Xiao Sun, a Touro University Bilingual Certificate Candidate Thoughts on “What is Langauge?” for EDDN 637, Second Language Learners and the Content Areas

EDDN 637 Second Language Learners and the Content Areas: Students will become acquainted with and practice effective approaches, methods, and strategies for teaching and evaluating English language learners in the content areas (ELA, social studies, math and science). Throughout the course, students will explore the impact of culture and language on classroom learning. Special challenges in teaching and assessment in each content area will also be discussed. Includes 15 hours of fieldwork.

Xiao Sun started her career in the education field as a paraprofessional. She has worked in NYC District 25 for five years and holds a Master of Media and Governance from Keio University. Last year, she earned her Master of Early Childhood Education and Special Education from Touro University. She is a DOE-certified teacher with B-2nd general education and special education licenses. In addition, she pursues her bilingual advanced certificate with Touro University.

Discussion Boards in Touro University courses serve as an important way we establish ‘community’ with fellow classmates and me, the faculty. It’s how the cohort of learners ‘participate’ online to develop conversations by analyzing the posted questions and applying critical thinking skills. As this is a graduate program, I want to encourage the habit of citing references and require a reference section. Xiao Sun posted a thorough discussion board showcasing not only her grasp of the readings but also analysis and interpretation.

There is no one size fit all approach that could support all students learning. For different types of learners, we need to apply a different strategy to improve their L2 proficiency.

Xiao Sun, Touro University Bilingual Certificate Candidate

Discussion 2: What is Language? 

  1. Have you had any students who were proficient in social language but struggled with academic language? 

Most of my students are ELLs from kindergarten to second grade. Most of my teaching experiences are in self-contained classrooms or ICT classrooms. I haven’t had any students who were proficient in social language but struggled with academic language since most of them are younger children.  

2. Celce-Murcia Chapter edition 4 Chapter 1: 

What changes have occurred regarding the teaching of a) pronunciation, b) grammar, and c) vocabulary in the many approaches discussed in this chapter? Has there been a swinging of the pendulum in respect to the teaching of these areas? Why or why not? 

In the pre-twentieth -century, the key approaches are getting learners to use a language and getting learners to analyze a language. There are “the grammar-translation approach,” “the direct method,” and “the reform movement.” The grammar-translation approach emphasizes that “instruction is given in the native language of the students. There is little use of the target language for communication. The focus is on the forms and inflections of words. The result of this approach is usually an inability on the part of the students to use the language for communication.” (Kelly, 1969). The direct method is more focused on the ability to use rather than analyze a language. During the reform movement (1886), Henry Sweet, Wilhelm Vietor, and Paul Passy developed the International Phonetic Alphabet to establish the scientific rule that focused on teaching pronunciation and oral skills. (Howatt,2004)  

In the early and mid-twentieth-century, there is “the reading approach,” “the audiolingual approach,” and “the oral-situational approach” were proposed by linguists. According to West (1941), reading comprehension is the only language skill emphasized in the reading approach. Only grammar and helpful vocabulary for reading comprehension are taught. The audiolingual approach is proposed based on the principle of the reform movement and the direct method. This approach focuses on practicing sounds, pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. The “oral-situation approach” focuses on the spoken language and provides the learners maximum opportunity to practice the target language. 

The recent approaches to language teaching are cognitive, affective, humanistic, comprehension, and communicative approaches. The cognitive approach emphasized that “language acquisition is viewed as the learning of a system of infinitely extendable rules based on meaningful exposure” (Chomsky, 1959,1965). The affective-humanistic approach emphasizes that “learning a language is a social and personal process” and a “positive social climate in the classroom” (Curran,1976) could support language learning. The comprehension-based approach argues that L2 learning is similar to L1 acquisition and extends exposure and comprehension. Finally, the communicative approach aims to improve learners’ communication ability in the target language.  

The pendulum has been swinging for teaching these areas. Because we never know the best approach or method to support the L2 learning of our students. There is no one size fit all approach that could support all students learning. For different types of learners, we need to apply a different strategy to improve their L2 proficiency. In different periods, the purpose of learning L2 is also different. For example, in the early days, people paid more attention to whether they could understand the writing contents in the target language. In the mid-term days, people pay more attention to whether they can use the correct grammar and pronunciation in the target language. Now, we pay more attention to building up the learners’ ability to communicate in the target language. 

