Page 1

Feature Article

1

In this issue: Feature Articles A Study of Code Switching in UAE Tertiary ESL Classes The Collaborative Media Project: Teaching Writing to Grade Nine Students in Lebanon Negotiation of Meaning: Student Strategies in Interactive Group Work The Effect of “Talking Partners� on UAE KG Students

Lesson Ideas Educational Technology Reviews Networking Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

Perspectives The

2

official publication of

TESOL Arabia General Editorial Policies

Perspectives is an official refereed publication of TESOL Arabia, designed to meet the organization’s professional objectives by publishing articles that discuss the teaching and learning of English as an additional language at all levels and with a particular focus on the region (the Gulf, MENA, and South Asia). We invite previously unpublished manuscripts that address the diversified topics that make up our profession, including, but not limited to, methodology, pedagogy, curriculum and materials development, assessment, classroom inquiry and research, teacher education, literature, and language and culture.

Submission Categories & Guidelines Feature Articles

Generally 2000-4000 words in length, feature articles should address educational issues (theory and practice) relevant to the membership. The articles can document a critical survey of a particular aspect of the field, detail and analyze pedagogical issues, describe and discuss research findings, or highlight contextual factors and their implication on educational practice. All submissions should be thought through, well organized, and clearly written; please follow APA (6th ed.) style. Feature articles go through a double-blind review process where the reviewers consider how well each article: n

discusses issues that seek to inform practice; contributes to the knowledge base for teaching and teacher education in general and in the region in particular; n addresses educational issues and needs of ELT in the region; and, n identifies an educational research agenda. n

Educational Technology

This section includes short articles (500-2000 words) that provide overviews of educational technologies, their utilities, and incorporation into practice. These could be apps, software, hardware, web-based resources, etc.

Lesson Ideas

Do you have a great lesson idea or an activity that others should know about? Lesson Ideas (500-2000 words) offer teachers an opportunity to share their activities. Submissions should detail the activity as well as provide a context for usage. Sample materials are encouraged.

Reader Response

Reader’s Response (500-2000 words) gives readers a forum to respond to articles published in previous issues or critical issues in the region and/or field.

Reviews

Reviews (500-1000 words) evaluate any recent textbook, resource book, CD/DVD, audio, or video title. Reviews should evaluate materials for their approach, content, appropriateness, adaptability, and relevancy. For more information or to submit a review, please contact Reviews Editor Paul Dessoir, pdessoir@uaeu.ac.ae.

Networking

This section features conference and country reports. Conference reports should provide the readers with an overview of the conference as well as some personal insights. Country reports provide a glimpse of professional activities, concerns, and projects in the region. Reports range between 250-1000 words; photos with captions are welcome.

Notes to Contributors

All materials submitted become the property of TESOL Arabia. If you wish to re-print an article that first appeared in Perspectives, please contact the editors to request permission. The editors reserve the right to make editorial changes to better suit the format and readership. If substantial changes are required, the editors will consult the author(s). Please remember to include a brief biographical statement (50-75 words) and headshot (.jpg or .png) with your submission.

Photographs

In order to avoid poor quality images, please submit the largest size and best resolution images you have. They should be at least 300 dpi and saved as a tiff, eps, or jpeg.

Editorial Viewpoint

By submitting, authors attest that they are submitting their own work, that it has not been submitted or published elsewhere, and that it meets generally agreedupon ethical standards for human subject research. The views expressed in Perspectives are those of the individual authors of each article. Views expressed are not necessarily shared by the editors, other authors, TESOL Arabia members, of the TESOL Arabia organization. Responsibility for the contents of articles and advertisements rests entirely with the authors.

Submissions Address

Send your submissions to Julie Riddlebarger and Suhair Al Alami, Perspectives Co-Editors Email: perspectives@tesolarabia.org Deadlines: August 15, December 15, April 15 Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

C o n t e n t s

3

Pers p e c t ives Volume 24 No. 2 June 2016

From the Editors

2

Message from the President

3

Feature Articles A Study of Code Switching in UAE Tertiary ESL Classes Doaa Hamam 4 The Collaborative Media Project: Teaching Writing to Claudia Hassan Grade Nine Students in Lebanon 11 Negotiation of Meaning: Student Strategies in Interactive Group Work Khalid Albahouth 17 The Effect of “Talking Partners� on UAE KG Students Anna Dillon, Lynne McCullagh, 23 Jodie Asafo, Amal Saeed Al Neyadi, Amal Mohammed Al Neyadi, Aysha Mater Al Shamisi

Lesson Ideas Poster Presentations To Augment Communication Competence

Sunayana Manoj

31

A Flipped Class Lesson Plan

Charles Fullerton

33

Susan Esnawy

36

Lilianna Edilyan

39

Devising Self-Assessment Tools for EAP/ESL Integrating Grammar and Vocabulary into Project-Based Work

Education Technology Dima Youssef & Rama Damad

43

Neil McBeath

47

1st Africa TESOL International Conference Aymen Elsheikh, Okon Effiong, and Julie Riddlebarger TESOL International 2016 Naziha Ali TESOL 2016: An Unforgettable and Rewarding Experience Entisar Elsherif 50 Years of IATEFL Amr Elzarka

50 51 52 53

Using Visual Media To Improve Writing Skills

Reviews Intercultural Communication with Arabs: Studies in Educational, Professional and Societal Contexts

Networking

Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


From Feature the Article Editors

2

Dear readers,

Editors

We hope you are enjoying a well-deserved break. Summer gives us time to recharge our batteries while we reflect on the past academic year and prepare for the new one. In that spirit we offer the latest issue to keep you involved and informed while you relax. With articles covering every skill plus grammar, vocabulary, and assessment and addressing levels from KG through university, there is truly something for everyone here.

Julie Riddlebarger Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi

Due to the high number of submissions, we have again included four feature articles in this issue. Doaa Hamam writes about her study of the reasons, functions and attitudes towards code-switching in UAE tertiary classrooms, always a topic of interest and debate. From Lebanon, Claudia Hassan describes her experience using a Collaborative Media Project to teach writing to secondary students. Next, Khalid Albahouth also discusses collaboration, but in terms of how students negotiate meaning in interactive activities in a university in Saudi Arabia. Finally, back in the UAE, Anna Dillon et al. explain how they used “talking partners” to develop KG students’ speaking and listening skills. Our lesson ideas cover such varied topics as poster presentations by Sunayana Manoj in the UAE; flipping the classroom from Qatar by Charles Fullerton; self-assessment tools by Susan Esnawy in Egypt; and grammar and vocabulary in project-based work from Lilianna Edilyan in Armenia. In educational technology, we have a vivid explanation of the use of visual media to stimulate writing in the UAE by Dima Youssef and Rama Damad. Neil McBeath reviews a book that includes chapters by many TESOL Arabia members, and finally there are several networking reports from different conferences and events. You may notice something missing from this issue: for the sake of timeliness and to avoid duplication, we are no longer printing TESOL Arabia Chapter and SIG reports. All of the latest news about TESOL Arabia events can be found on our website (www. tesolarabia.org) on the latest news, newsletter, and calendar pages. We invite you to check the website frequently and to sign up to receive the monthly newsletter via email. Enjoy this issue of Perspectives as you enjoy your summer!

Suhair Al Alami Al Ghurair University, Dubai

Reviews Editor Paul Dessoir United Arab Emirates University

Advisory Panel Bridie Farah Christopher Morrow Daniel Mangrum Dennis Balint Hala Nur Indrani Ibrahim James Buckingham Jane Hoelker Janet Olearski Kay Gallagher Kourosh Lachini Melanie Gobert Mick King Neil McBeath Paul James Dessoir Peter McLaren Rachel Lange Rania Jabr Sahbi Hidri Sally Ali Susan Toth Suzanne Littlewood Tamas Lorinz Taoufik Ferjani Yasser Salem

CREDITS Layout / Artwork Sudeep Kumar

Printing

Julie Riddlebarger

International Printing Press Dubai, UAE

Suhair Al Alami

Editors, Perspectives The editors would like to remind the readers that the views expressed in this periodical are those of the individual authors.

Looking at Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi, UAE

These views are not necessarily shared by the other authors in this issue or by TESOL Arabia. Responsibility for the content and opinion of articles and advertisements rests with the authors. TESOL Arabia is a non-profit organization based in the United Arab Emirates with membership from the Arabian Gulf and beyond. TESOL Arabia does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, gender, national origin, disability, religion, age, or native language. For more information, please visit our website: http://www.tesolarabia.org

Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

June Cover Photo

Rob Wilson, Khalifa University

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article Message from the President

3

Dear TESOL Arabia colleagues, I am writing this welcome letter during my summer vacation which I am enjoying very much. I hope you are enjoying yours, too. The approaching new academic year promises to be exciting for TESOL Arabia as we have new Executive Council members with fresh ideas and a lot of energy to promote the organization and serve our members. Since this is my first presidential address this year, I would like to seize this opportunity to welcome all of them to the team: Konrad Cedro:Vice-President Racquel Warner: Executive Secretary Wafa Zoghbor: Membership Secretary Christine Coombe: Affiliate Representative and TACON 2017 Co-Chair Dima Yousef: Sharjah Chapter Representative Negmeldin Elsheikh: Al Ain Chapter Representative In addition to serving as TESOL Arabia president, I have been invited by the TESOL Arabia International Conference and Exhibition (TACON) 2017 co-chairs to serve as the associate conference co-chair. I feel so honored by this invitation and I would like to thank our co-chairs, Fathi Ben Mohammad, Sufian Abu Rmeilah and Christine Coombe, for their continued trust and confidence. Exceptionally this year, we have started preparing for our biggest event so early. Our major breakthrough to date was finding a new venue for our conference which is bigger than the previous one in terms of the seating capacity of its four ballrooms as well as the exhibition space. The Ritz Carlton, a five-star hotel located at the vibrant Dubai International Financial Center, is just one metro stop away from Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai. The theme of the conference this year is Advancing the ELT Profession. So, please mark your calendars so that you can join us March 9-11, 2017. As the call for proposals has opened three weeks ago, I would like to invite all of you to submit a proposal. The deadline for receipt of proposals is November 15th, 2016. Moreover, and as part of our commitment to extend all our professional development opportunities to different categories of members, we are in the process of introducing a new registration category which offers a special rate for students participating in TACON 2017. The aim of introducing a discounted student rate is to help students attend our conference at a price that is affordable to them. The new student conference rate will be soon announced on our website and the conference registration page. Apart from TACON, its biggest event, TESOL Arabia provides plenty of other local professional development activities organized by its seven chapters and nine Special Interest Groups. To know about all our upcoming events and news, I urge all of you to visit TESOL Arabia’s website and Facebook page. Please also feel free to contact me, or any other member of the Executive Council, if you have any suggestions or ideas for promoting our organization, improving our services and professional development activities. Have a relaxing summer vacation full for joy and sunshine and we look forward to hearing from you. Mohamed Azaza TESOL Arabia President

Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

4

A Study of Code Switching in UAE Tertiary ESL Classes This study aims at finding the reasons for code switching occurrences in ESL classrooms, the frequency of their occurrences and the attitudes of ESL teachers and learners towards this occurrence within the context of three UAE universities. The researcher distributed questionnaires to students, conducted classroom observations, took field notes and conducted interviews. The researcher was able to work with one class at each university which made a total of three classes used to complete this study. Since the UAE represents a multi-cultural society, students and teachers whose L1 is Arabic switch or mix code during their study and work. Previous research revealed positive as well as negative effects of code switching occurrences in ESL classrooms; however, the author felt the need to do more research in the UAE local context and to further investigate the subject. The results of the current study based on students’ questionnaires, interviews and observations are consistent with the results of previous research. The conclusion stresses that code switching can be a double-edged weapon in teaching and learning, which suggests that code switching should be monitored in classrooms to avoid negative effects.

Introduction

Most UAE students can speak at least two languages; therefore, they are considered bilinguals, with Arabic as their first language (L1) and English as their second language (L2).These students’ fluency in English is normally lower than their fluency in their L1 (Peal & Lambert, 1962). It was noticed that in ESL classrooms at the tertiary level, students and Arabic-L1 ESL teachers sometimes switched to L1 in certain situations. Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

Doaa Hamam Wollongong University, Dubai

Linguists call this phenomenon code alternation or code switching, which is considered a natural result of knowing two languages. According to Deibert (2010), code switching is using one language as an alternative to the other.Therefore, code switching can be defined by instances where speakers switch to another language during their speech for a certain purpose. Bilingual students switch to their L1 spontaneously in ESL classrooms and mix the two languages to come up with a new code.This occurs due to several reasons: for example, when the students find it difficult to express themselves or cannot find the correct lexical item to use. In addition, teachers code-switch for various reasons: those might include managing the classroom, explaining difficult lexical items, making jokes, explaining cultural concepts, and so on.

Literature Review

The literature review in this study sheds light upon important concepts such as bilingualism and bilinguals’ speech behavior. Baker (2011) defines a bilingual person as one who speaks two languages. Bilingualism can be seen as a dynamic process that includes different aspects such as tasks, topics, experience and time. Bilingual individuals’ use of both languages in conversation is a common phenomenon and may be called code mixing, code alternation, or code switching. The mixture of two languages in the same sentence is described as code-mixing. The speaker in such situations does not speak one language or the other, but he/she produces a new code which is a mixture between L1 and L2 (Liu, 2006). Code switching occurs every day in many contexts. Code TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

5

switching is defined by Myers-Scotton (2001) as the switching between two languages in the same dialogue or utterance. Scholars use different terms for the different types of code switching. MyersScotton’s (2001) model, for example, presents two types: inter-sentential code switching which occurs outside the sentence or the clause, and intrasentential code switching which occurs within a sentence or a clause. Thomason and Kaufman (2000, p. 136) state that “Code switching is a mechanism whereby new forms and new structural features are introduced into a receiving language.” According to Wei (2005), code switching occurs usually in a conversation, while Brown (2006) suggests that sometimes code switching is used when the speakers are not fully competent enough in their L2; they add elements from their L1 to correct the path of the conversation or to convey precise meaning. The terms code alternation and code switching are used in literature interchangeably. For the purpose of this study, however, the primary term used to describe bilinguals’ speech behavior is code switching.

Code Switching in ESL Classrooms

In ESL classrooms, code switching’s function and use are different from that used in communicative contexts in everyday activities. The main purpose of ESL classes is to enable the students to use L2 through practice. The reason for switching to L1 during such classes may be the students’ lack of competence in L2. Therefore, in a social context, the purpose of code switching is to ask about something, discuss something or exchange normal conversation, whilst in an ESL classroom context the main purpose is to understand and study L2 itself. There are also social considerations in choosing to code switch. Brown (2006) believes that code switching can be used to show a mixed cultural identity or to hide identity in some situations, so the whole purpose may indicate various social meanings. In a study about code switching among high school students, Liang (2006) concludes that the students faced a dilemma in using L1 and L2; they seemed to be torn between maintaining L1 and developing L2. This is because they wanted to learn the new language and at the same time keep their own identity. In his study, Brice (2000) explains that code switching might be a solution to overcome communication barriers in ESL classrooms for immigrant students in the USA and in Australia. Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

Based on a study conducted in South Korea, on the other hand, Liu, Ahn, Baek, & Han (2004) conclude that English teachers’ use of L1 was effective in certain situations and that teachers’ use of language impacted student behavior. Attitudes towards code switching vary in relation to both students and teachers. According to Yao (2011, p. 19), “Code switching is commonly viewed with suspicion in EFL classes.” However, in his study,Yao (2011) concludes that both teachers and students had positive attitudes towards code switching in EFL classes. Furthermore, in a study conducted at the Turkish University in Izmir, Ustunel (2004) concludes that L1 cannot be avoided by both teachers and students in EFL classes and that it is highly recommended to incorporate LI and L2 in the teaching methods.

Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework chosen for this study is Myers-Scotton’s (2001) matrix language frame model (MLF). This model is used to analyse code switching occurrences and includes the concepts of embedded language (EL) and matrix language (ML). Three research questions were posed in the study. These are: 1. What types of code switching patterns are emerging in ESL classes by teachers/students within UAE university contexts? 2. Why and when do teachers/students switch to L1? 3. What are the teachers’/students’ perception of code switching to L1 in ESL classes?

Methodology

The study poses three research questions about linguistic and sociolinguistic aspects of code switching. The approach in the current study is based on triangulation; therefore, the researcher conducted classroom observations and interviews, and distributed questionnaires. The study sample included students at three UAE universities where English is the medium of instruction (EMI). Students chosen for this study were first year students. The researcher attended three different ESL classes. The total number of students was 47 during the observations; however, only 29 completed the questionnaires. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

6

Research Question 1: What types of code switching patterns are emerging in ESL classes by teachers/students within UAE university contexts?

The selected teachers were L1 Arabic speakers who specialize in teaching ESL; all had a master’s degree in TESOL or applied linguistics. They were interviewed at the end of the classroom observation period.

Through classroom observations, the researcher concluded that many examples of code switching occur spontaneously in ESL classrooms. Since there was a free space in each observational checklist, the researcher took field notes and wrote down most of the examples of code switching.Table 1 reveals the number of code switching occurrences by teachers and students.

The research instruments included observation checklists, questionnaires, and interviews. The researcher designed an observational checklist covering sixteen points to be used in the classroom. This observational checklist included free space for field notes about new emerging aspects that were not mentioned in the checklist. The student questionnaire consisted of three sections with a total of 19 multiple choice questions. Finally, eight interview questions were devised in order to discover the teachers’ perceptions and views on code switching in ESL classes.

Table 1 L1 Usage among Students and Teachers Class Users Number

Doaa Hamam received a BA in Linguistics & Literature from Alexandria University, Egypt in 2001. She then obtained a Higher Diploma in ESP and an MEd - TESOL in 2015 from the British University in Dubai. Doaa has worked at several universities in the UAE. Currently, she is pursuing her PhD at the British University in Dubai.

Procedures

At the beginning of the classroom observations, the researcher informed the teachers that the observations were for the purpose of educational research. However, the research aspect (code switching) was not mentioned because the researcher wanted them to act and speak as they normally would. The teachers were also told that the observations would not involve any judgments on their level of performance or competency as teachers and that the data collected would be classified and used anonymously for research purposes only. The researcher also informed the students, with the help of their own teachers, about the purpose of her attendance and explained to them that it was for the purpose of educational research. The sample was divided into three groups according to the students’ classes. Each group had a certain number of students. That division was made in terms of organizing the collected data; however, the results of the students’ questionnaires and observations are presented as a whole.

Results and Discussion

This section sheds light upon the meaning and interpretation of the data collected as a result of the observations, questionnaires and interviews.

Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

Class 1

Class 2

No. of L1 No. of L1 Teachers Occurrences Occurrences (CS) (CM)

Teachers 9

2

CS total

CM CS total total

CM total

Students 41

7

23

6

17

Teachers 9

3

Students 40

6 Total 29

Class 3

Students

Teachers 5

1

Students 8

4

89

Total 106

As Table 1 reveals, it is clear that during the classes, teachers used L1 (Arabic) 29 times, 23 times of which were for code switching (CS), while on 6 occasions it was only for code mixing (CM). On the other hand, it was noted that students used L1 106 times, of which code switching occurred 89 times and code mixing occurred only 17 times. It is worth mentioning that the lexical insertion mainly depended upon content morphemes from the EL. It is obvious therefore that many code switching patterns relate to both teachers and students. In their questionnaire responses, students admitted that they used Arabic in ESL classrooms for several purposes and on different occasions. Table 2 shows the results of the questionnaires.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

7

Table 2 Questionnaire Results (n=29) Question

Table 3 Classroom Observations (Items 1-8) Always

1. My English teacher uses Arabic 5 (17.24%) to explain some parts of the lessons.

Sometimes

Never

Question

Occurrence Total

23 (79.3%)

1 (3.4%)

1. The teacher uses Arabic in explaining some parts of the lesson.

17

2. The teacher uses Arabic in topics that are unrelated to the lesson.

11

3. The teacher explains cultural related issues in Arabic.

1

4. Students use Arabic to address the teacher about things that are related to the lesson.

22

20

29

2. My English teacher uses Arabic 6 (20.68%) when talking about topics that are not related to the lesson.

23 (79.3%)

0

3. My English teacher gives instructions in Arabic.

5 (17.24%)

20 (68.9%)

4 (13.7%)

4. My English teacher uses Arabic 3 (10.34%) to manage the classroom.

26 (89.6%)

0

5. My English teacher uses Arabic 3 (10.34%) to make jokes, say proverbs, other.

25 (86.2%)

1 (3.4%)

5. Students use Arabic to address the teacher about things that are unrelated to the lesson.

6. Outside the classroom, I prefer 25 (86.2%) to talk in Arabic with my English teacher.

2 (6.8%)

1 (3.4%)

17 6. Students use Arabic to speak to each other in the classroom about things that are related to the lesson.

