«ПРОСВЕЩЕНИЕ. ИНОСТРАННЫЕ ЯЗЫКИ»

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METHODOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS: THEORY and PRACTICE

Пятница 25 Сентябрь 2015


Методическая компетенция учителя – одна из главных, обеспечивающих эффективность его работы. Владение языком – основа. Умение вести обсуждение профессиональных, в том числе методических, проблем – другие грани профессионализма преподавателя иностранного языка. Автор надеется, что статья будет полезна не только для самообразования учителя, но и для работы методических объединений – как отправная точка обсуждения важнейших проблем современной методики обучения иностранным языкам.

From the view-point of humanistic student-centered approach in education, a person is considered to be the absolute value of education, not abstract knowledge. The genuine content of humanistic education is an interaction with the personal structures of consciousness, not mere influence on them. What makes up the basis for the ‘personal structures of consciousness’? In order for the student’s language to be effective, it must be appropriate to the situation he is in. Thus, when the student is trying to choose the best way to express himself in a particular situation, he has to keep in mind several things, that reflect methodological innovations, i.e. the core of the methodology, which the tutor is responsible for.


настроение: оптимистичное
ключевые слова: student-centered approach, personal structures of consciousness, the problem of language variety, personal culture, individual language of a person
город: Новосибирск
e-mail: NEBN@yandex.ru

From the view-point of humanistic student-centered approach in education, a person is considered to be the absolute value of education, not abstract knowledge. The genuine content of humanistic education is an interaction with the personal structures of consciousness, not mere influence on them. What makes up the basis for the “personal structures of consciousness”? In order for the student’s language to be effective, it must be appropriate to the situation he is in. Thus, when the student is trying to choose the best way to express himself in a particular situation, he has to keep in mind several things that reflect methodological innovations, i. e. the core of the methodology, which the tutor is responsible for.

In my opinion, the following skills could be in the focus of EL teachers’ attention, e. g. the system of skills to think and act at personal level; the abilities to impart the personal sense to personal activities and behavior, i. e. to exchange senses and values, to understand other people’s emotions and feelings, to supplement them and discover new ideas, etc., because most people are anxious about social advancement, and their “educated” accents, that, for sure, have come to symbolize a person’s position in society, a speaker’s educational background.

We all know that education deals with senses, values, value-semantic attitudes of a person to each other and to the world, i. e. represents a development of the personal culture of thinking. As senses and values can be found only in culture, I believe, that the features of personal culture in a free, spiritual, creative personality should become the core of educational background for a student who as a person of culture 1) has a life history, 2) is integrated into a certain cultural and social environment, 3) possesses individual features expressed in a different degree, 4) actualizes himself/herself in various freely chosen spheres of social life, 5) is in the process of social and cultural self-development and self-affirmation.

Student-centered approach provides humane attitude to the personal development, freedom to choose contents of education in order to satisfy educational, cultural and personal needs, to create opportunities for self-realization in an impartially existing polylingual educational and social environment. Hence, the polylingual educational environment with a lingual personality in its center actualizes the culturological sense of human knowledge, which can be developed via educational processes for creating a new generation of professionals who show their worth for lingual personalities in the process of harmonious polyphonic interaction within the social group. Therefore, we think of development of both lingual personality and personal language, in polylingual educational environment, as one of the perspective ways of psychological and social pledge for successful life of each person in global society nowadays [1, p.186].

The focus of the article is on the importance of the choice of approaches towards ELT, on essential teaching methodology and practical teaching skills that would be required for a successful ELT pass with students. Some basic considerations are under discussion in the essay, i. e. the problem of language variety, and as well as giving hints on the selection of ways for organizing the activities on solving the problem of personal language, the individuality of someone’s use of English within the class/group — cultivating student’s personal style, how to deal with these phenomena at International Departments / Refresher Courses for school teachers, the tutor’s role in this process, etc. In the main, I believe, the contemplations and discussions on the choice of the most effective activities used within the class/group will stimulate tutors and teacher-trainers to create different kinds of ELT system which could provide the atmosphere of communicative fluency within the group, and the conditions for making most of ELT for specific purposes for both students and teacher-trainers.

First and foremost, we need to learn whether these phenomena, i. e. the problem of language variety and personal language, are matter of importance for ELT and do they (these problems) deserve to be studied at universities, at international departments in particular? I suppose we have to. The reason lies in the fact that we all need to communicate with other people and we have to give our students the idea of importance of these phenomena for successful communication at world level. Time and again we are asked the following questions, “What is the English language today, especially English as a second language? Which kinds of the language to teach students and future EL teachers? Standard… or non-standard…” etc. The history of any language shows us that any such development would be entirely natural, and it could easily happen to any language, in our case, to English, as “…there are strong counter-pressures in modern society which did not exist in earlier times. There is an urgent need to communicate at world level, where everyone involved has a vested interest in keeping at least one channel open, in the form of standard English” (Crystal, D. p.11). That’s why, I think, we, who have majored in ELT, may, in due course, all need to be in control of English which gives us the idea of the national or local identity, and English which puts us in touch with the rest of the human race. In effect, we may all need to become bi/polylingual in the language.

