As English becomes the Lingua Franca around the world (Seidlhofer, 2005), English teaching profession becomes more than a necessity together with creating a huge market for both teachers and publishers. In the case of publishers, they claim to have books that are all based on authentic materials for students to help them get grasp of English easily. However, what is authenticity? Authenticity, a catchy word among English Language Teaching practitioners though it has some problems, is described as “the use of conversations or written texts which have been produced for purposes other than to teach language” (Nunan, 1988). Throughout the history of ELT, authenticity is taken as being synonymous with genuineness, realness, truthfulness, validity, reliability,  undisputed  credibility,  and legitimacy  of materials  or practices (Tatsuki,  2006). And when it is put that way, it seems impossible to claim anything against it.

However, Kramsch and Sullivan (1996) attract attention to the discussion of the appropriate pedagogy by stating that the interpretation of authenticity in this way could be fine for ELT in the UK or USA, but the moment English texts are used in real-life contexts other than those of their original producers, authenticity of language use becomes problematic, that is what is authentic in London might not be authentic in Hanoi.They suggest that instead of authentic language, an ‘appropriate’ pedagogy that takes into account both the global and local needs of learners of English might be better.

As the they put it, appropriate pedagogy must be a pedagogy of appropriation and it should prepare learners for both local and global contexts. The English language will enable students of English to do business with native and non-native speakers of English in the global world market and for that they need to master the grammar and vocabulary of standard English. But they also need to retain control of its use. Appropriate pedagogy considers the way to prepare learners to be both global and local speakers of English and to feel at home in both international and national cultures

For them, such a view of an appropriate pedagogy is in keeping with the political motto “think globally, act locally”, which translated into a language pedagogy might be “global thinking, local teaching”, which may be by far the best interpretation of culture-sensitive pedagogy. They use the metaphor of a market place. They state that “Marketplaces fulfill several functions. They can be places where economic wars are waged, stocks and bonds are exchanged, companies boom or bust, or entrepreneurs invest and make a profit. They can also be places that bring people together to talk and exchange life experiences. … the potential of market places may lie not only in industry but also in the discovery of potentialities in the self that have been brought to light through encounters with the other. There is a complete emphasis on the local market, local needs and therefore local methodology.

 

References

Kramsch, C., & Sullivan, P. (1996). “Appropriate pedagogy”. ELT Journal 50 (3), 199-212.

Nunan, D. (1988). The learner-centered curriculum. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Seidlhofer, B. (2005). “English as a lingua franca”. ELT Journal 59 (4), 339-341.

Tatsuki, D. (2006). “What is  authenticity?” The Language Teacher, 16(5), 17–21.

 

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In English, there is a cliche saying “It is easier said than done”.  This is what Peter Medgyes is talking about in his article “Queries from a communicative teacher”, criticizing the proponents of Communicate Approach from different perspectives they tend to ignore.

The theory behind the Communicative Approach sounds great when a newbie teacher first meets with it; it talks about how a communicative teacher should be, about the importance of taking into account the needs of the group but also the learner himself at the same time in addition to how teachers should pay attention to meaning and form simultaneously, how their role should be in relation to their students and the use of text book. CA places a heavy burden on teachers and expects them to meet all the requirements of the approach while also dealing with the everyday problems of their job routine such as preparing lessons plans, finding suitable materials for the appropriate level and so forth.

But there is a big difference between the theory and the practice because the reality in a classroom is completely different from what the proponents of the approach may have dreamed of, though it may be true for the some selected few with fewer lessons, brighter students, and smaller groups. Medgyes even makes a comparison of this situation when he is describing a communicative teacher as “Wizard of Oz like superperson yet of flesh and blood”. As the author mentions, being a Communicative teacher requires to have “super-powers”; they must cope with a plethora of things, and also with their own deficiency as a non-native language teacher. This leads me to think that the proponents of CA may have read so many comic books in their free time from either DC Comics or Marvel, thus having some confusions in their theory and mixing the teachers with the invincible characters with superpowers in Ultimate Avengers or X-Men .