24 (82.7%) 7. I believe that my English teacher should explain cultural related issues in Arabic.

4 (13.7%)

1 (3.4%)

8. I use Arabic when I talk to my 20 (68.9%) peers in class about things that are related to the lesson.

8 (27.5%)

1 (3.4%)

9. I use Arabic when I talk to my 28 (96.5%) peers in class about things that are not related to the lesson.

1 (3.4%)

The answer to the second research question was explored using observations, questionnaires and interviews. Classroom observations revealed the answer to the first part of the second research question which concerned the reasons and motives behind code-switching. Table 3shows the number of occurrences for each item, as well as the total number of occurrences.

June 2016

18

0

Research Question 2:Why and when do teachers/students switch to L1?

No. 2

29 7. Students use Arabic to speak to each other in the classroom about things that are unrelated to the lesson. 8. The students insert Arabic lexical items in their speech to facilitate communication.

In the interviews, one teacher admitted using L1 for limited purposes, and all the teachers confirmed that their students used L1 either when addressing them or when talking to their peers. The patterns of CS occurrences were described according to MyersScotton’s (2001) MLF model.

Volume 24

106

It was found that L1 (Arabic) was used in many situations during classroom observations and for many purposes. The researcher identified five types of students’ use of L1 in the classroom, while only three types of L1 usage were identified for the teachers. It seemed that the students and teachers had different motives behind switching to L1. For example, the students sometimes faced difficulties in completing a whole sentence correctly. Teachers, on the other hand, tried to manage the classroom as well as explain difficult lesson parts using L1. Table 4 presents the answer to the second research question based on questionnaire responses, revealing the effect of code switching on teaching and learning.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

8

Table 4 Questionnaire Results (Items 9-15) Question

Always

Sometimes

Never

9. My English teacher makes it easy to understand when he uses Arabic.

18 (62.1%)

11 (37.9%)

0

10. When my English teacher speaks in Arabic, he or she grabs my attention.

22 (75.8%)

5 (17.24%)

2 (6.8%)

11. I believe that if my English teacher frequently uses Arabic in class, this will affect my fluency in a negative way.

25 (86.2%)

4 (13.7%)

0

12. I should be exposed to English in the classroom all the time to learn the language properly.

27 (93.1%)

2 (6.8%)

0

13. My English teacher 3 (10.3%) explains difficult words in Arabic

25 (86.2%)

1 (3.4%)

14. My English teacher explains difficult Grammar in Arabic.

2 (6.8%)

26 (89.6%)

1 (3.4%)

15. I use Arabic because I cannot express myself properly in English.

4 (13.7%)

24 (82.7%)

1 (3.4%)

Through interviews, a comprehensive idea about the reasons for code switching emerged. The teachers mentioned that their students code switch when talking to their peers or when addressing the teachers if they are unable to understand or express themselves properly. Research Question 3:What are the teachers’/students’ perception of code switching to L1 in ESL classes? The third research question was investigated through observations, questionnaires and interviews. During observations, the researcher noticed that teachers had mastered both languages and were able to convey meaning in English during teaching, except for a few minor occasions when teachers switched to Arabic. Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

During those occasions, students seemed to be more comfortable and attentive especially if the teacher used Arabic in explaining a matter that was related to the lesson. It was also noted that the students preferred to talk in Arabic with their classmates and teachers especially on topics that were not related to the lesson. Finally, it was also noted that the students preferred to receive praise and encouragement in Arabic rather than in English. In general, it was noticed that English was the dominant language used by the students and the teachers most of the time during classroom observations, except in a few minor occasions when Arabic, which represented the embedded language (EL) was used for particular reasons. It was also observed that students in general used Arabic more than the teachers and for many purposes. However, the teachers always encouraged their students to use English. Even in the minor cases where the teachers themselves used Arabic, they immediately switched back to English. Table 5 portrays the students’ perception of code switching. Table 5 Questionnaire Results (Items 16-18) Question Number

Always

Sometimes Never

16. I believe that an English teacher should never use Arabic in the classroom.

25 (86.2%) 4 (13.7%)

0

17. English teachers who use Arabic in the classroom are not able to convey the same meaning in both languages.

23 (79.3%) 6 (20.6%)

0

18. I like it when my English teacher encourages me or praises me in Arabic.

27 (93.1%) 1 (3.4%)

1 (3.4%)

Interview data also answered the second part of the third research question about teachers’ perception of code switching to L1 during the time of their own teaching. The general impression is that all teachers are against using L1 in their classes. Classroom observations raised several issues for the researcher to further investigate and describe in this

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

study. For example, there were numerous instances of code mixing that occurred in the classrooms, most of which were noted. The observations also revealed that code switching occurs among the students mostly when they talk to each other about things that are unrelated to the lesson. This occurred many times during classroom observations. This result matched the questionnaire results and teachers’ interview answers. In the questionnaire, 96.5% of the students confirm that they use L1 when talking to their peers about things that are unrelated to the lessons, responding “always.”

Theoretical Implications

The findings of this study cover the two aspects targeted: the sociolinguistic aspect which deals with motives and perceptions of teachers and students towards code switching, and the linguistic aspect which deals with the linguistic constraints. As for the linguistic constraints, it has been found that when students switch to L1 in the classroom, they do not do it freely. Usually, they follow the structure and the syntactic rules of the matrix language (ML) (Myers-Scotton, 2001), which in this case is English. It was also noticed that the students mainly insert content morphemes from Arabic to English, while system morphemes came from English only. On the other hand, code switching instances were not limited to intra-sentential code switching, as there were many instances of inter-sentential code switching, too. It is worth mentioning that during observations, the researcher noticed greater numbers of inter-sentential than intra-sentential code switching occurrences. It was obvious in the observations that students inserted some Arabic lexical items from time to time as a defense mechanism to maintain communication with their teachers and peers. It was also noticed that code switching was used by the teachers to facilitate understanding. This finding concurs with Greggio and Gil’s (2007) finding in relation to using code switching mainly to maintain effective communication. Alegría de la Colina and Del Pilar García Mayo (2009) also state that teachers who dealt with low level learners used L1 to facilitate learning. The second aspect targeted in this study is sociolinguistic. Through questionnaires and interviews, it was evident that both teachers and Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

9

students had negative views towards code switching to L1, viewing it as a sign of poor language skills. This finding is consistent with those of Yao (2011), Taskin (2011), and Thomason and Kaufman (2001).

Classroom Discourse Implications

The findings of this study revealed that although the language of instruction in the ESL classrooms should remain English most of the time, resorting to L1 occasionally does not necessarily lead to negative consequences. On the contrary, it can be very useful. English teachers are often convinced of and told that exposing their students to the target language all the time in class helps them to be more proficient in L2 and adds significant value to their learning experience. However, various scholars have argued that this claim is not based on solid evidence. Tang (2002), for instance, mentions that using L1 and L2 does not sabotage the teaching and the learning process; on the contrary, it can contribute to a better teaching and learning experience. Within UAE university contexts, classroom discourse depends heavily on the use of L2 because of the “English as a medium of instruction policy” described by Rogier (2012); however, there are minor occasions where L1 is used. This use of L1 facilitates understanding and does not appear to lead to any negative effects.

Pedagogical Implications

The researcher concludes that although the teachers and students had negative attitudes towards switching to L1 in ESL classrooms, these attitudes are not justified. In fact, using L1 can help students in learning L2. Students can understand faster, establish a link between the two languages, and use this knowledge to be more proficient in L2. There are many examples in the literature supporting the use of L1 to facilitate L2 learning and acquisition. Cook (2001), for instance, claims that using L1 as a resource paves the way for teachers to explain grammar rules, deliver their message and manage the classroom. It can be helpful for the students to use L1 as part of their learning process. Cook (2001, p. 402) adds that, “The first language can be a useful element in creating authentic L2 users rather than something to be shunned at all costs.” In addition, Canagarajah (1995) shares this opinion of L1 use, concluding that has a positive pedagogical impact. Finally, code switching can be an objective that is socially relevant to language learning and a teaching strategy that TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

10

can be used in ESL classrooms. However, the use of L1 in ESL classes should never be excessive or uncontrolled.

References

Alegría de la Colina, A., & del Pilar García Mayo, M. (2009). Oral interaction in task-based EFL learning: The use of the L1 as a cognitive tool. IRAL-International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 47(3-4), 325-345. Baker, C. (2011). Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism (5th ed.). Bristol: Multilingual Matters. Brice, A. (2000). Code switching and code mixing in the ESL classroom: A study of pragmatic and syntactic features. Advances in Speech Language Pathology, 2(1), 19-28. Brown, K. (2006). Encyclopedia of language and linguistics. Oxford: Elsevier. Canagarajah, A. S. (1995). Functions of codeswitching in ESL classrooms: Socialising bilingualism in Jaffna. Journal of Multilingual & Multicultural Development, 16(3), 173-195. Cook,V. (2001). Using the first language in the classroom. Canadian Modern Language Review, 57(3), 402-423. Deibert, A. (2010). Code-switching in bilingual communication. Munich: Grin Verlag. Greggio, S., & Gil, G. (2007). Teacher’s and learner’s use of code-switching in the English as a foreign language classroom: a qualitative study. Linguagem & Ensino, 10(2), 371-393. Liang, X. (2006). Identity and language functions: High school Chinese immigrant students’ codeswitching dilemmas in ESL classes. Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, 5(2), 143-167. Liu, D., Ahn, G. S., Baek, K. S., & Han, N. O. (2004). South Korean high school English teachers’ code switching: Questions and challenges in the drive for maximal use of English in teaching. TESOL Quarterly, 38(4), 605-638. Liu, P. (2006). Code-switching and Code-mixing. Munich: Grin Verlag. Myers-Scotton, C. (2001). The matrix language frame model: Development and responses. Trends in Linguistics Studies and Monographs, 126, 23-58. Peal, E., & Lambert, W. E. (1962). The relation of bilingualism to intelligence. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 76(27), 1-23.

Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

Rogier, D. (2012). The effects of English-medium instruction on language proficiency of students enrolled in higher education in the UAE. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Exeter University, UK. Tang, J. (2002). Using L1 in the English classroom. English Teaching Forum, 40(1), 36-43. Taskin, A. (2011). Perceptions on using L1 in language classrooms: A case study in a Turkish private university. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey. Thomason, S. G., & Kaufman, T. (2001). Language contact. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Ustunel, E. (2004). The sequential organization of teacherinitiated and teacher-induced code-switching in a Turkish university EFL setting. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Newcastle University, UK. Retrieved from School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences. (10443/448) Wei, L. (2005). “How can you tell?”: Towards a common sense explanation of conversational codeswitching. Journal of Pragmatics, 37(3), 375-389. Yao, M. (2011). On attitudes to teachers’ codeswitching in EFL classes. World Journal of English Language, 1(1), 19-28. i

i

i

i

i

Did you know? TESOL Arabia offers several types of grants to members, including travel, professional development, and research.

Find out more on the website! www.tesolarabia.org TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

Claudia Hassan Hariri Bahaa School and Lebanese International University, Lebanon

The Collaborative Media Project: Teaching Writing to Grade Nine Students in Lebanon

Although many educators theorize that interactive and collaborative technology tools are effective for providing students with motivating practice, research on collaborative and interactive technology is inconclusive. This article discusses and examines the effect of using blogs, an interactive and collaborative technology tool, on motivation and performance as well as on overall writing quality and revision patterns of ninth graders at a private Englishmedium school in Saida, Lebanon.

Rationale

This author felt dissatisfied with the results of the writing sessions in grade 9 classes. Students showed a lack of interest in applying all the steps of the writing process and consequently wrote essays with many grammatical and organizational mistakes. Motivation, which can be seen as the impetus to create as well as sustain goal-seeking acts, was missing. Research has stressed that students need the motivational will as well as the cognitive skill to do well at school (Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). Lately, there has been an increased enthusiasm for technology as an educational tool. Higher Education and the Workforce (2004) stresses that our students, the “Net Generation,” born in and after 1982, have pushed educators to embrace new teaching strategies to meet their needs. Furthermore, many researchers have investigated the interactive and communicative potential of technology in learning and emphasized the kind of interactivity that goes beyond computerhuman interaction to social interaction among a

Volume 24

11

No. 2

June 2016

group of learners in a learning community. The Internet can host such a learning community among students from different cultures and backgrounds and give them the opportunity to interact. This kind of interaction generates interest and motivation to learn and communicate. This communication with a real audience plays a key role in student motivation, which facilitates learning. Lim (2004) recommends strategies to engage learners in online learning environments. In fact, many writing teachers would argue that making students’ writing public is important because of the benefits of social interaction. Isaacs and Jackson (2001), for example, note Bruffee’s contribution to our understanding of the importance of public writing: In his work, Bruffee argues strenuously for students to go public with their writing to receive feedback, on the grounds that public writing in classrooms de-emphasizes teacher authority and promotes student-writers’ abilities to see themselves as responsible writers and to view writing as a social activity. (p. xii) Smith (2000) believes that students “take real-world writing more seriously when it is done on the web, where it might actually be seen and used” (p. 241). Many students nowadays send email messages to friends and family, converse via instant message daily and surf Internet websites. In fact, many educators throughout the world have started to make use of weblogs, seeking to find how powerful this interactive internet can be. Weblogs or blogs are

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

12

defined by Richardson (2004) as online platforms that can be established on the web and easily updated even by users with little knowledge of technology. In fact, blogs have attracted the attention of Internet publishers around the world. An October 2003 survey by the Perseus Development Group (Henning, 2003) estimated that over 4 million blogs had been created by the middle of 2003 and thousands more were being created weekly. Educators in Lebanon have been slower to adopt blogs as an educational tool. However, the public nature of a blog gives it a social, collaborative and intercultural dimension not present otherwise. Once bloggers (writers of blogs) publish their writings online, readers all around the world can view and comment on their writing. This option allows bloggers to communicate with online readers which makes writing more collaborative. Therefore, guided by Dornyei’s (2001) emphasis that “Teacher skills in motivating learners should be seen as central to teaching effectiveness” (p. 116), the author decided to use the Internet and blogs to promote learning and motivate students to write and apply all the steps of the writing process, so that they can improve their writing skills. This article discusses the benefits of utilizing the Internet and blogs to teach writing to grade 9 students at a private school in Saida, Lebanon.

Framework and Procedure

This study examines the implementation of the Collaborative Media Project in order to facilitate the acquisition of the skill of writing in a computer-networked miniature classroom. The activities and techniques the author used are a blog, a computer with projector, Internet sites, peer review and conferences with the students. The author taught writing via the process approach to the controlled group with the writing instruction offered every week in the group computer lab. The first step was to discuss the project with the school administration and receive their approval. Then the author introduced the idea of the project to grade 9 students. The author briefly demonstrated to her students that the volunteer group (experimental) would learn how to apply the writing process to write news stories and then publish them online on the group blog. After that brief presentation, students who were planning to join the project were asked to submit parental permission to ensure the parents’ approval of their children’s participation Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

and attendance in the after-class meetings every Saturday. The control group included eight grade 9 students: five girls and three boys. The schedule of their weekly meetings was assigned, and the group met every Saturday from 3:00 to 4:30 pm over a period of twelve weeks in the school computer lab, where extracurricular projects are held. The second step was to train the students to create a blog using blogger.com, a free, reliable and easy to use platform. Hence, their group blog, “What’s Up,” was created at this site: http://www.risingjournalists.blogspot. com. This blog is the virtual setting for the project where students have published their introductions, expectations, reactions towards the project week by week and finally their news stories. Claudia Hassan is an English language teacher and coordinator at Hariri Bahaa School and the Lebanese International University, Lebanon. She is a teacher trainer and has facilitated different online training courses. She co-authored the English Language Series Builders/Bricks and Stones: Grades 1 & 2. Claudia is currently pursuing a PhD degree.

Reflection

The Collaborative Media Project has been designed for intermediate students who are required by the Ministry of Education to write more than one paragraph-level text. The project builds on the fundamentals of news story writing. In the first six weeks of the project, students learned the difference between facts and opinions as well as the five factors that make something newsworthy: impact, proximity, timeliness, prominence and the unusual. Then, they discussed what would make news good: truth and accuracy, balance, objectivity, and clarity. They also learned the elements of news story writing: a lead and the inverted pyramid form which are different from the elements of essay writing and long, wellformed paragraphs with a topic sentence, supporting details, and a concluding sentence. The project also builds on the process of good writing. The students received instructions on the steps that comprise the writing process: prewriting, writing, revising and editing. During this first sixweek period, students were constantly updating their group blog, posting their reflections about the project and responding to the comments they received from their online audience. This communication started the online collaboration and generated more student motivation to complete their project.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

13

During the remaining six weeks of the 12-week project, students practiced writing their own news stories. To be prepared for the actual writing, students read sample news stories. The readings came from the Internet, particularly online newspapers and journalism sites. Then in pairs or groups, students wrote, revised and edited two news stories. After that, each student implemented all the steps of the writing process to write two news stories one after the other, and posted them on the group blog. These stories reveal that the students have gained confidence and motivation to write longer pieces. By the end of the twelve weeks, students were expected to: • Understand the role collaborative media plays in their lives and in lives of the general public. • Create their group blog.

Saida Flourishes in Ramadan

Ramadan is a special and an important month for all Moslems in the entire world, because it is the month of mercy and blessing. However, in Saida Ramadan has a very special impression. This month is a thread that connects the members of every family in Saida since families in Ramadan gather around the same table for the Iftar after a day of fasting. Once the Iftar announcement is heard, fasters enjoy the delicious food prepared. Families in Saida also invite each other for the iftar or go together to some restaurants which make special offers for Ramadan and have their iftar there. After eating, many people go to mosques and pray the Taraweh, a praying which Moslems pray in Ramadan. They also start to read some lines from Koraan and ask God to bless their lives. In addition, mosques in Saida also prepare programs especially for Leilat Al Kader ‘Destiny night’. On this night, Moslems stay awake until dawn and spend their time praying and reading Koraan because on this night God had sent Koraan to Moslems.

• Practice basic journalism skills. • Learn and implement the journalism code of ethics. • Use the 5-step process approach to writing (prewriting, drafting, editing, revising, and publishing). • Write news stories. • Understand the role of editing in the writing process. • Develop techniques to self-edit and edit other students’ stories. • Revise their stories for unity and coherence. • Build their confidence in the written expression of their thoughts, opinions and feelings in English. • Access Internet resources like online newspapers. Figure 1 shows a student’s news story about Saida during the month of Ramadan. of these shops which will be filled with people either from Saida or from other cities after the sunset. You can enter at street-level through a monumental porch under an arcaded gallery where the citizens prefer to sit in order to enjoy the mild weather especially in these summer days. There are also coffee shops that face the “Sea Castle of Saida” which is a very important archeological element and it is the favorite place of strollers searching for tranquility and the sea breeze. In addition to these places, you can find some famous old coffee shops in Saida filled with customers as if they are ants gathering on a piece of sugar. And by asking one of the customers about her opinion of Saida’s atmosphere in Ramadan she said, “It is a wonderful enterprise, it changes Saida from a normal city into a city with a vibrant economic movement. And it also changes Saida from a sleepy city into an active one.” Tourists also have their part in this activity which will be repeated every day in Ramadan and it will be in a continuous state from sunset till Dawn. By: Sara (a pseudonym)

Besides praying and worship, Saida is crowded with coffee shops in order to refresh its economic state and gather its citizens in a happy and interesting atmosphere. These coffee shops are spread in all Saida, but especially near the archeological places. For examples, at the entrance of Khan El-Franj which is an ancient and touristy place in Saida there are a lot Figure 1: A student’s news story posted on the blog Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

14

Educators read and responded to student writing. Students then received positive feedback and praise for their writing from their teacher and the international audience which made them value the effort they had made.

