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Anniversary Edition of the Anniversary Edition of the Anniversary Edition of the Anniversary Edition of the
International Convention Proceedings International Convention Proceedings International Convention Proceedings International Convention Proceedings


Four Decades of Innovation in ELT Four Decades of Innovation in ELT Four Decades of Innovation in ELT Four Decades of Innovation in ELT
Santiago de Santiago de Santiago de Santiago de Querétaro, Querétaro Querétaro, Querétaro Querétaro, Querétaro Querétaro, Querétaro
November November November November 7 77 7- -- -10, 2013 10, 2013 10, 2013 10, 2013

MEXTESOL, the Mexican Association of Teachers of English, A.C. is pleased to make
available summaries of selected academic presentations given at the 40
Convention in the beautiful city of Santiago de Querétaro. We join in celebrating 40 years of
people getting together to participate in an exchange of ideas about professional development
and constant innovation in ELT.

This year is the tenth year that speakers have contributed articles written specifically for the
Convention Proceedings! Our Anniversary Edition includes selected articles from all nine
previous Proceedings. The contributors come from institutions across Mexico and around the
world, while the articles cover a wide range of interesting topics that mark the road
MEXTESOL has taken in the past few years. Some articles are sure to elicit a nostalgic, “I
remember when”

The Proceedings, a non-profit compilation that serves as an alternative for accessing
information given at the Convention sessions, are a clear example of how the organization
continues to grow by including new talent along with recognizable and long-standing
members of the organization. We greatly appreciate the work all the authors take in
preparing their articles and offer sincere appreciation for their efforts.

Our thanks also go out to everyone who has ever participated in the collaborative effort of
making these Proceedings. Special thanks go to to Uli Schrader in the MEXTESOL offices
for keeping us on task and to L.D.I. Daniel Sanchez, in San Luis Potosí, for taking charge of
graphics and production.

In keeping with a time of gratitude: To all those who have contributed time, effort and interest
to make MEXTESOL the incredible organization it isThank You!

Guadalupe Pineda


Note: The speakers / authors submitted their articles according to the guidelines that were provided. These were
subsequently formatted in order to provide uniformity in the presentation of the articles. MEXTESOL is not
responsible for the contents of the summaries, nor for inaccuracies or omissions in the information, presentation or
bibliographical references contained therein. Summaries are arranged in order of the speaker / author’s last
name. In the case of two speakers / authors, the name of the first was used.

MEXTESOL A.C. holds all rights to the Convention Proceedings.


Table of Contents Table of Contents Table of Contents Table of Contents

Drawing the language Drawing the language Drawing the language Drawing the language
Aguilar C., Claudia and García M., Moctezuma
9 99 9

Everybody’s Everybody’s Everybody’s Everybody’s favorite: Creative and adaptable board games favorite: Creative and adaptable board games favorite: Creative and adaptable board games favorite: Creative and adaptable board games
Lengeling, M. Martha and Barrios G., Blanca Lucia

13 13 13 13
Four key moments in group management Four key moments in group management Four key moments in group management Four key moments in group management
Calhoun M., Virginia S.B.

17 17 17 17
Learner beliefs of new univers Learner beliefs of new univers Learner beliefs of new univers Learner beliefs of new university students in a Mexican university ity students in a Mexican university ity students in a Mexican university ity students in a Mexican university
Carranza de M., Martha Patricia and González Q., Elsa Fernanda

22 22 22 22
Planning time in speaking tests: how does it help? Planning time in speaking tests: how does it help? Planning time in speaking tests: how does it help? Planning time in speaking tests: how does it help?
Chapman, Mark and O’Boyle, Jessica

26 26 26 26
Analyzing Mr. Bean´s ethical behavior Analyzing Mr. Bean´s ethical behavior Analyzing Mr. Bean´s ethical behavior Analyzing Mr. Bean´s ethical behavior
Del Ángel C., Martha Catalina

32 32 32 32
Music appreciation...enhancing your students’ values Music appreciation...enhancing your students’ values Music appreciation...enhancing your students’ values Music appreciation...enhancing your students’ values
De la Paz A., Carlos Eduardo and Parra A., Teresa Noemí

35 35 35 35
A creative and often overlooked technique: Commercials/ movie trailers A creative and often overlooked technique: Commercials/ movie trailers A creative and often overlooked technique: Commercials/ movie trailers A creative and often overlooked technique: Commercials/ movie trailers
Lengeling, M. Martha and Derry, Bryan

38 38 38 38
Communication issues faced by trainees in American summer camps Communication issues faced by trainees in American summer camps Communication issues faced by trainees in American summer camps Communication issues faced by trainees in American summer camps
García O., Pedro¨and Zepeda A., Margarita Sofía

42 42 42 42
Differences in item difficulty analysis between CTT and IRT Differences in item difficulty analysis between CTT and IRT Differences in item difficulty analysis between CTT and IRT Differences in item difficulty analysis between CTT and IRT
Gutiérrez Arvizu, María Nelly

46 46 46 46
Oral production and the Rassias Method: an exploratory Practice Oral production and the Rassias Method: an exploratory Practice Oral production and the Rassias Method: an exploratory Practice Oral production and the Rassias Method: an exploratory Practice
Guzman C., Marisol and Lopez F., Karen

50 50 50 50
19 different ways of using one song in class. 19 different ways of using one song in class. 19 different ways of using one song in class. 19 different ways of using one song in class.
Tláloc Hernández Guzmán

54 54 54 54
“Fake it until you m “Fake it until you m “Fake it until you m “Fake it until you make it.” Confidence, first! ake it.” Confidence, first! ake it.” Confidence, first! ake it.” Confidence, first!
Ostapenko, Maria

59 59 59 59
Teaching English through the Rassias® Method in Sinaloa Teaching English through the Rassias® Method in Sinaloa Teaching English through the Rassias® Method in Sinaloa Teaching English through the Rassias® Method in Sinaloa
Páez M., Diana Belém

64 64 64 64
Making Dunn and Dunn’s Learning Theory a Reality Making Dunn and Dunn’s Learning Theory a Reality Making Dunn and Dunn’s Learning Theory a Reality Making Dunn and Dunn’s Learning Theory a Reality
Parada S., Ángel and Rivera L., Jimmy

67 67 67 67


Developing task Developing task Developing task Developing task- -- -based language teaching practices: How and why? based language teaching practices: How and why? based language teaching practices: How and why? based language teaching practices: How and why?
Payant, Caroline

69 69 69 69
English communicative program for students seeking real communication English communicative program for students seeking real communication English communicative program for students seeking real communication English communicative program for students seeking real communication in English in English in English in English
Perea, Deida and Róo, Sussan

74 74 74 74
Using bilingual teaching strategies in everyday English lessons Using bilingual teaching strategies in everyday English lessons Using bilingual teaching strategies in everyday English lessons Using bilingual teaching strategies in everyday English lessons
Sandoval M., Ada del Carmen

80 80 80 80
Selective/Effective use of technology in the Selective/Effective use of technology in the Selective/Effective use of technology in the Selective/Effective use of technology in the language classroom language classroom language classroom language classroom
Santana, Dixie

84 84 84 84
El aprendizaje explícito de la gramática en ILE El aprendizaje explícito de la gramática en ILE El aprendizaje explícito de la gramática en ILE El aprendizaje explícito de la gramática en ILE
Santos G., Saul

88 88 88 88
Content Content Content Content- -- -based learning among teachers in training based learning among teachers in training based learning among teachers in training based learning among teachers in training
Siders V., Terrence Nevin

91 91 91 91
Responsive learning, an inspiring approach for teenagers’ teachers. Responsive learning, an inspiring approach for teenagers’ teachers. Responsive learning, an inspiring approach for teenagers’ teachers. Responsive learning, an inspiring approach for teenagers’ teachers.
Vidal P., Graciela

95 95 95 95
Analyzing reflective exploratory teaching practice through videos Analyzing reflective exploratory teaching practice through videos Analyzing reflective exploratory teaching practice through videos Analyzing reflective exploratory teaching practice through videos
Zavaleta M., Maria Luisa and Tapia C., Rebeca Elena

100 100 100 100

MEXTESOL Convention Proceedings 2004 to 2012
Table of Contents

Humanistic and Pragmatic ELT Humanistic and Pragmatic ELT Humanistic and Pragmatic ELT Humanistic and Pragmatic ELT
Morelia, Michoacán Morelia, Michoacán Morelia, Michoacán Morelia, Michoacán
2004 2004 2004 2004

Unrestricting the Academic Restricted Code Unrestricting the Academic Restricted Code Unrestricting the Academic Restricted Code Unrestricting the Academic Restricted Code
Dr. William G. Eggington
Brigham Young University

103 103 103 103
Validation of an oral assessment tool for classroom use Validation of an oral assessment tool for classroom use Validation of an oral assessment tool for classroom use Validation of an oral assessment tool for classroom use
Ana Muñoz
EAFIT University

107 107 107 107
Accelerated learning: Strategies to enhance learning and teaching Accelerated learning: Strategies to enhance learning and teaching Accelerated learning: Strategies to enhance learning and teaching Accelerated learning: Strategies to enhance learning and teaching
Elvia Leonor Diaz Valdez

110 110 110 110


Crossing Boundaries in TEFL Crossing Boundaries in TEFL Crossing Boundaries in TEFL Crossing Boundaries in TEFL
Zacatecas, Zacatecas Zacatecas, Zacatecas Zacatecas, Zacatecas Zacatecas, Zacatecas
2005 2005 2005 2005

Crossing paths in EFL professional development: The Mexican context Crossing paths in EFL professional development: The Mexican context Crossing paths in EFL professional development: The Mexican context Crossing paths in EFL professional development: The Mexican context
Dr Andy Curtis
Queen’s University

115 115 115 115
Promoting cultural intelligence within the EFL/ESL curriculum Promoting cultural intelligence within the EFL/ESL curriculum Promoting cultural intelligence within the EFL/ESL curriculum Promoting cultural intelligence within the EFL/ESL curriculum
A. Edwards
A. Ramos
Universidad de Colima

121 121 121 121
Crossing into the park: Literature and TEFL Crossing into the park: Literature and TEFL Crossing into the park: Literature and TEFL Crossing into the park: Literature and TEFL
Phyllis Herrin de Obregón
Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro

125 125 125 125
Reflecting on our Teaching Reflecting on our Teaching Reflecting on our Teaching Reflecting on our Teaching
León, Guanajuato León, Guanajuato León, Guanajuato León, Guanajuato
2006 2006 2006 2006

Experiencing and reflecting on integrated skills Experiencing and reflecting on integrated skills Experiencing and reflecting on integrated skills Experiencing and reflecting on integrated skills
C. Patricia Cánovas C.

130 130 130 130
Teaching with humor Teaching with humor Teaching with humor Teaching with humor
Sally La Luzerne-Oi
Hawai‘i Pacific University
Christina Scally
Truckee Meadows Community College

134 134 134 134
Strategies for solving lexical problems in L2 writing Strategies for solving lexical problems in L2 writing Strategies for solving lexical problems in L2 writing Strategies for solving lexical problems in L2 writing
Saul Santos García
Universidad Autónoma de Nayarit

137 137 137 137
Where to from Here? Where to from Here? Where to from Here? Where to from Here?
Boca del Río, Veracruz Boca del Río, Veracruz Boca del Río, Veracruz Boca del Río, Veracruz
2007 2007 2007 2007

Action Research: Making a difference in Action Research: Making a difference in Action Research: Making a difference in Action Research: Making a difference in the language classroom the language classroom the language classroom the language classroom
Sonia Acosta Domínguez
Ana Gabriela Guajardo
Universidad Autónoma de Baja California

142 142 142 142
Giving effective feedback: some practical suggestions Giving effective feedback: some practical suggestions Giving effective feedback: some practical suggestions Giving effective feedback: some practical suggestions
Gabriela Ladrón de Guevara De León
The Anglo Mexican Foundation

147 147 147 147


Speaking as a Skill: Teaching the negotiation of meaning Speaking as a Skill: Teaching the negotiation of meaning Speaking as a Skill: Teaching the negotiation of meaning Speaking as a Skill: Teaching the negotiation of meaning
Carlos Vásquez López
Universidad del Golfo, Campus Oaxaca
Peter Sayer
Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca

151 151 151 151
New Ways for New Needs in ELT
León, Guanajuato León, Guanajuato León, Guanajuato León, Guanajuato
2008 2008 2008 2008

Expansive reading: the text and beyond Expansive reading: the text and beyond Expansive reading: the text and beyond Expansive reading: the text and beyond
Robert Hill
Black Cat Publishing / Vicens Vives

157 157 157 157
Connectivism Connectivism Connectivism Connectivism – –– – Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) for 21st century teachers Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) for 21st century teachers Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) for 21st century teachers Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) for 21st century teachers
Frank Stonehouse
Instituto Angloamericano, Morelia

162 162 162 162
Using multigenre projects in the T/ESOL classroom Using multigenre projects in the T/ESOL classroom Using multigenre projects in the T/ESOL classroom Using multigenre projects in the T/ESOL classroom
Dr. Alfredo Urzúa B.
University of Texas at El Paso

165 165 165 165
Social Echoes of ELT Social Echoes of ELT Social Echoes of ELT Social Echoes of ELT
Monterrey, Nuevo León Monterrey, Nuevo León Monterrey, Nuevo León Monterrey, Nuevo León
2009 2009 2009 2009

Talking learners into learning Talking learners into learning Talking learners into learning Talking learners into learning
Rosa María Funderburk Razo
Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo

169 169 169 169
A Post A Post A Post A Post- -- -CLT Theoretical Framework CLT Theoretical Framework CLT Theoretical Framework CLT Theoretical Framework
Holly Wilson
Alliant International University
San Diego, California

174 174 174 174
Code Code Code Code- -- -mixing in text me mixing in text me mixing in text me mixing in text messages: Communication among university students ssages: Communication among university students ssages: Communication among university students ssages: Communication among university students
Alma Lilia Xochitiotzi Zarate
Universidad de las Américas, Puebla

180 180 180 180
Revolutionary Teaching, Independent Learning Revolutionary Teaching, Independent Learning Revolutionary Teaching, Independent Learning Revolutionary Teaching, Independent Learning
37 37 37 37
th th th th
International MEXTESOL Convention International MEXTESOL Convention International MEXTESOL Convention International MEXTESOL Convention
10 10 10 10
th th th th
Central American and Caribbean Convention Central American and Caribbean Convention Central American and Caribbean Convention Central American and Caribbean Convention
Cancún, Quintana Roo Cancún, Quintana Roo Cancún, Quintana Roo Cancún, Quintana Roo
2010 2010 2010 2010

Energizers and Yawnbreakers: An eclectic medley of kinesthetic resources Energizers and Yawnbreakers: An eclectic medley of kinesthetic resources Energizers and Yawnbreakers: An eclectic medley of kinesthetic resources Energizers and Yawnbreakers: An eclectic medley of kinesthetic resources
Renata Bobakova
University of South Carolina
184 184 184 184


Case study of a blind EFL student’s learning process Case study of a blind EFL student’s learning process Case study of a blind EFL student’s learning process Case study of a blind EFL student’s learning process
M. Martha Lengeling
Universidad de Guanajuato
Judith Hernandez
Escuela Secundaria General No. 1 Hermanos Aldama

189 189 189 189
The effectiveness of sustain The effectiveness of sustain The effectiveness of sustain The effectiveness of sustained silent reading in helping learners become independent readers ed silent reading in helping learners become independent readers ed silent reading in helping learners become independent readers ed silent reading in helping learners become independent readers
Atsuko Takase
Kinki University
Higashi-Osaka, Japan

193 193 193 193
New Challenges for the New Decade in ELT New Challenges for the New Decade in ELT New Challenges for the New Decade in ELT New Challenges for the New Decade in ELT
Morelia, Michoacán Morelia, Michoacán Morelia, Michoacán Morelia, Michoacán
2011 2011 2011 2011

Writing intervention from a psychological perspective: Graduate Writing Seminar Writing intervention from a psychological perspective: Graduate Writing Seminar Writing intervention from a psychological perspective: Graduate Writing Seminar Writing intervention from a psychological perspective: Graduate Writing Seminar
Sara Merino Munive
Nancy Susan Keranen
Benemérita Universidad Autonóma de Puebla

198 198 198 198
Improving Efficacy of Feedback in the Classroom Improving Efficacy of Feedback in the Classroom Improving Efficacy of Feedback in the Classroom Improving Efficacy of Feedback in the Classroom
Sim Wee Chee
Ann Teo
Alston Publishing House Pte Ltd, Singapore

203 203 203 203
Exploiting L1 in the classroom: designing communicative translation tasks Exploiting L1 in the classroom: designing communicative translation tasks Exploiting L1 in the classroom: designing communicative translation tasks Exploiting L1 in the classroom: designing communicative translation tasks
Andrew Watson
British Council

206 206 206 206
Leading the Way to Excellence in ELT Leading the Way to Excellence in ELT Leading the Way to Excellence in ELT Leading the Way to Excellence in ELT
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
2012 2012 2012 2012

The process of curricular revision involving the community The process of curricular revision involving the community The process of curricular revision involving the community The process of curricular revision involving the community
Martha Fonseca Vicencio
Pia Maria White
Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes

211 211 211 211
Writing and publishing in academic journals: Whys and hows Writing and publishing in academic journals: Whys and hows Writing and publishing in academic journals: Whys and hows Writing and publishing in academic journals: Whys and hows
M. Martha Lengeling, Editor-in-Chief of the MEXTESOL Journal
Rebeca E. Tapia Carlín, Member editorial board MEXTESOL Journal
JoAnn Miller, Associate Editor of Refereed Articles of the MEXTESOL Journal
Ma. Gpe. Rodríguez B., Associate Editor of Non-refereed Articles of the MEXTESOL Journal
Ulrich Schrader, Past Editor-in-Chief of the MEXTESOL Journal
Clare Marie Roche, Member editorial board MEXTESOL Journal

215 215 215 215
Researching with children: Particular complexities with data collection / interpretation. Researching with children: Particular complexities with data collection / interpretation. Researching with children: Particular complexities with data collection / interpretation. Researching with children: Particular complexities with data collection / interpretation.
Dr. Caroline Moore Lister
University of Guadalajara, CUCosta.
220 220 220 220


Four Decades of Innovation in ELT Four Decades of Innovation in ELT Four Decades of Innovation in ELT Four Decades of Innovation in ELT
Querétaro, Querétaro Querétaro, Querétaro Querétaro, Querétaro Querétaro, Querétaro

Drawing the language

Claudia Aguilar Cortés
Moctezuma García Mendoza
Escuela Primaria Rural Federal “Isaac Arriaga”

Technology is a trend in ELT and other areas of teaching, but drawing is something natural
for humans. Drawing is one of many forms of communication that can be used in the ELT
classroom with different advantages. If you know how to express a lot in simple drawings,
your students not only will learn, but they may develop different skills, such as better
memorization, brain connections and attention time increase. Teachers can take advantage
from it, too. Some of those advantages are: improvement of class atmosphere, back-up plan
in case of any technological failure, and self-design visuals for specific needs in class.

According to Jeremy Harmer (1998) good teachers should be able to balance the study of the
language with more entertaining activities which make the learning process better. Even
though we have wonderful tech resources in our classroom, sometimes it’s necessary to give
them a break and change the dynamics of the class using a variety of non technological
sources. This means that teachers have other strategies available that do not depend on
technology. Thus this technique is appropriate for all teaching contexts from rural to urban

Andrew Wright realised that many teachers recognised the usefulness in class of drawings
but felt they could not draw well or it took a lot time to produce good pictures. In 1984 he
published the way in which he has helped teachers to draw more effectively in the book
1000+ pictures for teachers to copy. Wright´s technique goes from simple traces and
geometrical figures to strong meaningful pictures that can be combined with a few more lines
to create complete scenes and settings.

Drawing stick people.
According to Andrew Wright, making stick people is the easiest way to draw a person. A few
lines can contain a lot of meaning if we know how to do it. The basic skill that you need to
draw objective drawing is being able to judge angles and proportions. To give action to a stick
person it needs to have the same essential features of a real person. These important
features are the proportion of the body and the angles formed by the knees and elbows.


Many people have trouble drawing faces because the expected result is a perfectly round
defined face. For teaching purposes, any rough circle can do. First, remember that all faces
have three main sections: eyes, nose, mouth. The next thing you have to remember is that
the eyes and nose don’t show expression but they can help differentiate individuals. You can
keep these two simple, two dots for the eyes and a curve for the nose, and work a little more
on the other three features: mouth and eyebrows.

Eyebrows give the face a totally different tone, even if the mouth stays neutral, eyebrows can
reflect emotions like surprise, concentration or even pain. Finally, to make your pictures grow
old or look younger, the secrets is just drawing the features high or low. Once you’ve
managed the drawing of simple faces, you can start creating characters by making the circle
of the face wider or thinner, adding hair, accessories, clothing or other objects.

Box people
Box people are as easy to draw as stick people are, the difference with this type of “people” is
that they have a body made of boxes or solid geometric figures that give them much more
opportunities to express meaning such as weight or head shape. Box people start from the
“box” that represents the body; the limbs come out from each vertex of the trunk and follow
the same rule as stick people do. Once we have the lines that represent the limbs well
proportioned and with the correct angles, the next step is to complete the other side of the
limbs; here we can draw clothes. Finally we can add patterns, tones and textures.


Animals & objects
There is a commonly used technique for drawing animals and objects consisting of finding
basic shapes and proportions and defining the angles of the edges of the shape. Andrew
Wright suggests framing the main shape of the animal or thing you are going to draw into a
square or a rectangle and correcting the proportions until you have the right shape (make the
square or rectangle wider or slimmer when necessary). It is easier to judge these aspects
from a square figure than from a round figure. After that, you can add essential curves and
details which confirm to the viewer what the animal or object is. Remember that when you
are teaching a concept or the meaning of a word, perfection is not necessary.

Settings and scenes
This is the combination of the previous techniques from stick people to objects. This gives the
teacher a wide variety of activities to choose from to implement in class, letting students take
the responsibility to learn from them.