The recent approaches to language teaching are cognitive, affective, humanistic, comprehension, and communicative approaches. The cognitive approach emphasized that “language acquisition is viewed as the learning of a system of infinitely extendable rules based on meaningful exposure” (Chomsky, 1959,1965). The affective-humanistic approach emphasizes that “learning a language is a social and personal process” and a “positive social climate in the classroom” (Curran,1976) could support language learning. The comprehension-based approach argues that L2 learning is similar to L1 acquisition and extends exposure and comprehension. Finally, the communicative approach aims to improve learners’ communication ability in the target language.  

3. Celce-Murcia Chapter edition 4 Chapter 2:  

How is Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) related to other proficiency-based approaches to language teaching? 

There are three theoretical frameworks discussed.  

The first is the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language standards (ACTFL). This framework has five components (the Five C’s model): communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities.  By following this framework, learners are taught to focus on “what is the overall purpose and meaning of the texts, and what is cultural or other background knowledge is relevant?” and “what vocabulary or grammatical forms are involved, and what meanings are being conveyed by these?” (Celce-Murica, 2013) There are also three primary modes of communication cultivated by this proficiency-based approach: interpersonal, such like exchanging ideas; interpretive, such like understandings of content, and presentational, such like communicating through oral or written reports. 

The second framework is the Common European Framework of Reference for languages. (CEFR) According to Duff (2008), this framework “encourage learners, teachers, and teacher educators to collect evidence of learners’ proficiency and language learning biographies through various media, including multimedia personal learning portfolios and multilingual repertoire.” 

The third communicative, proficiency-based framework mentioned in this section is the Canadian Language Benchmark. (CLB) This framework is “based on a functional view of language, language use, and language proficiency.” (Pawlikowska-Smith,2002) Under this framework, teachers could assess students’ linguistic, textual, functional, and sociocultural competence to support them improve language skills. 

References 

Celce-Murcia, M. (2013). Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language. Fourth  Edition. Heinle Cengage Publishing. ISBN-13: 978-1111351694. ISBN-10:  111135169 

Chomsky, N. (1959). Review of the book Verbal Behavior by B.F. Skinner. Language,  35,26-58  

Curran, C.A. (1976). Counseling-learning in second-language learning. East Dubuque, II,:  Counseling Learning Publication 

Duff, P. A. (2008). APEC second foreign language standards and their assessment:  Trends, opportunities, and implications. 

Kelly, L. G. (1969). Twenty-four centuries of language teaching. New York, NY:  Newbury House. 

Howatt, A.P.R. with H.G., Widdowson (2004). A history of English language teaching (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. 

Pawlikowska-Smith, G. (2000). Canadian language benchmarks: Theoretical framework.  Ottawa, Canada: Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks. 

West, M. (1953) A general service list of English words. Landon, UK: Longman, Green &Co. 

Author: drcowinj

Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs only to the people who prepare for it today,” determined Malcolm X at the O.A.A.U.’s [Organization of Afro-American Unity] founding forum at the Audubon Ballroom. (June 28, 1964). (X, n.d.) Dr. Jasmin Bey Cowin a Fulbright Scholar completed the Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP™) at Columbia University, Teachers College. Dr. Cowin served as the President of the Rotary Club of New York and Assistant Governor for New York State; long-term Chair of the Rotary United Nations International Breakfast meetings; and works as an Assistant Professor at Touro College, Graduate School of Education. Dr. Cowin has over twenty-five years of experience as an educator, tech innovator, entrepreneur, and institutional leader with a focus on equity and access to digital literacy and education in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. Her extensive background in education, administration, not-for-profit leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, and technology innovation provide her with unique skills and vertical networks locally and globally. Dr. Cowin participates fully in the larger world of TESOL academic discipline as elected Vice President and Chair-Elect for the New York State, NYS TESOL organization, for the 2021 conference. Ongoing research, expressed in scholarly contributions to the advancement of knowledge is demonstrated through publications, presentations, and participation in academic conferences, blogging, and other scholarly activities, including public performances and exhibitions at conferences and workshops. Of particular interest to her are The Blockchain of Things and its implications for Higher Education; Current Global Trends in TESOL; Developing Materials and Resources in Teaching English; E-learning; Micro and Macro-Methodologies in TESOL; E-Resources Discovery and Analysis; and Language Acquisition and the Oculus Rift in VR.

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