I found this site incredibly interesting as a consequence of the fact that it incorporates so many bits and pieces concerned with language learning into one, well presented, ‘non-boring’ format. It covers a range of topics from translating text into a language you understand, to imparting experiences of SLA students and teachers alike, giving practical advice concerned with how to approach learning a second language.
The site offers reviews on web-based language-related articles as well as a multitude of relevant links to follow.
The information is in part divided up according to countries. An example of this is the information presented when selecting ‘China’. Along with giving advice on how one might tackle the task of learning Mandarin, other resources are offered as well, such as a list of ‘8 bands to help you learn Mandarin Chinese’. Overall I found this site to be very interesting and one which sucked me in for perhaps longer than it ought. Well worth a look for English speakers looking to explore a new language/culture, or for those concered with teaching and interested in the use of CALL.
This is a great website! Or at least I thought so.
It presents of condensed information ‘bites’ detailing the nature of the innumerable quality links it presents. In fact this site is probably best described as a kind of online library catalogue providing a single digital destination by which to source a myriad of good quality SLA resources and information. The site provides links both concerned with learning and teaching a second language (primarily English), as well as a variety of links concerned more with general information about the subject.
It incorporates a considerable variety of interesting and dynamic resources including videos designed for use by language students. I found these particularly interesting because, unlike a number of other sites considered previously which also incorporated videos into the materials they offered, these videos are purpose-designed series not dealing only with the linguistic features of the target language, but doing so within the framework of everyday activities, making it relevant and authentic to the learner.
Again, there is a very wide range of resources provided on this site, too many to go through here, but certainly worth a look!
This article is really interesting, focusing on the learning challenges faced by learners of a second language when attempting to learn to listen in the target language.
It suggests that one of the most important factors for learner success with regards to the skill of listening is that of metacognitive knowledge. Metacognitive knowledge is the awareness of one's own cognition and the related processes. that is, the more learners understand about the learning proccess, the more likely they are to be successful. In the general sense this article is really useful in helping create better understanding of the difficulties associated with this area of language learning. Well worth the read.
This site bears great simularity to LiveMocha. It allows the user to select a target language and then jumps straight into an instant beginners language lesson. While the language selection is not as extensive and the site is not as aethetically appealing or as social as LiveMocha but is free and may prove useful to students of the languages offered who wish to study on their own.
This wesite, cutely named 'ESL Partyland' is an interesting site which aims to convince you of the 'benefits of learning English as a second language'. It seems (from what I could gather in my digital travels) to be free and offers three basic categories worth of resources, those for learners of the language, those for teachers of the language and then a 'Community' section in which the user can take part in chat rooms and connect with other learners with the same lnaguage gaols and the same interests. Because the site is entirley in English it is unlikely to be appropriate for use by beginners although teachers are likely to be able to extract information for in-class use with these students. The name 'ESL Partyland' is most likely aimed at creating a fun impression and thus encourage students to participate which may mean that the site is designed to cater for a younger audience (that is, not adult students). One of the aspects of this site which I quite liked is that of the quizzes and games section. It appears in both the student section ('learn') and the teacher section ('teach'), the difference being that the activity appears in the student section, while the answers are in the teacher section. These activities are categorised into areas of interest and types of English (like business English).
While some aspects of the site appealed to me, and it may provide some good material for teachers to integrate into their lessons, overall the site is not of the highest quality, comparitively speaking.
1. Social consequences associated with the differences in communities seen across these formats are noticable to students in that very often they (the communities discussed here) are comprised of very specific social subsets. That is, these groups of people are interested in and take part in certain aspects of the online community (MMOGs/SNSs/place-based mobile games) which can be so specialist in their interests that they even require their own slang/humour. As a result the formation of 'commuinity' in these contexts may be difficult if the learners are not already part of these groups.However at the same time, these differences in linguistic exposure may mean that students are likely to pick up on linguistic aspects of the target language which they would otherwise not experience.
2. Created activities encourage students to work together (and thus become communities of practice) as they are bound together by a common language learning goal. It is imparative that this common goal exist as it means that they will be able to assist one another and as a consequence become a more learner-centred online community. A common goal will also lend itself well to social cohesion and therefore again, better learning outcomes for all as they work as a team (community of practice).
