Learning to teach second language pragmatics

Shona Whyte
Aisha Siddiqa
TESOL France, Paris, 19 November 2016.

Abstract

With the growing global networking and cross-cultural communication, interest in the teaching and learning of second languages has also increased. However, the bulk of research in interlanguage pragmatics (ILP) has revealed that foreign language learners, despite their grammatical and lexical proficiency, frequently fail to approximate target-like pragmatic norms (Bouton, 1994; Bardovi-Harlig, 2001; Bardovi-Harlig & Mahan-Taylor, 2003). Awareness of pragmatic norms is crucial as its absence can lead to cross cultural miscommunication (Beebe & Takahashi, 1989a).

ILP research also shows that learner’s pragmalinguistic knowledge develops relatively slowly (Schauer, 2004; 2009; Barron 2002). But evidence suggests that it is amenable to instruction (Rose, 2005; Cohen & Ishihara, 2013). Both instruction (e.g., see Bardovi-Harlig & Mahan-Taylor, 2003 for review) and feedback to learners (Belz & Kinginger, 2003) can accelerate this process. Yet in spite of the need for pragmatics instruction and the existence of pedagogical models, ILP is rarely a major component of teacher training programmes (Vellenga 2011, Vasquez & Sharpless, 2009).

The present study, as part of a larger project on ILP development in French secondary schools, seeks to address some of these gaps in literature by focusing on teacher training for teaching pragmatics to English as foreign language (EFL) learners. As part of their teacher education programme at a French university, fifteen pre-service teachers participated in the study as part of a classroom research course. The course focused on

a) multiple research methods and data analysis techniques and various pragmatic aspects including

b) ILP awareness-raising via authentic materials including TV series/films and corpus data, and

c) the design and implementation of activities to teach both pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic dimensions of request strategies to EFL learners (aged 11 to 18).

The participants worked in groups and prepared six lessons. The data for our study include

  • lesson plans and teaching resources for the student-teachers’ lessons
  • video-recordings of three classroom activities
  • learner focus-group discussions and video-stimulated recall interviews with teachers and tutors
  • audio-recorded class presentations of the participant teachers
  • a pre-study oral production task to assess the participant teachers’ knowledge about requests strategies.

A preliminary analysis of the data reveals that the novice teachers, despite some initial difficulty, used authentic materials quite effectively to engage pupils in discussion and reflection on request behaviour. The tutors appreciated the focus of the activities on pragmatics and confirmed that pragmatics is rarely a focus in curriculum despite its importance. However, the learners’ responses varied across classrooms and teachers.

The presentation gives main findings regarding student-teacher classroom implementation of lessons on English requests, with implications and recommendations for French EFL instructional contexts.

Keywords

interlanguage pragmatics, EFL, secondary schools, France, language teacher education.

Requests: a speech act

A request is a directive speech act whose illocutionary purpose is to get the hearer to do something in circumstances in which it is not obvious that he/she will perform the action in the normal course of events (Searle 1969). By initiating a request, the speaker believes that the hearer is able to perform an action.

The structure of a request may consist of two parts: the head act (the actual request) and modifications to the request (external or internal).

The perspective of requests can be emphasized, either projecting toward the speaker (Can I borrow your notes?) or the hearer (Can you loan me your notes?). Since we must take into account many factors when we make requests (e.g., age, social distance, gender, and level of imposition), speakers often employ different strategies (linguistic and non-linguistic) to minimize the effects of our request on the other person

Request strategies are divided into three types according to the level of inference (on the part of the hearer) needed to understand the utterance as a request. The three types of requests include:

  1. direct requests
  2. conventionally-indirect strategies (CI)
  3. non-conventionally indirect (NCI) strategies (hints)

Direct and conventionally-indirect requests comprise a continuum of different strategies. Read more …

Félix-Brasdefer
(See also Blum-Kulka et al 1989)

 

References

Key readings

Bardovi-Harlig, K., & Mahan-Taylor, R. (2003). Teaching Pragmatics. USA: Office of English Language Programs of the U.S. Department of State. Retrieved from http://www.usconsulate.org.hk/pas/kids/pragmatics.htm

Bardovi-Harlig, K., Mossman, S., & Vellenga, H. E. (2015a). The effect of instruction on pragmatic routines in academic discussion. Language Teaching Research (Online), 1–27. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168814541739

Bardovi-Harlig, K., Mossman, S., & Vellenga, H. E. (2015b). Developing Corpus-Based Materials to Teach Pragmatic Routines. TESOL Journal, 6(3), 499–526.

