Sunday, May 20, 2012

The proof of the pudding is in the eating!

This visible title is meant to suggest to you to watch , or rather listen to the presentation of D.Nunan and react to it. Here it is recorded via my cell phone and I am eager to hear your thoughts. Is the lecture useful ? What is new ? Did it create that sense of ah!!!  Ah, here is something new to me!  
 Even though it is a bit indistinct. Still, we can discern most of the interesting ideas shared during this session. It is great how technology helps us freeze time at some moments.  It is a live session with all the strengths and weaknesses of  any live session. What is tremendously splendid, is that we hear the reactions of the audience,  a nice bevy of educationalists from all over the world.

TESOL 2012 T.E.I.T_x264 par Fatenromdhani

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Educating the young learners of the 21st Century- By David Nunan

When having flashbacks to the very moment we read that David Nunan, the prolific writer and renowned linguist, had a scheduled presentation on Educating the young learners of the 21st Century, personally, I had goosebumps. Such an exciting moment doubled these feelings after attending his session. What amazed me was his modesty and great sense of humor.

In the beginning of this session, D. Nunan emphasized the importance of the young learners because they  are the emblem of the future. He also noted that teachers, everywhere, have little training how to deal with these young learners ,who are identified as the (3- 15) age group. More than this, he stressed the fact that we should match the activities with the age. It is true that this is a very large chronological age. The theories that D.Nunan stated as appropriate to the education of the child for the 21st Century, is the communicative language teaching and the task-based language teaching. Language is a skill to be used to communicate.

What we ,as teachers, should take into consideration when devising and designing activities to young learners are the emotional, social, intellectual, interpersonal and cultural development of these learners.

Afterwards, he posed an overarching question: What does it take to learn another language?

What really amazed us is the answer D.Nunan gave: ART , the ART of teaching and learning. It is true that it seems simplistic. But it conveyed more than what it seemed to be.  ART is an acronym for : A for Awareness. R for Repetition. T for Transformation. And that's what makes the ART of teaching and learning.

To further deepen these meanings, D.Nunan explained that learning/ teaching is related to awareness. In fact, in order to learn anything, we have to be aware. Asking questions, giving explanations are some of the strategies we ,as teachers, use on a daily basis. Learners should be aware of the content they are exposed to, hence language should be in context. More importantly, learners should develop relationships with the characters.

As for Repetition, it is so important for learners to be actively exposed to words in context.

The Transformation stage is the last one and this comes because learners are aware of the activity, the importance of the language ; and they have also been actively exposed to the content. This is when learners make the language their own. By Transformation, D.Nunan explained that learners personalize the language. They do solve problems, work on puzzles, etc...

He also stressed the fact that the integration of the skills is essential to get the learners involved. As a practical example, D.Nunan introduced a new textbook devised for 21st young learners, which is very compatible to the tech-savvy aspect of most of the 21st century learners. We were offered a free copy of the book. The learners are asked to create an avatar; they become, then, a person and move through games and solve the mystery. What is interesting about it is that learners are part of the adventure and it becomes a very real interaction at the end. In D.Nunan's words: the language is freed up in this online world." Learners are given real purposes to use the language.

Eventually, he recapped the main points. He insisted on the importance teachers should give to the different aspects of learning.Teachers should be interested in teaching learners how to cooperate with others, how to socialize. Teachers should care about all the aspects of language learning and not only the linguistic ability. Most importantly, teaching is an ART. A stands for awareness, R stands for Repetition and T stands for Transformation.

After the session, I felt extremely responsible to all that is taking place in my classroom and very responsible for all that my learners need . Teaching is an ART and we need to be Artists in the heart to feel and respond positively to our learners' needs.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What? Why? How? When?

     Here are Some of the key ideas that were discussed and presented by both Irene McKay and Tina Intini. I am grateful to both of them for presenting such an outstanding workshop. What is forever engraved in my memory is the collaborative spirit they showed. While presenting the workshop , they taught us indirectly how two teachers could orchestrate well such an eye-catching workshop. It was obvious for everyone that they had worked in tandem for a long time. The workshop was well conceived . While the first presenter was responsible for presenting the theoretical background of the games, the second put them into practice. It was easy on the eye and ear. We were perfectly tuned in.

   What is a game? 
" A game is a competitive activity in which players contend with each other according to a set of rules"-
A language game is similar. It's a game in which students practice certain language structures while engaged in a competitive activity.
    Why do we play grammar games?
"It  is necessary to  provide students with an opportunity to use grammar structures in meaningful and engaging activities." Diane Larsen Freeman
*Affective: lowers anxiety ,develops learner confidence and independence, fosters creative and spontaneous language use
*Cognitive: context for meaningful communication, grammar reviewed and extended, fluency and automaticity, grammar reinforced communicatively, natural language use
*Strategic: learner centered, responsibility and independence facilitated. Class becomes cohesive, supportive. Games encourage participation of class, teams, individuals.
*Usefulness of games: adaptable for age, level, interest, practice all language skills.
     Why do we play Games?
* Make language learning easier, fun, encourage learners to take responsibility.
*Add variety, learners get a break from routine.
*Provide a reason for using language- learners want to get their ideas and messages across and need to understand others' messages.
*Provide meaningful contexts for language use.
*Foster interaction, cooperation, cohesiveness.
*Practice all language skills.
*Create an atmosphere conducive to language acquisition.
     How do we choose a game?
*The game must be appropriate to the lesson
*Keep students engaged, involved and interested.
*Games should be more just than fun.
*Games should focus on language use.
*Games provide an opportunity to practice, review and learn.
*Games should be chosen based on the teacher's knowledge of the class' strengths and weaknesses.
     When do we use games? 
*Any stage of the lesson
*Review, introduce, follow-up, practice or extend
*Should not be relegated to the beginning or end of class
*Should not be used as a time filler

    Eventually , I would like to share this quote with you  "The network is opening up some amazing possibilities for us to reinvent content, reinvent collaboration." Tim O'Reilly


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Grammar Games: Developing learner independence and excellence

   The first moments were very memorable. We preferred to have an early morning walk to the Convention center. The first day, we went to the registration office, got our badges and the book program. The book is a real treasure. Flipping through the book gave me a sense of responsibility I am not used to. We were attending lectures that are preset.Personally, I felt overwhelmed, because all titles of the sessions seemed so interesting and  appealing. What to do?
  This was in fact, the first lesson I got at the TESOL! "Be self-responsible and pick the workshops, lectures and presentations that most appeal to you!" " What do I need to know more? What interests me more? What do I need to add to my professional development?
What shall I attend?
What a wonderful occasion! It is high time I started thinking about my own needs and my interests. We do not feel the importance of such reflective moments unless we are put to the test.
    The challenge was that many interesting sessions were conducted at the same time. My first pick was a wondrous workshop conducted by Irene McKay and Tina Intini, two lively instructors at the George Brown College in Toronto and the title of the workshop is : Developing learner independence and excellence via Grammar Games.
    This was the first workshop I attended. It was conducted in a a very engaging way that I still remember the activities we took part in, the competitive spirit we were involved in so joyfully. I was part of the TESOL 2013 team, a good omen, I think. Lucky us!
 We were at the Philadelphia TESOL and the instructor divided us in two teams, the Philadelphia 2012 team and the Dallas 2013 team. We enjoyed so much the cozy, friendly and amiable ambience. So much fun, so much engagement that we sensed we were, ourselves, pupils actively participating, chatting, but most importantly revising Grammar in such a lovely, enjoyable manner.
 Below are some links that the instructors shared with us: They do sum up most of the amazing tips and ideas.Thank you Irene and Tina.