This is a report from TALGS 2009, in
Greenville, North Carolina. Two reports
are included in the spring edition of
the ESL MiniConference Online, and
two more reports will be included in
the summer edition.
Hey--these people know how to organize a conference.
A tip of the hat to East Carolina University graduate students
Zuzana Elliott, Yi Sun, Lamont Cannon, and Chad Elliott, and their
mentor, Dr. Lida Cope, along with a number of other
key individuals who helped to make the sixth annual
TALGS one-day conference (TESOL Applied Linguistics
Graduate Students) on February 21, 2009, in Greenville,
North Carolina, a spectacular success. There were 90+ attendees at
the event, and the East Carolina University community
did a superb job of giving participants
an unforgettable experience.
Concurrent sessions were just 30 minutes, so speakers really had
to be on their toes, talking
quickly, and moving efficiently through their
powerpoints. Participants go a clear sense
of what each speaker felt was most crucial
to communicate, and, at this pace, there
was no time to lose enthusiasm or interest.
In addition to a core contingent of local and
regional Carolina speakers, there were presenters
from California, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania,
Ohio, and England.
Of three concurrent sessions at 9:00, I attended
"Corpus linguistics: A real approach to language teaching,"
a standing-room-only presentation
by Courtney Cunningham of Western Carolina University.
"ESL students should be exposed to as much authentic
text as possible," she said, "because students learn
English in order to use it."
Cunningham gave several interesting examples of
ways to use corpus research to know the frequency
of certain phrases, to find strategies for interpreting,
and "to determine how a word behaves."
"ESL students want to use English in the real
world, as naturally as possible," she explained.
"They want to be able to function communicatively
in the target language community." Recommended
corpus Web sites were: www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk,
americannationalcorpus.org, quod.lib.umich.edu/m/micase/ ,
and www.athel.com .
Cunningham suggested that teachers consult corpora,
both written and spoken, to develop lessons using
authentic text; use sentences from corpus collections
for vocabulary purposes; and use corpus data to answer
questions about language that cannot be answered
based on intuition. She also recommended choosing
textbooks with a corpus approach, such as Pearson/Longman's
"Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English (2002),
and consulting research on using corpora to teach.
At 9:35, I attended "Making the standards 'real' through teaching
thematic units," by Kristie Barnhill, a kindergarten teacher in
Los Puentes, a two-way Spanish immersion program
at Snow Hill Primary School, in Snow Hill, North Carolina.
Her students include ELLs from Spanish-speaking families
together with children from English-speaking families who
opt in to the dual-language program. All students receive
the curriculum through both English instruction and Spanish
instruction. Barnhill provides the English instruction, including
accommodations for English language learners.
She brought the English Language Proficiency Standards
alive with video clips and explanations from her own classroom.
In one clip, for storytime, Barnhill introduced and reviewed
vocabulary with pictures on a board, as well as puppetry
with nifty stuffed animals and other theme-based puppets,
purchased with her own money from http://www.nationalschoolproducts.com .
"It's important that students know what the goals are or
were themselves," said Barnhill, who conducts discussions
with her students in which they are asked to remember
and express the standards-based goals of their class
activities. She also gave nice examples of ways to
seamlessly incorporate assessment into her lessons,
for example, working knowledge of shapes into a
math conversation. "I try to find ways to make it a
group assessment and individualized at the same time,"
In addition to the sea-shape math lesson she demonstrated,
Barnhill recounted having very good success with a camping
theme, including using a tent as the reading center and
learning about the solar system and stars, etc...
She bundles more than one standard into a lesson
or long-term theme. "You can tie it all in and make
it work for the children," she explained.
After the coffee break, I next attended, at 10:25, "Team teaching by a
native English teacher and a Korean English teacher in Korean
public schools," by EunHi Seo of the State University of New
York at Albany. Seo explained her research on patterns of
interaction and classroom dynamics in a new paradigm that
teams native speakers of English with Korean teachers in
Korean K-12 public schools.
The native English teachers in this new team-teaching
program implemented by Korea's Ministry of Education
have bachelor's degrees from the U.S., Canada, England,
Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa. Their roles
are to provide English support and to facilitate the professional
development of Korean English teachers, according to Seo.
The needs of students in these Korean classrooms, she
explained, are improved results on entrance exams and
in the job market, as well as enhanced academic success,
motivation, and progress in English skills.
Seo's research questions were: 1) What patterns or roles
make their team teaching effective? and 2) What instructional
implications can be drawn from the findings?
