From ‘war stories and romances’ to research agenda in ESP didactics

A presentation at the ESSE conference in Galway, August 2016.



The European Society for the Study of English meets annually to share research on different aspects of English studies. This year there are 86 seminars on a variety of topics in the literatures, cultural studies and language varieties of the English-speaking world, including one on Teaching English for Specific Purposes (S14), organised by my colleague Cédric Sarré and myself with Danica Milosovic (Nis, Serbia) and Alessandra Molino (Turin, Italy).

Abstract

In today’s networked world where English is a basic skill, essential for communication in many spheres of academic, professional and social life, the need to move beyond anecdotal, romantic views of language learning and use has never been more pressing. Master (2005) called for the field to build on empirical research findings instead of “war stories and romances” in order to construct a viable theoretical ESP framework, while Douglas (2010) sees a complementary practical need: “defining and refining the concept of specific purpose language teaching is an ongoing task for practitioners” (Douglas, 2010). However, terminological confusion makes this is a challenging enterprise for those involved in teaching and researching ESP. This paper begins with a discussion of key terms in ESP teaching, including didactics and pedagogy, acquisition and learning, applied linguistics and language education, with the aim of defining a current interpretation. Taking ESP in French education as our example, we explore the role of English in higher education (cultural studies versus specific purposes training; Braud et al., 2015, Whyte, 2013) compared with secondary school level (language and culture versus content and language integrated learning CLIL). The paper identifies research themes emerging from a range of contexts covered in a new special interest group in ESP didactics (DidASp) within the French ESP research association GERAS. The goal is to propose a new model for ESP didactics at the intersection of modern languages, languages for specific purposes and second language acquisition. The present paper offers first steps in this direction with implication for ongoing research in ESP teaching and learning.

 References

Bhatia, V. (2012). Critical reflections on genre analysis. Ibérica: Revista de la Asociación Europea de Lenguas para Fines Específicos (AELFE), (24), 17-28.

Bowers, R. 1980. “War stories and romances: Interchanging experience in ELT.” Projects in materials design, 71-81.
Bowles, H. (2012). Analyzing languages for specific purposes discourse. The Modern Language Journal, 96(s1), 43-58.

Braud, Valérie, Philippe Millot, Cédric Sarré & Séverine Wozniak. 2015a. “Pour une formation de tous les anglicistes à la langue de spécialité”. Les Langues Modernes 3/2015, 67–76

Braud, Valérie, Philippe Millot, Cédric Sarré & Séverine Wozniak. 2015b. “‘You say you want a revolution…’ Contribution à la réflexion pour une politique des langues adaptée au secteur LANSAD.” Recherche et pratiques pédagogiques en langues de spécialité. Cahiers de l’Apliut, 34(1), 46-66.

Douglas, Dan. 2004. “Discourse domains: The cognitive context of speaking.” In Boxer D. & A. Cohen (Eds.), Studying Speaking to Inform Second Language Learning. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters, 25–47.

Douglas, Dan. 2010. “This won’t hurt a bit: Assessing English for nursing”. Taiwan International ESP Journal 2/2, 1–16.

Dudley-Evans, Tony & Maggie Jo St John. 1998. Developments in English for Specific Purposes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ellis, Rod. 1997. “SLA and second language pedagogy”. SSLA 20, 69–92.

English for Specific Purposes. Journal aims and scope. <http://www.journals.elsevier.com/english-for-specific-purposes/>.

Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures: Selected essays (Vol. 5019). New York: Basic books.

Hamilton, D. (1999). The pedagogic paradox (or why no didactics in England?). Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 7(1), 135-152.

Harjanne, Pirjo & Seppo Tella. 2007. “Foreign language didactics, foreign language teaching and transdisciplinary affordances”. Foreign languages and multicultural perspectives in the European context, 197–225.

Hutchinson, Tom & Alan Waters. 1987. English for Specific Purposes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hyland, Ken. 2006. “The ‘other’ English: Thoughts on EAP and academic writing”. The European English Messenger 15/2, 34–38.

Isani, Shaeda. 2013. “Quo vadis? Past, present and future aspects of ESP.” Book review of Paltridge, B. & S. Starfield (eds.), The Handbook of English for Specific Purposes. ASp 64, 192–198.

Kansanen, Pertti. 2004. “The role of general education in teacher education.” Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft 7/2, 207–218.

Kansanen, Pertti. 2009. “Subject‐matter didactics as a central knowledge base for teachers, or should it be called pedagogical content knowledge?”. Pedagogy, culture & society 17/1, 29–39.

Kansanen, Pertti & Matti Meri. 1999. “The didactic relation in the teaching-studying-learning process“. Didaktik/Fachdidaktik as Science (-s) of the Teaching profession 2/1, 107–116.

Kramsch, Claire. 2000. “Second language acquisition, applied linguistics, and the teaching of foreign languages”. Modern Language Journal 84/3, 311–326.

Master, Peter. 2005. “Research in English for specific purposes”. In Hinkel, E. (Ed.) Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning. London/New York: Routledge, 99–116.

Mémet, Monique. 2001. “Bref historique de l’enseignement et de la recherche en anglais de spécialité en France : de l’anglais pour non-spécialistes à l’anglistique du secteur LANSAD”. In Mémet M. & M. Petit (Eds.) L’anglais de spécialité en France : Mélanges en l’honneur de Michel Perrin. Bordeaux: GERAS Éditeur, 309–319.

Mémet, Monique & Michel Petit (Eds.). 2001. L’anglais de spécialité en France : Mélanges en l’honneur de Michel Perrin. Bordeaux: GERAS Éditeur.

Paltridge, Brian & Sue Starfield. 2011. “Research in English for specific purposes”. In Hinkel, E. (Ed.) Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning. Volume 2. London/New York: Routledge, 196–121.

