Teachers: Lesson 1 to 4

 


Teachers: Lesson 1

 

In this module, you will hear from two teacher educators (Dr. Zsuzsanna Abrams, Associate Professor of German and Dr. Tom Garza, Associate Professor of Russian) who will share their thoughts about essential skills and knowledge foreign language teachers need to acquire in order to count themselves full-fledged professionals.
Lessons

 

1 Joining the Profession
Expert knowledge and qualifications of the foreign language professional.
2 ACTFL Guidelines and National Standards
Guidelines for assessing language proficiency and standards for defining what language learners should know.
3 Principles of Communicative Language Teaching
Descriptions of Communicative Language Teaching and its associated practices.
4 Professional Development


Impact of FL Teaching Methods courses on professional development.

 

What You Need to Know


Becoming a foreign language teacher means becoming a member of a professional community. In turn, becoming a member of a community means acquiring the common knowledge and shared values of that community. According to Dr. Garza, beginning teachers should aim to acquire the following:


1. A knowledge of the spoken and written language.
2. A knowledge of how language in general is put together.
3. A knowledge of pedagogy.


These three types of knowledge translate into different professional abilities. For example, the first knowledge area means that the teacher can speak and write the foreign language with a high level of proficiency. The second knowledge area implies that the teacher can explain the workings of grammar and vocabulary to naive learners in a way that is both logical and informative. The third knowledge area—pedagogy—is crucial for putting things into practice. In other words, applying this knowledge to your own classroom means knowing how to create an environment conducive to learning.

 

teachvids


Dr. Tom Garza answers the question: What knowledge do language teachers need to have?
Duration: 03:28

 

Take a few minutes to conduct a self-assessment. How would you rate your knowledge of these three areas? What are your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher?


Professionalization


What does it mean to be a professional? What does it mean to "professionalize" the field of foreign language teaching?

teachvids

Dr. Zsuzsanna Abrams on becoming a member of a profession.
Duration: 02:00

 

 

According to Dr. Abrams, a foreign language professional understands that he or she is a member of a larger "community of practice," that is, a group of people who share interests, values and behaviors. According to Lave and Wenger (1991), two cognitive anthropologists who coined the term community of practice, it is through the sharing of information and experience that individuals develop themselves personally and professionally. In fact, to be a professional requires the teacher to take part in activities outside his or her classroom such as attending workshops or conferences.

Finally, to be a professional requires that the teacher keep up-to-date by reading about recent pedagogical developments.


Currently, what professional activities do you participate in? How often do you talk to other teachers about your own teaching? Where do you get new ideas for your classroom practice?


Historical Perspectives


Members of a professional community share an understanding of the profession's history, in this case, a knowledge of the different teaching methods and how they have changed in the past fifty years or so. In this video, Dr. Garza recalls earlier language learning methods by recounting his own history as a language learner. He mentions three predecessors to today's communicative methods: grammar-translation method (GTM), audiolingual (ALM), and cognitive code method. Most of these early methods stressed learning about the language rather than using the language.

 

teachvids


Dr. Garza gives a historical perspective on language teaching.
Duration: 03:14

 

Describe the method(s) used by your foreign language teachers. As a language learner, were you exposed primarily to methods that emphasized learning about the language or learning by using the language?


Lesson 2


ACTFL Guidelines

 


ACTFL stands for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. According to its home page, ACTFL is "a national organization dedicated to the improvement and expansion of the teaching and learning of all languages at all levels of instruction throughout the U.S."


In 1986, ACTFL developed a set of global descriptions of linguistic performance for speaking, listening, reading, and writing. These descriptions of language ability came to be known as the "ACTFL proficiency guidelines". These guidelines identify various stages of proficiency, as opposed to achievement. In other words, the guidelines attempt to assess what individuals can and cannot do with the target language regardless of the curriculum.

 


teachvids

Dr. Garza on the ACFTL Guidelines.
Duration: 02:18

 

 

Read through the ACTFL proficiency levels (e.g., Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, Superior) and estimate your own linguistic proficiency. Note that you may be stronger in one skill than in another (e.g., stronger in reading than in speaking).


National Standards


The National Standards for Foreign Language Education were first published in 1996 as a response to the US Department of Education's mandate that all core subjects in American education have a set of standards. The collaborative product of 10 foreign language associations, the national standards' basic philosophical tenet is the following: "Language and communication are at the heart of human experience. The United States must educate students who are equipped linguistically and culturally to communicate successfully in a pluralistic society and abroad. This imperative envisions a future in which ALL students will develop and maintain proficiency in English and at least one other language, modern or classical" (Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century, 2006, p. 7).