Online resources

Request lessons: americanenglish.state.gov

Elicitation resources for requests (Cartoon oral production task)

Teaching Pragmatics

Editors: Kathleen Bardovi-Harlig Rebecca Mahan-Taylor
Teaching Pragmatics is a collection of 30 lessons that can help English learners use socially appropriate language in a variety of informal and formal situations
usconsulate.org.hk

Corpora

  1. Michigan Corpus of Academic Spoken English (MICASE)
    http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/micase
  2. US corpus available on the Lexical Tutor website
    http://www.lextutor.ca/conc/eng/
  3. Santa Barbara Corpus of Spoken American English
    http://www.linguistics.ucsb.edu/research/santa-barbara-corpus
  4. BRITISH NATIONAL CORPUS
    http://www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk
  5. CORPUS OF AMERICAN SOAP OPERAS
    http://corpus.byu.edu/soap/
  6. BYU-BNC: BRITISH NATIONAL CORPUS
    http://corpus.byu.edu/bnc/

Further reading

Bardovi-Harlig, K. (2001). Evaluating the empirical evidence: Grounds for instruction in pragmatics? In K. R. Rose & G. Kasper (Eds.), Pragmatics in language teaching (pp. 33–60). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Bardovi-Harlig, K., & Mahan-Taylor, R. (Eds.). (2003). Teaching pragmatics. Washington, DC: United States Department of State. Retrieved from http://americanenglish.state.gov/resources/teaching-pragmatics

Barron, A. (2003). Acquisition in Interlanguage Pragmatics: Learning how to do things with words in a study abroad context (Vol. Volume 108). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing.

Barron, A., & Warga, M. (2007). Acquisitional pragmatics: Focus on foreign language learners. Intercultural Pragmatics, 4(2), 113–127.

Beebe, L., & Takahashi, S. (1989a). Do you have a bag? : Social status and patterned  variation in second language acquisition. In S. Gass, C. Madden, D. Preston, & L. Selinker, Variation in second language acquisition: Discourse and pragmatics (pp. 103–125). Philadelphia: Multilingual Matters.

Belz, J., & Kinginger, C. (2003). Discourse options and the development of pragmatic competence by classroom learners of German: The case of address forms. Language Learning, 53, 591–647.

Blum-Kulka, S., House, J., & Kasper, G. (1989). Cross-cultural pragmatics: Requests and apologies. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Blum-Kulka, S., & Olshtain, E. (1986). Too many words: Length of utterance and pragmatic failure. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 8, 47–61.

Bouton, L. F. (1994). Can NNS skill in interpreting implicatures in American English be improved through explicit instruction? A pilot study. In L. F. Bouton & Y. Kachru (Eds.), Pragmatics and language learning, (Vol 5, pp. 88-109). University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign: Division of English as an International Language.

Cohen, A. D., & Ishihara, N. (2013). Pragmatics. In B. Tomlinson (Ed.), Applied Linguistics and Materials Development (pp. 113–126). London, UK: Bloomsburry Academic.

Faerch, C., & Kasper, G. (1989). Internal and External Modification in Interlanguage Request Realization. In S. Blum-Kulka, J. House, & G. Kasper (Eds.), Cross-Cultural Pragmatics: Requests and Apologies (Vol. XXXI, pp. 221–247). United States of America: Albex Publishing Corporation.

Félix-Brasdefer, C. Speech acts: requests. Discourse pragmatics. http://www.indiana.edu/~discprag/spch_requests.html

Kasper, G. (1989). Cross-Cultural Pragmatics: Requests and Apologies. (S. Blum-Kulka & J. House, Eds.) (Vol. XXXI). United States of America: Albex Publishing Corporation.

Kasper, G., & Dahl, M. (1991). Research Methods in Interlanguage Pragmatics. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 13, 215–247.

Kasper, G., & Rose, K. R. (2001). Pragmatics in language teaching. In K. R. Rose & G. Kasper (Eds.), Pragmatics in language teaching (pp. 1–10). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Kasper, G., & Schmidt, R. (1996). Developmental issues in interlanguage pragmatics. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 18, 149–169.

Rose, K. R. (2005). On the effects of instruction in second language pragmatics. System, 33(3), 385–399. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2005.06.003

Scarcella, R. (1979). On speaking politely in a second language. In C. A. Yorio & K. Perkins (Eds.), On TESOL ’79 (pp. 275–287). Washington, DC: TESOL.

Schauer, G. (2004). May you speaker louder maybe? In- terlanguage pragmatic development in requests. EUROSLA Yearbook, 4, 253–272.

Schauer, G. (2009). Interlanguage pragmatic development: The study abroad context. London: Continuum.

Searle, J. R. (1969). Speech acts: An essay in the philosophy of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Siddiqa, A. (in preparation). The acquisition of politeness strategies by young EFL learners in France: An exploratory study of interlanguage pragmatic development. Doctoral thesis, UMR7320 Bases, Corpus, Langage. Université Nice Sophia Antipolis.

Siddiqa, A. (2016). A developmental pragmatic study of politeness in EFL: learning to make requests in French secondary schools. 3rd International conference of the American Pragmatics Association, November 4-6, 2016, Indiana University, Bloomington.

Siddiqa, A. (2016). Opportunities for developing L2 politeness strategies in EFL classrooms in France. ESSE, Aug 2016, Galway, Ireland.

Siddiqa, A. (2015). Beyond “classroom English” Colloque international du LAIRDIL: Regards pluridisciplinaires sur la créativité et l’innovation en langues étrangères, December 2015, Toulouse, France.

