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Composition, Learning Strategies, The technique is most suitable for writing and Inadequate Materials
simple descriptions, although it can be adapt
ed to process writing and other types. It can CHRISTINE SCHULER
be described as a series of steps: DE ALVARADO
1. The instructor names a place that all the University of Panama
students are familiar with. The school library will be used for this example.
2. The students are asked to name things Students often face composition class with
and actions that can be seen in this place. The mixed feelings, if not outright anxiety. They instructor writes the vocabulary on the board, may not know what to write or how to begin separating (but not labeling) the different Often, they believe they are not capable of parts of speech. expressing themselves in written form. Com- Students will often describe something they position class may also cause anxiety for the cannot name, such as the card catalogue or instructor, especially if she is faced with a lack the checkout desk. Other students or the inof texts, readings, and means of reproducing structor can supply the correct terms. appropriate models.
3. When enough words have been listed, Yet, students are capable of short composi- the instructor begins asking questions about tions even at the beginning level. It is a source the library, using structures she wants to of self-confidence for them to discover that stress. Three or four useful structures, written they can write effectively. It is the responsibil- on the board, will suggest patterns of expresity of the instructor to help them realize their sion and encourage the students to vary their potential with this skill.
writing with several sentence structures.
4. Now, the students are asked to describe An untapped resource
the physical condition of the library, and tell An instructor without adequate materials what actions occur there. As the students may be at a disadvantage, but she is by no speak, the instructor selectively writes some means without resources. The students them- of the sentences on the board. When necesselves are a valuable resource. Not only can sary, the instructor may ask questions to sugthey actively contribute to the class, but their gest certain activities or things that should be collective contribution can determine the con- included. The number of sentences should be tent of the compositions that are written. limited to ten or twelve.
When I have found myself in the above situ- 5. Next, the students read all the senation, one technique in particular has helped my students and me to begin the composition Christine S. de Alvarado has lived and worked in class. This technique can also furnish relative- Latin America since 1970, with the cxccption of ly free composition exercises as an alternative
two years in the United to the strictly controlled exercises in model
States for graduate rewriting texts.
study. She has taught Besides being simple to employ and requir
ESL, TESL, ESP. Spaning no materials, this technique has several
ish, and French in a varifurther advantages. It encourages the stu
cty of situations and at a
varicty of levels. At dents to participate actively as a group, it re
present, she is a fullduces the frustration so common at beginning
time instructor at the levels, and it shifts the focus of the class from
University of Panama the teacher to the students. It is one means by
whilc also tcaching partwhich an instructor with inadequate or insuf
time at the Universidad ficient materials can employ personal-learn
Santa María La Antigua. ing strategies in teaching composition.
tences. They or the instructor may comment that some sentences describe the physical condition of the library, while others describe people and actions. This, then, is an appropriate topical organization for the composition. The students are asked to divide the sentences into these two groups.
6. Students then discuss the best way to order the sentences in each group.
7. After suggesting that an introduction and conclusion are needed, and discussing the functions of these two parts, the instructor can accept and write on the board several sentences for each.
8. The following step-uniting the various parts into a coherent whole—is particularly important. The instructor may list several connectors and transition words and phrases. Students and instructor reread the composition, conjoining or subordinating sentences, adding transition phrases or topic sentences where needed. This can be done at the board, with students trying out various possibilities before deciding on one of them.
9. Students copy the completed composition.
10. The class is divided into groups of two or three students each. The instructor mentions another place they are familiar with and asks each group to write a short composition describing the place, using the previous composition as a model.
In this way, the students actively contribute to writing their own model composition. In smaller groups, each student will have more of an opportunity to discuss and contribute to the second composition. The instructor can circulate among the groups, offering advice when needed, but otherwise allowing the students to work on their own.
Following this joint effort, the students should be prepared to write short descriptive compositions individually, with minimum dependence on the instructor. In fact, this would now be an appropriate out-of-class assignment. If the assignment is met with confident smiles instead of confused and frustrated expressions, the instructor may indeed believe her students have made progress.
