ED 604J SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION AND THE ADULT LEARNER

OBSERVATION ASSIGNMENT
For this assignment, you’ll observe a colleague at work teac hing adult English acquirers. After your observation, you’ll meet with the teacher to discuss the observation, and then post a report about what you have observed, identifying concepts you’ve lear ned from this course. Examples of “concepts you’ve learned from this course” can be found in the “Activities for SLA and The Adult Learner” course activities list (see Course Materials) next to each module number. You’ll need to be specific about what you observed and how it relates to the course topic. This connecting of observed concepts with our course topics is the most important part of this assignment. Other great practices to look for appear in Parrish in Table 3.3 on page 57 and in the “Conclusion” on page 69. There are many other concepts from your texts that you could pull out for this observation project. (Example: If you see the teacher presenting material that is new and challenging for the students, but is scaffolded well so that students understand, this would be an example of “scaffolding,” “i+1” and “providing comprehensible input.”) Another example might be something like this: “When a student mispronounced the ending “ed” in the word “walked”, the teacher took a detour from her lesson to help the students to remember the 3 possible ending sounds for “ed” and then the teacher encouraged the student to restate his answer using the correct pronunciation for “walked.” This was an example of eliciting a corrected response (inviting the student to correct his own mistake), using feedback (formative assessment) from students in making instructional decisions, and raising pronunciation awareness.” Use your observation experience, the template provided, the checklist (below), and the topics listed on your “Activities for SLA and the Adult Learner” list (also included below) to complete your reflection report. It is expected that your observation will be at least 45 minutes in length and that your conference will be at least 20 minutes in length. If you complete the observation and you didn’t recognize very many concepts from our course, in dicate what YOU would have done during the lesson that would have incorporated concepts from our course. For example: The class listens to a short news story from the internet, but no prior knowledge was accessed before the story was played. You could mention where in the lesson plan you would have done this and write a brief comment about why this would be important. Note: It’s best not to point out possible “missed opportunities” in the practitioner’s lesson you observed. Just make a note of things you might change or add or delete and include them in your report. Feel free to add to the template provided below as you wish.

1

OBSERVATION REPORT CHECKLIST
Yes Observation plan details are posted by th Sunday, October 27 at 11:59pm. (Who you will be observing and the date and time of your observation were posted.) (3pts) Report included a detailed account of the lesson activities. (10 pts.) Concepts from this course were identified specifically. Number of concepts identified or considered: 2 pts. for each one (up to 10)= 20 pts. “Take-aways” illustrate depth in reflection and intention for real-life application of learning (10 pts- two pts. for each take-away) Template was used. (1 pt.) Report was submitted by due date. (3 pts.) Report was error-free (grammar, writing conventions, spelling, etc.) (3 pts.) Total out of 50 pts. No Comments

2

TEMPLATE FOR OBSERVATION EXPERIENCE
Your Name: Trena Anderson Person Observed: Jórge Islas. ELL teacher for 18 years (INEA trained in Mexico City); state certified translator Date of Observation: Monday, November 4 , 2013 Time of Observation (start and ending): 6:30 – 8:30pm. Level 1 class – 13 learners from 3 countries. L1 - French and Spanish. Date of Post-Observation Conference: Friday, November 15 , 2013 5:45pm What academic skills (not language skills) did you observe being taught? (An example would be paragraph writing using a topic sentence and a closing sentence.) This class is all about BICS and not CALP. The class was almost entirely speaking and listening, except for a brief 15 minute reading lesson in the middle. Many students chose to take notes, but it was not a teacher-directed activity. Jorge reinforced social expectations in a classroom, including punctuality, attention/noticing, and collaboration with peers. An academic skill I observed in the reading lesson was making predictions before reading a passage by using pictures, captions, and the article title. What language objectives did you observe being the focus on the lesson? (An example of a language objective would be: “The student will use the Simple Past in sentences in order to tell a story from his/her own life.”) Students will provide their basic personal information when asked. Students will list the months of the year in chronological order and spell them aloud. Students will practice pronunciation of the “th” sound in English using ordinal numbers. Students will state their birthday month.
th th

DURING YOUR OBSERVAT ION

Sequential Description of Lesson Activities Answering a knock at the door when a student arrived late. Class chorus, “Who is it?” …And answering a cell phone when it went off during class. Class chorus, ”Who is this?”

