The essay - TEFL-course Oxbridge - Sergio Villamizar
Intro - a theoretical base
The are three major theoretical paradigms in recent history and they are; behaviourism, cognitivism and Constructivism. This proposal will focus on constructivism, emphasising prior knowledge, experiences and beliefs, and highlighting the conscious and sub-conscious processes. Constructivism emphasises the importance of exposure to social situations for the learning process to be able to occur in both a conscience and sub-conscience level. The social situation allows the sub-conscience process, with understandings evolving underneath the awareness level to occur.
Learning goals, syllabus and learning outcomes
The base for this propositions learning goals is the idea of creating a platform where the social interaction and the cultural exchange between individuals, creates an atmosphere that facilitates the sub-conscience and conscience processes of creating subjective representations in a new language. The proposal also gathers influences from the theory of cognitivism, and the creation of processed cognitive schedules in a new language will be allowed. Important here is to mention that everything will be created in an all english environment. One of the main concepts of this proposal is the notion of acquiring a new language through a social, dynamic context, that enable the de-coding of new knowledge with the help of prior knowledge.
The course goal in this proposal is thereby to allow the student to acquire knowledge of a new language in a communicative way through a social context. The course goal is thereby to allow the student to acquire knowledge of reading and writing, through speaking and listening. Every class will also have a class goal that is more specified to the level and also more specified in the areas of; grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and spelling.
Having a communicative approach, this proposition rely on a content-based syllabus, meaning that each lesson will have a communicative based focus about any certain area or topic. The topic is facilitated by the teacher but it will be the students who as much as possible will communicate each others ideas about the topic, conceptualising their thoughts in the second language as much as possible. The target language will be presented by the teacher facilitating the communication, moderating the conversation when needed. The mother tongue will be avoided as much as possible since the main intention is to be able to present the syntax structure of the english language and to give the student a subconscious feeling for the language. This according to the mentioned notion of constructivism. Having these objectives in mind the outcome of the course differ form level to level, but an example for a class outcome for a lesson in the beginning levels would be; to learn new target language in the areas of vocabulary, listening, pronunciation and grammar tenses.
The students and the teachers
Motivation, attitude, opportunity, environment and personality are all factors to consider in a learning process and for example the level of motivation will influence the outcome of the process. Motivation is mainly divided in two aspects, intrinsic and extrinsic, and the basic difference is that if motivation comes from inner stimuli or reasons found outside the inner emotional self. The inner motivation focuses in a higher extend in the evolution of the actual learning process, whereas the extrinsic motivation focuses more the result or the outcome of the obtained information. Also the sense of necessity is one a strong factor of motivation coming from within that has proven to have a positive influence on the learning process.
So the students possess many inner resources but also risk factors that all take part of the learning process. Factors that will determine the outcome are besides the already mentioned motivation, the students ability to take risks, willingness to ask questions, ability to think about how to learn and acceptance of correction.
The teachers role can help the student to find it’s strengths and overcome weaknesses. The teacher’s role is thereby to inspire and motivate students engaging them into activities that encourage them and provides a sense of understanding. Since this proposal has an approach on the teacher role that finds its bases on the theory of constructivism, meaning that it focus on creating an environment that enables new knowledge through a social context, building on the students prior knowledge and aiding the student to learn more about him/herself in relation to the learning process. Having this in mind the teacher will be having the role of a playmaker, guiding, scaffolding the students not having too much attention but just enough to keep the lesson moving forwards in the intended direction. Here it’s important to mention that the teachers will have slightly different roles between the two upper levels and the two lower. The two higher levels allows much more the fluent conversation and the two lower having elements of the teacher taking more of a role as a facilitator.
The level differences
As mentioned above, the course goals focuses on speaking, listening, reading and writing, in that internal order. Through conversation of a given topic the student will practice the capacity of articulation and creation of sentences in a second language. While speaking and listening go hand in hand implicitly in all levels, the two lower levels will also have elements of explicit learning. This proposal focuses on the constructivism theory but as have been mentioned also have elements of cognitivism and this will be further explained below.
