time to stop being a fly on the ceiling and become an observer within each group, a person who interacts rather than just an observant musca domestica. The 11th grade students are interested in their visitor, but it doesn’t distract them much from their work and their deliberations. It is a chance to use their English on a native speaker, however, and that is an opportunity that some relish more than others. But then it quickly becomes apparent that each group has a composition that, even with just four people, demonstrates a
variety of characteristics. Each group has a voluble one who might, or might not, be the dominant one, and each group has a quiet reflective one who, again, might or might not be the driving force behind the group. In fact It quickly becomes clear that each group has its own unique characteristic, its own group identity and this should tell us something about what is going on here. Unlike most language classroom situations where small groups are formed to cluster around a particular piece of work, often reforming later in a different composition to focus on another topic or activity, these groups are permanent, formed at the beginning of the school year and remaining more or less intact throughout it. In fact, these groups are the de facto form that the class takes at any one time, and students go into these groups at the beginning of class with no instructions or encouragement from the teacher, who makes a point of not assuming the teacherly position at the front of the class unless absolutely necessary.
U P Autonomous Group Work in the Language Classroom in Public Schools
Ana, the teacher, first came across the idea when she attended a talk at a conference organised by GT-PA (grupo de trabalho - pedagogia para autonomia) at Universidade do Minho in 2008, where a science teacher demonstrated the technique she had applied, and showed the results of the students' work in the form of 'magazines' they had produced about their own work. Ana had an interest in developing greater autonomy (for teachers and students) and she didn’t see why the same technique shouldn’t be applied to language
“…it takes them some time to realise that 'control' has been replaced by influence.” classes. Many of the learning parameters are similar, both disciplines being trial and error, experimentation and result driven, and the learning enhancement through small groups obtaining direct, focussed teacher (rather than teacher focussed) input seemed appealing. Ana was also determined to use the idea of students producing 'magazines' an accumulation of their year's work - as a primary focus of the project. She explains that getting started with a new group, unfamiliar with this way of working, can take some time to set up. First she spends around 30 minutes of the first four or five lessons - which are otherwise conducted in a 'normal' way - in discussing the implications of autonomous group work: what group work means, sharing previous experiences of group work, discussing the roles of teachers and students and what learning is together with recalling experiences that the students themselves remember. This part of the preparation is conducted in Portuguese, notes are taken and strategies discussed. Ana reports that 'it's amazing how quickly they understand and get engaged.'
Discussion is followed by experimentation. Usually they have four lessons engaged in the new method of working, and then they stop to discuss it. This may result in reorganisation of the groups, and it also gives Ana a chance to see where she needs to devote more attention and where to devote less. At this point the internal class dynamic has started to reveal itself, and the social chemistry is beginning to take control. However, all of this takes time and, as Ana is the first to point out, it can be two months before a class has settled into the rhythm of the project and, in her words, has actually started to work - at least within the new m e t h o d o l o g y. M a n y o f t h e students find this quite an amusing time because their first reaction is that the teacher doesn't appear to be controlling them - the traditional front-of-class model has disappeared and it takes them some time to realise that 'control' has been replaced by 'influence' as they teacher goes around working quietly with each group. At first some groups find that they can waste whole 90 minute lessons doing apparently little except chatting to each other and it is only when they discover that to present their work to the rest of the class, as they are obliged to do on a regular basis, they will now have to work in their own time to catch up. Ana says that by December a class new to this way of working has found its own method and are pretty much working autonomously. If they haven't finished a piece of work in class then she no longer has to tell them to do it at home as they will do this automatically. They have started to take responsibility for their own work. By the middle of the academic year she can arrive at the classroom to find that the students have already settled in and are working under their own direction without her being there to start it off.