3. Students should be made aware by the teacher (as much as is appropriate and possible) of communal practices outside of the community formed by themselves and their classmates. This is thought to be part of what a teachers should introduce students to when encouraging them into various online communities as it will enabel them to learn how to use the target language in a variety of new contexts. To this end, teachers should encourage students to use these online communities to seek out those who are native speakers of the language of interest and in so doing, to come into contact with authentic linguistic examples of how the language is used in the community in question.
4. One major point of contention when using these online communities as a language learning resource is that of the fact that much of the communication is not really 'controllable' and as such, the ridgid enforcement of in-class rules surrounding correct grammar and the like cannot be instituted. This is often seen as a negative by teaching traditionalists. More recent research has in fact shown that these somewhat 'less standard' forms of language used in such informal settings goes a long way towards affording students not only greater language confidence, but also increases their linguistic dexteritiy and improves their general understanding as a whole. In short it is advantageous to experience the target language in such a way. Secondly there is the issue of the grading system and how it might be applied to student interactions on such fluid web based resources. In the classroom the manner in which student performance it measured is far more easily defined and managed then is the case in this more modern approach.
5. With regards to future research I would suggest that the focus be on MMOGs and SNSs as they seem to be far more prolific and popular than the place-based mobile games. Personally I would find research into how a learner becomming integrated into these online communities translates into/aids their involvement in real world communities who are also users of the target language.
I found interesting the fact that the study found that with the use of different CMC tools, there were different linguistic outcomes between students involved in this study. While I was aware that the type of communication which is engaged in in person and that which eventuates online were two different things, I had not realised just how different exchanges could be as a result of the communicative tool used. From a teaching perspecitve I found myself thinking that choosing which of these tools to use in my classes had suddenly become a lot more complicated than I had first expected. I now feel that were I to again be in a classroom setting in a teaching capacity, that I would need to be doing a great deal of research before incorperating the use of technologies into the class. It seems that as FL teachers, it is not enough even to know HOW to use the myriad of technologies and computer-based resources at our disposal, but we must also have a somewhat in-depth understanding of the linguistic implications of their use too!
The use of CMC resources such as Twitter, blogs, and chatrooms (synchronous CMC) in the L2 classroom have been shown to have ‘real life’ benefits with regards to students’ increased language abilities. This is due to the fact that, while the use of these tools are (at least within the context of the classroom) governed by a predetermined learning objective, they tasks at hand mimic those which are likely to arise in authentic communicative exchanges outside of the classroom.
CMC has become an important part of modern life and as such is here considered to be an important component of a well-planned L2 classroom. This is a function of the fact that so much of our day to day communication is conducted online that in order for language students to be able to use the target language productively outside of the classroom, CMC must be included in the skills they learn within the context of the language they are engaged with. However because CMC differs markedly in many ways from face to face communication, it can add a layer of difficulty to the plight of an already challenged language student. It is therefore proposed that the activities planned for students be tailored according to their language level.
While this may not mean that students of differing language proficiencies necessarily engage in completely different CMC activities (although this too is a possibility), it does mean that the degree to which a student is required to interact with a given CMC medium may differ.
For example a beginner level student may be required open an online profile on some such medium such as Facebook or Google+ in the target language, meaning that, through working with one another, the teacher and perhaps online dictionaries, they would have to choose the target language as their medium and then fill their details in in that language in order to open the profile. An intermediate level student might be required to engage in some limited conversation in the target language on the site and attempt to achieve some small tasks as supplied by the teacher(with the rest of the class), while an advanced learners should be given more demanding tasks such as debates in which to engage on the site.
In such a setting where attaining authentic interpersonal communication as it pertains to the target language which might be considerably different, if not completely alien to that of the cultural context in which it is being taught, it is suggested that CMC activities between class members be informed as a result of ‘following the example’ of L1 speakers of the target language. That is, it is possible to view similar instances of CMC between speakers of the language who are also native to the broader culture with which the target language is associated. This could be done by ‘lurking’ in certain forums and chatrooms (selected by the teacher and preferably related in topic to some part of the overall curriculum). This would allow students to learn according to authentic example and thus incorporate into their own CMCs some culturally specific aspects of the target language. This is akin to the learning of certain physical mannerisms which might be associated with communicating in the target language were it to be done in a face to face situation.