Ryle, G. (1971). Collected papers, Vol. II. London: Hutchinson.

Sarré, C., & Whyte, S. 2016. “Research in ESP teaching and learning in French higher education: developing the construct of ESP didactics.” ASp, 69, 113-164.

Spada, N. (2015). SLA research and L2 pedagogy: Misapplications and questions of relevance. Language Teaching, 48(1), 69.

Taillefer, Gail. 2013. “CLIL in higher education: the (perfect?) crossroads of ESP and didactic reflection”. ASp 63, 31–53.

Tardieu, Claire. 2008. “Place de la didactique dans l’anglistique”. Journée d’étude SAES Caractéristiques et fonctions de la didactique de l’anglais, IUFM de Paris.

Tardieu, Claire. 2014. Notions-clés pour la didactique de l’anglais. Paris: Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle.

Trouillon, Jean-Louis. 2010. Approches de l’anglais de spécialité. Perpignan: Presses universitaires de Perpignan.

Whyte, Shona. (in press). “Who are the specialists? Teaching and learning specialised language in French educational contexts.” Recherches et pratiques pédagogiques en langue de spécialité, 35(3)

Whyte, Shona. 2013. “Teaching ESP: A task-based framework for French graduate courses”. ASp 63, 5–30.

Williams, Christopher. 2014. “The future of ESP studies: building on success, exploring new paths, avoiding pitfalls”. ASp 66, 137–150.

 

Applied linguistics, linguistique appliquée

I am an applied linguist in an English department in France and I work in French and English on instructed second language acquisition, classroom interaction, and teacher integration of learning technologies. A native-speaker of English with a PhD from Indiana University Bloomington, my baseline references are generally from the literature in English, and for some twenty-five years in the field, I have tended to subscribe to a view expressed by Widdowson (2000: 4):

people who call themselves applied linguists should stop agonizing about the nature of their enquiry, and just get on with it.

However, two decades in French academia have given me a fair perspective on relevant research in France, and have taught me caution when discussing my field. Many key terms show at best limited overlap in meaning in the two languages, and often have very different connotations. Applied linguistics and linguistique appliquée are one such pair. I thought I’d take a moment to tease the two terms apart, but as often happens once you start unpicking you can end up with quite a long thread (and in the end I converted this post into a paper). And it turns out, I am not alone in finding this a ticklish issue, even if we restrict our purview to a single language:

from time to time the underlying uncertainty about the scope and status of applied linguistics breaks surface […] the issue is a highly contentious one that raises quite fundamental questions about academic identity.
Widdowson, 2000: 4

A number of researchers have looked at the term applied linguistics (and its French counterpart linguistique appliquée) from a historical viewpoint (Linn, 2008, 2011; Smith, 2015), from a contrastive perspective (Berthet, 2009; Liddicoat, 2009; Véronique, 2009), and from an epistemological standpoint (Carter & McCarthy, 2015; Véronique, 2009, 2010; Widdowson, 2000). What follows is the skeleton and links for a paper you can read on ResearchGate; comments welcome.


Linguistics applied and applied linguistics

Widdowson (1980) drew a distinction between applied linguistics and what he termed linguistics applied.

The difference between these modes of intervention is that in the case of linguistics applied the assumption is that the problem can be reformulated by the direct and unilateral application of concepts and terms deriving from linguistic enquiry itself.

In the case of applied linguistics, intervention is crucially a matter of mediation. Here there is the recognition that linguistic insights are not self-evident but a matter of interpretation; that ideas and findings from linguistics can only be made relevant in reference to other perceptions and perspectives that define the context of the problem.

Widdowson, 2000


Applied linguistics and linguistique appliquée in Britain, the US, and France

Berthet’s chronology of the field in the three geographical spheres is the subject of broad agreement (Léon, 2015; Linn, 2011; Linn et al., 2011; Véronique, 2009) and includes the following institutional and academic milestones:

  • 1948 Language Learning: A quarterly journal of applied linguistics, Michigan (Fries)
  • 1957 School of Applied Linguistics, Edinburgh (Catford)
  • 1958 Centre de linguistique appliquée, Besançon (Quemada)
  • 1961 Etudes de linguistique appliquée, Besançon (Quemada)
  • 1964 Association internationale de linguistique appliquée [à l’enseignement des langues vivantes] (AILA), Nancy
  • 1965 Chair of Applied Linguistics, Essex (Strevens)
  • 1965 Association française de linguistique appliquée (AFLA)
  • 1967 British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL)
  • 1977 American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL)
  • 1980 Applied Linguistics journal (Canada/UK/US)

(And for a Canadian perspective, see Cobb, 2009, in French and English).

 


The French alternatives: DDL/DLC and RAL

In France, the disciplines of didactique des langues étrangères (DDL or DLE), sometimes also didactique des langues-cultures (DLC), and (recherche en) acquisition des langues étrangères (RAL, ALS) cover the second/foreign language learning and teaching aspects of what elsewhere is termed applied linguistics.

Didactique des langues – language didactics

Berthet’s motivation for his 2011 paper seems to be to explore why he himself, a “didactician,” that is, a researcher whose object of study is the teaching/learning of second languages, should not call himself an applied linguist, as is the case elsewhere and was in France in the past. He is a didactician, he adds, who wonders whether the time is ripe to reflect on the redefinition of his discipline.

Recherches en acquisition des langues – second language research

Véronique, an acquisitionist, identifies “a difference in objectives between second language research, a branch of linguistics, and foreign language didactics, a praxeological discipline” (Véronique, 2010: 82).

