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b. Was there much furniture in the where certain mistakes begin to sound quite room?
correct. There seems to be an unspoken c. Had the body been there long? agreement NOT TO KNOW, rather like the d. Did the man come alone?
attitude people take to the neighbor's ugly e. What were his physical features?
baby. Yet it is true that serious communicaWhat did the man look like?
tion is hampered if one of the parties involved f. Was he interested in the body?
has a less than adequate grasp of the lan
guage. Furthermore, honesty would force a 8. Why did he blow out the flame of the
less hardy and dedicated soul to admit that candle?
oral drills and subject-verb agreement are not 4. True-False Quiz:
intrinsically fascinating or conducive to a proa. The dead body was on the floor. (T/F) found meeting of minds. b. Nobody lived in the building. (T/F) The pleasure of language teaching seems to c. There was a lot of dust on the floor of come when some basic grasp of the language the room. (T/F)
is achieved and we can all proceed to do d. There was a street just outside the
things in English. There is obviously a differwindow. (T/F)
ence between teaching, say, history in English e. When the man entered the room, the
and teaching English in English. Whereas in door was locked from the outside.
the former case, language is a means to an (T/F)
end, in the latter, language is both the means
and the end. f. The man was really a prisoner. (T/F) 8. It was very dark outside. (T/F)
Teaching subject matter and language h. He sometimes looked at the body but Recognizing this problem, Longmans, in was not afraid of it. (T/F)
conjunction with the BBC and the German i. The young man and the dead man had State television network developed, some been good friends. (T/F)
years ago, a program called “Challenges a j. The candle was only an inch long and it
Multimedia Approach." The basic idea of the would last only a couple of hours. program was to treat English as a medium of (T/F)
instruction for topics relevant to high school REFERENCES
students' own lives and experiences. Thus En
glish-language skills were not stressed as a priBarnard, Geoffrey. 1967. Reading to the class “with
mary focus of the course, but rather as someexpression." In E.L.T. selections 1: articles
thing to be acquired naturally in the process from the journal English Language Teaching Journal, pp. 142–48, ed. W.R. Lee. London:
of learning something else. Oxford University Press. First published in En- In a sense, this is a logical development of glish Language Teaching Journal, 9, 1 (Oct.- pedagogical trends in language teaching. In Dec. 1954), pp. 24–30.
what is now recognized as the “bad old days" Bierce, Ambrose. 1949. A watcher by the dead. In of grammar rules and verb declension, inIn the midst of life: a selection, pp. 81-98. To
structors would teach about the language, kyo: Kenkyusha.
after which, fiat lux,' it was recognized that A watcher by the dead. In Short stories by Ambrose Bierce, pp. 41-50, adapted by Virgin
one should teach the language, not about it. ia French Allen. Tokyo: Yohan Publishing,
The latest addition to the pantheon is the Inc.
proposition that one can teach something in West, Michael. 1967. The techniques of reading
English and the student will somehow acquire aloud to a class. In E.L.T. selections 1: articles both the language and subject matter. Cerfrom the journal English Language Teaching tainly this method would accelerate the learnJournal, pp. 139–42, ed. W.R. Lee. London:
ing process. Oxford University Press. First published in En
The stated aim of the Longman project was
"to stimulate students into using English for
tion to their own ideas and needs. Side by side KUWAIT
with the development and practice of linguis
tic skills, however, the project aims to develConversation Piece
op the students' ability to handle ideas and to MARIA AL-SALEM
develop their own self- and social aware
ness.” The project relied heavily on audioviEnglish Language Centre,
sual aids and task-oriented materials which Kuwait University
required intensive student involvement.
Among the many positive features of the proBeing a dedicated and hardy breed, language
gram was its high appeal to students, who teachers do not admit that the profession can found it relevant to the "real" world. Teachsometimes be, well, boring. Not terminally, ers felt that it was a significant improvement perhaps, but enough to bring one to the point
over traditional "conversation classes,"
where student shyness combined with conThis article originally appeared in Al-Manakh. journal of the Language Centre. University of Kuwait, vol. 5. no. I 1. EDITOR'S NOTE: fiat lux: (Latin) Let there be light. (A (January 1981). Used by permission.
quotation from the Bible, Genesis 1:3.)
