4. THE STUDY 4.1 Why qualitative research?

The author considered the qualitative research method as the best choice for this case. Quantitative research does not go into individual issues in depth, it prefers quantitative data. This study is mainly focused on qualitative aspects of TEFL practices and LLS. Obtaining opinions, ideas, impressions and feelings from respondents may be useful to obtain more understanding about the uses of LLS and teaching practices in the classroom. 4.2 Data analysis Subjects The nine subjects live in different cities or districts located in the central region of our country: Rancagua, San Bernardo, Maipu and Nuñoa. Their ages range from 22 to 45 years old. Four subjects out of nine are women, which reveals a strong female presence in the educational field. 4.2.1 Brief description of the subjects: To identify the subjects we will use the abbreviation S followed by a number. S1 Subject one is in his thirties and lives in Santiago. He is married. He is good humored and shows passion for his work. He is a former high school teacher. Currently, he is working at Tronwell, a school of foreign languages, located in Las Condes. He is an experienced teacher. He knows and understands the importance of LLS in TEFL. S2 Subject 2 is in his thirties and is single. He is less experienced than subject one. He is currently working at a private university, but had worked with teenagers previously. He studied at UMCE, but finished the teacher training course in another university. He looks serious but at the same time he possesses a great sense of humor. S3
36

Subject 3 is currently working at Universidad de las Americas. He is in his twenties and is married. He taught high school students when he did his final practice to get a degree as a bachelor and as a teacher of English. He is a serious and dedicated teacher. He studied at UMCE. S4 She taught high school students doing her teacher training final practice. She is in her twenties and is single. She is working at Tronwell as well. She is energetic and cheerful. S5 She teaches high school students in Rancagua. She is in her twenties and is single. She is not very experienced in teaching. The author met this subject through the Internet. S6 This subject is in her twenties and is single. She was teaching high school students when she was contacted. She was living in the United States but now she is back. She commented she did not like teaching according to her own words in informal conversations with the author of this dissertation. S7 This interviewee is single and is in his twenties. He is currently teaching high school students in Buin. He works at a private school and teaches classes of about 25 students. He studied teacher training at UMCE. S8 This subject taught elementary and high school students. He is married and is in his twenties. He worked at San Jose school in Maipu. He was very strict with his students but at the same time let them approach him. He has a good sense of humor and loves his students. Now he is working at PDI. S9 She is currently teaching high school students. She is in her twenties and is single. She studied teacher training at UMCE as well. She has a great

37

relationship with her students -according to her own words- in informal conversations with the author. 4.2 Materials and instruments By means of a survey, four teachers of English and three senior students answered some questions about the teaching methods and the learning strategies a group of students use at some Chilean schools. Besides this, 2 EFL teachers who work -or worked- at 2 different high schools in Santiago agreed to the request of being interviewed. Therefore, 2 different research tools were used to collect information for further analysis. All of the surveys were sent and submitted through the Internet. One of the interviews is carried out in person while the other is done online through a chatting service. Technology has made it possible to reach people’s opinions ‘in a click’ which has allowed the author to save time and money. Interviews are a common and fundamental tool for qualitative research. They are more personal and the researcher is able to observe the subject’s reactions reflected in gestures, facial expressions, hesitations, movements, false starts, among others which are also meaningful. 4.2.1 Categorization of the subjects and other elements is one of the important processes in qualitative research. The subjects will be classified according to: a) experience, b) qualifications, c) gender, d) kind of job, e) degree, f) kind of training. First, a general categorization will be provided, followed by an individual one to obtain a complete view of the group under study. 1) Teachers with 5 years of experience or more: three S1, S2, S3 2) Teachers with less than 5 years of experience: six S4, S5, S6, S7, S9, S10 3) Qualified teachers: five S1, S3, S2, S10, S8 4) Trainees/teachers without a degree: three S5, S6, S4
38

5) Female teachers: four S5, S4, S6, S9 6) Male teachers: five S3, S1, S2, S7, S8 7) Teachers under 30 years old: eight S5, S6, S9, S4, S3, S2, S8, S7 8) Teachers over 30 years old: one S1 9) Teachers who studied or study at teacher training institutions: eight S5, S6, S9, S4, S3, S2, S7, S1 10) Teachers who studied or study translation: one S8 11) Teachers who are currently teaching in high school: two S7, S9 12) Teachers who are currently teaching in other kinds of institutions: seven S1, S2, S3, S4, S5, S6, S8 13) Teachers who expressed some behaviorist-oriented ideas: seven S4, S6, S3, S7, S2, S5, S8 14) Teachers who expressed some socio-constructivist oriented ideas: eight S1, S2, S6, S5, S4, S9, S3, S8 15) Teachers with some cognitive-oriented ideas: eight
39

S5, S1, S2, S6, S7, S9, S3, S8 16) Teachers who think students are not aware of how they learn at all: two S6, S7 17) Teachers who think most students are not aware of how they learn: six S2, S1, S8, S3, S8, S7 18) Teachers who think some students are aware of how they learn: two S4, S9 19) Teachers who think all students are aware of how they learn: one S5 4.3.3 Analysis per subject We have to be aware of the fact that sometimes surveys provide answers which cannot absolutely reflect reality because of subjective reasons. Besides, subjects’ answers are reported in the same way as they were written. Subject 1 Age: 34 Gender: male Subject you teach: English Date: 12/02/07 Question 1: What classes did you teach and what was their approximate average size? Secondary school From 25 to 45 * This subject used to teach secondary school students several years ago. Teaching 25 to 45 students necessarily implies the use of good group/classroom management techniques. Controlling a big group of teenagers in a classroom requires great effort from the teacher.
40

Question2: How long have you been teaching? 12 years * This answer means the respondent is an experienced teacher, able to understand how classroom dynamics work and probably the importance of using language learning strategies. Question 3: Which of these kinds of relationships truly reflected your interaction with your students? Circle your choice. You can choose more than one option: a) b) c) d) e) f) Teacher – Student Adult – Teenager / Child Mentor – Apprentice Guide – Learner Master – disciple Leader – follower g) I don’t know * Perhaps this respondent considers the behaviorist and cognitivist view of education as valuable. The subject assumes that education is more than mere content delivery, since he chose option C ‘mentor-apprentice’ together with ‘teacher-student’. This teacher apparently knows the difference between them. Question 4: Which of these ideas do you think is a good definition for “learning”? Circle your choice. You can choose more than one option: h) Learning is an observable conduct which is generated from a stimulus given by the teacher. i) Children’s learning development is affected by the culture in which he or she is immersed. j) Learning is an active internal and interpretative process; therefore the learner learns how to learn by reflecting on their experiences. k) I don’t know. * This answer discloses the fact that the respondent believes that “learning” is what cognitivists and sociolinguists say it is, involving the social and cognitive aspects of human beings. Question 5: Are students aware of how they learn best? Why or Why not?
41

Not in general. Basically, because they have not been taught the different techniques to be used besides their lack of interest. * This answer shows the subject’s understanding and experience regarding teaching. The teacher knows that metacognitive strategies are not explicitly taught to students and acknowledges another big issue regarding TEFL in Chile: motivation in students. Question 6: Do students perform better once they know how they learn? Why or Why not? Yes, when students know their own way of learning, the process becomes easier and they can apply different strategies to different subjects. * This answer reflects the understanding of the subject regarding LLS. He knows and understands about learning styles and their effect on learning. Question 7: What type of activities did you mostly develop in your class? You can choose more than one option:
a) Choral repetition, storytelling, speaking, debating,

b) c) d) e)
f)

g)

presentations, reading, dramatizing, doing research, listening, writing. Problem solving, sequencing, critical thinking, predicting, playing logical games, collecting data, solving puzzles, classifying. Making graphs, visual aid, painting, illustrating, using charts, using organizers, sketching, patterning. Changing room arrangement, creative movement, physical activities, crafts, dramatizing, working in groups, physical games. Humming, rapping, playing background music, playing instruments, tapping out poetic rhythms, rhyming, singing, etc. Classroom parties, peer editing, cooperative learning, sharing, group work, forming clubs, peer teaching, social awareness, conflict mediation, discussing, study group, brainstorming. Personal response, individual study, personal goal setting, individual projects, journal log keeping, independent reading.

42

h) Outdoor activities, going on a nature walk, using pictures of animals, using pictures related to natural things. Other: presentations: individual or group, a lot of conversation * This subject used some of these activities related to linguistic, kinesthetic, intrapersonal and musical intelligences in learners. This probably means this subject possesses a comprehensive knowledge of teaching styles and strategies. Question 8: Did you teach your students to plan ahead how to cope with a difficult task or activity in your subject? How? I tried. The idea was to revise all the steps they were going to follow, the possible difficulties they might find and how to face them, in other words, what the best possible solutions were for the different situations. Every subject has its own way to be learnt, every teacher should be aware of that, I tried to teach my students all the possibilities they had to face the situations or problems when studying English; we practiced them in classes, we saw the possibilities, and every student chose the best way. * The subject possesses a wide knowledge of cognitive processes in learners. Perhaps the respondent does not completely know all of the concepts involved in mainstream theories about LLS, but he understands how LLS work and their benefits for students. He pays a lot of attention to cognitive processes in learners’ minds. He cares about details. He dedicates time to explaining the obstacles that might appear in the students’ way and teaches them how to overcome obstacles. Question 9: Did you teach your students to adjust or adapt themselves to the different learning situations provided? How? Although it was a difficult task, I tried to do this by making them think, analyzed what they were doing, and comprehend the different situations they might face. * This subject devotes time to help students to develop their metacognitive abilities, specifically problem solving skills. The proper use of metacognitive strategies is essential for students to become successful learners.

43

Question 10: Did you teach self-evaluation strategies in your subject? Why or why not? We practiced self and co-evaluation. It was very important for the students to be responsible for their own learning process, to recognize their weaknesses and strengths. * This subject understands the difference between self and co-evaluation, the importance of affective strategies and students’ awareness of learning obstacles. This last issue is directly related to personal variables connected with metacognitive knowledge and management. Question 11: What language learning strategies did you use to learn English? Did you teach those strategies to your students? Perhaps the respondent did not understand the question, he forgot to answer it or did not have any idea of what learning strategies are. Question 12: What did you do when your students could not understand your instructions? I analyzed the different situations. What could affect the comprehension? Many things, so when this happened I tried to use different ways to explain the instructions… more practical, or visual, etc. * This subject always tries different ways to make students understand instructions. Variation when presenting contents may cater for the students’ need to understand what it is required of them. Subject 2 Age: 29 Gender: male Subject you teach: Applied linguistics Date: 03/16/2007 Question 1: What classes do you teach? (And what is their approximate average size?) I teach applied linguistics. The average is 25 students per class

44

The subject used to teach high school in the past. The fact that he is currently teaching applied linguistics might probably mean he has a greater grasp of LLS (Language Learning Strategies). Question 2: How long have you been teaching? As a teacher, 5 years. Applied linguistics, 2 years * This subject may be categorized as a young moderately-experienced teacher. Question 3: Which of these kinds of relationships truly reflect your interaction with your students? Circle your choice. You can choose more than one option: l) Teacher – Student m) Adult – Teenager / Child n) Mentor – Apprentice o) Guide – Learner p) Master – disciple q) Leader – follower r) I don’t know * This answer is probably a mixture of a behaviorist and socialconstructivist view of education. Perhaps this subject believes both constructivist and behaviorist theories can be intertwined and provide a wider sense of the teaching-learning process. Question 4: Which of these ideas do you think is a good definition for “learning”? Circle your choice. You can choose more than one option: a) Learning is an observable conduct which is generated from a stimulus given by the teacher. b) Children’s learning development is affected by the culture in which he or she is immersed. c) Learning is an active internal and interpretative process; therefore the learner learns how to learn by reflecting on their experiences. d) I don’t know * According to this answer, the subject probably possesses a mixed view of what learning is. A mixture between social constructivism and cognitivism.

