Dec 24, 2008

some thoughts on 'reality' in the classroom.

"The extent to which L1 acquisition resembles and differs from L2 acquisition is not wholly understood. One obvious difference is that when we learn a foreign language we already have another language to refer back to and make comparisons with – something that is inevitable and which can be both helpful (when this heightens awareness of language or triggers ‘ring bells’, especially in recalling lexis) and distracting (when this leads to word-for-word translation, especially with grammar).
One other fundamental difference is clear: for most people (the ones that interest us), the fact of learning a second language is a conscious decision and effort, and the process of learning is conscious as well as unconscious. Students do not need to be immersed in a ‘real English world’ for effective learning to occur. Learners know they are in an "artificial" environment once they enter the classroom and they often have expectations about how learning should take place, but although they will normally prefer to learn language that they really need and prefer to learn language in a way that they will really use, they are prepared for and equipped to deal with the strategies (and constraints) they encounter in a real classroom environment."

"No matter how ‘natural’ lessons are in terms of recreating the conditions and processes where acquisition occurs, there is always a filter –and however much what happens in the classroom can resemble ‘real’ communication it remains essentially pseudo-communication. Would that group of people meet through spontaneous and free choice? Would they really to choose to talk about this rather than that? Would they defer to the person who happens to be the teacher? Would they even speak in English?"

3 comments:

George Machlan said...

Dear Speak, Or should I say Mr Mind? I would like to say that I think bloggers tend to prefer posts by real people not corporate entities. Give some thought to allowing a personality to show through this site. I want to connect with someone, not something. I would be intrigued by the musings and heartfelt passions of say a Josh or Sally at KyM. Or is this all just facade dressing, talk to impress the TESOL community. OOPS, I'm going overboard. You have good ideas herein but they seem so academic, sterile and high-falutin (Montana speak for hoity-toity). ---------------Hey, here's an idea.... how about asking everyone in the KyM community to share their weekly highs and lows here? Some real down and dirty people eaking out an existence on this hard planet? Their small victories in the battle to bridge non-English students to their dreams of being multi-lingual? Now there is some hubris and romance worth blogging about! And pictures all teachers love to use pictures (or are you a closet poet/written word purist?). You don't have to show me skin but people, smiles frowns... you know, the gritty earthy stuff our profession is made of. So in closing, I want to get down of my lectern and say that I sincerely want to here what you have to say and join you in a conversation. What if we started posting a running conversation on youtube?

SpeakyourMind said...

George! What can I say? There's nothing more I'd like than the kind of blog you describe. At the moment the blog is a sort of cupboard where we've chucked some belongings that we think other people might want to borrow. The trouble is the cupboard doesn't look very enticing and no one knows where it is anyway. Thanks for your interest and effort. I will definitely reply to your you-tube challenge and look forward to finding out more.
Iain

George Machlan said...

Unfortunately I did not look at your earliest postings. Therein you showed an excellent grasp of what I consider to be engaging content. I still think, though, that the success, particularly in the marketing aspects of your site require a critical mass of users. Web 3.0 is a term that generally describes a new paradigm in web engagement. This paradigm is identified with user generated content (wiki) and as a self promulgating machine. Think MySpace as the biggest example. It seems obvious that your niche is under served currently. E.G. I can hardly find anything relating to you and your method on the web. So I would venture to guess that there is a need to provide a forum for your user community to share and express themselves. The trick now is to discover there passion buttons. Or at least their get-off-their-butt buttons to engage is an online community. Without their active participation any blog or grassroots marketing would be futile. But, if a dynamic online community is affected it will be like Star Trek's Borg.... The site itself will tell the ESL world, "Resistance is futile!"