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3-Systemic Approach and Foreign Language Literacy Learning2.

3-Systemic Approach and Foreign Language Literacy Learning2.

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Published by: Samar Tharwat Gendy on May 14, 2011
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Systemic Approach And Foreign Language Literacy Learning

4th Year Methodology II (Curr 411)


Prof. Asmaa Gheith
Director, Center for Developing English Language Teaching (CDELT)
Faculty of Education Ain shams University Cairo, Egypt


Systemic approach and foreign language literacy learning1
Learning outcomes
Through completion of this part, e-learners should be able to: • Identify the concept of systemic thinking as a constructivist trend; • Identify the possible implications of systemic thinking on foreign language teaching/learning; • Suggest some implications that can develop learners' abilities to think critically, select, and make decisions; • Make use of learners'' motivation that results from their active participation in the learning process; • Make use of the authenticity of the systemic approach in developing various active learning styles; • Focus on the very early attempts of foreign language literacy learning; and, • Comprehend and apply "story telling techniques" as a systemic activity. Activities • • Entire group discussion in a face to face session. Asynchronous and synchronous online activities.

Assessment Techniques • Designing mini teaching points to reflect the systemic approach in language teaching. • Reflecting own ideas in e-groups' activities. • E-quizzes.


The 1st Conference of Tafila technical university, Jordan July 2005


:Introduction Literacy Learning starts with the initial attempts to recognize the world around us... Yet none organized or even, usual language learning systems do not lead to the required results. But in most cases the outcome is some, “learned by heart” grammatical rules and vocabulary items. In the author’s point of view, adopting a systemic approach does change the situation from a status quo, that is characterized by traditional features for beliefs , objectives of learning , contents , teaching / learning strategies and , assessment techniques , to a pro quo which brings into the scene another interactive developmental learning process. Systemic Approach can present a holistic contextual and authentic scene to the learners. On the contrary of other approaches, learning moves smoothly and rapidly from letter recognition towards word recognition then, meaningful sentences formulation and, accordingly, meaningful paragraphs. :Context of the study

Systemic approach and learners' prior knowledge:
Learners in different literacy learning phases do need to manipulate their prior knowledge to accelerate learning. However, this should be based on their awareness of the identity, components, and reflection of positive interaction of each individual’s prior knowledge.





starts from





morphological unit to the meaningful context through logical, critical and creative meaningful forms in which thinking is a domineering feature. This familiar context depends completely upon a systemic critical approach that elicits the learner's freedom to select among various letters that form familiar words .Then; further concept mapping takes place and moves up for more complicated texts. In this context, pictures, real objects, and other educational technological aids help learners in the early stages to formulate their language outcomes. According to the learner’s freedom of action, more than one possible form can be configured. This is due to multiple interactive components of the prior knowledge of each individual learner. This implies that systemic approach does not start from the scratch, but it depends completely on the learners’ prior knowledge that interacts with the newly received information. Reflections of previous experiences, and various learning, economic, social and educational backgrounds formulate their different responses.

Systemic approach and authenticity of language learning:
Learning should start with different introductory techniques that raise the learners ' interests and motivation to participate actively in varied learning contexts. In successful language learning experiences, life components are transmitted into the classroom .This is clear in the systemic approach where learning depends on life. Hence, knowledge and its implications are linked to the learners ' lives. To continue the generation of learners ' own ideas , freedom of

action is the domineering feature in a context that offers the opportunity of practicing problem solving, e.g. learners are exposed to letters and are required to formulate familiar words, and then meaningful phrases through systemic procedures . So, multidimensional authentic areas can formulate rich contexts for problem solving such as food, animals, clothes, etc. Figure (1) Familiar context for meaning construction

Animals A ni m a l s

food f o o d

clothes c l o t h e s

In methodological terms, systemic procedures can also proceed from introductory to presentation and assessment tasks, which reveals and increases the learners' abilities of problem solving. Both teacher and learners can suggest concepts / problems, as well as values and relate theory to application. Hence, learners feel the need for further learning. Live experiences present a wide space for various multiple intelligences to provide learners with rich opportunities to construct their own meanings. Oriented real life contexts are additional supporting learning opportunities that pave the


way for more individual practice outside the school walls in a wonderful and natural transition from learning situations to life experiences. Simply, learners can be asked to smoothly move up from meaningless smallest symbols “letters " to smallest meaningful units " Words " as follows : Figure (2) The smallest meaningful concepts “Word formulation” * Arrange the following letters to form a word: alpep

Out of the previous diagram, learners are exposed to meaningless symbols, “letters “to formulate familiar concepts. On the other hand, through deductive exercises, learners can be asked to analyze a holistic unit," word" into letters.


