I Jornada de Investigación sobre la Enseñanza Secundaria

Trascendiendo el salón de clase: aprendizajes de inglés dentro y fuera del aula de alumnos de Enseñanza Secundaria

Ponencia realizada en la Cátedra Alicia Goyena, Montevideo, Uruguay.

14 de noviembre de 2019.

Descarga la presentación.

SouthernCone TESOL Conference: Students’ Voices about English Language Learning at School and beyond

This is a summary of my talk Students’ Voices about English Language Learning at School and beyond at the SouthernCone TESOL Conference in Curitiba, Brazil. July, 17 – 20, 2019

Questions and suggestions about the topic are greatly appreciated as well as feedback on the presentation itself.

Thanks for having joined me at the event!

Is it true that learners of English in EFL context don’t have enough exposure to English?

True or False?

The idea that EFL learners have limited amount of exposure to English may not be true anymore. If you teach in a context where internet access is limited or too expensive and you don’t have enough books, magazines, audios, films or other resources in English which cater to your students’ level and interests, then the answer may be: true. Otherwise, the answer is: False.

Ten years ago, I started to get interested in High school students whose high level of English could not be explained by the time they had been studying English either at school or with private tutors. I realized these students used English just for pleasure through activities they found interesting: listening to songs or reading whatever book in English they could get.

The world has changed a lot since then, now the accessibility to material and technological resources in English is much easier and cheaper. Two years ago I Types of textsdecided to research the topic for my master thesis (that will be available to be shared in a few months). You can see a poster with some data from my research at Research Gate.

One of the aims of my investigation was to analyse the uses of English outside of the school of 122 High School students (16-18 years old) in an EFL context (Uruguay) and these were the main results:

N/S: not specified
N/I: not identified
No private lessons: students who do not attend private English lessons outside of school.

The most common practice in English carried out by students beyond the classroom is watching films and series, followed by watching videos online.

Surprisingly, the students who get more involved in English-based activities autonomously do not attend English private lessons.

More girls than boys get involved in out-of-class activities in all modes except for online games.

Therefore, students are exposed to different types of English input outside of school, so teachers may take advantage of these affordances (Menezes, 2011) and integrate them into their classrooms. Below, you will see some ideas:

How to take advantage of students’ beyond the class modes of  learning English

  • Setting class time to discuss which activities they have performed using English, what they have learnt and what strategies they have used to cope with difficulties. students

  • Checking what activities in English they engage in and bring them to the classroom, for example watching an episode from one of their favourite TV series or watching a music video of their favourite singer/group. You may also ask for volunteer students to prepare a lesson based on it.

  • Another alternative is to provide activities to be performed as homework to foster loglanguage awareness. However, teachers should refrain from focusing too much on grammar or vocabulary activities out of context (i.e.: focusing on isolated items without considering the context of use). As each student may engage in a particular activity and it’s likely that you can’t design an individual piece of homework for each of them, a good idea is to ask them to keep a learning log where they record the activity they have done, what they have learnt by doing it and again the strategies they have used to cope with unknown language. 

Whatever option you choose, remember to take into account your students’ interests, as it is this personal interest and the student’ s capacity for autonomy which make these affordances so powerful for language learning.

Also, try to encourage these kinds of engagement by valuing them, offering suggestions and helping less motivated students to try out new ways of being in contact with the English language.

Reference

Menezes V. (2011) Affordances for Language Learning Beyond the Classroom. In: Benson P., Reinders H. (eds) Beyond the Language Classroom. Palgrave Macmillan, London

 

 

Pardon my bad English, but I have something to say.

If you are not a native English speaker, you’ll probably find your English being corrected more often than you’d want or need.

This is especially common in social networks where people feel free to give opinions without much consideration for others or the consequences that such opinions may have on other people’s lives. Online forums, Facebook groups and pages, even personal profiles can be the arenas for unsolicited corrections.

Don’t get me wrong. I know my English is not perfect and I still have a lot to learn, but believe me it won’t help that you correct me in public.

I don’t know if it is an occupational habit, but many ESL teachers are very prone to doing that. There are students who want to be constantly corrected, it is their way of learning, but for the rest of the mortals it is disrespectful.

Language is not a neutral medium of communication, it is a site for struggle where voices fight to be heard (Heller, 1987) and I fight with my bad English because I know you can understand me.

I write (or speak) to express my opinions, to share my knowledge and experience, to connect with other people, I don’t write to be exposed by the ‘deficiency’ of my language. I write because, in spite of not being a native speaker or a highly proficient English speaker, I have something to say.

 

Reference

Heller, M. (1987) The role of language in the formation of ethnic identity. In J. Phinney
and M. Rotheram (eds) Children’s Ethnic Socialization (pp. 180–200). Newbury Park,
CA: Sage

 

Image credits

stock.tookapic.com