Making use of Facebook is one common mode of CMC which may successfully be incorporated into the L2 classroom. A lesson plan to this end has been submitted in the form of a preceding case study, please refer to this for more information.
To consider the factor of the oral presentation mode, it is thought that a combination of web-based audio resources (those being such that the student is able to listen to level-specific audio recordings in the target language, improving their listening skills as well as increasing their understanding of intonation and speech rhythm), and web-based verbal interactions with native speakers (such as that which is available on LiveMocha, could be useful in improving the oral skills of L2 learners.
It is thought that interactions with native speakers who have offered themselves as tutors on the LiveMocha site are invaluable as they will provide the learner with authentic input and feedback, as well as the likely possibility of authentic cultural input from the cultural and language native.
The inclusion of social tools in the written presentational model has the potential to foster a deeper understanding of the language in question and in so doing aid SLA. That is, it is one thing to be ‘taught’ something, but to truly understand it means that what has been not only learnt, but understood, is likely to remain with the student for life. It is thought also that once a student begins to understand the sociocultural underpinnings of the target language, that there is likely to be a ‘domino effect’, a cascading of deeper understanding of how the language and culture are intertwined and therefore a more successful grasp on language acquisition.
Within the context of this class specifically, the two CMC social tools used would be that of Scoop.it and Lore. With regards to their ‘affordances’ they differ slightly.
Scoop.it allows for open communication between all members of the group, all ‘followers’ as it were. It allows users to be creative, post various topics and write comments as they please. It also allows those who are part of the group to comment on what the others have written and add to their posts, this includes the instructor.
Lore on the other hand is not as multidirectional with regards to the allowed information flow. It is far more formal in its presentation and is more used for the purpose of the instructor passing information to the students.
It is therefore thought that in this case Scoop.it is far more likely to be useful within the constructs of the language classroom as it allows students a degree of not only autonomy, by self-expression, an aspect which is likely to be of great worth in cultivating cultural awareness among classmates as well as creating a community in which they have a goal in common (essentially forming a COP). This means that they are able to interact with one another, growing the use of their common target language through collaboration, while doing so in a format which may be easily tracked and contributed to by the instructor without the contributing seeming invasive and derailing.
The philosophy of ‘Standards’ is concerned with ensuring that students learn to apply the practical skills of (in this case) writing in a deeper manner which moves past the surface application of completing a written task with all grammar and spelling conventions marked as correct. The philosophy of Standards endeavours to move students beyond this, teaching them not only to be literate in the target language, but to have cultural and expressive depth in how they use these skills to communicate in a ‘richer’ manner. This means that they should be able to read and then write in such a way as to respond to and in turn convey exchanges which are tailored to be culturally specific and appropriate.
This is no simple task on the part of the FL teacher as teaching learners to read and write in this way is akin to teaching them to ‘read between the lines’ in a poetry class, and then generate works themselves; it is something which for many does not come easily and may require a great deal of practice. This said, it is thought that the connection between the skill of writing and the philosophy of Standards could potentially be strengthened through the use of varied CMC resources.
CMC resources have the potential to provide a significant supply of authentic written texts not only in the target language, but in the targeted ‘macroculture’, an advantage which may not be matched by the textbooks which are likely to be at the student’s disposal.
It is thought that by exposing the student to these rich sources of written material, that they might better not only their writing skills, but their ability to read the more subtle inferences conveyed by many written texts, and as such their cultural understanding too. This would of course require a fair deal of assistance from the teacher at least at first, as the student is required to read for meaning and then to produce their own work.
There are a number of difficulties which may potentially occur when requiring beginner students to adopt a written presentational mode. Firstly, by virtue of the fact that the students in question are BEGINNERS, depending on the nature of the target language, there is a chance that they will have no pre-existing knowledge even of the alphabet in question, let alone the lexicon which will be needed in order to engage in this mode.
Furthermore, if beginner students are too harshly challenged, (this is, if the degree of difficulty exceeds n+1), it is likely that they will become discouraged and as a result have the effectiveness of their learning considerably hindered. There is also the factor of ‘reading between the ‘lines’, this is not possible if the students in question cannot read the ‘lines’ themselves to begin with. Appling this mode to beginner learners should therefore be undertaken with care and in a very measured in deliberate fashion so as not to overwhelm students. This said, it is thought that cultural instruction may be applied to beginners successfully, thus preparing them for the written mode as it pertains to Standards as their ability grows.