 


Overlapping terminology, intersecting interests

On this reading of some of the literature on second/foreign language learning and teaching in different research traditions in English-speaking countries and in France, I offer the following, somewhat tentative conclusions regarding the translation and interpretation of word pairs in the two languages.

  • applied linguistics/linguistique appliquée
    Applied linguistics is generally interpreted in broader terms than la linguistique appliquée, and generally accords more importance to research in second language teaching and learning. More recent French definitions acknowledge a broader interpretation and the place of second/foreign language research within la linguistique appliquée (CRELA, 2013).
  • linguistics versus linguistique / sciences du langage
    General linguistics is broadly synonymous with language sciences, if a somewhat narrower discpline; sciences du langage is no doubt an appropriate translation for many purposes. La linguistique in French academia tends to refer to stylistics and textual function, and viewed as a branch of the humanities.
  • second language acquisition (SLA)/acquisition des langues secondes (ALS)
    These terms are more or less synonymous, though SLA is viewed as part of applied linguistics, unlike ALS.
  • second language research/recherche en acquisition des langues secondes (RAL)
    as above
  • language teaching and learning/enseignement-apprentissage des langues
    These terms are synonymous; the field is concerned with language pedagogy, including methods, materials development, classroom practice, and assessment.
    These topics are covered in TEFL/TESOL  publications and textbooks on l’enseignement du FLE/FLES.
  • foreign/second language teaching research/didactique des langues (DDL)
    These terms cover language teaching research. The English expression includes language learning and comes under both SLA and applied linguistics in the English-speaking world. The term instructed SLA is also used, though a poor translation for DDL which generally excludes acquisition research. La didactique des langues focuses on theoretical models for language teaching and recognises neither applied linguistics nor SLA as parent disciplines.
  • foreign versus second language/langues étrangères ou secondes
    This paper has not discussed these terms, but they are also a source of disagreement and confusion. Second language may be used in English a) as an umbrella term for any language learned after the first, or b) restricted to contexts where the target language is the ambient language (e.g., French in Paris). In this second case, a foreign language is one learned in the absence of contact with the native-speaking community (e.g., English in a French high school). Thus researchers often refer to second language acquisition while practitioners talk of foreign language teaching. Since SLA is excluded from DDL, which takes the practitioner perspective, the term langue étrangère is more commonly used in French, particularly outside FLE/FLES circles.

And beyond these terminological notes, what answers can we offer to the question posed at the CRELA conference in 2013:

“What, then, is the situation in France today concerning applied linguistics? Can applied linguistics provide common ground and reduce fragmentation in the field?”

First, it seems clear that this is an important question about academic identity, and that applied linguistics should not be limited to “applicationism” or “linguistics applied.”

Second, we have seen that for historical reasons second/foreign language teaching research in France has for the most part been conducted in isolation from work in second language research and without reference to the broader field of applied linguistics.

Third, it seems that connections between French DDL research on one hand, and both applied linguistics and SLA on the other, are possible and no doubt desirable (Berthet, 2009; Véronique, 2009, 2010). All three have roots in traditions of research and practice in language teaching and learning that reach back further than we may realise:

The lesson from the history of applied linguistics is that research makes a difference when the desire to make a difference is built into the research from the outset and where the boundary between university research and the world where language is actually used and experienced is a thin and porous one.

Linn, 2011: 25

Read the full paper on ResearchGate.

References

Berthet, M. (2011). La linguistique appliquée a l’enseignement des langues secondes aux Etats-unis, en France et en Grande-Bretagne. Histoire Épistémologie Langage, 33(1), 83-97. [open access]

Carter, R., & McCarthy, M. (2015). Spoken grammar: Where are we and where are we going?. Applied Linguistics, 1-21.

Cobb, T. (2009). An applied linguist’s response to the linguists’ Projet de reconfiguration. [open access]

Corder, S. P. (1967). The significance of learner’s errors. IRAL-International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 5(1-4), 161-170. PDF

Cultures de recherche en linguistique appliquée. (2013). Colloque CRELA, Nancy, France. Appel à communication. PDF

Fries, C. C. (1955). American Linguistics and the teaching of English, Language Learning 6 (1), 1-22.

Histoire Épistémologie Langage, 33(1) 2011. Linguistique appliquée et disciplinarisation. [open access]

Galisson, R. (1994). Un espace disciplinaire pour l’enseignement/apprentissage des langues-cultures en France: État des lieux et perspective. Revue française de pédagogie, 25-37. [open access]

Léon, J. (2015). Linguistique appliquée et traitement automatique des langues. Etude historique et comparative. Recherches en Didactique des Langues et Cultures: les Cahiers de l’Acedle, 12(3), 9-32. [open access]

Liddicoat, A. J. (2009). La didactique et ses equivalents en anglais: terminologies et cadres theoriques dans la circulation des idees, Francais dans le monde: Recherches et applications, 46: 33-41. PDF

Linn, A. R. (2008). The birth of applied linguistics: The Anglo-Scandinavian school as  ‘discourse community’. Historiographia Linguistica, 35(3), 342-384. [open access]

Linn, A. (2011). Impact: Linguistics in the real world. Histoire Épistémologie Langage, 33(1), 15-27. [open access]

Linn, A., Candel, D., & Léon, J. (2011). Présentation: Linguistique appliquée et disciplinarisation. Histoire Épistémologie Langage, 33(1), 7-14. [open access]

Research cultures in applied linguistics. (2013). Colloque CRELA, Nancy, France. Call for papers. PDF

Smith, R. (2015). Building ‘Applied Linguistic Historiography’: Rationale, Scope, and Methods. Applied Linguistics.