Are You Really Teaching English?
word, and dropping the remaining syllables: Aleksandra Różycka graduated from the English department of the Silesian University in Katowi
ad ce in 1978, and since
champ then has been teaching
gas English in the IX Liceum
gym Ogólnokształcące im. J.
auto experimental classes for
info by the Polish teachers'
Type 2 is the inverse of the preceding type; do the best or who answer the most questions.
it consists of words formed by retaining only It is, after all, only a relaxed game in which
the final syllable, or last two syllables of the
word: everybody has a chance to say some words in English.
plane Such a game reveals more quickly than the hamburger
burger usual classroom procedures the character of helicopter
copter each boy and girl. Some children catch the parachute
chute ball unhesitatingly and always answer correct
phone ly; some have difficulty in pronouncing correctly or in remembering the words in the Type 3 words, like those in Type 1, retain proper order (for example, the names of the the first part of the word, but undergo orthomonths), and they quickly discover which graphic change in order to retain the original skills they need to improve. Finally, there are consonant sound:some pupils (though these are rare cases) who bicycle
bike avoid catching the ball. This is an indication delicious
delish that they are not well inclined toward English,
nark and they need special attention from the
nuclear reactor nuke teacher.
vibe If you march into the classroom some day with a ball in your hand, don't be surprised if Type 4 is characterized by the addition of you hear amazed teachers of geography, liy/ to the already reduced form:2 chemistry, or gym say, “Are you really teach
bookmaker bookie ing English?"
hankie SAUDI ARABIA
kitty The vast majority of clipped words are
nouns, but there are some adjectives (deliFeatures of Clipped Words
cious-delish, professional-pro) and verbs
(percolate-perk, substitute-sub). Regardless THOMAS W. ADAMS
of the part of speech, clipped words operate University of Petroleum and Minerals, in the same way their parent forms do. Thus, Dhahran
if the parent form is a count noun, the clipped form also is, and its plural is formed in the
From my modest experience as a young teacher, I'd like to share with FORUM readers a technique I learned from an older teacher. This technique is very useful in teaching beginners aged seven to twelve, especially when they need to learn a list of words by heart, which can be a boring and tiresome task. In order to make it more interesting I use a balljust an ordinary, medium-size ball like the ones the children use to play with in the schoolyard. A game and variations
This technique combines playing with learning, and that is why it appeals to the pupils. It involves throwing a ball to a pupil instead of calling him by name or pointing to him with the finger. The game is a sort of “silent" competition, and the pupils' eagerness to win stimulates them to work hard at home in order to do better than the other pupils in the classroom. A few minutes before the end of the lesson, after presenting orally and in writing the items to be memorized, I take the ball and throw it to a pupil, at the same time saying a word in English to which he must respond with the Polish equivalent or vice versa. If he cannot answer quickly, he must throw the ball to a friend who knows the answer. If the ball is dropped, the pupil who gets hold of it first gains the right to answer the question.
During the next lesson, in order to review the material, I again take out the ball and repeat the procedure. I usually do this several times until the words are well fixed in the pupils' memory.
This procedure can be varied in a number of ways according to the preferences of the individual teacher. For example, the teacher can use it when giving a partial sentence that a student is to finish, or when the pupils are to answer questions from their textbook with their books closed. Any oral drill can be done in this way. When the learners have become accustomed to one way of using the ball, the procedure can be changed. After a while, the pupils can take the teacher's role, throwing the ball and asking the questions. Additional benefits
A little earlier in this article I used the word “silent" to describe the competition. I would like to point out that one of the advantages of this technique is that the teacher does not repeatedly call out the names of the pupils who
ESOL students are doubtless aware of the profligate use of acronyms in English, ranging from AAA to USA. Equally as pervasive, yet less recognized, is the phenomenon known as clipping—that is, the reduction of full forms of words through syllabic deletion. These clipped forms fall into several categories. My aim here is to identify those categories, to discuss certain characteristics of clipped forms, and to address the question of their treatment in the classroom.