It is very important not to draw with perspective because this may be confusing for the
students and more difficult for the teacher or whoever is drawing. Wright’s suggestion is to
draw buildings face-on and from the side the objects that are easier to identify when seen by
its side. Besides you have to consider use different thicknesses of lines for the people and the
objects in the scenes. When we draw a complete scenario, there are a lot of lines that can be
confusing for the student or viewer. One way to avoid this confusion could be the use of
colors, but if you are drawing directly on the board, people can be drawn with a thick line and
the background with a thinner line.


Activities for the class using drawings.

These are some activities that we can use during our class taking advantage of drawing, not
only materials made by the teacher but giving students the opportunity to draw and build their
own language.

Divide class into pairs. Give each pair one card with an occupation. Students discuss
the qualities required to do that job. They tell the class their description. The rest of the
class asks “Yes/No” Questions and tries to guess the occupation. (S)

People & pictures.
Work in pairs. Exhibit portraits and ask students to choose one. They should imagine
they are the people on the picture. Talk about their characters’ lives. Two different
endings; retell the stories they have shared in class or write it as HW.) (F-B)

Composition by cards.
Select different cards with objects, verbs & faces. Give one to each student.
Ask one student to read aloud his/her word, the others should try to combine this word
with the one they have in a sentence. Then divide class in small groups and tell them
to make as many combinations as they can. Share the best ones with the group.
*Create a story. (All)

Picture question game.
Two teams in the class. Give each team an outdoor setting or house interior. Each
team writes a number of questions related to what they see in the picture. Team A
shows its picture for 45 seconds and then hides it. Team A asks team B the questions
they wrote. The teacher registers the score. Then it is team B’s turn. (SC)

Guess the objects.
Prepare some slides of paper with names of common objects and put them in a box.
Choose a student who draws well, an artist. Ask another student to take one piece of
paper. This student gives instructions to the artist to draw the object. The artist must try
to draw what it’s been describe. The rest of the students try to guess the object. The
one who guesses the object takes another paper and gives the instruction to the

Harmer, Jeremy. (1998) How to teach English. England: Addison-Wesley Longman Ltd.
Sion, Christopher. (1985) Recipes for tired teachers. USA: Addison-Wesley.
Wright, Andrew . (1984) 1000 Pictures for Teachers to Copy. England: Addison-Wesley Longman Ltd.

Useful websites containing drawing tutorials:


Four Decades of Innovation in ELT Four Decades of Innovation in ELT Four Decades of Innovation in ELT Four Decades of Innovation in ELT
Querétaro, Querétaro Querétaro, Querétaro Querétaro, Querétaro Querétaro, Querétaro

Everybody’s favorite: Creative and adaptable board games

M.Martha Lengeling
Blanca Lucia Barrios Gasca
Universidad de Guanajuato

As children, young adults or parents, we have all spent many hours playing board games,
such as Monopoly, Snakes and Ladders, Sorry, Candy Land, to name only a few. These
board games are a part of our lives. They are a social and enjoyable act which can be
adapted to the ELT classroom. In this workshop we look at the benefits that board games
bring to the teaching and learning processes and then we explore commercial board games,
educational board games and finally created board games that can be easily made. A number
of templates will be presented and we will map out the process of how to go about designing
or adapting these board games taking into account the needs of our students. Finally
participants will share their experiences and advice of using these games during the

Benefits of Games and Specifically Board Games
Most teachers are convinced that games are beneficial for teaching and learning. Wright et
al. (1984) make mention of the role that games have for teachers in the following:

If it is accepted that games can provide intense and meaningful practice of language,
then they must be regarded as central to a teacher's repertoire. They are thus not for
use solely on wet days and at the end of term! (p. 1)

From the above we can see that games are not just a way to “fill up or pass the time” in a
classroom but a technique that presents opportunities for student to use language. In
addition, they are fundamental for teachers when planning. Another author, Simpson (2011)
offers the following advice when using games:

Games can indeed teach, they offer a way to practice new structures and add genuine
enjoyment to a lesson. Nevertheless, working your way through the syllabus and
completing stipulated material remain quintessential to ensuring that students are
covering the material set out for any particular course, semester or even a specific
lesson. Games should not hinder this. It’s important that they are used as a means to
an end, rather than existing in their own right.

What is important here is to realize that games must be used with an objective in mind. They
are not meant to used as only an “add on” to the lesson.


Concerning the reasons to use board games, they are numerous and perhaps the same as
for games in general. They provide a wealth of oral production for students and create a
positive and learner centered environment. They can be used to practice grammar structures,
functions, vocabulary, themes, or other objectives. Concerning the affective domain, playing
board games lowers the affective filter as well as being motivating and fun (Lengeling &
Malarcher, 1997). Besides being motivating, they can also push or challenge students on to
produce the language (Ersöz, 2000). They encourage creative and spontaneous use of the
language, promoting communicative competence. Cognitively, these games can be used to
reinforce, review or extend what is being taught in the classroom whether it is grammar,
vocabulary, or functions as the objective. Regarding class dynamics, these games build class
cohesion and promote healthy competition as well as fostering whole class participation. The
role of the student is more active and participative, while the teacher acts as a facilitator and
monitor. They lend themselves to a more student centered environment. To conclude they are
also used for different levels and ages of students and they can be adapted depending on the
context and interests of the students.

When beginning to design a board game, one should always consider what the objective is
and the students are. A board game usually has a flat surface and a beginning and end. This
surface can be colored paper, recycled or new folders, or cardboard. A number of board
games can easily be made by photocopying the finished game depending on the number of
students in your class. They can also be made on the computer and printed up easily.
Students can also be part of this designing process and they can be given a template to fill
out. A set of dice and markers are needed but these do not require a lot of expense and they
can be used over and over. Instructions can be included on the surface or the back of the
game. They should be clear, easy and readable for the students.

The internet has a wealth of downloadable board games that can be used as they are or
adapted to the teacher’s context. A recommendation is to look at the language used in these
internet board games and adapt the language if needed, based upon the context of the
students. This can easily be done on the computer or by using correction fluid and adding in
more appropriate language. This type of adaptation does not take long and is worthwhile.

Board games can be collected at the end of the class and reused in another class. They do
not require much room if they are paper copies. Once a teacher has gained experience in
adapting and using board games, the teacher is able to quickly make changes and becomes
creative in the design process.

The following are a few templates that can be used as inspirations. The teacher can change
the language used depending on what the objective is.


The next two examples show the end results of board games that have been made or


Lastly teachers should be aware of how students may be overly competitive at times. A
friendly reminder that this activity is only a game may be needed. What is important is not so
much who wins but having fun using the language with the board games.

A small amount of time and resources are needed when one is creating or adapting a board
game for classroom use. This didactic material can be reused many times and is part of the
teacher’s collection of materials. Their use is part of the teaching process and not so much a
supplement, but an activity that is created with an objective in mind. Once a teacher begins to
use and design board games with students, it is easier for the teacher to be creative and


Wright, A., Betteridge, D., & Buckby, M. (1984). Games for Language Learning (2nd Ed.). Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Aydan Ersöz, A. (2000). Six games for the EFL/ESL classroom. The Internet TESL Journal, VI, 6. Retrieved
Lengeling, M. M. & Malaracher, C. (1997). Index cards: A natural resource for teachers. Forum, 35, 4.
Simpson, A.J. (2011). Why use games in the language classroom? Humanizing Language Teaching, 13, 2.
Retrieved from:


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Four key moments in group management

Virginia S.B. Calhoun M.
Universidad Autónoma de Chiapas, Campus III

One of the most difficult problems for new teachers is keeping control of the class. Group
management can be especially difficult when students have little motivation to learn English,
little self-control or little interest in grades. Sensing when teachers have no control, students
will test the limits of adults’ tolerance. Your students will not learn if you cannot manage the
group adequately, they will not enjoy the class and they can even hurt their classmates.
Dynamic, interesting classes, like sports or games, need to have rules.

There are four key moments in group management: 1) at the beginning of the course, when
you establish class rules and begin to create a positive atmosphere in your classroom; 2)
when you plan the activities for your next lesson(s); 3) during the class, to keep your students
engaged; and 4) when problems start. Using the right strategies for each of these moments
will give teachers smooth group management and establish their authority. This workshop will
also discuss 5) ineffective or unethical disciplinary techniques.

1) At the beginning of the course, you must make your expectations clear. Discuss goals for
the course with the students in order to create together a short list of classroom rules. Use
positive language (“Use English in class” instead of “Don’t use Spanish.”). Agree on what
consequences should result from breaking the rules. Don’t propose drastic consequences
because you won’t be able to enforce them. When everyone is satisfied with the rules and
their consequences, post them in a prominent place as a reference. You can point to the
rules every time you correct students to remind them that everyone participated in
establishing these rules.

Equally important, you need to establish a positive class atmosphere. It is especially
important to learn your students’ names as soon as possible with photos, name tags,
descriptions or seating charts. Use their names every time you talk with them, to show
respect as well as to practice the names. Get to know your students individually, finding out
as much information as you can about their situations, preferences and idiosyncrasies. Learn
to appreciate each student for their own unique qualities.

Accept them as they are; make a point of discovering good qualities in your most difficult
students. Notice what they do well, and express your appreciation of them. Often, a difficult
student has low self-esteem. Your expressions of appreciation will help students accept
themselves, resulting in better behavior. Since students often disrupt class in order to get
attention, give them lots of attention when they are behaving well.


It is important to be friendly, but authoritative. Establish an atmosphere of tolerance, patience
and respect, modeling the behavior and attitudes you want students to imitate. Tell them that
bullying, discrimination and ridicule are not acceptable in your classroom. You can use stories
to help them understand how people feel when they are ridiculed or attacked. Praise
students who are behaving the way you want, and use them as an example for the others. At
the same time, examine your attitudes towards students and towards yourself as a teacher.
Perfectionism and intolerance, towards yourself or your students, will make you bad-tempered
and frustrated, while a sense of humor will be a great help.

2) Plan your classes to keep students engaged. If the class is boring, students will entertain
themselves with bad behavior and the teacher will lose control. Make sure that your classes
are appropriate for the students’ ages, abilities, level and learning styles, adapting the lesson
to their interests and context. Help them to feel successful in class by keeping your language

It is important to plan a variety of fun activities and techniques in class (active/quiet; whole
group/teams/small groups/pairs/individual; visual/auditory/kinesthetic) to keep all students
interested. Plan your lessons the way you would plan a dinner menu: with variety, appeal,
and value. Include activities to catch their attention at the beginning of the lesson, to help
them understand the theme, then to activate their new knowledge with a game.

You will need to prepare enough activities so that you can change them as soon as students
begin to lose interest. By having a few extra alternatives, you can eliminate an unpopular
activity and give students more choice in the classroom, as well as keeping quicker students
occupied. Make sure you practice these activities beforehand to work out all the details. If you
are having fun with the students, they will usually enjoy the class and cooperate with you.

3) Once you begin your class, keep your students engaged. Be sensitive to the atmosphere of
the class, varying activities the moment you sense that the students are becoming bored.
Modify your plans according to students’ responses. Let students decide between alternative
activities. Spend more time if students are confused; eliminate explanations if students
understand quickly.

Peer pressure is when the expectations of your equals (classmates, friends or colleagues)
obligate you to behave well. Group management techniques using peer pressure include:
giving the class collective rewards, such as a favorite activity; organizing competitive team
games or competitions between groups; or asking students to evaluate their classmates’
presentations, voting for the best work.

Involve distracted students immediately. Ask questions to the whole group first, then call on
students who are talking, using their names to bring their attention back to the class. Ask
these students questions or elicit their opinions or experiences related to the topic. Invite
them to participate in an encouraging, respectful way, so that they do not suspect your
manipulation. Stand next to distracted students, touch them on the shoulder. Young learners
enjoy routines and rituals, such as finger games, sequences of movements, rhymes, chants
or songs. Use them to get students back into synchronization and working together.


If a student is focused on a distractor, such as an I-pod or cell phone, remove the object for
the duration of the class. If the whole group often becomes distracted, move students away
from their closest friends, by organizing an activity in two teams and having students count off
by twos.

Offer students alternatives designed and controlled by you: “If you cooperate and don’t cheat,
we can continue playing this game. Or do you prefer doing the exercise on page 37?” “Do
you want to move over to Ana’s table, or can you be quiet where you are?” The two options
obviously do not include unacceptable alternatives, so students automatically have to behave
correctly. Giving students options makes them feel more involved in the class, because they
make the decisions, but since the teacher controls the possible outcomes, he or she only
offers options that will create a productive lesson.

Use silence to obtain silence. Interrupt yourself in the middle of a sentence, fold your arms,
look severely at the students who are talking most loudly, and wait silently for them to finish.
It doesn’t matter if it takes a few minutes. Other students will notice, and they will usually tell
the noisy children to be quiet. Never shout. Lower your voice, so the students need to be
quiet in order to hear you. Model the quiet voice you want them to use

Rewards or prizes, such as the opportunity to participate in favorite activities, stimulate
students to cooperate in the classroom, to finish class work or bring in homework. Make the
conditions for getting the reward clear. Show the students thatthis is the natural consequence
of their good behavior, and not a special favor from the teacher. Rewards must be immediate
and consistent. You can use them like a dessert at the end of a meal—if you finish the
activities you need to do, then we will all have time for a game or story. Group rewards are
especially effective, since they will promote peer pressure to behave.

4) When none of the techniques above have worked and the group becomes unruly, the
teacher must apply discipline. This should be fair, consistent, impersonal, immediate and
brief. Although disciplining the entire group may be unfair, occasional use of this technique
can create peer pressure on difficult students. Be effective, consistent and firm in discipline.
Keep your promises as well as your threats, enforcing rules instantly so that students take
your words seriously.

Do not punish students for ignorance or for honest mistakes, only for violating a rule that you
have already given to the class, and that the students understand. Make sure students
understand the reason for any punishments you give. Give students a chance to defend
themselves, but keep the disciplinary action brief and impersonal. Too much time spent on
disciplining one student will result in losing control of the rest of the group. Preferably talk
privately with the student after class, instead of confronting him publicly.

Show students that you accept them as people, even when you cannot tolerate their behavior.
Don’t tell students that they are bad people, stupid or uncooperative. They may believe you,
and become the kind of people you describe. Just explain, in a calm, cool way, that the bad
action was unacceptable and has caused a consequence that they don’t like.

One disciplinary technique is deprivation of an anticipated reward. Interrupt a fun activity and
substitute an unattractive option, telling the group that you can’t continue a fun activity with


them because they are not cooperating. Exclude individual students who behave badly from
games or move them to a different chair away from friends. Never threaten to take away a
reward if you can’t really do it. Students may test you by behaving badly to see if you really
mean what you say. You must be consistent.

Discipline should be part of the teaching-learning process, making the student reflect on what
he/did.Put a badly behaved child away from the others, in a special chair or in the corner, and
then ignore him. He can think about what he has done, and return to the group when he is
ready to behave well. Older students might talk with you or write an essay for extra homework
about their motives, their unacceptable actions, and what they will do in the future. Be sure
you read this work and comment on it.

Another form of extra homework for an entire group is announcing that there will be a quiz the
next day over the material that they are supposed to be learning. This will often make the
group pay more attention and behave better. Only give students a quiz after giving them a
chance to learn the material first. Then make sure you grade it, so that students take you
seriously. If you have a student who is consistently difficult, discuss the problem with the
student and make a contract with him/her, in which you both decide together what will be
acceptable behavior, and what the consequences of bad behavior will be.

In extreme situations, you might be tempted to expel students from the classroom or report
them to the director or to their parents. However, these extreme techniques will only be
effective if the director and the parents share the teacher’s views on discipline. Otherwise,
you may cause conflict with the students’ parents or with your director. Whenever possible, it
is better to resolve discipline problems in your classroom yourself.

5) The following strategies are ineffective, even unethical, and should never be used. Do not
lower grades for bad behavior. Using grades as a punishment is confusing for students,
parents, administrators and teachers themselves: is there a learning problem or a discipline
problem? Behavior and academic progress are two separate things; don’t confuse them.

Disciplinary action should be short, so that the rest of the students can continue with their
class. If the teacher spends too much time arguing or disciplining one student, the others
become bored, distracted, and may behave badly, too. In addition, unacceptable behavior
should not be rewarded with extra attention.

Verbal abuse is both ineffective and immoral. Never ridicule or insult students. Never
humiliate them, shout at them or make a public spectacle of them. Constant ridicule
(emotional abuse) makes students afraid to take risks and to participate. If you destroy a
student’s self-esteem, you destroy his/her ability to learn. For the same reason, never hit,
hurt or physically abuse students. You can go to jail for physical abuse, and your students can
be permanently traumatized.

Never get angry, resentful or vindictive. The saying “Don’t get mad; get even,” means that
you shouldn’t lose your head or scream at students. Take effective measures to control them,
but never show that you are upset. Getting angry destroys your authority and your health, as
well as reducing your students’ ability to learn.


It may sound cruel, but never consider students your friends. You are their teacher, and while
you should be friendly, you have the authority and the responsibility to teach all your students
and treat them equally, with no special preferences. The teacher-student relationship is not
an equal relationship of friendship. Romances or sexual relationships between teachers and
students are even more unethical and unprofessional. This kind of relationship, called sexual
abuse, is coercive because the teacher has the power to grade or fail the student. Students
deserve your impartial support and attention.

In conclusion, prevention is better than cure, as the saying goes. Try to anticipate problems
and devise solutions before these problems occur. Establish rules from the start, create a
good atmosphere in the classroom, plan your classes exhaustively, keep your students
focused and resolve discipline problems immediately. Avoid abusive strategies; treat your
students with respect if you want them to respect you. In addition, observe effective,
experienced teachers and adopt those techniques for group management that feel right for
you. Finally, a well-managed classroom is not only a harmonious and attractive place for
students, conducive to their learning; it is also the domain of a satisfied and productive

Calhoun, V. (2009) Kiddie English: A guide to teaching kindergarten and primary school children, Universidad
Autónoma de Chiapas


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Learner beliefs of new university students in a Mexican university

Martha Patricia Carranza de M.
Universidad Politécnica de Victoria
Elsa Fernanda González Quintero
Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas

Different authors have come up with different definitions for learner beliefs. For Victori and
Lockhart (1995,) beliefs are “general assumptions that students hold about themselves as
learners, about factors influencing language learning, and about the nature of language
learning and teaching”.

The objective of this small study is to uncover students´ beliefs about learning English which
may cause problems in the new courses they are taking at university so we will try to answer
the following questions:
What do students believe about learning English as a foreign language?
What do teachers believe about teaching English as a foreign language?
Are there differences between students’ beliefs and teachers’ beliefs?

What students believe should be relevant for teachers for it may useful or detrimental to the
learning process. If students think learning a language requires memorization, they will try to
memorize; if they think they should not speak unless they are totally sure of the correct way to
say something, they may never open their mouths in class. It has been mentioned that beliefs
are related to the kind of strategies students will use, and how they use them; what students
pay attention to and whether they are willing to participate in certain activities (Wenden in
Tudor, 1996). In addition, it is possible that students’ beliefs and teachers’ beliefs are different
and this may cause problems for both (Tudor 1996).

Previous studies
Elaine Horwitz (1988) developed the Beliefs About Language Learning Inventory (BALLI)
which consists of common beliefs of ESL teachers and ESL and EFL students of different
cultural backgrounds. She developed a version to be used by ESL students, a simplified
version for EFL students and one more for teachers. The objective of this inventory was to
keep a record of beliefs regarding language learning. The BALLI contains 34 items divided in
five categories: 1) difficulty on language learning, 2) foreign language learning aptitude, 3) the
nature of language learning; 4) learning and communication strategies; and 5)motivations and
expectations. The students are given a set of statements for which they have to mark their
degree of agreement of disagreement in a scale from 1 to 5.


Horwitz administered the inventory to first semester foreign language students of German,
French and Spanish in the University of Texas. The results of the study showed similarity of
beliefs among the students of the three languages.

Bernat and Gvozdenko (2005) reports that other studies in which the BALLI has been used in
different countries suggest that learner beliefs are context-specific.

Kuntz (2000) studied the beliefs of students of Arabic and their teachers in language
programs in two Arabic-speaking countries in an effort to find their common beliefs. She
suggested that the difference in beliefs could be the reason why some students studying
abroad in Arabic-speaking countries would not learn faster than students in their own country.
In her study, she used the Kuntz-Rifkin Instrument (KRI) which was based on the BALLI from
Horwitz. She found differences among students’ and teachers’ beliefs which could be held
responsible for use of ineffective strategies. She suggests that knowledge of students beliefs
may be used to enhance language programs.

Diab (2006) used a modified version of Horwitz’ BALLI to compare the beliefs of students
learning English and French in Lebannon.

Other researchers have used similar questionnaires to study learner beliefs in different
contexts. For example Sakui and Gaies as mentioned by Bernat (2005) who studied the
beliefs of Japanese learners.

No report of Mexican students’ beliefs was found.

The Universidad Politécnica de Victoria, a small university in Northeast Mexico, has a
mandatory English program which all students must follow. It consists of nine English as a
Foreign Language courses which takes them from beginners to an intermediate level. It has
been found that some students have a hard time completing the courses successfully which
means they have to repeat the courses and sometimes lag in their programs. From teacher’s
observations, it seems they do not give English the same importance as the other subjects
and think it is a very easy subject that they can pass without attending all classes. They are
more worried about succeeding in other kinds of subjects related closely to their academic
programs. This study was designed in an effort to improve the results of our English program.

The BALLI inventory was used as a base for this study. It was translated to Spanish and
adapted to the Mexican context. The BALLI questionnaire refers to learning other foreign
languages; however, in this context the only foreign language the students are learning is
English. Some questions were slightly changed. The questionnaire was piloted with a group
of students, to make sure the statements were clear, before administering it to the new


The subjects of this study are 89 new students at a public university. Their ages are between
17 and 19. There are only three women in the group and the rest, 86 are men. This is not
strange for their area of study is engineering in mechatronics. 83 students come from public
high schools, such as CBTyS. At the time they arrive at university they have had many hours
of English classes in elementary, junior high and high school. However, English seems to be
a difficult subject when we consider results at the end of each period. In order to compare the
beliefs of the students’ to the teacher´s beliefs, the version for teachers is being administered
to 10 teachers.

So far the students’ inventories have been administered and the data has been registered.
Some of the results that have been observed so far are mentioned below.

