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Topic 4B – Assessment of knowledge of foreign languages as a means of communication between people and peoples. Interest in linguistic diversity through knowledge of a new language and culture.

OUTLINE

PART ONE: TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. INTRODUCTION

2. CONTENTS

2.1. Language and communication

2.2. Language and different cultures

2.3. Language as an instrument of holistic learning

2.4. The importance of having materials in the resource room to achieve a good intercultural atmosphere

2.5. ‘Immersion approach’ to second language learning

2.6. How to experience the culture of the English-speaking world in the classroom

3. BIBLIOGRAPHY

PART TWO: PRACTICAL DEVELOPMENT

1. LEVEL

2. TIME OF SESSIONS

3. OBJECTIVES

3.1. General

3.2. Specific

4. METHODOLOGY

5. THE TEACHING UNIT: SPECIFIC CONTENTS

6. ACTIVITIES AND TASKS

7. MATERIALS

8. FINAL TASK

9. EVALUATION

PART ONE: TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. INTRODUCTION

Modern textbooks take into account the linguistic aspects of a second language. In Fanfare, for example, Barbara Wilkes cites the following as her aims and objectives: to create an initial interest and enjoyment in foreign-language learning; to develop a positive attitude towards foreign cultures and people; to develop and awareness of the link between language and culture; to develop an awareness of language as an instrument of communication (Wilkes 1994: 8-9).

Thus, in addition to contributing “to the process of the development of the child’s intellectual, social, emotional, and physical skills,” and fostering “improved learning skills”, teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) should also include aspects related to intercultural appreciation and communication.

2. CONTENTS

2.1. Language and communication

Louis Porcher has observed that one of the objects of teaching a foreign language “is to give the learner some measure of communicative competence in that language. This competence may correspond to a future need of the learner (1980: 18).” In effect, that the mastering a second language has become a need for most people today is no longer a debatable issue. Schools not only have the responsibility of teaching a second language as a linguistic system, but also as a social system to be used by the learner. Hence, communication should begin in the school where the learning of a second language is taking place. Porcher maintains that since all teaching is itself a message, “It must therefore be suitable for those for whom it is in fact intended (19).” For the author, a language is a social practice, a part of a people’s history. Thus, it becomes necessary to educate pupils in the socio-cultural context which is characteristic of the countries in which the foreign language is the mother tongue. It is evident that inter-culturism is fast becoming an essential dimension in all teaching.

The Modern Languages Programme of the Council for Cultural Co-Operation of the Council of Europe has specifically defined the political objective which guides the programme in the following manner: “to facilitate communication and interaction among Europeans of different mother tongues in the service of European mobility, mutual understanding and cooperation, and in order to overcome prejudice and discrimination (Trim 1981: I).” The following members of the CDCC Project Group 4, D. Coste, C. Edelhoff, R. Bergenthoft, J. L M. Trim, each other has something to say in this respect.

Daniel Coste writes, “As far as we are concerned, ‘learning to communicate’ does not involve learning something totally new: all language learners are communicators already; what foreign language learning involves is learning to communicate differently and to communicate with a different set of people.” Coste holds that different ways of communicating have to be learned (and not just linguistic ones). Furthermore, it is his belief that in order to learn to communicate with a different set of people, one must also learn about them. Hence, communication is inseparable from a cultural context. The learning process itself becomes one of learning to communicate: “For adults, adolescents and children alike, learning is a process which, however slightly, involves and changes the whole individual as a person and social agent; when it comes to learning a different language to communicate differently with a different set of people, it is a fair assumption that the changes and the involvement will be all marked (34).”

2.2. Language and different cultures

Christopher Edelhoff feels the attitude of learners is as important as their linguistic knowledge and skills. “Teachers teaching a communication curriculum must be ready to accept that communication is free interaction between people of all talents, views, races and socio-cultural backgrounds and that foreign language communication, especially, is there for international understanding, human rights, democratic development and individual enrichment.” In order to achieve this end the learner needs to have an attitude which reflects open-mindedness and respect for others; attitude must also include respect for the history, environment, and views of other people (76).”

Rume Bergentoft reminds us, “In the final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, signed in Helsinki in 1975 by the heads of state of the participating nations, the latter expressed their conviction regarding the role now played by a knowledge of languages in connection among other things with closer international cooperation. It was decided that a wider knowledge of languages was needed to promote world peace and cooperation (33).

Finally, J. L. Trim warns of the “classical paradigm” of language teaching and “elitism” in traditional language teaching at school. “The ‘classical paradigm’ continued to dominate grammar schools until recently, and is till strong in many member countries…” The author explains that the ‘classical paradigm’ tends to extend certain values and attitudes, which reflect the classics to the languages and cultures of modern Europe. He points out that from this perspective, the study of a foreign language is but an intellectual discipline, based on the translation of passages from the classics which have little bearing on the real world in which learners actually live. Trim further declares, “This ‘classical paradigm’ is avowedly elitist.” He feels that it creates barriers to communication which tend to reinforce and perpetuate divisions in society. However, Trim concludes that, though the classical paradigm continues to be powerful, contemporary creative writing no longer employs the criteria of clarity and refined taste “to which the classical paradigm attaches the greatest importance (p. XX-XXI).”