Project Evaluation

The Collaborative Media Project tests the power of online communication to motivate students to learn and apply all the steps of the writing process. Therefore, in order to obtain a comprehensive measure of motivation, a student questionnaire was designed. Students’ knowledge and progress has been measured by using the instructor’s writing process checklist and the students’ writings. The student questionnaire was modeled on the Constructivist Online Learning environment survey (COLLES) (Taylor & Maor, 2000) to assess the impact of the Internet on students’ writing at three levels. Effectiveness of the project was determined by studying the participants’ reactions, their learning gains and behavioral changes. Analysis of the questionnaire responses shows that the students had a very positive attitude towards the tools used (the Internet and the blog host site) as well as the training they underwent. The second instrument was a classroom observation checklist designed and administered in order to measure the students’ application of all the steps of the writing process and the development of the students’ writing skills throughout the project. The third instrument was comprised of the students’ own writing. Each student was required to find an idea which would be newsworthy and write his/her news story. After writing, each student was given a checklist for inverted pyramid news stories to revise and edit the news story. After conferencing with the teacher, each student published his/her story on the group blog. The quality of the student writing indicates that students’ knowledge of the writing process improved. It also indicates that their attitude towards learning writing changed tremendously. All the students became more comfortable writing throughout the course. Moreover, they all realized the important role of revising and editing their writing before posting it online. This was a complete change from their previous attitude. They willingly revised and edited their stories as well as each others’ before posting them on the blog. Publishing their stories online was a great achievement to them. Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

Conclusion

This study of the use of blogs to generate grade ninth graders’ motivation and consequently improve performance in writing presents significant results. First, it has brought to the fore that interactive and collaborative technology motivates students to write and apply all the steps of the writing process. The findings show that blogs improve students’ writing skills and abilities. Analysis of the media project blog shows ample evidence of both rich content and author’s craft. Not only did students use critical thinking to make their writing deeper and more logical, but they also enhanced it by adding advanced vocabulary. They also included a considerable amount of voice and expression. It is clear that they wanted to keep their readers interested and engaged in the writing. Moreover, the data shows that the blog improved students’ use of writing conventions. Students revised and edited their writing more than once because they were eager to finish and publish it online for everyone to see and read. Hence, this became an effective motivator for the students to produce highquality work. They also liked the idea that their work would be published instantly. Weblogs, therefore, have proved to be effective in enhancing grade 9 students’ writing skills within the context of a private school in Saida, Lebanon.

References

Dornyei, Z. (2001). Teaching and researching motivation. Harlow, UK: Longman. Henning, J. (2003). The blogging iceberg. Perseus Development Corporation. Retrieved from http://www.perseus.com/blogsurvey/ thebloggingiceberg.html. Higher Education and the Workforce: Issues for Reauthorization before the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Senate, 108th Cong. 14-15 (2004). (Testimony of Diana Oblinger). Isaacs, E. J., & Jackson, P. (Eds.). (2001). Public works: Student writing as public text. Portsmouth, UK: Boynton Cook. Lim, C. P. (2004). Engaging learners in online learning environments. Tech Trends, 48(4), 16-23. Pintrich, P. R., & Schunk, D. H. (2002). Motivation in education:Theory, research, and applications (2nd Ed). Columbus, OH: Merill.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

15

Richardson, W. (2004). Blogging and RSS — The “What’s It?” and “How To” of powerful new web tools for educators. Multimedia & Internet @Schools Online Magazine. Retrieved from http://www. infotoday.com/MMSchools/jan04/richardson. shtml. Smith, C. (2000). Nobody, which means anybody: Audience on the world wide web. In G. Sibylle (Ed.), Weaving a virtual web: Practical approaches to new information technologies (pp. 239-249). Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English. Taylor, P. and Maor, D. (2000). Assessing the efficacy of online teaching with the Constructivist On-Line Learning Environment Survey. In A. Herrmann and M.M. Kulski (Eds.), Flexible Futures in Tertiary Teaching. Proceedings of the 9th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 2-4 February 2000. Perth, Australia: Curtin University of Technology.

Appendix A: Student Questionnaire • English Language Skills

Statements

Strongly Disagree

Disagree Not sure

Agree

1. I found that my ability to communicate in English improved.

Strongly Disagree

Disagree

Not sure

Agree

Strongly Agree

1. Over the course of the project, my confidence in interacting with others grew. 2. It became easier to communicate my thoughts in English. 3. I found it easier to participate in online discussions than face-toface classroom discussions. 4. It was difficult to read and comment on at least two other members’ posts. 5. It was rewarding to see replies to my story posted on the blog.

2. The activities of the course stimulated my thinking.

• Students’ Perception of Their Interface with the Technology

3. I found I was able to express myself more freely in English.

Statements

Strongly Disagree

Disagree

Not sure

1. I found the internet and computer difficult to use.

4. The research carried out during the course was helpful to develop my character.

2. I was comfortable using the Internet for research. 3. I enjoyed posting my introduction and picture online.

5. I influenced the course of activities through collaboration with the other team members. Volume 24

Strongly Agree

• Interaction with Others (Motivation) Statements

4. Publishing my story online made me feel proud. No. 2

June 2016

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org

Agree

Strongly Agree


Feature Article

16

Appendix B: Classroom Observation Checklist

5. I found the introductory session about creating a blog unnecessary.

Question 1. Is the student aware of the audience to whom he/she will write?

6. I understood how to design and format the blog.

2. Does this awareness affect the choices the student makes as he/ she writes?

7. Using Publisher to design and create a hard newspaper was easy.

3. Can the student identify the purpose of the pre-writing activity? i. recognizing a lead ii. writing details in the form of inverted pyramid

8. I became more confident in using technology over the 7 week course.

4. Does the student engage in prewriting activities before writing? i. about vocabulary ii. about structure iii. about use of different sentence structure

9. I found that my lack of confidence in using computers hindered my participation.

5. Does the student write rough drafts?

• Content Statements

Yes

Strongly Disagree

Disagree

Not sure

Agree

Strongly agree

6. Does the student place a greater emphasis on content than on mechanics in the rough drafts? 7. Does the student share his/her writing whilst having conferences?

1. I became more comfortable writing throughout the course.

8. Does the student participate in discussions about classmates’ writing?

2. It was easy to brainstorm a topic for my story. 3. I learned how to write a strong lead for my story.

9. Does the student make changes to reflect the reactions and comments of both teacher and classmates?

4. Making interviews for the story was fun.

10. Between first and final drafts, does the student make substantive changes?

5. I found that editing and revising are important before posting the story online.

11. Does the student proofread his/ her own papers? 12. Does the student help proofread classmates’ papers? 13. Does the student increasingly identify his/her own mechanical errors?

6. I found it useful to edit other students’ stories posted on the blog.

Volume 24

14. Does the student publish his writing?

No. 2

June 2016

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org

No


Feature Article

Negotiation of Meaning: Student Strategies in Interactive Group Work

Khalid Albahouth Majmmah University, Saudi Arabia

Negotiation of meaning has received a growing amount of theoretical and empirical support that confirms its beneficial impact on language acquisition (Branden, 1997; Farangis, 2013; Long, 1983, 1985; Toyoda & Harrison, 2002). This ethnographic case study examined the strategies that ESL learners used while implementing negotiation of meaning in an advanced English Language Program reading course. Data was collected through classroom observation and audio-visual recorded group work interactions. Findings confirm that ESL learners utilize eight common negotiation strategies defined by the literature in this field (Ellis, 2008; Long, 1983; Oliver, 1998). Moreover, four additional strategies: initiating questions, nonverbal communicative actions, explanatory requests, and demonstrative responses were identified.

Introduction

In the act of communication, language learners are exposed to complex structural inputs that are often above their proficiency level. Pica (1994) argues that by implementing negotiation of meaning strategies, second language learners are able to comprehend a wider range of input. Negotiation of meaning (NOM) is defined as a process or series of strategies, involving modification and restructuring of interaction, that speakers and interlocutors employ to reach a clear understanding of each other (Ellis, 1985; Long, 1985; Mackey, 1999; Pica, 1994). Long (1985) asserts that implementing NOM among learners facilitates speech comprehension,

Volume 24

17

No. 2

June 2016

and thus increases its efficiency in second language acquisition. Negotiation of meaning has been proven to 1) boost language acquisition because language learners are exposed to complex structural inputs that are above their proficiency level (Branden, 1997; Farangis 2013; Long, 1983, 1985; Toyoda & Harrison, 2002); 2) promote vocabulary acquisition (Branden, 1997; Luan & Sappathy, 2011; Pica,Young, & Doughty, 1987); 3) increase learner-to-learner interaction in the target language creating more authentic language production (Gass & Varonis, 1985; Zhao & Bitchener, 2007); and 4) motivate L2 learners to use the language more productively which in turn increases the opportunities to learn the language (Branden, 1997; Luan & Sappathy, 2011; Pica,Young, & Doughty, 1987). Studies specifically focusing on methodology and classroom interaction have found that NOM boosts language acquisition (Branden, 1997; Farangis, 2013; Long, 1983, 1985; Pica,Young, & Doughty, 1987; Toyoda & Harrison, 2002). NOM strategies provide second language learners with the opportunity to clarify unclear utterances in order to gain comprehensible input (Gass & Varonis, 1985; Long, 1983), and at the same time allow learners to modify their own output during a conversation flow in order to be understood (Swain, 1985). However, the most and least common strategies used in NOM have rarely been discussed directly in the research. This ethnographic case study takes a micro-social interactionist approach (conversations among

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

18

individuals or small groups) as defined by Troike (2006), to examine English language learners’ use of negotiation of meaning within their assigned classroom activities in order to identify 1) what NOM strategies are employed by the learner; 2) how the teacher employs and/or explicitly teaches NOM strategies; and 3) which NOM strategies are prevalently used among the learners.

Methodology

The eleven participants of this study were adult ESL learners studying in a graduate study preparatory reading course within an English Language Program (ELP) located at a private university in northwest Ohio. This course was a 3-credit prerequisite for admission to their chosen field of study.The demographic breakdown of the participants is as follows: seven were from India, two were from China, one was from Saudi Arabia, and one was from Japan.The reading class met three times a week. On Mondays and Wednesdays, the class met for 50 minutes, and on Fridays they met for one hour and forty minutes.The teacher of record for this class was a native English speaker with a master’s degree in TESOL. To elicit the kinds of strategies learners used in negotiation of meaning, three instruments were employed in this study: 1) lesson plans, 2) observations with lesson notes, and 3) audio-visual recordings with an observation strategy checklist. Each instrument is described below. Lesson plans created by the instructor of record for the course were collected. The program advocated a 5-stage lesson plan with warm up, mini-lesson, guided practice, independent practice and closing. In general, these lesson plans matched the course content as outlined by the program’s curriculum and syllabus given to the teacher. Lesson plans were collected to determine what kinds of learning activities were planned and which of these activities required negotiation of meaning so that they could be audio-visually recorded. Classroom observations were conducted by the researcher, who was also the assigned teaching assistant for the course. The observational notes are unstructured notes that illustrate planned and unplanned events in the teacher’s instruction and within the tasks assigned. These notes informed Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

ethnographic detail and increased the researcher’s understanding of the classroom practices and the types of strategies that were being employed by the teacher and students within the class. Audio-visual recording were chosen to collect information on group interaction. It was chosen above audio-only recordings in order to capture non-verbal communication and other constructed artifacts used within the process of negotiation.

Procedure

To mitigate the researcher paradox and to allow for a more emic approach, the researcher was assigned as a student teacher/teaching assistant to the reading course that participated in this study, as part of the MA TESOL mentorship program. The mentorship program at this institution has been designed to give second-year MA TESOL students direct experience in the classroom as a student teacher/teaching assistant within the ELP. As per program requirements, the researcher attended every class three times a week for sixteen weeks. For the first half of the semester, he participated in the classroom in order to familiarize himself with the content and the students. As a student teacher in the classroom, he had the following responsibilities: 1) to walk around the classroom in order to observe and provide assistance to the learners; 2) to monitor the learners during activities in order to support their efforts; and 3) to collaborate with the primary teacher to create lesson plans and design appropriate activities to increase the opportunity for students to implement NOM during the activities. During the seventh week, consent forms were distributed, and by the ninth week the researcher began to record class interaction of group work, using a video camera over the course of five consecutive lessons. Using the lesson plans and observation lesson notes, the recorded lessons were time-indexed and annotated for points of interaction where NOM strategies were used. These activities were then transcribed and coded. The coding was adapted from eight strategies found consistently in the literature. These are clarification requests, confirmation checks, comprehension checks, recasts, self-repetitions, other-repetitions, self-repairs, and implicit correction strategies (Ellis, 2008; Long, 1983; Oliver, 1998). Four more strategies (initiating questions, TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

19

Song: So, women didn’t have power to do anything.

explanatory requests, demonstrative responses, and non-verbal communicative actions) were also found and identified within the data, bringing a total of twelve strategies used in coding. Each of the twelve strategies is described and illustrated below. (Student names have been changed.)

Self-repetitions are defined as utterances made by the speaker or listener from their own preceding utterances. These self- repetitions have further subclassifications based on their types, which are partial, exact, and expanded repetition (Oliver 1998; Pica & Doughty, 1985). Example #5: (Partial. Self-repetition) Omran: Two stories are there? Rania: Two stories. Omran: Yeah, two stories. (Partial) Example #6: (Exact. Self-repetition) Rania: No, this is just a part of the story. This is not a complete story. Rania: This just a part of the story. It’s not a complete story.

Clarification requests are defined as those utterances that are made by the listeners to ask for more clarification of what has been said by the speaker. These utterances could be structured as WHquestions, yes/no questions, and tag questions, or some statements that indicate asking for clarification such as “Sorry” and “I don’t understand” (Long, 1983; Pica & Doughty 1985). Example #1: Ali: Honey! Rania: Honey? What honey? Comprehension checks are utterances made by the speaker to check whether an earlier utterance has been understood or not. These include raising intonation or asking yes/no questions at the end of the utterance such as “Do you see what I am saying?” and “Do you understand?” (Long, 1983). Example #2: Song: Yeah, we could say like….the hint from this title…gives us the hint for time era, right? Confirmation checks are defined as utterances that are immediately made by the listener to affirm that the preceding utterance has been understood and heard correctly. Those utterances are usually made either by repeating phrases or inserting lexical items from the previous utterances by rising intonation (Long, 1983; Pica & Doughty 1985.) Example #3: Song: How about the story? Omran. My story! Recasts are utterances made by an interlocutor to rephrase the speaker’s utterances by making changes to some parts of the utterances (parts of speech) without changing the meaning (Ellis, 2008). Example #4: Cathy: Sorry….yeah…yeah…the lower society …… was treated as instruments… tools. Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

Other repetitions are the utterances made from other preceding utterances. Like self-repetitions, otherrepetitions have different kinds of repetitions such as partial, exact, and expanded repetitions (Oliver, 1998). Example #7: (Partial Other-repetition) Tajas: We can write the same point for this one. Song: Yes, the same point. Example #8: (Exact Other-repetition) Rania: Beehives! Ali: Beehives. Example #9: (Expanded Other-repetition) Rana: Mouse helped him? Amir: Mouse helped him that cut the net and the lion got released. Self-repairs/corrections are defined as utterances that are made immediately by the speaker or listener to correct their own mistakes (Ellis, 2008.) Example #10: Ali: Because I see the movie I saw I saw the movie. Implicit corrections are corrections made by the interlocutor in a way that is not directly being corrected.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

20

Example #11: Teacher: So, in this one, in what the time the era she did write the story? Student: In the nineteenth century. Teacher: In the nineteenth century, that could be a time era. If we wanna make it smaller, we could say in the eighteenth…so maybe the eighteenth nineties. We can say. Initiating questions are the utterances made by the speaker or listener to undertake a further continued conversation. Those utterances differ from clarification requests (see above) in that initiating these questions is not asking for a specific clarification of a preceding utterance. Instead, initiating questions are made because the interlocutors want to gain information that may lead to better understanding in their conversation. Example #12: Rania: Later what happened? Omran: Later, they take help from doctor Doo, we don’t know he is some character, so what he helps is he guided him to tight all the coconuts on one rope, (continued narrating the event) Explanatory requests include utterances made by the speaker or listener to develop a deeper understanding of a lexical items or ambiguous phrases. Example #13: Rania: What is this congratulate (referred to a word in a text)? Song: Ahhh….it means congratulate like likes to say good luck…you are good luck…aaaah it means yeah…you say good luck you doing good you doing good like that likethat. Congratulate some to some.

Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

Demonstrative responses include acts such as spelling and drawing initiated by the speaker after many failed verbal attempts to make the utterances understood. Therefore, since the speaker has failed to negotiate meaning with the interlocutor, they revert to spelling words or drawing pictures. Example #14: Ali: The house of the honey. Rania: What? Ali: Honey! Rania: What? What honey? Ali: Honey (spelled the word on a piece of paper H-o-n-e-y) Rania: Yeah, honey I know…where did honey come? Ali: (Smiled) But the…ok I will (started drawing a picture) this tree… this… Rania: Beehives? Ali: Beehives. Nonverbal communicative actions include gestures, body movements or facial expressions that are made by the speaker or listener instead of making utterances in order to deliver the message or meaning of something. Example #15: Amir: What is the stump? Jack: (Grabbed his smartphone to search for its meaning) Amir: (Pulled out his smartphone from his packet and did the same) Khalid Albahouth has a BA in English Language from Qassim University, KSA, and an MA TESOL from the University of Findlay, USA. Khalid is a lecturer at the school of English language, Majmmah University, Saudi Arabia. His research interests lie in innovative English teaching methods which enhance learning. He will start his PhD in Applied Linguistics at Lancaster University, UK, in January 2017.

Findings

Table 1 shows the percentage of strategies that were used by learners when they were engaging in conversations during group-work activities. The table presents the percentage for each strategy that was implemented for each individual video recording (tape) and the total percentage for each strategy over the course of the five lessons.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

21

Table 1 Strategies of Implementing Negotiation of Meaning (%) Strategies

Tape 1

Tape 2

Tape 3

Tape 4

Tape 5

Total

Clarification request

44

36

20

25

33

29.7

Confirmation check

12.5

21

16

14

16

10.5

4

22

10

3

1.8

8 8

3

3.7 4.6

8 4

11

Comprehension check Recast

5

Self-repetition • Partial self-repetition • Exact self-repetition • Expanded selfrepetition Other-repetition • Partial otherrepetition • Exact otherrepetition • Expanded otherrepetition

6 6

6

10.5 5

Self- repair/correction

16

16

25

11 0.9 1.8

3

8

Implicit correction

1.8 3

Initiating question

19

Explanatory request

6

5

Demonstrative response Nonverbal communicative actions

5

0.9

8

8

8

9

4

5.5

3.7

8

3

2.7

4

1.8

All of the eight strategies identified in the literature as well as the four additional strategies used by the study’s subjects were utilized to varying degrees in this study. Learners within this study, as illustrated in Table 1, utilized more clarification requests (29.7%), followed by confirmation checks (16%), and comprehension checks (10%). The data also reveals that other repetitions were implemented more than selfrepetitions. Partial and exact self-repetitions were both utilized equally at approximately 4% of the total strategies employed, and recasts were recorded only twice. Neither expanded self-repetition nor implicit correction was used by the learners; however, the teacher used implicit correction when she engaged in a conversation with a group member. Insufficient information or seeking extra information led learners to initiating questions as a new strategy of negotiation of meaning. Table 1 shows that learners utilized more initiating questions (9%) than explanatory request, demonstrative response, and nonverbal communicative action strategies.