Figure (3) “Word Analysis” * Analyze the following word into letters:


The meaning construction process is applied to separate words. It means that language learning process is mainly a thinking process. This is :clarified in the following exercise

Figure (4) “Meaningful sentence construction” * Formulate a meaningful sentence out of the following words:





Systemic approach and reconceptualization of language learning and teaching:
In literacy learning, the language concept is a crucial area that should be discussed. In almost all the initial learning attempts writing activities are delayed to later grades, which separate both integrative parts, i.e., reading and writing .Language Learning is not an issue of pronunciation. However, different language arts are essentially integrated. Furthermore, they represent an identity. Readers are actually composers as they share both constructive processes, formulate either new ideas or forms out of prior knowledge and, produce specific outcome through practicing other language arts. In fact, this is a reconceptualization of the language concept. The author believes that language is one identity. It can not be divided into separate parts. Further, the status quo of language learning implies that each division, i.e. reading, listening, and, speaking should be taught in the first three grades, and traditionally, writing is delayed to later grades. So, the language identity does not take place, which is confusing for the kids .Language, like a tree, has one root, and it should not be separated into skills. However, when the language concept is reconceptualized, the overflow of a developmental learning process is expected.


Figure (5) Language is one identity

Speakin Writin g g Thinkin Readin g Listenin gaddaa g da

As a reflection of the systemic approach principles, language is managed as an identity in which its interactive components are learned in simple and natural contexts. The concept of oneness of language identity represents a different vision reflected upon the whole process of language learning and teaching .It means that language should be taught as it is naturally learned and used in real life.

Systemic approach in action:
In a non traditional environment, language learning is not a question of recognition and memorization of new vocabulary and grammatical rules, with the assumption of transmitting information into other situations. However, the systemic approach implies the reconceptualization of language and consequently, reorganization of learning / teaching strategies and techniques. At the same time, through collaborative and cooperative work, language can be managed. It means that through team work individual cognitive and metacognitive abilities can be developed, and learners can be able to:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Recognize the dimensions of a given problem / concept. Analyse the situation into basic components. Hypothesize solutions for a particular problem / concept. Reflect prior knowledge. Recognize solutions according to priorities. Criticize own and other iniatives to suggest more developmental ones. Involve individual efforts in collaborative and cooperative efforts. Out of the previous processes, different language realizations can be achieved.

7. 8.

Some exercises that approve the flexibility of learning, freedom of action and possibility of producing various outcomes, according to the individual cognitive and metacognitive abilities, can also play the role of assessment as follows:

Figure (6) Cognitive and metacognitive assessment * Out of the following letters formulate five words:

















Figure ( 7 )

* Form sentences out of the following words: I ‫ببببؤشى‬ ‫ق‬ kite mother go can love a to is bike fly and like father round

Form senten ces out of the followi ng ring words school :

* :Form sentences out of the following words black white useful have

us red father

and sister

flag our I


Figure (8) Rearrange the following sentences to form a paragraph :


If you can't cook , you can . help with the easy things

You need eggs, butter, and salt You should help your mum in the kitchen

You also need a frying pan

In three minutes you can fry eggs

Different alternative compositions can be suggested out of the previous learning and assessment material. Social and linguistic interactive processes are always developed in such a context. With the teacher's guidance , more freedom of action , analysis of the context components and requirements , suggesting


solutions and criticizing own and other groups’ work , as well as finding alternatives are all generated interactive subsystems in wider systemic strategies. All of those subsystems with their multiple interactive components are emergent from a vision established, clarified and shared by the teacher and the entire group members.

Systemic Approach and storytelling:
Storytelling can be funny and interesting systemic procedure. The story grammar includes basic components: • • • • • Setting (Place & Time) Characters Events Conflict / Problem Conclusion

These elements can represent systemic exercises and rules of writing a story, as the learners can analyse the different story parts into them.