This is an interesting site which is not related to teaching as such, but is concerned with providing a comprehesive definition and explaination of 'mutliliteracy'. I found it quite intersting. It also has a range of related article which are just as interesting. Worth a read.
“Virtual social network communities: An investigation of language learners’ development of sociopragmatic awareness and multliteracy skills.”
This journal article by Blattner and Fiori was interested in taking a closer look at the use of internet-based social networking communities (SNC) within a language learning context, and specifically in that of second language acquisition (SLA). The researchers note that, due to the way in which technology is inducing changes in human communication in general, and how so many of the most common terms and phrases are increasingly becoming reflective of these changes, that the pervasiveness of these SNC means that they are breaching the periphery of educator’s awareness, to the point where teachers are being pushed to meet their technologically native students at the old and ailing border which used to separate the classroom and its traditional tendencies from what might have previously been seen as unruly technology (SNC) which proved more of a distraction from studies than a worthwhile addition to the classroom.
In fact the researchers admit that comparatively speaking little is known about SNC with regards to how exactly they might benefit learners in the language classroom; this is simply a consequence of the fact that integration of SNC into the SLA classroom is (or at least was in 2011) relatively new, and as such ‘untested’. It is also worth noting that the body of knowledge surrounding SLA and how educators approach it, is an evolving field also, and therefore the understanding of the merits (or lack thereof) of integrating SNC into SLA is a
To this end, because technologies such as SNC are increasingly becoming a societal norm, it may be argued that language teachers, who have a duty to empower their students to possess ‘communicative competence’ which is a ‘fundamental component of L2 learning’ now have a duty to ensure that their students are able to engage with these technologies in order to obtain a grasp on the target language which allows for them to communicate adequately in the most common mediums in order to gain linguistic autonomy.
As previously mentioned, while little is known about the effects of SNC on SLA, some researchers have found that their use may be beneficial in that their inclusion seems to have a positive effect on tertiary classes in so much as student motivation and affective learning is bolstered. Furthermore the use of SNCs allow students to create a stronger sense of cohesion, with collaborative work resulting in a stronger sense of community resulting.
Blattner & Fiori found that the use of Facebook (FB) in an educational context at a tertiary SLA level appeared to have fostered greater sociopragmatic awareness among the students included in the study, This was the result of them viewing language within an authentic social and cultural context. This meant that they were able to examin certain linguistic features which would allow them to gain a firmer grasp on the language within a social contect and as a result render the students more likely to be capable of creating a degree of social cohesion when attempting to connect with native or more linguistically experienced individuals.
Furthermore students were able to develop their multiliteracy skills which not only empowered them to be more effective communicators in the target language, but also fostered a range of transferable skilled.
Overall the researchers found that empolying FB in the classroom proved advantageous and aided students' effective learning.
This site is great in that it condensing a variety of resources in the form of copious links broken up according to the target language to which they pertain. From the aspects of this website I thought might be most helpful to L2 students of English was that it provides access to free audio books for download, allowing students to listen to English in what might be a more pleasurable setting and which, were they to obtain a hard copy of the text as well, would aid them in the practice and development of their reading skills as well.
This site provides bites of information, mini-lessons if you will, which literally allow the learner to cover its content within 5 minutes. This is a useful concept as it allows learners to incorperate elements of their language learning into their busy daily lives without requiring them to have large blocks of time set aside for intensive study. This said such mini lessons are likely only to be useful to upper intermediate or advanced learners as a good linguistic foundation in the target language is needed in order for these little lessons to be fruitful. The lessons are devided according to areas of language study, that is grammar, reading, listening, pronunciation, vocbulary and slang/idioms. Division according to language level is not provided. Furthermore the site provides general information which might be useful to a language learner, although again they would have to be of an advanced level since the site is completely in English, without any facilities for translation.