Most of the students consider learning English is easier for children and most of them agree
that some languages are easier to learn than others; they do not think that English is a difficult
language to learn, but they consider there is a difference in structure between English and

It may be observed that most of them believe they will eventually learn how to speak English
very well. They also agree that they have the ability to learn English. These suggest some
degree of confidence in their learning processes.

Most of them believe that accent is very important. This kind of answer could help the teacher
think about using different models with different accents so the students understand they are
varieties of the same language and it is normal to hear different accents.

It is interesting to see that students do not agree to the statement that say “it`s OK to guess
when you don´t know a word in the foreign language”. This kind of answer gives food for
thought. Should the teacher spend some time teaching strategies?

Another statement most of the students agree to is “Learning a foreign language is mostly
learning a lot of vocabulary” which suggests they will focus on trying to memorize new words
and maybe not focus on how they are used. Most of them also agree to “Learning a foreign
language is mostly learning a lot of grammar rules.” Another type of research could be
conducted to find out whether these responses have to do with the way they were previously

Regarding the use of English, most of the students believe they will have many opportunities
to use it if they learn it, and most of them also believe that they will get a better job if they do.
These responses suggest that the students have a motivation to learn and that it will be the
job of teachers to help them maintain it during the time the program lasts.

This study is not yet finished. Up to now, we are uncovering students’ beliefs that we think will
be relevant to their performance in class. The students seem motivated. Nevertheless, they
give too much importance to grammar and vocabulary which could stop them from
participating actively in other types of activities.



Bernat, E. and Gvozdenko, I. (2005) Beliefs about Language Learning: Current Knowledge, Pedagogical
Implications, and New Research Directions. TESL-EJ.
Diab, R. (2006) University students’ beliefs about learning English and French in Lebannon. System, 34 (80-96)
Gabillon, Z.(2012) Discrepancies between L2 Teacher and L2 Learner Beliefs. English Language Teaching;
Vol.5, No.12
Gabillon, Z. (2012) Discrepancies between L2 Teacher and L2 Learner Beliefs. English Language Teaching, Vol.
5, No. 12
Gabillon, Z. (2002)L2 Learner´s Beliefs: An Overview. Journal of Language and Learning, Vol. 3, No. 2
Horwitz, E. (1988) The Beliefs About Language Learning of Beginning University Foreign Language Students.
The Modern Language Journal, 72(3)283-284
Kuntz, Patricia (2000) Beliefs about Language Learning: Students and Their Teachers at Arabic Programs
Abroad. JSTOR.
Tudor, I. (1996) Learner-centredness as Language Education. Cambridge University Press.
Wenden, A. L. (1986) Helping language learners think about their learning. ELT Journal,Vol. 40/1
Wenden, A. L. (1998) Metacognitive Knowledge and Language Learning. Applied Linguistics 19/4
Victori, M. and Lockhart, W. (1995). Enhancing metacognition in self-directed language learning. System, 23 (2),


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Planning time in speaking tests: how does it help?

Mark Chapman
Jessica O’Boyle
Cambridge Michigan Language Assessments

Speaking in a second language is very challenging; language learners have to decide what to
say, choose the correct words and sentence structures to use, and also think about the tone
of voice, rhythm and pacing, as well as pronunciation. They need to make all these decisions
in real time, while another person waits to hear what they are going to say. The time pressure
is tremendous and, because it is impossible to pay attention to everything, language learners
are forced to be selective in what they pay attention to; be it their grammar, or their
pronunciation, or the new word that they are trying to use. Because of this, researchers
(Crookes, 1989; Foster &Skehan, 1996; and Yuan & Ellis, 2003) have argued that the best
way to promote language learning is to provide planning time. Planning time offers learners
the opportunity to think carefully about what they are going to say and it helps them to learn

The question, however, is whether planning time would also be useful in a speaking test.
Many teachers and test takers would argue that it is. However, the research in the area (see
Wigglesworth, 1997; and Iwashita, McNamara & Elder, 2001) is not convincing. This paper
will address this debate using data from the piloting phase of a new speaking test. Twenty-
two test takers participated in this phase; half took the test with planning time and half took it
without planning time. The tests were video-recorded and, after the test was over, the test
takers were asked whether they wanted or needed planning time. The paper will present the
findings of this research. It will show whether the test takers used the planning time they were
given and also how this influenced their spoken language. Finally, the paper will discuss
whether planning time, though beneficial in language learning, is useful in a speaking test.

At the request of test centers around the world, the MET Speaking test was developed so that
test centers could have a relatively easy-to-deliver, multi-level speaking test that would
determine the oral proficiency level of those taking it. So that many tests could be given in a
single testing period, the test design required that each test takeless than 10 minutes,
including both examiner discourse and examinee speech. With this in mind, MET Speaking
Test adopted a semi-direct format, where an examiner usesa pre-determined script to deliver
instructions and task prompts through a face-to-face interaction with a test taker. The
advantages of this test format as opposed to an unscripted face-to-face speaking test include
the standardization of test content and delivery, an increase in the number of situations that
can be presented to the test taker (Luoma, 1997), giving test takers equal opportunities to
demonstrate the extent of their proficiency regardless of which examiner they have, and an


increase in the kind of linguistic functions elicited (Shohamy & Inbar, 1991; Luoma, 1997).One
of the areas of test design that the researchers wanted to look at more closelyduring test
development was the issue of planning time (i.e. how much or how little to include) for each
task on the test. Therefore an investigational pilot study was conducted to determine if
planning time was necessary to include in the MET Speaking test.

The MET Speaking Test is composed of five individual tasks, which progressively increase in
linguistic difficulty from Task 1 to Task 5:
Task 1: The test taker describes a picture.
Task 2: The test taker talks about a personal experience on a topic related to what is
seen in the picture.
Task 3: The test taker gives a personal opinion about a topic related to the picture.
Task 4: The test taker is presented with a situation and will have to explain some
advantages and disadvantages related to that situation.
Task 5: The test taker is asked to give an opinion on a new topic and to try to
convince the examiner to agree with the idea.

The MET Speaking test aims to assess the test takers’ ability to communicate orally in
English at the A2-C1 levels of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR),
targeting particularly those linguistic functions that distinguish one level from another. For
example, while a test taker at the B1 level is able to express his/her opinion on a given topic,
this test taker cannot yet effectively highlight the advantages and disadvantages of his/her
opinion or choice. Production of this latter function begins to appear in the language of
English language learners (ELL) at the B2 level.

Literature Review
Investigations in second language learninginitially began by looking at cognitive psychology
and how the brain chooses what to pay attention to.While speaking in their second language
(L2), language learners not only need to recall knowledge in their first language (L1), but also
constantlychoose what to pay attention to while they are speaking. Due to limited attention
resources, one or more areas are often neglected when speech is produced, whether it is
accuracy, complexity or fluency (Foster and Skehan, 1996 & Yuan and Ellis, 2003).Many
teachers believe that it is best to remove time pressure by providing planning opportunities for
learners. Although planning time is generally perceived to be a positive component of
speaking tests in a pedagogical setting, the results from research are mixed on whether it is
beneficial in standardized assessments.

Crookes (1989) investigated the effect of planning time upon the amount of language
produced, the complexity of the language, and the accuracy of the language from a language-
learning perspective. The study participants were intermediate to advanced learners of
English, similar in level to a typical MET test taker.In this study, participants were given 10
minutes planning time for eachof two different tasks and were not restricted to a particular
amount of response time. Each participant had to perform a description task and an
explanation task, both of which were relatively complex in nature. The description task
involved describing how a particular house was made and the explanation task asked the test
taker to explain the location of the house within a town. The results of this study concluded
that including planning time produced a greater variety of lexis and more complex language.


However the research also showed that adding planning time did not increase the accuracy of
the participants’ speech.

Foster and Skehan (1996) and Skehan and Foster (1997) explored the provision of planning
time on three speaking tasks: information exchange, narrative, and decision-making. All the
study participants were pre-intermediate learners of English and would be slightly less
proficient in speaking than a typical MET test taker. Ten minutes of planning time was
provided to the learners under the planning time condition. Foster and Skehan hypothesized
that, with planning, there would be improvements in the language learners’ fluency, language
complexity, language variety, and language accuracy. The results of this study found that
there is a strong interaction between the complexity of the task and the benefits received from
planning time. For example, even though the responses given for the exchange task
contained more accurate speech, the complexity of the response did not significantly
improve.Furthermore, including planning time on the narrative task yielded more complex
language from participants, but with lower accuracy. The researchers concluded that,
although they were given extensive planning time, language learners still showed difficulty
balancing attention resources while completing the tasks.

Yuan and Ellis (2003) looked at the effects of both pre-task and on-line planning on L2 oral
production. The test consisted of one narrative task given to 42 participants, all of whom were
full-time undergraduate students. The participants were assigned to three groups (1) pre-task
planning (2) on-line planning (3) no planning, and each group was given the same narrative
task to complete. “On-line planning”, as defined by Yuan and Ellis (2003) is “speech
production that incorporates both careful production (as opposed to rapid production) and
monitoring.” Students in the pre-task planning group were given 10 minutes of planning time
and five minutes to complete the task. The no-planning groups were also limited to 5 minutes
completion time. Students in the on-line planning group were given unlimited time to complete
the task. The reasons provided for this decision were based on the hypothesis that removing
time pressure would allow ELL’s to focus on speech monitoring, giving them the chance to
produce more grammatically accurate language. The results of the study concluded that pre-
task planning contributed to greater grammatical complexity in the responses, but did not
contribute to greater lexical variety. The results also show that the pre-task planning group did
not produce more accurate language than the no-planning time group. However the on-line
planning group had both improved accuracy and complexity.

Wigglesworth (1997) looked at planning time in the context of a tape-mediated speaking test.
The test was comprised of eight tasks that became increasingly more demanding, both
linguistically and cognitively. All test takers received one minute of planning time for each of
the tasks. The dataset included 28 test takers and their speaking performances were
analyzed for complexity, accuracy, and fluency. Controlling for test-taker proficiency,
Wigglesworth found that the effects of planning time upon features of speech production were
mixed. Overall, it appeared that low-proficiency test takers did not benefit from planning time
and high-proficiency test takers only benefited when the tasks were more cognitively complex.
Wigglesworth also checked the impact of planning time on the score received and she found
that there were no significant differences in the test takers’ scores in the planned and
unplanned task conditions.


Iwashita, McNamara and Elder (2001) examined the relationships between task
characteristics and task performance. This research study looked at the response
characteristics (accuracy, fluency, complexity) to see how they were affected by task
characteristics, including task type, format, and performance conditions (including planning
time). Data was collected from 193 students at the intermediate level. All of the participants
were randomly assigned to one of four experimental groups. Each group was asked to
complete 8 narrative tasks where each of four task dimensions (perspective, immediacy,
adequacy, and planning time) had an attached +/- condition. The +/- condition, which was
applied to each task was based on the predicted difficulty of cognitive demand. The results of
this study concluded that the decision to include (or not include) planning timeas a
performance condition did not have a significant impact on the test takers’ performance,
regardless of the difficulty of the task they were asked to complete.

As research has shown, how planning time affects test taker speech is unclear. From a
pedagogical standpoint, it is easy to appreciate the importance of allowing students planning
time so that they can prepare and produce a well-thought out response. Because of this,
many speaking tests have tried to follow suit and have therefore included built-in planning
time in the hopes that students will be able to produce a response that encapsulates their
present language ability. However, research indicates that the benefits of planning time are
not at all clear in the speaking test context. From this literature review, we have learned that
it is difficult to target how much planning time should be given to each test taker, if and how
test takers are using it, and if it is impacting the language they produce.

Study Design
An investigation into the need for planning time on the MET Speaking Test was conducted in
July, 2012. Twenty-five MET Speaking Tests were administered to 22 ELL volunteers from
local colleges in Michigan. There were 13 female and 9 male participants, with proficiency
levels ranging from CEFR level A2 to C1. There was a wide range of nationalities and first
languages in the pilot population. The main aim of this phase of the pilot testing was to
investigate the need for preparation time in the MET Speaking Test. Therefore our research
question was:

Do test takers want planning time to answer the more linguistically demanding tasks
of the MET Speaking Test?

Twelve of the twenty-two student participants were given 30 seconds to prepare for two of the
five tasks on the test (Task 4 and Task 5). Thirteen of the twenty-two student participants
were not allowed any preparation time to complete the five tasks. Two different test prompts,
parallel in format and difficulty, were used in this study. Test A was given to six students with
preparation time and eight students without preparation time. Test B was given to six students
with preparation time and five students without preparation time. It should be noted that three
of the twenty-two student participants took both Test A and Test B with the planning time
condition removed on the second test. Post testing, all twenty-two participants were asked to
complete a short questionnaire about the test that they took. Question 2 in the questionnaire
asked whether there was sufficient preparation time for Task 4 and Task 5, the more
linguistically challenging tasks on the MET Speaking test, which target learners at the B2 and
C1 levels respectively.



Summary of Test Taker Responses to Questionnaire
Table 1.1
# of students with
preparation time
# of students without
preparation time
Test A 6 8
Test B 6 5

Table 1.2
Task # # of students who felt
they did not need prep
# of students who felt
they did need prep time
Task 4 19 3
Task 5 16 6

As can be seen in Table 1.2, a majority of the test takers felt that they had sufficient
preparation time for both Task 4 and Task 5. Of the three test takers who said they did not
have sufficient preparation time for Task 4, one of them took the prompt with preparation time
and two without. This means that of the thirteen test takers who were not given preparation
time for Task 4, only two of them reported not having enough time to prepare an answer. This
is a strong indication that test takers do not require preparation time to answer Task 4.

Of the six participants who said that they did not have sufficient preparation time for Task 5,
three of them took the prompt with preparation time and three without. Thus, of the thirteen
test takers who were not given preparation time for Task 5, only three of them reported not
having enough time to prepare an answer. For both Task 4 and Task 5, a large majority of
test takers who took the prompt without preparation time said that they had sufficient time to
prepare an answer.

While there were a few test takers in this study who wanted to have planning time on the
more linguistically demanding tasks, most did not want it. This conclusion is supported not
only by the questionnaire responses but also by researchers’ observation of test taker
behavior. The researchers observed that participants who were given planning time often did
not use the full amount of time given. Also, although participants in the study were given
paper and pencil to use during the planning time, most did not use it to prepare their
response. Additionally, research has shown that planning time may influence the complexity
and quantity of output, but it does not influence the score given(Wigglesworth, 1997; Iwashita
et al., 2001). Thus neither prior research into the effects of planning time in speaking tests nor
results from this research provide significant support for the inclusion of planning time in this
particular speaking test.

Further support for designing the MET speaking test without planning time comes from a
consideration of aspects of the construct of speaking ability characteristic of the targeted


proficiency levels. The MET Speaking test is designed to assess speaking ability not only at
lower levels of proficiency but also at higher ones, where it is expected that ELLs should be
able to speak fluently and spontaneously. At the B1 level, an ELL is expected to be able to
communicate on “familiar routine and non-routine matters related to his/her interests and
professional field” but does not yet have the ability to “communicate spontaneously with good
grammatical control” (Council of Europe, 2001: 74), an ability of a B2 level speaker.In a
natural conversation, a speaker needs to continuously use “on-line planning” to prepare what
to say before it is added to the conversation. If a speaking test task designed to measure
speaking ability at higher proficiency levelsincludes planning time, it can be argued that the
taskdoes not accurately measurethe fluency and conversational spontaneity expected at
those levels.

Teachers and students may benefit from adding planning time in classroom speaking
activities designed to support language learning; however, the usefulness of planning time in
standardized testing has not yet been shown. Because test developers want to ensure that
the tests they are creating are both reliable and valid,the effects of planning time remain an
important area for research.Therefore, the following questions have been selected for future
research into the MET speaking test:

1. Does planning time affect the amount of language produced?
2. Does planning time make any difference to the final score?
3. Does planning time affect the kind of language produced?

Crookes, G.(1989). Planning and interlanguage variation.Studies in Second Language Acquisition 11, 367-383.
Council of Europe. (2001). Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching,
assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Douglas, D. (1994). Quantity and quality in speaking test performance. Language Testing, July 199411(2),125-
Elder, C. and Wigglesworth, G. (2003).An investigation of the effectiveness and validity of planning time in Part 2
of the IELTS speaking test.IELTS Research Reports 6, 1-28.
Fulcher, G. (1996). Does thick description lead to smart tests? A data-based approach to rating scale
construction. Language Testing13(2), 208-238.
Foster, P. andSkehan, P.(1996). The influence of planning and task type on second language
performance.Studies in Second Language Acquisition 18, 299-323.
Iwashita, N., McNamara, T.,and Elder, C.(2001). Can we predict task difficulty in an oral proficiency test?
Exploring the potential of an information-processing approach to task design.Language Learning51(3), 401-436.
Iwashita, N., Brown, A., McNamara, T., & O’Hagan, S. (2008). Assessed levels of second language speaking
proficiency: How distinct? Applied Linguistics29(1), 29-49.
Luoma, S. (1997).Comparability of a tape-mediated and a face-to-face test of speaking.Unpublished Licentiate
thesis, University of Jyvaskyla.
Shohamy, E., andInbar, O.(1991). Validation of listening comprehension tests: The effect of text and question
type. Language Testing8(1), 23-40.
Skehan, P.andFoster, P.(1997). Task type and task processing conditions as influences on foreign language
performance. Language Teaching Research1(3), 185-211.
vanLier, L. (1989). Reeling, writhing, drawling, stretching, and fainting in coils: Oral proficiency interviews as
conversation. TESOL Quarterly23(3), 489-508.
Wigglesworth, G.(1997). An investigation of planning time and proficiency level on oral test discourse.Language
Testing14(1), 85-106.
Yuan, F., and Ellis, R.(2003).The effects of pre-task planning and on-line planning on fluency, complexity and
accuracy in L2 monologic oral production.Applied Linguistics 24(1), 1-27.


Four Decades of Innovation in EL Four Decades of Innovation in EL Four Decades of Innovation in EL Four Decades of Innovation in ELT T T T
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Analyzing Mr. Bean´s ethical behavior

Martha Catalina del Ángel Castillo
Departamento de Lenguas Modernas
Tecnológico de Monterrey, Campus Monterrey,

The ability to learn the English language has become mandatory in this globalized world
because university students should be able to communicate in different social and cultural
contexts. University professors should then promote ethical behavior through different
activities; one of them is by presenting television shows that depict real situations in the
classroom that need to be analyzed in the light of ethical principles. The purpose of this work
is to share one activity that can be easily practiced in the English classroom where teachers
can guide their students to identify and react to ethical dilemmas in order to come to their own

Higher education students should be able to speak the English language and be able to face
and make decisions on ethical issues. Professors can guide students to make ethical
decisions through different teaching strategies such as simulations, case studies, etc. among
others. The objective of this work is to present how students can identify ethical or non-ethical
behaviors through a comic situation depicted on a television show played by a famous
English character known as Mr. Bean. In this activity, the professor seeks to promote
reflection on a situation that reflects a reality in a classroom setting, to make students write
their position on the behavior played by the main character and last to integrate all the
comments made by the group.

Students can benefit when doing this activity because they have the opportunity to practice
the four skills in the classroom: listening comprehension, when the teacher is giving
instructions and when the video is played; speaking when they are discussing information
with teammates; reading when analyzing the possible answers to the questions provided by
the teacher and writing when working collaboratively to gather their conclusions as a team.

This activity was planned based upon basic bibliography on ethics and collaborative work.
Although the jury is still out regarding the instruction of ethics in the class, Walker (2011)
states that the objective of teaching ethics is to encourage individuals to make more positive
ethical decisions by changing cognitive thinking patterns. Thus, students can be guided to
come to ethical decisions rather than just by following their ‘common sense’. This a form of
constructivism because students are guided towards structuring their own opinions, values


and beliefs based on their own knowledge and on any new information; the classroom
becomes a microcosm of society for it reflects different points of views so that teachers
become facilitators forming a learning community.

The collaborative activities are based upon the five basic elements for cooperative learning
presented by Johnson; Johnson & Smith (1991): (1) positive interdependence; (2) face-to-
face promoting interaction; (3) individual accountability and personal responsibility; (4)
frequent use of interpersonal and small group social skill; and (5) frequent regular group
processing of current functioning.

The original plan consisted of four parts because students were previously gathered in teams
they usually work with. Then, students were introduced into the ethical components,
collaborative principles just described; and then, into the academic content, in this case, verb
tenses review. The specific objectives were to:
1. reflect about self-ethical behavior.
2. promote face-to-face interaction.
3. foster positive interdependence.
4. review verb tenses and vocabulary seen in class.
5. interact in English to practice speaking.

The activity itself consisted of four parts:
Part one: students watch a six-minute video (Mr. Bean) and were asked to answer the
following questions: Do you agree or disagree with Mr. Bean’s behavior? Why? What
can we learn from his behavior? The teacher will call on students at random.
Part two (20 minutes) Students look for a classmate they have not worked with before;
they sit together and answer the exercise the teacher will give them; then, they agree
on the correct answer.
Part three(15 minutes) students share their answers with the class and support their
Part four:Reflect about self-ethical behavior by answering the following questions: Are
you aware of how important ethical behavior is in your personal and professional life?
Ask your partner what behavior he would like to change and why. Respect each other’s

This activity was supposed to take a fifty-minute class but students were familiar with these
types of activities so we ended up taking only 30 minutes. In part one, students were
answering the questions as they were watching the video not at the end as it had been

In part two students decided to stay with the same teammates they always worked with,
although there were some exceptions like students who arrived late had to work together. part
three was rather short because students shared very similar ideas. In part four, the amount of
non-ethical behaviors was incredible and also the honesty students showed when asked what
non-ethical behavior they would like to change, this section was very enriching. For example
one student said that when he was in a long line he usually said he felt sick and asked to be
assisted first. Another student said that he usually parks in handicapped parking places;
others said they lie to their parents in order to get permission. Although some changes were


made from the original plans students were able not only to reflect on non-ethical behavior but
also to identify what they wanted to change.

