April 27, 2009
April 27, 2009
I have advocated over the years that teaching English using a variety of methodologies can be effective. Yet teaching a subject, using English as the medium can bring more meaning to the English and less focus on English as a subject in itself. The research I conducted for my MA looked at the interaction between students in a classroom where the focus was on doing something, rather than learning English per se. In the lessons I did leading up to this recording with the students, they learned some of the issues of global warming and the problems they will face as the next generation who will need to face this crisis head on.
I’d like to separate this approach from ‘Task Based Learning’ where the focus is still on the use of English. I think students need to be challenged so that the language they get is based on the language they need at any given moment for something meaningful. Our assumption is that we learn language to communicate, yet with Vygotsky’s approach, children attempt to communicate and in doing so, acquire language (Scovel 2001).
In my classes I have sought to promote student autonomy, getting students to learn English through English (de Boer, 2009). I have found that the English becomes more meaningful and applicable to the lesson they are doing. At the same time, they use the English right away after receiving it, either by scaffolding from another student or by asking for meanings or clarifications on what they are trying to say.
In the audio clip here, I am asking the students their thoughts on learning in this kind of classroom, and what they thought of learning a subject in English. Please have a listen and tell me what you think!
Is anyone out there doing the same sort of teaching? Does anyone out there want to try this kind of methodology? If you have any comments I’d love to collaborate with you.
Mark de Boer
de Boer, M. (2009). "The V-task: Building a more effective EFL classroom." In The Tohoku English Language Education Society, 29, 75-85.
Scovel, T. (2001). Learning new languages. A guide to second language acquisition. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.