Discussion and Conclusion

The findings in this study confirm the validity of using NOM and its effective role in second language Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

acquisition. The learners used several strategies of negotiation of meaning to accomplish group work. Even though not all strategies were utilized equally by the learners, strategies such as nonverbal and demonstrative strategies were employed by the learners as a “last resort” to maintaining and continuing conversation for the completion of group work activities. Based on the researcher’s experience as an English language learner in Saudi Arabia and undergraduate teacher training, the use of NOM is not a prevalent teaching strategy and thus is underutilized compared to its use in the university ELP where this study took place. Therefore, the implementation of negotiation of meaning strategies in Saudi English classrooms could benefit students studying English in their home country. The style of teaching English in Saudi Arabia is considered a teacher-fronted or teacher-centered classroom. Interactive activities and group work in the classroom are rarely employed, and collaboration among students in classrooms is not encouraged readily (Alharbi, 2015). The program in which this study took place was based on a communicative language teaching approach, which relies heavily on student-centered classrooms and techniques that depend on student interaction and group work. This communicative approach highly encourages and motivates ESL learners to practice the language through real and/or simulated situations. Such situations mirror a more authentic native use of language. In this study, the leaners had the ability to adjust their utterances in order to achieve comprehension in the creation of a tangible (e.g., designing a poster or using a graphic organizer to plot a story) or intangible (e.g., holding a discussion or debate) product, similar to what they would be expected to produce in their graduate coursework. To fulfill the learners’ needs of language use, interactive group activities are required for teaching language. From these collaborate activities and through NOM, learners can solve communicative issues caused by limitations within their English proficiency level. Other benefits from using NOM may include peer teaching, contextualized learning, input and output development and expanded exposure to more advanced vocabulary and syntax structures. Thus, teachers should be more aware of the importance of interactive classrooms and the

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

22

application of NOM strategies so that they can capitalize on these negotiation strategies and use them as explicit teaching tools for the development of more authentic language practice and use.

References

Alharbi, H. A. (2015). Improving students’ English speaking proficiency in Saudi public schools. International Journal of Instruction, 8(1), 105-116. Branden, K. (1997). Effects of negotiation on language learners’ output. Language Learning, 47, 589-636. Ellis, R. (1985). Understanding second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ellis, R. (2008). Explaining second language acquisition: External factors. (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Farangis, S. (2013). The effect of negotiation on second language acquisition. Education Journal, 2(6), 236-241. Gass, S., & Varonis, E. (1985). Task variation and nonnative/nonnative negotiation of meaning. In S. M. Gass & C. G. Madden (Eds.), Input in second language acquisition (pp. 149-161). Rowley, MA: Newbury House. Long, M. H. (1983). Native speaker/nonnative speaker conversation and the negotiation of comprehensible input. Applied Linguistics, 4, 126141. Long, M. H. (1985). Group work, interlanguage talk, and second language acquisition. TESOL Quarterly, 19(2), 207-228.

Luan, N., & Sappathy, S. (2011). L2 vocabulary acquisition: The impact of negotiated interaction. GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies, 11(2), 5-20. Mackey, A. (1999). Input, interaction and second language development: An empirical study of question formation in ESL. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 21, 557-588. Oliver, R. (1998). Negotiation of meaning in child interactions. Modern Language Journal, 82(3), 372. Pica, T. (1994). Research on negotiation: What does it reveal about second-language learning conditions, processes, and outcomes? Language Learning, 44, 493-527. Pica, T., & Doughty, C. (1985). Input and interaction in the communicative language classroom: A comparison of teacher-fronted and group activities. Input in second language acquisition, 115-132. Pica, T.,Young, R., & Doughty, C. (1987). The impact of interaction on comprehension. TESOL Quarterly, 21(4), 737-758. Toyoda, E., & Harrison, R. (2002). Categorization of text chat communication between learners and native speakers of Japanese. Language Learning & Technology, 6(1), 82-99. Troike, M. (2006). Introducing second language acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Zhao,Y., & Bitchener, J. (2007). Incidental focus on form in teacher-learner and learner-learner interactions. System, 35, 431-447. i

Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

i

i

i

i

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

23

The Effect of “Talking Partners” on UAE KG Students

Anna Dillon

Lynne McCullagh

Jodie Asafo

Amal Saeed Al Neyadi Amal Mohammed Al Neyadi Aysha Mater Al Shamisi

Kindergarten schools within the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) consist of two grades: KG 1 and KG 2. English Medium Teachers (EMTs) have primary responsibility for English, math and science, while Arabic Medium Teachers (AMTs) are responsible for Arabic, Islamic studies and civics. The purpose of this study is to explore the effect of the Talking Partners program on improving children’s literacy and self-confidence in speaking. Talking Partners is an oral language intervention designed to help children develop their speaking and listening skills. It is also a teaching strategy that helps students gain self-confidence. This inquiry emphasizes the importance of collaboration and communication for the development of Arabic and English speaking skills of young children. As a result of Talking Partners, most of the students became active talkers in all three classrooms. Teachers modeled the think-pairVolume 24

No. 2

June 2016

share strategy and encouraged students to ask more questions of their partners, which developed higher order thinking and improved students’ reasoning skills.

Introduction

In 2009, the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) implemented the what was known as the New School Model (NSM) in grades K-5 that featured a new pedagogical approach to learning that promotes critical thinking skills, collaboration amongst students, and creativity (ADEC, 2014). This is now called the Abu Dhabi School Model. Kindergarten (KG) schools within ADEC consist of two grades, KG 1 and KG 2, starting from ages 3 years, 8 months. Typically, there are two teachers placed in each classroom, although this is not the case in every school. English Medium Teachers (EMTs) have primary responsibility for English, math, and science, TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

24

while Arabic Medium Teachers (AMTs) are primarily responsible for Arabic, Islamic studies, and civics. The co-teaching model in place encourages teachers to share responsibility for children’s learning.

Abstract

Kindergarten schools within the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) consist of two grades: KG 1 and KG 2. English Medium Teachers (EMTs) have primary responsibility for English, math and science, while Arabic Medium Teachers (AMTs) are responsible for Arabic, Islamic studies and civics. The purpose of this study is to explore the effect of the Talking Partners program on improving children’s literacy and self-confidence in speaking. Talking Partners is an oral language intervention designed to help children develop their speaking and listening skills. It is also a teaching strategy that helps students gain self-confidence. This inquiry emphasizes the importance of collaboration and communication for the development of Arabic and English speaking skills of young children. As a result of Talking Partners, most of the students became active talkers in all three classrooms. Teachers modeled the think-pairshare strategy and encouraged students to ask more questions of their partners, which developed higher order thinking and improved students’ reasoning skills. Anna Dillon (B.Ed.; M.A. (Ed.); PhD) is an assistant professor in the College of Education and director of the Early Childhood Learning Center at Zayed University, Dubai. At the time the study took place, she was working as a head of faculty at a KG school in Al Ain.

Introduction

In 2009, the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) implemented the what was known as the New School Model (NSM) in grades K-5 that featured a new pedagogical approach to learning that promotes critical thinking skills, collaboration amongst students, and creativity (ADEC, 2014). This is now called the Abu Dhabi School Model. Kindergarten (KG) schools within ADEC consist of two grades, KG 1 and KG 2, starting from ages 3 years, 8 months. Typically, there are two teachers placed in each classroom, although this is not the case in every school. English Medium Teachers (EMTs) have primary responsibility for English, math, and science, while Arabic Medium Teachers (AMTs) are primarily responsible for Arabic, Islamic studies, and civics. The co-teaching model in place encourages teachers to share responsibility for children’s learning. Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

EMTs are mostly recruited from the United States, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. There is a growing number of Emirati EMTs (EEMTs) being hired in public schools. Many AMTs are of Emirati nationality, although there are some Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian AMTs. The NSM has driven the KG curriculum and strategies necessary for school improvement. It should be noted that while a variety of subjects in KG schools are co-taught in many different ways, the focus of the school involved in this study has been team teaching to model the outcomes through the theme in Arabic and English during whole-group instruction (Dillon, Salazar, & Al Otaibi, 2015). EMTs and AMTs work collaboratively in a team teaching situation where both languages are being used simultaneously during whole-group instruction. This provides a unique opportunity for teachers to integrate learning using the theme as the vehicle and facilitate understanding of concepts regarding both language and content (Dillon, Salazar, & Al Otaibi, 2015).

Context of the Problem

Cregan (2007) states that learning to talk “is an integral part of growing up for every child” (p. 11). She also points to the conventional view of literacy as the ability to read and write. Within the KG context, speaking and listening must be viewed as skills vital to the development of pre-literacy skills. One of the challenges faced by KG teachers in our school is implementing strategies that promote communication and collaboration, which are vital to improving literacy (Nitecki & Chung, 2013). When the School Improvement Plan (SIP) was drafted at the end of the previous academic year, teachers were involved in a collaborative process to write SIP goals and action plans. These six SIP goals targeted two areas; improving speaking skills and enhancing opportunities for creative and critical thinking. The Senior Leadership Team decided at the beginning of the year to combine these SIP goals with our plans for mandatory Professional Development (PD). A training specialist from GEMS Education facilitated the development of these plans. Through participating in the teacher inquiry strand of PD, groups of teachers refined these strategies and their research focus.The Arabic language has many characteristics that may make a child’s transition to English difficult. Palmer, El-Ashry and Leclerc (2007)

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

25

Communication is an important life skill at every level of the educational process. For early language learners, oral proficiency proves critical in the development of a child’s academic success and selfesteem (Cregan, 2012). Although successful DLE programs promote communication skills, they often present many challenges. One of these challenges is in the area of ensuring more child talk than teacher talk in the classroom.

state that many Arabic-speaking children start school with limited knowledge about literacy strategies that are related to Arabic and English.This presents a further challenge to ensuring student success in speaking.

Purpose of the Study and Research Question

The purpose of this study is to explore the effect Talking Partners has on improving children’s speaking skills and self-confidence in speaking. It is an oral language intervention and teaching strategy designed to help children develop their speaking and listening skills and gain self-confidence. It is also an appropriate early childhood literacy strategy. This inquiry emphasizes the importance of collaboration and communication for children’s literacy development. Our primary research question, therefore, is: What effect does the literacy strategy called Talking Partners have on improving KG children’s collaboration and communication skills?

Literature Review

Lynne McCullagh (B.Ed.) works as a primary school teacher in Ireland. She was working as a KG2 teacher in Al Ain at the time of the study.

In the UAE, Arabic and English are taught using a dual language education (DLE) model with the aim of enhancing bi-literacy among learners. There is a dearth of literature regarding the bi-literate, team teaching model. Instruction is facilitated in a 50/50 model, and therefore children are learning within two phonological systems at the same time. They are developing simultaneous phonemic awareness in L1 and L2, constructing two sets of rules and indirectly learning that there are certain sounds in one language that are not present in the other (Barbre, 2003; Montague, Marroquin, & Lucido, 2002). DLE programs in many countries have produced many significant improvements in closing the achievement gap and markedly improving scores in math and English (Lindholm-Leary, 2012). Measured improvements in these subjects included performing at or above grade level on standardized reading and math tests. Baetens Beardsmore (2008) states that being plurilingual brings intellectual benefits and that there has been much evidence in the past of the connection between plurilingualism (including bilingual education) and creative thinking, communicative sensitivity, metalinguistic skills, self-regulating mechanisms and spatial skills. Based on a study conducted by Dillon, Salazar and Al Otaibi (2015), co-teacher working relationships and planning time are crucial to the success of bi-literacy. Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

Cummins (1979) argues that “a cognitively and academically beneficial form of bilingualism can be achieved only on the basis of adequately developed first language skills” (p. 222). The children in ADEC KGs are in fact learning an additional L1 (Standard Arabic) and a new L2 (English) when they come to KG. Until that point, many children will have spoken only local Arabic. This places them in a rather unique situation where a positive transfer of skills has to be facilitated between local Arabic, standard Arabic and English as additional languages (Dillon, Salazar, & Al Otaibi, 2015). This highlights the need for teachers to be mindful of activating children’s prior knowledge because students, particularly English Language Learners (ELLs), learn and remember new information best when it is linked to relevant prior knowledge (Hill & Flynn, 2006). If this can be done in Arabic and English simultaneously in an interwoven co-constructed dialogue, it should have a positive impact on children’s understanding. The development of children’s comprehensible output is key in this situation (Lightbown & Spada, 2006; Pica, 2005). The use of English and Arabic during a literacy lesson provides a unique opportunity for teachers to use their professional knowledge of the child’s linguistic level to put them under developmentally appropriate communicative pressure under guidance, i.e. the use of context to elicit more information, which may result in the teacher supplying new words but within a frame the child understands (Dillon, 2014). Generally speaking, in a whole group setting, children may be afraid or sometimes too shy to communicate. In order to further help children overcome this shyness, it is important to develop strategies that encourage student to student communication. The use of talk and verbal means of

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

26

communication are important strategies in teaching in a bi-literacy model. Knowledge of best practice informs us that all children should be fully involved in learning activities in order to make progress. While having individual children respond provides an opportunity for some talking, Lancashire School Effectiveness Service (2006) assures us that using “talk partners” as a strategy entails that all children have the opportunity to think, discuss and express themselves orally. It may also give the children more opportunities to engage in higher-order thinking skills. Talking Partners is a structured oral language activity that involves the think-pair-share strategy. The think-pair-share strategy is a collaborative learning process which maximizes student participation and moves away from the more traditional classroom setting of the teacher talking and students responding. Children are fully involved in the process. The think part involves time for students to think about what is being asked. This is crucial for students within ADEC KG as they need time to think about speaking in formal Arabic and English. The think time also allows the students to process what is being asked by the teacher. The pair part involves students talking to their talking partner and sharing and expressing ideas. All students get a chance to share their ideas and thoughts with at least one student. Talking with their partners provides a safer, more secure setting for students to openly discuss and express their ideas before sharing with the whole group. The share part involves small groups and students volunteering to share their thoughts and ideas. Therefore, students begin by thinking about the idea themselves, then pair up and work together to discuss the idea, and finally share again individually or with their partner. This creates meaningful interaction between the students while they learn the dialogue of conversation. They learn to take turns in speaking and learn to be active listeners. Jodie Asafo (B.A., Post Grad. Dip.) works as a teacher at Al Ain International School. She was working as a KG1 teacher in Al Ain at the time of the study.

“Using Think, Pair, Share — Primary” (Center for the Collaborative Classroom, 2015) is a beneficial video that explains how to set up Talking Partners in a way that can be adapted for use in a kindergarten classroom. Talking Partners is demonstrated in the context of shared writing. Through this activity, the teacher models new vocabulary and practices using the vocabulary by offering problems for Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

the students to solve. Students think about the problem and then pair up and discuss the problem. This video highlights the benefits of Talking Partners and students’ communicating collaboratively with each other. Teachers also incorporated the use of puppets into Talking Partners as there are many benefits in puppetry particularly when students express themselves in a second language. By using the think-pair-share strategy, students work together and develop conversation skills. Using puppets during Talking Partners increased student interest and student questioning as students had to ask each other questions. The puppets provided a comfortable means for students to engage in a dialogue with each other as they could hide behind the puppet and invent a character. Once learners become less self-conscious, they are more available to begin exploring the conventions of the English language (Lepley, 2001).

Methodology

The methodology for this study is teacher inquiry. Teacher inquiry is a form of research that is conducted by the teacher in the formal setting of his/her classroom (Conner & Greene, 2006). For the purpose of this study, teacher inquiry is used as a continuous and reflective process where teachers make decisions about their classrooms that are predicated upon student needs. The power of teacher inquiry lies in the ability of the teachers to transform their classrooms into laboratories for learning where improvement is seen in teaching and learning. Dana (n.d.) concluded that teacher inquiry is beneficial to teachers simply because teachers are best suited for defining problems in the classroom and developing solutions. Teacher inquiry has allowed teachers to implement strategies to enrich the educational attainment of children (Dana, n.d.). This study can also be seen as a case study research type, which focuses on a particular interest in individual cases (Stake, 1994; Cregan, 2007). A case study can often provide a detailed snapshot of a system in action (Dillon, 2011). It is important to note that this research is grounded in trying to explain the processes underlying Talking Partners in a naturalistic sense (Farhady, 2013). The main limitation of this method is that results cannot be generalized as the observations were conducted in only one setting. The observations, while specific to the case in question, may be of benefit to colleagues working in similar settings (Farhady, 2013). TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

27

Data Collection

Sources of data collected include video recordings, photos, weekly observation notes, co-teacher planning notes and assessment notes. These methods of data collection were chosen to monitor the effect on Talking Partners in a bilingual classroom. They allowed the teacher to plan for, observe and assess the students’ speaking and listening skills over the five weeks.Video recordings were important as teachers could reflect on and analyze student participation and the process. Talking Partners was initially planned to last six weeks. However, due to a school event and student attendance, this was reduced to five weeks. The data were collected in three classrooms: two KG1 classrooms (Classroom A and B) and one KG2 classroom (Classroom C). Both classrooms A and B had one full time AMT and a shared EMT. Classroom C had both a bilingual AMT and an EMT. On average, there were 21 students in each class. Data collection was more consistent and reliable in Classroom C as the class had more support with two teachers present in the classroom throughout the five weeks.

Findings

Classroom A made the most progress in the number of students talking during the activity. The number increased from 9 to 15, as seen in Figure 2.

These findings are based on all three classrooms that used Talking Partners as a strategy to improve speaking in Arabic and English. The data were analyzed based on the following criteria: • Number of students talking during Talking Partners • Students asking questions • Speaking in full sentences • Discussing in detail about a topic • How many pairs of Talking Partners spoke throughout the activity. Figure 1 shows the progress made by all three classes in all five criteria over the 5-week period. It is evident even from a glance that the improvement across all criteria was considerable. It was evident that Talking Partners was more beneficial in classroom C,

No. 2

June 2016

Figure 1: Progress made by 3 classes in Talking Partners over 5 weeks Amal Saeed Al Neyadi (B.Ed.), Amal Mohammed Al Neyadi (B.Ed.), and Aysha Matar Al Shamisi (B.Ed.) work as Arabic Medium Teachers at a KG school in Al Ain.

Before carrying out Talking Partners, the six teachers involved discussed areas where they would like to see growth and observe what effect Talking Partners could potentially have on the English and Arabic literacy development of Arabic speaking KG children. The teachers came up with five areas to assess and monitor when trialing Talking Partners, based on the literature reviewed and the needs of the students.

Volume 24

the only classroom with both an AMT and an EMT present and with the AMT being bilingual. This was important when initially teaching the think-pairshare strategy as teachers could model expectations with each other. This enabled students to witness a clear demonstration of what was expected and how to carry out the activity effectively. Figure 1 below shows the progress made by the three classes in Talking Partners over 5 weeks.