Siddiqa, A. (2015). The use and acquisition of politeness strategies among EFL learners in France: An exploratory study of interlanguage pragmatic development
The Ninth International Im/Politeness Conference, Athens, Greece.

Taguchi, N. (2011b). Pragmatic Development as a Dynamic, Complex Process: General Patterns and Case Histories. The Modern Language Journal, 95(4), 605–627. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2011.01246.x

Vasquez, C., & Sharpless, D. (2009). The role of pragmatics in the master’s TESOL curriculum: Findings from a nationwide survey. TESOL Quarterly, 43, 1, 5-28.

Vellenga, H. (2011). Teaching L2 Pragmatics: Opportunities for Continuing Professional Development. TESL-EJ, 15. Retrieved from http://www.tesl-ej.org/wordpress/issues/volume15/ej58/ej58a3

 

 

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

vlcsnap-2016-05-25-10h31m21s976

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

vlcsnap-2016-05-25-10h25m24s396

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

vlcsnap-2016-05-25-10h33m46s843

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.

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.

 

YouTube You Teach: audiovisual resources for language education

YouMT241216Tube You Teach is a course for second/foreign language teachers on using audiovisual resources in the language classroom. Offered to French pre-service secondary school teachers of English, German and Spanish, it comprises 8 modules using a variety of digital tools to explore different teaching methods, some rules for online collaboration, and resources for language teaching with images, audio and video resources.

IMG_1558

University of Nice St Jean campus

YTYT was offered at the University of Nice to undergraduate and masters in education students from October to December 2015 using the university platform Jalon. This Moodle-like environment allows teachers to plan modules with files, links, and activities which can be opened to course participants progressively. It also gives the possibility of creating forums and internal links to the university podcast platform UNSPod and Microsoft online tools via OneDrive. Some eighty students participated: undergraduate, first and second year Masters in German; first and second year Masters in English; second year Masters in Spanish on both Nice and Toulon campuses.

Course modules included
1. introduction: video selfie, forum contributions, comments on Video for All (translated by English students into French for other participants)
2. Foreign language teaching methods: collaborative research and write-up in multilingual groups using One-Drive
3. Digital tools: collection of image, audio and video applications on Padlet pages in language groups.
4. Online resources: searching, tagging, filtering and sharing audiovisual resources for secondary school language teaching using curation tools (Scoop.it) in language groups
5. Rights and responsibilities for online collaboration: safety and copyright; commenting on external resources
6. Teaching/learning activities: design (and implementation) of classroom activity (lesson, unit) involving audiovisual resources for target population
7. Reflective writing: report on teaching/learning activity; tutorials for selected digital tools
8. Evaluation and feedback: reflection on work accomplished and course experience.

First year Masters students

First year English Masters students

Different participants were involved in different ways in this course, with undergraduates and first-year Masters students focusing on digital tool affordances and the design of teaching activities, and student-teachers in their second year of the Masters programme implementing activities in class. Some students presented their work at a workshop associated with the SoNetTE project final meeting, while others shared with peers in final face-to-face sessions.

Beyond powerpoint: tools for novice language teachers

IMG_1427

My colleague in our technology in language education course, Bianka Fuchs

What kind of digital tools appeal to student teachers of foreign languages? Masters students in education in France, that is, pre-service primary and secondary school teachers, are expected to use technology in their classes during teaching placements. Often, however, opportunities are limited by technology provision in schools, and by uptake by the practitioners who act as tutors to our students. This means that implementing technology in the foreign language class may not go much beyond Powerpoint, with the teacher showing a slide presentation from the single class computer via a videoprojector.

Following a course on using audio-visual resources in the language classroom, Masters students in language education working with English, German and Spanish were asked to implement classroom activities with their learners and I was interested to see what kind of other applications these new teachers decided to use.  Here are the top ten selections, all free, cross-platform sites, often with mobile applications. Only the first is my own suggestion, in response to numerous accounts of difficulties getting pupils started on webquests; the others are student selections, many finding favour with student teachers of all three languages in focus.

Top ten applications

  1. Bitly: link shortener
    https://bitly.com
  2. Bitstrips: cartoon creation app
    https://www.bitstrips.com/
  3. Phrase it: add speech bubbles to photos
    http://phrase.it/
  4. Pons: bilingual dictionaries (DE, EN, ES, FR)
    http://en.pons.com/translate
  5. Popplet: mindmapping
    http://popplet.com
  6. Tellegami: animated video app
    https://tellagami.com/
  7. Vocaroo: voice recording
    http://vocaroo.com/
  8. Voicethread: collaborative multimedia presentation
    https://voicethread.com/
  9. Subtitle Workshop: open source video subtitling tool
    http://subworkshop.sourceforge.net/
  10. SoundCloud: audio recording and sharing
    https://soundcloud.com/

The teachers also of course used slides, and collaborative tools for working together amongst themselves. Here are some that came up frequently:

Slides

Collaboration

Teaching resources

The course, YouTube You Teach, was designed as part of the EU project SoNetTE, which has just ended.