45

Question 5: Are students aware of how they learn best? Why or Why not? Most of them aren’t aware. They think that studying the night before the test is enough. * S2 understood the question and answered it briefly. He described a very typical attitude towards study in Chilean students. Question 6: Do students perform better once they know how they learn? Why or Why not? They aren’t conscious about the process of learning * The subject did not go into the issue in depth. He is aware of the existence of a cognitive process of learning in students and has some understanding of it. This awareness would justify his assumption of students not being conscious about the learning process. Question 7: What type of activities do you mostly develop in your class? You can choose more than one option: a) Choral, storytelling, speaking, debating, presentations, reading, dramatizing, doing research, listening, writing. b) Problem solving, sequencing, critical thinking, predicting, playing logical games, collecting data, solving puzzles, classifying. c) Making graphs, visual aid, painting, illustrating, using charts, using organizers, sketching, patterning. d) Changing room arrangement, creative movement, physical activities, crafts, dramatizing, working in groups, physical games. e) Humming, rapping, playing background music, playing instruments, tapping out poetic rhythms, rhyming, singing, etc. f) classroom parties, peer editing, cooperative learning, sharing, group work, forming clubs, peer teaching, social awareness, conflict mediation, discussing, study group, brainstorming. g) Personal response, individual study, personal goal setting, individual projects, journal log keeping, independent reading.

46

h) Outdoor activities, going on a nature walk, using pictures of animals, using pictures related to natural things. Other: ___________________________________________________________ * It seems that the subject is both cognitive and behaviorist-oriented, taking into account his choices of logical and intrapersonal activities for students. Perhaps he was trained in these kinds of learning activities or he chooses these activities due to their practical nature and popularity. Question 8: Do you teach your students to plan ahead how to cope with a difficult task or activity in your subject? How? Yes, reading a lot and then preparing questions every class. * The respondent mentioned one metacognitive strategy for reading comprehension: preparing questions beforehand. Perhaps the subject knows a wider range of metacognitive strategies but he did not mention them. Question 9: Do you teach your students to adjust or adapt themselves to the different learning situations provided? How? Yes, they have to be able to realize about the idea that every challenge is different. * Very general answer. This could mean that he is not quite aware of what “strategies” really stand for. Question 10: Do you teach self – evaluation strategies in your subject? Why or why not? Not yet, they are not prepared for self-evaluation because they are very immature in that sense. * This subject considers learners unable to carry out an honest selfevaluation. Question 11: What language learning strategies did you use to learn English? Do you teach those strategies to your students?

47

I used looking up words in the dictionary every night and I learned a lot of vocabulary, but I don’t teach this technique. It’s just a suggestion. * This respondent used a very common but effective learning strategy to acquire vocabulary. He did not mention any other strategy regarding any other aspects of language. Perhaps he did not have too much time to get into the topic in depth. Question 12: What do you do when your students can not understand your instructions? I explain again using different words or examples. * Repetition is the most commonly used strategy to make sure learners may understand by saturation and consequent cognitive decoding. It is well known that the human brain can only perceive or understand part of the message the speaker intends to communicate. Subject 3 Age: 27 Gender: Male Subject you teach: English Grammar Date: 10/03/2007 Question 1: What classes do you teach? (And what is their approximate average size?) I teach young and adult students at the university. Classes’ approximate average size is 25 students per class. * This subject taught high school students in his final practice at a school in Lo Barnechea Question 2: How long have you been teaching? I have been teaching for 5 years. * This answer means the respondent has certain experience in teaching that might make him a little more trustworthy.

48

Question 3: Which of these kinds of relationships truly reflect your interaction with your students? Circle your choice. You can choose more than one option: b. c. d. e. f. g. Teacher – Student Adult – Teenager / Child Mentor – Apprentice Guide – Learner Master – disciple Leader – follower h. I don’t know * This subject considers himself a guide, someone who leads the learning process, who shows the way, who gives suggestions and advice. This shows certain humility in his attitude and awareness of his frailties. But at the same time he recognizes his position of seniority over students. Question 4: Which of these ideas do you think is a good definition for “learning”? Circle your choice. You can choose more than one option: a) Learning is an observable conduct which is generated from a stimulus given by the teacher. b) Children’s learning development is affected by the culture in which he or she is immersed. c) Learning is an active internal and interpretative process; therefore the learner learns how to learn by reflecting on their experiences. d) I don’t know * This answer shows that this subject is willing to accept different educational theories and combine them in order to have a more comprehensive and deeper opinion on learning. Complementing the cognitive and behaviorist theories is not impossible for they are parts and aspects of the same large picture of what each of us is. However, he did not consider the social aspect of learning. Question 5: Are students aware of how they learn best? Why (not)? No, they are not. It is very difficult to find out the way we learn best. Students make use of different strategies until they ‘come across’ a successful and fruitful way for learning begins to happen.
49

* This answer shows understanding about this issue. He also mentions that it was difficult for him to become aware of the learning strategies he used. Question 6: Do students perform better once they know how they learn? Why (not)? They know they are learning interesting, new things; therefore, they try to adopt this ‘X’ way of learning as a typical strategy in a regular basis. * The respondent recognizes that some proactive learners try to find out their own learning style in order to deal with English better. Question 7: What type of activities do you mostly develop in your class? You can choose more than one option: a) Choral repetition, storytelling, speaking, debating, presentations, reading, dramatizing, doing research, listening, writing. b) Problem solving, sequencing, critical thinking, predicting, playing logical games, collecting data, solving puzzles, classifying. c) Making graphs, visual aids, painting, illustrating, using charts, using organizers, sketching, patterning. d) Changing room arrangement, creative movement, physical activities, crafts, dramatizing, working in groups, physical games. e) Humming, rapping, playing background music, playing instruments, tapping out poetic rhythms, rhyming, singing, etc. f) Classroom parties, peer editing, cooperative learning, sharing, group work, forming clubs, peer teaching, social awareness, conflict mediation, discussing, study group, brainstorming. g) Personal response, individual study, personal goal setting, individual projects, journal/log keeping, independent reading. h) Outdoor activities, going on a nature walk, using pictures of animals or natural things. Other: ___________________________________________________________
50

* According to this respondent’s own answers, the activities selected by him are mainly focused on intrapersonal, linguistic and logical areas of intelligence. Perhaps this subject teaches English using the same methods his predecessors used to teach him the target language, which shows why changes in education are so slow. Question 8: Do you teach your students to plan ahead how to tackle a difficult task or activity in your subject? How? I always told my students, at the beginning of the academic term that the best way of dealing with problems arising in our class is letting me know first. That way I could find out what their weaknesses were. Then, when I thought they were relatively aware of possible difficulties, I let them come up with reasonable solutions. I also did lots of group activities in which my students helped their classmates solve problems in a cooperative way. * The respondent did not explain what he exactly did to help students to plan beforehand how to deal with further tasks in the subject. The interesting thing about his answer is that he lets the students come up with possible solutions to problems, which fosters metacognition development. He groups up learners in order to make them interact and help each other. Question 9: Do you teach your students to adjust or adapt themselves to the different learning situations provided? How? The first part of my classes generally started with models of how learning a given content. Thus, students knew what type of tasks would be given in the lessons and the way to perform such tasks. * This teacher demonstrates his capacity to understand cognitive thinking in the students. This answer could also indicate the respondent’s rapport level with his learners, which seems to be better than in other subjects. Question 10: Do you teach self-evaluation strategies in your subject? Why or why not? No. I preferred to evaluate my students using my own instruments because I think it is more objective. * This answer is likely to indicate he distrusts his students. This subject suggests that learners are too subjective when self-assessment is being carried out.

51

Question 11: What language learning strategies do you use to learn English? Did you teach those strategies to your students? I used to read a lot and pay attention to my teachers. I took notes and then I re-wrote everything in my house. I did teach these strategies to my students. * The respondent only mentioned writing, listening and reading activities, but not speaking strategies. It is very common in high school education to put emphasis only on writing, listening and reading skills. That is why students do not speak English when graduated from secondary school. . Question 12: What do you do when your students could not understand your instructions? I just tried and tried… again and again, until they got something of what I had been teaching them for about an hour. Patience is a virtue teachers must develop throughout their professional careers. Otherwise, they are lost. * The respondent was not very specific concerning what to do when learners do not understand. He preferred leaving a moral at the end. He meant that teachers must keep on trying to make pupils understand. This means they should be creative to make learners get the point of the lesson. Subject 4 Age: 25 Gender: female Subject you teach: English Date: 13/03/07 Question Nº1: What classes do you teach? (And what is their approximate average size?) I taught English to classes of about 40 students. * A typical Chilean class with too many students. Question Nº2: How long have you been teaching? I have been teaching for 3 years.

52

Question Nº3: Which of these kinds of relationships truly reflected your interaction with your students? Circle your choice. You can choose more than one option: a) b) c) d) e) f) Teacher – Student Adult – Teenager / Child Mentor – Apprentice Guide – Learner Master – disciple Leader – follower g) I don’t know * This answer shows that she has a constructivist orientation in her relationship with students. Question Nº4: Which of these ideas do you think is a good definition for “learning”? Circle your choice. You can choose more than one option: a) Learning is an observable conduct which is generated from a stimulus given by the teacher. b) Children’s learning development is affected by the culture in which he or she is immersed. c) Learning is an active internal and interpretative process; therefore the learner learns how to learn by reflecting on their experiences. d) I don’t know * The respondent seems to have a strong behaviorist orientation. Actually, she did not choose any other option, which proves her behaviorist tendency. Question Nº5: Are students aware of how they learn best? Why (not)? Some of them are, some aren’t. The really interested and curious ones find out how this process works better for them. * This respondent related motivation and metacognition development. Apparently, S4 assumes that motivation makes the difference when developing metacognition and learning awareness. Question Nº6: Do students perform better once they know how they learn? Why (not)?

53

It depends if they are really interested in getting good results and success. Sometimes they still need guidance even if they know how to learn. * For this subject, learners might feel discouragement at certain stages of the learning process. Question Nº7: What type of activities did you mostly develop in your class? You can choose more than one option: a) Choral repetition, storytelling, speaking, debating, presentations, reading, dramatizing, doing research, listening, writing. b) Problem solving, sequencing, critical thinking, predicting, playing logical games, collecting data, solving puzzles, classifying. c) Making graphs, visual aids, painting, illustrating, using charts, using organizers, sketching, patterning. d) Changing room arrangement, creative movement, physical activities, crafts, dramatizing, working in groups, physical games. e) Humming, rapping, playing background music, playing instruments, tapping out poetic rhythms, rhyming, singing, etc. f) classroom parties, peer editing, cooperative learning, sharing, group work, forming clubs, peer teaching, social awareness, conflict mediation, discussing, study group, brainstorming. g) Personal response, individual study, personal goal setting, individual projects, journal/log keeping, independent reading. h) Outdoor activities, going on a nature walk, using pictures of animals or natural things. Other: ____________________________________________________________ * The respondent mainly uses linguistic and visual activities in the classroom. Question Nº8: Did you teach your students to plan ahead how to tackle a difficult task or activity in your subject? How?