Along with that, we all have to know the fact that there are thousands of rules forbidding us to put words in a certain order. Native speakers never think twice about grammar rules, because they learned them as children. They know for sure which sentence is unacceptable. Native speakers instinctively know that one sentence is correct and another is not. But explaining why this is so to anyone who asks (e. g. a non-native speaker, a foreigner) is a specialist skill indeed (Crystal, D. p. 21–22). A surprisingly large number of people who have been speaking English since they were children are willing to admit that they “don’t speak English correctly’’ or claim that “foreigners speak better English than we do, because they’ve learned the rules”. At the same time we all know that people take vocabulary very personally, as well as phonetics (intonation, sounds, etc.) and will readily admit to having “pet hates” (Crystal, D. p. 22) about the way other people use words. There is certainly a need to keep a careful eye on teachers’ use of words, and on the way mother-tongue speakers use them.

Now there is a rapid and constant growth of books and magazines about the language, to help people keep pace with the developments. It is a real helping hand to teachers in getting new developments in the English language, and English teachers should know these features and should learn and learn them on. At the same time, there should be a balance in doing it. In the course of the English studies (either AE or BE studies) we all are in the need of brushing up our knowledge and “… of urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” (Leonardo da Vinci).

To sum it up, I believe that in exploring a new language and new culture both kinds of approaches could have their value. On the one hand, communication with mother-tongue speakers is an urgent need for both teachers and students. On the other hand, learning the language via books/internet-resources is of great importance and stands out as optional source for exploring different stylistic features of mother-tongue speakers to keep an open eye on language developments. That is why, we have to pay more attention to the problem. In addition to the fact, we need to use a great number of activities creatively, if we want to teach students how to explore the language of different epochs, and the personal language of mother-tongue speakers and personal style of speaking of people of our time. The problem lies in the fact that “…these individualistic features of English deserve study, too. For the most part, they are relatively unimportant. When we listen to people, we do not spend much time paying attention to what it is about their language that makes them different. Indeed, it is not at all easy to listen to or read anyone with frequent and prominent linguistic idiosyncrasies. An unusual voice quality is a distraction, the same as is eccentric handwriting, or a persistent use of a particular idiom. But there are several cases where the individuality of someone’s use of English — their personal style — is considered to be a matter of importance”, as David Crystal (p. 126) puts it in his book “The English Language” (the book, in my opinion, is a professional guide for ELT, which could provide a systematic account of the most important characteristics of the English language of different epochs, different people, of English of different English-speaking countries and areas).

I believe that teachers’ professional portfolio should comprise various and numerous present-day activities that develop linguistic competence, e. g. the ability to use vocabulary, grammar, and phonetics of the language. They (activities) also develop the pragmatic (practical) abilities of the learners of using the language at world level. Most of the activities should stimulate thinking processes in learners by forcing them to think, solve problems and make decisions. Other activities should have the aim to create the learner`s background knowledge as а valuable source for useful information in carrying out the activities.

On the one hand, they сould be individual with every learner working autonomously. On the other hand, they could be interactive with learners dependent on each other in solving the problem. We usually use substitution, completion, transformation, and fill-in-the-blank activities for developing linguistic competence. It is of great use to offer students analytical and reflective techniques, i. e. to analyse, match, close, sequence, jigsaw, for developing cognitive processes. Pragmatic activities focus on practical use of language in situational circumstances (e. g., note-taking and socializing). Informative activities could enrich the students’ background knowledge of the subject through reading, listening, or exchanging information. In teacher-centered work the teacher dominates not only when the learners are working individually, but also if the teacher continuously interferes with student-centered and/or autonomous activities, e. g. role-plays, group disputes and discussions, etc. In student-centered work, the dominance of students takes place through active separate work of learners. In interactive work, we could observe the learners’ creative cooperation within the group/class.

Part Two: practice

Men should be taught as if you taught them not,
And things unknown propos’d as things forgot
Alexander Pope

To start with, let me think back to the basic principles, which are the core of the modern methodology, any professor or tutor of English, like any other university professor, has to keep in mind through his teaching the subject in class, because the effects and results depend on both the tutor and the students, who are partners either in class and in communication activities. After Einstein I would like to repeat, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live whole life believing that it is stupid.”