Véronique, G. (2009). La linguistique appliquée et la didactique des langues et des cultures: une polémique française au cœur d’un débat international. La circulation internationale des idées en DDL, Recherches et applications–Le français dans le monde, (46), 42-52. PDF

Véronique, D. (2010). La recherche sur l’acquisition des langues étrangères: entre le nomologique et l’actionnel. Le français dans le monde-Recherches et applications, (48), 76-85. [open access]

Widdowson, H. G. (1980). Models and fictions. Applied Linguistics, 1(2), 165-170.

Widdowson, H. G. (2000). On the limitations of linguistics applied. Applied linguistics, 21(1), 3-25. [open access]

Zarate, G., & Liddicoat, A. (2009). La circulation internationale des idées en didactique des langues. Recherches et Applications / Le Français dans le Monde PDF

Teaching languages with technology: 2 reviews

9781623569334Two reviews of our edited volume on communicative language teaching with the interactive whiteboard (IWB):

Davidson Devall, K. (2015). Review of the book Teaching Languages with Technology: Communicative Approaches to Whiteboard Use. The Modern Language Journal, 99(4).

Guichon, N., & Merlet, E. (2016). Critique : Teaching Languages with Technology: Communicative Approaches to Whiteboard Use. Canadian Modern Language Review / Revue Canadienne des Langues Vivantes, 72, 1, 284–286 doi:10.3138/cmlr.72.1.284

Preview on Google Books

These reviews focus on different aspects of this collection of case studies from the iTILT project on the integration of the IWB in classroom foreign language teaching. Both pick up on Colpaert’s reminder in his foreword to the book that technology is only one aspect of the learning environment, and go on to highlight the pedagogical dimension of technology integration, and from there to teacher education concerns. Davidson Devall sees the potential of the volume to inform action research in IWB-supported language teaching, and for language teacher education with technologies other than the IWB, while Guichon and Merlet underline the importance of progressive appropriation of the technological and pedagogical affordances of digital tools.

This post offers some short quotations from each review, followed by a summary of some of our recommendations for teacher development given in the final chapter of the book.

Davidson Devall (2015)

This review in the Modern Language Journal considers its implications for teacher education “even in contexts different from those in the book,” that is, beyond the primary school classroom which is the focus of several chapters, and beyond the IWB itself.

As Colpaert states in his Foreword, “What makes IWBs [interactive whiteboards] very interesting is their unique position in the technological spectrum: on the one hand they feature a specific set of limitations and affordances, but on the other hand they easily fit within many learning environments as one piece of the puzzle” (p. xii). The editors of this volume seek to encourage further research and material development efforts for the interactive whiteboard by presenting specific applications and opening a dialogue for discovery learning amongst instructors and students.
[…]
As evident from the title, the book is intended for teacher education and development. The overview of the development of technology- enhanced language learning as well as pre- and post-reading reflective questions for each chapter provide excellent support for implementation in a pedagogical methods course.
[…]
the criteria for designing materials structured by Cutrim Schmid and Whyte could be helpful for use with other interactive technologies as they touch on “methodological principles,” “pedagogical activities,” “learner engagement,” “tools and features,” and practical considerations” (pp. 245–248).

vlcsnap-2016-05-25-12h24m17s041.png

Guichon & Merlet (2016)

This review is in French and appears in the Canadian Modern Language Review. It notes that the book aims to suggest avenues for pedagogical exploitation of the IWB based on research rather than simply promote this tool, and that one of the most interesting aspects of the volume lies in the recommendations in the final chapter for the training of teacher educators.

D’emblée, que ce soit par le biais de l’avant-propos de Jozef Colpaert qui déclare que « no technology, not even the [Interactive Whiteboard] , carries an inherent, direct, measurable and generalizable effect » (p. xii) ou dans l’introduction de Shona Whyte qui prend le soin d’ancrer la réflexion dans l’approche par tâches, le lecteur est assuré que l’objectif de cet ouvrage n’est pas de faire la promotion d’un outil, mais de proposer des pistes d’exploitation pédagogique d’une manière critique et informée par la recherche et les données empiriques.
[…]
L’un des aspects les plus intéressants de cet ouvrage est qu’il fournit des axes pour guider la formation de formateurs à l’utilisation du TNI dans la classe de langue (c’est d’ailleurs l’orientation du dernier chapitre). L’enseignant, dont le rôle primordial est rappelé, est invité à s’engager dans une réflexion pédagogique, cherchant à impliquer réellement ses apprenants dans les interactions. Est ainsi souligné avec acuité l’importance du processus de l’appropriation de l’outil qui ne peut se faire qu’en se donnant le temps de l’expérience et en mettant en place des projets de formation par étapes. Le processus de formation gagne à inclure des phases de réflexion, personnelle ou collective, à partir de pratiques de classe contextualisées et répondant aux besoins et à la réalité des enseignants désireux de s’approprier le TNI comme un nouvel élément de leur environnement et de leur répertoire pédagogiques.

Supporting teacher education for technology integration

In Chapter 8, our conclusion to this edited collection, we propose the following principles for teacher education.

Principles and guidelines for IWB-supported language teaching practice

In work on teacher professional development elsewhere, we suggest a number of principles for the design and implementation of IWB training (Cutrim Schmid & Schimmack, 2009; Cutrim Schmid & Whyte, 2012; Whyte et al., 2013). This section will review these recommendations in light of the findings presented in this book. The present volume includes studies of IWB teacher training courses in Belgium and Turkey, which revealed interesting aspects of the challenges and complexities involved in such endeavors. Other chapters have also dealt with this topic indirectly, since all studies contained an element of reflective practice, a component of continuing professional development in both informal and institutional settings.

Although most of these principles apply to the majority of technology professional development contexts, the examples given to exemplify the guidelines are drawn from IWB-based studies. This will help readers understand how these principles can be applied to their specific context. We suggest five key principles to inform the design and implementation of IWB training programmes.