Results will be narrated according to the five objectives that were pursued in this activity.
First, students were able to reflect about their self-ethical behavior because they watched
a situation of a student cheating on an exam, at first, nobody wanted to talk about it; but
finally they ended up saying that they had done it but still reflected on the consequences
this behavior has on their professional status.
Second, students achieved a face-to-face interaction as they have to discuss their
answers before writing down a conclusion, when doing it in pairs they felt confident to say
whether or not they have committed a kind of non-ethical behavior.
Third, there was positive interdependence because if one student was able to write
properly he was the one responsible for doing it; while his partner looked for situations that
could easily be described.
Fourth, students got so excited about the topic that paid little attention to verb tenses, this
was a general tendency and this has to be emphasized in different ways by the teacher or
even penalized.
Fifth, although most part of the interaction was in English, there was a lack of the proper
vocabulary for the topic.

It can be said that the evaluation of the activity was difficult because sometimes students who
did not express an ethical position had well-structured sentences or vice-versa. The listening
and speaking ability was well controlled because they had to express their position to the
whole class and also because the teacher was supervising their work

As this activity was full of new possibilities to be analyzed considering the participation of
students who dared to share the non-ethical behaviors they had committed, students are then
ready to identify non-ethical situations not only at school but also in some other environments;
for example they are later given the task of describing a non-ethical dilemma and ask other
teams to solve it.

Students know that apparently they may immediately benefit from a non-ethical behavior; but
then they realized they might suffer the consequences of not being ethical, for example, not
being trusted by friends, teachers, etc. in case of lying; not knowing the material, in case of
cheating on an exam; being caught again, if this becomes a habit; getting a note of academic
dishonesty, and the like. Students have to know that being ethical is as important as being
competitive in their professional careers.

Walker, M. (2011).Evaluating the intervention of an ethics class in students’ ethical decision-making.Journal of
the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. 11(4), 69-89.
Johnson, D.; Johnson, R & Smith, K. (1991).Cooperative Learning: Increasing College Faculty Instructional
Productivity. Association for the Study of Higher Education George Washington University.Washington D.C.
(ERIC Document Reproduction Service No.ED 343 465).


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Music appreciation...enhancing your students’ values

De la Paz Arroyo Carlos Eduardo
Parra Alarcón Teresa Noemí
Centro Universitario Angloamericano

Nowadays educational systems tend to emphasize intellectual over personal development.
Even though Delors (1996) stated that education should be based on four pillars –learning to
know, learning to do, learning to live with others and learning to be– most syllabi give priority
to the first one. Therefore, most teachers’ main goal is for students to develop scientific and
pragmatic skills rather than the social ones. Students’ priority is to acquire knowledge and be
able to carry out tasks in sciences such as Math, Physics and Chemistry. They become
specialists who are only interested in their area of expertise and will struggle to cooperate
with other areas. As long as they are able to pass exams and demonstrate they have the
necessary knowledge, they are considered people who will succeed in life.

Regarding English teaching, classes are content-based and intended for students to acquire
competencies that enable them to perform successfully in a globalized world. Learners are
expected to function effectively and cope with a technological life where communication has
evolved rapidly. As a consequence, social skills are not nurtured nor promoted; students are
immersed in an automatic society that has changed its communication patterns. Young
people´s interaction has been diminished and they do not even realize the importance of
values like empathy, solidarity, tolerance, among others, for their integral growth.

On the other hand, English classes should be reconsidered as a rich environment, full of
opportunities, to explore a variety of topics which will contribute to our students’ integral
development. Most foreign language teachers incorporate a variety of resources (music,
videos and internet) as part of their teaching strategies. However, they are mainly targeted to
develop grammatical competence. Therefore, these resources must be reoriented toward a
more humanistic approach, i.e. instead of focusing on form; students should be guided to
enhance awareness of values involved in their lives. In this context, it is necessary to highlight
the role these values have for their integral personal development. As a result, students will
begin to care for people around them; and eventually they will recognize the importance of
learning to live with others. In order to achieve this goal, presenters consider that music is a
flexible and fun tool to promote values in class. They will show, through a different use of
songs, how music can be the starting point of a deeper meaning and understanding of human


Experience will be the key to identify each group’s specific needs so that teachers tailor tasks
based on learners’ areas of opportunity. Teachers should be aware of current issues such as
domestic violence, early pregnancy, poverty, bullying, among others, which prevent people
from promoting values in their lives. Once these issues are identified, teachers may tackle
them with a different use of songs.

ESL classes incorporate music in a variety of activities. Teachers present songs which are
typically analyzed in a lexical or grammatical basis; fill in the gaps and sequencing paper
strips are common activities. Therefore, classes are fun and students even sing along and
practice pronunciation. However, this workshop is intended to show an original way to handle
songs in a humanistic approach. Given the lack of importance that the fourth pillar has in our
classes, songs provide teachers with opportunities to enhance students’ values.

During the first stage of this workshop, participants will play the role of students so they can
experience the benefits of this innovative proposal. Firstly, they will work on a self
assessment questionnaire, which aim is to recognize themselves and know the responsibility
they have as role models in class. As soon as they finish, they discuss their opinions with
other participants. Then, they will have a brainstorming task to come up with ideas to define
what a friend is; participants gather in groups for sharing. As part of scaffolding, several
images where friendship is appreciated in different contexts will be displayed. It is well known
that friendship among youngsters has a fairly limited meaning which is restricted –most of the
time– to online interaction. They tend to make friends through social networks and face to
face communication has been diminished. The aim for this task is to provide participants with
different scenarios where friendship can be promoted, i.e. to expand the meaning of
friendship into their lives. It is expected they realize the myriad of possibilities that friendship
has, hence, their social skills will be strengthen.

As a second task, presenters display several slides with images that portray values.
Participants get a handout where they label the same images to a list of values. Later on,
participants identify them in the song they are about to listen (“At your side” by The Corrs will
be played). While participants listen to it, (using the same handout), they infer the values
within the lyrics and tick the ones that are represented in the song. Finally, participants get in
groups, share answers and give reasons. To wrap up the task, participants work in groups,
they are given a handout where they analyze some dilemmas in order to reach a consensus.
The task aim is to figure out an optimal solution where values are promoted. Afterward, some
teams are chosen randomly to share their proposals with the audience. Once the task is
finished, presenters show briefly a different song to approach another social issue. So,
participants can have another perspective to carry out this kind of tasks in their classes.

The second part of this workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to design their
own tasks. First, they are asked to get in groups. Then, presenters will give out: a) a handout
with dilemmas which show some issues teachers face every day at school, e.g. bullying, early
pregnancy, domestic violence, drop-outs among others; b) a list of values to be enhanced
even in tough situations and c) a list of songs which can be the starting point to change
students’ point of view towards this kind of situations. After that, participants are asked to
choose a dilemma, analyze it and figure out which value can be enhanced through one of the
songs. When tasks are finished, two groups are invited to demonstrate their outcome. After
the presentations, there will be a group discussion where participants contribute with


additional comments to enrich the groups’ demonstrations. Once participants learn how songs
may be reoriented to enhance values, they will be encouraged to implement this technique in
their teaching practices.

In order to succeed in the implementation of this technique, it is essential for teachers to get
involved in their students’ integral development. First of all, facilitators must change the
paradigm about English teaching relevance. Given the fact that English is as important as any
other subject for a holistic development, teachers should recognize the worth of teaching.
Moreover, they can take advantage of the variety of opportunities available within ESL
classes; they are a suitable environment for learners to establish healthier and stronger
relationships. According to this humanistic approach, facilitators care, commit themselves and
are aware of the impact they have in their students’ lives. Therefore, one of the first steps to
achieve this goal is to recognize themselves as role models and take into account their social
responsibility; they must keep in mind they are shaping future citizens.

To summarize, the role English teachers play is key for this approach to be successful; they
will guide learners to discover the role values have for human development. Through original
and meaningful tasks, learners recognize the richness and variety of social interaction. Thus,
they will understand relationships from a different perspective and realize how values may be
promoted in their own lives. Above all, facilitators are responsible to instill in learners an
awareness about people’s similarities and differences to enhance empathy, tolerance and
solidarity. Consequently, learners will expand their horizons and develop social skills that
contribute to strengthen the learning to live with others pillar.

Delors, J. (1996). The four pillars of education. The Treasure within. UNESCO Task Force on Education for the
Twenty-first Century. Retrieved from on March 2013.


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A creative and often overlooked technique: Commercials/ movie trailers

M. Martha Lengeling
Bryan Derry
Universidad de Guanajuato

This presentation gives an overview of the benefits and uses of both TV commercials and
movie trailers in the EFL classroom and shows how their use is often overlooked. Language
learning is complex and it is widely agreed that extensive exposure or input facilitates this
process (Brown, 2000; Ellis, 2008; Krashen, 1985). The use of authentic video serves just
this purpose. In the modern world, very few people can get through the day without looking
for audio/visual stimuli through the form of video or recorded audio. Through the use of
trailers and commercials, students are exposed to both visual and audio stimuli, and in some
cases, the written word. The rationale of this presentation is to demonstrate not only some of
the benefits of the use of these media but also practical and creative uses within the

Reasons for Using Commercials/movie Trailers
The reasons to use these two fast paced forms of video are many. Some of these reasons
will be discussed in detail. These reasons include video being linguistically rich, engaging,
multi-modal, low-cost (often free), easily available, easily transferrable to what is being seen
in class, short in length, and an indefinite variety available on the internet. Of course, this list
could go on and on, but these particular aspects are those that will be discussed here.
All commercials and trailers are authentic material and as a result are linguistically rich. Since
they are made for the general public that consists of proficient English speakers, a wide
variety of linguistic structures, vocabulary, and idiomatic expressions are inherently included.
The language used is rarely simplified (with the exception of some commercials) and
generally represents the typical language used during the era the video was made or
recorded. Using authentic video and with the help of the teacher and classmates, “real
English’ is not beyond their comprehension” (Stempleski, 1987).

Regardless of the grammar point, vocabulary, or topic that is being seen in the class, a video
can be found to connect to it. Due to the infinite amount of different trailers/commercials
available, there are surely multiple videos that could be found and used in the classroom.
Apart from that, the video can be incorporated into a lesson at any point in the class:
introduction, during the class, transitions, and for closure. It could be used to activate
schemata, introduce a topic or set a context, recycle vocabulary, provide a springboard for
other activities, promote conversation, add variety to your lesson plan or practice grammar
structures recently seen in the class. The list goes on.


Finding things that can engage students can be a difficult task. Fortunately, both trailers and
commercials are designed to be extremely engaging. Each type of video is designed to strike
a chord in the individual, somehow remind one of a past experience, individual desire, or be
something we can relate to. Schemata are activated and the viewer is immediately drawn to
the story being told or product being sold. Since they are very short in length, the creators of
them do their best and connect with the viewer as quickly and completely as possible. They
also bridge the gap that exists between the EFL classroom and each of students’ personal
lives providing a “slice of life” (Lonergan, 1983).

Length, Modality, Variety and Availability
Length is a very important aspect to consider when using video in class. Both trailers and
commercials are usually between thirty seconds up to two and a half minutes. Their size is
ideal for new language learners (Davis, 1997; Erkaya, 2005). Longer clips can be
overwhelming for students. Shorter clips are easier to find, download, and include in a one-
hour class. They are designed to capture our intention and either deliver a message or
present a story in a very short period of time. Few EFL teachers would argue that they do not
have that much time to spare during a 45-60 minute class. Stemplenski (1992) suggests that
videos be kept short since a short segment can provide enough material for a one-hour

Modality refers to the use of sound/images/video in combination with the written word
(Paltridge, 2005). Now, more than ever, modality is essential in maintaining our interest and
attention. Imagine using the internet without images, sound, video, or interactive applications
such as java. The result would be an immediate loss of interest. Look at these screenshots
taken of the search engine Yahoo during the course of over 15 years.


Trailers and commercials are able to maintain our interest by including different types of
stimuli delivered in one extremely effective package. The modality of these clips can even be
broken down. A teacher can have the student “view the commercial without sound initially to
allow students to experience it with less input” (Smith & Rawley, 1997). The reverse could
also be applied, allowing students to hear the commercial with no images.

Concerning variety, it can be looked at two different ways. The first definition is the variety of
activities we implement within the EFL classroom. The more variety we present and offer to
our students in the classroom, the less likely it will be that we lose their attention. Video is
simply another option that adds variety to lesson plans. The second definition of variety deals
with the shear amount of topics, stories, and products that are available. The amount of
movie genres or products/ideas being sold in in commercials allows the teacher indefinite
options. Apart from the endless variety of these two forms of video that exist there is an
endless way the videos can be applied/adapted within the lesson.

Regarding availability, both commercials and trailers are readily available online. There are
multiple sites dedicated to movie trailers or commercials, with most of the providing the option
to download the videos directly to your computer. Best of all, almost all of these sites are free
of cost. There of course is YouTube where you can find just about anything. There are even
programs that can be downloaded and installed on a computer that allow you to download
literally any YouTube video directly to your computer-no need for an internet connection in the

There is a wide array of programs/sites available online that can be used to create or adapt
video. Many of them are free but some do come with a cost. There are programs where
subtitles can be added to clips and programs that can download and reproduce video on
computers. The technology does exist to combine the two--to use video clips in interactive
websites (Davis, 1999). Some of these sites will be looked at. There are other sites that are
extremely user-friendly and can help you create quizzes or different activities using short
video clips. There is even a site (unfortunately that requires you to pay) that has an extensive
database of authentic videos that include subtitles, vocabulary/grammar exercises, and
pronunciation activities already prepared all presented professionally.

Without a doubt, the use of commercials or movie trailers is a creative technique that is often
ignored and perhaps we should rethink its use in the digital age in which we are living.
Undoubtedly teachers can no longer use the argument that they do not have time to fit in a
video clip into their classes due to time restrictions because both trailers and commercials last
between thirty seconds and two and a half minutes. Both commercials and movie trailers
can easily be found, accessed, downloaded and used in the classroom for a number of
educational reasons. In this presentation we have argued the benefits of the use and shown
how this use can be incorporated into our daily teaching. It is our hope that from this
presentation teacher will now use commercials or movie trailers more and experiment with its


Brown, H. D. (2000). Principles of Language Learning and Teaching (4th Ed.). New
York: Addison, Wesley, Longman.
Davis, R.S. (1999, June/July). Video in the corridors of cyberspace. TESOL Matters, 9(3), 14-15. (http://esl-
Ellis, R. (2008). Principles of instructed second language acquisition. CAL Digest December 2008.
Erkaya , O.R. (2005). TV commercials as authentic tools to teach communication, culture and critical thinking.
MEXTESOL Journal, 29(1), 2-18.
Krashen, S. (1985), The Input Hypothesis: Issues and Implications. New York: Longman,
Lonergan, J. (1983). Video applications in English language teaching. In. J. McGovern (Ed.), Video Applications
in English Language Teaching (pp. 69-82). Oxford: Pergamon.
Paltridge, B. (2006). Discourse Analysis. London: Continuum.
Smith, A. & Rawley, L. A. (1997). Using TV commercials to teach listening and critical thinking. The Journal of
the Imagination in Language Learning and Teaching, Vol.4. Retreived from the web July 29, 2005.
Stempleski, S. (1987). Short takes: Using authentic video in the English class. Paper presented at the Annual
Meeting of the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (21st, Westende,
Belgium, April 12-14, 1987).


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Communication issues faced by trainees in American summer camps

García Osorio Pedro
Zepeda Arce Margarita Sofía
Facultad De Lenguas
Benemérita Universidad Autónoma De Puebla

This article shows an exploratory research carried out in a public university in Central Mexico
about communication issues faced by trainees in American summer camps. Data collected
though narratives displays communication issues and their causes such as
misunderstandings and misconceptions due to the lack of daily language use in real contexts.
Findings demand taking into account these issues to design strategies in order to prepare
trainees to make the most of these experiences and increase their communicative

The rapid increase of globalization and its demands have allowed people see English as the
best option for communication among people from different language backgrounds (Kilickaya,
2009). EFL teachers try to do their best to create an environment to practice the language,
and as a result they develop artificial foreign language classrooms (Littlewood, 1981: Rubin &
Thompson, 1994). However, learning a language out of its context creates a gap that
teachers sometimes cannot cover. Thus, trainees who perceive this gap seek to increase
their language proficiency by traveling to native speaking countries (Selby, 2008). Studying or
working abroad offer students a cultural exchange that allows them to experience language in
its natural context. Nevertheless, once they cross boundaries and find themselves in the
foreign country, they may experience some communication problems (Teh, 2011).

Learning EFL
Since globalization implies linkages of goods, capital, people, knowledge, images, crime and
beliefs across territorial boundaries (McCrew, 1992 quoted in Tomlinson, 1999), learning a
foreign language has become a critical issue for establishing communication with people from
different backgrounds. There are a large number of non-native speakers rather than native
speakers which makes English to be one of the most spoken languages in the world.
Nevertheless, it is influenced by people who use it.

Globalization brings changes in education which means that education has to adapt to new
circumstances (Burbles & Torres, 2000). Changes demand to be competent regarding
communication. Since English has gained importance in matter of employment and


education, some institutions have encountered the necessity of implementing English as a
foreign language into the curriculum.

Cultural Exchange
EFL teachers do their best while educating students in order to equip them with tools that
students can use when facing a language in its real context, i.e. that English language
professors are to guide and help students in order to build a personal worldview for facing a
changing reality (Jaatinen, 2007). Nevertheless, EFL teachers develop an environment that
differs from the real context, creating stereotypical views and misconceptions.

Trainees who want to put into practice all the knowledge they have acquired of a language,
look for different opportunities to experience English in its natural context and to improve it as
well. “The desire to learn the language of others is often couple with the desire to behave and
think like them in other ultimately be recognized and validated like them” (Kramsch 1998,

One of the ways for them to be in contact with language is through an exchange program.
Regarding Exchange Programs, the National Student Exchange organization in the United
States (2012) describes an exchange program as the process in which opportunities to
a) gain insight into the historical and cultural makeup of different regions,
b) improves communication skills with individuals from different backgrounds, and
c) prepares to live and work in a culturally diverse society.

Exchange programs, either studying or working abroad are options in which students face
language in its real context. Although studying abroad is a great opportunity for growing
professionally, students mostly do not receive financial help to afford what an exchange
program implies and requires. Latha (2012) states that students who study abroad are those
are academically inclined or bright, financially sound and well groomed English language.
Consequently, they decide to apply for a program in which they can practice the language but
at the same time to work in order to pay their expenses.Jobs in summer camps along the
United States offer to students a cultural exchange. Summer camp sponsors such as
American Camp and Work Experience, Camp Leaders and CCUSA are associations that
serve worldwide and supplyopportunities to travel and experiment being in a new country.

The main purpose of this research was to explore and analyze eight trainees’ experiences
from a university in central Mexico to find out communication problems that might have faced
in American summer camps. In order to accomplish the research two instruments were
applied; first, a narrative and later a questionnaire per each participant.


Communication issues

Issues Causes
Not expressing very good their ideas Impotence
Pronunciation mistakes
Not establishing a good conversation Lack of vocabulary
Unknown phrasal verbs
informal language
Not understanding the correct message Fluency
Speed and pace
Accent varieties
Cultural issues Behavior

Data revealed that trainees applied for a summer camp with the aim of traveling abroad,
improving their English proficiency and learning more about American culture. However, little
did they know about the aspects that a cultural exchange involves, once they found
themselves in the host country, they faced communication problems bynot knowing how to
behave or establish a conversation causing uncertainty, nervousness and anxiety that
affected the Interaction with someone from a different culture in a foreign environment
(Neuliep, 2009). Regarding problems they faced when communicating, trainees mentioned
through narratives the following issues a) not expressing very good their ideas b) not
establishing a good conversation c) not understanding the correct messageand d) cultural

An important factor of learning a language seems to be getting in contact with the language
by facing it in its natural atmosphere. Nevertheless, it is not the same to use the language in a
classroom rather than in a real situation, where the language is the only tool to survive.
Participants expressed having experienced fear, impotence and insecurity linked to the lack of
vocabulary and informal language that included a wide range of unknown phrasal verbs,
slang, or a specifictype of genre.

On the other hand, summer camps tend to hire people from different countries around the
world. Trainees were surrounded by accent varieties from different speakers of English. In
addition,fluency, pace and speed were another features that struggled some participants;
either to understand what it is said or to make themselves clear.

The problems previously mentioned lead participants to experience misunderstanding and
misconceptions while getting the idea to perform a task and follow instructions. Furthermore,
the contrast of one culture to another cannot be taken aside since some participants
mentioned that culture was also an important and elusive aspect when trying to communicate
and to understand people from different cultures due to the different believes, behavior and
socialization patterns.


Being in a summer camp does not mean just to interact with Native American people but
people from different parts of the world. Little did trainees learn in a classroom about culture
that facing aspects, beliefs, costumes or traditions of a different community led to experiment
struggles when communicating. As Liddicoat & Scarino (2009) and Qu (2010) mention,
Language educators are aware that what can be taught in the classroom is inevitably only a
partial picture of language and culture; which might help students not to develop stereotypical
views and misconceptions of the cultures in their minds. That means that this experience
enhanced those minimal but important aspects that cannot be covered at all in an artificial
foreign language classroom as Littlewood (1981) and: Rubin & Thompson (1994) mention.

Trainees considered that communication problems they faced were associated to the
academic language they learnt in the university. They felt that they did not have the adequate
level of English to interact successfully in an everyday conversation, which leaded them to a
self-questioning of competence. Hence, it is necessary to develop the use of learning
strategies and communication strategies in a new context such as analyzingconversation
partners, and by fostering the development of learning strategies and cultural exchange goals
communication skills would be improved as well as cultural aspects.

Although communicative competence is necessary, intercultural competence must be
developed in order to succeed in a cultural exchange program. With this competence it is
intended not only to gain information about culture which trainee teachers should be aware of,
but also to develop sensitivity to cross-cultural differences due to the fact that globalization
demands it.