Other authors have taken similar positions. Earl W. Stevick refers to a language class as being “one area in which a number of private universes intersect one another (1980: 7).” He feels that each learner, though a total individual, is in fact affected by what the others do. The teacher should be aware –and sympathize with the fact- that there are times when a learner will resist learning something which violates certain peer norms. For example, learners may at first reject the language simply because of its foreignness. Teachers should therefore be aware that the fear of losing support from those closest to the learner (peers, parents, etc.) may be an inhibiting factor. Stevick refers to a “world of meaningful action”, which, he says, tends to draw peers, family members, and life-goals during the language learning process. He concludes, “Foreignness, shallowness, irrelevance, and the subordinate position of the student –all may be obstacles to a learner’s feeling of ‘primacy in a world of meaningful action’ (10).”

2.3. Language as an instrument of holistic learning

Paul G. La forge affirms, “Language learning is people: this is the basic social process in learning ( 1983: viii).” By this he means that the acquisition of second language is the result of an interpersonal relationship which includes the teacher and the group of students. For La Forge, the interactions are dynamic and contribute to a personal growth for all involved. Their relationship becomes modified as a result of the learning of a new language. Furthermore, he recognizes the significance of the social process in twentieth-century language development: “A process view of language has opened the route to an understanding of mankind, social history, and the laws of how a society functions (1).” This means that EFL learning involves social, historical, cultural, and individual interconnections.

Gertrude Moskowitz defends a system of “Humanistic Education”, which she describes as “combining the subject matter to be learned with the feelings, emotions, experiences, and lives of the learners (1978: 11).” She is concerned with educating the whole person, both intellectually and emotionally.

In the author’s opinion, second language learning not only stimulates better human understanding, but it also leads to greater independence and self-steem. By learning another language, learners care more both for themselves and others.

Caleb Gattegno believed in “the spirit of language.” He felt hat by learning another language one absorbs the culture and history of the language users. Human beings incorporate into their languages conscious or unconscious collective aims, passions, and vision, which are taken on by the learner. He suggested that languages are reflections of the various modes of thought of a people: “The spirit of each language seems to act as a container for the melody and the structure of the language and most users are unconscious of it (1978: 19)”.

2.4. The importance of having materials in the resource room to achieve a good intercultural atmosphere

Brumfit and Finocchiaro suggest that acquiring a language also implies acquiring “enough knowledge about the culture of the target community to participate fully in a conversation at the beginning of a stay in a foreign country”. Additionally, they hold that EFL teaching should provide “the implicit and explicit learning of culture and language varieties through a multi-media approach and an active methodology based on creative use of language (1985: 26)”. In order to achieve this they suggest using the following resources: radio broadcasts, television, tapes, cassettes, documentary, recreational films, pictures, and short dialogs dealing with everyday situations. Furthermore, paralinguistic features need to be considered as well as gestures and facial expressions. The authors insist that learners cultural insights are a must in EFL learning.

2.5. ‘Immersion approach’ to second language learning

H. H. Stern alludes to an area of investigation, language teaching for younger children, which came to the fore around 1960 when UNESCO organized meetings in Hamburg in 1962 and 1966 with the purpose of stimulating comparative research in different countries. However, he sadly concludes that within ten years most of the resulting enquiries had “not always produced the clear-cut finding that had perhaps been expected from them when they were initiated (1984: 56)”. The two UNESCO-sponsored international meetings were intended to promote research on early language teaching and on the effectiveness of an early start. These meetings centred on the feasibility of an early start in school systems and revealed that young children responded to second language teaching in a positive way (364).

On a similar note, Stern asserts that two of the most interesting research endeavours in the seventies were the Council of Europe Modern Languages Project and the Canadian French immersion experiments, of which he was a participant. The Council of Europe Project, which was initiated in 1971, involves the co-operation of school-ars in several countries.

The French immersion research programme in Canada, which began in 1965, “illustrates the effectiveness of an ‘immersion’ approach to second language learning (1984: 66)”. In both studies, communication or communicative competence was one of the prime objectives.

Stern further points out that the term “communicative competence”, is a term which is used a great deal. Hymes was the first to employ the term, in contrast to Chomsky’s “linguistic competence”. “Communicative competence” reflects the social view of language. The concept of communicative competence is integral with communicative language teaching. It has become a central focus for EFL teaching, which involves the study and practice of functional, structural, lexical and sociocultural aspects. The learning experience itself should be personal and engage in a direct use of the language and contact with the target language community (Stern 1984: 26).