I definitely agree with the author in all the aspects he mentions. It is easy to theorize about something while sipping your coffee in the comfort of your house and office room if you are not in a real classroom and not coping with the difficult situations real teachers struggle everyday. Of course every newly graduated teacher would aspire to be Communicative teacher, but, in real life, only the selected few could actually teach by following a Communicative Methodology.

The Schizophrenic Teacher by Peter Medyges

Posted: April 1, 2014 by ozgurefl in Uncategorized

The first thing that caught my attention in this article was the author’s choice of title: The Schizophrenic Teacher. According to Webster’s New World College Dictionary, a schizophrenic issomeone suffering from a major mental disorder of unknown cause typically characterized by a separation between the thought processes and the emotions, a distortion of reality accompanied by delusions and hallucinations. And in the same dictionary, a teacher is defined as “a person whose job is to teach students about certain subjects”. How come did these two words come together and what was the author trying to communicate? These were the two questions that intrigued my mind while reading the article.

In the article, the author shares some of his own experiences as a Non-native speaking English teacher (NNSET) and states that most NNSETs feel unsafe about using the language they have to teach and therefore they might tend to have either a deeply pessimistic or an aggressive attitude to ELT. The author states that by being both teacher and learner simultaneously, NNSETs are driven into “schizophrenia”. He also points out that sooner or later NNSETs might tend to regret having chosen this career because there are not many options apart from having a nervous breakdown. One of the options is total resignation, and another is restricting the language to those rules which he or she has learned or mislearned. He argues that NNSETs should admit that they are students of English too. This would be the best way to take a more confident stance in the classroom.

He also claims that NNSETs are more commonly grammar centered teachers believing the language to be equal to knowing its grammar. However, sometimes they might ignore a rule or might have learned it incorrectly when they were students and then they might make errors which could be afterwards transmitted to their students.

In the article, NNSETs are said to be indifferent to pronunciation or vocabulary. He points out that NNSETs avoid using alternative teaching sources to teach pronunciation such as radio, video, cassette recorder, etc. The reason might be that they try to hide their inadequacies, such as their foreign accent, from their students. Pronunciation is not their only Achilles’ heel: their lexicon is another burden. According to the estimate by the Global Language Monitor on January 1, 2014, the number of words in the English Language is 1,025,109.8 and there is a new word created every 98 minutes or about 14.7 words per day. This is of course something neither NSETs nor NNSETs could fully master; nevertheless, this is one of the areas where NNSETs feel uncomfortable when it comes to teaching vocabulary as NSETs have an intrinsic tool called “Language Feeling” that can often help them to know if a word used by a student is right or not.

Overall, though Medyges is a NNSET himself, he accepts the psychological defeat of being an NNSET.

Reviewed Article:

Medgyes, P. (1983). The schizophrenic teacher. ELT Journal, 37(1), 2-6

EDITOR: Michael Thomas
EDITOR: Hayo Reinders
EDITOR: Mark Warschauer
TITLE: Contemporary Computer-Assisted Language Learning
SERIES TITLE: Contemporary Studies in Linguistics
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Publishing (formerly The Continuum International Publishing Group)
YEAR: 2012

REVIEWER: Ferit Kilickaya, Mehmet Akif Ersoy University

SUMMARY

This book, edited by Michael Thomas, Hayo Reinders, and Mark Warschauer, explores the parameters of contemporary Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), focusing on different areas of CALL, how these different areas shape CALL, as well as how the latest research approaches help explore different areas. The book of composed of three parts and 19 chapters in total. Readers are provided the opportunity to read chapters independently of the other chapters as the structure of the book is organized thematically, with the parts entitled ‘The CALL Context’, ‘CALL Learning Environments’, and ‘CALL in Language Education’. 

Chapter 1, by the editors, is entitled ‘Contemporary computer-assisted language learning: The role of digital media and incremental change’, and serves as the introduction to the book, touching briefly upon the main themes of CALL, aspects of contemporary CALL, and how digital media and social CALL have evolved. This chapter supplies the foundation for the next chapters by providing a brief and effective introduction to CALL. 