Course Topic(s) This Connects To and How Language used in real world context; humor to lower the groups’ affective filter (“Is it immigration – no? Phew! Then you can come in!” “Hello, hello Mr. Obama, yes we are very eager for immigration reform…thank you for calling!”) Note: Excellent classroom management - few late-arrivers; only one phone call interruption. Modeling (teacher demonstrated how to answer questions with his tri-fold); chunking (“What’s your name?”, “What’s your phone number?” Etc as solid phrases, not individual words – no emphasis on contractions as a grammar form) NNS/NSS Dyads for conversation practice using a controlled script 3

Review of personal information, using Tri-fold paper name stands. Name/ phone number/ city, state, country of origin. Teacher to learner, then NNS to NNS.

Oral review of “to be” in present tense with pronouns, using previously taught hand gestures

Reinforcement by using different modalities of learning and multiple intelligences (kinesthetic paired with verbal/linguistic); Repetition. Explicit teaching of vocabulary, linking L1 to L2 through translation and pantomime/acting. Words recycled through-out the lesson

Developed a vocabulary list of 15 “new” English words used within the class period. List included: blind, earrings, slow, last, pay attention, dry, next, upside-down, looking for, lucky, bill… New Material –Posted pictures of the months of the year in chronological order, verbally spelled the full words as well as abbreviations. Determined what “number” month each was. Whole class activity, but individual students were called on to answer.

Activity frames (teacher modeled what he wanted the first two months, then called on students to verbally ‘fill in the blanks’ with each month); Input enhancement with underlining suffixes and using different colored markers for number words. This was a tedious 30 minutes for me, but the class enjoyed the repetition and was very attentive. Emphasis on segmental; Raising pronunciation awareness; noticing; direct instruction with controlled practice (“Make your tongue like a snake. Exaggerate. Speak like you are from Spain. You need lots of spit/saliva! This is hard for us; we’ll say it slowly so we get it correct…”) Curricular routines - Monday night always includes a short reading lesson. Pre-reading prediction activity using chalk talk; direct instruction of vocabulary. Comprehension checks following passage. Sandra is such a pro, and so calm, and the room was very, very focused during her lesson. This grammar point well beyond their current acquisition. Sandra knew the class wasn’t ready for this grammatical functor (present tense + a contraction!). The learner was satisfied that her question would eventually be answered. (developmental sequences) Month signs left up on the board to provide visual support and a prompt for lower level learners; pushed output (each learner was expected to participate, regardless of “comfort level”) Phrase used often by instructor as a clarification request when an error was made. Reformulation was also used (ex: My birthday is September. My birthday is IN September.) Learners were encouraged to try for the correct form by seeking help from another NNS. I think this was actually a form a “checking questions”

Pronunciation practice of –th sound using ordinal numbers and the word “BirTHday”

15 minute reading lesson led by Sandra Heyer, using “Very Easy True Stories”.

Sandra asked for any questions, and a student wanted to understand, “I’ll look”. Sandra gave a brief explanation, but promised they would really talk about it in March, when they were more ready. Game reciting months of the year, “round the world” style; however, no one was eliminated

“Excuse me?”

Throughout the class, Instructor intentionally

4

“made mistakes” so learners would have an opportunity to correct him. He would say, “Excuse me, Jorge is catching flies today!” PREPARING FOR YOUR C ONFERENCE

so learners could demonstrate their understanding. Mood was very positive, light, and supportive.

Questions I want to ask the teacher about what I observed: (Examples: I’m curious about your use of “Opening Question” at the start of your class. What can you tell me about that? Or I noticed that Sophorn was walking around in the back of the room during the second half of the class. What can you tell me about that?) Much of the class time was spent in whole-group activities apart from the text, why? “The textbook gives me a general outline, but it is only one tool I use. I just pick and ch oose. Too many of the activities in the books are scripts that don’t work for learners in real life. I was them in discussion and dialogue. They feel safer in la rge group activities.” Most of our time was discussion based, are some of your learners non-literate? “Yes. When I have a learner like that we find a student volunteer from UW - Whitewater to work with them one-on-one after an hour of class. So they don’t have to schedule a different time to come, we just give them extra support in the time the y are here.”