2.6. How to experience the culture of the English-speaking world in the classroom

Finally, to develop cultural insights, Finocchiaro suggests the classroom should “reflect the culture of the English-speaking world (1974: 94)”. She submits that the following aspects be incorporated into EFL teaching: maps and posters, a bulletin board with newspaper and magazine clipping, including comic strips, proverbs and pictures; a table or shelf with objects such as stamps, money, artifacts, and a library corner. She also recommends the carrying out of “projects related to English-speaking culture which will then serve for class reporting and discussion (95)”. Such projects might include the following: preparation of maps, travel itineraries, floor plans, menus, calendars indicating holidays, scrapbook, flimstrips or pictures, play readings, a book fair. Additionally, culture may be experienced through songs, festivals, poems, multimedia resource material. She also suggests, “A pen pal project should be initiated very soon after the students learn to write (97)”.

3. BIBLIOGRAPHY

FINOCCHIARO, M.: (1974). English as a second language: from theory to practice. Reprint ed. New York: Regents.

FINOCCHIARO M. And BRUMFIT, C.: (1985). The functional-notional approach: from theory to practice. Reprint ed. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

GATTEGNO, C.: (1978). Teaching foreign languages in schools: the silent way. 2nd ed. New York: Educational Solutions.

LA FORGE, P. G.: (1983). Counseling and Culture in Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

MOSKOWITZ, G.: (1978). Caring and sharing in the foreign language class: A sourcebook on humanistic techniques. Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House.

PORCHER, L.: (1980). Reflections on language needs in the school. Strasbourg: Council for Cultural Cooperation of the Council of Europe.

STERN, H. H.: (1984). Fundamental concepts of languge teaching. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

STEVICK, E.W.:(1980). Teaching languages: a way and ways. Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House.

TRIM, J. L. M., project adviser: (1981). Modern languages programme 1971-1981. Strasbourg: Council for Cultural Co-Operation of the Council of Europe.

VILKES, B.: (1994). Fanfare. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.


PART TWO: PRACTICAL DEVELOPMENT

1. LEVEL

Third cycle (6 th grade)

2. TIME OF SESSION

Four periods of class, one week before Christmas.

3. OBJECTIVES

3.1. General

– To recognize the communicative value of learning a foreign language, showing a positive attitude of understanding and respect for other languages and cultures.

3.2. Specific

– Students will be able to increase their understanding of and compare Christmas customs in English speaking countries.

– Learn the lyrics and music of popular Christmas Carol and sing it.

– Experience and extract information from the song in the past tense.

– Interact with other cultures.

4. METHODOLOGY

The methodology used should be suitable to a communicative approach to teaching English as a foreign language. That is, taking into consideration the age, ability and needs of the students, as well as the criteria specified in the overall objectives of the course, the EFL teacher should apply leaning strategies which are based on learning by doing, i.e., task oriented strategies. The tasks required elicit a participative attitude on the part of the learners and a guiding role on the part of the teacher. Additionally, the teacher should help the students to learn both to think and to do in the target language.

5. THE TEACHING UNIT: SPECIFIC CONTENTS

Conceptual:

– vocabulary (Specifics words from the song and Christmas words)

– phonological aspects (practise the pronunciation of the consonant –r-).

Procedural:

– Christmas environment.

– warm-up activities

– listening tasks

– Productive activities

Sociological aspects:

– Curiosity for different customs.

– Respect for different cultures.

6. ACTIVITIES AND TASKS

6.1. Brain-storming: The students (SS) say any English words they know which are related to Christmas.

6.2. The teacher (T) shows them how to make a calendar of events.

6.3. SS work in groups (four to five people) and make one calendar for each group.

6.4. Using a cassette recorder, T plays Christmas carols while SS work with the calendars.

6.5. SS hang their calendars on the walls and T uses them to go over the meaning of words.

6.6. T plays the song Rudolph the red-nose Reindeer and while SS listen carefully.

6.7. SS read the lyrics of the song with missing words (listening task).

6.8. By listening and discussing SS find the missing words and start memorizing the lyrics (day by day).

6.9. T gives SS a text from “Mary’s Diary” which tells what Mary did last Christmas.

6.10 Using their own native language (L1), SS discuss in how the Christmas customs narrated in Mary’s diary compare with customs in Spain.

6.11 At the end of the short-term series, the classroom is decorated. SS give each other presents and they sing together the song “Rudolph the red-nose reindeer”.

7. MATERIALS

– A cassette tape of the song “Rudolph…” and a cassette recorder.

– Wrapping paper, glue, scissors, coloured markers and optional material (tacks, staplers, etc.).

– A textof Mary’s diary talking about Christmas customs in her country.

8. FINAL TASK

SS write about what they did last Christmas: The pages will go into a class diary that everyone can read.



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