Figure 2: Progress made by Classroom A in Talking Partners over 5 weeks There was a noticeable improvement in students discussing topics in more detail. After the 5-week period, this number went from two students discussing the topic in detail to eight students in Classroom B, as seen in Figure 3. Through teacher modelling, vocabulary developed and students became more involved in the conversations.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

28

Figure 3: Progress made by Classroom B in Talking Partners over 5 weeks There was a large impact on Talking Partners in Classroom C. In week one, 20% of students were discussing topics in detail. By week 5, this had grown to 95%, as seen in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Progress made by Classroom C in Talking Partners over 5 weeks It is evident, therefore, that applying the strategy of Talking Partners had an impact on all students’ speaking and listening skills. Both Classrooms A and B progressed in all five criteria. However, Classroom C showed the largest improvement. Teachers looked into the reasons for this, and it became evident that this classroom was fully staffed having two teachers present. This was also a KG 2 classroom, so students’ language was more developed as the students were a year older than students in classrooms A and B. Students’ speaking increased after the five weeks in both Arabic and English, as can be seen in Figure 1. In week one, students were introduced to the concept of Talking Partners. This began by discussing the expectations regarding this strategy in the classroom. Students discussed how to be a good listener and speaker. Through this, both the students and teachers created the Talking Partners ground rules. The first and second weeks proved challenging as it was a new activity for students and some were not comfortable talking or sharing with the class what they had talked about. Students were reluctant to talk and share ideas. Few students asked questions or discussed topics in detail, and the majority of students responded in one word answers with some Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

students not responding at all. By week five, there was an immense improvement in all three classrooms. Students’ responses lengthened, and they went into more detail discussing topics both in Arabic and English. Students were encouraged to ask each other questions and say why they responded the way they did. For example, a child in Classroom C responded that “My favourite animal is a shark because he has sharp teeth.” Students’ answers went from one word to full sentences, and they began using the connector “because.” They were more confident in sharing and listened more carefully to the responses of their fellow students. Props such as puppets and flashcards were introduced to promote deeper discussions and to continue to keep students engaged. Overall, all teachers found this strategy very useful. However, teachers had to overcome some challenges and limitations throughout the five week period. These included: • Behavior: some students found it difficult to comply with the behavior expectations. • If students were unsure or not interested in the topic, they often began moving about, therefore interrupting their peers. • Students who would talk depending on their mood were a challenge to overcome. • Student to teacher ratio (Classrooms A and B, 20:1 and Classroom C, 10:1) made it difficult to support conversation and monitor students. • Noise levels: some students wanted to be heard and could drown out other children. • Taking turns when talking. By week five, teachers had overcome the majority of the challenges, and Talking Partners ran much more smoothly and efficiently. Students understood the rules and expectations, and most understood the concept of engaging in conversation, in which one listens and one talks.

Reflection and Future Practice

All teachers found Talking Partners to be a beneficial strategy in improving speaking and listening in both Arabic and English. For Talking Partners to be successful, the authors learned that: • Planning is important: teachers need to have suitable questions, and activities should be planned and designed to meet the students’ needs and abilities. • Both Arabic and English teachers should be present in the classroom to support the students’ needs and model the activities. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

• Classroom expectations need to be clear and adhered to. • Rules need to be student friendly and should be on display as reminders of appropriate behavior. • Students need suitable partners to discuss ideas. Different factors have to be taken into account when assigning students a specific partner, e.g., friendship, behavior, speaking ability, confidence levels. • Partners need to be changed every 3-4 weeks. As a result of Talking Partners, most of the students became active talkers in all three classrooms. Teachers modeled the think-pair-share strategy, and students responded well. More learning took place as there was less teacher talk and more student talk. The teachers became facilitators and encouraged students to ask more questions to their partner, which encouraged higher order thinking and improved students’ reasoning skills as they explained their answers. All teachers involved in experimenting with Talking Partners have agreed that they will continue to use this strategy in their classrooms. Teachers found it most suitable to whole group lessons where all students were involved in the process. Thematic discussions, as well as shared reading and problemsolving, were the areas where think-pair-share worked best in the bilingual KG classroom. One interesting aspect was that students who were very shy and rarely talked were willing to talk to their partner and to share during the share session. This highlighted the importance of the strategy in promoting students’ confidence and competency when speaking. Talking Partners offers many learning opportunities in the classrooms. Higher order thinking, question asking, discussing in detail, sequencing stories and events, predicting stories and pictures and improving students’ confidence and speaking skills are some of the skills that Talking Partners can improve. These skills are all linked to the ADEC outcomes in both Arabic and English which helps teachers to engage in assessment for learning more effectively as they witness the growth of speaking skills. Talking Partners improved speaking in classrooms and this was evident in classroom discussions, during center time and throughout the school day. Most importantly, students were motivated to share whilst enjoying this fun, learning environment. Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

29

References

Abu Dhabi Education Council. (2014). ADEC Public Schools (P-12) Policy Manual. Abu Dhabi: ADEC. Baetens Beardsmore, H. (2008, October). Multilingualism, cognition and creativity. Paper presented at CLIL 2008 Fusion Conference, Tallinn, Estonia. Barbre, J. G. (2003). Effects of an early childhood education program with parent involvement on oral language acquisition. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Pepperdine University, Malibu, California. Center for the Collaborative Classroom. (2015, February 25). Using think-pair-share: Primary [video file]. Retrieved from https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=YchexU5NVNA Conner, L., & Greene, W. (2006). Teacher education for the future project: A collaborative study of diverse perspectives from Fiji, Korea, the United States and Latvia. General Scope and Purpose. In A. Pipere (Ed.), Education and sustainable development: First steps towards changes (pp. 319323). Daugavpils, Latvia: Daugavpils University. Cregan, A. (2007). From difference to disadvantage. ‘Talking posh’ sociolinguistic perspectives on schooling in Ireland (Working Paper Series 07/03). Retrieved from Combat Poverty Agency website: http://www.combatpoverty. ie/publications/workingpapers/2007-03_WP_ TalkingPosh.pdf Cregan, A. (2012). From Literacy Research to Classroom Practice: Insights and Inspiration. Paper presented at 36th Annual Conference of the Reading Association of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland. Cummins, J. (1979). Linguistic Interdependence and the educational development of bilingual children. Review of Educational Research, 49, 222-251. Dana, N. (n.d.). Inquiring minds want to know Dana’s secret. Retrieved from http:// lastingercenter.com/developing-master-teachers/ Dillon, A. (2014). Educo: A frame for practice for guiding students from silence to dialogue. Paper presented at TESOL Arabia Al Ain Chapter: Speaking and Listening Workshop, Al Ain, UAE. Dillon, A. (2011). Teachers and language learning in primary schools: The acquisition of additional languages in the early years. (Unpublished doctoral thesis). Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, Ireland. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

30

Dillon, A., Salazar, D., & Al Otaibi, R. (2015). Leading learning: Communities of practice to enhance SLA. Paper presented at the 21st TESOL Arabia International Conference, Dubai, UAE. Farhady, H. (2013). Quantitative and qualitative research: Conflictual or complementary. In R. Akbari and C. Coombe (Eds.), Middle East handbook of applied linguistics (pp. 209-226). Dubai: TESOL Arabia Publications. Hill, J. D., & Flynn, K. M. (2006). Classroom instruction that works with English language learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Lancashire School Effectiveness Service. (2006). Talk partners: A guidance booklet for schools. Lancaster, UK: Lancashire County Council. Lepley, A. (2001). How puppetry helps the oral language development of language minority kindergartners. Fairfax,VA: Fairfax County Public Schools. Lightbown, P. M., & Spada, N. (2006). How languages are learned (3rd edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lindhom-Leary, K. (2012). Success and challenges in dual language education. Theory into Practice, 51, 256-262.

Montague, N., Marroquin, C., and Lucido, F. (2002). A dual language curriculum for young children. In J. Cassidy & S. Garrett (Eds.), Early childhood literacy programs and strategies to develop cultural, linguistic, scientific and healthcare literacy in very young children and their families (pp. 23-42). Corpus Christi, TX: Center for Educational Development, Evaluation, and Research. Retrieved from files.eric.ed.gov/ fulltext/ED468859.pdf. Nitecki, E., & Chung, M. (2013). What is not covered by the standards: How to support emergent literacy in preschool classrooms. Language and Literacy Spectrum, 23, 46-56. Palmer, B. C., El-Ashry, F., & Leclerc, J. T. (2007). Learning from Abdallah: A case study of an Arabic-speaking child in a US school. The Reading Teacher, 61(1), 8-17. Pica, T. (2005). Second language acquisition research and applied linguistics. In E. Hinkel (Ed.), Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning (pp. 263-280). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Stake, R. E. (1994). Identification of the case. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 236-247). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. i

i

i

i

i

Call for Proposals: TESOL Arabia International Conference and Exhibition 2017 TESOL Arabia welcomes proposals to present at its 2017 International Conference. Please submit your proposal on our website: http://www.tesolarabia.co/conference/proposals/. Proposal Types: • Paper Presentation - Short (30 minutes) • Interactive Workshop (45 minutes)

• Paper Presentation - Long (45 minutes) • Poster Session (60 minutes)

Proposal Categories: • Applied Linguistics • CLIL • Creativity & Innovation • Educational Technology • ESP/EAP • Grammar • Intercultural Communication • Leadership & Management • Learner Independence • Listening/Speaking • New Media Literacy • Reading • Research • Teacher Development • Testing & Assessment • Vocabulary • Writing • Young Learners Presenters must be members of TESOL Arabia at the time of the conference and must pre-register for the conference. Only one proposal per presenter will be accepted. DEADLINE: November 15th, 2016 Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Lesson Feature Idea Article

Sunayana Manoj Al Ghurair University, Dubai

31

Poster Presentations To Augment Communication Competence

Every instructor dreams of teaching or training a set of students who are enthusiastic and fully ready to participate in classroom discussions. However, this is not always the case when instructors try to develop the communication competence of learners. It is a constant challenge as it involves the act of penetrating the intellect of learners and encouraging them to express themselves. Steele and Plenty (2014) corroborate a theory put forth by Adler and Rodman (2010) which says that competence is something that can be learned and improved through training. However, partial training in the form of oral presentations in the classroom may have a stilted quality. This is probably because a large audience restricts students from expressing themselves with spontaneity. This lesson idea was carried out on adult learners in an organization catering to higher education. A class activity was planned to bolster the communication competence of learners in a natural environment and yielded some surprising insights. In this particular context it is worth noting that Spitzberg and Cupach (1984, p. 5), have declared that communication competence is concerned with an individual’s ability to cope with the surrounding ambience. They have made it clear that communication competence can be achieved through a strong bond with the surrounding environment. Hence, a poster exhibition combined with student presentations was planned to help students discover their potential. This Poster Exhibition on Social Awareness was meant to enhance the interpersonal communication competence of students who were enrolled on a general education course, Communication Skills. Posters covering diverse topics such as junk food, dangers of drug addiction, hazards of smoking, anorexia and its implications, and more, were Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

designed and displayed in the reception area of the university (Figure 1). Undergraduates enrolled on the course were asked to present these posters to students and faculty who were free and available during that particular time.

Figure 1. The poster exhibition TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Lesson Article Idea

32 Undergraduates enrolled on this course presented the posters successfully, awakening social awareness about a number of current issues. During the activity, faculty and students from various colleges were encouraged to engage in an interactive question/answer session. My students, who presented these posters accompanied by detailed explanation, found it a very memorable experience. They had an excellent opportunity to develop their interpersonal communication skills while presenting useful information on major issues related to problems within the society. Hackman and Johnson (2004, p. 367) have declared that, “Leaders do not develop naturally but are made.� Steele and Plenty (2014) have supported this viewpoint with the statement that communication is a learned social skill where a student’s potential can be enhanced over time or remain untapped. This potential could lie dormant for years if the student does not get a chance to exhibit his/her skills. Therefore, it was necessary to provide an opportunity for these students to rediscover their social skills. Sunayana Manoj is an English Language Instructor at Al Ghurair University, Dubai. Her research interests are educational technology and sociolinguistics.

While evaluating the activity, it was observed that this oral communication activity was immensely beneficial. The poster presentations taught students how to carry out meaningful conversations in unfamiliar situations. It was remarkable to note that shy students who could not speak up in front of a classroom audience were loud and fully articulate. They felt empowered when they realized that they could make a difference in the lives of their friends. They were extremely enthusiastic throughout the interchange of question/answer sessions and appeared to be very comfortable. Acute observations by the instructor revealed that students were not nervous and did not exhibit any symptoms of inhibited behavior. It was obvious that the presentations inculcated students with a sense of responsibility towards the community. A suggested variation for this class activity would be the involvement of one more set of students from another class. If two courses are being run parallel to each other with requirements to achieve the same set of learning outcomes, it would be feasible to invite the other set of students and faculty to the poster presentations. They could come up with well thought out questions if the topics were Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

provided in advance. This would also prove to be more challenging for those students presenting the posters, but the advantage in terms of achieving communication competence would be enormous. On the whole, the poster presentations satisfied a dual set of requirements. Although developing interpersonal communication competence and leadership skills was the main goal, the presentations were also meant to help students develop a moral responsibility towards the community. Students became conscious of their obligations towards society and were able to contribute towards building some social awareness. Hence, instructors who wish to use this lesson idea will be able to satisfy community service initiatives while developing the communication competence of their learners.

References

Adler, R., & Rodman, G. (2010). Understanding human communication. New York: Oxford University Press. Hackman, M. Z., & Johnson, C. E. (2004). Leadership, a communication perspective (4th edition). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. Spitzberg, B. H., & Cupach, W. R. (1984). Interpersonal communication competence. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. Steele, G.A., & Plenty, D. (2014) Supervisorsubordinate communication competence and job and communication satisfaction. International Journal of Business Communication. doi: 10.1177/2329488414525450. i

i

i

i

i

Want up-to-the-minute

TESOL Arabia news? Find it here: http://www.tesolarabia.co/about-tesolarabia/latest-news/. You subscribe to our online newsletter and read back issues at http://www.tesolarabia.co/about-tesolarabia/newsletter/.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Lesson Feature Idea Article

A Flipped Class Lesson Plan

Charles Fullerton Qatar University, Doha

While it is a very popular buzzword in education circles these days, there may be some confusion about what exactly flipped learning entails. The Flip Learning website offers a concise explanation: Flipped learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter. (Flip Learning, n.d.) Flipped learning began with a simple observation by its early popularizers, Jonathon Bergmann and Aaron Sams, that “students need their teachers present to answer questions or to provide help if they get stuck on an assignment: they don’t need their teachers present to listen to a lecture or review content” (Bergmann & Sams, 2012). The concept is simple: students do the “homework” in class, and listen to the lecture at home or on a mobile device at their convenience. But how is a flipped class planned, and how does it actually work? Lessons learned, as well as a sample lesson plan, are presented below based on my experiences teaching a Basic English for Science and Engineering class at a university in Seoul, South Korea in the fall of 2014.

Preparation and General Guidelines

Before flipping a class, it is recommended that you introduce the concept to your students. Tell them about the methodology and ask them to think about any advantages and disadvantages it might have for them. Get them on board with the idea. The only homework they will have is to watch TV! A few other practical suggestions will help you prepare to flip your classroom. First, flip a single lesson, not an entire class. See if it works for you and Volume 24

33

No. 2

June 2016

your class. Second, flip lessons that students struggle with and that require repetition. This is one of the great advantages of the methodology: the rewind button. Students at home can watch the lesson as many times as required to understand without the fear some face when asking questions in class. If you make your own videos, keep them short. One or two minutes per grade level is recommended, and nothing over 10 minutes. Finally, place your lessons online where students can easily access them: YouTube, TeacherTube, and/or your school or personal website. When I planned five flipped lessons for my basic science and engineering English class, I made several errors that I would like to relate so that you can learn from my mistakes should you decide to flip. First, I’ll admit I was a little lazy. I used pre-made content freely available on YouTube. While it can be argued that this is more authentic, it must be level appropriate. Lower level students require shorter videos, preferably with slower speech rates and simpler language. One of the criticisms of flipped learning is that it does not solve the problem of students who do not do their homework. Some argue that missing lectures is better than not doing the homework as in a traditional classroom, but the simple fact remains that students are still missing a significant portion of the course. This problem quickly reared its ugly head when, after assigning my students a video along with a set of eight questions for homework, all of them showed up the next week either not having watched or not having understood the video.You must know your students’ levels before you start planning a flipped lesson, and always have a Plan B ready. In this lesson, the video and the related set of questions were meant to be the scaffold upon which a full class discussion would take place. When no one came to TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Lesson Article Idea

34

class with any sort of basis for a discussion, the lesson quickly fell apart.

send on the job. They will also learn about how a flipped classroom operates.

Another thing I should have done, but didn’t, was make some sort of online assessment tool a part of the outside-the-classroom work. Students need reassurance that what they have watched, read, or listened to is the correct material. Teachers need to be able to see students have actually done the work and ideally, to get an idea of how much was understood. Here, the problem for me was a technical one; this is another common complaint of the flipped paradigm. I didn’t know how or where to make and post a short online quiz. A few suggestions I have since discovered include Google forms, a personal blog, your school’s website, your teacher Facebook account, or Padlet. Even if you are tech-savvy, you still may not be out of the woods. Another potential hazard many flippers warn about is the amount of time and effort a flipped lesson plan requires. Be prepared, it is a lot of work.

Resources: All students need Internet access outside the classroom, either at home, on a personal device, or in the library or computer lab at school. In order for students to listen to the lectures after class, all the content must be freely available on the internet. This lesson involves three internet sources. The first, found on YouTube by searching “how to write a formal email” from freeeslvideos.com (https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KTXjWHrQFM), goes through the format of a work email. Second is a text-based website written by an engineer named Pat Sweet, found by Googling “how to write an email” (http://www.engineeringandleadership.com/ how-to-write-an-email/). It is written at a higher level and includes a number of links, but is well laid out and accessible. Finally, there is a “sample formal email to boss” (http://www.wikihow.com/Sample/ Formal-Email-to-Boss). This explicitly shows what an email should look like.

Finally, remember that a flipped classroom is not the same thing as a video, despite the number of times video has been mentioned above. In fact, according to Bergmann, Overmyer, and Wilie (2011), “The Flipped Classroom is NOT a synonym for online videos. When most people hear about the flipped class all they think about are the videos. It is the interaction and the meaningful learning activities that occur during the face-to-face time that is most important.” The flipped lesson that worked best for me was on how to write a formal email; it included a short, 6-minute video along with two text-only websites. Other possibilities for outside-the-class work include listenings (podcasts, audio files, radio programs, etc.), presentations, webquests, and TED talks.

Warm-up: Preparation for the lesson should begin at least a class in advance of the flipped class. Introduce and explain the concept of flipped learning and why you are experimenting with it. Then give the students the task. For this lesson, they will use the first three websites listed above, with the instructions prepare 5 tips for writing emails to present to the class. Also instruct them to answer the questions in the quiz (Appendix 1) which you have posted online.

Charles Fullerton has been teaching English abroad for more than 15 years. He is currently at Qatar University in Doha; before that, he spent 10 years at Hongik University in Seoul. During that time he received both his MA TESOL from Framingham State College and his CELTA. His research interests include error correction, new teaching methodologies and ICT.

With this advice in mind, and with eyes now wide open, let’s see what a flipped lesson plan looks like. Below I present the plan I should have made for a class on how to write a formal e-mail. Lesson Plan: Writing a Formal E-mail Learning outcomes: Students will be able to write a basic, formal e-mail. They will become familiar with the format and tone of the types of e-mails people Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

Activities:

1. 10-15 minute warm-up/intro: Review the information contained in the websites visited outside class. Elicit students’ 5 tips for writing emails. Write these on the board and have students discuss their relative importance. Go over the basic structure of an email: introduction/ greeting, body and close/sign off. For the greeting, remind them to write the recipient’s title and last name, followed by a comma. Ask them what to do if they do not know the name of the person they are emailing. The body should get straight to the point; keep small talk to a minimum. Use paragraphing. Each paragraph should have just one main idea. Finally, give some language they can use for complimentary close/ sign off. 2. 25-35 minutes: Tell students it is now their turn to write an email. (This would be the homework TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Lesson Feature Idea Article

in a traditional classroom; with the flipped classroom, you are there to help them with it.) Depending on your student’s levels, you can allow them to refer back to the sample email. I gave them two choices: either write a formal email to their teacher about flipped classes or write an email to their real or imaginary boss about a problem at work. Either way, they had to send their completed emails to me by the end of class. Before they start writing, emphasize revision. Formal emails should have a minimum of errors and no “sloppy” errors such as spelling, which most platforms now point out to you. These errors can come across as showing a lack of caring or interest. As the students work, the teacher circulates, encouraging students, giving suggestions and correcting errors. 3. 5-10 minutes: Conduct whole class correction of common errors. Give students your email address and tell them to send their emails for evaluation. Show students the rubric (sample in Appendix 2). Next, explain the follow-up activities: emails will be graded by the teacher and forwarded to other students; when students receive a peer’s email, they are to make suggestions on improving the writing and correct any errors. Depending on levels, the teacher can provide no suggestions, point out areas with problems, or give clues as to what needs to be worked on in each area of concern. Students should then write a reply to the email they received. Finally, after they receive their emails back, with corrections and replies, they can discuss any changes with their teacher and/or peers and do a final revision.