In Chapter 2, ‘Historical perspectives on CALL’, the authors, Graham Davies, Sue E. K. Otto, and Bernd Rüschoff, provide a rich overview of developments in CALL and how these developments have shaped CALL during the last three decades. The authors also take into consideration the technologies available, second language acquisition, and theories of language education. In this perspective, the authors not only discuss the origin of the term ‘CALL’ with a detailed history from the 1980s to the present but also enable readers to reconsider technology and second language learning by portraying past and recent developments. 

In Chapter 3, entitled ‘Researching language learning in the age of social media’, the authors, Carla Meskill and Joy Quah, highlight the varied perspectives and approaches in CALL research used in online and social environments, focusing on the online environment and its specifications, online social and affective dimensions, as well as pedagogical processes. While presenting this review of perspectives and approaches, the authors provide a solid discussion of the current methodological approaches and techniques. 

Chapter 4, ‘Second language teacher education for CALL: An alignment of practice and theory’, deals with how teacher education for CALL can be aligned to sociocultural theory and argues that CALL training should be geared more towards an educational perspective. The authors, Gary Motteram, Diane Slaouti, and Zeynep Onat-Stelma, provide a concise review of the field of teacher education, and highlight how sociocultural theory can contribute to teacher education for CALL through a study that explores the practices of adult teachers of languages using technology in General English, TOEFL, and TOEIC exam classes. 

In Chapter 5, ‘Research on computers in language testing: Past, present and future’, the author, James Dean Brown, focuses on the role of computers in language testing. He examines the developments in computer-based language testing, considering trends, developments and directions in both the past and the future, with particular emphasis on current practices such as testing vocabulary, speaking or oral skills, writing, listening and reading. 

Chapter 6, entitled ‘Materials design in CALL: Social presence in online environments’, discusses how material design and the choice of tasks can affect social presence in online environments integrated into CALL, CMC-based teacher education, and learner participation in online interaction. The authors, Mirjam Hauck and Sylvia Warnecke, examine the findings of a study involving a tutor training class in teaching English for Academic Purposes, making use of the Community Indicators Framework by Galley et al. (2011), which includes four broad aspects related to participants’ online presence: participation, cohesion, identity, and creative capability. 

In Part II, under the theme of ‘CALL Learning Environments’, Chapter 7, ‘Telecollaboration and CALL’, examines online communication tools that bring students of different countries together overcoming geographical restrictions. The author, Robert O’Dowd, provides a critical review of the models and configurations of online communication and exchange in foreign language classrooms. He suggests that we should reconsider the role of telecollaboration in formal education and current classroom practices with respect to several factors such as observable and assessable student activity, tasks that can be integrated into classroom interaction, as well as the advantages of telecollaborative activity. 

In Chapter 8, ‘Distance CALL online’, Marie-Noëlle Lamy discusses the diverse nature of distance CALL and highlights the fact that it can be delivered in various forms such as online and in a blended approach. Taking the flexibility of distance CALL into consideration and building around a learning design approach, the author provides an integrated model of distance language learning. 

In Chapter 9, ‘Language learning in virtual worlds: Research and practice’, Randall Sadler and Melinda Dooly bring a different perspective to social presence (cf. Chapter 6) and discuss the opportunities that virtual worlds provide to language learners. The authors provide an overview of the research on and development of virtual worlds followed by a discussion of language and content learning. They draw on their research projects on the use of virtual worlds that provide children the opportunity to observe, interact, and explore by using a virtual art gallery. 

In Chapter 10, ‘Digital games and language learning’, Chun Lai, Ruhui Ni, and Yong Zhao move the discussion to a very interesting and attractive perspective in CALL: digital games. The authors review current developments in digital games, examine pedagogical issues in several commercial games, and discuss what the future holds for digital game-based language learning. They focus on the balance between playing games and maximizing learning through these games. 

In Chapter 11, ‘Mobile-assisted language learning’, Glenn Stockwell discusses the role of mobile technologies in language learning. It is widely acknowledged that distance language learning and CALL have taken one step further with innovations such as mobile devices. In this chapter, the author reviews how mobile devices affect language learning, advantages of using mobile devices, and issues of concern that need to be taken into consideration while utilizing mobile devices such as MP3 players, PDAs, and mobile phones. 