54

If I knew in advance that a certain activity is likely to cause problems, I did guide them. I explained to them an easier way to learn a certain topic usually giving them tips that have also been very useful for me and others. As a student, it was also difficult for me the learning process in different subjects. Therefore, I have tried to create and learn different ways to facilitate this process and I tried to share these ways with my students. * S4 did not mention any specific example for planning ahead how to tackle a difficult activity. She just gave a general insight into strategies she might teach students to deal with difficult tasks. Question Nº9: Did you teach your students to adjust or adapt themselves to the different learning situations provided? How? I am not sure if I have taught that, probably I have expected them to come to me if they find any problems in a specific learning situation. * This respondent seems to have a reactive attitude towards students, which is very common in some Chilean teachers, waiting for them to come and ask for further information, instead of going towards them and give or ask them what they need. Question Nº10: Did you teach self-evaluation strategies in your subject? Why or why not? What I liked was that they give themselves a mark or comments about their performance, share it with me, give my opinion and see if we agreed or not and why. * This time the respondent specifically explained what she did to help students evaluate themselves, but she did not mention why she did this with learners. She discussed answers with her learners, perhaps to make them analyze them and be honest with themselves. This is called co-evaluation and not self-evaluation. This teacher did not understand the question. She mistook the concept of self-evaluation. Question Nº11: What language learning strategies did you use to learn English? Do you teach those strategies to your students? I have always repeated the same and not only to my students but to anyone who is interested in learning English, to do and use certain techniques, that for me and other people have been extremely useful.

55

* The subject did not explain or mention any of the strategies she used to learn English. Question Nº12: What did you do when your students could not understand your instructions? If after several times explaining the same thing they did not get the point, I got the others start their work and went to the ones that didn’t understand and explain again. Sometimes I used their own classmates to explain them the task to be done. * The subject uses repetition as a teaching method to help learners understand the contents. The subject also asks other students to explain the contents, which allows them to take part in their classmates’ learning process. Subject 5 Age: 27 Gender: Female Subject you teach: English Date: 08/02/07 Question 1: What classes do you teach? (And what is their approximate average size?) High School students (second year) Around 40 students Question 2: How long have you been teaching? I have been teaching for one year Question 3: Which of these kinds of relationships truly reflect your interaction with your students? Circle your choice. You can choose more than one option: a) b) c) d) e) f) Teacher – Student Adult – Teenager / Child Mentor – Apprentice Guide – Learner Master – disciple Leader – follower
56

g) I don’t know

* The subject recognizes a sort of affective tie with the student and also assumes her position of authority over the learner. Question 4: Which of these ideas do you think is a good definition for “learning”? Circle your choice. You can choose more than one option: a) Learning is an observable conduct which is generated from a stimulus given by the teacher. b) Children’s learning development is affected by the culture in which he or she is immersed. c) Learning is an active internal and interpretative process; therefore the learner learns how to learn by reflecting on their experiences. d) I don’t know * This reply reflects certain knowledge of cognitive psychology and, of course, a degree of adherence to it. Question 5: Are students aware of how they learn best? Why (not)? I think they are aware of how they learn best because we as teachers can check through tests, exams and exercises how the students apply the knowledge learned in class. * Perhaps, this teacher did not understand the question. Question 6: Do students perform better once they know how they learn? Why (not)? I think so, because once they realize that they learned something they feel capable of doing it in a good way. The students are confident about what they know. * Probably, this respondent did not understand the question again. This may be attributed to lack of knowledge of LLS. Question 7: What type of activities do you mostly develop in your class? You can choose more than one option: a) Choral repetition, storytelling, speaking, debating, presentations, reading, dramatizing, doing research, listening, writing.
57

b) Problem solving, sequencing, critical thinking, predicting, playing logical games, collecting data, solving puzzles, classifying. c) Making graphs, visual aids, painting, illustrating, using charts, using organizers, sketching, patterning. d) Changing room arrangement, creative movement, physical activities, crafts, dramatizing, working in groups, physical games. e) Humming, rapping, playing background music, playing instruments, tapping out poetic rhythms, rhyming, singing, etc. f) classroom parties, peer editing, cooperative learning, sharing, group work, forming clubs, peer teaching, social awareness, conflict mediation, discussing, study group, brainstorming. g) Personal response, individual study, personal goal setting, individual projects, journal/log keeping, independent reading. h) Outdoor activities, going on a nature walk, using pictures of animals or natural things. Other: ___________________________________________________________ * These answers seem to indicate that this teacher only manages the typical linguistic and logical approaches used in TEFL. Question 8: Do you teach your students to plan ahead how to tackle a difficult task or activity in your subject? How? I try to apply a brainstorming session as a pre-reading or pre-listening in order to give them time and previous information about the unit or activity. I also start the lessons giving them some examples. Apparently, this respondent tries to prepare her students to develop classroom tasks working on their lexicon and explaining how further activities will work. Question 9: Do you teach your students to adjust or adapt themselves to the different learning situations provided? How? I don’t teach them how to adapt themselves to the different situations. They have to realize it by themselves.
58

* This answer may reflect either her lack of interest in learners or of understanding of metacognitive strategies. Question 10: Do you teach self-evaluation strategies in your subject? Why or why not? I apply self-evaluating strategies, because I think that it is good for the students to evaluate and have critical thinking among their peers; in that way, the affective filter goes down. * It seems that S5 mistook what a self-evaluation is. This teacher does not understand the difference between self-evaluation and peer-evaluation. Question 11: What language learning strategies did you use to learn English? Do you teach those strategies to your students? I still use a lot of reading strategies, for me is easier to learn English from something that I can read… I love reading. I try to instill into my students that I am prone to do a lot of exercises related to reading comprehension. * S5 does not describe in depth the way she learnt English through reading. Perhaps this respondent was not able to describe what she did to take advantage of reading in the target language or she simply did not understand the question very well since she seems not to know much about LLS. Question 12: What do you do when your students cannot understand your instructions? I repeat the instructions over and over again and also I move around the room trying to guide the students. Perhaps S5 thinks that guiding students desk by desk personalizes teaching for students and helps the teacher to have good control over students. Subject 6 Age: 23. Gender: Female. Subject you teach: English. Date: 12/02/07

59

Question 1: What classes do you teach? (And what is their approximate average size?) I am an English teacher * May be the respondent did not understand the question or forgot to write the other part of the answer. Question 2: How long have you been teaching? I have been teaching English for about three years. * S6 started teaching without doing any professional practice. This is common in Chilean high schools, as the Ministry of Education authorizes trainees to teach with a bachelor’s degree at the end of the fourth year at college. Question 3: Which of these kinds of relationships truly reflect your interaction with your students? Circle your choice. You can choose more than one option: a) b) c) d) e) f) g) Teacher – Student Adult – Teenager / Child Mentor – Apprentice Guide – Learner Master – disciple Leader – follower I don’t know

* S6 tends to be behaviorist and social-constructivist oriented. Her answers reflect her vision of education and the way students are seen by her. Question 4: Which of these ideas do you think is a good definition for “learning”? Circle your choice. You can choose more than one option: a) Learning is an observable conduct which is generated from a stimulus given by the teacher. b) Children’s learning development is affected by the culture in which he or she is immersed.

60

c) Learning is an active internal and interpretative process; therefore the learner learns how to learn by reflecting on their experiences. d) I don’t know * According to these answers, she may consider each option as part of the process of teaching-learning. She probably views TEFL in all its aspects. Question 5: Are students aware of how they learn best? Why or Why not? No, I think students don’t know how they can learn English best, because a lot of times they prefer other subjects. She acknowledges students are not aware of how they learn English best. She also expresses her concern about students not being motivated by it. Question 6: Do students perform better once they know how they learn? Why or Why not? I don’t know. I think every person is different. If a student wants to learn s/he will be paying attention to the teacher explanation. * This respondent seems not to know much about metacognition and its benefits for learning. Question 7: What type of activities do you mostly develop in your class? You can choose more than one option: a) Choral, storytelling, speaking, debating, presentations, reading, dramatizing, doing research, listening, writing. b) Problem solving, sequencing, critical thinking, predicting, playing logical games, collecting data, solving puzzles, classifying. c) Making graphs, visual aids, painting, illustrating, using charts, using organizers, sketching, patterning. d) Changing room arrangement, creative movement, physical activities, crafts, dramatizing, working in groups, physical games. e) Humming, rapping, playing background music, playing instruments, tapping out poetic rhythms, rhyming, singing, etc.
61

f) Classroom parties, peer editing, cooperative learning,

sharing, group work, forming clubs, peer teaching, social awareness, conflict mediation, discussing, study group, brainstorming. g) Personal response, individual study, personal goal setting, individual projects, journal log keeping, independent reading. h) Outdoor activities, going on a nature walk, using pictures of animals, using pictures related to natural things. Other: _____________________________________________________ * It seems that this subject helps his students to develop a variety of activities such as visual, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, intrapersonal and naturalist intelligences in students. Question 8: Do you teach your students to plan ahead how to tackle a difficult task or activity in your subject? How? I teach them ideas of how they could solve some activities or tasks. These kinds of ideas are explained in class according to the topic. For example: Auxiliaries (do- does- did) - The same structures. - Vocabulary known for students. - Real situations. * This answer is not very clear. The subject mentioned activities or strategies useful for purposes such as developing speaking abilities (talking about “real” situations), reading (providing key words), or writing skills (doing exercises with grammar structures). Question 9: Do you teach your students to adjust or adapt themselves to the different learning situations provided? How? * Perhaps the respondent did not understand the question Question 10: Do you teach self – evaluation strategies in your subject? Why or why not? * Perhaps the respondent did not understand this question.

62

Question 11: What language learning strategies did you use to learn English? Do you teach those strategies to your students? I used to read a lot, write in English daily and listen to English music. I told my students how I learnt English, but I didn’t tell them that they have to learn it in this way. I think every student has to look for its own strategies for learning English. * The respondent mentioned the strategies she employed to learning the target language to students, but she did not encourage them to learn English using the same strategies. She probably assumes that they can develop their own learning strategies without any help. Question 12: What do you do when your students cannot understand your instructions? I explain the activity again. And I try to show different examples in relation to the activity. * The subject probably relates the theory to the real world through examples. This is a common way to deal with lack of understanding from students. Subject 9 Age: 28 Gender: female Subject you teach: English Date: 7/2/07 Question 1: What classes do you teach? (And what is their approximate average size?) English in a business high school and they last about 90 minutes * This subject did not understand the question. She mistook class size for class length. Also, teaching English in a technical school is quite difficult for teachers, as sometimes students do not understand very well the purpose of teaching English in technical fields. Question 2: How long have you been teaching? For about 4 years
63

Question 3: Which of these kinds of relationships truly reflect your interaction with your students? Circle your choice. You can choose more than one option: a) b) c) d) e) f) Teacher – Student Adult – Teenager / Child Mentor – Apprentice Guide – Learner Master – disciple Leader – follower g) I don’t know I think that all the alternatives reflect my interaction with the students. * This respondent tried to show her open-mindedness saying that all the alternatives were valid but she forgot that letter G says “I do not know”, which invalidates all the previous choices. Question 4: Which of these ideas do you think is a good definition for “learning”? Circle your choice. You can choose more than one option: a) Learning is an observable conduct which is generated from a stimulus given by the teacher. b) Children’s learning development is affected by the culture in which he or she is immersed. c) Learning is an active internal and interpretative process; therefore the learner learns how to learn by reflecting on their experiences. d) I don’t know * She seems to be cognitive-oriented. She might be aware of the importance of internal procedures in our minds. Question 5: Are students aware of how they learn best? Why (not)? I think that it depends on the age of the student; children don’t know how they learn but when they get older, they are able to realize how they learn best. * She probably understands the different cognitive stages in learners. She may understand that experience and knowledge help students to develop metacognitive skills.
64

Question 6: Do students perform better once they know how they learn? Why (not)? Yes of course, because they can ask the teacher and tell him or her how to teach in order to learn. * She possibly understands students’ learning styles can be connected with teachers’ teaching styles. She also suggests a course of action for students so that their learning styles may be catered for. Question 7: What type of activities do you mostly develop in your class? You can choose more than one option:
a) Choral repetition, storytelling, speaking, debating,

b)
c) d)

e)

f)

g)

h)

presentations, reading, dramatizing, doing research, listening, writing. Problem solving, sequencing, critical thinking, predicting, playing logical games, collecting data, solving puzzles, classifying. Making graphs, visual aids, painting, illustrating, using charts, using organizers, sketching, patterning. Changing room arrangement, creative movement, physical activities, crafts, dramatizing, working in groups, physical games. Humming, rapping, playing background music, playing instruments, tapping out poetic rhythms, rhyming, singing, etc. classroom parties, peer editing, cooperative learning, sharing, group work, forming clubs, peer teaching, social awareness, conflict mediation, discussing, study group, brainstorming. Personal response, individual study, personal goal setting, individual projects, journal/log keeping, independent reading. Outdoor activities, going on a nature walk, using pictures of animals or natural things.