She analyzed data from three different classrooms:
grade 5, grade 6, and grade 7. The Korean teachers
in each case were winners of a government sponsored
English teaching contest.
"I focused on instructional activities and instructor development
and activity flows," said Seo, who described the following
typical pattern in lesson delivery:
3) presentation of objectives
4) activity 1
5) activity 2
6) activity 3
The effective roles of the native speakers were: direct modeling
of pronunciation; feedback on grammatical correctness; and
promotion of student involvement. The effective roles on Korean
teachers were: managing activities; providing L1 support; rephrasing
when Korean students could not understand the native pronunciation;
and promoting participation and cooperation.
Seo used video clips to demonstrate a change
in locus of control over time between first grade
and fifth grade, with native teachers taking more
of a leading role while student dependence on
the Korean teacher fades away. She emphasized
that the value of native English-speaking teachers
in the Korean EFL setting is not their familiarity
with Western contexts, but rather their ability
to function as an effective model.
One intriguing aspect of Seo's research design
attempts to clarify the settings of these special
team-teaching arrangements and experienc, es
by using Jane Agee's "Winks upon winks" framework,
from a 2002 article in the journal Qualitative
Studies in Education (v. 15, n. 5, pp. 569-585).
Seo suggests that the Korean team-teaching
settings are culturally and historically rooted
in Confucianism, which, according to her context
model, affects perceptions of seniority, teacher's
status, and face saving. This cultural and historical
lens coexists, says Seo, with the strategic needs
of the situation/setting, including a way to handle
large class sizes, curriculum goals, and a clear
view of the social value of targeted English skills.
Keys to success of these team-teaching arrangements
are, according to her research findings: effective cross-
cultural understanding; effective locus of control for
language teaching; and effective pedagogies reflecting
ecological perspectives. Again, Seo's analysis applies
concepts related to "fluidity," "boundedness," and
multiple lenses in Agee's framework.
At 11:00, I attended "Languaging: Finding a balance between
form and function," by Forrest Caskey, of Western
Carolina University. Caskey is a lively presenter,
with a quick wit and irreverent sense of humor. "I
don't like dichotomies," he announced, eschewing
both extremes in the form/function debate.
Caskey took participants on a kaleidoscopic tour
of about a decade of research, from Willis (1996)
to Kramsch and Whiteside (2007), and including
names such as Ellis, Brown, and Lightbown, a
period of time he labeled as "a decade of
Caskey sees Swain (2007) as a voice of hope and
balance, resolving the form/function dichotomy into
an approach that Caskey suggests falls under a
sociocultural context, with Vgotsky as the
"backbone" and languaging as the "spinal fluid."
Key components of Swain's languaging concept
are: collaborative dialogues; an output-hypothesis
related to Krashen's input-hypothesis; and
the idea of "languaging" itself. Caskey also
fits the following terms under Swain's languaging
umbrella: task-based learning; private speech;
and language play.
There are social as well as cognitive aspects
to Swain's languaging concept, according to
Caskey, who highlighted the fact that "students
are actually talking about the language" in a
"conversation in the target language about grammar,
creating the output in order [for the instructor]
to teach them."
He described several teaching techniques
that can be used to implement the languaging
concept. Dictogloss entails the instructor
reading a passage to students, once fast
and the second time slowly. Then students
get together and talk about what was said.
He suggested recording students talking
to each other and to themselves.
Dictogloss "helps you notice the gap,"
explained Caskey, and the students can
negotiate the missing aspects together,
in conversations facilitated by a teacher.
He suggests that the teacher in this role
is able to see where and how to scaffold
the learning for students.
Another technique, borrowed from Robert
Slavin (1983) is the jigsaw task, in which
different students focus on the various
pieces of a text and/or auditory experience,
bringing together their work products to
help each other learn and remember the
ideas. "This helps language go into
long-term memory," said Caskey.
Collaborative dialogues, a central technique
in Swain's languaging approach, means
students are talking about: 1) when a
word is used; 2) where the word is put;
and 3) how it is used. Caskey emphasized
that collaborative dialogue has obvious
corpus applications as well.
In an energetic question and answer
period following his presentation, Caskey
agreed with the audience that students
ought to be asking larger questions, too,
such as "what are we learning?, "how did
we do that?" and "why did we do that?"
Teachers ought to be asking themselves,
according to Caskey, "how do we empower
our students to talk about why they do
By Robb Scott
Editor, ESL MiniConference Online
2009 ESL MiniConference Online
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