Back in the class, a group of two boys and two girls politely call Ana over to answer some questions about the text they have been working on. They aren't too sure about some of the questions being asked about it in the coursebook. Aren't these questions missing the point of the text? Ana smiles ruefully at the implied criticism of the course book, which is the same one that is being used in other English classes in the school, classes which are being carried out under old teacher-led regimes. They discuss the implications, with Ana
“… they showed an extraordinary engagement with the learning process and how it had affected them.” gently guiding their use of spoken English and when they are satisfied she moves off quietly to assist another group that has questions. This class in an 11th year class a n d i t i s t h e i r fi r s t y e a r experiencing the autonomous group method. Later, I get a chance to talk to some students who had started working in groups in year 10 and had continued into year 11 and they showed an extraordinary engagement with the learning process and how it had affected them. While they expressed no doubts that the system was more effective than the traditional method - though being harder work for them, they were sure of that - they also expressed concerns about their own responsibilities within the group for students with a weaker grasp of English. One student had felt quite frustrated at times about the inability of some of his colleagues to engage with some of the work and felt that he was missing opportunities to fly higher and was being held back.
When questioned further, though, he admitted that the teacher is able to offer a far higher degree of one he wouldn't have wanted to go back to the more to one support. From the student's perspective there traditional system of working and that, in the end, he are therefore two levels of support replacing the had achieved excellent personal results. The cost to single one of the teacher, with peer support being him was more work but the reward was immediately and often automatically also in knowing that he had helped available, supplemented by the teacher weaker students to achieve more than when required. This two level identity they would have done in a traditional for both teacher and student - the group class. It is this sense of group and the individual - defines the kind of community responsibility that is also social chemistry that is immediately apparent in the classes that I observe, a apparent on entering the classroom. sense that there is a shared goal and that each member of the group has their Not all of Ana's colleagues are fans of own skills and experiences to bring to this approach. Some see this method as the class. Talking to those students who 'not real teaching' and seem to support Ana Maria Guedes are least confident in English it quickly the notion that teaching consists of becomes clear that they believe they are gaining far standing in front of a large group of students and more from this experience than they would if they tightly controlling the learning environment. She were adrift in a traditional class, relying only on the thus has some institutional pressure to withstand as teacher for help. Here the degree of mutual support well as guiding initially sceptical students through the is tangible and, beyond that, a collective sense of process but the results are impressive and, in the responsibility for the work in hand end, it is this positive outcome that â€œAfter all, we are in the world ensures that a high level of will win the day amongst the cynics, attainment is achieved and the where we have to work with no doubt. By the end of the year group is driven by responsible peer each group has completed the pressure. Would-be high fliers, other people and learn to official curriculum and produced a even those sometimes expressing full record of their work. Perhaps cooperate in groupsâ€Śâ€? frustration at not moving as quickly more importantly, they also have a as they might due to the needs of their colleagues, record of their reflections upon the work they have nevertheless get a chance to fly high when the class undertaken in the form of 'magazines' - impressive moves into plenary, where feedback from work or a tomes of which their makers are justly proud and project is discussed and debated and a particular which are a lasting testament to their achievements. piece of work or topic is wrapped up before the Every student I asked said that they did not want to individual groups move onto some new piece of go back to the traditional method even though, they work. admitted, this more autonomous method created The effect of this on management styles in the more work and far greater responsibility for them classroom is obvious on one level, but more individually. intriguingly there is a clear change in the social interaction in the classroom. There is a palpable In the words of one student who had experienced sense of group of identity at work, so instead of two years of this approach: "I think it was a very being faced with a class of individuals each good experience. After all, we are in the world clamouring for attention, the teacher is presented where we have to work with other people and learn with perhaps six groups, each with their own identity. to cooperate in groups and this was a realistic Classroom management is about managing six experience. We learn to be responsible for our work groups, not twenty-four individuals. Within each and what we do." group it is far easier for the teacher to relate to the individuals than in an open class and thus by forming the class into regular, self-identifying groups This article is being published simultaneously in the APPI Journal www.appi.pt
Te a c h i n g Reading in Special Education Some considerations for language teachers in the Mozambique context
Marcos AbĂlio Nhapulo Maputo â€“ Mozambique