1. EDITOR'S NOTE: Note that in each case the new spelling represents the normal or more frequent spelling of the sound represented. *Delici- is not possible. since -ci- repre. sents the 18 sound only in medial position. never at the end of a word: neither narc nor nuc "look like“ English words: and a final (silent) e must be added to vib. to retain the long -7" sound /al/. The word bike has an additional change, in that the sound of the second cak) rather than the first c (/s) is retained in the clipped form.
2. EDITOR'S NOTE: Notice that hankie is an "exact" reduction of handkerchief, which is pronounced without any trace of the d (found only in the written form). Hubby, on the other hand, drops the s (orally 12) of the full form.
Type 1, by far the largest group of clipped forms, consists of words formed by retaining the first syllable, or first two syllables, of a
Thomas W. Adams, currently on the faculty of
guages or, if none exist, a statement to that a desirable situation, but an unfortunate reali
effect. Write to: the University of Petroleum and Minerals in
3. For idealistic reasons (which must be takhas also taught in Togo
University of Petroleum and Minerals en into account). In teaching English just for and in Iran. In the #1763
its own sake, the members of the faculty beUnited States, he has Airport Box 144
lieve that the standards should be considertaught at Temple UniDhahran, Saudi Arabia
ably higher than would be necessary to satisfy versity, the University
the two preceding purposes—that is, the secof Pennsylvania, and at
ondary school situation and the merely utiliHarvard University. He VENEZUELA
tarian requirements of internal servicing.
By rethinking our approaches in the light of
these various considerations, we are coming a Newbury Housc text.
The Barquisimeto Composition to a kind of consensus of what might be called Similarly, non-count nouns retain their nonCourse: Evaluation and Discussion the "broadly definable" aims of our courses.
(James, forthcoming). count character:
TONY JAMES some gasoline some gas
Two different achievements some information
Instituto Universitario Pedagógico some mayonnaise
One of the problems in teaching composisome mayo Experimental, Barquisimeto, Lara
tion in an EFL situation is the teacher's feel Clipped verb forms also function in predict
ing that his students should aim at "getting it able ways with regard to person, tense, numThis article brings up to date information on
correct," without his being quite sure what ber, etc.: work that was outlined in “An ESP Approach
"it" is. In an L, situation, one hopes to train She (telephones, phones) her parents ev- 10 the Teaching of Composition" (ENGLISH
one's students to write good (?) English, deery weekend.
TEACHING FORUM, July 1981). It describes the velop a good (?) style, and show some eviThe coffee is (percolating, perking). way in which ideas about the composition
dence of creative ability. Many of the students Mr. Scheller (substituted, subbed) for her. course at the Instituto Universitario Pedagó
in such a course will not achieve the required have
standards, and by these criteria will “fail" the There is a tendency to regularize certain Latin gico Experimental, Barquisimeto, forms through clipping, most noticeably: evolved and started to crystallize over the ini
course. A group of second-language learners tial year and a half of its development. can (other things being equal) be expected to memorandum memo
have the same range of potential creative memoranda
abilities, style development, and ability to The process of clipping is not new in Enmeto Composition Course, there was much
handle language and ideas, and can therefore, glish, and many now standard words were soul-searching over the reasons for teaching
theoretically, be expected to pass, or fail, in originally clipped forms (cabriolet-cab, omnithe subject—the justification for the course's
the same proportions as native speakers. But bus-bus, pianoforte-piano). Why certain existence. All the programs of the English de
there is an important difference: since they words rather than others have evolved in this partment were, in fact, being reviewed, in an
are attempting to function rhetorically in a way is not easy to say. Some possible explana- attempt to apply some of Munby's ideas on
foreign language, it is possible for them to tions: the cumbersome length of some words Communicative Requirement Analysis to a
"fail" on a scale that measures their creative (mononucleosis-mono); a connotative shift"typical” student of the department. We were
ability, and “pass” on a scale that measures both positive and negative-achieved through unable to come to any satisfactory conclu
their rhetorical ability (that is, the ability to clipping in others (obituary-obit , teacher- sions, mainly because English is taught at our