Maria Al-Salem has taught English as a second language at the English Language Centre and the
English Department of Kuwait University for more than seven years. She received her B.A. in Russian and German from Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Colorado at
Boulder. She began her teaching career in TEFL as a Fulbright scholar in
Austria. trived situational formats usually reduced the conversation to stilted speeches or teacher monologues. Providing material for various age groups
Although it may be too early to measure the effectiveness of the method, there are indications that such an approach may well become standard procedure. Certain schools in California have implemented the idea in teaching Spanish to elementary-school children. The program was not as sophisticated as Longman's format; they simply followed the standard curriculum—but in Spanish. The pilot programs reported significant levels of success, to the point where, by the end of the program, children never before exposed to Spanish would answer in Spanish to questions posed in English.
Psychologists have long held that children can learn any number of languages, especially if they consistently associate one particular language with one person. There is ample evidence of this in a cosmopolitan community, where a child may speak Arabic with his father, Italian with his mother and English with his teachers and friends. There is no reason, therefore, that a native speaker of Arabic could not conceivably learn English by participating in general English-medium instruction. The problem arises with older children, because language-acquisition ability decreases with age.
The Longman program addresses this problem by presenting topics of specific interest to the high school age group. Another possible approach might be to instruct students in English on topics with which they are already well acquainted, such as their own cultural history or traditions. Problems in logic and reasoning
The sciences would seem to be another likely choice, since formulae, or the chemical symbol for sulphur, for example, are universal. Math problems or basic logic would develop reasoning ability and still incorporate necessary concepts of English. In Appendix (1), a math problem with three unknowns is presented. In asking students to explain the problem and their solutions, the teacher would cover "how" and "if" questions,
weigh/weight exercises, singular and plural agreement, etc. Responses might include: If two pears and one bunch of grapes weigh fifty grams, two bunches of grapes and one banana weigh fifty grams, and two bananas and one pear weigh eighty grams, how much do the grapes weigh? How much does the banana weigh? What is the weight of one pear? etc.
Readings of general interest, including news items, can generate classroom discussion with the use of carefully prepared questions which help the student to read between the lines. The ability to recognize implicit information can be taught in stages, beginning with sentences and proceeding to full-length texts.
The text presented in Appendix (2) has been abridged for the purpose of illustration here. Students are given a text and asked to read it carefully. The statements following the text represent a range of choices: true, probable, possible, unlikely, false. The five choices might be presented graphically: True Probable Possible Unlikely False 10 8
2 0 This is a variation of the classic true-false test, with the addition of three more problematic choices. The point of the exercise is not to pass judgment on the students' accuracy, but rather to encourage their deductive reasoning. Apropos of question 5, for example, some students may be aware of Holland's long experience with dams and dikes, others may not be. To repeat, accuracy is not the primary consideration of the exercise; the student's ability to explain and defend his point of view is.
Learning games in general are very useful for this approach to teaching language, because they are task-oriented. Strip stories are deservedly popular for conversation practice, while simultaneously teaching paragraph order. Crossword puzzles can be useful in teaching vocabulary, from simple clues (synonyms) to complex, extrapolated ones that are subject-specific or dependent on problem solving.
Whether one uses learning games or a total package of material taught in English, it seems that teaching something in English facilitates teaching English. It is conversationproductive, it develops students' ability to deduce facts and draw conclusions, and it is process-oriented rather than answer-oriented. And, inshallah,2 it is not so boring.
+0 How much does each piece of fruit weigh?
ence, he takes due precautions, as a matter of Sir William Garstin first proposed the proj- habit, to assure that most of his classes do inect in 1902. Some 72 years later, the plan to
class is no doubt a competent teacher; the secThe Jonglei Canal is expected to be complet. ord, seasonably effective instructional mateed in 1985. It is being built by French engi- rials. Texts and supplementary materials may neers and Dutch designers, with financing
not be exceptional, but, in the hands of an exfrom Arab bankers. Some scientists, howev- perienced and imaginative instructor, they er, fear it will disturb the pattern of wildlife
can be made to work. Such a teacher will be migration and that the price of development is motivated to write his own supplementary too high.
materials even if only a few drills and exer
cises to meet perceived pedagogical needs. Answer and explain:
But even the happy combination of a good
teacher and good instructional materials is True-probable-possible—unlikely-false
not enough to guarantee consistent success, 1. Sir William Garstin was Dutch. even when the materials have been prepared 2. The canal was approved in 1974. by the staff using them. A third requirement 3. The British bid to build the canal of every good classroom session is thorough was too high.
