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 Understanding language teaching and learning

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Posts : 291
Join date : 2012-07-19
Age : 44
Location : Kanata

PostSubject: Understanding language teaching and learning   Thu Jul 26, 2012 4:27 pm


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When asked to identify the language learning and teaching theory that best support my beliefs I am inclined to choose constructivism over behavioral psychology, and cognitive psychology only because I believe language is best acquired when practiced in `real-life’ social settings. However, in practice, I have used all three theories.

I first and foremost believe that language is a tool used for communication and that a person learning a second language does so with the intent of using it in order to convey a message to others more easily. With this in mind, I try to prepare materials and activities that will encourage learners to seek information from classmates, to share ideas and/or opinions with classmates and to report back to the class.


Obviously, there are other reasons which might motivate an individual to acquire a second language such as having to pass school exams or desiring to receive a promotion. Knowing that some learners have other motives pushes me to create activities and materials that might focus on grammar structures and/or situational events. With these activities I might focus on pronunciation, stress or sentence structure. Listen and repeat, role-playing and grammar activities/exercises may be used. That being, I always include activities requiring learners to communicate to with each other. This might be through noticing activities or asking learners to create their own situational dialogues.

I also believe that the teacher needs to be more of a facilitator rather than the center of attention. The teacher needs to aid learners in a way that will not be intrusive and humiliating. Clearly, the teacher needs to teach, but I believe that in a second language classroom the learners need to be doing the most talking. Not the teacher. How am I a facilitator in the classroom? When I give activities which encourage interaction I wander around class taking notes of what I hear. Good or bad sentence structures and pronunciation or anything else that might capture my attention. Then with a few minutes remaining to class I present some of the language notes I’ve picked up and ask the learners to correct the mistakes. Without humiliating anyone, a grammar mistake or pronunciation problem has been addressed and all learners where able to learn something that is relevant to them.

Can a person be more influenced by one language teaching and learning theory? I’ve just demonstrated that I have more of a constructivist penchant toward language teaching and learning. Actually, I have a constructivist affinity toward all forms of learning and teaching. In practice, however, all theories come into play in my classroom. People acquire knowledge in different ways and it is the teacher’s job to ensure that all his or her learners are given the same chance to succeed, regardless of the teacher’s preference for one learning theory.
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