function as a “native speaker," though not teach); the attempt by groups to be esoteric institute for three main reasons, which are not
necessarily a well-educated one hand, per(including many examples in academia: in all respects compatible:
haps more importantly, vice versa. chemistry-chem, dormitory-dorm, econom1. For internal servicing. Because all classes
It follows from this that in teaching compoics-econ, graduate-grad, mathematics-math, in the department are given in English, the
sition in English as a foreign language, we physical education-phys ed, preparatory students need English to keep up with their
must take two things into account: (1) we school-prep school). classes. Furthermore, they require Grammar
should help the students develop rhetorical Our intent should not be to have students
in order to study Composition, Conversation ("native speaker") skills in English; (2) it is memorize lists of clipped words, but simply to in order to ask questions in the Linguistics lec
unrealistic to expect what the students proexpose them to the phenomenon of clipping tures, Composition in order to write coherent
duce to be well written (though it is gratifying in order to arm them for the time when they answers to Literature questions, etc. This “in
if it is). Since few people become really skilled will encounter these forms. For info(-rma- ternal servicing" (as I have called it) is rein
at writing in their first language, why should tion) like this, while a prof(-essor) may never forced by a system of prerequisites whereby a
we demand, or even expect, this of our fortest it on an exam(-ination), will turn up in a
student cannot proceed to a particular subject eign-language learners? mag(-azine), in pop(-ular) music, in a (news-) until he has qualified in the necessary prereqpaper, or anywhere English is spoken. uisite subject or subjects.
Strict guidance The author would be happy to send a com- 2. As the working material for secondary- An outline of the material used in our complete list of his compilation of clipped words school teachers of English. The students are position course was given in my previous artiin English to interested readers in exchange here to be trained as English teachers, and cle. Although we have since made some for examples of clipped words in other lan- therefore must learn something about the lan- changes, we have kept to the principle of rig
guage for this purpose. (This does not mean idly guiding the students in both the form and
that they have to be particularly good at content of their written work, all of which is 3. EDITOR'S NOTE: Obit is an informal variant of obituary,
speaking, reading, and writing English, be- on the subject of English teaching. Not until which is fairly widely used, by journalists and others. The
cause the classes in the secondary schools are the very last examination are they asked to noun teach, on the other hand, is a very informal term sometimes used by students (or others) with a jocular or de
all too often grammar/rote-learning biased, expand on a subject by presenting some of rogatory intent.
and are given predominantly in Spanish-not their own ideas, and even then the exercise is
in the light
ng compes acher's fed
sure what pes to tra English, de
Some he studer je require I "fail" ge kane
xpected 1) create ability : therefor or fail : ukers
. Br ince the cally si
in English is "correct," i.e., acceptable to a Tony James recently completed an M.A. in
native speaker (which means that the criteria ESOL at the Institute of Education at London
of acceptability are not necessarily grammatih must be take
University, and is, at
cal), and investigating how the discourse conglish just by
present. cngaged in
developing a tcchnihe faculty ke
cal writing course. He
In using this approach, we began to realize I be consid:
taught physics, chemis- that it was not, as we had thought, a lack of sary to sats
try, and mathcmatics in intelligence that was making it difficult for our at is, the se
Uganda. Italy, Austra- students to answer our searching questions merely uti
lia, and England for (although they were as we thought, following servicing
cloven years before en
closely our carefully prepared notes, handtcring the field of En
out, or set-book), but rather that they were
glish tcaching. He has : are con
laught in Iran and Ven
applying to the texts rhetorical principles that ight be cale
were very different from those we expected OUT COURT
them to apply. (Looked at from this point of
view, “understanding the language" takes on
A possible criticism of this kind of course is
A realistic goal
however, justified on the following grounds: training of students who will write badly in
dents who will make, and hopefully recog-
Università degli Studi at a very high level of second-language com- errors, in their writing, rather than a course