The 11 different national standards of this document are grouped into five categories (i.e., Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities) that are collectively referred to as the "5 Cs" amongst foreign language educators.
Read about the "5 C's" defined in the National Standards:


National Standards for Foreign Language Teaching


According to Scott (2010), the National Standards have already had a significant impact on foreign language teaching at the elementary and secondary levels but relatively little impact on the college level. Why do you think this is so?

 

teachvids


Dr. Garza on the National Standards for Foreign Language Teaching.
Duration: 01:05

 

 

Summarize the major differences between the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines and the National Standards. Do you agree with Dr. Garza that they are complementary? If so, how?


Communicative Language Teaching


The term "Communicative Language Teaching" (CLT) means different things to different teachers. To some teachers, it simply means a greater emphasis on the use of the target language in the classroom, and in particular, a greater emphasis on orality. To other teachers, communication entails the exchange of unknown information between interlocutors. And finally, some teachers understand communication in the most global, anthropological terms, that is, as a cultural-bond system for making meaning. Despite their various definitions of CLT, all the module instructors seem to advocate for a communicative approach.
Have you heard educators use the term "Communicative Language Teaching?" What did they mean by this term? Did you notice different emphases? What is your own definition? Do you teach for communication?

 

teachvids


Dr. Abrams discusses Communicative Language Teaching.
Duration: 02:32

 

 

Dr. Abrams emphasizes "real-life language use" in her definition of communicative language teaching. In her discussion, she takes the "speech event" as the point of departure for language teaching, rather than a discrete grammar point or a set of vocabulary items. Do you think that current pedagogical materials meet these criteria for "communicativeness?" In other words, how much information do pedagogical materials contain about the larger cultural context of communication?


Authentic Texts in the Foreign Language Classroom


Discussions about real-life language use often mention the role of authentic texts and authentic materials. Dr. Garza defines authentic language as "language produced by native speakers for native speakers to be consumed in a native environment." But this leads to further questions about the appropriate use of authentic texts in a foreign language classroom. After all, the classroom is not to be confused with the "native environment."

 

teachvids

Dr. Garza on authentic texts.
Duration: 00:50

 

Authentic materials present special challenges for beginning teachers and beginning students. Dr. Garza acknowledges that teachers must "manipulate and massage" authentic materials to make them appropriate for the classroom. What do you think he means? Choose an authentic text and specify how you would "massage" it for you own classroom.


Integration


Despite continued reference to separate language skills (e.g., speaking, listening, reading, and writing) within the teaching profession, more and more foreign language educators emphasize an integrated curriculum. In other words, most teachers recognize that the four language skills support each other and are found together in real-life language use. Some pedagogues such as Dr. Garza call for the integration of all four skills by emphasizing the over-arching construct of culture. To him, culture ties language skills and use together into a more coherent curriculum.

 

teachvids


Dr. Garza discusses the importance of integration.
Duration: 01:21

 

Challenges of Integration


While generally agreeing with the general concept of integrating language skills via culture, many of the beginning language teachers voice concern throughout the modules that integration is a challenge for them.

 


teachvids

Vince, a beginning language teacher, on the challenges of integration.
Duration: 00:55

 

Why do you think that integration poses a particular challenge for beginning teachers? Do they lack practice in integrating language skills or is this simply a more intellectually challenging endeavor?


Sequencing

 


Regardless of the particular module (e.g., speaking, reading, pragmatics, grammar, etc.), instructors stress the importance of sequencing activities to form a logical progression. Despite its importance for learning, novice teachers seem to find the concept of pedagogical sequencing, or layering, challenging at times because it requires the teacher to have the big picture—how the pieces of each activity build on previous activities and lead to a final whole.

 

teachvids


Verónica, a beginning language teacher, on the importance of activity "layers."
Duration: 01:23

 

 

Verónica argues that pedagogical layering teaches students that language learning is an incremental, step-by-step process that cannot be rushed.
Do you agree with Verónica that novice teachers often forget how much time and effort language learning requires and try to speed up the process?


Implementing a Pedagogical Sequence


Another benefit of sequencing multiple activities into a single integrated lesson is that it allows the teacher to demonstrate how the whole (language) is built from many separate pieces (vocabulary, grammar, pragmatics, etc.). Each activity should logically build on what has been previously studied and lead naturally to a subsequent activity. Such a careful sequence helps to create pedagogical coherence that in turn helps students stay on task.

 

teachvids


Dr. Abrams on the benefits of a pedagogical sequence.
Duration: 01:51

 

What does Dr. Abrams mean when she speaks about foreign language students becoming ethnographic/anthropological linguists? Do you think this is a reasonable goal for your students? Why or why not?


Lesson 4

 


Putting Methods into Practice


Methods courses have mixed results when it comes to changing teachers' pedagogical practices. Unfortunately, some methods courses are overly theoretical and lack a practical component. For example, beginning teachers may understand a new method intellectually in a methods course but avoid trying out the innovation in their classrooms until they have more practical experience.