According to learner/personality-centered approach, the tutor’s presentations of the ideas for effective communication usually include descriptions of the functions and various ways of carrying them out. The students should be ready and well-prepared for offering their ideas. So, both partners are responsible for the results in the process for acquiring the capacity of good communication in real-life situations. Here are several ideas/hints, not didactic principles. It is up to you whether to follow them or create your own. Good luck to all the teachers and tutors and readers of this essay!

  • The knowledge one has gained at the university must be always well sorted out, practically applied and constantly deepened, if it is to become the property of the students and if they want to feel confident about using the language they learn in class for both the basics and specific purposes.
  • Nobody is qualified to teach an international language unless he speaks it with fluency and readiness, and has had a thorough practical training in speaking on different topics of conversation in real-life situations, in good grammatical structures and phonetics.
  • Good knowledge of modern methodology makes it possible for the modern pedagogues to construct each lesson well thought out and well conducted in class. Proper lesson structure needs to include three important elements: reviewing of old material, instruction of new material, synthesis and consolidation of knowledge and skills achieved before.
  • The three fundamental elements should be well proportioned, the lesson plans need not be sanguine dreams, but realistic and carried out with great consistency. The quality of the knowledge and skill conveyed is more important than the quantity. Let it be modest, but genuine, well founded and really valuable for each of the partners in the process of communication.
  • The reasonable proportion of the basic elements should go along with the proper tempo. They both very often determine the success of understanding in the process of the presentation of ideas and language problems the tutor has chosen for the lesson.

Thus, it will help the teacher and the students realize the fruitful results of their yearly task in the meantime.

  • A good selection of grammar constructions and the fundamental stock of words should be given by the programme and the text-book, but even so – it is up to both partners, of course, mainly to the tutor, to be critical and conscious of the need for eventual changes, simplifications, omission etc.
  • A jumble of important and not very important aspects of the language problems distracts the students’ attention and makes them learn the questions mechanically, if it is impossible to realize where, in real-life situations, the language phenomena to use.
  • Moderation in the selection and clear presentation of the chosen and well planned material/ideas will stimulate the students for active participation in group/project work, because of developing various faculties of mind, feeling and will (thinking process, imagination, associative memory etc.) and will leave deep traces in their mind and positive psychological impression of communication activities in class.
  • Fruitful results on both sides — teacher and student — give good grounds for further training outside class period. They both are able to enjoy the delightful sense of power.
  • For both partners, several things are of great importance. First and foremost, would you like to ask yourselves and each other the following questions and create your answers. And afterwards create your own questions and offer to discuss them in class or in groups.
  • These are my proposed questions:
    1) What are you trying to do with your English sentences?
    2) Are you describing something, persuading someone, giving your opinion, or what?
    3) What is your role in this situation?

    • Are you a friend, stranger, employee, customer, teacher, a musicologist, superintendent, vice-president?

    4) Where are you talking?

    • Is the setting on a plane, at a party, at a meeting, at a conference?

    5) What are you talking about?

    • Is the topic business, travel, sport, university education, family affairs, Christmas gifts?

These ideas are just the starting point, though. There are many cases where you would like to ask your teacher or your friend for more information or for more time to practice some new material in fresh communication activities.

Here is a brief paragraph from the author’s textbook “How well do you know English” (Bulankina, N. — Novosibirsk, NIPKiPRO.2014. — 250p.).

Unit One: ENGLISH IN PATTERNS

  1. Tasks.
  • read and listen to each pattern twice,
  • transcribe each pattern,
  • read the pattern twice,
  • reproduce the pattern with the Russian analogue,
  • translate the expression without the Russian analogue,
  • make up a dialogue on real-life situation using the patterns,
  • use the patterns for discussing the given text.

Giving an opinion

Think — believe — suppose — be of opinion — be sure — … I’d just like to say … — well, in my opinion — if you want my opinion … — from my point of view … — if you ask me, … — as far as I know / can see …… I don’t really know, but I think … — I’m not quite sure, but … — …

Agreeing with an opinion

I see. — You’re right. — I think so, too. — That’s true. — … I agree with Gesa / … — I think the same as … — … What … says / … sounds sensible — … makes sense — … well, I suppose you’re right. — That might / could be true because….