I found this site interesting because it reminded me of the original ‘teaching machine’ we considered earlier in the course in that it allows students to take part in grammar and vocabulary quiz exercises which (like the teaching machine) provide the learner with instant feedback as to whether the answer they had provided was correct or not before moving to the next question. These quizzes are divided according to the levels of ‘easy’, ‘medium’ and ‘hard’ and then divided again according to areas of grammar or types of vocabulary.
The site also provides a few bilingual quizzes in a limited number of languages. I tried one of the Chinese/English tests and found that once I had been through the quiz, those which I may had gotten wrong, were repeated again at the end. I was therefore allowed an additional opportunity to attempt to recall my characters.
The site is quite basic, one only has to glance at it to realise that there are no bells and whistles; it is not particularly well presented aesthetically speaking, and the content is both limited and basic. That said, this ‘basicness’ may be what might make it more usable for some learners, perhaps particularly to those who are not extremely digitally literate and who might not have very well developed language skills. Because there is so little ‘extraneous detail’ it means that the user can get on with the business of using the tools provided without getting lost in too much unfamiliar language. However the use of this site would prove useful only in conjunction with other learning resources as it is not comprehensive enough to stand alone.
I thought this article to be useful in that it is not often that I come across teaching plans aimed at the more advanced learner. Very often it is the beginner and intermediate levels which are focused on. I especially liked the idea of having the advanced learner biuld up a portfolio of materials over time, I thought this to be a great idea, and very useful to both the teacher and the student.
This site is really useful in that it allows students improve their listening comprehension skills through practice with self-grading quiz pages. The listening exercises are broken up into the three main divisions of easy/medium/hard with numerous recordings listed beneath each according to the tilte of each recording's subject matter. Once the student has selected one of the recordings to listen to, they are taken to a page which includes the recording and a small set of MCQs related to the peice they would just have listened to. Once the questions have been completed, the student can click on a button which then grades the correctness of their answers by providing a percentage value of how many questions they answered correctly.
This site is very simple, but I think could be very useful in that listening is one of the most challenging aspects of a second language to get a good grasp of. This site allows for students to practice these skills away from the stress of face to face interactions, and in so doing are likely to grow their confidence in this area.
1. In the modern age of technology in which we find ourselves, not only has our understanding of the concept of 'literacy' evolved, but the characteristics extant in a literate person have too. In the traditional sense, for an individual to be considered 'literate', it was necessary that they show competency in a range of abilites associated with the class curriculum. In the case of digital literacies however, researchers argue that it is not compitency which must be achieved, but rather the formation of a certain 'disposition'. This change has come about as it is thought that, in order to achieve digital literacy, it is essential that the learner in question develop a 'critical awareness' concerning the technology they are engaged with, an awareness which extends beyond simple understanding of the mechanical aspects of a technology (eg: how to log in, etc.) in order to be able to make use of the technology in a properly functional manner.
I would agree with the statement that these new forms of lertieracies are 'new'. Firsty the technologies they have grown from are new. Secondly the skills accosiated with the use of said technologies ingeneral and especially the social context into which many of them have become popular means that those who ues them must learn a whole new set of social rules in order to communicate effectively.
2. I believe that in any modern classroom it has become important for the teacher to do what they can to increase their students' knowledge of modern technology and thereby, to grow their digital literacy. Within the contect of the language classroom however, this becomes even more important to do so. The reason for this is two fold:
Firstly a language classroom has its focus ultimatly on enabling the student to gain a level of competence (as is related to traditional literacy) in the target langauge so that they are able to communicate effectively. In order to do this in a meaningful way (that is, beyond the classroom), the language teacher must endevour to teach them how to engage in the target language within the context of the technologies which have become most prevelant, such as social networking sites.
Secondly, due to the extensive variety of good language learning resources freely available on the internet which could not only aid the students in attaining a greater level of digital literacy, but could also help the teacher to present varied lessons with intersting material. Furthermore these online resources are often well positioned to inform the textbook work being undertaken in the classroom, giving students access to what might be considered 'more authentic' matterial.
Comparisons-focused instruction is an approach to teaching which is well possitioned to take full advantage of the resources available on the net. Due to the ease with which materials can be found in both the target language and the language of instruction, this type of instruction will benefit greatly and in a wide variety of ways from the incorperation of digital lieracy into the classroom.