35

2. Should the subject line be short or long in an email? 3. In the greeting, what name do you use (if you know it)? Questions for “How to Write an Email” (engineeringandleadership.com): 1. Who is the author of the “Engineering and Leadership” website? 2. Using the context, guess what “ubiquitous” means. 3. Summarize Step 1 of Writing an Email in one sentence. Questions for “Sample Formal Email to Boss” (wikihow.com): 1. What is the email about? 2. Who wrote the email? 3. How did he/she end the email (sign off)? Appendix B: Sample Rubric Category

2

3

4

5

Task Is not written achievement as an email or completely off topic

Email does not achieve aims in assignment

Email achieves some of aims in assignment

Emails achieves majority of aims in assignment

Email achieves all the aims given in assignment

Formatting

Is not written as an email

Does not include an intro, body and signoff, and contains a number of errors

Does not include an intro, body and signoff, but is mostly error-free

Includes intro, body and signoff, but contains a number of errors

Includes intro, body and signoff and is mostly error-free

Tone

No formal tone used

Mostly informal

Variable formality

Mostly formal tone

Maintains formal tone throughout

Grammar + Errors make the Frequent punctuation message mostly errors incomprehensible mean only a part of the message can be understood

Some errors distract from the message

Contains errors, but the message is clear

Nearly error-free

Vocabulary

More basic vocabulary, but with a clear message

Mostly clear, some repetition and/ or error in word choice

Clear, concise, level appropriate, use of words introduced in class

References

Bergmann, J., Overmyer, J., & Wilie, B. (2011). The flipped class: What it is and what it is not. The Daily Riff. http://www.thedailyriff.com/articles/ the-flipped-class-conversation-689.php Bergmann, J., & Sams, A. (2012). Flip your classroom: Reach every student in every class every day. Arlington,VA: International Society for Technology in Education. Flip Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved from http:// flippedlearning.org/ Appendix A: Sample Online Quiz Questions for “How to Write a Formal Email” (YouTube): 1. What company did the man in the video write to? Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

1

Limited vocabulary and/ or frequent errors mean the message does not come across

i

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

Basic vocabulary and errors distract from the message being understood

i

i

i

www.tesolarabia.org

i


Feature Lesson Article Idea

36

Devising SelfAssessment Tools for EAP/ESL

comment or to write in detail. Thus, both the level of specificity of questions and the depth of thought students give to SA vary.

The use of self-assessment (SA) in EAP/ESL has been widely reported (McMillan & Hearn, 2008; Ross, 2006; White, 2009). Many researchers have advocated its use in the classroom, and some have argued for using it as a part of students’ summative assessment, explaining that if students are properly trained, their evaluation of their own abilities can be quite accurate. However, attempts to include SA in the formal assessment of student performance have encountered several difficulties, which have impeded its implementation (Ishag, Altmayer, & Witruk, 2015; Little, 2005; Saito, 2005). Despite such difficulties, SA is still a valuable method of formative assessment. It has been recommended by several researchers (Cassidy, 2007; Coombe & Canning, n.d.; Foran, 2013; Gardner, 2000; Little, 2005) because it motivates learners and develops their skills and autonomy, which can help the teacher and students augment learning and enhance the levels of performance and achievement.

Benefits of Self-Assessment Research has shown that there are many benefits of SA to learners. SA enhances autonomy (Ishag, Altmayer, & Witruk, 2015) since it gives form and direction to the reflective process through which learners evaluate their abilities. It makes learners think about what they do to achieve a task, identify the skills involved and analyze how they apply each skill. Thus, they assess their performance, which can be seen as a consciousness-raising factor (Bailey, 1998), as it helps them become aware of their capabilities and their degree of ability in each skill. Consequently, with the help of their teachers, learners can decide on the specific actions and tasks they need to do to strengthen their weaknesses, and so they become responsible for their own learning (Black & William, 1998). It is therefore necessary for learner-centered classrooms (Little, 2005), as it links assessment to the learning process in order to enhance learning (Foran, 2013). It is also necessary because it helps learners develop their skills in becoming autonomous learners who can use their skills to improve their level of performance and achievement.

Despite the availability of SA tools, some teachers find them too general so their results do not show progress in learning the particular skills taught in a certain course or the course they teach. Therefore, it becomes necessary for teachers to devise their own tools so that the results would be useful to both the teacher and the student. This paper presents the benefits of SA, how to make an effective tool, an example of such a tool, and ways in which the resulting data can be used.

Making a Self-Assessment Instrument

What Is Self-Assessment? SA is a process in which learners reflect on their learning experiences and evaluate their performance. This process can use several types of activities, from multiple choice questions, to portfolios, to reflection papers. It can require students to write a general Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

Susan Esnawy The American University in Cairo, Egypt

For an SA instrument to be useful in revealing learners’ perceptions of their skills with regard to performance on a certain course, it has to reflect the goals and learning outcomes (LOs) of the course (Little, 2005). Therefore, the list of LOs must be examined and questions made for each goal/LO. Sometimes it may be necessary to divide a goal into more than one question in order to have the learner

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Lesson Feature Idea Article

37

assess each of its components (see Skill A in Table 1). It is also necessary to make questions on the subskills used in the process, so as to determine the areas of learners’ weaknesses. In order to make an SA tool for a university freshman EAP course, I first used a tool available on the Internet, but the results were too general and so did not reflect the specific weaknesses of the students. Therefore, I had to change it and discovered that I had to make my own. I examined the goals and LOs of this course and listed the necessary skills for achieving them in a table. For example, I examined the reading comprehension goals and LOs and listed the skills necessary for the comprehension of a passage. Then, I made a question on each skill. The first column in Table 1 shows some of the reading skills needed to achieve this LO: The student will be able to read, comprehend and interact with passages from university freshman level introductory textbooks. Table 1 Skills and SA Questions Skills

SA Tool

Reading

Reading

A. Identify the author’s purpose and main idea of the whole passage and of the separate paragraphs.

1. I can identify the purpose and main idea of the whole passage.

B. Identify details in each paragraph.

3. I get lost in the details of the passage.

C. Identify relationships between different ideas in a passage.

4. I can find the relationships between the different ideas in the passage.

B. Distinguish between fact and opinion.

5. I can distinguish between fact and opinion.

2. I can find the main ideas of the parts/ paragraphs in the passage.

7. I am satisfied with my reading comprehension. No. 2

Please answer the questions using one of the following options: 1= 80-100% of the time 2= 60-79% of the time 3= 40-59% of the time 4= 20-39% of the time 5= 1-19% of the time Figure 1. Student instructions for completing the SA tool

C. Make inferences based 6. I can infer ideas from on the ideas in a the passage. passage.

Volume 24

As Table 1 shows, LO/skill A requires formulating two questions while the other goals require making one question for each skill. It should be mentioned that a question was added to assess students’ satisfaction with their overall reading ability. Another important point to note is that the questions should be phrased very simply, without any difficult vocabulary, so that students do not misunderstand the questions. In devising this tool, this was one of the main changes that I had to make based on students’ feedback and the results of piloting the instrument several times. Since I wanted to use a five-point scale, I gave the students the instructions for the task (Figure 1).

June 2016

Susan Esnawy, Senior Instructor, ELI, ALA, AUC, Egypt, has taught EAP/ESL for many years in several countries, to students of different ages and language backgrounds. She is interested in assessment and educational technology.

I first used “all, most, some, few and rarely,” but the feedback and results of piloting the instrument made me change them to percentages, as the students said they were easier for them to understand and apply in answering the questions. Data generated from such an instrument can be collected in different ways. If a hard copy of the instrument is used, computer answer sheets can be used and then scanned to a data file. Using a statistical package such as SPSS, this data can be analyzed to yield, for example, frequency counts and correlation coefficients. If a soft copy of the instrument is used, it can be made as an online questionnaire, using Google Forms for example; then, the responses are automatically collected in a data file, for which frequency counts, graphs and charts are immediately available. The data can also be used for other forms of statistical analyses Regardless of the method used, the data file includes the responses of each learner to each item on the instrument. Depending on the purpose of giving the

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Lesson Article Idea

38

questionnaire/instrument and the level of anonymity required, each learner can either be assigned a code or be asked to enter his/her student identification number or his/her name. Thus, the responses of each learner are available, either anonymously or not. To give feedback and guidance for developing skills, the teacher should discuss the responses with the students. The teacher should discuss students’ responses to each item and compare them with the students’ performance on that item in class work to see whether they correspond or not. The teacher can then guide the students to the specific tasks they should do to improve their areas of weakness. This process helps students take responsibility for their own learning, become autonomous learners, and enhance their performance and achievement. For instance, if a student says that he can find the main idea of a paragraph “80-100% of the time,” but his performance on multiple choice exercises shows that he cannot, using the exercises and outlines can show him this gap and give him tasks to practice the skill of finding the main idea so that he can enhance his ability to implement the skill. For research purposes, the data can be used for comparison with data collected at other times. This data can be statistically analyzed to show, for example, whether students have become better at evaluating their abilities over time.

Conclusion Students’ self-assessment of their performance is beneficial for both teachers and students. Students become aware of their abilities to use the skills involved in the learning process and of how to develop these skills, which augments their autonomy. Since SA instruments need to reflect and be based on learning outcomes, they are not difficult to make, but the language used should be simple to avoid misunderstanding. Students, however, need to be trained to use them so that they can avoid overestimating or underestimating their abilities (Cassidy, 2007; McMillan & Hearn, 2008; Ross, 2006). When the students can do so, SA instruments provide valuable information that leads to the development of student performance and achievement.

References Bailey, K. (1998). Learning about language assessment. New York: Heinle & Heinle. Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

Black, P., & William, D. (1998). Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. The Phi Delta Kappan, 80(2), 139-148. Cassidy, S. (2007). Assessing “inexperienced” students’ ability to self-assess: Exploring links with learning style and academic personal control. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 32(3), 313-330. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02602930600896704 Coombe, C., & Canning, C. (n.d.). Using selfassessment in the classroom: Rationale and suggested techniques. Retrieved from http://www. philseflsupport.com/self-assessmentechniques. htm Foran, D. (2013). Formative assessment: Humanizing the learning process. In TESOL Spain Convention Proceedings:Teaching with Technology and the Human Touch 2013 (pp. 1-11). Gardner, D. (2000). Self-assessment for autonomous language learners. Links & Letters, 7, 49-60. Retrieved from http://ddd.uab.cat/pub/ lal/11337397n7/11337397n7p49.pdf Ishag, A., Altmayer, C., & Witruk, E. (2015). A comparative self-assessment of difficulty in learning English and German among Sudanese students. British Journal of English Linguistics, 3(2), 18-26. Little, D. (2005). The Common European Framework and the European Language Portfolio: Involving learners and their judgements in the assessment process. Language Testing, 22(3), 321-336. doi: 10.1191/0265532205lt311oa McMillan, J. H., & Hearn, J. (2008). Student self-assessment: The key to stronger student motivation and higher achievement. Educational Horizons, 87(1), 40-49. Retrieved from http:// files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ815370.pdf Ross, J. A. (2006). The reliability, validity, and utility of self-assessment. Practical Assessment Research & Evaluation, 11(10), 1-13. Saito,Y. (2005). The use of self-assessment in second language assessment. Working Papers in TESOL and Applied Linguistics. Retrieved from www. tc.columbia.edu/academic/tesol/WJFiles/pdf/ Saito_Forum.pdf White, E. (2009). Assessing the assessment: An evaluation of a self-assessment of class participation procedure. Asian EFL Journal, 11(3), 75-109.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Lesson Feature Idea Article

Integrating Grammar and Vocabulary into Project-Based Work

Lilianna Edilyan The American University of Armenia,Yerevan

Task-based language teaching (TBLT) has been around for many years and has become a dominant approach to language teaching worldwide. Task work is a core component of fluency-based pedagogy. It aims to help learners transfer their language abilities to contexts outside the classroom. At the heart of much current thinking about language teaching is the belief that successful language learning depends on immersing students in tasks that require them to negotiate meaning and engage in naturalistic and meaningful communication. Nunan (1989, p. 10) defines task work as “a piece of classroom work which involves learners in comprehending, manipulating, producing or interacting in the target language while their attention is principally focused on meaning rather than form.� The task should also have a sense of completeness, being able to stand alone as a communicative act in its own right. While carrying out communicative tasks, learners are said to receive comprehensible input and modified output, processes believed to be central to second language acquisition, ultimately leading to the development of both linguistic and communicative competence (Doughty & Williams, 1998). Willis and Willis (2001), mirroring Skehan (1998), point out that tasks differ from grammar exercises in that learners are free to use a range of language structures to achieve task outcomes; the forms are not specified in advance. To determine how task-like a given activity is, the following criteria can be used: the activity engages learners’ interest, the primary focus is on meaning, there is an outcome, success is judged in terms of outcome, completion of the task is a priority, and the activity relates to real world

Volume 24

39

No. 2

June 2016

activities (Willis & Willis, 2001; Skehan, 1998). As students carry out communicative tasks, they engage in the process of negotiation of meaning, employing strategies such as comprehension checks, confirmation checks, and clarification requests. These lead to a gradual modification of their language output, which over time takes on more and more target-like features. TBLT can often naturally extend into project-based learning (PBL). The PBL approach takes learnercenteredness to a higher level. Whereas TBLT makes a task the central focus of a lesson, PBL often makes a project the focus of a month or a whole term. The core idea of PBL is that students deal with real-world problems that capture their interest and provoke serious thinking as they acquire and apply new knowledge in a problem-solving context. The teacher plays the role of facilitator, working with students to frame worthwhile questions, structuring meaningful tasks, coaching both knowledge development and social skills, and carefully assessing what students have learned from the experience. At the end, students demonstrate their newly acquired knowledge and are judged by the quality of their work and how well they communicate it. However, arguments against the effectiveness of task-based teaching are still being made. Some believe that task-based approaches have been unable to displace more traditional pedagogies in many EFL contexts, and doubts remain over the effectiveness of the approach in general (Bruton, 2002; Sheen, 1994; Swan, 2005). The main concern is the effect of extensive task-based activities on the development of linguistic competence. What is often

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Lesson Article Idea

40

observed in language classrooms during fluency work is communication marked by low levels of linguistic accuracy. (Higgs & Clifford, 1982). Table 1 summarizes the advantages and limitations of the task-based model.

would be used to speak about life in a city versus those used for life in a village or a small town. The words are: calm, vibrant, serene, animated, unruffled, vivacious, active, restful, effervescent, chirpy, peaceful, spirited, cheerful, passive, dynamic, energetic, lively, tranquil, brisk, quiet, bubbly, composed, still, and cool.

Table 1 Advantages and Limitations of the Task-Based Model Advantages

Limitations

TBLT provides opportunities to use the language in a meaningful authentic context and engages students in meaningful practice.

It is not always possible to predict what the students will learn.

TBLT develops not only language skills but also helps students accomplish tasks successfully.

To teach the unpredictable might pose a challenge, especially for an inexperienced teacher.

TBLT calls on the implicit knowledge of the students.

Low accuracy of speech throughout the course of the lesson often results.

Students are free of language control.

It may be difficult to focus on a specific linguistic feature.

Structures emerge during the course of the lesson that wouldn’t have been taught otherwise.

Some language structures may not be possible to teach via TBLT.

Language that is produced arises from students’ needs.

TBLT does not draw on the benefits of explicit and deductive teaching methods.

Figure 1. Village image

Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

Lilianna Edilyan earned her diploma at Moscow State Linguistic University and her MA in TEFL at the American University of Armenia, where she is currently a lecturer.

To focus on form, students practice the unreal conditional by answering the question where they would prefer to live, in a city or a village, and give reasons for their choice.

How to integrate structure and vocabulary into taskbased teaching and achieve an acceptable level of linguistic performance is a challenge teachers face in TBLT. The task-based lesson that is suggested below consists of three stages: pre-task, task one and task two. Grammar and vocabulary are integrated into the lesson during the pre-task stage. Pre-task stage: Students look at the picture of the village (Figure 1). They are given a list of words and asked to divide them into two groups: those that

A discussion ensues about the kind of life people live in such a setting. In small groups, students discuss the advantages and disadvantages of living in a big city and a small town or village.

Where would you live if you were….? • a retired person • a politician who wants to be reelected to the National Assembly • an ambitious businessman Where would you live if you were….? • a tough neighborhood guy • an environmentalist • an owner of a small snack bar • married and plan to raise children Task One Students get acquainted with the plan of turning a dying village into a small thriving town by reading a text containing information about the village (Figure 2). The village is a simulation, but the problems it has are typical of villages countrywide in Armenia.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Lesson Feature Idea Article

41

New Industry and Housing for Nor Dar? Massive New Scheme Proposed The quiet, peaceful village settlement of Nor Dar could change radically in the next few years. A former resident of the village, now a successful businessman, is ready to invest money into an ambitious industrial zone and a housing project, which would turn the slowly dying village into a thriving small town with an increasing population. Currently, the population of Nor Dar, which is composed of mainly middle-aged and elderly people, is decreasing and has dropped from 1000 to 500. The unemployment rate is high; older teenagers and young adults routinely leave the village seeking opportunities elsewhere. There would be several opportunities for light industrial development: a pharmaceutical research center,… a carpet weaving workshop,…and a community-based eco-tourism program. In addition to the innovative community developments there would be a reforestation program to restore the forest, which was seriously damaged by the excessive tree cutting for household needs. In all, there would be several small factories, office services, a pharmaceutical research center – all clean and modern, light industry, according to the developer… The industrial zone would be located to the northeast of the river. On the other side of the river in the northwest, there would be an enormous housing complex, for almost 1000 people eventually… However, in the village there is a group of people who do not want any changes and want to protect the traditional way of life, keeping vineyards and orchards. Nor Dar is near Yerevan…in an attractive countryside setting, with a river and a small wood,… The Nor Dar Council is meeting soon to discuss the planning application. Figure 2. A partial text for task one Task Two: Students are given a map of the village (Figure 3). In small groups, students discuss and decide how the community land should be used and where the industrial and residential areas would be located if one of the plans for the development of the village were implemented. Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

Figure 3.Village map Project Work: The task-based lesson then extends into a project, i.e., a long-term business proposal. In groups of four or five, students write a business proposal for the development of the village discussed during the task-based lesson. In creating the project, it is advisable to consult colleagues from the business department and adapt it so that it meets the needs of the given country. While writing the project, students pass through six stages: brainstorming, organizing the brainstormed ideas, developing a draft and giving a presentation, obtaining feedback, revising, and submitting the work. The first four stages are discussed below to give the reader an idea about each stage’s requirements. The last two, however, are not discussed as they can be decided by the class. Stage One: During brainstorming, students come up with their own ideas about developing the village and discuss the plans suggested in the text. They break into groups and as a team, define and agree on the objectives, prioritize options, agree on actions and a timescale. They divide responsibilities and set the timeline of the major steps for the project. Stage Two: Students gather information, synthesize, analyze, and derive knowledge from this process. Learners are intrinsically motivated to do the project because it is connected to something real and involves adult skills such as collaboration and reflection. The project includes processes for students to give and receive feedback on the quality of their work, leading them to make revisions or conduct further inquiry. In class, the groups report on the work they have done according to the timeline and receive feedback from the instructor and peers. Stage Three: Each group makes a presentation on its project. Each member of the group participates in the group presentation, presenting the part of the project he/she has been responsible for.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Lesson Article Idea

42

Stage Four: Finally, students create a “village council” by choosing one or two representative(s) from each group. A meeting of the village council is held to make a decision about planning application. The village council decides which project is the best. Language notes (Appendix A) are distributed to the students so that they can use the necessary vocabulary as needed.