4.1 Pedagogical framework based on theoretical foundation

IWB training programmes should have a sound theoretical basis and a clear pedagogical framework.

All chapters have emphasized the value of IWB professional development rooted in established language learning theory. From this perspective, the affordances of the technology with respect to teaching goals constitute the best starting point for an attempt to understand the potential of the IWB. The first question teachers should ask is not “What can I do with an IWB in my language lesson?” but rather “How can I use the IWB to support language learning?”

4.2 Contextually embedded professional development

IWB training programmes should focus on teachers’ immediate pedagogical needs and be embedded in the work teachers actually do.

In most chapters, the participating teachers reflected on IWB use that was embedded in their own practice. The pre-service teachers in chapters 3 (Kegenhof) and 4 (Sailer) worked in tandem with practicing teachers, but their reflection is based on the materials they developed and the lessons they designed and implemented in this collaborative context. This approach allowed teachers to experiment with ways the IWB could support and enhance teaching, thereby gaining a better understanding of the strengths and limitations of this technology.

vlcsnap-2016-05-25-12h25m47s594

4.3 Reflective practice

IWB training courses should create opportunities for teachers to reflect on their practice.

All studies presented in this book include an element of reflective practice, since participating teachers and teacher researchers were involved in critical reflection
through various means. The insightful discussions and recommendations provided by the participating teachers and teacher researchers in this volume underline the value of reflective practice as a powerful impetus for professional development, confirming much earlier work in this area (e.g. Mcniff, 1988; Bartlett, 1990; Wallace, 1998; Allwright &
Lenzuen, 1997).

4.4 Professional collaboration

IWB training courses should create opportunities to establish professional contacts and undertake collaborative projects.

Several chapters in this volume have dealt with the relationship between collaboration and professional development. Chapters 3 and 4 report on research projects within a larger professional development program for pre-service EFL teachers involving school-based research projects where pre-service teachers design, implement, and evaluate technology-enhanced EFL lessons in collaboration with in-service teachers (Cutrim Schmid & Hegelheimer, 2014). This type of professional collaboration has been widely recommended in the CALL literature to encourage the all-important integration of theoretical with procedural knowledge (e.g., Meskill et al., 2006).

4.5 Ongoing support for professional development

IWB teacher training courses should provide teachers with enough opportunities for gradual accumulation of knowledge and experience within their constraints of time and energy.

Although the majority of studies described in this volume do not have a longitudinal design, several authors emphasize the importance of providing teachers with the opportunity to construct knowledge gradually with the support of peers or trainers. In the area of materials design, we propose a list of 38 criteria for IWB-mediated teaching resources, organized in five main areas, which may be useful for teachers and trainers in developing and evaluating their own teaching materials.

Regarding classroom interaction, we suggest and illustrate a four-level interaction/interactivity framework which can inform the analysis of IWB-supported language teaching.

We believe that the language teacher plays a primordial role in effectively integrating IWB use in the language classroom, hence the priority given to high quality teacher education. Similarly, without attention to interactional opportunities both as these arise in instruction and through the careful planning of teaching materials, much effort devoted to IWB integration simply goes to waste. As Colpaert notes in his foreword,

“IWBs cannot generate a learning effect on their own, but they are indispensable cornerstones for creating powerful learning environments.”

We hope our contributions in this final chapter, together with the rich and varied classroom case studies in this volume, can inform and inspire language teachers throughout the world to make the most of this potential.

 

References

Allwright, D. and Lenzuen, R. (1997), ‘Exploratory practice: Work at the cultura inglesa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’, Language Teaching Research, 1, 73-79.

Bartlett, L. (1990), ‘Teacher development through reflective teaching’, in J.C. Richards and D. Nunan (eds.), Second Language Teacher Education. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Cutrim Schmid, E. and Hegelheimer, V. (2014), ‘Collaborative research projects in the technology-enhanced language classroom: Pre-service and in-service teachers exchange knowledge about technology’. ReCALL, 26(03), 315-332

Cutrim Schmid, E. and Schimmack, E. (2010), ‘First Steps towards a model of interactive whiteboard training for language teachers’, in Thomas, M. and Cutrim Schmid, E. (eds.), Interactive Whiteboards: Theory, Research and Practice. Hershey, PA: IGI Global, pp. 197-214.

Cutrim Schmid, E., and Whyte, S. (2012), ‘Interactive whiteboards in state school settings: Teacher responses to socio-constructivist hegemonies’, Language Learning and Technology, 16, (2), 65-86.

McNiff, J. (1988), Action Research: Principles and Practice. London: Routledge.

Meskill, C., Anthony, N., Hilliker, S., Tseng, C. and You, J. (2006), ‘Expert-novice teacher mentoring in language learning technology’, in P. Hubbard and M. Levy (eds.), Teacher Education in CALL. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 283-298.

Whyte, S., Cutrim Schmid, E., van Hazebrouck Thompson, S. and Oberhofer, M. (2013), ‘Open educational resources for CALL teacher education: the iTILT interactive whiteboard project’, Computer Assisted Language Learning, (ahead-of-print), 1-27.

Wallace, M. (1998), Action Research for Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Materials design: criteria for IWB-supported language teaching

Criteria for IWB-supported language teaching

There appears to be a clear need for a design framework that focuses specifically on IWB materials for language teaching. In response to this need, we have developed a set of criteria for the design and evaluation of IWB-based language learning materials.

vlcsnap-2016-05-25-10h29m27s413

These criteria were developed during the teacher training and data collection phases of the iTILT EU project, and refined during the analysis and interpretation of the findings. These guidelines are intended to support teachers in their use of the IWB as an effective tool to integrate digital technology in the regular language classroom and in particular to
a) enable the visualization and apprehension of concepts
b) facilitate engagement with and understanding of complex notions, and
c) enhance interaction and collaboration among learners.