3. Yes, it is easier to assess literacy when it is confined to a traditional definition. This because there is a definate way in which to test them, a specific set of outcomes which must be attained in order for a student to be judged as literate or not. Digital lieracies however are somewhat more complex and multifacetted than this and as a result are far harder guage as to whether or not the student has attained an acceptable level of literacy or not.
It is proposed then that, in an effort to assess digital literacy in the context of the language classroom, that is be undertaken in a two-fold manner:
Firstly the teacher should judge whether or not the student is able to make use of the technology in question or not. That is, are they able to undertake perscribed tasks with an acceptable degree of practical compitence? Can they use the tool effectively? Secondly are they able to engage in the target language effectively and with a degree of (online) social competence? (Both this and the first point might be be considered the 'practices' aspect of assessment) Lastly the specific language-related activities given to the student by the teacher and pertaining to their course are what would allow for the 'texts' assessment aspect of this approach to language teaching.
In foundations studies classrooms which I have had the privilege of observing for the purpose of learning I have observed the issue of social pecking order. The cultural composition of these groups are extremely varied and as a consequence culture clash is something that, while addressed by faculty actively, is to a certain extent unavoidable. It was notable that students hailing from certain cultural backgrounds were more likely to display certain behaviours such as having difficulty obeying the teacher’s authority, not being able
One to the main issues which I have come across is that of ‘standardised language’. I note this as an issue since it is usually textbook-driven and inaccurate in that is belies the fact that languages are by their very nature fluid. This means that, by learning and teaching a ‘standard’ form, a sterile form of the target language is being instilled, lacking in the richness of cultural reference and as such decidedly less useful than it should be.
I would describe ‘culture’ as the communal matrix which a specific group of people have in common. That is, culture is comprised of the language (in its specific dialectal form), the interests, practices and beliefs which are shared by a community of people who can be marked as distinct from other individuals as a result of the aforementioned factors.
3 & 5
With regards to the use of CALL for the purpose of creating cultural awareness in the classroom, there exists a great deal of potential. With internet access comes admission to a variety of authentic materials which might be incorporated into the language classroom, resources which might be garnered directly from individuals of the culture of interest.
I would adopt the practice of using the internet as a tool by which to introduce students to new cultures. This said, rather than focusing mainly on what might be termed 'macro-culrture' I would also brind to the attention of my students the smaller cultural groups within these divisions, including both online communities and real world communities.
Furthermore I believe that the internet could secondarily be used to share the cultures of those within the class with one another. This should be done by making use of online resources which might include blogs (for those of a higher language level) or perhaps something which could be considered a 'picture bolg' such as pininterst where students who are of a beginner language level might put together images of which pertain to their culture as they define it. This could then be shared with the class and discussed, drawing from each person what factors of their own culture might differ from the macrocultural 'norm' which might have been expected.This can be disgussed and explored.
While these ideas may seem workable, it is not to say that they are without their own share of potential hiccups. Depending on where the students in question are from there is a chance of culture clash or potentially of there being comments between classmates which might be insensitive.
While it could be argued that argued that cultural awareness and sensitivity is important in a general sense within the context of a globalising society and therefore that this awareness should be actively addressed and cultivated within classrooms. The fact is however, that the issue of culture becomes somewhat more pressing in the language classroom as it is argued here that language and culture are intimately linked and as such cannot and should not be separated. The language teacher therefore MUST address the issue of culture and the myriad of factors which stem from it.
I believe that it is imperative that FL teachers include a strong focus on culture and do as much as they can to incorporate cultural teachings into their lessons as language and culture cannot be completely separated one shapes the other and visa versa), and should not be separated as to do so would be to impoverish the learners’ understanding.
While linguistic features may be explainable via a more ‘scientific’ approach, its ‘nuts and bolts’ disassembled for the purpose if explanation, and then reassembled by the learners as they attempt to practice what they have learnt, the essence of the language in question is contained in the culture from which it stems; to ignore this is to ignore that which is the most unique and valuable part of language, without which it could easily be rendered as non-descript a pile of nuts and bolts as any other stripped language.
It is my belief that paying attention to culture as it pertains to the target language does a great deal to foster interest in students as well as imbue a degree of cultural awareness and therefore sensitivity towards not only those who are of the culture connected to their L2, but to people in general. Such teaching has the potential to effect change in social perception beyond the boundaries of the language classroom, providing a level of education much deeper than simply learning a language.