Conclusion

Currently, TBLT is gaining ground. Proponents of TBLT argue that older methods such as presentation, practice, production (PPP) have failed to develop learners’ communicative abilities. However, those opposed to TBLT argue that the development of fluency often takes place at the expense of linguistic competence and that communication is often marked by low levels of linguistic accuracy. To overcome this perceived limitation, teaching of the vocabulary and grammar is incorporated into the pre-task activity in the lesson presented in this paper. The integrated grammar and vocabulary naturally extend into the long-term project. Both TBLT and PBL aim at achieving communicative objectives, while the language is treated as an instrument to complete a given objective. They give plenty of opportunities for communication in authentic contexts and give the learner freedom to use the linguistic resources he/she has. However, PBL requires higher-order thinking as learners reflect on what they have learned or need to learn throughout the period as they are working on the project, while in TBLT, learners aim at completing the task during the lesson. PBL allows students to build 21st century competencies, such as problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. The project also serves as a bridge connecting learning English with discipline-specific aims.

References

Bruton, A. (2002). From tasking purposes to purposing tasks. ELT Journal, 56(3), 280-288. Doughty, C., & Williams, J. (1998). Focus on form in classroom second language acquisition. New York: Cambridge University Press. Higgs, T., & Clifford, R. (1982). The push towards communication. In T. Higgs (Ed.), Curriculum, competence, and the foreign language teacher. Skokie, IL: National Textbook Company. Nunan, D. (1989). Designing tasks for the communicative classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

Sheen, R. (1994). A critical analysis of the advocacy of the task-based syllabus. TESOL Quarterly, 28(1), 127-151. Skehan, P. (1998). A cognitive approach to language learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Swan, M. (2005). Review of R. Ellis, Task-based language learning and teaching. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 15(2), 251-256. Willis, D., & Willis, J. (2001). Task-based language learning. In R. Carter & D. Nunan (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to teaching English to speakers of other languages (pp. 173-179). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Appendix A: Language Notes Vocabulary that can be used in the village council meeting. General I declare the meeting open. The first item on the agenda is… I would like to propose the motion that… Would anybody like to second the motion? The motion is passed/rejected unanimously/by two votes to… Is there any other business? I declare the meeting closed. Expressing Support I should like to express my total/wholehearted support for this proposal. I am fully in favor of this motion. I think this idea deserves our backing. The scheme could be of enormous benefit to the town community. Expressing Opposition We are radically/wholly opposed to this kind of plan/scheme/proposition. In my opinion this is not in the interests of the villagers. This goes completely against the interests of the village. I can see no valid reason for supporting a project of this kind. Giving Reasons For Because the plan would be beneficial/of benefit to the people of the village… I think this is a forward-looking/progressive/ enterprising/extremely valuable proposal. Giving Reasons Against Because I consider it to be harmful to/against/not consistent with the general interest… Nothing/Everything I heard has convinced me that…

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Educational Feature Article Technology

Dima Youssef Rama Damad The Canadian University The Canadian University in Dubai in Dubai Students usually dread and complain about writing tasks because they are tedious, time consuming, and frustrating. Similarly, teachers dislike writing assignments because of the endless grading and the boring information and topics produced. As the teachers focus on teaching the writing process and the students on mastering it, the creativity and fun fade away since the emphasis becomes on the product rather the actual process or the skills involved. However, writing tasks should not be a source of stress to learners and educators. There is hope in restoring the element of fun and excitement while writing to make the process more meaningful and productive. The key is using visual media to explore, generate, and produce creative content. How can visual media transform a typical writing class into a collaborative and engaging experience? Harmer (2003) asserts that using videos can enhance the learning experience as well as increase the motivation level of students. Moreover, according to Guymon (2014), visual literacy coupled with texts can enhance student comprehension and ability to remember concepts. Our main challenge in class was to boost students’ engagement and improve their writing skills. Therefore, incorporating visual media in our classrooms appeared to be the answer to all our problems. As a matter of fact, both participation and writing exceeded our expectations. Determined to motivate our students and foster positive reactions to writing classes, we incorporated visual media in our classrooms.Videos, posters, advertisements, and pictures replaced the conventional writing prompt to boost their creativity and encourage discussion. When images replace texts, students are likely to become more engaged, more involved, more motivated, and more creative. This article explores what visual media is and why Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

43

Using Visual Media To Improve Writing Skills teachers should consider using visual media in writing classes. In addition, the article provides practical examples and writing activities based on utilizing different forms of visual media such as pictures, posters, and video prompts. The activities the article provides have been effective in promoting creativity and student participation in our classrooms.

Visual Media and Writing Classes

Any visual form, information, or interpretation of ideas, concepts, and emotions falls under visual media. Charts, graphs, photographs, videos and maps are some of the many formats that can be used in class to encourage students to think about the pictures, observe details, make connections and create responses based on their analysis (Finley, 2014).Visual literacy is the ability to understand, interpret, identify, and appreciate any information presented through visual forms. Visuals provide an endless resource for writing prompts, icebreakers, and discussion starters. Teachers can begin simply by asking students to observe a picture or watch a video and to become aware of every detail. Then, the teacher can create activities to meet the learning outcomes and to accommodate their students’ needs and interests. In a technology-driven society, teaching methods have to be adjusted to meet the student needs. Because our students are mainly exposed to visual and aural forms of media, most of them are predominantly visual learners. To engage students and ensure they are learning and developing their analytical skills, teachers should use tools and strategies such as incorporating visual literacy to meet students’ learning needs and styles.

Writing Activities

The activities used in our classrooms are categorized into: (a) picture writing prompts, (b) poster presentations, and (c) video writing prompts. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Educational Feature Technology Article

44

Picture Writing Prompts For these activities, we used three online resources: PicLits,Writing Prompts, and Thought Questions. The rationale behind using these sites is that they are free of charge, updated regularly, easy to use, and, most importantly, engaging. Dima Yousef teaches English in the School of Business Administration at the Canadian University, Dubai. She holds an MA in English Literary Research from the University of Leicester, UK. She has more than ten years of teaching experience in the UAE. Her research interests include teacher development and training, curriculum design and educational technology. Dima is a member of TESOL Arabia, ASCD, and IATEFL.

PicLits The concept of the website (www.piclits.com) is very simple, yet can be seen as a creative and effective online resource for writing. It matches beautiful images with carefully selected keywords in order to inspire learners to write a sentence, a caption, a paragraph, a story, a definition, or even a poem. The object is to drag the right words into the right place and the right order to capture the essence, story, and meaning of the picture. Students can select words from lists categorized into nouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, and conjunctions. Adding text to the pictures is a simple process of dragging and dropping the words onto the image (Figure 1). Once a word is placed, students can capitalize the word or use a different form of the word. Using this site has encouraged students to participate actively in discussions and writing tasks with less moaning and groaning. Moreover, students have become more confident, creative, and involved in the writing process and activities.

Writing Prompts and Thought Questions Pictures and photos are a great and an effective way to pique students’ imagination and urge them to think outside the box. Writing prompts from these websites were used in class for various purposes: journal or blog entries, warm-up activities, or discussions and debates. Both websites are free and contain thoughtprovoking and challenging prompts. Some prompts are driven by the picture and these involve telling a story of the place or character in the photo (Figure 2). Other prompts include a quotation with guided questions to help students generate ideas and produce creative pieces (Figure 3). The prompts can be used as lead-in questions to warm up or stimulate thinking and discussion among students. Moreover, students usually complain that the topics are not interesting and that they cannot generate any ideas. After students were introduced to these websites, they were excited about writing in class and during their free time.

Figure 2. A sample page on thoughtquestions.com

Figure 1. The PicLits website Volume 24

Figure 3. A sample page on writingprompts.tumblr.com No. 2

June 2016

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Educational Feature Article Technology

The above visual prompts could be used before or after reading a passage. For example, our students were asked to respond to the above prompts as pre- and post-reading activities for two essays. They were able to relate to the essays and felt more confident sharing their ideas on paper and during class discussion.

Poster Presentations

Another practical and engaging writing assignment is a poster presentation. This collaborative activity strengthens valuable skills essential for students’ academic and career success such as research, critical thinking, teamwork, and presentation skills. The goal of this task is to communicate a message visually through a combination of text and graphs. Students form groups to design a poster on a chosen topic and collect information about it. The poster should include a minimum of three paragraphs including facts and statistics. Skills targeted in this activity are writing and speaking. The learning outcomes are to compose short paragraphs about the topic chosen, to analyze the target audience, to produce a poster that achieves the purpose which was to raise awareness of a medical; ethical or social problem, and to plan and present a group presentation in class about their poster. Teachers can modify the objectives according to the specific desired skills and to the language level of students. One modification could be to produce simple sentences instead of paragraphs or to produce a summary of longer texts. Clear guidelines and instructions in addition to the expected outcome should be delivered to students at the beginning of the project. There are many useful websites that help provide examples and an explanation of how to create a poster; https://www. ncsu.edu/project/posters/ is one. Such websites guide students in creating their posters from the planning step, choosing a topic and focus, designing the layout and headings, inserting graphics and text, choosing colors and finally to editing the poster. Many websites also provide examples of posters and offer helpful techniques in presenting the work. Grading rubrics should be given to the students when the guidelines and instructions are explained as students need to know how they will be assessed. Also, providing rubrics will provide students with Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

45

a clear roadmap while planning and designing their posters. Most importantly, this will encourage students to be more independent and responsible for the work they will submit. Teachers can use readymade rubrics available online or create their own. Furthermore, rubrics should be modified according to the desired objectives and learning outcomes as well as to the level of students. Rama Damad is a lecturer of English in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the Canadian University, Dubai. She holds an MEd in TESL from Concordia University, USA. Rama has more than eight years of experience teaching English in the Middle East and the USA. Her research interests include teacher development, training, technology and communication skills.

Video Writing Prompts

Another writing activity that incorporates visual media is a video writing prompt.Videos, probably the most dominant type of visual media, are commonly used and are easily accessible by students. Nowadays, there are hundreds of videos on any topic imaginable and available for free. Using videos in the classroom can effectively trigger discussions and debates and has a positive impact on student engagement. Teachers can also develop lessons and worksheets to meet the expected learning outcomes. For example, TED Talks can be used to identify the various rhetorical appeals used by the presenter or the different types of support used to strengthen the presenter’s main idea, to describe the overall tone of the text, and to identify the presenter’s purpose. There are many educational websites that offer video prompts on different topics along with worksheets and exercises. One example is TeachHub.com. Such websites give teachers unlimited access to teaching material along with video clips taken from news channels, documentaries, movie trailers and interviews. The videos vary in length and difficulty as well as the prompts suggested by the websites. Most of these videos come with warm-up activities, discussion questions, and writing prompts based on the video. The objectives and the targeted skills should be modified by teachers according to the lesson plan and the language level of the students. The length of the activity also varies depending on the teacher’s plans. An actual lesson conducted using the video prompt “Skydiving from Space” (Wojdyla, n.d.) had the following objectives: to demonstrate understanding TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Educational Feature Technology Article

46

be shared with future classes, teachers and students. Indeed, collaborative writing is more fun, stimulating and challenging for students because they get to share their experiences and writing styles, and it is definitely more welcomed by teachers because it means less grading. Teachers are encouraged to integrate different types of visual media in their writing classes and observe the difference.

of point of view and to practice descriptive writing. Skills targeted were speaking and writing. The duration of the lesson was 90 minutes. Warm-up exercises about breaking records and stunts were presented first for discussion and the 2-minute video was then played. A short (3-minute) interview with Felix was shown to students as an additional video. Questions about the two videos were given to students for generating and discussing ideas. Students then had to write a descriptive paragraph in groups about a given prompt related to the videos. Below is a student sample paragraph:

References

Finley, T. (2014, February 19). Common Core in Action: 10 Visual Literacy Strategies [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/ ccia-10-visual-literacy-strategies-todd-finley. Guymon, D. (2014, March 3). Using Social Media to Teach Visual Literacy in the 21st Century Classroom [Blog post]. Retrieved from http:// www.edutopia.org/blog/social-media-visualliteracy-classroom-dave-guymon. Harmer, J. (2003). The practice of English language teaching (3rd ed.). Harlow, UK: Pearson Education. Wojdyla, C. (n.d.).Video writing prompt: Skydiving from space. Retrieved from http://www.teachhub. com/video-writing-prompt-skydiving-space

As I stood from the shuttle, my eyes roamed around the pitch black atmosphere surrounding me. My eyes dropped to the bright, curvy surface below me. Earth glimmered in the darkness. I could feel my heart almost beat out of my chest and in the silence of space. The longer I stared at the breathtaking view, the more I got nervous yet excited to start my journey down. My palms grew sweatier beneath the gloves as I finally let go of my only support, the railing. I leaned forward to jump down and the adrenaline rushed through my veins to my brain as I cascaded down. As I spun through space, down to earth, I was starting to doubt my chances of survival. I felt my blood pressure rise and my vision blur. I overcame the fear and became more determined to reach Earth and be the first to break the sound barrier. As I got closer to the ground, relief washed over me because I was close to achieving my goal. The last few seconds before touching the ground felt like the longest. As soon as my toe touched the ground, I knew that I made every single person watching me proud. My feet gave in and I dropped to my knees, my heart was overwhelmed with joy and excitement. I was finally in peace.

Conclusion

Resources

Creating Effective Poster Presentations. https:// www.ncsu.edu/project/posters/ Free Lessons & Teaching Tools. http://www. teachhub.com/video-writing-prompts. PicLits: Inspired Picture Writing. www.piclits.com TED Talks. https://www.ted.com/ Thought Questions: Asking the right questions is the answer. http://thoughtquestions.com/ Writing Prompts. http://writingprompts.tumblr. com/ i

Writing does not have to be a stressful activity for students and teachers; instead, it should be an exciting and engaging one. Incorporating visual media when planning a writing session can transform the writing process into a more enjoyable and memorable activity. Moreover, students’ projects can be displayed during special school events and can Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

i

i

i

i

Have you mis-placed a back issue of Perspectives? No worries - you can read it online! Check out our archived issues at http://www.tesolarabia.co/publications/ perspectives/.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article Reviews

47

Intercultural Communication with Arabs: Studies in Educational, Professional and Societal Contexts Rana Raddawi (Editor) Springer, 2015 358 pages / ISBN 978-981-287-243-1 and 978-981-287-254-8 (eBook) This is a most important collection of papers, brilliantly edited by Rana Raddawi from the American University of Sharjah. It is not, however, a book that should be read through from cover to cover, and it is definitely not a book for teachers who are looking for a key to open the door of “communicative activities” with students who happen to be Arabs. It is more a reference text, which offers both breadth and depth of experience as well as providing “readers with information that gives light to a new perspective of understanding Arabs from the Arabs themselves or from foreigners who have lived in Arab countries” (p 9). The book is divided into three sections – Educational Contexts (9 papers); Professional Contexts (5 papers) and Societal Contexts (5 papers) – but these divisions are clearly not watertight. From Professional Contexts, Raddawi’s own paper “Intercultural (Mis-) Communication in Medical Settings: Cultural Difference or Cultural Incompetence” has implications for all medical students, while from Societal Contexts, Hayfaa Tlaiss’s “Impact of Parental Communication Patterns on Arab Women’s Choice of Careers” raises questions about female students’ concepts of what are suitable, or acceptable, areas of study, questions which have implications for levels of motivation. TESOL Arabia readers, however, are likely to find the section on Educational Contexts most relevant to their immediate concerns, and most of the Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

papers in this section are worth both reading and re-reading. Magdalene Karolak and Hala Asmina Guta’s “Intercultural Communication in the Context of Saudi Arab Tertiary Education” is perhaps less inclusive than its title suggests, being based only on “in-depth interviews with 17 female students” from the Eastern Province. Even so, it serves as an

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


FeatureReviews Article

48

excellent introduction to the potential difficulties that can be faced when expatriate teachers enter a society based on marked power differences, with low levels of individualism, in which male-domination is the norm and the index of “uncertainty avoidance” reveals “firm strict behavioural codes, laws and rules, disapproval of deviant opinions, and a belief in absolute Truth” (Hofstede, 2011, p. 10). Karolak and Guta offer practical recommendations that allow neophyte Arab Gulf teachers to negotiate this maze. The most important point, in the opinion of this reviewer, is not to assume that student silence indicates agreement. It might equally be a sign of incomprehension or disapproval. Secondly, given the collectivist approach favoured by Gulf students, group work should be utilized, and particularly with first year students, this approach may foster new friendships. Finally, at least at the start of students’ university careers, instructions must be clear. If students know exactly what is expected of them, they are more likely to produce it. This might seem to be an obvious point, but asking tertiary education students to become instantly autonomous is a tall order – and not just in Saudi Arabia. Similarly, Mansour Habbash and Salah Troudi’s “The Discourse of Global English and its Representation in the Saudi Context: A Postmodernist Critical Perspective” has ramifications beyond the Kingdom. This paper, of course, is only the latest in the on-going “English versus Arabic” debate, which the authors characterize as a “top to bottom process / where / the USA exercised its political power to impose changes in the Saudi school curriculum, which resulted in the ‘more English, less Islam’ formula.” This interpretation, however, is questionable. The Saudi education reforms that were initiated by then Crown Prince Abdullah in 2002 could also be characterized as “less Islam, more everything else,” and can be viewed as a triumph for Saudi parent power (McBeath, 2016). The brutal truth is that in today’s globalized world, English has become essential for success. How long this will remain the case is unknown, but within the Arab Gulf, Arabic is not really under threat. It remains the language of religion, of law and of government, and if individual Gulf Arab citizens choose to use both English and Arabic within their domestic spheres, then English is the additive language. Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

The final paper that must be commented upon in this section is Melanie Gobert’s “Taboo Topics in the ESL/EFL Classroom in the Gulf Region.” Remarkably, she makes no mention of earlier TESOL Arabia contributions of this theme (Barlow & Floyd, 1998; Hudson, 2013a, 2013b) but gives full value to Thornbury’s (2010) acronym PARSNIP – signifying Pork, Alcohol, Religion, Sex, Narcotics, “ism”s and Politics. She also mentions that “Gray (2002) adds anarchy, AIDS and Israel to the list” (p. 113), and that Keturi and Lehmonen (2011), referring specifically to Finnish school textbooks, include abortion, cursing, smoking, suicide and violence. Such an eclectic list probably explains why Gobert herself adds the important caveat that “Teachers should be aware that there may be differences between different countries in the GCC….and Muslims, or Muslim families, about what is acceptable as a classroom topic” (p. 110). What she does not say, however, is that in GCC classrooms, topics may be acceptable for single-sex cohorts, but simultaneously taboo in mixed gender settings. She then explains each of the 16 “taboo topics” listed by Zaid (1999), adding comments based both the literature and her own teaching experience in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. As we might expect from a scholar with Gobert’s authority, the comments are insightful and balanced, making it clear that certain “taboo topics” are not, in fact, taboo at all, but that others are best handled with caution. That, however, is true of any form of intercultural communication, and one of the strengths of this book is that, if anything, it reduces the distance that some politicians and others would like to place between Muslim Arabs and the rest of the world. Rada Raddawi has performed a signal service by editing this collection of papers, and they are very highly recommended as reading for all teachers, expatriate or otherwise, who are working in the Arab world.

References

Barlow, L., & Floyd, J. (1998) Producing culturally sensitive materials for Arab Gulf students. In S. Troudeh, C. Coombe, & S. Riley (Eds.), Unity through diversity: Proceedings of the 4th TESOL Arabia conference. Al Ain: TESOL Arabia. Gray, J. (2002). The global coursebook in English language teaching. In D. Block & D. Cameron (Eds.), Globalization and language teaching (pp. 220233). London: Routledge. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article Reviews

49

Hofstede, G. (2011). Dimensionalizing cultures: The Hofstede Model in context. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture 2(1), 1-26. http://dx.doi. org/10.9707/2307-0919.1014 Hudson, P. (2013a, March) Haram, teacher. Haram! Paper presented at the 18th International TESOL Arabia Conference, Dubai. Hudson, P. (2013b, July). Tiptoeing through the “cultural” minefield: ELT in Arabia. Paper presented at the 2013 Cutting Edges Conference, Canterbury, UK. Keturi, S., & Lehmonen, T. (2011). Taboo or not taboo: A study of taboo content in Finnish EFL learning materials. Unpublished master’s thesis. University of Jyvaskyla, Finland. McBeath, N. (2016, March). Cultural change in the Arab Gulf: Natural progression or imperialist plot? Paper presented at the 22nd International TESOL Arabia Conference, Dubai.