Dafne Gonzalez and Rubena St. Louis deal with an important issue in CALL in Chapter 12, ‘CALL in low-tech contexts’: technology-limited contexts and how to overcome these limitations. The authors enrich the discussion on low-tech environments through the findings of a survey conducted in several countries where technology is not widely available, reflecting their use of CALL in their own contexts. The findings indicate that slow internet access proves to be an obstacle that can be overcome by doing activities that do not require fast internet access such as creating blogs and sending emails, and by helping teachers in technology-limited contexts to gain experience through online communities and special interest groups. 

Part III is ‘CALL in language education’. Chapter 13, ‘Intelligent CALL’, is engaged with the contribution of artificial intelligence to CALL, focusing on resources for both language learning and researchers. The authors, Mathias Schulze and Trude Heift, frame their discussion on Intelligent CALL within second language acquisition, taking interaction and noticing (that is, consciously registering the input) into consideration. The authors also enrich their discussion by providing resources for researchers, focusing on learner and reference corpora. 

In Chapter 14, ‘Technology-enhanced reading environments’, Youngmin Park, Binbin Zheng, Joshua Lawrence, and Mark Warschauer present an overview of reading supported by digital media such as visual-syntactic text formatting and blogging. The first part of the discussion is allocated to major components of reading such as word decoding and language comprehension, leading to a summary of research on computer-assisted reading in each component, while the second part focuses on the use of digital materials/technologies that enrich second language reading. 

Chapter 15, ‘The role of technology in teaching and researching writing’, deals with writing and the available technological tools. The authors, Volker Hegelheimer and Jooyoung Lee, summarize various technological developments and tools such as automated essay evaluation and online environments for collaborative writing that inform teaching second language writing, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of these technological tools. 

In Chapter 16, ‘CALL and less commonly taught languages’, Richard M. Robin examines the impact of the latest technologies, particularly web-based tools, on the less commonly taught languages. He considers specific features of these languages and the tools available in the Web 2.0 environment such as Google translator, Google as a corpus and concordance, as well as the courses available in distance and hybrid environments. 

Chapter 17, entitled ‘CALL and digital feedback’, looks at the issue of providing feedback in the language classroom. The authors, Paige Ware and Greg Kessler, examine the feedback provided in synchronous and asynchronous environments and critically analyze the three dimensions of digital feedback, namely, modes of feedback delivery, focus of feedback provided, and strategies for delivering feedback on the skills of writing and speaking. 

In Chapter 18, ‘Task-based language teaching and CALL’, Michael Thomas provides a brief overview of the relationship between CALL and task-based language teaching and how they inform each other, reporting on the results of a case study that was conducted with Japanese learners of English. The author questions previous research findings indicating that Asian English language learners are found to be resistant to interactive learning environments and draws attention to the importance of proficiency in activities within a task-based approach. 

Chapter 19, ‘CALL and learner autonomy: Affordances and constraints’, is concerned with the importance of the role of learner autonomy in language learning and teaching. The authors, Hayo Reinders and Philip Hubbard, provide a quick but efficient review of their topic, analyze the potential limitations of technology on the development of learner autonomy, and discuss possible ways to overcome these limitations: providing appropriate training, selecting appropriate materials, encouraging peer interaction and collaborations, and enhancing learners’ cognitive, social, and affective strategies. 

EVALUATION

The major strength of the book lies in the state-of-the-art discussions on important issues in CALL. These discussions not only remind us of past developments but also link these developments to current practices in the CALL world, providing a good sense of the relationship of CALL to second language learning teaching and learning. The chapters introduce a literature review of previous studies as well as current trends, combining theory and practice, which will be beneficial as supplementary reading to graduate students as well as to scholars interested in any aspect of CALL research. The references provided at the end of each chapter also provide the readers with the opportunity to further their knowledge. 