Istituto di Lingue Straniere petence. (2) Our students are well above that has the much more unrealistic (and less
73100 Lecce, Italy average in intelligence, and can therefore be necessary?) aim of training students to write
2 August 1982 expected to have well-formed and original good error-free English, without knowing opinions on topics of interest to them; never- when or why it is correct. The course that we Dear Editor: theless, when faced with the task of express- have developed here at the Instituto Universi- I applaud Lillian Groebel for her gentle reing these ideas in a second language they suf- tario Pedagógico Experimental, Barquisimea
minder that it is wise to look carefully before fer from the "translation syndrome" (James to, was prepared with this idea in mind. I can- jumping onto the newest bandwagon come to 1980): they think through their ideas in their not yet say whether or not it is completely town (FORUM, July 1982, “Humanistic Educanative language and then attempt a transla
successful, but the prognosis so far-judging tion in Action: A Practical Problem"), but tion, because of their inability to function at a from the results of the eighty-plus students she chose a poor example to warn of the dansufficiently high rhetorical level in English. who have completed it—is good. There re- gers of inviting students to discuss their feel. (3) A corollary of (2) above is that until the main many problems to be solved, and the ings. students can think their ideas through in En- course is still being reviewed, continuous re
Why should anyone feel embarrassed to glish they will not be able to produce a well- assessment being an integral part of course
talk about his arranged marriage when arwritten text in English. (Kaplan's (1966) work development. What I have tried to argue
ranged marriages are still the custom in a on cultural thought patterns is relevant to this here—and what I hope the course shows-is
good part of the world? What would you say?
Myself, I would be fascinated to hear first-
dent of mine with the misapprehension that tion, carefully guiding the students through
our custom of marriage-partner choice by roeach stage of the program, and not letting
mantic love is superior. I know of no evidence them attempt to write freely in English. Expe
Specific rience has shown that for our students this is a
for that. very necessary approach. Although our stu
James, Tony. Forthcoming. English for definable Ms. Groebel's choice of loaded words,
purposes. dents are (statistically, at least) among the
“compelled to reveal," bespeaks an attitude better educated of the population, have stud
1980. An analysis/synthesis approach to the on her part which does not seem to allow a
teaching of the writing of English composition. ied English (grammar, with a small amount of
humanistic leeway for differing customs of
Paper presented at the first National Convenconversation) for six years, and, having com
tion of English Teachers, Barquisimeto, Venpleted the prerequisites to the composition ezuela, April 1980.
In general, I found her cautionary warnings course, must be considered "advanced" in Kaplan, Robert B. 1966. Cultural thought patterns sound and useful, but this particular example English studies, yet we find that they cannot in intercultural education. Language Learning,
I found alarming. I wished to express my diswrite extended rhetoric in English, because it
may lest there be many others who consider requires much more than the stringing togeth- General
arranged marriages too painfully embarrasser of grammatically well-constructed sen
Munby, John. 1978. Communicative syllabus de- ing to talk about. tences. This is one of the reasons for devoting sign. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Yours truly, a large part of the course to “analysis," biased Widdowson, H.G. 1978. Teaching language as com
EARLINE M. REID towards recognizing when a piece of discourse munication. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
shout ur for
On the Subject of Magazines
23 February 1982 Dear Editor:
My concern in English teaching lies with those members of the profession who will not read this issue of FORUM, or any other magazine, and with the division that appears to be developing between the “English teachers" and the "applied linguists."
To some extent, this division occurs because teaching English to nonnative speakers has now reached the stage where it is beginning to develop its own subsections. In the United States, this has meant the growth of TEFL as opposed to TESL, while in Britain the reverse process has taken place. In both countries, however, we have seen the development of ESP, EST, English for academic purposes, and business English. The counterproductive element in all these programs has been a growing bewilderment among many teachers actually in the classroom.