Burbles,N. & Torres, C. (2000) Globalization And Education. USA: Routledge.
Jaatinen, R. (2007) Learning languages, learning life skills. Retrieved
from:, 25/10/12.
Kilickaya, F. (2009) World Englishes, English as an International Language and Applied Linguistics. Canadian
Center of Science and Education journal.Vol. 2, No. 3. Retrieved from:, 10/10/2012.
Kramsch, C. (1998) Language and Culture. China: Oxford University Press.
Latha V. (2012) Non-Native Student’s Communication Is Affected Due To The Lack Of Pragmatic Competence.
Canadian Center of Science and Education. Vol. 5, No. 2. Retrieved from:, 23/09/12.
Liddicoat, A. & Scarino, A. (2009) Teaching and Learning Languages: A Guide. Retrieved from:, 24/10/12.
Littlewood, W. (1981) Communicative Language Teaching. Great Britain: Cambridge University.
National student exchange (2012) Retrieved from:, 27/09/12.
Neuliep, J. (2009) Intercultural Communication: A contextual Approach. USA: SAGE Publications.
Rubin, J. & Thompson, I. (1994) How To Be A More Successful Language Learner USA: Heinle&Heinle
Selby, R. (2008) Designing Transformation in International Education. In: Savicky, V. (2008) Developing
Intercultural competence in transformation. USA: Stylus.
Teh, I. (2011) International student cultural experience: A case study of the NohoMarae Weekend. Retrieved
from: , 10/11/12.
Tomlinson, J. (1999) Globalization and culture. Great Britain: University of Chicago Press. Qu, Y. (2010) Culture
Understanding in Foreign Language Teaching. School of Applied English, Dalian University of Foreign
Languages. Vol. 3, No. 4; December. Retrieved from:,


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Differences in item difficulty analysis between CTT and IRT

María Nelly Gutiérrez Arvizu
Universidad de Sonora & Northern Arizona University

As teachers, teacher trainers, administrators, and researchers, testing allows us to make a
variety of decisions. A common practice is to add the number of correct answers and provide
a result (sometimes weighed scores might be used); however, the information from individual
items may provide a clearer picture. Item analysis is used for a variety of purposes in testing:
1. to determine someone’s ability using a score; 2. to select the most suitable items for a test;
3. to admit someone in a program; 4. to place someone according to his/her level of
proficiency; among many others. In this article, two approaches to analyzing how items
behave are examined: Classical Test Theory (CTT) and Item Response Theory (IRT). In
second language assessment, CTT and IRT provide information on the ability that a person
has in using the target language through the administration of an instrument (test) but it
depends on why we need the information that a particular approach might be more helpful.

Literature Review

Item difficulty (sometimes called item facility) refers to the proportion of correct responses, or
average of correct responses on an item divided by the number of responses. The values for
item difficulty range from zero to one, the lower the value for an item, the more difficult the
item is. In other words, if the coefficient is close to zero, it means that the item was difficult. At
least this is how it is interpreted most of the times because CTT is more widely used.

Item difficulty in CTT is sample dependent; that is, the level of difficulty of an item depends on
the group of test takers. CTT uses statistics such item difficulty, standard error of the mean,
and Cronbach’s Alpha (reliability measure), among others, to determine the ability of a group
of examinees (Hambleton & Jones, 1993). With this information, it can be seen how a specific
group of people performed in a particular test. The observed score (number of correct items in
the test) indicates the person’s ability. An important consideration in CTT is that observed
scores depend on the difficulty of the items in a test. This is, if the items are too easy, it may
seem that the person is more able than what he/she actually is, and vice versa (Hambleton &
Jones, 1993). A practical example in language testing is that if an intermediate level student is
given a test with many easy items, the results are likely to indicate he/she is highly proficient.
On the other hand, if the same intermediate level student is administered an exam with mostly
difficult items, his/her proficiency may seem lower.

IRT is based on the one-parameter Rasch logistic model, in which persons’ abilities and item
difficulties are placed in the same scale(measured in logits) (Bond & Fox, 2001). In IRT, it is
assumed that it is not sample dependent as, through a series of calculations, other elements


are taken into account.This is, we can see if a person is able to answer certain items correctly
or incorrectly, considering a 50% chance (Bond & Fox, 2001). This framework allows us to
analyze more than one aspect at a time (e.g. term, objectives, raters’ leniency or severity).
This interaction of elements is accounted for in the one-parameter Rasch logistic model as to
determine a test taker’s score in which the other elements are previously considered. Also,
with IRT it is possible to obtain information on examinees’ or items that behaved outside the
expectations in order to make informed decisions depending on the purpose of the test. It is
important to mention that sample size plays a key role in IRT.

The Study

The purpose of this study is to compare the CTT and IRT approaches to item analysis to find
similarities and difference between them. To accomplish this objective, the same data set was
analyzed under the two approaches.The data comprised a sample of 770 responses to eight
placement tests administered from Fall 2009 to Spring 2013. These tests had a total of 83
testlets which were used for the comparison. Annex 1 displays descriptive information of the
tests used in this study.




Subsections per test 2
(Reading and Listening)
Items per test Rangefrom 60 to 80

Testlets in total 83
(49 Listening, 34 Reading)
Items in total 541
(261 Listening, 280 Reading)
Responses to tests 770
Descriptive information of the tests in the analysis

The main research question driving this study is as follows: What are the systematic
differences in item analysis between CTT and IRT when assessing Listening and Reading
skills using dichotomous items? Three specific aspects are used in the comparison: (a) item
difficulty, (b) standard error of the mean, and (c) reliability measures.

For the statistical analysis, CTT required the computation of item difficulty, standard error of
the mean, and reliability (Cronbach’s Alpha) using Excel and SPSS. The IRT analysis for item
difficulty, standard error of the mean, and reliability were obtained using FACETS (Myford,
2006). This software provides more statistical information; however, for this research project
only those that were relevant to the analysis were selected.

The analyses were conducted using testlets (series of items grouped together by a common
listening passage or reading passage) as the base unit. The results of the statistics were
computed by testlets in both approaches and then compared by item difficulty, standard error
of the mean, and reliability.


Item difficulty in CTT is the mean of correct responses for an item dichotomously scored with
a one for correct and a zero for incorrect. Thus, the coefficient can only range from zero to
one (the lower the coefficient, the harder the item). In this analysis, the item difficulty per
testlet was computed by obtaining the average of item difficulty coefficients per testlet. Then
those coefficients per testlet were classified into easy, medium, or difficult according to the
following criteria: (1) from .00 to .35 = Difficult, (2) from.36 to .65 = Medium, and (3) from .66
to 1.00 = Easy. In IRT, item difficulty coefficients ranged from -1.00 to 1.00, and were
classified according to the following criteria: (a) from-1.00 to -.30 = Easy, (2) from -.29 to .30 =
Medium, and (3) from .31 to 1.00 = Difficult. As it could be noted, positive values indicate
more difficulty whereas negative values are indicative of easier items. After the classification,
the testlets were compared to see if the two classifications were similar or different. The
results showed that 49 (out of 83) testlets had thesame level of difficulty in CTT and IRT. The
rest of the testlets had a different classification. Annex 2 shows the number of testlets in each
category (easy, medium, difficult) in CTT and IRT. Over all, there are more testlets of medium
difficulty. As previously stated,CTT is sample dependent while IRT accounts for differences in
examinees’ abilities. This could be the source of thedifferences in classifications.

Differences in difficulty classification

The Standard Error of the Mean is a coefficient that helps us determine the accuracy of the
measurement. The coefficient that is close to zero indicates more precision of the difficulty
measure (Myford, 2006). It is important to highlight that in IRT the measurement ranges from
zero to two; thus, the coefficient was divided by two in order to adjust it for comparison. In
general, CTT and IRT showed similar results. Only six (out of 83) testlets were different when
comparing the standard error of the mean. The criterion used to determine if they were
different was a difference of .03 or more, as this would exceed the 95% confidence interval by

Finally, reliability indicates how accurate the coefficients are. In CTT, a common reliability
measurement is Cronbach’s Alpha where higher values indicate higher internal consistency,
that is, how well items work together. In IRT, reliability shows how well items are differentiated
Easy Medium Difficulty




from other items where higher values indicate higher differentiation. Even though the term
used in both approaches is reliability, they measure different aspects. Thus, researchers
should be careful when interpreting these. The reliability measures considered for this study
were per section (listening or reading) by semester. In the analysis, most of the coefficients
were relatively similar. Only two (out of 16)reliability coefficients were found different, but
again they are measuring different aspects.

After analyzing these results, we see that there are differences in both theories. Each
approach offers different possibilities to the scholar who will be analyzing data. It is important
to mention that the differences between CTT and IRT are not only in the results but also in
how the information is reported. In addition, the scales in CTT and IRT are different. Then, of
utmost importance is to understand what the coefficients reportedmean or are measuring.

To conclude, CTT and IRT have different approaches to item analysis. However, practical
considerations (such as time and personnel), purpose of the examination, type of test,
researcher’s objectives, students’ and teachers’ approach to learning, etc. should be
considered when selecting a model to use. CTT is less time consuming and easier to
conduct. IRT provides more information on the interaction of elements and accounts for them
in the results. Depending on the purpose and the information needed (by the researcher or
educator), CTT or IRT can be used. At some point, they can even complement each other.
Some uses of CTT are the following: (a) Achievement test design (selection or deletion of
items); and, (b) Placement test (observed score in a level band). Some uses of IRT are the
following: (a) Computer adaptive testing (selection of items that provide more information on
test taker’s ability); (b) Admission (knowing examinee’s ability or true performance ability);
and (c) Certification (determining if a person has specific qualifications. These are some
examples and other uses are possible.

As educators or researchers, it is important to understand the information these approaches
provide and our purpose in testing in order to determine which framework is the most suitable.
Herein lays the success of our future projects.

Bond, T., & Fox, C. (2001). Applying the Rasch Model. Mahwah, NJ:Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Hambleton, R. K., & Jones, R.W. (1993). Comparison of Classical Test Theory and their applications to test
development. ITEMS, Fall, 38-47.
Myford, C. (2006). Analyzing rating data using Linacre’s FACETS computer program: A set of training materials
to learn to run the program and interpret output.


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Oral production and the Rassias Method: an exploratory Practice

Marisol Guzman Cova
Karen Lopez Flores
Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla

“Spoken language production, learning to talk in the foreign language, is often considered to
be one of the most difficult aspects of language learning for the teacher to help the student
with” (Yule, G. and Brown, G. p. 25, 1983). Learning a new language not only means to know
the grammar points and vocabulary, it means to use the language and the components that it
has (Hymes, 1972). Besides, according to Wilkins (1974) there are two skills that students
have to develop when learning a language to communicate with others: motor-perceptive skill
and interaction skill. Motor-perceptive skill involves the articulation of the “correct order
sounds and structure of a language”. While interaction, according to Wilkins (1974), is the use
of “knowledge and basic motor-perception skill to achieve communication”. It can be inferred
from this that the motor-perception skill and interaction are very important to carry out

The Rassias Method
is an approach that combines drama and pedagogy developed by
Professor John Rassias from Dartmouth College. The main purpose of this method is to
speed students oral productions based on approximately fifty dynamic techniques. The
purpose of these techniques is to break people’s behavior layers, which are acquired through
their process of learning and help them feel confident to communicate orally. This creates an
interesting environment through students’ acting, (Oller, 1993). This method was implemented
in our curricula in the Language Faculty in 2009, since then, many graduated students have
applied it with great results (Guzman& Mendez, 2001)

Undergraduate language students as novice language teachers: Their perspective.
Based on our personal experience, we have detected a lack of oral production in our students
even when they have an appropriate Intermediate level of English, according to the Common
European Framework. They are able to comprehend the instructions that are given; however,
when they have to communicate each other to express their opinions or ideas, they do not
want to speak because they are afraid of making mistakes when using the language. Thus,
we decided to implement the Rassias Method
with the purpose of helping them to develop
this skill that will let them express themselves without inhibition because according to Rassias
(cited in Beall, 2000), “students speak a language to learn it rather than learn a language to
speak it”.


This research project is an exploratory research. This research took place in two private
institutes in Puebla. The total of the participants were 14. The main instrument was a journal
written by students after each session in order to collect students’ perceptions about their
improvement in the course through the implementation of this method and the researcher’s
observation. The findings of this paper showed that the interaction among students and the
teacher was a fundamental part in the advance of students in the course.

Research question
1. How does the use of The Rassias Method
influence students’ English oral production
in two private schools in Puebla?

The significance of study
Moskowitz (1972) claims that “an affective education is effective education” because it gives
confidence to students to speak when learning a language; and that is the main purpose of
this method, to motivate students and involve them in class through acting. According to John
Rassias, “nothing is real unless it touches something in me, and I am aware of it”, (cited in
Oller, 1993); therefore, this method was selected to help and motivate students to develop
their oral production due to the immersion of energy, warmth and humanness that the method
provides. So, we adopted the Rassias method in our teaching methodology.

The participants were taken from two groups of English courses who have an intermediate
level of the language. They were young adults from about 15 and 30 years. The total of
participants taken from both schools is 14.

The participants of downtown school were six students with an intermediate level of English
between 15 and 28 years old. They were five men and one woman, who was the youngest.
They took an English course of two and a half years by working with the Interchange books
series. Although they had a good level in writing and listening, they were afraid to speak by
using the language; so, it was difficult to express themselves in English and therefore, they
preferred to speak in Spanish.

In Atlixco´s Institute there were eight participants who were taking the Intermediate level.
There were four women and four men. Their ages are between 18 to 28 years old. Although
they had a good level of the language and they understood the instructions given when doing
the activities, they had a lack of self-confidence when working in class doing speaking
activities or talking with their partners using English to express themselves.


It was noticed in most of the diaries that students liked to work with another classmate. They
comment that it was easier for them to understand something explained in the class because
if they had doubts their partners could help them to understand. This believe can be
supported by Vygotsky who “claims that social interaction and social context are very
essential in the cognitive development because these two concepts enable a better
comprehension on what learners are learning through asking questions”. Therefore, it is


mentioned that one important part of the classes were the activities done. It was not specified
in most of the cases which were the techniques that were helpful for them. One that was very
constant was the tic-tac-toe. This activity, according to the diaries, was helpful because it let
them to understand better the topic and as it was a game, it was not like thinking just in
grammar but just producing the language. Students were not worried about following the
structure of the topic but winning in the game and unconsciously they spoke and even helped
themselves. More actives were mentioned which were not part of the method but were also
helpful for them, however, it was better for them to understand something by playing and
using a variety of dynamics during the class. This is one of the objectives about this method
to be very dynamic to acquire the language and not learning just rules or grammar points.
Students reported that they have a better understanding when they interacted because they
could help each other when they had doubts. Also, the use of drama was useful because they
could learn from each other and motivate themselves and the others to improve.

Teacher´s perceptions about student’s development in the classroom.

It is interesting to discover that just by changing a factor in the classroom it can affect in a
positive way the students’ attitudes. We could notice that at the beginning of the course,
students did not have a good relationship because when they had to work with a partner or in
teams, they showed a negative attitude. Even, we could notice a little of selfishness when
they had to share a reading or a game. We could say that they and we did not feel
comfortable working together. However, little by little the environment in the classroom started
to change. All began with a simple role play in which we participated as one of the characters.
When we told them we all were going to work together; they were very surprised. Then, little
by little they got involved in their role and we had a great time. Since then, role plays were
made in almost all the classes and so our participation.

We have noticed that it is not just the method that helped them to improve their oral
production, but also the interaction they could have as group. As most of the techniques
required the participation of two or more people, little by little they started to have a better
communication and lose the afraid to speak in English. Even, after one of the activities
applied, one student wrote on his diary that he was speaking in English without realizing. This
situation can be supported by Vygotsky who claimed that once the learner has internalized his
utterances, he becomes an “inner speech” because he has the capacity of performing an
action once it has been understood.

Now, we can say they were good classmates because they helped each other when they
needed it; they corrected each other when it was necessary and they understood that
interaction is a very fundamental part in the process of learning because they learn better and
can share new things they acquire. Although the exploratory practice has already finished,
they want to continue working in the way they are accustomed, with a lot of activities in which
they have to interact with someone else.



The findings of this research confirmed that the implementation of the Rassias method with
undergraduate languages students has had positive results in the teaching training process.
When our students graduate, use this dynamic method to speak the language to learn it and
plan lessons at any levels, from kindergarten (Guzman & Mendez, 2011) to young adults.
When our novice teachers applied the method, they found that the interaction among their
students was a fundamental part in their student’s advance. It was reported they had a better
understanding when they worked in pairs because interaction could help each other when
doubts appeared. This statement can be supported by Vigotsky´s belief about social
interaction and social context are “very essential in the cognitive development because these
two concepts enable a better comprehension on what learners are learning through asking
questions”. The satisfaction in both, novice teachers and their students was notorious
because the oral production was increased in a warm and confident atmosphere.


Beall, K.R. (2000) John Rassias: giving life to language worldwide. ESL Magazine. (ERIC
Document Reproduction Service No. EJ609897)
Brown, G. & Yule, G. (1983). Teaching the spoken language. Cambridge
Guzman, M. & Mendez, K. (2011) Proceedings from 38th International MEXTESOL Convention Teacer Training
and the Rassias Method: Great Results. Michoacán
Hymes, D. (1972). “On communicative Competence” in J. B. Primes and J. Holmes. (eds.): Sociolinguistics.
Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Education, 269-93.
Mozkowitz, G. (1978). Caring and sharing in the foreign language. USA. Heinle and HeinlePublisher.
Oller, J. (1993). Methods that work: Ideas for literacy and language teachers. Heinle and Heinle Publisher.
United States of America.
Wilkins, D. A. (1974). Linguistics in Language Teaching. London: Edward Arnold.
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19 different ways of using one song in class.

Tláloc Hernández Guzmán
University of Guadalajara

When you and I and plenty of language teachers think of bringing a song to class to do an
activity, we all often think of a really common exercise; yes: listen to the song and complete
its lyrics. But, is it the only thing we can do with it? Of course not! As you know, creativity,
thinking and dynamism must be part of a second or foreign language class and the only
individual who is responsible for this is you, my dear teacher. No matter what type of activity
you do in class, there is actually a bunch of different ways to carry it out, or at least, variations
each time you do it.

As to all this, next time you might want to have in mind the activities that I propose. The idea
of all these activities is to improve the grammar point, vocabulary or skill you want your
students to improve. You should know that doing only one activity with the song can be
boring, useless and a “waste of time” for some students. So make your song a more
challenging, dynamic, thought-provoking and better experience in class, trying out these

All the following activities can be done individually, in pairs or groups. It is recommended to
use them with teenagers and adults; however, some of them can also be used with children.
Below each description you will find the recommended level for each activity. It is important to
have in mind that the song you choose must be appropriate for the course level you are

List of activities
1. Listening for known words: Listen to the song and write down any words or phrases
students are studying in class or also any word or phrase students are able to
recognize on their own so teacher realizes how good they are at listening for specific
words. *You can have the video playing so it gets more entertaining. (All levels)

2. Putting lyrics together: Print the lyrics of the song. Cut its lines or paragraphs so
students listen to the song and place them in the order they hear. (All levels)

3. Error correction: Teacher changes some specific words in the lyrics of the song,
leaving a blank at the end of every line. Students need to listen to the song and find out
what the wrong words and write down the correct word on the blank. (All levels)

4. Written Description: Students watch the video of the song and write down the
description of what is happening in it. This (sometimes) will help students have a better
idea of what the song is about.*Beginners can be asked to write only sentences about
it. Intermediates are able to write a paragraph. (Beginners-Intermediates)


5. Spoken Description: In pairs, one student watches only half of the video of the song,
the other watches the rest. Then when the video is finished both students tell each
other what they saw on it so that they can practice their speaking skills and be
familiarized with the context of the video and can continue with another

6. Biography: Choose a song with which students can write a background-lyric:
expressing the author’s idea, the reason why he/she wrote the song, who/what it is
dedicated to, and any other interesting fact about the song. (Intermediate-Advanced)

7. Karaoke competition: All students practice the song beforehand and get ready to
compete with their classmates. They can be disguised so it gets more fun and
entertaining. (All levels)

8. Pronunciation patterns: Choose a number of pronunciation patterns from the song.
(e.g. beat/cheat - it/bit - show/push - change/choose) Write them down on the board
and have students pronounce them so they can practice singing and pronunciation.(All

9. Synonyms and antonyms: Print the lyrics. Have a chart on the top with several words
written inside it. Students need to read the lyrics and find the synonyms/antonyms of
those words. This activity helps students increase their vocabulary a lot.(All levels)

10. Questionnaire: Create some questions about the song. These can be about
vocabulary, its main idea, thinking questions, etc. Have students answer them and
share to the class. *You can actually have an article with some facts or the
background lyric meaning. (All levels)

11. Homophones: Print the lyrics and have students change a word in every line by a
homophone or a word that is close in pronunciation. For example: he’s by his / as by
ass / bottom by button / etc. The words can also be changed by the teacher so
students pay attention to the sense of these words in the lyrics and find out what the
wrong words are.(All levels)

12. Pictures: Prepare a PPT with several pictures in it, which have to appear on the song.
Play the song along with the PPT; every time a word from the PPT is said on the song,
this has to be shown as well. With this, students have a better idea of what the song is
about and might learn new vocabulary.(Beginners-Intermediates)

13. A better atmosphere: Play a list of songs while doing an activity. This is so helpful for
students to relax, to get more involved with a specific activity, or just to create a better
atmosphere in class while working.(All levels)

14. Good listeners: Play the song and pause it every 5 seconds; students write down
everything they are able to hear. Do this with the whole song so that students practice
their listening-for detail skills. (All levels)


15. Bingo: Prepare a set of cards with 9-12 images printed on them whose names appear
on the song. Give a card to every student/pair/team that is previously organized.
Students need to listen to the song and put a coin/bean/pea on every image they hear
in the song. Whenever a student/pair/team has listened to all the names of images
they need to say BINGO. This is when they win. (All levels)

16. Action! Students get in groups (the number depends on the total of students you
have) and practice the song. They need to be really familiarized with it since they need
to act out the phrases, words and idea that the song expresses. Play the song and
have students act it out. *This activity might work better with young learners or
teenagers. (Beginners-Intermediates)

17. Debate: Get a song whose theme can be discussed in class. It can be about love, war,
friends, self-esteem, trendy topic, etc., so students can have a good debate on it. It’s
also a good idea to prepare some questions based on the theme so it works better.