preparation. Such preparation takes a num4. The canal is supervised by Arab ber of different forms.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD START
first few minutes of an EFL class are the most 6. The canal is named after Sir Wil- important part of the session. The opening liam.
sets the tone. The habitually well-prepared 7. The canal will alter the lives of teacher arrives on time and wants to make evthe fishermen.
ery minute count. He has relatively little time 8. Scientists are worried about the to accomplish all of his objectives in only fifty effect on wildlife.
or fifty-five minutes, so he makes a point to 9. The canal will be halfway be- his class about punctuality, both at the outset tween Egypt and Sudan.
of the semester and throughout the course. 10. Egypt and the Sudan are building Useful preliminary procedures
the canal primarily to reclaim
Essential to an effective beginning, when 11. Sir William is advising the con- the teacher first arrives in class, are those struction crew.
courtesies of greeting common to most cul12. The canal will be 12,000 miles tures of the world, and especially important in long.
the so-called "third world” nations. In terms 13. Much of the Nile's water is lost in of time, a greeting is a small gesture, but in the swamp
terms of helping to promote mutual respect 14. Evaporation occurs because the between individuals of different societies
swamp is relatively shallow. and to "break the ice" in class, as elsewhere15. Egypt and the Sudan will have to it is indispensable. pay the banks in 1985.
The teacher who wants to keep his students 16. French engineers have built other learning outside of class will regularly assign dams for Egypt.
homework, collect it promptly upon entering 17. Egypt's development projects the room (so that the less industrious and less depend on water.
able members of the class cannot copy from 18. The dam will provide navigation friends during class), and mark it in time to facilities.
return at the next session, so as to review and explain troublesome points. A simple but ef
fective technique to avoid wasting time is at Preparing to Teach: The First Few the outset of the semester—to designate a Minutes of Class
desk near the door on which students entering
the classroom are to place their homework VICTOR W. MASON
notebooks before taking their seats. The Kuwait University Language Center teacher meanwhile obtains the assistance of
Every EFL teacher knows that some classes
1. There are, of course, other important preconditions needed (and here assumed, in a good program), such as clear curricular goals, streaming of classes, limited class size, and an adequate number of contact hours for the students.
2. EDITOR'S NOTE: inshallah: An Arabic word roughly equivalent to English hopefully.
some students to return the old homework while he quickly takes attendance and the last students are turning in their new homework. At the same time, the students can inspect the marks made by the teacher in the old homework notebooks. Punctuality is promoted by letting the class know that after attendance is taken the new notebooks go into the teacher's bag or case, and those of laggards are no longer accepted.
Following these preliminaries, some teachers find that their students occasionally like to discuss, for a few moments, matters not directly related to their studies. Such topics are often of a humorous, cross-cultural, or cur. rent-events nature, and make using the foreign language much more enjoyable and "real" to the students than their often dull lessons. Such brief discussions, lasting only a couple of minutes, are valuable for promoting a positive attitude among the students towards their language class, and should never be discouraged. Occasionally, the teacher might even “prepare" a few comments of a noncontroversial nature, to see what kind of class response can be elicited, before the actual lesson begins. Review of the previous lesson
An important part, and effective opening, of a well-planned lesson is the review of points covered in the previous session. Such review is essential for promoting continuity from class to class.
Pacing is important, so the teacher should already have prepared a series of key questions to ask class members in rapid-fire fashion. (Presumably, the teacher can call on all of his students by name after the first couple weeks of class.) The class should review at least some of the homework just collected, as well as parts of the lesson not assigned to be written. One technique for discouraging students from merely copying from one another outside of class is for the teacher, during the oral review, to open his gradebook and give marks to those students responding. Students quickly learn to prepare their written homework themselves, as well as to be ready for their “orals” the next time.
They are also then well prepared for quizzes, both announced and unannounced, which, when given regularly, keep students (and teachers) on their toes. Besides, diligent students want and deserve credit, in the teacher's gradebook, for their efforts, and the more frequent the check-up procedures, the better those students will do on their major exams.