Nowadays, most ELT studies are concerned with students who do not experience learning difficulties, and those who have special needs are almost left behind. Fortunately, the Mozambican government has been trying to improve education standards for students with special needs. However, ten years ago UNESCO reported that the whole country had only four schools to meet the entire need of the country. Since then the number of schools has not increased as such, but there has been an increase in the number of students with special needs. This shows that there is still lack of schools and even shortage of professional staff for dealing with these students. The Ministry of Education has the idea of inclusion, which means involving students with special needs in the same classes with students without special needs. This implies the development of teaching material that is suitable for these inclusive classrooms and it also means having trained teachers before real inclusion can take place. So, development of new methods or adaptation of the existing ones is crucial. This short review will show us some of the effective teaching methods that can be used in ELT classrooms, as well as in any other inclusive classroom. When dealing with methodology, among other key elements, we are required to consider its
objectives, the content itself, the learning tasks, the role of teachers, learners and the materials involved. To involve all learners, we have to make sure the content fits to our learnersâ€™ socio-cultural context. We also have to bear in mind that most of students with special needs have several limitations, since they have intellectual, social and emotional problems in their daily lives. This means that teaching procedures have to take into consideration these limitations, enabling them to overcome these difficulties thorough involvement and teaching techniques. The Direct Method is a set of techniques which were mostly used throughout Mozambique, and initially the first English teachers to apply them were almost all native speakers, (Lopes, 1997). However, this method is now being used by some teachers who are not native speakers and who are not dealing with advanced classes. This method assumes that learners have a considerable linguistic competence in the target language and is therefore more suitable for native speakers or advanced learners. However, when used with beginners or students with special needs, it appears to lead to a steady decrease in the desired learning outcome. Looking at students with special needs, there are at least three methods to be underlined: content-based instruction, constructivist instruction and cooperative learning.
role of teachers
Concept-Based Instruction Students with special needs can fi n d s e v e r a l d i f fi c u l t i e s i n understanding contents of materials which are not suitable for their level of understanding or interpretation. This problem can be observed mostly with the reading abilities of students in middle and secondary content classes. This means that not only can teaching materials be inappropriate for these students, but also teachers need to be professionally skilled so that they can properly teach, mainly when students show less than the expected reading abilities. Research has shown that the problems faced by students with special needs stems from the fact that these students have d i f fi c u l t i e s i n p r i o r i t i z i n g information within a given text, (McCoy & Ketterlin-Geller, 2004). Furthermore, it is more evident that students with special needs require support in content-area reading because they frequently look no further than surface content and they end up being unable to cater for the relevant information given in a text. Although there are some high-achieving students who can easily understand the underlying concepts and principles in textbooks, the majority still needs to be
provided with books which are appropriate for a given linguistic level, as well as help from the teacher. So, development of teaching materials that are suitable to inclusive classrooms â€œThis can be done through a mind map that is described in a way that it enables the students to build semantic connectionsâ€Śâ€? and that are in accordance with the students reading abilities is then relevant. Concept-based models and/or graphic organizers can be efficient in providing students with the required reading skills. That is, it is efficient to use models and graphics to enable students to grasp the concept, now that models and graphics have generalizations of what is the core or the underlying meaning of a given concept. This can be done through a mind map that is described in a way that it enables the students to build semantic connections and finally grasp the whole concept itself. Teachers can help students to collect a number of examples within the concept or they can provide different words that belong to
t h e s a m e s e m a n t i c fi e l d , therefore, giving a visual and mental model or picture of what the concept actually is in its deep structure. Moreover, an experience in two sixth-grade social studies classes studying the culture and history of Meso-Americans has shown that the content-based method is efficient, given that students who were taught using this method have performed well even in mental processing that requires higher-order thinking efforts (McCoy & KetterlinGeller, 2004). Thus, no matter the context to which they belong, students with special needs should be taught using this method especially in relation to reading and comprehension of several concepts. Constructivist Instruction Nowadays, there is a need to use constructivist methodologies in the teaching-learning process involving students with special needs. There is evidence that constructivist research is relevant in this instructional process, although there is no wide field for the application of this research. Harris & Grahan (1996, cited in Apps & Carter, 2006) have noted that constructivism itself holds that students are inherently active in the construction of the knowledge, and this may depend on the social context in which they are taught. This shows that constructivist methods deducted from different researches can be effective in small or contextualised settings. The problem with the constructivist research is not only in the diversity and controversy of investigations a n d fi n d i n g s i n d i f f e r e n t contexts, but also between the constructivism itself and the students of special needs.