18. Creative Writing: Have students do one/some of the activities above. After they are
familiarized with the song, have them write a poem, an essay, a paragraph or any
other type of text in which they express what the song is about, their take on the theme
of the song, a story related to it, etc.
(All levels)

19. Song writers: So, why not having them actually write a song? Play the instrumental
part of the song you want them to write their own lyrics to, or it can also be any other
melody/melodies so they come up with their own song. (Intermediate-Advanced)

Sample activities
Elvis Presley: In the ghetto (Lyrics)

As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin'
A poor little baby child is born
In the ghetto

And his mama cries
Cause if there's one thing that she don't need
It's another hungry mouth to feed
In the ghetto

People, don't you understand
The child needs a helping hand
Or he'll grow to be an angry young man someday
Take a look at you and me,
Are we too blind to see,
Do we simply turn our heads

And look the other way
Well the world turns
And a hungry little boy with a runny nose
Plays in the street as the cold wind blows
In the ghetto

And his hunger burns
So he starts to roam the streets at night
And he learns how to steal
And he learns how to fight
In the ghetto

Then one night in desperation
A young man breaks away
He buys a gun, steals a car,
Tries to run, but he don't get far
And his mama cries
As a crowd gathers 'round an angry young
Face down on the street with a gun in his
In the ghetto

As her young man dies,
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin',
Another little baby child is born
In the ghetto
and his mama cries.


Based on the previous lyrics, do the following activities. Follow your teacher’s instructions.

a) Antonyms. (Activity 9): Read the lyrics again and find the opposites of the words 1-5; and the synonyms of the words 6-10.
1. Hot ……………….
2. Wealthy.……………….
3. Laughs ….…………….
4. Happiness …..……………
5. Get together ……..…………
6. Mommy …………………
7. Assisting …………………
8. Just …………………
9. Close …………………
10. Mad …………………

b) Debate or Writing. (Activity 17): Discuss the following questions with a classmate.

1. Do you see any grammatical mistakes in the song? Which ones?
2. Why do you think this happens?
3. Why do people are poor?
4. Do we need to do something for them?
5. Do you help poor people? How?
6. Who’s the responsible of so much poverty in the world: the government, the people or the poor themselves?
7. What are some causes that make people be poor?

c) Pronunciation Patterns. (Activity 8): The following words appear on the song. Pronounce them out loud so you can be familiarized with their pronunciation. Check
the pronunciation pattern.

1. Flies-cries-dies
2. Child-blind-
3. Night-fight
4. Feed-needs-street
5. Hungry-runny-gun

6. How-crowd-down
7. Another-with-the
8. It-in-his
9. Chicago-child
10. Baby-face-gray

d) Homophones. (Activity 11): Listen to the song and identify the words that aren’t said in some lines below; then write the correct word on the blanket.

As the snow fries ……………………
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin'
A poor little baby child is corn ……………………

In the ghetto
And his mama tries ……………………
Cause if there's one thing that she don't need
It's another hungry mouth to fee ……………………
In the ghetto

People, don't you understand
The child needs a helping gang ……………………
Or he'll grow to be an angry young man someday
Take a look at you and me,
Are we too blind to sing, ……………………
Do we simply turn our heads

And look the other way
Well the world turns
And a hungry little boy with a runny pose ……………………
Plays in the street as the cold wind bows ……………………
In the ghetto

And his hunger burns
So he starts to roam the streets at fight ……………………
And he learns how to steal
And he learns how to fight
In the ghetto

Then one night in desperation
A young man breaks away
He buys a gun, steals a bar, ……………………
Tries to run, but he don't get far
And his mama cries
As a crowd gathers 'round an angry young man
Face down on the street with a gun in his band……………………
In the ghetto

As her young man dies,
On a cold and gray Chicago mourning, ……………………
Another little baby child is born
In the ghetto
And his mama fries …………………

Questionnaire. (Activity 10): Read the following facts about this song. Then answer the following questions.

This song is about poverty, describing a child who can't overcome his surroundings and turns to crime, which leads to his death. It was the first song Elvis recorded with a
socially-conscious message. He was reluctant to do it for that reason, but knew it would be a hit.
This was written by Mac Davis, who entered the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 2006. At the ceremony, Davis explained: "It's a simple matter of growing up with a little boy
whose father worked with my father. He lived in a part of town that was a dirt-street ghetto. I grew up in Lubbock, Texas, and it was a ghetto in ever since of the word, but
we didn't use that word back then. I was trying to come up with a song called 'The Vicious Circle,' how a child is born, he has no father, and the same thing happens. The


word 'Ghetto' became popular in the late '60s to describe the poor parts of town. A friend of mine, Freddy Weller, who used to play guitar for Paul Revere And The Raiders,
showed me lick on the guitar one day. I went home and fiddled around with it, I wrote the song and called him up at 4 in the morning and sang it to him. He knew I'd written
a hit with his lick, but that's the way it goes."
Davis wrote this as "In The Ghetto (The Vicious Circle)." RCA Records got Davis' permission to drop the subtitle before presenting it to Elvis.
Davis had written some songs for Elvis that were used in his movies, including "A Little Less Conversation" and "Clean Up Your Own Backyard." When Elvis was making
his comeback and recording in Memphis, his management asked Davis if he had anything they could use. Davis sent them a tape with this and "Don't Cry Daddy," as the
first 2 songs, and Elvis recorded both of them.This was Elvis' first Top 10 hit in 4 years.If Elvis turned this down, the song would have gone to Rosie Grier, a minister and
former football player.

Memphis was Elvis' hometown. It was the first time he recorded there since 1956. This was the first release from those sessions.In 2007, Elvis' daughter Lisa Marie Presley
recorded tracks that were composited with Elvis' original version to create a duet with this song - similar to what Natalie Cole did with her father's song "Unforgettable."
Some proceeds from the sale of the song went to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina.
As part of a series of re-releases of Elvis songs in the UK in 2007, this re-entered the UK chart at #15.
(The preceding paragraphs were taken from:

1) Why did Elvis sing this song? ………………………………………………………………………………………
2) Who was this song dedicated to? ………………………………………………………………………………………
3) Who actually wrote the song? ………………………………………………………………………………………
4) What are some other songs the writer wrote for Elvis? ………………………………………………………………………………………

e) Bingo. (Activity 15): Listen to the song. When you hear any of the things that appear on the following images, put a coin. When you get all, cry Bingo!

Gatbonton, E. &Segalowitz, N. (1988). Creative automatization: Principles for promoting fluency within a
communicative framework. TESOL Quarterly, 22, 473-492 in Kevin SchoeppSabanci University, Istanbul,
TurkeyReasons for Using Songs in the ESL/EFL Classroom.
Lo, R. & Li, H.C. (1998). Songs enhance learner involvement. English Teaching Forum, 36, 8-11, 21, in Kevin
SchoeppSabanci University, Istanbul, TurkeyReasons for Using Songs in the ESL/EFL Classroom
Domoney, L. & Harris, S. (1993). Justified and ancient: Pop music in EFL classrooms.ELT Journal, 47, 234-241
in Kevin SchoeppSabanci University, Istanbul, TurkeyReasons for Using Songs in the ESL/EFL Classroom
Passages 2, Jack C. Richards and Chuck Sandy, 2012, Cambridge University Press.


Four Decades of Innovation in ELT Four Decades of Innovation in ELT Four Decades of Innovation in ELT Four Decades of Innovation in ELT
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“Fake it until you make it.” Confidence, first!

Maria Ostapenko
Universidad del Mar – Campus Huatulco

We have come a long way with respect to understanding how students learn and what
strategies or teaching techniques optimise their ability to gain knowledge, understand the
concepts and succeed within the classroom. We have moved away from the traditional
Grammar-Translation method of the 17
and 18
centuries, when grammar rules were
memorized. Translation was the base model of learning a second language and it was
believed that speaking in the target language was not important. Currently, the
Communicative Approach and Krashen and Terrell’s Natural Approach tend to be the
preferred methods for ESL/EFL teaching. These approaches recognize the importance of
making learning meaningful, creating and applying tasks that have a purpose and place a
higher importance on communicative purpose over accuracy. Students are encouraged to
work in groups and pairs, and to apply their knowledge outside of the classroom when

Krashen’s Affective Filter Hypothesis & monitor overuse

Krashen conducted a lot of research in second language acquisition and proposed an
interesting theory called the Affective Filter Hypothesis. Here, it is suggested that only errors
that cause problems in the meaning of what is being conveyed should be corrected. When a
student is forced to produce speech in the second language before they are ready and
comfortable to do so, it can strengthen the affective filter and cause the learner to feel scared,
inhibited and thus, create a barrier for learning.

According to Krashen (1981), a monitor over-user is an individual who places a high level of
importance on correcting grammar errors as they speak. This individual is inclined to pause,
repeat and correct errors at a high frequency throughout their conversation, thus reducing
their fluency. This is a common problem amongst those who study their second language in a
foreign language classroom, where the primary focus is grammar rules and structure. The
resulting effect is reduced opportunity for practical application of the language outside of the

In retrospect, all learning is not solely a cognitive task that requires a high level of intelligence
and memorization. Learning has an affective component and a psychosocial component, both
emphasizing the importance of the learner’s self-esteem and his/her desire to learn. The
aforementioned factors either assist or hinder the learner’s ability to surpass their
preoccupation with minor errors, as well as their overall attitude and motivation in second
language acquisition (Gardner & MacIntyre, 1993).


Schumann’s Acculturation Model – language shock

Schumann has conducted multiple research studies relating to second language acquisition.
One interesting concept that Schumann put forward is the Acculturation Model. Here, the
author proposes that there are certain social factors that can either promote or hinder contact
between the second language learning group and the target language group. He goes on to
suggest that if the second language learning group is politically, culturally, technically or
economically superior to the target language group, social distance between then two groups
is created and the second language learning group will not acquire the target language
because they do not see the importance in doing so.

The second social factor that affects the acquisition of the second language is assimilation of
the second-language learning group to the target language groups’ social values, customs
and life style. If these are valued and adopted by the second-language learning group, the
chance that the student will acquire the second language is high. In contrast, if the group
does not accept the values and customs of the target group, they are less likely to learn the
second language.

In his research regarding the Acculturation Model, Schumann (1986) mentions language
shock. This concept refers to the idea that when adult learners attempt to use their second
language in conversation, they often fear that they will sound or appear silly or will be
criticized for their poor ability to speak fluently, without errors. In comparison, he suggests that
children do not share the same fears and have more fun as they learn the new language. Due
to children’s lack of inhibition and fear of appearing foolish, they are more likely to apply the
second-language successfully and within a shorter period of time. Thus, the more uninhibited
and playful the adult acts when learning a second-language, the higher the probability that
he/she will succeed. This brings me to the following conclusion. Considering the components
of the language shock theory, there exists a clear correlation between confidence and second
language acquisition. Thus, it is fair to draw the hypothesis that individuals who are more
playful and less inhibited are also more confident, lacking the fear of making mistakes and
sounding comical.

Jim Cummins’ Reciprocal Interaction Model
The basis of the Reciprocal Interaction Model suggests that talking and writing are the major
gateways for learning. Here, the teacher is not solely transmitting information to the students
but, in contrast, acts as a guide and facilitator, encouraging peer-to-peer communication and
fostering a collaborative learning environment. In addition, there is a greater emphasis on
making the learning meaningful to the students and a lighter approach to error correction.
Students’ intrinsic motivation is said to be the driving force to learning the second language.

Thus, the Reciprocal Interaction Model allows students to take control of their learning and be
active in the learning process. Through using this style of teaching within the classroom,
students become empowered, which can also have a positive impact on increasing their
levels of confidence.


The aforementioned research and theories provide a theoretical foundation for understanding
the learning process that second-language students undergo and explain some factors that
promote or hinder a student’s level of success in being able to acquire and apply the second
or foreign language. Taking all of the aforementioned theories and models into consideration,
it becomes evident that a student’s level of confidence and self-esteem plays a critical role in
second-language acquisition. Therefore, I would now like to touch on some practical
approaches that can be implemented within the classroom to help students increase their
confidence and improve their success-rate in learning a new language.

Confidence Building Activities
Confidence is something that is within an individual. It is connected to one’s personal belief
system, the perception of oneself and his/her surrounding environment. I don’t believe that
you can completely change or increase someone’s confidence directly, however I do believe
that teachers hold the power to create an environment within their classroom and apply
certain activities that will allow students the opportunity to lower their guard and come out of
the shells.

Confidence building activities where students participate in a short game, oral activities and
role-play, do not permit the time for one to monitor his/her grammar mistakes and search for
appropriate rules. The formality of the classroom is removed and students are more relaxed.
This allows the monitor over-users an opportunity to put aside their preoccupation with
grammatically correct application of the foreign language and to have fun with what they
know. To follow are eight techniques that can be applied throughout your teaching to help
increase students’ success within your classroom.

1. Let them speak! Students with low levels of confidence are often really quite, and when
they do have to speak they do not project their voice and most of their focus is on worrying
that they will not be understood as opposed to being present in the conversation that is
occurring. Once students speak and see that they are understood, they will slowly build their
confidence in speaking more frequently and become less worried about making mistakes.

2. Constructive Criticism: Be conscious of the student’s background, knowledge and
understanding and choose the time for error correction wisely. There are times when a
student will say a sentence making a small error such as the omission of an article or using
the wrong preposition. If you overcorrect students’ errors, you run the risk of blowing the
students level of confidence to speak. If you are trying to convey a message and you are
constantly being corrected, you get the sense that you are a terrible speaker and you are less
likely to speak in the future to avoid sounding silly or being misunderstood. If the student is at
a beginner level and says something like “I am going to the Mexico City on my vacation” it
may not be necessary to say that there is no need to use ‘the’ in front of Mexico City because
the focus may be on correct word order.


3. Opportunities to succeed: As an educator, you have the control over the type of
information that you relay to the students and the level of clarity by which this information is
conveyed. A simple way to boost students’ confidence is by offering them small opportunities
to succeed. It may be as simple as asking a shy student to participate in a task in which you
are quite sure that they know the correct response or are able to complete the task with little
difficulty. Also, when you have students working in groups, ensure that each student has a
specific role that emphasises their importance in the group. If each student is assigned a
special role, they will feel more important and this will prevent the shy students from sliding by
the activity without having said a word.

4. Emphasis on the strengths: When students are unable to speak or understand the
context within their English classroom they tend to become discouraged and unmotivated,
and in some cases, feel stupid or inadequate. By taking the focus away from their
weaknesses or inabilities and placing it on their strengths, you are changing their negative
perception of their low abilities to speak English to a more positive perspective of themselves.
For example, if you are teaching at a university and you have some students who are
studying economics, ask them questions about this topic or have them discuss something in
English that relates to Economics. This has two benefits: First, the student in interested in
Economics so he/she is more likely to enjoy participating in the activity. Secondly, the student
will feel good that they can teach you something. As a teacher, they see you as the expert,
and by allowing them the opportunity to teach you something you don’t already know makes
them instantly feel more intelligent, thus boosting their confidence. With younger students,
you can ask them to teach you something about their city, or a food that they eat that you
have never tried, or a their country’s custom that you are not too familiar with. In the worst-
case scenario, you can always pretend you don’t know much about a certain topic for the
sake of the student. It is important to remember that its not about you, its about the students.
A good educator is a guide not a dictator.

5. Goal setting within the classroom: If you set clear and achievable goals, the students
have a higher ability to understand what they have learned, be aware of the fact that they
learned something and feel good about their newly acquired knowledge. Although long-term
goals are important, it is critical to set smaller, short-term goals so that even if the student
does not achieve their long-term goal, they have an opportunity to achieve some of the
smaller ones. For example, you have a one-hour lesson planned and you tell your students at
the beginning of the class that they will learn how to use ‘going to’ to express future plans. At
the end of the lesson, you can quickly go around the classroom and ask students what they
are going to do after class – as they respond they will realise how much they have learned
and feel good about understanding the context.

6. Habits and repetition: As much as it is important to learn the grammar rules and
structure, it is also crucial to teach your students simple, everyday phrases that they can use
with you and with other people on a regular basis. If you consistently repeat the same
phrases with your students such as “How was your weekend?” and have them respond and
ask each other, these phrases will become second nature to them and they will feel more
confident that they can say something in English and be understood.


7. Peer Support: Allow a lot of opportunity for students to obtain support from their peers.
Before students share their answers with the class, allow them an opportunity to confirm or
share their answer with another student in their proximity. If students have the opportunity to
share their answer with one person before sharing with the class, they are more likely to
participate in whole class discussion and feel more confident about sharing their answer with
the class. On occasion, allow students to work with their friends so that they enjoy their
learning and they can support each other accordingly.

8. Positive attitude towards the foreign language: Ensure that you show the importance
of learning English. According to Gardner and MacIntyre (1993), there are two types of
motivation for learners – instrumental and integrative motivation. If a student has instrumental
motivation to learn a new language, then he/she believes that the second-language can be
used as a tool in assisting them to get a better job or pursue a lucrative career in a large
company. Thus, they are driven by a monetary reward. In contrast, if a learner has integrative
motivation, he/she believes that the second language offers them the opportunity to learn
more about a new culture and to travel. The key for us as educators is to teach in a way that
the students develop one of the two types of motivation for learning the language.

Like everything in life, if you see the value in doing something you are more likely to enjoy
doing it and feel good about participating in or completing that task. Thus, we need to show
our students the everyday values of learning English. You can use inspirational stories for
reading exercises, show motivational video clips of people that have learned English and how
it helped them in their life, or share personal stories about your experiences.

Gardner, R. C. & MacIntyre, P. D. (1993). A student’s contribution to second-language learning. Part II: Affective
variables. Language Teaching 26, 1-11.
Hue, N. M. (2010). Encouraging reluctant ESL/EFL learners to speak in the classroom. The Internet TESL
Journal, 16(3).
Krashen. S. D. (1981). Second language acquisition and second language learning. University of Southern
California: Pergamon Press Inc.
Richards, J. C. & Rodgers, T. S. (2001). Approaches and methods in language teaching. Cambridge University
Schumann, J. H. (1986). Research on the acculturation model for second language acquisition. Journal of
Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 7(5), 379-392.


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Teaching English through the Rassias® Method in Sinaloa

Diana Belem Páez Monárrez
Centro de Estudios Mar de Cortés

Summary: The Mexican Basic Education Reform establishes the study of the English
subject to be part of the national basic education curriculum for a 10-year period of study, with
linked contents, starting in 3
grade of preschool and culminating in 3
grade of secondary
school. The goal of this agreement is for students to be able to acquire and develop language
skills in a real context, where they can communicate in a practical and functional way.
(Subsecretaría de Educación Básica de la Secretaría de Educación Pública, 2011)

The implementation of the English subject also looks for a unified faculty that meets three
basic criteria: level of language, teacher training and experience in teaching.

At the same time, the 2011 Syllabus of the SEP proposes that the English learning of each
student be enriched with social and cultural interaction, with intellectual, social, emotional and
physical challenges, and in a respectful and collaborative working environment.

The challenge in the Mexican context is similar to that faced by many countries. That is, the
need to train a large number of teachers to teach English in English using a targeted
approach that helps them achieve the profile established by the SEP, as well as to develop
humanistic attitudes that help them improve their teaching and language skills, so that the
students’ outcomes are improved, as well as students’ humanistic attitudes as proposed by
the 2011 Curriculum. (CANALSEB, 2009)

The plans and programs of NEPBE seek for students to construct their own knowledge
through social practices, as well as encourage a series of cultural and humanistic values, yet
not all teaching methods are appropriate for such practices.

To meet this challenge, the author explores the effects of implementing the Rassias® Method,
as a way to develop language and humanistic attitudes in students and teachers, as well as to
help teachers reach the professional profile set by the SEP in the state of Sinaloa. The
Rassias Method is based on a communicative and humanistic approach that engages
students on an emotional level. (Dartmouth College Rassias Center, 2011). The author
planned and facilitated this project with an elementary level English teacher working for the
NEPBE, during two semesters in 2013.


Research Questions:

• What is the influence in the teaching and learning of the English language when
applying the Rassias Method in class?
• What is the impact on the development of humanistic attitudes in teachers when being
in contact with the Rassias Method in their teaching practice?
• What is the influence in the professional profile in English teachers when being in
contact with the Rassias Method in their teaching practice?
• What is the impact in the development of the four language skills in students when the
teacher uses the techniques of the Rassias Method in class?
• What is the impact on the development of humanistic attitudes in students when the
teacher uses the techniques of the Rassias Method in class?

Method and main points of the study: Within an Action Research framework, the research
was held with a collaborating teacher and two groups of fourth grade students and it took
place in a primary school in the city of Culiacan.
Data was generated in three different stages.

The first stage of data collection was with the intention of knowing the collaborating teacher´s
teaching practice, professional profile and humanistic attitudes before being in contact with
the Rassias Method. Data was generated through videotaped English class sessions, in order
to register the teacher´s teaching skills. To collect data, the author used a checklist used by
the academic department of PNIEB in the state of Sinaloa to observe the English teachers
during the school year. (English Program in Basic Education in Sinaloa, 2013).

Semi structured qualitative interviews were used to register the teacher´s opinion of her own
teaching practice according to the teacher´s humanistic attitudes. Based on the interviews,
through the use of coding procedures applied across the data set, a series of key categories
emerged. The assessment tools used were adapted by Castro, Páez & Pereda (2012) based
on the proposal by Ana María Gonzalez (2006) on her book “El niño y la educación: programa
de desarrollo humano: niveles primaria y secundaria” (Student and Education: human
development program: primary and secondary levels), where she discusses the attitudes,
personal characteristics and skills a humanistic facilitator must have. The interviews were
used before and after exposure to the Rassias Method.

In order to measure humanistic attitudes, a qualitative questionnaire was answered by the
collaborating teacher. This questionnaire was taken from a scale of Truax and Carkhuff
(1967), adapted by Inés Gomez del Campo in 1996 in Vasco de Quiroga University in
Morelia, Michoacán. (Gomez del Campo Estrada, 1999). This questionnaire was taken by the
teacher before and after exposure to the Rassias Method.

The teacher´s English level was measured through a TOEFL test, which is an internationally
recognized exam that measures knowledge and fluency in the English language. The TOEFL
test was taken by the teacher before and after exposure to the Rassias Method.


The second stage of data collection took place in Hanover, NH, USA, at Dartmouth College,
where the collaborating teacher was part of a Teacher Training Program on the Rassias
Method, learning the methodology directly from Professor John Rassias, creator of the
method. Data was generated through participant observation; journal collection and a series
of interviews conducted during the process with the collaborative teacher to share insights.