Last-minute review of the lesson plan Victor W. Mason has been in charge of the Tests and Measurement Office of the Kuwait Universi
Yet even when all of this time and care ty Language Centre for have been devoted to the preparation of the several years. He has next class, the class can get off to an unsuchad extensive experi- cessful start, or otherwise go sour, if the ence in teaching, test de- teacher does not take one further, vital prevelopment, and admin
caution: he must skim his lesson plan shortly istration in many English-language teaching
before entering the classroom, to refresh his programs in Japan, Ku
memory of the major topics and subtopics wait, Thailand, Viet
that must be covered that day. He must think nam and the United carefully about what he has to do to get his States. He has published teaching points across. With this mental set, scholarly articles in a he can enter his class with greater confidence, number of journals. get through the preliminaries efficiently and
good-naturedly, and pace his class accordingare in addition to the outlined lesson plans
ly, from teaching point to teaching point. He prepared before class. They are indispensable can be sure that he will not accidentally omit to the well-organized and efficient teacher something and that he will cover all essential trying to keep to his schedule. Review of pre- points adequately. vious lessons and continuity from class to class Actors rehearse their lines, musicians pracand week to week are very difficult without tice their instruments, basketball players do such formal memory aids.
lay-ups and lawyers review their documents A class record is a vital supplement to the outside court shortly before having to perlesson plan, because quite often the teacher form "for real," not because they do not changes a part of the lesson in class, either know how, but to give themselves confidence adding or omitting something, or otherwise and to hone their skills. They thus not only modifying a part of the lesson plan or his release nervous tension, but channel that tenteaching schedule. For example, to make a sion constructively by assuring themselves class study harder, an exasperated instructor that they are, indeed, psychologically ready might suddenly say: "Okay, next time we're to perform. A teacher who neglects this vital going to have a test on this reading, and you'd last-minute “warming up" exercise essential better understand it and know all the vocabu- to practitioners of many professions risks havlary!" It would be not a little embarrassing for ing his class fall flat—not because he is incomthe teacher then to forget that warning and petent or basically unprepared, but simply bewalk, unprepared, into class the next time to cause he has not refreshed his memory for all confront a well-prepared group of students, the important details essential to the perforready to be tested.
mance of his profession that day. The inexpe
rienced or incautious instructor will then walk THE BEST TIME TO PREPARE
into class and make the discomfiting discovThe best time to prepare a lesson plan is ery that mentally he is not “up” for the shortly after teaching the previous session. It
classnot “ready to teach." It is quite likely is at this time that the instructor can best re
that he will find this out at the worst possible cord the activities of that last class, because he
time: during the first few minutes of class.
To summarize: being ready for a lesson
means, first, having all of one's papers in orlesson plan until student papers (homework,
der before walking into the classroom as well quizzes, tests, etc.) have been marked, so that as feeling psychologically ready to teach. the teacher knows what to concentrate on in Long-range preparation involves correcting his review and explanations at the start of the
papers on time, developing the lesson plan next class. But by welding all these compo- thoughtfully, and perhaps writing supplemennents into an effective lesson plan at the earli
tary teaching materials. Short-range preparaest opportunity, the teacher is psychologically
tion requires quickly reviewing all important motivated to look forward to teaching that points in the lesson plan, and might include class—not worried (1) by not remembering choosing a nonacademic topic for a brief sowhat he should do in that class or (2) by not
cial chat with the class following the opening yet being prepared to teach it.
courtesies. By regularly being punctual, the Such out-of-class preparation for each ses
conscientious teacher sets a good example for sion may take a considerable amount of time
his students, as well as his colleagues. if done with the thoroughness customarily re- To be safe, the committed professional quired. When done prior to the day on which overprepares for every class. As a result, over the next session is scheduled, the teacher can the years, he tends to arrive for classes a bit give sufficient time to the careful consider- early, to finish a bit late, gradually to acceleration of each part of the upcoming lesson. ate the pace of all his classes, seldom to finish
RECORD OF Past LESSONS It should be pointed out that the EFL instructor with several courses, teaching several classes each day, cannot keep his teaching schedule organized effectively without careful, detailed records of what he has done in each class. Such records, written after class,
all he wants to do—and probably to find his win ever-growing respect from students and that hard taskmaster, experience, that to perjob more and more challenging but gratifying colleagues alike as a solid professional. form well there is no substitute for lots of over time. Assuming he has generally favor- In short, the extra effort and self-discipline practice, to make perfect, and for lots of prepable working conditions (a big “if'), he will required to do the job well turn out to be their aration, to promote self-confidence and probably feel increasingly "successful" and own reward. The EFL teacher, like the pro- therefore to help every classroom session get competent in his work and should no doubt fessional in any other field, finds out from off to a good start.
Drawing the Foot (and Leg)
A Word on Stick Figures
Defining the stick figure
Stick figures are lines plus geometric shapes.
Drawing the Body