Our materials design criteria for effective IWB-supported language teaching are divided into five key areas: methodological principles, pedagogical activities, learner engagement, tools and features, and practical considerations.

METHODOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES

1. Activities involve a communicative purpose, as opposed to decontextualised language practice
2. Materials promote learning by doing as opposed to lecture content
3. Grammar materials promote focus on form (learning in a communicative context) rather than abstract rules
4. Materials create opportunities for learners to assess their own performance without teacher intervention
5. Materials allow learners to demonstrate understanding and help teachers to evaluate learning
6. Materials include opportunities for teachers to provide feedback on learners’ production
7. Materials promote learner interaction and cooperative and/or collaborative learning activities

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PEDAGOGICAL ACTIVITIES

1. Activities have a clear language learning objective; they are not only designed for enjoyment
2. Activities are designed around genuine or potentially real-life contexts which have meaning for learners
3. Materials include task-like activities such as exchanging information or solving problems and have a clearly defined outcome.
4. Materials provide linguistic and/or cognitive support to help learners understand input
5. Materials provide linguistic and/or cognitive support to maximise learners’ language production
6. Materials include resources which offer rich input for language learning
7. Some activities may allow for learner differentiation and individual choice
8. Some activities create opportunities for negotiation of meaning (e.g., information gap)

LEARNER ENGAGEMENT

1. Materials include topics and activities which are likely to motivate learners
2. Opportunities are provided for learners to make their own contributions to activities
3. Learners’ class contributions can have an impact on how the lesson unfolds
4. Materials allow adequate space for learner experimentation and discovery, or inductive learning
5. Some activities provide space for displaying and/or discussing learners’ work
6. Some activities include links to external learning resources or other ICT tools which learners can access outside class
7. Some activities model effective learning strategies which learners can use in other contexts
8. Activities are appropriate to the age and language proficiency of learners

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TOOLS & FEATURES

1. The materials include audio, visual and/or tactile input to support teaching and learning
2. Pages and files are not overloaded with too much information or too many different stimuli which may overwhelm learners
3. IWB tools (e.g., spotlight) and features (e.g., drag and drop) are used to support physical interactivity with the IWB
4. IWB tools and features are used to support cognitive interactivity with learning content
5. IWB tools and features are used to support social interactivity between the teacher and learner(s) or between learners
6. IWB tool and feature use allows the teacher to make complex input comprehensible to learners
7. Fonts, images, colours and other elements are easily readable and esthetically pleasing
8. An appropriate balance between objects embedded in the file before class and actions required of learners during class is respected

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PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS

1. The materials represent an efficient use of teacher time in terms of preparation versus classroom use
2. Instructions are included which allow other teachers to quickly understand the intended learner level, objectives, and implementation of activities
3. Only resources which are free from copyright restrictions are included in the materials
4. Files load correctly and all links and interactive elements work as intended
5. The level of technological sophistication of the materials is appropriate to the technology available in class (connectivity, equipment, software)
6. Materials include some low-tech alternatives for use in case of technical problems (e.g., connectivity)
7. The use of the IWB brings a clear added value to the activities proposed and all activities cannot easily be carried out without an IWB.

Adapted from Cutrim Schmid, E., & Whyte, S. (Eds.). (2014). Teaching Languages with Technology: Communicative Approaches to Interactive Whiteboard Use. London & New York: Bloomsbury Publishing. Chapter 8.

Masters in Teaching English: research project topics

This week our second-year Masters students in the English teaching programme at the University of Nice presented their end-of-year classroom research projects to an audience of university and secondary school teachers and their peers. We heard thirty presentations on different dimensions of teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in French secondary schools, which include both lower secondary (collège, 11-15 years) and upper secondary (lycée, 16-18 years). The students are pre-service teachers; the majority have passed national competitive teacher entrance exams and have taught part-time through this school year, with support from mentor teachers and university tutors. Some have yet to pass the exams and had shorter school placements under the direct supervision of a school tutor.

This word cloud generated from the paper titles and abstracts gives an idea of the main concerns: language (English and French), teaching and teachers, class and classroom, pupils/students/learners, and … motivation.

WordCloud

The options and guidelines for these research papers can be accessed from this link, and below I have grouped the papers thematically. This overview gives some insight into what interests and concerns new teachers and teacher educators in French secondary EFL within the framework established by my guidelines and our school requirements.

Designing task-based activities, lessons, and units

  1. Fostering Students’ Interaction In ESL Classrooms: An Emphasis on Learning to Communicate through Interaction in the Target Language
  2. The Use of Games in French secondary EFL classrooms
  3. Reflection on Task-based Language Teaching in Lower Secondary School Through the Analysis of a Teaching Unit
  4. Material design: Secondary school EFL teaching unit on Global Warming

Most of the options for this project involved task-based language teaching, but some students were particularly interested either in preparing materials based on this approach, implementing activities, or evaluating their own lessons and units from this perspective. Some students felt they fell short in this respect: real-world constraints with respect to pupils’ age or proficiency, curricular requirements, or other expectations seemed to militate against a strong TBLT approach.

Teaching and evaluating speaking

  1. Different activities implemented in class to help pupils to speak
  2. Making technology programmes pupils in upper secondary willingly communicate in EFL and be ready for the oral expression evaluation of the Baccalauréat.
  3. How to generate and facilitate Speaking in E.F.L. classes ?
  4. A comparative case study in French upper secondary education – combining fluency and traditional TBLT with accuracy and corrective feedback

A number of students chose to focus on speaking skills, an often neglected aspect of secondary school EFL in our contexts due to large classes (often thirty pupils or more in upper secondary) and to a traditional focus on (authentic) texts. Some students focused on analysing learner production (e.g., fluency and accuracy) while others sought to create opportunities for less proficient and often less motivated learners to improve their spoken language through a combination of live and recorded presentations.