The third stage of data collection is taking place during this semester. Data is being generated
through semi-structured qualitative interviews; qualitative questionnaires; a TOEFL test and
videotaped English class sessions where the performance in the language is being recorded
in two groups of the same grade. In one of the groups the collaborating teacher is using the
Rassias techniques and in the other group, the teacher is presenting the same topics with
other techniques that do not belong to the Rassias Method. The techniques used in this
stage will be explained during the presentation.

Conclusions and Contributions: Findings from this study suggest that being in contact with
the Rassias Method helps English teachers improve their English level; therefore, it is already
positively influencing their professional profile proposed by SEP. (Subsecretaría de
Educación Básica de la Secretaría de Educación Pública, 2011). Findings also suggest that
being in contact with the Rassias Method helps English teachers develop their humanistic
attitudes, increasing the affective side of teaching, as proposed by the 2011 Curriculum.
(CANALSEB, 2009). At this time, the implications for the development of the language skills
and humanistic attitudes in students when teachers use the techniques of the Rassias
Method in class are still being recorded. However, preliminary data suggest that there is
significantly more success and more meaningful learrning in the English class when using
the Rassias Method.

References: Advisor: Dr. Rafael Castro Perez

CANALSEB. (2009). Entrevista al Dr. Juan Manuel Martínez García, Coordinador del PNIEB. Recuperado en
Marzo de 2013, de <
Castro, R., Páez, D., & Pereda, Z. (2012). Matriz de Actitudes del Enfoque Centrado en la Persona, Conductas
Observables en el Docente y Habilidades Sociales como Instrumentos de Evaluación. Culiacán, Sinaloa,
Dartmouth College Rassias Center. (2011). Recuperado el 5 de Diciembre de 2011, de
González Garza, A. M. (2006). El niño y la educación: programa de desarrollo humano: niveles primaria y
secundaria. México: Trillas.
Gómez del Campo Estrada, J. F. (1999). Psicología de la Comunidad. México, D.F.: Plaza y Valdés Editores.
Programa de Inglés en Educación Básica en Sinaloa. (2013). Formato de Observación a la Labor Docente.
Culiacán, Sinaloa.
Subsecretaría de Educación Básica de la Secretaría de Educación Pública. (2011). Acuerdo Número 592 por el
que se establece la articulación de la Educación Básica. México, D.F.


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Making Dunn and Dunn’s Learning Theory a Reality

Ángel Parada Sosa
Jimmy Rivera Lorenzo
Universidad Regional del Sureste

Our poster demonstrates how it is possible to put Dunn and Dunn’s learning styles theory into
practice when designing the ideal classroom for university students. The theory is composed
of five factors that should be taken into account in creating the ideal classroom. The first
factor deals with the physical environment and includes lighting, acoustics, temperature,
classroom design and type of furniture. We used“floorplanner” and “designer 3D” programs to
create the basic layout of our classroom and we investigated different types of classroom

Figure 1 shows our initial model.

The second factor we considered was the emotional element and we decided that the teacher
and especially the position of the teacher in the classroom is one way in which we can cover
emotional needs. For this reason we placed the teacher to one side and not in front of the
class so that our classroom would be student centered.

Figure 2 demonstrates that the teacher is not the dominant focus.


Sociological aspects were out third factor and we tried to take into account the different
student needs when choosing furniture for our classroom. We believe that it is important that
the students have the options to work alone, in pairs or in small groups. We also took into
account that sometimes a student might need to leave the group and work in a quiet study
space. Figures 3-5 demonstrate the different classroom seating options.

The fourth factor we tried to cover was concerned with physiological aspects. We considered
that auditory and visual needs could be helped by having a big, flat, high definition television
screen and good quality speakers placed strategically on the walls. Space between
workspaces were created so that kinesthetic students can move around and a place where
students can have something to eat or drink were also created. A quiet area for reflection,
plants and soft colored walls should permit introverted and natural learners to study more
comfortably. Figure 6 shows the quiet areas.

Finally, the fifth factor was psychological aspects and these were perhaps the most difficult to
provide for, however, we believe that the different areas of the classroom allow all of the
students to find an adequate spaces in which they can work according to their individual
learning styles. We hope our ideas inspire you to rethink your classroom environment.
Figure 7 shows the outside environment.

García Salazar, J. (2008). Fundamentos del Aprendizaje. Mexico: Trillas.


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Developing task-based language teaching practices: How and why?

Caroline Payant
University of Idaho

In the field of second language acquisition, there is growing consensus that task-based
language teaching (TBLT) benefits second language (L2) development (Ellis, 2003). The use
of pedagogic tasks provides contexts for meaningful language use that mirror authentic
linguistic interactions. TBLT research shows that goal-oriented tasks foster fluency as well as
linguistic complexity development (Robinson, 2011). Although empirical research is
increasing, there are fewer discussions for language teachers that address the process of
creating and implementing a TBLT framework. To address this perceived gap, the goal of the
present paper is to introduce pedagogic tasks, to present task features and task
implementation, and to examine some of the successes and challenges associated with
implementing TBLT in foreign language settings.

Defining Pedagogic Tasks
TBLT has its origins in communicative language teaching (CLT). CLT was received with
great enthusiasm in the 1980s; however, it was soon observed that many so-called CLT
classrooms continued to focus on form rather than function and grammar-oriented activities
continued to abound. To bring meaningful interaction to the forefront, a proposal for the TBLT
framework emerged. Unlike CLT which is psycho-linguistically motivated, TBLT is more
socio-linguistically oriented (Kumaravadivelu, 2006).

Within TBLT, researchers offer various working definitions of tasks. According to Ellis (2003),

A task is a workplan that requires learners to process language pragmatically in
order to achieve an outcome that can be evaluated in terms of whether the correct
or appropriate propositional content has been conveyed. To this end, it requires
them to give primary attention to meaning and to make use of their own linguistic
resources (). A task is intended to result in language use that bears a
resemblance, direct or indirect, to the way language is used in the real world. Like
other language activities, a task can engage production or reception, and oral or
written skills, and also various cognitive processes (p.16)

Samuda and Bygate (2008) problematize the term workplan as it appears to prioritize
teachers’ pedagogical goals rather than learner agency. Because learning is contingent upon
the activity and the learners’ initiatives (van Lier, 2008), the workplan stipulated by the teacher
may not align with the learners’ workplan (Coughlan & Duff,1994). Samuda and Bygate
(2008) further maintain that the term ‘holistic’ is needed in order to convey the notion that
tasks involve real language use via the four language skills. They thus define a task as


[a] holistic activity which engages language use in order to achieve some non-
linguistic outcome while meeting a linguistic challenge, with the overall aim of
promoting language learning, through process or product of both (p.69).

What these working definitions do share is the notion that pedagogic tasks must truly
engage learners in communicative activities and situations where the goal is, first, to
achieve a non-linguistic outcome.

Task Design Framework
The first step in determining the optimal tasks is identifying your students’ non-linguistic
needs. In other words, as their teacher, identify contexts where your students will be using
the target language (e.g., meeting a teacher, applying for a job). You can do this by
conducting a short survey/questionnaire. Once you have identified their needs, then you can
design a task-based framework. Unfortunately, making curricular decisions in your school
may not always be possible; however, it should be possible for you to adapt existing materials
and thus integrate tasks in your curriculum to engage learners with authentic language.

When developing/adapting materials, reflect on task design features. Ellis (2003) proposes
five core design features: 1) goal, 2) input, 3) conditions, 4) procedures, and 5) predicted
outcomes (see Figure 1). The goal defines the general purpose of the task. The goal must
minimally specify non-linguistic outcomes such as sequencing information, selecting data, or
ranking information rather than specifying a linguistic form (e.g., perfect past). Input refers to
the materials that will enable learners to meet the stated goals. The input could include
images, texts, vocabulary, audio, and/or charts. Task conditions refer to how the input will
be distributed between the learners: will your learners be working with the same input (i.e.,
shared information) or will they each have different information (i.e., split information)? This is
especially important, as it will influence patterns of learner-learner interaction. Procedures
inform how you will group your learners – will students work in pairs, small groups, or as
whole class? This will affect the quantity and quality of interaction and language use. Finally,
the predicted outcomes will determine the final product and the associated process. To
determine the final product, decide what the learners will be producing: a poster, a chart, a
text? As for the process, what language or linguistic forms do you anticipate your learners will
use to complete the tasks? It will be important for you to monitor the interactions between
your learners as they unfold to verify whether they in fact use the anticipated linguistic forms.
In sum, these stages are highly important and decisions should be made a priori.

• Non-
• E.g., rank,
• Physical
• E.g., images,
• Shared
• Split
• Pair work
• Small group
• Whole group
• Physical
• Cognitive


Sample Task Types
There are many task types to choose from and using these, adapting these, and repeating
these over the course of the semester is recommended. Common tasks include:
1) decision-making tasks,
2) ranking tasks,
3) story completion tasks,
4) picture sequencing tasks, and
5) dictogloss tasks.
In a decision-making task, learners must reach a consensus about a given topic (e.g., agree
on a menu for guests, decide on a bus route). In a ranking task, rather than arriving at a
single consensus, learners rank information in order of importance/preference to meet their
needs (e.g., rank possible courses for the next semester). A story completion task requires
learners to work out a story using pictures: one learner shows pictures to her/his peer who
must uncover the story behind the pictures by asking questions. A variation of this is a picture
sequencing task where learners must discover the logical order of a set of pictures. Finally, in
a dictogloss task, learners hear a passage and, with the help of a peer, must reconstruct the
passage’s meaning. In what follows, I will exemplify how to apply the task design framework
to your materials.

An Illustration: Decision-Making Task
Many language textbooks include a unit on housing or living arrangements. Using this theme,
I will illustrate how to create a decision-making task.

The goal, the non-linguistic outcome, could be to select one apartment among various
options. To increase the task’s validity, the goal should be framed in an authentic scenario.
For instance:

You and your friend are going to study abroad. Eager to live abroad, you each
found three possible apartments via on-line sites. You meet to discuss these
options and pick the best option for your year abroad.

The second element is input. Consider using linguistic (i.e., vocabulary) and non-linguistic
(i.e., images) input in order to provide the necessary scaffold for your less proficient learners.
In this scenario, I could provide students with a set of pictures depicting the apartments along
with some basic descriptions. For the conditions, I can opt to split the information such that
each learner receives unique information about the apartments. Splitting the information may
lead to more communication breakdowns (since they each have different information) but
should encourage greater negotiation of meaning. For the procedure, I could increase
speaking time by asking students to work with one peer rather than relying on whole group
discussions. Finally, the predicted outcome could be the selection of one apartment along
with a written descriptive of the best apartment. In terms of process, I will hypothesize that
learners will use the past tense (reporting on what they found), questions (elicit information),
and adjectives.

This brief discussion exemplifies the creation of a decision-making task for intermediate
learners of English. Using this theme, follow the same steps to create a different task type,
namely a story completion, a ranking task, a dictogloss, or a story sequencing task. For each
type of task, remember that each feature must be accounted for.


Task Implementation
Learners react well to tasks and interaction opportunities, especially when they become
familiar with a task-based approach. However, in order to keep your learners intrigued and
motivated, you want to consider varying how tasks are implemented over the semester. Two
important task implementation factors to modify include 1) pre-task planning time and 2) task
repetition. Pre-task planning begins before performance – learners are allotted time to plan
their linguistic output. Planning time increases cognitive resources (Robinson, 2007) which
benefits fluency and linguistic complexity (Foster & Skehan, 1996; Yuan & Ellis, 2003). At
first, provide learners with pre-task planning time and gradually eliminate or shorten pre-task
planning time. A second way to manipulate implementation is via whole task repetition or
partial task repetition. Drawing on psycholinguistic evidence (see e.g., Levelt, 1989, for a
discussion), the act of repeating a task alleviates the cognitive burden of speech production
given that learners may focus less on planning the content of the message and thus allocate
cognitive resources to plan the formulation and articulation of the message. Tasks can be
repeated within the same week or at greater intervals. To date, there is growing support that
repeating tasks benefits learner performance (Bygate, 1996; Kim & Payant, in press; Lynch &
Maclean, 2000; Patanasorn, 2010).

Successes and Challenges
Drawing on language classroom TBLT research, the benefits of pedagogic tasks are manifold
(Kim, 2012; Payant, 2012; Storch & Aldosari, 2010). First, learner-learner interaction has
been shown to increase opportunities for output. According to the Output Hypothesis (Swain,
2005), through output, learners identify gaps in their linguistic knowledge and begin to discuss
possible resolutions (i.e., hypothesis testing) and/or talk about the language. This has been
shown to lead to language development (Payant, 2012; Swain & Lapkin, 1998). Payant
(2012) also found that learners reported feeling more engaged during learner-learner
interaction compared to teacher-led lessons. One of her students explained that:

Pero tú con tus ejercicios y cosas asíes mucho más interesante. Estoy más
en la clase. O sea, de repente me pierdo en tu clase, pero intento no hacerlo.
Pero en la otrasí me podía iry decía “ah, luego leo el libro” y como que no
tenía caso que fuera [a la clase]. Y por eso me gustan más tus clases porque
es algo que viene no nada más leyendo el libro.

Finally, tasks provide opportunities for learners to interact in the target language and to draw
on their L1 to mediate the completion of the tasks. Research from a sociocultural perspective
shows that language mediation via the L1 benefits the learners as it supports learner-learner
interaction and allows learners to provide assistance that moves the task forward (Storch &
Aldosari, 2010; Swain & Lapkin, 2000).

Despite these important benefits, there are some challenges underlying TBLT. First,
developing materials that meet non-linguistic outcomes and that are based on learners’
authentic needs requires careful planning and time investment. Second, learners who are
used to structure-based syllabus may initially react negatively to a newer curriculum. Some
learners believe that they learn more when completing grammar exercises than when
interacting in the language. This second challenge, however, can easily be overcome by
explaining your rationale to your learners.


TBLT research provides strong empirical support that the development and implementation of
pedagogic tasks provides learners with multiple opportunities to use authentic language in
meaningful interactions with their peers. By participating in these interactions, learners use
the target language to mediate their thoughts and actions and – with the guidance of their
peers and/or teacher – may be able to achieve higher levels of language (Swain, 2000).
Although the relationship between task features continues to form the basis of much empirical
research, there is positive evidence that tasks are important tools and vehicles that foster
language development (see e.g., Robinson, 2011). Thus, language teachers working in
foreign language contexts are encouraged to support their pedagogy with some tasks and
examine how the manipulation of various features will benefit learners’ abilities to use the
language for communicative purposes.

Bygate, M. (1996). Effects of task repetition: Appraising the developing language of learners. In J. Willis & D.
Willis (Eds.), Challenge and change in language teaching (pp. 136-146). London: Heinemann.
Coughlan, P., & Duff, P. A. (1994). Same task, different activities: Analysis of a SLA task from an activity theory
perspective. In J. P. Lantolf & G. Appel (Eds.), Vygotskian approaches to second language research (pp. 173-
194). Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Corporation.
Ellis, R. (2003). Task-based language learning and teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Foster, P., & Skehan, P. (1996). The influence of planning and task type on second language performance.
Studies in Second Language Acquisition(18), 299-323. doi: 10.1017/S0272263100015047.
Kim, Y. (2012). Task complexity, learning opportunities and Korean EFL learners’ question development. Studies
in Second Language Acquisition, 34, 627-658. doi: 10.1017/S0272263112000368.
Kim, Y., & Payant, C. (in press). Task complexity, task repetition, and second language learning opportunities. In
M. Baralt, R. Gilabert & P. Robinson (Eds.), Task sequencing and instructed second language learning:
Bloomsbury Academic.
Kumaravadivelu, B. (2006). TESOL Methods: Changing Tracks, Challenging Trends. TESOL Quarterly, 40(1),
59-81. doi: 10.2307/40264511.
Levelt, W. J. M. (1989). Speaking: From intention to articulation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Lynch, T., & Maclean, J. (2000). Exploring the benefits of task repetition and recycling for classroom language
learning. Language Teaching Research, 4(3), 221-250. doi: 10.1177/136216880000400303.
Patanasorn, C. (2010). Effects of procedural content and task repetition on accuracy and fluency in an EFL
contexts. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Northern Arizona University.
Payant, C. (2012). Learner-learner interaction: An exploration of the mediating functions of multilingual learners’
languages in an L3 foreign language classroom. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Georgia State University.
Robinson, P. (2011). Task-based language learning: A review of issues. Language Learning, 1-36.
Samuda, V., & Bygate, M. (2008). Tasks in second language learning. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Storch, N., & Aldosari, A. (2010). Learners' use of first language (Arabic) in pair work in an EFL class. Language
Teaching Research, 14(4), 355-375. doi: 10.1177/1362168810375362.
Swain, M. (2000). The output hypothesis and beyond: Mediating acquisition through collaborative dialogue. In J.
P. Lantolf (Ed.), Sociocultural theory and second language learning (pp. 97-114). Oxford: Oxford University
Swain, M., & Lapkin, S. (1998). Interaction and second language learning: Two adolescent French immersion
students working together. The Modern Language Journal, 82(3), 320. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4781.1998.tb01209.x
Swain, M., & Lapkin, S. (2000). Task-based second language learning: The uses of the first language. Language
Teaching Research, 4(3), 251-274. doi: 10.1177/136216880000400304.
van Lier, L. (2008). Agency in the classroom. In J. P. Lantolf & M. E. Poehner (Eds.), Sociocultural theory and
the teaching of second languages. London: Equinox.
Yuan, F., & Ellis, R. (2003). The effects of pre-task planning and on-line planning on fluency, complexity, and
accuracy in L2 monologic oral production. Applied Linguistics, 24, 1-24.


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English communicative program for students seeking real communication in English

Deida Perea
Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez

The Language Center (CELE) has been the main alternative for over 33 years, for those
University of Juarez (UACJ) students who seek to learn the English Language for academic
or professional purposes. However, the persistent variation in the English proficiency levels
among students who complete the 11 levels of the program in addition to their poor
communicative competence is an issue which concerned us not only as both teachers and
researchers, but that has been a recurrent topic of discussion in the academic staff meetings
for quite some time, and subject of previous research.

This aforementioned disparity in the English proficiency levels is especially noticeable in the
productive language skills (speaking and writing), which affects the learners ability to
communicate effectively in English. Even when levels IX and X focus on English academic
writing, and level XI focuses on public speaking skills, an important number of students lack
the expected proficiency upon the English program completion. Regarding this, Roberto
Morales, CELE’s sub-director, mentioned that the majority of the students who take the
institutional TOEFL test (which measures the academic English proficiency levels) after
completing the English program, obtains a score between 430-480, a score below the
minimum enrollment requirements for international students of most US and Canada’s

A factor that contributes to the variation in the English proficiency level among CELE’s
students is the fact that the English program lacks a clear direction, given that it doesn’t follow
a particular teaching approach. As a result, the program depends a great deal on the talent
and abilities of its teachers and this leads to a range of success and failure stories, being the
inability to communicate efficiently in academic or professional contexts among the latter.

Furthermore, the current structure of the English program is not practical nor considers
students’ needs, especially those who seek to apply to exchange programs, given that the
program consists of 11 levels that can be completed in a minimum of 2 years and 9 months,
whereas students are encouraged to apply to international colleges since 4th semester (just 2
years after starting college). The English program length means that those students who start
the program since level 1, will not meet the language requirements (if they do so) until 7th
semester, when they can no longer apply to any exchange program.


Another issue that has arisen at the CELE, is the increasing dropout rate, since every cycle,
the number of students that finish the program decreases in comparison to the number of
students that started.

These issues show the CELE’s need of an English program that adapts to UACJ students’
needs not only by modifying its structure and reducing the number of levels, but by offering
the linguistic tools needed to perform successfully in a society that demands graduates with a
high English proficiency. CELE needs an English program that develops the 4 language skills
equally, that encourages students’ communication since the first level, and that uses
authentic English. Hence we propose the adoption of the Communicative Approach as
UACJ’s language teaching methodology.

Theoretical framework

According to Richards and Rodgers (2001), the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT)
sees language as communication, and considers that the objective of language teaching
should be to develop what Hymes calls “communicative competence” which can be defined,
as stated by The Essentials of Language Teaching (2004), as “the ability to use the language
correctly and appropriately to accomplish communication goals”. Communicative competence
includes the four language skills: reading and listening comprehension, and speaking and
writing. Since language is a mean to communicate, it is necessary to emphasize the
importance of the interaction of the four skills in the communication act.

Communicative language teaching refers to a set of principles that can be applied in different
ways depending on the educative context, students’ age, language proficiency level, learning
objectives, etc. These principles of assumptions are the following according to Richards

1. Interaction plays an important role in Communicative Language teaching second,
given that language learning is facilitated when learners are engaged in interaction
and meaningful communication.
2. Communicative Language Teaching provides plenty of opportunities for students to
negotiate meaning, expand their language resources, notice how language is used
in an authentic way, and take part in meaningful interaction. An effective CLT class
includes learning tasks and exercises that incorporate these aspects.
3. In order to create an environment that promotes language learning through
meaningful communication, a CLT class should include content that is relevant,
purposeful, interesting, and engaging for students.
4. Communication is a comprehensive and integrated process that often includes
various language skills.
5. Language learning is facilitated both by activities that involve inductive and
deductive reasoning.
6. Language learning is a gradual process that involves interlanguage, and trial and
error. Although errors are a normal product of learning, the ultimate goal of learning
is to be able to use the new language both accurately and fluently.
7. Learners develop their own strategies to learn a language. Besides, each individual
has different language needs and learns at a different pace.


8. In order to promote successful language learning, a Communicative Language
Teaching class should involve the use of effective learning and communication
9. The role of the teacher in the Communicative Language Teaching classroom is that
of a facilitator, who creates an environment that promotes and facilitates to
language learning and provides opportunities for students to use and practice the
language and to reflect on language use and language learning.
10. In the Communicative Language Teaching classroom, learners learn through
collaboration and sharing, as these interactions provide opportunities to engage in
meaningful communication.