The chapters are organized thematically, starting by setting the context for CALL research and its history and then moving to more advanced issues such as telecollaboration and CALL, and CALL and learner autonomy. Almost all chapters consider current research practices in both low- and high-tech environments around the world, and will lead researchers in this field to reconsider their perspectives on issues such as providing digital feedback and learner autonomy. The only thing that might be suggested would be the inclusion of a chapter at the end of the book, outlining and combining what has been explored and suggested in previous chapters. 

Overall, the book proves to be invaluable reading for anyone interested in keeping up with current developments in the field of CALL. Although the title of the volume does not include the word “handbook” or imply that it is a handbook, I would claim that the volume serves the role and aim of similar handbooks which are available. Thus, the book will be of utmost value for researchers and graduate students alike to figure out how technology and specific techniques and strategies should be employed to best serve students’ needs in language learning. The volume is surely one of the most important and useful books available on the market.

This review appeared originally in the LINGUIST List at http://linguistlist.org/issues/25/25-940.html

AUTHOR: Alison Mackey
TITLE: Input, Interaction, and Corrective Feedback in L2 Learning
SERIES TITLE: Oxford Applied Linguistics
PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press
YEAR: 2012

REVIEWER: Ferit Kilickaya, Kocaeli University

SUMMARY

This book, part of the textbook series ‘Oxford Applied Linguistics’, investigates how interaction, together with input and corrective feedback, is involved in second language learning. It reviews a considerable amount of research carried out over the last two decades as well as very recent work. The book is composed of four parts with two chapters each, for a total of eight chapters. The structure enables readers to read chapters independently of others as it is organized thematically.

In Part One, under the theme of ‘Theoretical foundations and methodological approaches’, Chapter 1, entitled ‘Introduction to the roles of input, interaction, and feedback in L2 learning’, the author provides a clear and concise overview of the interaction approach and associated constructs such as input, feedback, and output. When discussing these, the author first presents the historical development of interaction research and then focuses on studies within the framework of interaction and learning, pointing to work dealing with these constructs. This chapter lays the foundation for the next chapters by providing a synthesis of research, and brief but effective overviews of findings of studies conducted over the last two decades.

Chapter 2, ‘Methodology in interaction research’, highlights the key considerations used in interaction research. As indicated throughout the book, second language development is assured through interaction, and in this chapter, a detailed review of typical tasks used in such research has been provided. In the course of this review, these tasks are provided in categories depending on the characteristics of the tasks, such as whether they are open or closed, and whether they encourage one-way or two-way communication. The chapter also focuses on introspective methods such as stimulated recalls and think-aloud protocols considered invaluable ways of getting participants to recall their thinking.

In Part Two, under the theme of ‘Contextual and instructional factors and applications in interaction-driven L2 learning’, Chapter 3, entitled ‘Classrooms, laboratories, and interlocutors’, examines how context plays a role in interaction. It also presents a range of views based on studies conducted in laboratory settings and in classrooms. In other words, a critical perspective is provided on how interaction occurs and which factors affect interaction in both laboratory and classroom contexts such as what learners notice in the feedback provided (learners’ noticing of feedback) and interlocutor effects.

Chapter 4, entitled ‘Tasks and the provision of learning opportunities in interaction’ deals with task-based instruction and focus-on-form instruction (FFF) and how these types of instruction can foster second language learning through interaction. In this vein, the chapter focuses on tasks and interaction and how they evolve in particular settings. As mentioned with regard to previous chapters, the discussion is guided through brief summaries of the studies conducted in this area, pointing to different types of tasks and factors that might affect interaction such as planning time and familiarity.

In Part Three, under the theme of ‘Cognitive and learner differences influencing the interaction-learning relationships’, Chapter 5, entitled ‘Learner characteristics: age and interaction-driven L2 learning’, discusses what interaction-based research says about how age and interaction affect second language learning in children and older learners. It is noteworthy that the author covers a wide body of literature on both populations, drawing attention to the need for research on older adults, especially in interaction-driven second language learning.

Chapter 6, entitled ‘Cognitive processes: the role of working memory in interaction-driven learning’, focuses on the role of working memory (WM) in interactive activities in second language classrooms and it discusses different models of WM such as Baddeley’s four-part model. Several issues emerge in the discussion such as verbal working memory and phonological short-term memory and how research links these issues to language proficiency.