â€œAgain we are shown a situation in which there is a need of professional training for teachers involved in special educationâ€Śâ€?
While the constructivist approaches hold that students need extensive and explicit explanation, some special needs students have argued that skillsbased instruction methods are not enough to enable students to understand the content. Therefore, there is a need of empirical literature which shows the evident efficacy of methods derived from the constructivist approach, in terms of the quality of students learning outcome. Although there is controversy in the application of the constructivist-based pedagogies involving direct instruction, discovery learning and other methods, some studies have shown a positive side of some other methods. For instance, s c i e n t i fi c s t u d i e s i n v o l v i n g elaborative interrogation and coaching active reasoning have shown positive results in the teaching-learning process of students with special needs (Apps & Carter, 2006). In this context, students just need a great deal of the teacher intervention so that they can learn efficiently and with the desired concentration in the classroom. Again we are shown a situation in which there is a need of professional training for teachers involved in special education, in order to guarantee positive learning outcome. Therefore, not only constructivist research has
limitations and controversies, but also approaches in the constructivist perspective have increased the application of teaching methods and/or techniques which are not effective in all contexts. Being so, extensive application of teaching techniques is necessary if the aim is to improve the teaching and the quality of the learning process. What is more evident is that educators, instructors and teachers should opt for the research experiments which have shown positive results, in order to apply teaching techniques that fit to different teaching and learning environments. Cooperative Learning Taking into consideration that we are looking at inclusive classrooms, it seems obvious that enabling cooperation among students can help them to achieve the desired learning outcome. There are consensus and controversies within the cooperative learning method in language teaching, but there are more points on the agreement than on the controversial ones, ( S l a v i n , 1 9 9 0 ) . F i r s t l y, t h e cooperative learning method can enable learners to yield the desired learning outcome when the purpose is achieving group goals and when each group member undertakes an effort in achieving that group goal. Secondly, looking at the context in which cooperative learning
takes place, there is no agreement in terms of which conditions enable students to achieve a higher level of a second language attainment. It is widely agreed that cooperative learning is effective in grades 2-9, though less so at other levels. Thirdly, studies have shown that in a cooperative learning environment, students gain more other positive outcomes, than the only issue of linguistic achievement. For instance, students can improve their selfesteem, which is important because it makes them feel valued in the academic setting and this may also involve respect of their cultural background in general, and their personal aspects in particular. As a result, students may gain positive outcomes in attending classes, and they can identify with their school's requirements and they can have time enough for tasks they are given in their groups. In this context, we think that cooperative learning is an effective method, although it seems to be more practical when the tasks students are given are more practical than when they require higher-order thinking. Davidson (1988, cited in Slavin, 1990) noted that there is positive or high rate of achievement even in tasks which require higherorder understanding in social sciences.
The cooperative learning method should be considered with care, and is more effective when it is implemented within skills like mathematics, reading and language arts. In spite of that, it has been shown that even for social sciences cooperative
“Here, what is important is the teachers awareness of the relationship between what is taught and what learners need to know and are capable of learning, in a given time and context.” learning is still effective, but this is indicated to be mostly in the elementary and the high school level. Therefore, following from our experience, it is also probable that cooperative learning is effective in many classroom contexts, but sometimes it can have negative effects because of the competitive aspect that can be found in many academic settings. While collectivist cultures, like the one we have in Mozambique, may have high rate of achievement, individualist students may struggle to share their understandings during group work. In a broad view, “one must, nevertheless, realise that however good a method might be, the teacher will always be confronted with endless practical problems, particularly in contexts
Marcos Abílio Nhapulo Department of Languages – English Section, University Eduardo Mondlane Maputo – Mozambique
where class-sizes rise to 30 or even 40”, Lopes (1997: p. 67). In fact, in Mozambique we can have class-sizes rising to more than 50 learners and, a teacher is therefore challenged not only by the cultural diversity, but also by the number of the learners. Here, what is important is the teachers awareness of the relationship between what is taught and what learners need to know and are capable of learning, in a given time and context. Conclusion Even though the methods above have been shown to be efficient, there is a need to develop new textbooks which fully engage the students, and to equip teachers with the desired professional skill that they need so as to deal efficiently with students with special needs. Instead of dealing with research as such, what is needed is the application of the positive aspects so far found in the existing experiments, so that time is not spent in scientific discussion but in practical experiments which can show how efficient some of the applied teaching methods/techniques in special education are. Teachers are, therefore, required to be trained so that they can acquire multicultural competence and pedagogic, intervention and classroom management skills, so as to enable students to share their different cultural backgrounds in a more tolerant way, while respecting each learner’s learning strategies and styles.