Figure (9) “Story as a systemic context”


Setting time /( ) ?place

!!!Characters ? Story Grammar

Conclusion / ?Solution

?Events Conflict / Problem

Figure (10) “Whole systemic literacy learning process”



Aim / objectives of learning

On going evaluation

Group dynamics

Teaching/ learning strategies


Out of the vision shared by the teacher and students, a systemic learning process with its interactive components is realized. According to this vision, some aims of the learning processes and suggested outcomes could be settled. Then, some procedural objectives specified to each stage are established to determine the accurate transition of learning from one stage to another .This, actually, paves the way for a formative evaluation process that implies further modifications through the feedback. The content, which depends basically on pupils ' positive participate is a meaningful context. So, various non- traditional teaching and learning strategies such as group and pair activities are practiced. Playing with cards, shapes, letters, words, and sentences is a very big pleasant game in which learners play with language components. This approach proves that learning is not imitation and, language learning is not parroting. These activities take place in a social and educational context which is characterized by the over increasing positive and multidimensional interactions. Some ongoing evaluation and monitoring processes domineer the interactive learning process. Assessment, monitoring and evaluation of learning start with sharing the vision, determining and recognizing learning strategies and reflecting supporting prior knowledge components are all submitted to a systemic formative evaluation process. Another important feature in that macro systemic learning level is the social and psychological continuous development. The learners' values


involved in collaborative work, cooperative group work does not mean that individual skills developments are ignored. Efforts for group achievement; as well as self- realization of each individual learner development through practicing own intelligences; provide rich opportunities for increasing individual talents and team work at the same time. Ultimately, in an authentic social and educational developmental context different systemic components are changing. Change starts with beliefs, theorization and, it goes through a motivational live interactive medium for a targeted various context that carries challenges for learning in systemic terms. What is focused, is the new delivery produced out of the manipulation of group collaborative work and individual talents in an optional context that depends on the freedom of action. Targeted change implies that individual learners are engaged in an interactive language learning process for measuring the construction of new concepts or practicing and modifying old learned beliefs. This social collaborative learning experience supports group learners' interchange of knowledge to formulate new meanings and productions .This takes place when learners are asked in groups to realize linguistic tasks of formulation, reformulation, and construction of new existences. Thus authentic forms of learning and assessment are created. To sum up, the application of a systemic approach implies that there is reconceptualization of language learning concept .There is recognition and application of alternative strategies for learning / teaching.


There are different contexts in which language arts are changed and built up on the learners’ prior knowledge. Accordingly, alternative assessment is taking place, and finally, new linguistic, authentic and, social aspects are reflected on different positive exchanges and language experiences.


1. Complete the following statements: 1.1. Language should be taught as it is naturally……… 1.2. The social collaborative learning experience supports group learners' ……… 1.3. With the applications of a systemic approach, alternative ……… is necessary. 1.4. In systemic experiences, learners should reflect ……… 1.5. Traditional concepts are crucial to the concept of language as an ……… 2. Find whether the following statements are true or false: 2.1. Systemic approach does not present a holistic context of language ( ) 2.2. Live and authentic learning experiences do not lead to further learning ( ) 2.3. Systemic exercises involve critical reading of linguistic items ( ) 2.4. Systemic exercises move from comprehension through critical reflection ( ) 3. Match the statements in columns A and B:

1. Freedom of action reflects 2. Storyboard is 3. Collaborative work 4. Application of a systematic approach forms 5. Systemic applications

1. a new context of language learning. 2. reflect logical, analytic, and critical implications. 3. is a main feature when applying a systemic approach. 4. a systemic device. 5. various forms of learning outcomes.

4. Choose: 4.1. As a reflection of the systemic approach principles, language is managed as (an identity- an approach- a phenomenon).

4.2. In (systemic- traditional- convenient) approaches, language learning is a question of recognition and memorization of rules. 4.3. Through (cooperative work- reconceptualization- recognition) learners' cognitive and metacognitive abilities can be developed. 4.4. (Storytelling- Subsystems- Letters) can be funny and interesting systemic procedures. 4.5. In a social and (authentic- delivered- mechanical) developmental context, different systemic components are changing.


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