Other: ____________________________________________________________ * According to these answers, this respondent uses a variety of classroom activities, which are intended to meet students’ needs and learning styles.
65

Besides this, the variety of activities carried out by her allows the learners to develop a wider range of intelligences, which is an important headway for this teacher. Question 8: Do you teach your students to plan ahead how to tackle a difficult task or activity in your subject? How? I always explain how to solve exercises or a task. I don’t understand very well what the point is. * The subject does not understand very well the metacognitive concept of planning beforehand what to do in order to tackle a difficult task in learning. She did not provide any examples of what she does in the classroom in order to help students to develop metacognition. Question 9: Do you teach your students to adjust or adapt themselves to the different learning situations provided? How? I don’t teach specifically to adapt, but obviously when they are faced to different kinds of tasks they learn how to cope with them. * The respondent does not teach students how to adjust themselves to new learning situations. She just lets them figure out what to do with new tasks given by themselves. This may happen due to lack of interest in students or lack of effort. Question 10: Do you teach self-evaluation strategies in your subject? Why or why not? I tried to do this last year and I think that was fine, I did it because students can realize what they are doing. * This subject seems to understand the importance of self-regulation in learning. That is why she taught this strategy to her students. There is certain degree of awareness in the respondent to developing metacognitive skills in learners. Question 11: What language learning strategies did you use to learn English? Do you teach those strategies to your students? I just liked English and I studied it, but I used some strategies to read or write and I have taught these strategies to my students.

66

* S9 did not mention any example of a reading or writing strategy she used. She did not mention what strategies she teaches her students, either. She probably did not answer this question in full because of her lack of knowledge about this issue. Perhaps this subject is not totally aware of the strategies she uses and does not know how to put them into words. Question 12: What do you do when your students cannot understand your instructions? I try to mime what I’m saying or use a student that understood the instructions to tell the others that didn’t or when nobody understood I just use Spanish. * She gives instructions in English which is fine for students to get used to listening to the target language. When learners cannot understand the instructions for an activity, she uses some teaching strategies as mimicry or simply Spanish, if all the other previous strategies have gone wrong. Interview with subject 7 Researcher: When did you start teaching high school? Subject 7: Two years ago. R: And how big are your classes? S7: 25 students, average. R: Why so few students? S7: Few vacancies ensure personalized classes. R: Is it a private school? S7: Yes, it is. R: What do you think about the experience of teaching high school? S7: Good. These students have a good command of English. That makes my job easier but also challenging. R: Why? S7: Because you have to carefully prepare your classes, activities, etc.

67

R: Got it. S7: We do not work with any book. R: How do you deal with that? S7: Then, responsibility to create teaching material is ours. R: and how do you plan your lessons? S7: What? R: How do you plan your lessons? S7: Ok, can you be more specific? R: What kind of format do you use to plan your lessons? S7: Do I send you a copy of it? R: Alright, Do you have any in your pc? S7: Hold on… R: What do you know about language learning strategies? S7: Techniques to teach English. R: And which ones do you use? S7: Like, the one I use, I do not know. I use a mixture of them. R: You use some but you are not aware of them. S7: That is right. I would like to have them in some document to re-study them. I have acquired some of them but I feel like I’m lacking of material. Do you have some information related to strategies? R: Yes. I will send it to you right away. S7: Ok… R: How do you teach vocabulary? S7: Dictionaries, games, reading, many things. I always do a vocabulary pre-teaching. You control the vocabulary input. Then a puzzle, present the
68

reading activities and that is it. R: Alright. And how do you teach reading comprehension? S7: Firstly, kids must know the vocabulary. Then they do the reading activities. I make them read paragraphs; then questions like our former literature teacher at UMCE. Do you remember her? R: Yes, I remember her. S7: But I do not do this kind of activities all the time. One can vary the activities. R: How? S7: Silent reading and answers for short questions. R: Ok, got it. S7: Normally, the texts are short and easy, especially the vocabulary involved in it. R: Good. Something not complicated so students don’t get frustrated on it. S7: Sure. If not, they give up quickly and get bored. R: And then you can not do anything. S7: Exactly. It has happened to me before. R: What happens when they do not behave? S7: Generally, they are very respectful. A good rebuke is enough. R: You are lucky. S7: The thing is that I am very nice with them but strict and demanding at the same time. R: I got it. That is the right way. S7: Anyway, I have taught awful classes, especially when teaching 7th and 8th graders. R: They are sometimes messy. They are teenagers. And how did you learn

69

English? Tell me something about it. S7: I just acquired it. I did not study so much. You know, only my good ear. R: But did you listen to a lot of English? Did you watch movies? Did you talk to native speakers? Any music? S7: Movies and music. R: And all that stuff? S7: But I did not get into them in depth. Just superficially. I never turned a fanatic. Suddenly I took it seriously and got the thread. R: Did you read in English constantly? S7: Starting to work helped me a lot. Reading in English too. When you get the need to talk or learn English you do it. Period. R: Sure. S7: It is compulsory. It is like when students have to make a presentation in English. They make it and jump in at the deep end. But also you must be aware that it is not just memorizing. You make them think through questions and provide the click they need to talk. When I went to London with Carola my girlfriend, she was obliged to talk with Maggie, the housewife and she learnt a great deal! R: That is awesome. S7: More than me studying 2 years at college. It was necessary. R: That is true. She had to manage to communicate. S7: No theory. But she learnt how to talk. R: A specific ability, that is all. S7: She did not have any rules in their head at all. R: She focused on that. It is smooth. She stuck to learn how to speak. S7: Yes. R: That is the right way.

70

S7: She started studying English at an institute anyway. It is complementary to what she learnt in the UK. R: what do you do to check whether you’ve made progress with your English? S7: Different evaluation tools: tests, check lists, etc. R: That is for your kids. What about you? S7: I do not know, pal. I got it when I teach a whole class in English. Lots of movies without subtitles in Spanish. It is very hard to notice any progress anyway. R: But, do you feel you are getting better? S7: I feel more confident now. Yes, definitely. R: Got it. You feel more relaxed now while speaking. Just like when one plays drums. S7: No hesitation. R: Hands fly while playing. S7: Absolutely. I have had dreams in English too. R: For real? Very interesting. The whole dream in English? S7: I dreamt of RATM (Rage against the Machine, an American rock band). R: What did you dream of? S7: I was talking to Zack de la Rocha (Vocalist of RATM). R: For real? That was crazy. S7: Yep. I ran into them at the airport. R: Were you sober? S7: Yes. I also dreamt of Max Cavalera (Vocalist of another rock band). R: The human mind is crazy.

71

S7: We were on a tour. R: With his band? S7: I did not play with them. I just talked to him. R: That is very interesting. The whole dream in English. S7: Yes sir. R: Hey and what advice would you give to your students to learn more English? Or to learn faster? S7: Reading. Watch movies with no subtitles. R: Take advantage of the opportunity to talk with native speakers if there is some opportunity? S7: That is true. R: Nice. So what is the importance of self correction while learning English? S7: It is very important. But only when they are writing, only in those moments. And not only correction but to make them think of another way to say the same thing. R: Very interesting. So it is not like saying IT IS WRONG right away. Do your students have intrinsic motivation? S7: Yes. Some of them. Some of my students are very competitive and perfectionist. R: That is the reason why. Any other kind of motivation? S7: Their parents. They motivate their children with trips. They got that privilege. They can travel abroad. Not all of them. But most of them. R: Their parents earn good money, I guess. S7: As I said. Not all of them. But there are some who can afford a trip abroad. R: Ok, and how do the kids learn English, do all of them have the same learning styles or do they vary? Any visual or auditive learners?
72

S7: They vary. Some of them are more visual, others more auditive and others more traditional. R: What do you mean by traditional? S7: They like written exercises. R: Can you speak at length about that? S7: They love written grammar exercises. That is their style. They are happy writing a lot. R: That is crazy. S7: You know what. 7th and 8th graders have a serious problem. They are not independent learners, for researching and all that stuff. R: Why do you think that is happening with the kids? S7: They do not read the instructions. And they ask you: “Sir, can I do this and that? R: Is it Attention Disorder? Or they do not get anything at all? S7: No, I think it is lack of concentration. That is why. Or they are lazy. They want you to do the entire job. R: What! No way. How can they be so lazy? S7: Exactly. R: And how can we foster learners’ autonomy to learn English? S7: With very explicit and detailed rules. Very, very clear instructions. That is it. Researcher’s comments about interview with subject 7 The interviewee states that smaller classes may help increase the quality of teaching, as it is easier for teachers to concentrate on learners’ needs. He also thinks that the quality and quantity of resources are related in some way to EFL, e.g. a healthy diet, technological resources such as computers and access to the internet, besides well-trained educators willing to support learners, may facilitate the FLA process.

73

In addition, subject 7 states students who have a higher English level of competence in grammar structures and idiomatic expressions are faster than beginners which mean that lower intermediate and intermediate learners acquire different learning strategies to facilitate their own learning process. They develop these strategies by themselves or receive advice from their teachers or others. The interviewee also claims that preparing new material may help teachers to become more creative and selective with teaching resources. This leads us to assume that when teachers find out facts about students’ needs and interests, they may design concrete activities according to the learners’ requirements or take ideas from ready-to-teach materials to adapt them to the learner’s circumstances. In the classroom, this subject uses cognitive oriented teaching techniques such as teaching vocabulary beforehand to prepare the learners’ minds for further reading comprehension exercises. He does not mention eliciting as a vocabulary teaching technique. He also uses a cognitive oriented activities such as “solving a puzzle”, which helps students to recognize and record specific words in their memories. The interviewee knows of the existence of LLS and teaching techniques but he failed to notice the difference between them. He is not totally aware of how they work, but he thinks he employs some of them in the classroom. He employs linguistic teaching strategies or cognitive techniques to help students understand a text. Principles of constructivism are also included in these activities; preparing students to build new mind frames through new lexicon helps students to subsequently understand reading comprehension exercises. This subject acquired a great deal of vocabulary, knowledge about grammar and culture, watching movies and listening to music. These strategies may be included in the list of Oxford’s memory strategies. These “experiences” and exposure to the target language might be very useful depending on what the learner does with this new knowledge. Besides this, if these experiences are significant and fun for learners, they will last in their memories. These principles are part of the so called “Piagetian” constructivist theory. When this subject started to teach English, he started to practice the spoken language almost everyday. He had a good reason to speak English because he had to teach lessons in English at the school where he worked. That is the reason he has given to start to improve and monitor his progress in FLA. Subject 7 noticed he had made headway when he decided to self-evaluate his progress. According to S7, young learners at the age of ten to twelve are still very
74

dependent on teachers. They are still developing their cognitive skills, strategies and background. They are still too young and emotionally dependent to ask them very difficult and demanding tasks. They need to be guided and shown the way they can study and solve exercises. The interviewee recommends the same learning strategies he used to learn the target language. These are memorizing and communicative and cognitive strategies. On the other hand, S7 comments that his girlfriend learnt how to speak English faster than him because she started learning and practicing “real” patterns and chunks of language in the UK. Since she was a learner of English as a foreign language, she was surrounded by English, had a real need to learn, a goal, she was motivated to practice and focused most of her efforts on practicing spoken English. It was clear to the subject how ‘communicative’ and ‘lexical’ strategies, besides a great deal of ‘language immersion’ make a difference between foreign and second language learners. To sum up, S7 narrated a very uncommon experience related to the process of learning English as a foreing language. He had a dream in which he spoke in target language very fluently. Neither the interviewee nor the author has any explanation about the subject’s dream. The subject felt quite satisfied having a dream completely spoken in English. Interview with S8 Researcher: where do you work, Hugo? Subject 8: I work at San Jose school in Maipu. R: And how long have you been working there? S8: two years R: When did you finish your degree course? S8: Three years ago R: What do you think about the experience of working for San Jose school? S8: Good. It has been the best school I have worked in these three years.