Bibliography Apps, M. & Carter, M. (2006). When all is said and done, more is said than done: research examining constructivist instruction for students with special needs. Australian Journal of Special Education, 30/1, pp. 21-38. Slavin, R. E. (1990). Research on Cooperative Learning: Consensus and Controversy. Educational Leadership. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Pp. 52-54. McCoy, J. D. & Ketterlin-Geller, L. R (2004). Rethinking instructional delivery for diverse student populations: Serving all learners with concept-based instruction. Intervention in School and Clinic, 40/2, pp. 88-95. LOPES, A. (1997). Language Policy: Principles and Problems. Maputo: Imprensa Universitária. UNESCO (2000). The AEFA 2000 Assessment Country Reports. <www.unesco.org/wef/ countryreports/mozambique>
M ot i v a t e d i n Coi m b r a The 26th Annual Conference of APPI (Associação Portuguesa de Professores de Inglês) was held at the Vila Galé Hotel in Coimbra, Portugal, between 27th and 29th of April against a deepening gloom within the teaching profession in Portugal. A whole range of deteriorating conditions - economic, pedagogic, political - have plunged the profession into a trough and it was feared that there would be no enthusiasm for three days of plenaries and workshops. The organisers, knowing the needs of teachers, had the theme 'Motivated Teachers Make a Difference' and were therefore delighted to find that over six hundred teachers were motivated enough to attend over the weekend and take part in the conference. Instead of the feared for drop in the numbers of delegates, record numbers were recorded. In all there were nearly 80 workshops and talks being presented by speakers from a variety of backgrounds but who all shared one common characteristic: they were all highly experienced teachers passionate about their work. The opening plenaries were given by Anna Uhl Chamot, from the George Washington University, Washington, USA, speaking on the topic 'How language learning strategies instruction motivates teachers', and
sponsored by the Embassy of the United States in Portugal, and by Nicky Hockly, from The Consultants-E, speaking on 'Making a difference: digital literacies', and sponsored by the British Council in Portugal. The closing plenary was given by Chaz Pugliese from Pilgrims UK, who spoke on the theme 'I can't get no (job) satisfaction'. In between there were workshops which ranged across an extraordinarily rich range of subjects from a mixture of well known international figures and fervently committed national teachers with the word 'motivation' cropping up frequently. In fact most delegates brought motivation with them, and the recharging of batteries was most o f t e n quoted as the main reason for attending the conference (see video on next page). The annual APPI conference has built up an enviable reputation over the years as a highly enjoyable event that really works. 2012 did not disappoint in spite of predictions to the contrary. Delegates and presenters alike left enthused and reinvigorated. Motivated, just as it said on the tin.
(See the article 'Digital Literacies' by Nicky Hockly in this edition)
APPI 2012 GALLERY
The 26th Annual Conference of APPI (Associação Portuguesa de Professores de Inglês) was held at the Vila Galé Hotel in Coimbra, Portugal.
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The fourth edition of the magazine for teachers of English in Portuguese speakin countries, with a special focus on Brazil. Please note that...
Published on Jun 16, 2012
The fourth edition of the magazine for teachers of English in Portuguese speakin countries, with a special focus on Brazil. Please note that...