In Part Four, under the theme of ‘Understanding and extending interaction research’, Chapter 7, entitled ‘Negotiation, corrective feedback, and recasts in SLA’ further extends the discussion provided in the introductory chapter and focuses on how interaction can be improved through interactional modifications, implicit and explicit feedback, recasts, error correction and how learners can structure their interlanguages.

Chapter 8, ‘Driving interaction research forward’, presents social, cognitive, and pedagogical directions for future interaction research. As Mackey suggests, questions about interaction research should be geared towards how interaction can impact second language learning, rather than whether it affects learning. Although this chapter might be seen as a conclusion, it really serves as the first step toward further research to be conducted in the interaction-driven second language learning, noting gaps in the related literature and suggesting directions.

EVALUATION

Considering the review of a wide body of research conducted for the last two decades and the suggestions on further research provided by the author, I can safely state that the author has achieved the goals with the book, dealing thoroughly how interaction, input, and corrective feedback go hand in hand within the framework of several differences and factors in second language learning. This would definitely be not only an invaluable textbook but also a must-have reference for research students and researchers alike in interaction research and in the field of second language acquisition.

In their chapter on the “Interactionist approach” in ‘The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition’ (2012), Mackey, Abbuhl, and Gass touch on the core issues of the present book clearly but briefly, including theoretical foundations. Moreover, in the same volume, chapters on “The role of feedback” by Loewen and “Age effects in second language learning” by DeKeyser further enrich the discussions presented on how feedback and age can affect communication, interaction, and learners’ attainment in language classrooms.

To fully benefit from and to utilize what is covered in the present book, readers are urged to refer to these works as well as others like these on various issues such as how to provide feedback to learners, different perspectives on interaction, and how corrective and oral feedback is perceived by both learners and teachers: Bookhart (2008), Mackey and Polio (2009), Yoshida (2010), and Lyster, Saito, and Sato (2013).

The volume is well-structured, offering independent chapters that can be studied depending on your needs and a comprehensive review of the studies that will surely interest many in the second language acquisition world. The book actually delivers a coherent sense of the discussion related to interaction, starting very first from the theoretical foundations to meet the needs of those new to the roles of input, interaction, and feedback in L2 learning to more advanced issues such as cognitive and learner differences influencing the interaction-learning relationships, cognitive processes, and the role of working memory in interaction-driven learning.

The book has quite a few strengths beyond my power of summary. Among others, one major strength lies in the book’s organization and the overviews of the key interaction-driven studies on several important issues. The suggestions provided throughout for further research and the issues noted in each chapter are especially noteworthy since the author takes great care to present challenging ideas and studies. The book stresses the need for more research to be conducted on laboratory and classroom contexts as well as older adults especially in interaction-driven second language learning. The author draws the attention to the fact that further research should be geared towards how interaction can impact second language learning considering the factors discussed throughout the book, rather than focusing on whether interaction affects language learning or not.

I cannot help wishing that the book had been published before I completed my studies. The only thing that I would suggest for a future edition would be the inclusion of a glossary of key terms at the end of the book. Overall, this will be the first book that teachers, lecturers, researchers, and students in interaction-driven second language learning should consult for previous and current research, and ideas for further research.

REFERENCES

Bookhart, S. M. (2008). How to give effective feedback to your students. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

DeKeyser, R. (2012). Age effects in second language learning. In S. M. Gass & A. Mackey (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 24-40). New York, NY: Routledge.

Loewen, S. (2012). The role of feedback. In S. M. Gass & A. Mackey (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 442-460). New York, NY: Routledge.

Lyster, R., Saito, K., and Sato, M. (2013). Oral corrective feedback in second language classrooms. Language Teaching, 46(1), 1-40. doi:10.1017/S0261444812000365

Mackey, A., Abbuhl, R., & Gass, S. M. (2012). Interactionist approach. In S. M. Gass & A. Mackey (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 7-23). New York, NY: Routledge.

Mackey, A., & Polio, C. (2009). (Eds.). Multiple perspectives on interaction: Second language research in honor of Susan M. Gass. New York, NY: Routledge.