75

R: Really? And why has it been so good? S8: Because of the freedom the school gives you to work and to do what you think is good for your students. This freedom helps you to adjust your teaching to each class. The school trusts you. R: You say that it has been good for you to have certain freedom to teach what you want. How can the fact of having this freedom foster an effective teaching learning process? S8: When you have a rigid study plan and you are compelled to follow that plan, it is assumed that students are prepared to face this plan. Therefore, you are not allowed to adapt your teaching to the students’ needs. Most of our students are promoted to high school knowing almost nothing about English. This study program assumes that, for example, a high school second year student has learnt minimum contents from 8th grade elementary school on, something needed to cope with the second year high school study program. So, if the school forces the teacher to teach certain contents contained in the study plan, the teacher will have problems to teach those contents and in the end, he might fake the results, waste time or get stuck without doing anything profitable. However, if the teacher has the chance to be free to plan ahead, he can adapt the study plan and pace, start from where students are, see what they know or don’t know and tailor the plan according to what they have learnt. R: You mean that it is critical for a teacher to have enough freedom to adapt his teaching to the students’ circumstances. So, would it be essential to diagnose students beforehand to tailor the English study plan too? S8: Sure. If there is no diagnosis, a teacher cannot know what level of English a student has. Obviously, there must be a diagnosis test, but what is meant by freedom is that the study plan must be made according to what students know. It is self evident that we need to have a structure and a previous plan. You cannot say “what shall I teach today?” and start figuring out in that very hour what you are going to teach. They must progress step by step and we must teach the contents gradually according to their pace and not to say: “Ok, I need to teach this and that form here to the end of this year”, because it is most likely that there will not be any significant progress. Perhaps a teacher would teach the same thing a whole year until they learnt something very well, since English does not work as History classes. Students can perfectly learn about the

76

“Republican Period” and not getting anything about “The Colony”. This does not work for English. In English classes, if the student did not get the basics, he would not understand what is coming. If the student does not understand how to use the simple present and all the basic verbs he will not be able to jump to the a next stage. You cannot have just presentations about the second language. R: You said that it is necessary for a student to manage some basic grammar structures and vocabulary. You mentioned the simple present tense as something basic. What else would you include as basic knowledge within a study plan for high school? S8: For high school students, the very basic things to know besides the simple present are a certain quantity of commonly used verbs which might be considered a minimum requirement. However, the most important thing for freshmen should be applying the different verbal conjugations previously taught. They can always look words up in a dictionary or ask somebody else to tell them what the meaning of a word is. What they will not learn from a dictionary or a book is the structures; how to use the words, how to build the sentences in the right way to articulate a normal conversation. So, the basic notions would be the present simple tense, the verb to be and other commonly used verbs. When they know how to use these things very well, they are prepared to use all the rest of the structures, because the other structures are variations of the same basic structures. Therefore, if they had a good knowledge of the basics a teacher could start presenting the following contents and the learner would be able to understand that the structures are very similar among them. If not, a teacher should not start teaching, for example, text comprehension, since a text contains many different functions that the learner would not be able to understand. R: You said something about basic lexicon students must know when getting promoted to junior high school. How many words should a high school freshman know in order to start working with him? S8: It is hard to remember very well how many words a student should know. They are about one thousand or something like that, included in a list of words previously designed by the Ministry of Education. This list is a good idea for students to work on. If a learner knew this lexicon he could understand a little of English and strive to manage a brief conversation in the target language. I guess they
a

Here there is some practical knowledge about Vigotsky’s ideas

77

are like one thousand one or five hundred words. They are not too many. This basic vocabulary might help the student to manage to have a very simple word with a native speaker. Students must memorize this vocabulary. They need to have a minimum background to be able to learn further contents. Furthermore, words or structures alone do not work for students to acquire the second language. When they are taught English they learn the structure. A certain number of words are inserted in this structure. For instance, the first month of the school period, students are btaught 500 words. These words would appear in all the following texts throughout the unit so students could assimilate this vocabulary and use it henceforth. R: You mentioned something about vocabulary needed when students are promoted to high school. A specific number of words. What do you do when students do not have the vocabulary required? If you were to teach this lexicon, how would you do it? What methods would you use to teach new vocabulary? S8: Well, if learners do not remember the lexicon required, and in most of the cases they do not remember it, I start from zero. There are words they think they know and there are others they cannot remember very well. So there is much vocabulary they would need to reinforce and crystallize. Therefore, the first thing a teacher should do is to work on the vocabulary they already know. For instance, a teacher might do a lot of lexical activities such as eliciting everyday words and basic vocabulary they know, which might have many practical uses for them. Therefore, the first two lessons, a teacher should start listing some well - known lexicon from students. It always works and they get interested. A list of about 50 commonly used words as a minimum may be listed no matter what class it is. For example, sentences using these same words should be made in simple present tense. After this, working on a text would be suitable. Learners ought to use most of the previously listed words the teacher extracted. Subsequently, the cycle should be repeated, but now, the teacher may add new words in a new worksheet. Students would solve exercises such as brief translations or reading comprehension which always included new lexicon. They ought not to memorize long lists of verbs or things alike. They are not used to it. Why should we keep on teaching the same way or use the same old fashioned methods if we know they do not work? Every new handout would should new vocabulary and its meaning. The following worksheets might also contain the same words included in the
b

The subject makes EFL students start memorising the lexicon and then they use it in structures.

78

previous handout without their corresponding translation, since these words ought to have been already learnt by students. These new words are included in a further test. The lexicon included in the worksheets is taken as “assimilated content”. It is not good to teach the same contents again and again. You waste time. It is good to gradually increase the number of words taught to students. The sequence used to teach contents should be: previous vocabulary, text comprehension exercises and then a test. Some techniques used to learn vocabulary are looking at flashcards and the word associated to the image on the back. Another one is repeating constantly words and their translation from a long list. One may start reading 4 words and then come back to the beginning when memorized and then add repeatedly 4 or fewer words to continue memorizing. Each technique may work differently for each student. There are varied ways to memorize words for each student. Flash cards are good for little kids; to learn basic contents but not for complex ideas. It is not convenient to design flashcards with the Spanish translation on their back side as learners may get used to it. Students could always start looking for the Spanish translation and structure in their minds and it would make them slower when speaking English. Students ought to understand a situation, a concept and the word associated in English. A grammar structure must also be taught in context. Definitions in English and not translations are the best way to understand a concept in English, if we want to help our students to think in English all the time. Kids tend to translate everything into Spanish literally. It is good to teach students how to interpret and translate English into Spanish if we desire to train translators and interpreters, but that is not our purpose. A good technique to learn vocabulary consists of reading a half English – half Spanish text with not – conjugated verbs. Several words from different grammatical categories may be replaced by their English translation. E.g. : El car run por la street a 120 kilometers por hour. Es unwise conducir en that way. R: How do you teach word order?

79

S8: I teach them word order using formulas. Students may follow the formulas, e.g.: Nº1 Subject + verb + complement I LIKE MILK Nº2 Subject + 3rd + s + Complement SHE Nº3 Subject + verb I FALL OVER LIKES MILK

A text or sentence must not be written using a Spanish pattern or word order. Auxiliary verbs must not be taught using difficult terms. An auxiliary verb (like DO or DOES) does not have a translation into Spanish. It is equivalent to the initial question mark of Spanish. To write texts in English they should start writing short sentences like telegrams. They may start using connectors afterwards. If a present simple question does not have an auxiliary verb such as DO or DOES, it is not a question (except for sentences conjugated in verb to be). The interviewee uses contrastive grammar to teach simple present questions. E.g: I CAN WALK Yo puedo caminar When using “can”, word order changes in questions. A formula and also additional examples are provided. The formula is written on the top of the board to help students remember the structure in use. Then students are given common activities such as true or false, complete sentences, correct sentences, etc. to use the pattern already taught. These are practical, fast and simple techniques to use in the classroom.
80

For the simple past tense, a list of regular and irregular verbs is handed out. Students can memorize this alphabetical list of irregular verbs. They do not know how to use and categorize the verbs though. A standard list of 60 commonly used verbs is given and the unnecessary ones are taken out. Verbs may be classified according to their similar endings. E.g.: Forget – forgot Get – got Sing – sang Ring – rang When students study irregular verbs, categorizing them according to their different endings, they are able to memorize 60 verbs in a month period. It is easier for students to study irregular verbs organised in similar endings. R: Did you learn English in this same way? S8: English may be learnt memorizing lists of verbs. It is like memorizing the periodic table. An excellent visual memory is required to do this. Learning techniques work, depending on the student’s mental framework. The irregular verbs may be memorized reading the list out loud many times. One can categorise and classify irregular verbs to make memorization easier. R: You mentioned different learning styles. S8: Classes have more than 38 students sometimes so they cannot all learn in the same way. Some of them know English already. Others do not want to learn how to speak English at all. They just study for the test. Some others see things and learn them immediately. Some of them like English and have a previous background. Some students only memorize the vocabulary to pass the test. Some students memorize the list of irregular verbs in alphabetical order. Some others like to have the Spanish translation to memorize the irregular verbs. Students are given an alphabetically – organised list of irregular verbs. They do not know how to organise or categorise irregular verbs properly. Some students memorize how to conjugate the verbs in simple past and infer the meaning in Spanish, without writing it down. Learners are asked what method is easier for them to memorize vocabulary.
81