Investigating classroom interaction: teacher and learner participation

  1. Impact of Role-plays in EFL class on Student Talking Time and Teacher Talking Time Balance
  2. Strengthening the development of Student Talking Time (STT) in the EFL secondary classroom: student-centered activities and differentiated instructions

Two students were concerned about achieving a balance between teacher and pupil participation in classroom interaction. They recorded themselves teaching a lesson, and compared talk times for teachers and pupils, with reassuring results in both cases.

Differentiation: addressing diverse learner needs

  1. Working with different proficiency levels in the French EFL classroom: out-of-class activities
  2. Benefits & Limits of a Differentiated Instruction in an English Class
  3. Impact of Differentiated Pedagogy on Pupil’s Motivation
  4. Differentiating reading and listening comprehension activities in a mixed- ability class.

Another common area of focus for these novice teachers was differentiation, a popular topic in language teaching and indeed other disciplines in French education at present. Students investigated different approaches to accommodating different learner needs, from mixed-ability pair work or grouping by proficiency, to separate tasks for different groups. There was some overlap between these projects and others focusing explicitly on pupil motivation, since techniques for increasing motivation often included differentiated instruction.

Motivation

  1. Enhancing Learners’ Motivation and Interest in EFL Classrooms
  2. Arousing Students’ Motivation In ESL Classrooms: Increasing And Enhancing Participation, Interaction And Production.
  3. Implementing Ideal Future Selves in the Second Language Classroom
  4. Group work as a potential source of motivation

Approaches to the topic of motivation varied from the psychological (Dörnyei and colleagues) to the practical (Rivoire). A number of students and teachers in our schools have recently begun implementing Rivoire’s approach to classroom management via a “group work system.” It’s a somewhat controversial approach; see Puren et al and links on my wiki for criticism.

Teaching content: history, geography, art, literature

  1. CLIL in French schools:meaning-focused or form-focused?
  2. ‘Soft’ CLIL in French Lower Secondary School: the Benefits of Teaching Geography in English Classes
  3. Art in English classes or How to integrate art notions in upper-secondary EFL classes
  4. Access to Culture in Classes of 6éme Between Motivation and Adaptation
  5. Teaching Literature in Middle School: Benefits and challenges
  6. Reading in English : How to introduce literature in language teaching class in lower secondary school
  7. How to develop pupils’ taste for reading through extracts from Roald Dahl

In French universities and secondary schools, the study of English is situated within the field of anglistics, which views language and culture as indissociable, and the (written) text as the prime vehicle for conveying meaning (cf Angles). “Culture” is thus an important component of English programmes and, I have argued, can be considered as separate content just like other disciplines which are taught through the medium of a foreign language as Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). Students this year focused on teaching history and geography, modern art, and different forms of literature to upper and lower secondary classes.

Tools for teaching

  1. Using the dictionary Inside and Outside The Classroom
  2. Integrating Web Online Mapping Services in the Teaching of EFL
  3. Teaching Vocabulary & the use of flashcards.

Three students focused on particular tools for language teaching, two using paper-based materials such as dictionaries and flashcards to aid comprehension and retention of lexical items, and perhaps encourage learner autonomy. A third demonstrated the more complex affordances of Google applications such as maps and street view, and how these might be exploited for learning about the culture of English-speaking countries.

Classroom language: native versus target language use

  1. Perceptions of French students in regard to native and non native speaking teachers
  2. EFL teaching: Questioning L2 exclusivity and its effects on learners and teachers in a Lower Secondary school

Finally, two students focused on questions surrounding classroom language, including the native-nonnative debate and the use of the L1 in classroom.

These, then, are the topics selected and researched by our thirty masters students this year, written up and defended in English over five days last week before peers, university tutors and school teacher mentors.

References

Angles: French perspectives on the Anglophone world. http://angles.edel.univ-poitiers.fr
Dörnyei, Z., & Ushioda, E. (2013). Teaching and researching: Motivation. Routledge.
Puren, C.,  Médioni, M-A.,  & Sebahi, E. (2013). Le système des ilôts bonifiés : de fausses bonnes solutions à de vrais problèmes. meirieu.com

Rivoire, M. (2012). Travailler en “ilôts bonifiés” pour la réussite de tous, Chambéry, Génération 5.
Whyte, S. (2014). Research project topics 2014-15. Weebly

 

Promoting interaction in the EFL classroom: Dutch-French telecollaboration

Conference presentation, S. Whyte & L. Gijsen
New Directions in Telecollaborative Research and Practice:
The Second Conference on Telecollaboration in University Education
Dublin, April 2016

In a recent keynote at this year’s EuroCALL conference, O’Dowd (2015) looked back on nearly 20 years of telecollaborative experience, or online intercultural exchange, and charted its development from niche activity to mainstay of the foreign language classroom, at least as far as higher education is concerned.

Like most researchers, O’Dowd identifies two purposes for telecollaborative exchange, that is:

  1. “to engage learners in ‘authentic’ interaction with native speakers or with learners from other countries” and also
  2. “to give them first-hand experience of ‘real’ intercultural communication.”

The bulk of discussion in this paper, as in the literature in general, focuses on the second objective. Telecollaborative research has focused on

  • learning about the target language culture (Kramsch, 2014),
  • understanding those from other cultures as a window on one’s own culture (Guth & Helm, 2010), and even
  • the mediating role of technology itself (Kern, 2014).