With regards to the assessment of intercultural competance, while it may seem unimaginative, I really like the idea of incorperating a student portfolio into the curriculum. I think that is should be done over the course of the year (or whatever length the teaching period might be) and should start with students stating their initial personal definition of culture. Then, as time passes and more learning is completed, they should gradually add to this portfolio and in so doing show how their thinking and understanding towards the subject has grown and evolved. This portfolio should then be taken in by the teacher and assessed (part of the assessment could be purly linguistic with regards to assessing written peices etc), but more than anything the focus should be of gauging each student's understanding of the intercultural issue. By checking these portfolios regularly the teacher could address any issues which might not yet be clear in the minds of students. Factors which might influence my approach would be the language used by the students and the way in which they choose to attend to the issue. If students are harbouring any negative feelings and misunderstandings towards certain cultural groups it is likely that these will show in how they choose to put these works together, reflecting their personal attutiudes towards the subject. The aim is to create understanding and tolerance, therefore these two characteristics will be looked for in their work.
This is a really good find, a gorgeous blog dedicated to 'the magic of technology in the 21st century English classroom'. Not only does this blogger, a young second language teacher herself consider the use of facebook in within the classroom context, but they also include related materials such as an A-Z list of web 2.0 apps, blogs and wikis. I really enjoyed exploring this blog and really like the fact that it is written from the perspective of an active language teacher who is likely to be employing the resources addessed in her blog means that the knowledge being shared is not purly theoretical, thus making it more likely to be applicable within the classroom.
The most interesting aspect of this paper is the insight given regarding Vygotsky's work on sociocultural theories and how they pertain to language learning. I found unravelling this very helpful in understanding some of the pedagogical practices I knew to be in used, but had not previously been aware of the theoretical underpinnings on which they were founded.
Sociocultural theory as determined by Vygotsky is concerned with human cognitive development. He theorized that cognitive development was heavily dependent on the social context in which it occurred, an intricate part of which, in Vygotsky’s estimation, was the involvement of language, and in particular verbalised language. He believed that, within a social setting, novices would learn (using language) from those with more experience than themselves in whatever area of life was being explored, including language itself. One only need consider a growing infant to better grasp what Vygotsky meant: the gradual linguistic learning curve undertaken as a child learns to speak and communicate is done by mimicking and learning from its more experienced caretakers.
Vygotsky split cognitive development into 2 general stages, distinct from one another, but still linked. The primary stage he considers to be concerned with what Vygotsky terms ‘lower mental function’. These include factors such as elementary functions, memory, attention and will. The secondary stage is termed ‘higher’ or ‘cultural functions’ and these include logical memory, voluntary attention, conceptual thought and planning and problem solving.
These higher functions are developed as a result of the transformation of lower functions, a process which results from mediation through the use of tools. Tools in this context refer to those of a psychological nature. Vygotsky believed that language was possibly the most important of these. Similarly, mediation here is that concerned with the use of the aforementioned tools. Tools like language enable the individual to focus their actions on achieving their learning goals.
Hence tools (language in this case) mediate the process through which a student achieves their linguistic goals. This process, in the sociocultural context, sees the lower cognitive functions transformed into their higher counterparts. Place this concept within the context of SLA and the interactions between L2 learners and their linguistic value begins to come to light.
Multiliteracies is a term coined by the New London Group. Because the way people communicate is changing due to new technologies, and shifts in the usage of the English language within different cultures, a new "literacy" must also be used and developed.
There are two major topics that demonstrate the way multiliteracies can be used. The first is due to the world becoming smaller, communication between other cultures/languages is necessary to anyone. The usage of the English language is also being changed. While it seems that English is the common, global language, there are different dialects and subcultures that all speak different Englishes. The way English is spoken in France, or in South Africa or any other country is different from how it is spoken in the US.
The second way to incorporate the term multiliteracies is the way technology and multimedia is changing how we communicate. These days, text is not the only and main way to communicate. Text is being combined with sounds, and images and being incorporated into movies, billboards, almost any site on the internet, and television. All these ways of communication require the ability to understand a multimedia world.
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