R: So, you monitor how they learn, right? S8: When learners are explained something, they are checked bench by bench right after whether they understand the contents. In this manner, no student would dare to say the teacher did not explain the contents well. R: How can “monitoring students learning” help students and teachers to enhance the second language acquisition process? S8: For them, monitoring is such a good thing, as they feel like having a private teacher, one who cares of them in their process of learning the target language. Personalized teaching is what they need. If classes were smaller it would be easier to personalise teaching. But most of the time they are big classes with more than 40 students. It is difficult to teach English, keep the class quiet and foster self control among learners. Grouping learners in the classroom makes it easier to teach and monitor their progress. Worksheets may be handed out in order to evaluate the groups’ performance. When the teacher monitors group by group, he can notice if learners understand what is required of them. He can provide feedback and help students to find out what is going on if they are behind. It does not matter if the teacher has 40 students in a classroom; you can partially personalize a lesson if he groups the students. If you have the freedom to set your own goals according to the learners’ needs, they may experience significant progress. Talking about learning styles, students understand a lesson according to their own backgrounds. Not all of them get an explanation at first instance. So teachers must adjust their teaching to students’ mental frameworks. If a teacher must follow a program and keep deadlines, he will not be able to personalize his teaching effectively. If he is free to set teaching goals, he can stay and teach the same structure for 3 or 4 months, until they manage the structure and be able to use it in a conversation. If students are able to understand the simple present or simple past, they might infer how the other English tenses work. They might be able to have a simple conversation. It is not worth it to keep on teaching tenses as fast as we can, if we do not make sure they manage them. Students may also use English in different settings. They may use the structures learnt as internet users. R: How can a teacher foster self study abilities?
82

S8: Firstly, convincing students of considering English as an easy subject. What I do is to appeal to their ego saying to them: “This is so easy, how cannot you get this?” They may acknowledge that English is not so difficult as Spanish. Besides, I say to them that English is something they might include in their resume, in contrast to other subjects which may not be considered useful in a résumé. I also stress to learners that if they studied English in high school, they might save money in the future taking long and expensive English courses. Some students like English when related to their personal interests. Some videos or TV series are practical and interesting for them, e.g.: The Simpsons. R: Why is self evaluation important? S8: My best students are those who seek for learning, either for a good mark or for the English’s sake. We need to set goals and seek for further information to progress in second language acquisition. Motivation is personal. Intrinsic. If they want and act, they will do it. It is their decision. People need good reasons to progress and be motivated. If students do not want to learn, they will never do it. Teaching should be focused on students needs. Listening and understanding is an ability that is easier to develop than speaking. Many students do not want to speak English. They just want to understand it. If learners are not interested in learning English they will never develop strategies related to second language acquisition R: How do we check our own progress in the second language acquisition process? S8: A good method is watching the CNN or the BBC to check if what is said is being understood. If an unknown word pops up, it must be written down and looked up as soon as possible, with its respective lexical context. Specific vocabulary should be looked up to be used in different contexts. One of the ideas that must be refused to accept as right is that learners, in order to learn English, must be taught all the lessons only in English. This ought not to be so as students may experience frustration and mental blocks when unable to understand what the teacher is saying. There is an
83

emotional factor involved in all this. If you teach in an institute, learners will make good efforts to understand the target language, since they are paying a course and are motivated through self – imposed goals. They need the English to be promoted at work, to get a new job, to travel abroad, to study a PhD course, etc. Many high school students do not have any learning goals in English. They are just not interested. Nothing will move them unless they have something to do with English. It is advisable to teach half of the lessons in Spanish and the other half in English; after the contents have been explained very well, test students in English. English must be taught step by step. Most of time, teenagers have no much background to understand a lesson completely taught in English. Lesson planning ought to be adapted to students’ circumstances and pace. If students feel closer to the teacher, they might show more interest. There must be a relationship of trust between teacher and learner. Tension and pressure factors must be eliminated in evaluations and lessons. One may try oral evaluation in front of the teacher, not in front of the class. When evaluating, the teacher may try to have a simple conversation using structures provided. Students may become partially interested in English if significant topics are provided to discuss in the classroom. The student who is willing to understand will learn. They need to trust the teacher and feel relaxed when being evaluated. When the pressure is removed, the learner starts to have access to previous knowledge acquired and is able to keep a simple conversation. Oral evaluations must help students to develop conversation skills. Students should not fail those evaluations. They feel confident after getting a good mark in oral tests. R: Do you think your students use self – check strategies to measure their progress regarding second language acquisition? S8: When students get home, they forget about English. They are not interested in obtaining further knowledge of the target language. There is no motivation or goal related to English performance. Many times, there is no good learning environment at home so that makes it harder for students to study even if they are willing to. R: How can we foster second language learning self – reliance and self – assessment strategies in students?

84

S8: Students would adopt strategies to learn better if they had goals and good reasons to learn English. Little kids find fun to learn but teenagers are not the same. One may explain a student why it is important to learn English but they will be motivated as far as they allow themselves to do it. Everything is reduced to a mark. Something very practical. They forget about English when out of the classroom. If there are no parents verifying student’s performance, there is no effective control over them. Neither the students nor the parents can understand the purpose of learning a second language. Motivation is everything. Motivation means clear objectives and good reasons to act. As they are not interested in using knowledge acquired in classes, they forget about contents previously learnt. R: Imagine students must create a sketch in English and the instructions must be given in the target language. They do not understand a word. What should be done? S8: Instructions should not be given in the target language if they do not understand a single word. Learners need to understand how to carry out the activities in order to be evaluated according to objectives previously set. If these instructions must be given in Spanish, so it be. Students don not even understand Spanish at times. Spanish would leave no place to ambiguity. Objectives may be met if students understand what it is required of them. R: If the teacher wants to practice and ask questions in English to students and they do not understand, how can he promote or provide other ways to help students to get the second language not using Spanish? S8: Using visual aids or mimicry. Nevertheless, learners should memorize basic vocabulary as personal pronouns and question words. It would depend on the level of English they had. Complex words might be learnt or being explained using the mother tongue. Easy words or concepts may be taught using mimicry, flash cards, brief definitions, comparisons, etc. Reading comprehension is a good way to learn more vocabulary. The teacher may give synonyms similar to Spanish words to get the meaning of English ones. Researcher’s comments about the interview with subject 8 This interviewee has a basic grasp of what learning styles are, acquired through experience and observation. He is not aware of the different categories or classifications existing in mainstream FLA theories, but he
85

knows how some LLS actually work. He acknowledges differences in learners’ mental frames and tries to adapt his teaching methods to their cognitive frameworks. S8 understands that ‘recognizing how grammar structures work’ is a very useful cognitive strategy for students to learn. He probably thinks that formulas are a good way to understand how English grammar works. He makes learners recall the word order taught previously and starts ‘filling in’ the pattern with different auxiliary verbs, pronouns, main verbs or objects, etc. The interviewee also suggests that a too rigid and inflexible curriculum might dramatically canker learner’s motivation, affecting the foreign language acquisition process, the development of incipient cognitive abilities as well as the language learning strategies’ development. Also, this subject considers lexicon as essential to develop EFL proficiency. Besides, he acknowledges students have poor knowledge on planning and management of learning strategies and recognizes the importance of affective issues in FLA. He identifies the four basic language skills in EFL learning and their independent features and elements as well. In addition, the interviewee uses metacognitive strategies to develop listening skills as well as problem-solving strategies when understanding is hindered by lack of vocabulary, e.g. looking up words in the dictionary. After finding the word the subject uses it in a different context to make sure learners caught its proper meaning. According to this teacher, building knowledge and understanding upon real background is the best way to learn something, since the teacher knits and intertwines new concepts with the previous knowledge possessed by the learner. The new ideas would become part of the learner’s universal mental schemas. The interviewee prefers constructing understanding and experience from a firm foundation of previous ideas and theory. He suggests building writing skills one step at a time, firstly writing short phrases and then connecting them or joining them with connectors. For students, it would be like solving a puzzle. Subject 8 leans on Spanish when learners do not understand instructions. This may be useful when students are still discovering the English grammar system. It is true that many students do not want to make any effort to understand English in the classroom and prefer instructions given in Spanish when doing English exercises in the classroom. To unlock the affective filter that some students create against English it is sometimes necessary to use Spanish. Once the students have a good reason to learn English, they may start to show some progress. The interviewee uses the
86

grammar-translation approach to teach his students. He prefers activities such as translating short sentences, mixing Spanish and English in the same text to intelligently guess meanings or presenting structures using contrastive grammar are part of the subject’s repertoire of teaching strategies. Therefore, we may assume that this subject knows something about cognitive strategies and cognitive psychology. He states that if a student gets used to translating everything into Spanish every time he wants to speak English, he is wasting precious time that might be useful to develop fluency in the target language. This idea might be used as a metacognitive strategy mentioned by the subject. He believes that learners might be trained to directly associate ‘word and concept’, or ‘word and image’, just like native speakers. S8 thinks that proficiency in English is reached by trying to think as a native speaker, assimilating structures as they are constructed in the target language. This subject understands that motivation is the key for successful learning. He suggests that motivation is directly related to metacognition development. He thinks that metacognitive variables regarding FLA are appropriately managed only when motivation is included in the picture. He also claims that intrinsic motivation is tightly related to the learner’s view of the world. Subject 8 teaches some affective strategies to students. He also helps students acquire some planning and management strategies to increase the level of motivation in them. The affective features are considered very important by this teacher. He leads us to assume that taking into account affective factors in teaching, may lead to more successful teaching experiences, since emotional interactions in the classroom may be very profitable if properly managed. For instance, S8 likes checking students desk by desk to help them keep concentration and be engaged in classroom tasks. This subject likes working with videos in the classroom. Here are some of the interviewee’s ideas to work with videos: Pre-video activities S8 teaches key words before playing the video but teach only the most important words. While-video activities

87

S8 thinks students should watch videos with no subtitles to get used to real English. Learners should pay special attention to words and expressions highlighted by the teacher while watching videos. If students do not understand anything, they should be allowed to read the English subtitles. Students ought to watch a video or different scenes several times in order to understand what is being said in it. Students may relate the subtitles and their pronunciation while watching the movie. After-video activities S8 argues that after watching the video, a teacher must ask students questions in Spanish and English about the video’s plot and characters, setting, etc. The teacher should select some scenes and ask them, e.g., what the character said or what was going on at a specific scene. He may hand out after-video worksheets for students to check if they understood the video and teach new vocabulary and expressions. The teacher ought to help students recognize when they guess the meaning of new words in context and congratulate them. Subject 8 states that understanding English is a matter of knowing vocabulary and its meaning. Students must be taught how a word is written and pronounced. He argues that learners also need to acquire a comprehensive lexicon to better convey specific ideas. Also, S8 states that students do not see the future; they just see their immediate present. That is why they do not set short or long term goals to learn English. They do not see how English may help. He also argues that some material provided by the government is rejected by students because it does not meet their interests and needs. He states that to compensate this, a teacher ought to select e.g. a well-known song and ask the learners to memorize this song and its meaning very well. Students will feel good when they directly understand English from the mouth of the speaker without reading the Spanish translation of the lyrics. Subject 8 makes his students use mnemonic strategies in the classroom. According to Oxford (1990), memory strategies as ‘using images’ or ‘creating mental linkages’ and compensation strategies as ‘intelligent guessing’ may also help further the FLA process. Memorization is part of what Oxford calls ‘direct strategies’, specifically, memory strategies. To memorize is not useless as long as the memorized issue is understood by the memorizer, provided that there is not a better way to learn. 4.4 Analysis per question

88

Question 1: What classes do you teach? (And what is their approximate average size?) Subject 1: Secondary school, from 25 to 45 students (in the past). Subject 2: I teach applied linguistics. The average is 25 students per class Subject 3: I teach young and adult students at the university. Classes’ approximate average size is 25 students per class. Subject 4: I taught English to classes of about 40 students. Subject 5: High School students (second year). Around 40 students Subject 6: I am an English teacher Subject 9: English in a business high school and they last about 90 minutes Subjects 6 and 9 failed to answer this question properly. Perhaps they did not understand the question or got confused with it. Besides this, all of the subjects teach or taught high school students, at least in their professional practice. But not all of them are working with teenagers now. Subjects S1, S2, S3, S4, S5, S6, and S8 have changed their jobs. Probably, teachers who are not working in high school now changed their jobs to earn more money or look for more prestige and development in other institutions or companies. Question 2: How long have you been teaching? Subject 1: 12 years Subject 2: As a teacher 5 years. Applied linguistics 2 years Subject 3: I have been teaching for 5 years. Subject 4: I have been teaching for 3 years. Subject 5: I have been teaching for one year Subject 6: I have been teaching English for about three years. Subject 9: For about 4 years