Comparatively few studies focus specifically on language learning per se, and those that do often underline difficulties in promoting productive learner-learner exchanges which involve genuine negotiation of meaning or effective peer feedback, for example (Belz & Reinhardt, 2004).

Moreover, research in telecollaboration also frequently highlights the limitations and drawbacks of online communication, due to

  • technical constraints and problems,
  • a predominance of what some see as artificial exchanges which are limited to personal registers (Hanna & de Nooy, 2009), and
  • related concerns with unchallenging task design which fails to engage participants in genuine collaboration (Ware & O’Dowd, 2009).

If past approaches to telecollaborative exchange have been found wanting in these respects, then a new direction for this form of exchange might take the form of a focus on language to the exclusion of cultural and intercultural concerns, and on creating space for learner interaction over other affordances of telecollaborative tools. Second language research has established a number of recommendations for effective instruction, including the need for purposeful interaction in a communicative context with interlocutors outside the classroom (Lee & VanPatten, 2003; de Bot). All of these requirements can be addressed through telecollaboration.

The present study reports on a telecollaborative exchange involving EFL learners in classes taught by some thirty secondary school student-teachers in France and the Netherlands. The student-teachers were enrolled in courses on technology for language education in their respective institutions, and they collaborated in a virtual environment to:

  • share information about their learners,
  • devise learning tasks involving interaction between learners in different countries, and
  • document instances of target language communication and learning.

Data include

  • student-teacher contributions during the course (video presentations and classroom clips,
  • synchronous and asychronous group exchanges in the virtual environment),
  • the teaching and learning materials they designed and published as open educational resources, and
  • reflection on the implementation of activities from a task-based language teaching perspective.

Additional information is provided by participant attitude questionnaires on language teaching and learning, the role of technology, and their views of course outcomes.

References

Belz, J. A., & Reinhardt, J. (2004). Aspects of advanced foreign language proficiency: Internet‐mediated German language play. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 14(3), 324-362.
De Bot, K. (2007). Language teaching in a changing world. Modern Language Journal, 274-276.
Guth, S. and Helm, F. (2010) (eds.) Telecollaboration 2.0: Language, Literacy and Intercultural Learning in the 21st Century. Bern: Peter Lang.
Hanna, B. & de Nooy, J. (2009). Learning language and culture via public internet discussion forums. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Kern, R. (2014). Technology as pharmakon: The promise and perils of the Internet for foreign language education. The Modern Language Journal, 98(1), 340-357.
Kramsch, C. (2014). Teaching foreign languages in an era of globalization: Introduction. The Modern Language Journal, 98(1), 296-311.
Lee, J. F., & VanPatten, B. (1995). Making Communicative Language Teaching Happen. Volume 1: Directions for Language Learning and Teaching. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.
Lightbown, P. M. and Spada, N.(2000). How languages are learned. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
O’Dowd, R. (in press). Learning from the Past and Looking to the Future of Online Intercultural Exchange.
O’Dowd, R. & Ware, P. (2009). Critical issues in telecollaborative task design. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 22(2), 173–188.
Skehan, P. (2009). Modelling second language performance: Integrating complexity, accuracy, fluency, and lexis. Applied Linguistics, 30(4), 510-532.. PDF
Stolz, C. (2014). Are these 17 statements about language acquisition true? TPRS Questions and answer.
Other

Researching the teaching and learning of specialised languages: DidASP

Research in the teaching and learning of languages is a field which is gaining visibility in higher education in France. Referred to as language didactics (didactique des langues) as distinct from the more practically oriented language pedagogy, this research seeks to understand how second or foreign languages are learned in instructed contexts, and may or may not have direct implications for teaching.

IMG_1574

Archives Nationales, site de repli pour GERAS 2016 (manifestations à Paris 8)

Some new and more established outlets and groups for research in this area in France include

  • ARDAA (Association pour la Recherche en Didactique de l’Anglais et en Acquisition), a recently formed affiliate of the Société des Anglicistes de l’Enseignement Supérieur, the French society for English studies in higher education. ARDAA focuses on research on all aspects of teaching English, particularly in French contexts.
  • DidASP, focusing on research in the teaching and learning of English for Specific Purposes, as a new special interest group in GERAS (Groupe d’Etude et de Recherche en Anglais de Spécialité). GERAS runs the open access journal ASp which publishes on all aspects of ESP research, including ESP didactics.
  • Research and Teaching Languages for Specific Purposes (RPPLSP, Cahiers de l’APLIUT). This open access journal has its roots in foreign language instruction in technical universities; its scope has recently widened to include special issues edited by ARDAA and RANACLES members.
  • Research on the Teaching of Second Languages and Cultures (RDLC, Cahiers de l’Acedle), the publication of the Association of Researchers, Teachers and Didacticians in Foreign Languages (Acedle).
  • Mélanges CRAPEL (Centre de Recherches et d’Applications Pédagogiques en Langues) for research and development in language teaching and learning.

Cédric Sarré and I have been considering how ESP didactics might fit into this picture in an article just published in ASp on Research in ESP teaching and learning in French higher education: developing the construct of ESP didactics. The paper includes an overview of recent work by our colleagues teaching and researching ESP in higher education contexts in France. It attempts to propose a framework for ongoing research in ESP didactics, defined as

the branch of English language studies which concerns the language, discourse and culture of English-language professional communities and specialised social groups, as well as the learning and teaching of this object from a didactic perspective.

Sarré & Whyte, 2016: 150

At our ESP Didactics SIG meeting at this year’s GERAS conference in Paris, we heard presentations on English for veterinary science (Muriel Conan) and designing a hybrid English course in musicology (Aude Labetoulle). We also discussed possible collaborative research projects for the group, and provided an update on the seminar on Teaching ESP today we are co-organising at this summer’s ESSE conference in Galway.