Yoshida, R. (2010). How do teachers and learners perceive corrective feedback in the Japanese language classroom? The Modern Language Journal, 94, 293-314.

This review appeared originally in the LINGUIST List at http://linguistlist.org/issues/24/24-966.html

Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) has been recently growing as a flourishing area of research and rising as an outgrowing practise in the field of second language teaching and learning. Thanks to its wide promises for language learners, such as providing them with the chance to learn anywhere and anytime , the potential benefits of using these technologies have been researched on different language skills. This study investigated how it consolidates L2 learners’ vocabulary in comparison to two other means and compared the effectiveness of supplementary vocabulary materials delivered via mobile phones (in the form of multimedia messages), on web pages and in print form. With a quasiexperimental research design,  it looked at whether there is an improvement in the post- tests and in the delayed post- tests after these treatments. The research questions were as follows:

1.What is the effect of the use of mobile phones for supporting language learners’ vocabulary acquisition?

a. Does the gain scores (the difference between post and pre- tests) in the vocabulary achievement tests differ among the three groups: mobile, web and paper-based?

b. Is there a significant difference between three groups’ (mobile, web, and paper-based) English language vocabulary retention?

The participants were 103 students attending English preparatory classes at a university in Turkey.  To compare the effectiveness of these three means, 6 groups were formed such that 18 students in the elementary level and 17 students in the pre-intermediate level composed the mobile group, 17  students in the elementary level and 17 students in the pre-intermediate level formed the two paper-based groups and 18 students in the elementary and 16 students in the pre-intermediate level formed the two web groups. The English words used in these supplementary materials were chosen from the vocabulary items in the regular classroom instruction. These materials were not used in the class but rather used to supplement the classroom activities. In all these groups, the same content was used which consisted of the definition of words, exemplary sentences, related visual representations, information on word formation and pronunciation of these words. For the web groups, a SQL database was used to register the participants into the system and track their logs. The treatment lasted for four weeks. To administer the study, a pre-test was carried out before the treatment. A post test was distributed after the treatment and it was followed by a delayed post test one month after the post test.  One Way Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) was used to compare these six groups. The results indicated that the mobile groups in both elementary and pre-intermediate groups outperformed all the other groups not only in post- test but also in delayed post-test. The findings are striking so that they, by and large, provide promising evidence to support  the use of mobile tools in language learning  and teaching and paves the way for further research on the potential benefits of these for different language skills.

The study, I beleive, is a valuable one since it offers new perspectives concerning the language tools used in L2 classes and sheds light on new ways to improve L2 learners’ vocabulary. Considering that nearly every individual owns a mobile phone and is quite occupied with using it in their daily lives, it may be a practical way for them to use these devices to develop their language skills. The time and place constraints are also eliminated with these tools, which is also a great advantage for language learners.

References

Saran, Muran & Seferoğlu, Gölge, Supporting Foreign Language Vocabulary Learning Through Multimedia Messages via Mobile Phones. “Hacettepe University Faculty of Education Journal”, 38, (2010), p.252-266.

 

 

 

As educators, we are all teachers, researchers, learners, material developers, writers, and evaluators in educational systems; so we have different roles and sometimes we have to see who we are and what we are doing from different perspectives. This article is completely on this issue and it reminded me to evaluate my teaching style from the students’ perspective or my researching skills from a teacher’s perspective.

In this study, the findings of a project, titled “A student-teacher made teaching materials project: looking at teaching from the other side of the fence” and carried out at the Institution of English Language Education, Assumption University, Thailand, were presented in detail. The project was carried out with 11 MA students and each student conducted a demonstration lesson for their friends and the other students evaluated this demonstration lesson using a checklist. The teachers were also responsible for preparing supplementary materials for the course. The aims of the project were listed as raising the critical awareness of student-teachers concerning the classroom effectiveness of their planned activities and materials, producing a set of sample texts made by student-teachers to be modified and used for teaching writing and increasing awareness of the value of self- and team-resources when designing teaching materials in addition to published materials. After the project, the supplementary materials prepared by the participants were collected, compiled and utilized in real classroom settings.