89

Only subject 1 has more than 6 years of teaching experience. Experience has been related to discovering and developing LLS. Probably the most experienced teacher is the one who manages the most LLS over the rest of his workmates. Question 3: Which of these kinds of relationships truly reflect your interaction with your students? Subject 1: Teacher-student, Mentor-apprentice Subject 2: Teacher – Student, Guide – Learner Subject 3: Guide – Learner Subject 4: Guide – Learner Subject 5: Guide – Learner Subject 6: Teacher – Student Adult – Teenager / Child Guide – Learner Subject 9: Teacher – Student Adult – Teenager / Child Mentor – Apprentice Guide – Learner Master – disciple Leader – follower I don’t know Four of the subjects (subjects 1, 2, 6 and 9) chose the category “teacherstudent”, two of them (subjects 1 and 9) chose “mentor-apprentice”, six of them (subjects 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9) chose “guide-learner”, two of them chose “adult-teenager” and subject 9 chose all of the options given. It is true that these categorizations may be ambiguous and full of subjectivity, but they reflect some tendencies and common beliefs about teacher-student relationship until certain extent. “Teacher-student” reflects the authority over the learner. “Mentor-apprentice” involves a vertical relationship, feelings of dependence and respect from the student. “Guide-learner” implies gentle guidance and self-reliance from the learner. “Adultteenager” means a more impersonal relationship. Question 4: Which of these ideas do you think is a good definition for “learning”? Subject 1: Children’s learning development is affected by the culture in which he or she is immersed. Learning is an active internal and

90

interpretative process; therefore the learner learns how to learn by reflecting on their experiences. Subject 2: Children’s learning development is affected by the culture in which he or she is immersed. Learning is an active internal and interpretative process; therefore the learner learns how to learn by reflecting on their experiences. Subject 3: Learning is an active internal and interpretative process therefore the learner learns how to learn by reflecting on their experiences. Learning is an observable conduct which is generated from a stimulus given by the teacher. Subject 4: Learning is an active internal and interpretative process; therefore the learner learns how to learn by reflecting on their experiences. Subject 5: Learning is an active internal and interpretative process; therefore the learner learns how to learn by reflecting on their experiences. Subject 6: Learning is an observable conduct which is generated from a stimulus given by the teacher. Children’s learning development is affected by the culture in which he or she is immersed. Learning is an active internal and interpretative process; therefore the learner learns how to learn by reflecting on their experiences. Subject 9: Learning is an active internal and interpretative process; therefore the learner learns how to learn by reflecting on their experiences. Subject 1 and 2 think that learning is influenced by cultural settings and influences together with an internal cognitive and interpretative process. Subjects 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9 state that learning is a reflective process that occurs in the human mind. Finally, subjects 3 and 6 also argue that learning is measurable through observing external behavior. Therefore, according to the answers provided, we may assume that most teachers show a cognitive tendency. This indicates that teachers are aware of the mental activities performed by human brain and mind and consider them as important. Question 5: Are students aware of how they learn best? Why or Why not? Subject 1: Not in general. Basically because they have not been taught the different techniques to be used, besides the lack of interest.

91

Subject 2: Most of them aren’t aware. They think that studying the night before the test is enough. Subject 3: No, they are not. It is very difficult to find out the way we learn best. Students make use of different strategies until they ‘come across’ a successful and fruitful way for learning begins to happen. Subject 4: Some of them are, some aren’t. The really interested and curious ones find out how this process works better for them. Subject 5: I think they are aware of how they learn best because we as teachers can check through tests, exams and exercises how the students apply the knowledge learned in class. Subject 6: No, I think students don’t know how they can learn English best, because a lot of times they prefer other subjects. Subject 9: I don’t teach specifically to adapt, but obviously when they are faced to different kinds of tasks they learn how to cope with them. Three teachers think students are not aware of how they learn a foreign language. One more says they are not aware of how to learn better and faster. Most high school students have not developed a specific set of learning strategies because of their lack of experience and knowledge about the process of learning. They simply do not understand the cognitive activities carried out when learning something new. Question 6: Do students perform better once they know how they learn? Why or Why not? Subject 1: Yes, when students know their own way of learning, the process becomes easier and they can apply different strategies to different subjects. Subject 2: They aren’t conscious about the process of learning. Subject 3: Of course. They know they are learning interesting, new things; therefore, they try to adopt this ‘X’ way of learning as a typical strategy in a regular basis. Subject 4: It depends if they are really interested in getting good results and success. Sometimes they still need guidance even if they know how to learn.

92

Subject 5: I think so, because once they realize that they learned something they feel capable of doing it in a good way. The students are confident about what they know. Subject 6: I don’t know. I think every person is different. If a student wants to learn s/he will be paying attention to the teacher explanation. Subject 9: Yes of course, because they can ask the teacher and tell him or her how to teach in order to learn. Four subjects state that students perform better when they know how to learn and are aware of their own process of learning. Two subjects argue that learning depends also on motivation and interest from students and one subject thinks that high school learners are not aware of the process of learning at all. Question 7: What type of activities did you mostly develop in your class? Subject 1: Choral, storytelling, speaking, debating, presentations, reading, dramatizing, doing research, listening, and writing. Changing room arrangement, creative movement, physical activities, crafts, dramatizing, working in groups, physical games. Humming, rapping, playing background music, playing instruments, tapping out poetic rhythms, rhyming, singing, etc. Personal response, individual study, personal goal setting, individual projects, journal log keeping, independent reading. Subject 2: Problem solving, sequencing, critical thinking, predicting, playing logical games, collecting data, solving puzzles, classifying. Personal response, individual study, personal goal setting, individual projects, journal log keeping, independent reading. Subject 3: Choral repetition, storytelling, speaking, debating, presentations, reading, dramatizing, doing research, listening, writing. Problem solving, sequencing, critical thinking, predicting, playing logical games, collecting data, solving puzzles, classifying. Personal response, individual study, personal goal setting, individual projects, journal/log keeping, independent reading.
93

Subject 4: Choral repetition, storytelling, speaking, debating, presentations, reading, dramatizing, doing research, listening, writing. Subject 5: Choral repetition, storytelling, speaking, debating, presentations, reading, dramatizing, doing research, listening, writing. Problem solving, sequencing, critical thinking, predicting, playing logical games, collecting data, solving puzzles, classifying. Subject 6: Making graphs, visual aids, painting, illustrating, using charts, using organizers, sketching, patterning. Changing room arrangement, creative movement, physical activities, crafts, dramatizing, working in groups, physical games. Humming, rapping, playing background music, playing instruments, tapping out poetic rhythms, rhyming, singing, etc. Personal response, individual study, personal goal setting, individual projects, journal log keeping, independent reading. Outdoor activities, going on a nature walk, using pictures of animals, using pictures related to natural things. Subject 9: Speaking, presentations, reading, listening, writing, visual aids, working in groups, playing background music, singing, individual study, study group, brainstorming. These subjects use a variety of teaching styles connected with the theory of multiple intelligences. They use activities that help students develop linguistic, mathematical, kinesthetic, spatial, musical, intrapersonal, naturalistic, interpersonal and visual abilities. The most common activities used by the subjects in the classroom are related to linguistic (subjects 1, 3, 4, 5, 9) and intrapersonal (subjects 1, 2, 3, 6, 9) learning styles. The rest of the activities performed by the subjects are mathematical (subjects 2, 3, 5), musical (subjects 1, 6, 9), kinesthetic (subjects 1 and 6), visual (6 and 9) and naturalistic (subject 6). This may reflect what is important for teachers and their preferred teaching styles. This choice for these preferred styles over the other ones, directly affects the students’ skill development and learning process. Students will develop the abilities they practice the most. Therefore, we may infer that students taught by these subjects will mainly develop linguistic and intrapersonal abilities.
94

Question 8: Do you teach your students to plan ahead how to cope with a difficult task or activity in your subject? How? Subject 1: I tried. The idea was to revise all the steps they were going to follow, the possible difficulties they might find and how to face them, in other words, what the best possible solutions were for the different situations. Every subject has its own way to be learnt, every teacher should be aware of that, I tried to teach my students all the possibilities they had to face the situations or problems when studying English; we practiced them in classes, we saw the possibilities, and every student chose the best way. Subject 2: Yes, reading a lot and then preparing questions every class. Subject 3: I always told my students, at the beginning of the academic term that the best way of dealing with problems arising in our class is letting me know first. That way I could find out what their weaknesses were. Then, when I thought they were relatively aware of possible difficulties, I let them come up with reasonable solutions. I also did lots of group activities in which my students helped their classmates solve problems in a cooperative way. Subject 4: If I knew in advance that a certain activity is likely to cause problems, I did guide them. I explained to them an easier way to learn a certain topic usually giving them tips that have also been very useful for me and others. As a student, it was also difficult for me the learning process in different subjects. Therefore, I have tried to create and learn different ways to facilitate this process and I tried to share these ways with my students. Subject 5: I try to apply a brainstorming session as a pre-reading or prelistening in order to give them time and previous information about the unit or activity. I also start the lessons giving them some examples. Subject 6: I teach them ideas of how they could solve some activities or tasks. These kinds of ideas are explained in class according to the topic. For example: Auxiliaries (do- does- did) - The same structures. - Vocabulary known for students. - Real situations. Subject 9: I always explain how to solve exercises or a task. I don’t understand very well what the point is.

95

The subjects use different activities to prepare their students’ minds to learn new contents. This not necessarily means they teach how to prepare or plan actions to cope with difficult tasks. They must be taught explicitly in order to be understood and practiced. Subject 1 definitively teaches his students to cope with tasks in the classroom. He is the most experienced of all the subjects. Possibly, there is a relationship between experience and the teaching of metacognitive strategies in EFL teachers. Subject 4 teaches his students how to solve concerns in groups. This activity may help students to develop team work skills and interpersonal intelligence. The rest of the subjects did not really understand the question, taking into account their answers. Question 9: Do you teach your students to adjust or adapt themselves to the different learning situations provided? How? Subject 1: Although it was a difficult task, I tried to do this by making them think, analyze what they were doing, and comprehend the different situations they might face. Subject 2: Yes, they have to be able to realize about the idea that every challenge is different. Subject 3: The first part of my classes generally started with models of how learning a given content. Thus, students knew what type of tasks would be given in the lessons and the way to perform such tasks. Subject 4: I am not sure if I have taught that, probably I have expected them to come to me if they find any problems in a specific learning situation. Subject 5: I don’t teach them how to adapt themselves to the different situations. They have to realize it by themselves. Subject 6: no answer Subject 9: I don’t teach specifically to adapt, but obviously when they are faced to different kinds of tasks they learn how to cope with them. Subjects 1, 2 and 3 state they teach their students how to adjust and become flexible within learning situations. They are not very specific when describing what they do to teach problem-solving skills. Subject 3 gives a little more specific information about how he teaches metacognitive strategies to his students. Subjects 4, 5, 6 and 9 do not teach their students how to cope and adapt themselves to different learning situations. Question 10: Do you teach self – evaluation strategies in your subject? Why or why not?