Doubting an opinion

Do you really think / believe / want to say …? — are you really of the opinion …? — I can’t / don’t believe / think that you really … — … You don’t seriously mean that, do you? / are you serious? — You must be joking. — …

Disagreeing with an opinion

No, I think that’s wrong / not true. — No, I don’t / can’t agree. — I don’t agree with … I’m against … — … doesn’t make sense / sound sensible — … No, I think that’s nonsense. Oh, don’t be silly / stupid, that’s not … / that’s … / … As far as I know / can see that’s wrong / … because … What you say is not / can’t be right because … — I don’t think Regine / … is right because … That can’t be true … because…I agree / can agree with what Gerhard / … said, but not with … — I agree with what you say about …, but not with what you say about … — …

Arguing about an opinion

Yes / OK, I know, but … — Well, you / … said …, but in my opinion … — OK / …, but you must admit / agree that … — You may be right, but you mustn’t forget …— Yes, but don’t forget … — Yes, but don’t you see …? On the one hand …, but on the other … — All right then, …, but first … and secondly … — …, but on the second thoughts I must …/ I think … Maybe / Perhaps …, but … — …No, you don’t / didn’t understand. I / … said / didn’t say … / It’s not … / … — Yes, but I / … didn’t say that. I / … said / asked / … — …

2. THE WORLD OF AMERICAN BUSINESS (text)

Two words are essential to understand the meaning of business to Americans: they are “private” and “profit”. Business institu­tions are directly or indirectly owned by private persons. Private ownership distinguishes them from government-owned and op­erated institutions. Business institutions also exist primarily to make a financial profit. Their profit motive distinguishes them from non-governmental private institutions such as churches and charitable organizations which do not exist primarily to make profit.

The Prestige of Business and the Ideal of Competition

The statement by President Coolidge six decades ago, “The business of America is business”, still points to an important truth today. Business institutions have more prestige in American society than any other kind of organization, including the government. Americans believe, for example, that businesses are more efficient and well-run than the federal government. Why do business institutions possess this great prestige? One reason is that Americans view business as being more firmly based on the ideal of competition than other institutions in society. Since competition is seen as the major source of progress and prosperity by most Americans, competitive business institutions are respected. Competition is not only good in itself, it is the means by which other basic American values such as individual freedom, equality of opportunity, and hard work are protected.

Competition protects the freedom of the individual by ensuring that there is no monopoly of power. In contrast to one, all-powerful government, many businesses compete against each other for profits. Theoretically, if one business tries to take unfair ad­vantage of its customers, it will lose to a competing business which treats its customers more fairly. Where many businesses compete for the customers’ dollar, they cannot afford to treat them like inferiors or slaves.

A contrast is often made between business, which is competi­tive, and government, which is monopoly. Because business is competitive, many Americans believe that it is more supportive of freedom than government, even though government leaders are elected by the people and business leaders are not. Many Americans believe, then, that competition is as important, or even more important, than democracy in preserving freedom. So closely is competitive business associated with freedom in the minds of most Americans that the term „free enterprise» rather than the term „capitalism» is most often used to describe the American business system.

Competition in business is also believed to strengthen the ideal of equality of opportunity. Competition is seen as an open and fair race where success goes to the swiftest person regardless of his or her social class background. Competitive success is commonly seen as the American alternative to social rank based on family background. Business is therefore viewed as an ex­pression of the idea of equality of opportunity rather than the aristocratic idea of inherited privilege.

Finally, competition is seen by most Americans as encouraging hard work. If two businessmen are competing against each other, the one who works harder is likely to win. The one who is lazy is likely to lose. Because businessmen must continually compete against each other, they must develop the habit of hard work in order not to fail. Americans are aware that business institutions often do not live up to the ideals of competition and the support of freedom, equality of opportunity, and hard work. There is a side of Americans that distrusts the motives of businessmen. Even with these flaws, however, most Americans believe that business comes closer than other institutions to carrying out competition and other basic values in daily practice.

The Prestige of Business and the Dream of Getting Rich

There is a second reason for the respect business institutions receive in the United States. The American dream has always been to rise from poverty or modest wealth to great wealth. In the United States this has usually been accomplished through successful business careers. All of the great private fortunes in the nation were built by successful businessmen, many of whom started life with very little. Careers in business still offer the greatest opportunity for the ambitious individual to become wealthy.

Alexis de Tocqueville observed the great attractiveness of business careers for Americans as early as the 1830s. Americans strongly preferred business to farming, he said, because business offered the opportunity to get rich more quickly. Even those who were farmers were possessed with a strong business spirit.

Thus, even in Tocqueville’s day when most Americans were still farmers, the seeds of a business civilization had already been planted. Not only is business seen as the best way for individuals to become rich, it provides the best way for making the en­tire nation rich. Through competition, more people become richer.

[links&resources]

1. Буланкина Н.Е. Гуманитарная самоорганизация личности. Философские размышления // монография. — Новосибирск, Изд-во НГТУ, 2013. — 228с.
2. Crystal, D. (1988) .The English Language. Penguin books.
3. Klippel, F. (2000). Keep talking. Communicative fluency activities for language teaching. Cambridge University Press.

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