We encourage you to test the new ideas throughout the modules in your own classroom and then reflect on the results. Don't be discouraged if things don't go well on the first try. Developing your teaching skills is an iterative process that requires multiple attempts at mastering a new practice:


1. try out the new practice in your classroom;
2. reflect on how things went;
3. make adjustments and then try it again!

 

teachvids


Dr. Abrams on how to get the most out of a methods course.
Duration: 02:23

 

What do you think is the proper relationship of theory and practice for the novice language teacher? Can you master a teaching practice without understanding why it works?


How this Course is Different


Each module within this online methods course is taught by a different instructor who has his or her own teaching style and beliefs about language teaching. Some viewers may find this diversity a bit disorienting at first. But, as you progress through the modules, you will likely begin to see common threads that run throughout the instructional content.

 


teachvids

Dr. Abrams on her experience participating in the Foreign Language Teaching Methods course.
Duration: 01:37

 

 

 

Beginning language teachers are often preoccupied with their performance in front of their students and may need to be encouraged to try out new practices that may mean risking failure and embarrassment. It can also be discouraging to realize that there is still much to learn. Nevertheless, the beginning teacher Elena found the large amount of new content in this online methods course to be intellectually stimulating. In fact, she notes that the course gave her a new perspective on language teaching.

 


teachvids

Elena a beginning language teacher reflects on what she got out of the course.
Duration: 00:52

 

Elena describes teaching as an "active process?" How would you describe language teaching?


Life-long Learning


Becoming a foreign language teacher doesn't happen overnight. It takes time and effort. First of all, one should strive to master the foreign language. And, as you probably know by now, learning a language is a life-long task. There are always new vocabulary words and expressions to learn.

 

teachvids


Dr. Garza on continuing professional development and life-long learning.
Duration: 01:59

 

The Advantages of Non-native Speakers as Teachers

 


There is no doubt that native speakers will always have a special intuition about the language. But a native speaker's intuition doesn't automatically translate into effective language teaching. As Dr. Garza points out, being a non-native teacher brings with it a set of special advantages too, namely the ability to understand the language learner because of personal experience. Moreover, non-native teachers make excellent role models for their students who may not believe that they can ever learn the target language ("I learned this language well so you can too!").


Dr. Garza claims that a professional language teacher must be a life-long learner because languages and cultures constantly change. Have you already noticed changes in your target language—new words, new spellings, new genres? For example, the Internet has given rise to a plethora of neologisms and new language practices? What parts of the target language have you yet to master?


Conclusion


This introductory module had several goals:
1. to give you important background that will be referred to in the other modules (e.g., technical terms, different pedagogical approaches);


2. to frame this course in terms of professional development;


3. and to emphasize that professional development is a life-long commitment.


Remember that becoming a language teacher is a developmental process. It takes time. It takes experience. But most of all, it takes reflection. As you work through the modules in this online course, continue to reflect on your own professional development—where you are now and where you'd like to go in the near future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

take the exam 2

 

 

Home

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Assessment

Lesson 1

Lesson 2:

Lesson 3:

Lesson 4:

Overview

Exercise

 

 

Classroom Management

Lesson 1:

Lesson 2:

Lesson 3:

Lesson 4:

Exercise

 

Culture

Lesson 1:

Lesson 2:

Lesson 3:

Lesson 4:

Exercise

 

Grammar

 

Lesson 1:

Lesson 2:

Lesson 3:

Lesson 4:

Exercise

 

The Language Teacher

 

Lesson 1 to 4

 

The Language Learner

 

Lesson 1:

Lesson 2:

Lesson 3:

Lesson 4:

Exercise

 

Listening

Lesson 1:

Lesson 2:

Lesson 3:

Lesson 4:

Exercise

 

Pragmatics

Lesson 1:

Lesson 2:

Lesson 3:

Lesson 4:

Exercise

 

Reading

Lesson 1:

Lesson 2:

Lesson 3:

Lesson 4:

Exercise

 

Speaking

Intro:

Lesson 1:

Lesson 2:

Lesson 3:

Lesson 4:

Lesson 5

Lesson 6

Exercise

 

Technology

Lesson 1:

Lesson 2:

Lesson 3:

Lesson 4:

Exercise

 

Vocabulary

Lesson 1:

Lesson 2:

Lesson 3:

Lesson 4:

Exercise

 

Writing

Intro

Overview of L2

Designing L2

Lesson 3:

Lesson 4:

Exercise

 

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Links

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Foreign Language Teaching Methods. Carl Blyth, Editor. 2010. Texas Language Technology Center, University of Texas at Austin