At the end of the project, it was concluded that this kind of project which include demonstration lessons and peer evaluation helped the participants to gain insights and benefits and these were categorized in five groups as (a) experiencing both teaching and learning, (b) becoming a learning community, (c) taking risk and trying out new ideas (d) benefits from peer- and self-evaluation and (e) benefits gained from the materials development.

  • Experiencing both teaching and learning:

Many people have suggested the focus of peer observation for professional growth should be on the observer and not on the observee (p.255).

When I read this sentence, I remembered the days when I observed my students while they were teaching in practice teaching course. They presented such creative and interesting techniques and activities in some classes that I admired and used their activities in my own courses. The observers usually compare themselves with the observee and this helps them to improve their teaching strategies. In other words, the observee is like a mirror for the observer.

  • Becoming a learning community:

A learning community is an intentionally developed community that promotes, stimulates, and maximizes the group’s and group members’ learning (p.256).

It was claimed that the project encouraged the student-teachers to help each other while improving their teaching profession. This is one of the characteristics of learning communities. Helping, sharing and caring for each other are quite important terms in this kind of communities.

The project also enabled them to learn from each other, discover and value the diverse teaching ideas and expertise of their peers (p257).

While they were designing learning materials, demonstrating the lesson and participating the lesson as students, the main purpose was to improve the quality of the course. As they had a common purpose for being there, they really helped each other during the demonstration lessons. They all felt that they were members of a learning community and they really learned.

  • Taking risk and trying out new ideas: As the situation was not a real classroom setting and just a simulation of a classroom environment, the student-teachers were more courageous enough to try out new techniques and activities. The students were willing to help to the student-teacher to find out an effective teaching style. During the project, there were some situations in which the techniques failed at first but needed just a few modifications. In these cases, the students had some recommendations and this helped to design an effective course. In this kind of situations, mistakes could help to improve. Here, I really like what one of the participants stated about taking risks:

I like it here, because this project witnesses my failure and success. I still remember clearly, how sad I feel because of a lot of complaints from my first demo lesson. That kind of experience should not be forgotten;however, I also remember that excited feeling when I finish my second demo lesson successfully, this kind of experience is memorable forever! (pseudonym, Maria) (p.257).

  • Benefits from peer- and self-evaluation: Although evaluation causes a bit more threatening atmosphere, it helps both the observer and the observee. In this article, it was also mentioned that teachers usually prefer to be evaluated by their peers instead of their supervisors. Here, the participants used a checklist for the evaluation and this made the evaluation more objective and effective. Instead of just saying “it was good” or “it was poor”, the participants evaluated their peers in detail.
  • Benefits gained from the materials development: As a result of the project, the participants developed materials for a real class, English One. As they recognized that their audience was not an artificial audience and they were working for a real classroom, they were more motivated. Moreover, as they participated in demonstration lessons as students, they found the strengths and weaknesses of the materials both from a teacher’s perspective and a student’s perspective. This showed that if the teachers took parts in curriculum design, materials development and course design, the courses would be more effective.

Finally, several implications of this project were presented. First of all, this project helped the student-teachers to look at their teaching from different perspectives. They had different roles during the demonstration lessons, such as teaching, participating as a student, evaluating, developing material, etc.; and this helped them to evaluate their teaching styles from a wider perspective. Secondly, the student-teachers noticed the importance of demonstration lessons before teaching a real classroom. Although this is not always possible to rehearse for all courses, it would be very useful if we have the chance. Finally, student-teachers became aware of the fact that they could develop supplementary materials and they could modify the exercises in the published book. Their objective is not only conveying what the book says but also to design new supplementary materials.

Actually, not only in teaching but also in many situations, it is quite useful to change your perspective and your point of view in order to better see the situation. Most of the time, teachers claim that their students, administration, chairperson do not understand them; however, it would be better to look at the situation from their perspective and this would make our profession much easier and enjoyable.

Reference: 

Tan Bee Tin. 2006. Looking at teaching through multiple lenses. ELT Journal 60/3: 253-261.