Thornbury, S. (2010, June 27). T is for taboo. [Web log]. Retrieved from http://scottthornbury. wordpress.com/2010/06/27/t-is-for-taboo/ Zaid, M. (1999). Cultural confrontation and cultural acquisition in the EFL classroom. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 37(2), 111-126. i

i

i

i

i

Neil McBeath Sultan Qaboos University Sultanate of Oman

Publication Announcement TESOL Arabia’s Sahbi Hidri (Research SIG Chair) and Christine Coombe (TAE SIG Co-Chair, LM SIG Chair, Affiliate Representative, and 2017 Conference Co-Chair) have edited a new publication, Evaluation in Foreign Language Education in the Middle East and North Africa. It is the latest volume in Springer’s Second Language Learning and Teaching series. The book presents evaluation cases from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) where the editors, Hidri and Coombe, investigate the facets of evaluation in different parts of the MENA context and beyond. Such cases are presented in 19 chapters from Tunisia, KSA, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, UAE, Turkey, Iran and Morocco. The editors highlight the impact of evaluation on many stakeholders. They contend that “evaluation has repercussions for the individual, societal, economic, cultural and political levels. It also has an ethical side and it is tailored to the needs of (…) people to remain abreast of the effectiveness and efficiency of programs.” The book underscores controversial issues on different evaluation themes, such as teacher and faculty staff evaluation, assessment practices, text genre analysis evaluation, assessment of productive skills, textbook and ICT evaluation, evaluation of ELT certificates and programs, quality assurance, ESP needs analysis, assessment literacy and dynamic assessment. The book also tackles other challenges, such as the right people to implement evaluation and the appropriate use of evaluation results “to avoid any misuse or harm” to any stakeholder. The book calls for further research venues on the relevance of evaluation, testing and assessment in the MENA region and beyond. For more information, contact the editors, Sahbi Hidri (sahbihidri@gmail.com) or Christine Coombe (christine.coombe@hct.ac). Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Networking Article

50

1st Africa TESOL International Conference Khartoum, Sudan

Aymen Elsheikh, Okon Effiong, and Julie Riddlebarger

About Africa TESOL

Africa TESOL successfully organized its first conference which took place February 26-27, 2016, in Khartoum, Sudan, with more than 300 participants in attendance. The conference, held at the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, featured speakers from multiple countries including Cameroon, Egypt, Mozambique, Oman, Qatar, Rwanda, Sudan, UAE, USA, and the UK. The papers presented discussed different topics relating to the teaching and learning of the English language in Africa and worldwide. Okon Effiong, Amna Bedri, Ishraga Bashir, and Aymen Elsheikh made up the conference committee that put together the event which was generously sponsored and/or hosted by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, El-Neelain University, TESOL International, SUNACEL, TESOL Sudan, and ASTEL. Affiliate organizations represented at the conference included CAMELTA from Cameroon and ATES from Senegal. The conference was opened by Mohamed Elamin, President of El-Neelain University; Amna Bedri, Africa TESOL President; and Ishraga Bashir, Conference Chair and TESOL Sudan President, who spoke about the importance of collaboration in building a strong Africa TESOL organization. Plenary and featured speakers included three past presidents of TESOL International:Yilin Sun, Deena Boraie, and Christine Coombe.

Attendees came to the conference from all over the world. Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

Africa TESOL is a newly-formed, pan-African organization. Twelve African language teacher organizations came together to create this regional body, forming a community in which members can interact to pursue professionalism in language education and strive to create an enabling environment for research and practice. The Secretariat of Africa TESOL is currently based in Ahfad University for Women, Omdurman, Sudan. The 2nd annual conference will take place in May 2017 in Kigali, Rwanda. For more information, please visit www.africatesol.org.

TESOL International Past President Yilin Sun and Conference Co-chair Aymen Elsheikh relaxed on the post-conference Nile cruise.

There were opportunities for photos after the closing ceremonies. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article Networking

51

TESOL International 2016 Baltimore, Maryland Naziha Ali

addition to the annual general meeting, or what TESOL International refer to as the TESOL Annual Business Meeting, and the Town Meeting that was like an open house where delegates asked questions of the TESOL International management team.

The TESOL Annual Convention 2016 was a historical event marking the 50th anniversary of the organization. It was hosted at the Baltimore Convention Center located in a central part of the city where delegates were also able to get a taste of the baseball games that coincided with the conference dates. Most hotels around the convention centre overlooked the stadium which gave a free view of the excitement. The convention started with its usual Affiliates Day Workshops and Leadership briefings. Among the more than 1000 sessions were opening plenaries on each of the four days. These included Aziz Abu Sarah, Andy Curtis (TESOL International President), Jeanette Altaririba (James E. Alatis Plenary) and Anne Curzan. Although the conference runs over four days, there are additional two days in the form of pre- and post-convention institutes before and after the main event.

The Convention organisers were quite generous on the social side with multiple evening receptions organized for everyone. On the first day, they hosted an evening reception for first time attendees and new members. The second evening included receptions by the US State Department and interest sections. The most exciting aspect of the third day was the much awaited Ice Cream Break, where freezers filled with ice cream are lined up in the exhibition hall and people walking through the exhibition area help themselves to complimentary ice cream. There were also daily TESOL International prize draws and multiple giveaways and instant prizes by sponsors and exhibitors. These were sure crowd pullers that kept people floating in and out of the exhibition area. The Round Table Discussions in the exhibition hall also drew crowds as people gathered around individual tables allocated for discussion on hot topics in TESOL. My own session on “Volunteer work in Pakistan through Outreach Programmes” was scheduled at the same time as some of the most inspiring Tea with Distinguished TESOLERs sessions. Having attended a few of these last year, I remember how valuable the experience was in terms of networking, sharing views and learning from the experts.

While the concurrent sessions were very informative, I’m sharing some highlights from the format of the event that are crowd pullers for delegates. The convention housed a Doctoral and Masters Research forum, much like the Research forum that was organised at the TESOL Arabia Annual Conference this year. There was also a block for poster sessions in a separate hall on each day of the conference.

TESOL Arabia had a good presence at the TESOL Affiliates booth where I also presented Dr Mashael Al Hamly with the Professional Service Award as she couldn’t make it to the TESOL Arabia Annual Conference 2016 where it was to be originally awarded. The final day was filled with celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the association as they also presented an award to IATEFL who in turn celebrated the award and the partnership at their own conference a week later in Birmingham, UK.

Another interesting segment included the meetings organized by the various interest sections (IS). Each IS hosted an open meeting where members or those interested in joining could walk in and gain information and updates. In fact, the ISs collaborated to organise a special Interest Section Assembly for the general membership and delegates. This was in

My participation was a learning experience from both a delegate and leadership point of view as I engaged with multiple facets of the convention and networked with the organisers. I’m much awaiting next year’s event that will be in Seattle, Washington. For those who can make it, this surely is an event not to be missed.

Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


TESOL Arabia News Feature Networking Article

52

TESOL 2016: An Unforgettable and Rewarding Experience Baltimore, Maryland Entisar Elsherif

This year’s TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo 2016 was held in Baltimore, Maryland, April 5-8. I consider myself to be blessed that in my first TESOL experience I not only attended many sessions of my interest but also presented my dissertation results. Baltimore is like any American city. Even though the weather did not make walking around the city easy since it was windy and rainy on many occasions, I am sure that all of the conference attendees felt the welcoming atmosphere and enjoyed moving around. There were welcome signs along the street where the conference was taking place. The sessions I attended were held in the Baltimore Convention Center and the Baltimore Hilton. A connecting bridge between them made moving to and from the two buildings easier and fun, especially as we were able to have a look at the busy streets, safe from the changing weather. On Tuesday, April 5th, I attended the IELTS USA Teacher Workshop. In this workshop the presenters gave an overview of the test, explained the test format and scoring, provided samples, and gave some tips for IELTS prep courses. I enjoyed the workshop and left with a clear understanding of the test and the examiners’ roles. There were other workshops that I hope to have the opportunity to attend next year, such as the TOEFL Workshop and the ELT Leadership Management program. Wednesday was the big day for me because of my presentation about TESOL teacher education in Libya. I was happy with the number of attendees even though only those interested in international education were there. The positive feedback I got made my day. What made this conference experience unique for me were the sessions devoted to tips on publishing for

The Baltimore Convention Center was an excellent conference venue. Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

new researchers and writers. In the two sessions that I attended, there was emphasis on carefully reading and following journals’ guidelines. Other tips included making sure that the topic of the paper is accepted by the journal, not to submit the same manuscript to many journals at the same time, and to connect the local topic to a wider audience. The presenters in the “Beyond Research Borders: TESOL Quarterly and TESOL Journal” session explained the review process in detail, which gave us a glimpse of what happens to papers that are submitted for publication. Other useful sessions I attended gave me ideas on using proofreading games for accuracy and fluency, dealing with plagiarism, teaching vocabulary, giving written feedback, and using instructional rubrics. Another session that was devoted to writing across borders provided useful ideas on using some games and activities to connect students from different backgrounds and make classroom interaction more effective. Since most of the time I spent at the conference was devoted to attending sessions, I had little time to visit the exhibition. I had a short visit in which I looked at new titles that I might use as textbooks as well as those that would enrich my understanding of the field of TESOL. I think there should be some arrangements so that there is a time devoted to the exhibition with no sessions held at that time. This way, attendees will have more time to explore the exhibition that is not at the expense of their attending sessions or visa versa. I have to admit that I didn’t have that much time to network with people because I used those minutes between the sessions to get to the rooms where the sessions are held. However, I had the chance to talk with people who were near me before the presentation began and while we were engaged in the activities. I met people from different parts of the world which makes the TESOL conference exceptional. Attending and presenting at this prestigious conference had a great imp act on me as a teacher scholar. I came back with a number of ideas for my classroom that are linked to teaching writing, using rubrics, giving feedback, and other topics as well as how to prepare manuscripts that can be published in peer reviewed journals. It also gave me a chance to think about future research ideas and how to conduct them. If you have never attended the TESOL International conference, I highly recommend it and encourage you to go since it is a great professional development opportunity. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article Networking

53

50 Years of IATEFL Birmingham, UK Amr Elzarka

I was one of those lucky people who attended the 50th IATEFL conference in Birmingham. Being part of the Golden Jubilee was definitely a unique experience as well as being part of history. Fellow TESOL Arabia attendees Sufian Abu Rmaileh, Naziha Ali, and I gathered for the first time at the associates’ meeting one day before the conference. It was nice to have their company there.

Interactive Language Fair, where the facilitator gave a brief introduction and then delegates went to different presenters’ tables for more detailed discussion about their interests, and the Tribute Session to remember colleagues who had passed away since the last conference. The ICC venue was ideal.You could find almost you needed there either inside or immediately outside its door, including a small supermarket, restaurants and coffee shops. Just stepping outside the ICC door you immediately have a Venice-like view. In fact, it was announced in the conference that Birmingham has more canals than Venice!

The first thing that impresses you at your arrival is that you just scan your tag to have your attendance certificate printed on the spot. Ushers wearing special T-shirts with the conference logo were around the whole place to guide and help the attendees. They were also equipped with walkie-talkies for effective communication. There was a multi-counter registration desk with IATEFL staff facilitating issues and prompting the event. I really admired two services there: the cloakroom, where you can leave your items for only £1 per piece, and the medical service, which can get you a doctor if necessary.

Having a tour round the exhibition area, one could discover that many exhibitors are regular guests at the TESOL Arabia International Conference and Exhibition.Yet a few of them had never visited our conference before. I invited some of them to attempt to participate in TACON next year, and they were curious about it. I had some successful negotiations with big speakers such as David Crystal, Scott Thornbury and Ken Wilson, hoping to persuade some of them to come to Dubai. They expressed their keen wish to do so, and I referred their cases to the conference committee to decide. Finally, it is always a good opportunity to visit other countries and see how other people in sister organization do things from a different perspective.

The first day was overwhelming, and the audience numbered about 3000 attendees. The first plenary speaker was David Crystal, whose talk about language change over the years and its sociolinguistic connotation was impressive. He had a big round of applause and a long queue of fans for photographs. There were also popular speeches by other renowned speakers such as Silvana Richardson, Scott Thornbury, Jan Blake and Diane Larsen-Freeman. Some other distinguished speeches and presentations included Ken Wilson’s “How To Help Students Who Find English Scary” and Daniel Xerri’s “Promoting Creativity through Teacher Education and Development,” to mention only a couple of examples. The International Convention Centre (ICC) was like a hive busy with a variety of activities for five days. Two of the activities I favoured were the

TESOL Arabia representatives arrived in Birmingham in good spirits. Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

Amr enjoyed being part of the huge crowd at the conference.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


SpecialFeature InterestArticle Groups

54

English for Specific Purposes SIG

Phone: 02 644 0339 Email: esptesolarabia@gmail.com Saad Rabia Chair

Namaat Saadi Hezber Secretary

Leadership & Management SIG Phone: 050 619 4796 Email: christine.coombe@hct.ac.ae Email: konrad.cedro@tesolarabia.org Christine Coombe Chair

Teacher Training & Teacher Development SIG

Email: tatdsig@gmail.com Racquel Warner Co-Chair/Treasurer

Faiza Umar Co-Chair/Secretary

Testing, Assessment & Evaluation SIG Phone: 050 619 4796 Email: christine.coombe@hct.ac.ae Phone: 050 843 8782 Email: peter.davidson@zu.ac.ae

Christine Coombe Co-Chair

Peter Davidson Co-Chair

Read SIG

Phone: 050 266 8937 Email: yassersalem@yahoo.com Bridie Farah Chair

Melanie Gobert Secretary

Helene Demirci Treasurer

Young Learners SIG

Independent Learning SIG

Email: zubaida.khan@tesolarabia.org

Email: oabuorouq@aus.edu Phone: 050 984 8066 Zubaida Khan Chair

Research SIG

Ola Marie Abu Orouq Chair

Educational Technology SIG Email: edtechsig@gmail.com Ning: http://taedtech.ning.com

sabhi.hidri@tesolarabia.org Sahbi Hidri Chair & Publications Coordinator

Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

edtecharabia.twitter.com #taedtech James Buckingham Chair

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Chapter Feature Representatives Article

55

Abu Dhabi Representative Amjad Taha

ADNOC Technical Institute Abu Dhabi, UAE Mobile: (050) 575-2519 amjad.taha@tesolarabia.org

Al Ain Representative Negmeldin Elsheikh

UAE University negmeldin.elsheikh@tesolarabia.org

Sharjah Representative Dima Yousef

Canadian University in Dubai dima.yousef@tesolarabia.org

Dubai Representative Hafeez Rahman

hafeez.rahman@tesolarabia.org

RAK Representative Bachar Lakhal

ADVETI/Ministry of Education Ras Al Khaimah, UAE bachar.lakhal@tesolarabia.org

Eastern Region Representative Mohamed El Zamil

Ajman University mohamed.elzamil@tesolarabia.org

Western Region Representative Lofti ben Ameur

Al Nukhba School, Mirfa Mobile: (056) 752 1728 lotfi.benameur@tesolarabia.org

Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Executive Council Feature Article

56

President

Past President

Mohamed Azaza ADNOC Technical Institute 055 379 0099 (mobile) mazazamelki22@gmail.com

Naziha Ali Emirates Aviation College - B Dubai, UAE 050 646 1788 (mobile) nazihaali2005@yahoo.co.uk

Vice President

Executive Treasurer/Conference Co-Chair

Konrad A Cedro HCT - CERT 050 144 7680 (mobile) konard.cedro@hct.ac.ae

Sufian Abu Rmaileh UAE University - UGRU PO Box 17172 Al Ain, UAE 050 713 1803 (mobile) sabu-rmaileh@uaeu.ac.ae

Membership Secretary

Executive Secretary

Wafa Zoghbor Zayed University Abu Dhabi, UAE wafa.zoghbor@tesolarabia.org

Racquel Warner Mohamed Bin Rashid School of Government Dubai, UAE racquel.warner@tesolarabia.org

SIG Coordinator/Conference Co-Chair

Member-at-Large

Fathi Ben Mohamed jman University Ajman, UAE fathi.ben-mohamed@tesolarabia.org

Amr Elzarka Ministry of Education amr.elzarka@tesolarabia.org

Conference Treasurer

Affiliate Representative/Conference Co-Chair

Mohamed Elzamil New York Institute of Technology Abu Dhabi, UAE mohamed.elzamil@tesolarabia.org

Christine Coombe Higher Colleges of Technology Dubai, UAE christine.coombe@hct.ac.ae

Publications Coordinator

Perspectives Co-Editor

Aymen Elsheikh New York Institute of Technology Abu Dhabi, UAE aymen.elsheikh@tesolarabia.org

Suhair Al Alami Al Ghurair University PO Box 37374, Dubai, UAE suhair.alalami@tesolarabia.org

Perspectives Co-Editor Julie Riddlebarger Khalifa University PO Box 127788, Abu Dhabi, UAE julie.riddlebarger@tesolarabia.org

Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article Calendar of Upcoming Events August 2016

57

11-13: TESOL Indonesia International Conference, “Teaching & Learning English in Indonesia - Future Trends and Approaches,” Lombok, Indonesia. http://tesol.id/2016conference/ 12-14: 3rd International Conference on Language and Literacy Education, “Diversifying Pathways for Language and Literacy Education in Multilingual Contexts,” Johannesburg, South Africa. Email Matlakala. Moagi@wits.ac.za.

September 2016

22-25: Second Language Research Forum, “Instructed Second Language Acquisition,” New York, USA. http://www.tc.columbia.edu/slrf2016/ 23-25: 10th International Symposium of the National Association for Teaching and Researching EFL Writing in China, “Teaching and Researching EFL and ESP Writing for Global and Professional Communication,” Taiyuan, China. Email neflw2016@163.com.

October 2016

6-7:

2nd LITU-CULI International Conference, “ELT Limited,” Bangkok, Thailand. http://conferences.in.th/litu-culi/2016/

15:

The 2016 PKETA International Conference, “The Directions of Teacher Education in the Multicultural Era,” Busan, South Korea. Email yanghee1027@gmail.com.

15-16: Korea TESOL 24th Annual International Conference, “Shaping the Future with 21st Century Skills,” Seoul, South Korea. https://koreatesol. org/IC2016 November 2016

11-13: 2016 Pan Asia Conference & the 25th International Symposium and Book Fair on English Teaching, “Epoch Making in English Teaching and Learning: Evolution, Innovation, and Revolution,” Taipei, Taiwan. Email etaroc2002@yahoo.com.tw. 17-19: TESOL K​uwait 3rd International Conference, “Innovation, Creativity, Communication: Facing Novel Challenges in TESOL” Kuwait. Email alsharoufih@gust.edu.kw 18-19: International Conference on Literature and English Language Teaching, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Email elsheikhaymen@hotmail.com 25-28: JALT2016: 42nd Annual International Conference on Language Teaching and Learning & Educational Materials Exhibition, “Transformation in Language Education,” Nagoya, Japan. http://jalt.org/conference Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


58

Feature Article IPP WINS 8 AWARDS AT

DUBAI INTERNATIONAL

PRINT AWARD 2011 1 AWARD IN 2006

2 AWARDS IN 2007

4 AWARDS IN 2008

6 AWARDS IN 2009

8 AWARDS IN 2011 THE QUEST UEST FOR QUALITY CONT CONTINUES

5 GOLD 2 SILVER 1 BRONZE

Volume 24

No. 2

June 2016

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org

JUN 2016  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you