In this proposal we differ between the levels in a way that we have four different groups, two lower levels and two upper levels. All the levels have a communicative base and a content-base syllabus but the two lower levels have an element of deductive grammar teaching taught more explicitly. All the levels have an approach of inductive teaching to grammar but the first two levels, have elements of deductive teaching methods when it comes to grammar. The two lower levels also has online material with readings and there are also another element of expected homework. The idea is to allow a base of the language to build through cognitive organisation of low level vocabulary and also grammatical rules and tenses. This particular part of the proposal find its bases in the theory of cognitivism. In these two first levels (more in the first then in the second) the teacher takes a more active role as a facilitator and helps the student in a more active way in compare to the two upper levels. Important to highlight is the base of communication and conversation still is there. An example would be that the teacher stops for correction of errors in a more direct matter then in the two upper levels, explaining in english, but stopping in a more frequently matter. It can for example be in the case of overgeneralisation, simplification, checking vocabulary, pronunciation or grammatical errors. In every step of the way it’s important that the teacher has in mind the motivation aspects mentioned above and keeps in mind the influence he/she as a teacher has to the learning process. Especially in the correction of errors, the consideration of the students affective and emotional factors are important to take into account. The two lower levels also have more structured online material, directed to students needs and motivation consisting of readings and extra grammar material. These readings are more free and optional in the two upper levels.
The two upper levels have a more open structure with free conversation and the teacher has more of the playmaker role, allowing the conversation to flow and focusing more in the construction of syntax and the expression of desires, feeling, thoughts, and beliefs. Important to mention is also that this proposal focuses on adults in all ages.
Depending on the students motivation and expressed needs the objectives for each class will be specialised. The syllabus has expressed an overall objective and each class will have an intended goal outlined before. But also within all specific classes a specific aim will be outlined defining the class goals furthermore. The purpose for this is to encourage the students to establish common goals and to strive for them together, encouraging them to help each other with motivation throughout the course. Motivation is individual and it is this proposals believe that if a connection between peers can grow in the classroom, students struggling can find help both from the teacher but also among the peers.
The structure of the classroom can for example be; a companies requires that their employees take an English course. The students will start the course with highlighting their individual goals and then also common goals with the course. An initial conversation about expectations and the students own intended learning outcomes will be held as the course begins. The classroom dynamic is that the teacher enables the chosen areas that the students are presented to and the students will discuss it. Speaking only english he topics can consist of everything from cultural and political events, to history and popular culture. Some topics will also be specified for the group linking it to their work, as for instance if it’s group of lawyers, the teacher could hold a lesson about a current incident involving any law or court. Here it’s important that the teacher is aware of the different learning styles that students have and also motivations. The encouragement of only speaking English and not the mother tongue is to enable the subconscious process to occur, according to the Constructivism theory, and also the approach of learning acquisition. In the two lower levels easier, more colloquial topic will be chosen and in the higher more intricate topics can be discussed.
The assessments will have a formative approach where the teacher gathers information from the students learning process in a continuous way. The objective for the assessments are mainly to help the teacher evaluate the direction of the course and how close or far the class are to the class objective. The assessments will be small and only if there are major differences between the class aim and the outcome of the test (it can for example be a listening or speaking test) the teacher makes changes. If so, the teacher will evaluate and consider which way to take, but it can be for example to revise a section of vocabulary or grammar furthermore to make sure everybody understands. Here it’s important that the teacher also evaluates his/herself, thinking of how to modify the teaching style to approximate it to for example class differences in learning styles.
This proposal has been focusing on the resources found in subconscious processes when learning a second language. The proposal has highlighted the importance of conversation to enable these processes. The conscious learning focuses on the encouragement of deriving new knowledge to prior knowledge though a social context and also with some elements of explicit learning. It has focused on the importance of motivation though out the process and the important role that the teacher has in it. The teacher needs to take into account all the different motivational levels, but also the different learning styles to be able to create a thriving environment in the classroom. The student will have continuous assessment and it works mostly as information to approximate the course and class goals.