Archive for July, 2011
There are currently more students of English in China than native speakers of the language. So, what are the implications for teachers and learners of English in the rest of the world? This talk looks at how international intelligibility rather than native-speaker imitation will become the benchmark in the classrooms of the future. We will study learner autobiographies and analyze how students can be empowered to find a personal space where they can fashion their own voice and claim their right to speak. In doing so, we will see that maintaining a sense of one’s own identity (however hybrid that may be) will become increasingly relevant in today’s globalized world.
Click below for a handout of the talk:
With CLT’s emphasis on a functional syllabus, real-life language and authentic materials, the speaking skill has naturally become more prominent in the classroom. And yet, what kinds of speaking really goes on in today’s class and why do students struggle so much with this skill?
The answer may lie in the kinds of tasks that we present to learners. As Thornbury says, “the speaking activities of many coursebooks are often simply exercises in vocalising grammar”. Now, a new generation of materials are changing the parameters by using corpus research to inform the speaking syllabus. This research can help us to understand the linguistic information that fluent speakers can call upon.
In this workshop, firstly we will analyse this linguistic information, looking at the area of spoken grammar and the importance of formulaic chunks in spoken discourse. Posing the question: “What makes a good speaker of a language?” we will watch a video of a successful user and analyse the fluency aids and strategies at their disposal.
Secondly, we will analyse how this linguistic information can be made available to learners. In doing so, we will establish five key criteria for speaking tasks: productivity, purposefulness, interactivity, challenge and authenticity.
Thirdly, we will focus on the teacher’s role in guiding students to develop the speaking skill through a process whereby learners first need to become aware of this linguistic knowledge (awareness-raising), integrate these features into their existing interlanguage (appropriation) and finally develop the capacity to mobilise these features themselves under real-time conditions (autonomy).
We will make the final point that the spoken language emerging in the classroom should be seen as a communal product with teacher and learners working together. This notion, which clearly promotes the need for conversation-driven classes, will be supported by a video of a language classroom from the feature film “The Class ”
 Thornbury, S: How to Teach Speaking.(Pearson, 2005)
 Carter, R, McCarthy, M, & O’Keefe, A. From Corpus to Classroom (Cambridge, 2007)
 Breen, M. The Social Context for Language Learning from Studies in Second Language Acquisition. 7, 135-158 (Cambridge, 1985)
Click the link below for an abridged version of the powerpoint presentation