96

Subject 1: We practiced self and co-evaluation. It was very important for the students to be responsible for their own learning process, to recognize their weaknesses and strengths. Subject 2: Not yet, they are not prepared for self-evaluation because they are very immature in that sense. Subject 3: No. I preferred to evaluate my students using my own instruments because I think it is more objective. Subject 4: What I liked was that they give themselves a mark or comments about their performance, share it with me, give my opinion and see if we agreed or not and why. Subject 5: I apply self-evaluating strategies, because I think that it is good for the students to evaluate and have critical thinking among their peers; in that way, the affective filter goes down. Subject 6: no answer Subject 9: I tried to do this last year and I think that was fine, I did it because students can realize what they are doing. Subjects 2, 3 and 6 do not use nor teach self-evaluation activities at school. Subject 2 and 3 argue their students are not ready to practice self-evaluation because of their lack of objectivity. Subjects 1, 4, 5 use self-evaluation as a powerful tool to develop educational self-reliance and intrapersonal intelligence in students. Question 11: What language learning strategies did you use to learn English? Do you teach those strategies to your students? Subject 1: Perhaps the respondent did not understand the question, he forgot to answer it or did not have any idea of what learning strategies are. Subject 2: I used looking up words in the dictionary every night and I learned a lot of vocabulary, but I don’t teach this technique. It’s just a suggestion. Subject 3: I used to read a lot and pay attention to my teachers. I took notes and then I re-wrote everything in my house. I did teach these strategies to my students. Subject 4: I have always repeated the same and not only to my students but to anyone who is interested in learning English, to do and use certain techniques, that for me and other people have been extremely useful.
97

Subject 5: I still use a lot of reading strategies, for me is easier to learn English from something that I can read… I love reading. I try to instill into my students that I am prone to do a lot of exercises related to reading comprehension. Subject 6: I used to read a lot, write in English daily and listen to English music. I told my students how I learnt English, but I didn’t tell them that they have to learn it in this way. I think every student has to look for its own strategies for learning English. Subject 9: I just liked English and I studied it, but I used some strategies to read or write and I have taught these strategies to my students. Most of the subjects used reading and looking up words in the dictionary to learn English. They did not mention conversation or socializing as a language learning strategy. Four of the subjects actually teach their students their own learning strategies to learn more English. The rest of them do not do it. Question 12: What do you do when your students cannot understand your instructions? Subject 1: I analysed the different situations. What could affect the comprehension? Many things, so when this happened I tried to use different ways to explain the instructions… more practical, or visual, etc. Subject 2: I explain again using different words or examples. Subject 3: I just tried and tried… again and again, until they got something of what I had been teaching them for about an hour. Patience is a virtue teachers must develop throughout their professional careers. Otherwise, they are lost. Subject 4: If after several times explaining the same thing they did not get the point, I got the others start their work and went to the ones that didn’t understand and explain again. Sometimes I used their own classmates to explain them the task to be done. Subject 5: I repeat the instructions over and over again and also I move around the room trying to guide the students. Subject 6: I explain the activity again. And I try to show different examples in relation to the activity.

98

Subject 9: I try to mime what I’m saying or use a student that understood the instructions to tell the others that didn’t or when nobody understood I just use Spanish. Most subjects use repetition as a tool to help students understand instructions. Some subjects as 1, 2 and 4 explain the same concepts in different ways. This last strategy may cater for different learning styles in students. Subject 9 and 6 show more originality using mimicry or asking the students themselves to re-explain instructions or concepts. Summing up, we could state that some high school EFL students actually use cognitive and metacognitive strategies as tools to learning the target language better. Some of those cognitive and metacognitive strategies are: “re-reading a text to understand what it is about” or “asking and answer questions with their classmates to ensure they understood a text or topic”. In addition, it is absolutely necessary that EFL students constantly practice LLS management; otherwise their capacity to manage them will probably be reduced. That is why this new knowledge needs to be kept up through constant practice in order to maintain an adequate level of performance. Also, according to the respondents’ answers, we may state that poor learners -sometimes regarded as “slow” -are lacking in metacognitive strategies. On the other hand, bright or fast students might probably develop metacognition due to some training provided by “mentors” or through self-education. Besides, we discovered a possible relationship between learning styles and metacognition. This relationship would consist of a student finding easy to learn something using his natural abilities and learning styles and then deciding to use that strategy thereafter. If the student uses this strategy constantly, he would probably figure out this same strategy works for learning new things and ensure his learning through it. This would mean that if students knew their own way of learning they might start combining their own learning styles with different learning strategies to understand and learn new topics and show better results in different disciplines in school. But of course, students also should be taught how to do this, to get better and faster results. With regard to experience in EFL teachers, this may help to develop teaching strategies and styles unconsciously. EFL teachers might not know any the LLS taxonomies yet, but in spite of this, the use of LLS is present in most of the subjects in one way or another. In addition, due to the results of the research, we may assume that experience could also be a factor that enhances learning strategies’ development and acquisition in students. Strategies as “looking for patterns” and “reading for pleasure” are not the only ones acquired through experience that help to ensure successful EFL
99

learning, since questioning oneself is also a very typical metacognitive strategy found among students. Students should be aware of their cognitive activities to improve metacognition and learning. As an example, an individual should develop different problem-solving skills due to experience and cumulative knowledge but this would depend on their level of command of the target language. Besides these findings on LLS management in students, it was discovered that also some EFL teachers teach their students cognitive strategies such as “looking for patterns”, “reading for pleasure” or “looking up for words in the dictionary to understand something”. Some other subjects do not teach learning strategies such as co-evaluation and self-evaluation to their students, since these teachers think learners are not mature nor honest enough to carry out these learning activities we just mentioned. They state EFL students are neither mature nor objective to assume responsible evaluations of this kind. It was also found among the subjects the idea of contrasting English and Spanish grammar as a cognitive strategy to understand the target language. It is based on the assumption that foreign language may be learnt taking into account the student’s background. To understand grammar rules and cultural factors learners inevitably turn to their mother tongue and look for meaning and similar patterns in their minds. This is a natural process that cannot be avoided unless students are taught to think in English. Contrastive grammar is part of a practical example of interlanguage strategies to teach the target language. It is essential to understand why EFL learners refer to their mother tongue to learn a foreign language. It is used as a point of reference. In relation to teaching styles, some subjects use “repetition” as a teaching strategy. Repetition or variation in explanatory terms, analogies or examples may help the receiver to connect the incoming message with previous knowledge and build a more comprehensive mental frame or structure with the new information. Most of the EFL educators were not taught how to deal with English learning activities while in school. Therefore, subject-teachers started to teach their students with the same old fashioned styles inherited from their educators. Despite this, several subjects show the tendency of practicing behaviorist, cognitive and constructivist approaches simultaneously when teaching. It is a must for educators today to know something about the mainstream theories ruling the educational fields. Together with acknowledging the observable behaviour in students, the respondents recognize the importance of the cognitive processes carried on in our brains when learning a foreign
100

language. Some of the respondents use Piaget’s ideas to teach English, taking into account previous knowledge in the students. Many students do not have any background on English. Therefore, it takes a lot of effort to teach English without any previous knowledge. One suggestion to effectively use constructivism in the classroom may be this: If EFL students do not have background knowledge about a certain topic, EFL teachers may provide that lacking knowledge. Besides, a good teacher should adjust his pace to the students’. Principles of constructivism indicate that knowledge should be built upon a firm foundation of well understood concepts, carefully connecting new information with the learner’s already known world. Also, not all of the students are as fast as other classmates. Some of them are just quicker and possess excellent retention skills. On the other hand, other learners must practice a lot to assimilate new contents, e.g., new grammar structures. Perhaps lots of teachers are not considering a very important aspect of human nature. We use different parts of the brain to learn a foreign language and develop the necessary skills to become a proficient user of English. For instance, bright scholars like Einstein, that have not been part of the normal mass of school students and who have been geniuses afterwards when they reached adulthood, did just not fit in the conventional old, dull systems of study of the last century. Chilean school system is also not prepared to cope with students that possess different kinds of intelligences and abilities. Lots of students get bored at school because they are not able to develop their talents and stronger areas of intelligence. Students with well developed areas of intelligence that do not fit in the limited regular school system are proner to get fed up of it, become badly behaved learners or finally drop out of it. We should care about what students may do well, instead of focusing on what they cannot do properly. With regard to motivation in students, innovative teachers are constantly looking for more fun and different activities to grasp students’ attention and, at the same time, help students to exploit their hidden learning potentialities. We may classify students according to their level of motivation, i.e. reactive and proactive learners. Reactive learners might be less successful and use less learning strategies. On the contrary, proactive learners would definitely be the opposite. Therefore, we may state that motivation and the EFL learning process together with the development of LLS in students are interconnected. No student will ever learn English nor how to use LLS if he or she is not interested in these topics. Motivation is the key that opens learners’ minds and hearts to learn English. We could classify motivation in two categories: Intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations would depend on the learner’s background, goals and
101

interests. An example of extrinsic motivation taken from the interviewees’ answers is “traveling abroad” as a reward from parents if the child finishes a school year successfully. Perfectionism and a sense of competitiveness are part of what is called intrinsic motivation; something that comes from the inside, from the student’s view of the world and himself. In relation to affective filters in students, to become a good L2 learner it is necessary to break the “embarrassment barrier” since interaction among peers is critical to learn a foreign language. The affective field should be considered as very important when teaching in the classroom. Students’ feelings mean everything when talking about motivation and catching their attention in the classroom. Also, an outstanding teacher should gain his students’ trust in order to foster successful learning since trust leads to effective rapport, and a good rapport may mean success within the classroom. It is essential for teachers to understanding how the FLA process is carried out. If the educator cannot establish empathy with their students properly, there will be something missing in his lessons. Possibly, the teacher will not be able to meet his students’ needs in the most effective way. Social strategies are also present in subjects’ answers. Some of the subjects foster cooperative ways of learning in the classroom such as working in pairs or groups which are part of the social strategies implemented in our educational system to learn English faster and better. Teachers and students may also develop a closer relationship and interaction that would help establish a learning environment free from stress and pressure. Teachers should also foster closer relationships between them and the learners based on respect and affection that may greatly enhance the learning process. Subjects also expressed some ideas regarding error correction. Correcting students’ grammar and spelling mistakes after writing and providing just a little correction when speaking may help learners to acquire fluency, to unlock affective filters and to feel relaxed about practicing EFL patterns. Educators should be very careful when teaching their students since reprimands, instead of respectful corrections, may destroy the learner’s motivation to learn English forever. In relation to transfer skills, a subject may develop different transfer skills due to experience and training. A well-trained individual may interconnect previous concepts with new difficult concepts using transfer skills. But he should probably be taught how to do it. Solving new problems and exercises using skills, knowledge and experience acquired from other disciplines known by the EFL student may result in a powerful tool to
102

learning a foreign language or any other subject. An example of the transfer ability may be this: A good soccer player can beat rivals and score goals while playing at the soccer field due to his abilities to calculate distance and effort within the field, administer the ball, plan strategic plays, etc. He can also do well on math, calculating equations and logarithms, his effort within classroom and time administration, but he needs to be trained to do so or figure out how to transfer his abilities at soccer to math problems. Problem-solving strategies in soccer are not the same as problem-solving strategies in math but they may have certain principles in common and through them we establish a connection between the abilities inside the individuals. In general, there seems to be little awareness about learning strategies as we can observe little conscious application of the findings in cognitive sciences. Our educational system must get updated as soon as possible. If we want to see better results, effective use of time and resources and a sense of headway in our schools we must change. Teaching should be modernized and humanized much more. And this may be carried out using the knowledge already found in the mainstream theories mentioned in this dissertation.

103

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer: Get 4 months of Scribd and The New York Times for just $1.87 per week!

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times