Friday, November 13, 2009

Whole Language Resources in English Language Teaching and Learning

Teaching English as a Foreign Language

While there are a number of commonly accepted, viable approaches to teaching English as a foreign language, there are elements of the whole language approach as postulated by Rubin, which lend themselves well to a broad range of methodologies and program types. It is important however, to consider how the inclusion of these will be viewed on the part of the English as a foreign language learners themselves.

English as a Foreign Language Learning Resources

Listening Laboratory – used to play audio recordings for repeating, substitution drills and guided speaking practice individually or in groups of up to 50 foreign language learners

Audio-visual auditoriums – these are designed for showing audio-visual presentations to medium or large groups of learners up to 100 or more at a time

Computer rooms – relatively new on the didactics scene as a regular medium of instruction, computer rooms have earned an indemnible space in foreign language teaching and learning especially when combined with internet access

Conversation clubs – when continual practice in speech fluency needs practicing on an on-going basis , a regular conversation-based series of sessions can be established for the EFL learners. This can also be a great venue for connected speech elements acquisition and practice.

Cinema clubs – almost certainly foreign language learner will love videos, documentaries, shorts and full-length feature films in their target language.

Poetry and literary group sessions – depending on your foreign language learners’ levels of course, rhythm, rhyme and rap in addition to poetry, can be a highly effective means of vocabulary, grammar, idioms and expression and other linguistics elements practice. Shakespeare has been a long-term favorite.

Foreign Language Learning Practice

Teachers can introduce, model and practice grammatical themes with their foreign language learners to a somewhat limited degree during class hours. The number of class contact hours though, can at times be severely limited. A minimum of five contact hours of class per week is an absolute minimum requisite for successful foreign language acquisition, although there are far too many classes in school systems and institutes which have fewer than this. In order in increment foreign language exposure, active and passive learning and provide regular foreign language practice, additional resources, as listed above, can be called into play. All the foreign language learning resources in the world, however, will be of little value if the learners do not avail themselves of these resources when and where available.
Why Ignore Foreign Language Learning Resources

But why wouldn’t foreign language learners avail themselves of such a plethora of linguistic resources, if they are indeed, effective in any way? To gain more insight, I interviewed a number of EFL learners on their attitudes and motives for using or not using additional language learning and practice resources.

Here are some highlights:

Scheduled times are inconvenient – When specific hours are assigned for EFL learners to attend Listening Laboratory sessions, for example, the assigned hours may not necessarily be good ones that fit in well with learner class schedules in other subjects.

Activities are repetitive or boring – pre-recorded listening laboratory activities can tend to be repetitive, quickly becoming uninteresting or even boring for learners.

Lack of motivation – Learners can and do lack intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for foreign language learning activities. When such is the case, additional resources which may be available will typically be ignored or remain unused by these types of learners.

• Foreign language learners fail to see or understand the benefits of extra-curricular language acquisition and practice activities – It’s often a case of EFL or foreign language learners simply not understanding the real benefits that attending and participating in these types of extra-curricular foreign language or language acquisition and practice Activities can bring to their language learning efforts.

• Foreign language learners fail to have sufficient time to engage in extra-curricular foreign language learning activities – The case may simply be that the EFL learners do not have sufficient time outside of class hours to attend and participate in extra-curricular foreign language acquisition and practice activities despite their accepted benefits.

Foreign Language Learning Resources: What Can Be Done?

So what might possibly be done to help remedy or at least alleviate the main crux of this on-going problem of foreign language learners not availing themselves of valuable language practice and acquisition resources when available? In the following segment of this article, we’ll discuss some suggestions in more detail.

See you then.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 135 countries. Get your FREE E-book, “If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.

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