Things I really liked that I want to incorporate into my own practice (It’s nice to give this positive feedback to the person you observed.): I loved the tri-fold name stands. Simple tool, but rehearsing the important facts again and again in a Level 1 class is valuable. The sense of community was fabulous. The whole class was fully involved and on their toes the entire 2 hours; no one dared to let their mind wander, or they might be the next one called on. I appreciated the classroom management techniques with late arrivals and the cell phone. I will try the idea of making mistakes expressly for the class to correct as a way of checking for understanding. You could ask questions about things you didn’t have the opportunity to obse rve but are curious about in practice. An example might be: how the teacher honors the culture or the first language of the students in his/her class. (You might not have seen this, but would like to have ideas about how this is done.) You could also as k about the topic of your “Burning Question.” This is a great time to get a “real world” perspective from another practitioner. Questions I’d like to ask: Do you have open enrollment? “We do. We accept anyone when they come, and just tell them that tonight is your first class, and everyone is always learning so don’t worry that you are behind, it will come together. I do try to get them caught up. Many times they are able to progress with the class at the end of the school year. If not, they can stay another year with me. There is no pressure or shame. Sometimes I have students who are ready to move on, but they don’t want to leave me. I remind them that it is very important that they continue to progress and learn more because their time is very valuable. Also, I am the only teacher on Friday nights, so we have a mixed level class that night and they are always welcome.” Do you use pre/post assessments? When and which ones? “Our curriculum has a pretest I can use. I leave it up to the students when I test them. Sometimes learners don’t admit how much they know, and I encourage them to be brave and challenge themselves. ” 5

How long does it take to build rapport so students are comfortable with the use of humor? “I never single out a student and use humor to humiliate them. I encourage, give a lot of verbal praise, never make a sour face, and want them to know that I am here for them. The class is in it together and very positive. I think new people can feel the trust here.”

POST-CONFERENCE REFLECTIONS What are my “Take-Aways” from this experience? What do I want to remember from this experience? (I’m not going to use a numerical format to give my reflections.) Jorge wanted a 45minute conference so he could give me the “secrets of good teaching”. He talked a lot about building trust, motivation, and learner confidence. With each new thought he’d say, “This is number one!” “This is the most important thing!” The man obviously has a passion for what he is doing. He didn’t called it Krashen’s Affective Filter Hypothesis, but he talked about the walls learners have built before they begin attending class, and the negative self-talk they hide behind (I’m too old, this is too hard, no one understands me when I speak, I don’t have time…) and how important it is break down these barriers by praising and encouraging them. No matter what is going on in his personal life, when he walks in to teach, he wants to have 100% focus on learner success and building them up. I knew that, but I also appreciated the reminder. As we know, adults can shut down so easily, but they can also flourish and the teacher really sets the tone. He also gave me a litany of basic advice. Use good handwriting on the board. Make sure you don’t have body odor or bad breath. Smile A LOT. Keep a positive, happy attitude. Speak loud enough they can hear you, but not so loud they think you are acting like they are stupid. And on and on…I just noted and diligently wrote down everything he said. Having taught for 20 years, this was not new information, but I can imagine Jorge has given this lecture before, and a college student would surely benefit from it. One great idea he mentioned that I will tuck away for future reference is the importance of learners hearing the accents of different English speakers. He always tries to get his native French speaking learner to interact with the Spanish speakers in English so they can all tune their ears to each other. Isn’t that brilliant? English is Jorge’s L2, and he’s aware that he still may enunciate differently than the other teachers, so he looks for opportunities to get people talking and listening, which explains why he had me fully involved with class when I visited. I want to say this gently, because he is doing a wonderful job and his learners are very cued to what he is doing and are absolutely invested, but make no mistake, his classroom is very Jorge-centric. He is the dominant figure and the “sage on the stage”. They love him and the way he conducts class resonates with his group because it fits their cultural expectations of what a teacher is supposed to be – a confident, warm, approachable authority figure. This isn’t a criticism, but the current structure would not lend itself well to the participatory or project based approach. And that’s ok. I really enjoyed this project.

6