The problem is that the wealth of material on all aspects of English teaching is now such that it cannot be published by any one type of magazine. This has caused the establishment of specialist regional journals like Al Manakh in Kuwait and Cross Currents in Japan, and other journals concerning themselves exclusively with ESP or EST. But such magazines are frequently attacked as obscure by those not concerned with these particular aspects of teaching
Unfortunately, however, it is the misguided attempt by some publishers to combine articles on specialist theory with more practical teaching material that is the root cause of teacher hostility. An assortment of teaching ideas and research findings is an attempt to be all things at once, and will inevitably displease both audiences.
In FORUM, the arrangement of general articles, followed by news and ideas from specific areas, is a format that other magazines could do well to copy, but the onus is really upon us: the teachers who value their teaching jour
nals. It is we who must persuade our col- Portugal. Since then, I have been fortunate to
dents and for them to be able to reciprocate. Yours faithfully,
Over the years I have sat as a student in many N. Mc BEATH
foreign-language classes and, as a result, am F/Lt. S.O.A.F.
now in a position to empathize with each English Language Flight group of new students I teach. I never fail to
become excited the moment a student joyfulA Teacher Talks
ly realizes that, at last, he has mastered the
rudiments of the target language and can unEnglish Language Center hesitatingly attempt to say anything he wishThe University of Petroleum es. and Minerals
The rewards of being an EFL teacher are Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
innumerable, but the positive communicative February 22, 1982
interaction between teacher and student is,
for me, the most valuable of all. So often we Dear Sir:
classroom instructors fail to remember that Please find enclosed a brief essay which I learning is not the prerogative of students am submitting to you for consideration alone. Some of my most memorable in-class for publication in the October issue of the hours have been totally student-centered. FORUM.
With full encouragement from the teacher, As an EFL teacher currently on assignment EFL students at a very early stage can, in efin Saudi Arabia, I appreciate the opportunity fect, be teaching us! Mastery of the target lanto state my views regarding what I find the guage may be a program's objective, but, in most rewarding about teaching EFL. Sharing order to reach that goal, let's never forget the is, for me, the key to successful foreign-lan- wealth of information from the L, culture(s) guage teaching. Once the rapport has been that eager students are only too pleased to created between student and teacher, the pos- present to us either orally, or in written sibilities for success in language teaching form. I have found that this two-way sharing learning are endless. If published, I hope my between teacher and student has been, and brief statement will encourage new English continues to be, my most rewarding experiteachers to be very open to what students may ence as an EFL teacher. have to say about their own cultures and languages.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Although written and postThank you again for this opportunity to
marked in February 1982, the above letter share my views. I look forward to reading and enclosed essay, submitted for the Teachyour October issue of FORUM.
ers Talk section of our October 1982 issue, Yours sincerely,
apparently went astray in inter-office mails LUQMAN NAGY
and failed to reach us in time for inclusion in that—or the following-issue. We are sorry
that these unusual circumstances prevented WHAT BEING A TEACHER OF our consideration of Mr. Nagy's essay earlier, ENGLISH MEANS TO ME
and present it here for the interest of our
readers. Mr. Nagy is a Canadian and holds I first started teaching English as a foreign degrees in education and EFL from the Unilanguage more than ten years ago in Lisbon, versity of British Columbia.)
The ENGLISH TEACHING FORUM, a quarterly journal for the teacher of English outside the United States, is distributed abroad by American embassies. Questions about subscriptions should be addressed to the American Embassy in the capital city of the country in which the inquirer resides. Only manuscripts and letters to the editor on topics other than subscription may be sent to Room 752, 1717 H Street NW., Washington, D.C. 20547. To be considered for publication, manuscripts should be typewritten, double-spaced, and have margins of at least three centimeters. Any copyrighted articles appearing in the ENGLISH TEACHING FORUM are reprinted with the permission of the copyright owners These aricles may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the written permission of the copyright owners, except as otherwise authorized by applicable copyright law