An analysis of the Communicative Approach is found in Canale and Swain (1980) where they
state that there are five important principles that support the Communicative Approach
Communicative competence is made up of four major strands: “grammatical
competence, sociolinguistic competence, discourse competence, and strategic
A communicative approach should consider the learners’ communication needs and
commit to meet them.
Foreign language students should have plenty opportunities to interact with materials
and resources in the target language in order to meet their needs of authentic
communication in real situations.
Language learning should use those communicative competence aspects that the first
and second language have in common.
Provide the students with enough information, practice and as many experiences as
possible to tackle their target language communicative needs.

The presence of these principles in the foreign language classroom will facilitate the
development of the communicative competence on a higher level. Based on the points of
view of Canale and Swain (1980), the communicative process in the target language will be
more effective as teachers become more capable of integrating these elements into their

A clear example of this is given by Nunan (1987). When addressing the advantages of some
didactic strategies in an English as a foreign language classroom, the author mentions the
Communicative Approach offers: 1) meaning negotiation, 2) nominalization, 3) negotiation
with more than one speaker, and 4) genuine interactions.

So, there has been an evolution in the way students perform in a traditional framework with
strategies such as controlled activities. Nunan (1987) emphasizes that the main change
should occur within the teacher: in the way he/she conducts his/her class’ activities: avoiding
mechanic answers and interactions, creating more interactive and less controlled
environments, providing assertive feedback. Nunan shows that the interaction’s common
pattern before mutating to a communicative approach is the following: 1) question from the
teacher, 2) answer from the student, 3) follow-up by the teacher.

Nevertheless, in order to accomplish genuine interactions, the following interaction pattern
must take place, as it happens in the Communicative approach classroom: 1) question from


the student, 2) answer from the student, 3) peer and group interaction, and 4) feedback
through monitoring from the teacher (kept to a minimum).

The impact and effectivity of the Communicative Approach application has resulted in its
adoption as the official language teaching methodology in public schools’ English programs in
China (Nunan, 1987). Furthermore, it has originated big scale projects such as the redesign
of English language activities in Germany, Redesign of thematic units of French teaching
programs in Canada, Finland’s revision of the modern language national curriculum, and the
revision of the English for Academic Purposes program at the University of Michigan,
(Savignon, 1990). Based on these stories of success, we have no doubt that UACJ’s students
will benefit from the Communicative Approach, since they also perform in a foreign language
context. Moreover, the UACJ seeks to offer and ensure the quality of the foreign language

Therefore, with this solid theoretical framework, the Communicative Approach adoption is
recommended for the UACJ´s English program, in order to ensure the communicative
competence and English proficiency that UACJ´s students require.

General and specific objectives
The general objective in this study is to know the effect that the Communicative Language
Learning (CLL) approach has on the English as a Foreign Language Learner (EFLL) at the
University of Ciudad Juárez (UACJ)
The specific objectives in this study are the following:
1) Compare the efficiency that CLL has on the EFLL with respect to the current ‘traditional’
learning at the Centro de Lenguas (CELE) at the UACJ
2) Analyze the scope that CLL has on the English linguistic competence of the UACJ EFLL.
3) Measure the progress and development of the UACJ EFLL’s language skills under the
CLL framework.

1. Participants in the control group will not show a significant improvement in terms of
percentage from pre-test to post-test. Thus, 50% plus 1 participants on this group will not
increase scores by more than a 25% from Pre-test to Post-test
2. Participants in the Experimental Group will show improvement in terms of percentage from
pre-test to post-test. Thus, 50% plus 1 of participants in this group will increase their scores
by a 25% from pre-test to post-test.
3. 50% plus 1 of participants in the Experimental Group will obtain a better score than 50%
plus 1 of participants in the control group.

To measure the effects of CLL at the UACJ, it was proposed to try it as a pilot on
approximately 120 students on 3 campuses. Those students who register for this pilot
program will be granted with 5 credits in the SATCA system used at UACJ. It is necessary to
keep in mind that under the traditional teaching framework at UACJ’s CELE, students do not
start obtaining credit until they reach the 5th level and this takes them approximately 7
months (27 weeks) if they start right from the 1st level.


The experimental group will be formed by those UACJ students from different programs who
decide to register for the beginner’s level. Ages may vary from 18 to 24 and students could
from a variety of programs as long as they are properly registered as UACJ students. It is
estimated that this group will be formed by approximately 120 students distributed among 6
groups with approximately 20 students each.

The Control Group (CG) will be formed taking into account those students registered in the
current traditional classes at CELE from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th level. Ages may also vary
from 18 to 24 and students might also come from different backgrounds in terms of programs
they are majoring in at the UACJ. It is estimated that this group will be formed by an equal
number and distribution as those participants in the Experimental Group (EG).

The pilot class beginner’s level will take place 8 hours per week, 2 hours per day for
approximately 15 weeks. To this period of time the name ‘CLL training’ will be given for
effects of establishing this study’s terminology. Participants exposed to CLL Training (CLLT)
will be those recruited for the EG. Participants in the CG will not be exposed to CLLT and take
their classes under the current traditional framework at UACJ’s CELE.

All participants will take a test that measures: listening, reading and grammaticality-judgment
tests. All participants in this study will take such test which will be referred to as Pre-test prior
CLLT period.

At the end of the CLLT period all participants will take again the test they took prior CLLT
period. This test has the advantage of distributing its components randomly every time it is
applied. Therefore, distracting and alike factors for reliability on test taking/applying under an
experimental research study are controlled for.

Research crew collaborating on this study will constantly monitor participants and instructors
in both EGs and CGs to make sure that both frameworks are followed as proposed.
Instructors for the EGs were previously and extensively trained on how to apply CLL in their
classrooms with UACJ EFLLs. Those instructors in current traditional CELE classrooms did
not receive any CLL training. Hence, it is crucial that this study’s staff monitors both groups so
that permeability does not take place in any and results can be reliable and applicable.

Data obtained on the pre-tests applied to both EG and CG will be compared to those obtained
on the post-test applied also to both of these groups. Scores from both pre-tests and post-
tests applied to EG and CG will be reported and analyzed in terms of percentages.
Analysis and reports of data results will be based on that used in the methodology applied in
the Perea, Roo&Escalera (2013) study on L2 phonology. For this study, authors analyzed
their data under an experimental framework also applied and developed directly in the English
as a Foreign Language (EFL) classroom at the UACJ’s CELE. These methodologies are
useful for situations where proposals as the one hereby described are applied. These
experimental designs allow to cautiously measure the application of new approaches directly
to the EFL classroom given its precision and its similarity to tests that students might take in
the future to assess their English proficiency.


Expected outcomes
As it was explained before this study was created to apply CLL as a new approach at UACJ
to improve students’ English proficiency. It is expected that the results on the study are
positive so that this framework can be applied to all EFL classes at the UACJ.

The responsibility is great and demanding, yet attainable since the ultimate goal is to improve
learning and teaching EFL processes at our university. This will grant our students major
opportunities for them to obtain better jobs and also for them to become well-rounded and
integral learners and professionals.


Canale, M., & Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching
and testing. Applied Linguistics,1, 1-47.
National Capital Language Resource Center (NCLRC). (n.d.).The essentials of language teaching.Retrieved
April 3, 20013 from
Nunan, D. (1987). Communicative language teaching: Making it work. ELT Journal, 41, 2, 136–145.
Perea, E.D. &Róo. S. (2013). “Quitándonos los tapones: El entrenamiento fonológico L2 y sus efectos en la
percepción”. Ediciones de Posgrados en Educación Superior, 23, 45.
Richards, J.C. (2006). Communicativelanguageteachingtoday. Cambridge. Cambridge UniversityPress
Richards, J. C. &Rodgers, T. S. (2001). Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Savignon, S. (1990). Communicative language teaching: Definitions and directions. Georgetown University
Round TableonLanguages and Linguistics, 207-217.


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Using bilingual teaching strategies in everyday English lessons

Ada del Carmen Sandoval Madrid
Universidad Latina de América

Students around the world have mostly developed their English communicative skills by
taking external classes; as an extra curricular activity from their regular academic school
programs. In the last decades educational institutions realized the importance of providing
learners with this communicative tool by adding English to the academic curricula.

Over 1 billion people are currently learning English around the world (1). Almost half of them
learn English as part of their academic school programs today. Some schools realized
teaching English 2 or 3 hours per week just wasn’t enough for students to master
communication in a foreign language. Several institutions decided then to teach their regular
academic classes such as Math, Chemistry, and Social Sciences, in English in order to
expand the students' exposure to the language. Bilingual teaching strategies developed
mostly by regular language teachers who had to become experts in topics such as Ethics,
Biology or Physics.

Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) takes language learning and acquisition to
the top. Maximizing exposure is helping learners achieve language acquisition to its best.
Formally introduced as integrated learning over a decade ago, “CLIL is an approach which
integrates the teaching of content from the academic curriculum with the teaching of a non-
native language” as Kay Bentley defines. Brilliant results have been obtained with students
who have attended bilingual schools. They have mostly developed communicative language
skills to successfully communicate in an effective way. By focusing on the content topic,
communicative cognitive skills have proved to be developed in a much more efficient way.

If achieving language learning acquisition with our English students is our main goal as
regular language teachers, could we adapt and use some of these effective techniques to
achieve also better results with our regular English language students?

Teaching Strategies
Bilingual teaching strategies originated from two different perspectives: 1) Experienced
English teachers attempting to master academic content topics, and 2) Experienced
academic professionals / teachers delivering their classes in the English language.

As Kay Bentley accurately affirms, in order to teach CLIL lessons “different teachers have
different challenges: language teachers need to learn more about subject content; subject
teachers need to learn more about the language needed for their subjects.”(2) Many schools


nowadays work with an interdisciplinary approach. “A unit of study that uses the
interdisciplinary approach enables teachers to teach the whole student and make links
between disciplines. One goal for this approach is to give students a more relevant, less
fragmented, and stimulating experience”, as Jacobs affirms. (3) Cooperation between subject
and language teachers has provided a wide range of strategies focused on the development
of cognitive and communicative skills. Through real-life interesting content topics, students
can successfully achieve language fluency by focusing on the topic, not only on the language.
Teaching by competencies has become the trend in most schools’ official curricula. In the
language classroom learners need progressively challenging tasks to develop such relevant
communicative and social competences as well. However, as language teachers we need to
be aware of the cognitive demands required of the learners. In bilingual environments
learners produce, listen to and read a wide range of language. In most academic classes,
learners must develop different learning skills and competencies, the same ones we should
also use in our regular English language classrooms.

Language across the curriculum

Unit 2 Language across the curriculum, “The TKT Course CLIL Module, by Kay Bentley


Teachers must take in consideration all the language features their learners will have to be
familiar with when doing class preparation with CLIL teaching techniques. English teachers
are usually given the language feature as part of our objective to be covered in class.
However, real life content topics could be part of the main focus of our English classes.
Cognitive skills across the curriculum

Unit 4 Cognitive skills across the curriculum, “The TKT Course CLIL Module, by Kay Bentley
Using bilingual teaching techniques the language classroom can only benefit from the best
features developing in ELT. Language teachers will eventually move forward from just
teaching lexis items and language functions, into creating a more dynamic, relevant and
realistic environment in the language classroom. Interdisciplinary team-work can only lead to
students’ motivations and success.


Visual organizers as teaching resources

Unit 4 Cognitive skills across the curriculum, “The TKT Course CLIL Module, by Kay Bentley
Graddol, David (2006), “English Next”, The British Council, The English Company (UK) LTD. UK,
EnglandBentley, Kay (2010), “The TKT Course CLIL Module”, Cambridge University Press. United
Kingdom.Jacobs, Heidi Hayens (1989), “Interdisciplinary curriculum: Design and implementation”; Association
for Supervision and Curriculum Development, USA


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Selective/Effective use of technology in the language classroom

Dixie Santana
Universidad Panamericana, Guadalajara

It is becoming increasingly clear that 21
century learners benefit from the inclusion of
information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the classroom. But, with so many
options, how can the teacher decide which technologies are useful and which are not? The
aim of this paper is to provide guidelines which will help the teacher make informed decisions.
These guidelines are based on what research tells us about the most effective use of
technology for language learning and the best practices in applied use of educational
technologies. The paper will also provide some examples of technology-based activities, as
well as some useful websites.

Firstly, what does research tell us? Studies (Bernard et. al, 2004; Means et. al, 2010; Zhao et.
al, 2005) have been carried out to compare three types of teaching-learning situations: face-to
face-instruction, blended learning, and online learning. Face-to-face instruction refers to the
traditional situation where the teacher and the students occupy the same space and time,
normally in a classroom. Blended learning is a combination of classroom time with a teacher,
plus technology-mediated activities outside of the classroom. Finally, online learning refers to
instruction completely through the internet.

Important findings of these studies show:
Blending works: The most effective type of instruction combines the online and face-to-face
environments (Bernard et. al, 2004; Means et. al, 2010; Zhao et. al, 2005).

The thoughtful adaptation of instructional methods and materials to the online environment
is better (Means et. al, 2010). In other words, we can’t just use technology to do what
we’ve always done in our classes. The types of activities we do and the instructions we
give need to be thoroughly thought-out and adapted to use with technology.

Self-directed online learning is not the best: Collaborative or instructor-directed online
learning achieved results superior to those attained through independent, self-directed
online learning, (Means et. al, 2010).

Thus, research seems to indicate that online learning is more effective than face-to face,
whereas blended learning is the most effective option. It may be surprising to find that online
instruction is more effective than face-to-face, but it would be important to find out the kind of
activities being carried out in the classroom. If the class is very teacher-centered, this may be
affecting the results.


Research also shows that collaborative, instructor-directed online learning is better than self-
directed study. In other words, even in online instruction, it is better to work with a group and
a teacher than to work individually. Knowing that blended learning is the best option, it
becomes important to include technology-based activities into our classes. Cennamo, Ross, &
Ertmer (2010) have established six standards by which to guide us. The authors posit that
technology-based activities should:
allow for creativity and innovation;
permit collaboration and communication;
give the learner practice in doing research and gathering information;
promote critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making;
foster cultural awareness, and
give the learner practice in using technology.

Finally, Hoven (2006) argues that a good technological tool offers the learner the chance to
interact with the material, to interpret it, to negotiate with it and to find its meaning. Taking into
account these three aspects: that blended learning is better, that there are six standards to
consider, and that good tools provide an opportunity for interaction, we can establish a set of
guidelines to evaluate technology in the classroom. We can do this by making a checklist:


Write the name of the webpage, software, technological tool, activity, etc. in the first column
and then check how many of the standards this tool addresses. It will be hard to find
something that works for all categories, but you might decide that an activity or tool that
promotes three or more of the standards is worthwhile, or you may decide that some of these
issues are very important for you, and some are less so. For example, you can decide that
interaction, creativity, and collaboration are very important for you, but research is less
important. You can focus on activities or tools that promote these first three standards. You
can make these decisions based on your beliefs, your resources, and the needs of your

Following are some websites which offer activities that address the six standards. I have
listed them under one of the standards, but in most cases, they can fit into several categories.


Standard 1: Allow for creativity and innovation: students create original work and share it. This is a lovely website which provides templates and drawings.
Students use the templates to write their own stories. This site offers very easy-to-use software which allows students
to create stories to read on a smartphone or tablet.

Standard 2: Permit collaboration and communication: students use ICT tools to communicate
with each other, with the teacher, and with more knowledgeable others.

People to People This is an international internet “pen-pal” service for schools.
We speke This website connects you to people who want to practice their
speaking skills around the world.

Standard 3: Give the learner practice in doing research and gathering information.
Authentic websites are very useful in this regard.

Standard 4: Promote critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making.
Webquests are useful here.

Standard 5: Foster cultural awareness: students use the Internet or other digital resources to
explore and better understand cultural and human issues in countries where the language is
spoken, comparing, for example, variety of dialects or accents.
BBC internet radio at connects students with authentic
English language from a variety of regions around the UK.

Standard 6: Give the learner practice in using technology: students use word-processing
and other digital resources to write in different languages, conduct interviews, and create
documents that include cultural artifacts such as images of landmarks, clothing, foods, and
festivals. (Cennamo, Ross &Ertmer, 2010). This website allows your students to create digital posters
and share them.

All of the activities or websites mentioned above promote interaction between students or
between the student and the materials.

Technology has the potential to dramatically change the way we teach and learn. However,
we should resist the temptation to include technology in our classes simply because it is
available, or because we believe our students will find it fun. If we include technology in our
classes, it should be because our students can learn more effectively with it than without it.
Following standards and best practices will help us make better choices as to what to include,
and what to ignore.


Bernard, R. M., Abrami, P. C., Lou, Y.,Borokhovski, E., Wade,A., WozneyL., Wallet,P.A.,
FisetM., and Huang,B. (2004). How does distance education compare with classroom
instruction? A meta-analysis of the empirical literature.Review of Educational Research 74
Cennamo, K., Ross, J., and Ertmer, P. (2010).Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A
standards-based approach. Belmont, USA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning
Hoven, D. L. (2006). Communicating and interacting: An exploration of the changing roles
of media in CALL/CMC. Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium Journal 23(2), 233-256.
Means B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakie, M., Jones, K. (2010).Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online
learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies.
based-practices/finalreport.pdf. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
Zhao, Y., Lei, J.,Yan, B.,Lai, C.,and Tan,H. S. (2005).What makes the difference? A practical
analysis of research on the effectiveness of distance education. Teachers College Record 107 (8):183684.


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El aprendizaje explícito de la gramática en ILE

Saul Santos García
Universidad Autónoma de Nayarit

Por mucho tiempo, pero sobre todo en la década de los 1980’s, la formación de profesores
de inglés incluía entrenamiento explícito en un modelo que consiste en tres etapas: una
etapa de presentación de una estructura gramatical o función comunicativa nueva, una etapa
de práctica en la que se ponía énfasis a la precisión y finalmente una etapa de producción
libre en donde se buscaba que el estudiante desarrollara fluidez (ver por ejemplo Matthews et
al., 1985). Por esos tiempos surgen nuevos modelos para la enseñanza de segundas
lenguas que enfatizan la comunicación, como es el caso del enfoque comunicativo. Bajo este
enfoque el lenguaje es visto como un acto comunicativo, cognitivo y reflexivo utilizado para
expresar, intercambiar y defender ideas. Así mismo, el enfoque comunicativo (al igual que
otros enfoques como el basado en tareas) cuestiona la enseñanza explícita de la gramática
pues asume que basta con que el estudiante tenga suficiente exposición a la lengua en
forma de insumo comprensible para que éste analice de forma subconsciente los aspectos
del lenguaje requeridos por la actividad comunicativa (Fotos, 2002).

Sin embargo, el contexto y las circunstancias bajo las cuales se aprende una segunda lengua
en México (contexto de lengua extranjera) dificultan que el enfoque comunicativo, o un
enfoque basado en tareas, sean aplicados con altas probabilidades de éxito: es necesario
incorporar actividades en el salón de lenguas que se enfoquen ‘en la forma’. Investigaciones
sobre la adquisición de la lengua parecen indicar que una condición necesaria (aunque no
suficiente) para que se dé la adquisición de un aspecto del lenguaje es que el estudiante lo
atienda, es decir, que lo note a partir de cierto estímulo lingüístico (Schmidt y Frota, 1986).

¿Qué diferencia hay entre este nuevo enfoque, enfocado ‘en la forma’, y los enfoques
tradicionales centrados ‘en las formas’, como el de las 3P? En principio, bajo un enfoque
centrado en la forma se espera que la gramática (y otros aspectos del lenguaje) surja a partir
de contextos comunicativos (por ejemplo diálogos, tareas), pero que subsecuentemente ésta
sea resaltada para que el estudiante la note a través de actividades del tipo CR (acrónimo en
inglés de Consciousness Raising).

CR es un tipo de actividad que tiene el propósito de promover conocimiento declarativo
con respecto a algún aspecto gramatical, de acuerdo a las siguientes características (Ellis,
Aislamiento de una estructura;
Datos suficientes que contengan la estructura;
Que la resolución implique un esfuerzo cognitivo;
Que el producto requiera la articulación de la regla.


En realidad existen dos momentos en los que el estudiante debe ‘notar’ de forma explícita: en
principio, después de haberse enfrentado con el lenguaje meta a través de una actividad de
comprensión auditiva, lectura o un diálogo (lo que le permite contextualizar la estructura
gramatical), el estudiante debe ‘notar’ la estructura lingüística (o forma léxica) tal como la
produce un hablante nativo. Este primer ejercicio de ‘notar’ le permitirá formular hipótesis con
respecto a la regla subyacente en la estructura meta. Posteriormente se espera que el
estudiante tenga la oportunidad de poner a prueba esta hipótesis a partir, por ejemplo de una
actividad comunicativa. En este momento se sugiere que se introduzca una segunda
actividad de ‘notar’ en donde el estudiante tenga la oportunidad de comparar su propia
producción (interlengua) con la forma esperada (como la produce un hablante nativo); es
decir el estudiante debe tener un espacio de reflexión para que pueda comparar su
interlengua con la lengua meta. Se espera que a partir de esta comparación, el estudiante
esté en condiciones de reestructurar su interlengua: en términos de Krashen (1982), el
estudiante estaría en condiciones de pasar de i a i +1.

Este proceso es presentado en el siguiente esquema (basado en Ellis, 2002b):

Etapa1 Insumo (e.g. diálogo, lectura, etc.)

Etapa 2 Atención al significado (e.g. actividad comunicativa)
Etapa 3 Actividad CR1 (notar la forma como es producida por un hablante nativo,
formulación de hipótesis)
Etapa 4 Actividad comunicativa (en donde el estudiante ponga a prueba las hipótesis
Etapa 5 Actividad CR2 (en donde el estudiante ‘note’ la diferencia entre lo que produjo y
lo que se espera que produzca)

En el presente taller se presenta un ejemplo en lengua huichol (Santos et al., 2012) de toda
una secuencia. El propósito de utilizar una lengua distinta al inglés y que posiblemente los
participantes no conozcan, es que puedan realmente experimentar cómo la misma
secuencia, dentro de un contexto comunicativo, los fuerza a centrar su atención en la forma.
Justamente el enfoque centrado en la forma implica una secuencia de actividades que aun
cuando están centradas en el contenido, fuerzan de alguna manera al estudiante a poner
atención en la forma.

La idea subyacente de este taller es que hay un importante número de razones por las que
se debe incluir la gramática en la clase de idiomas, pero que la manera en que ésta es
presentada tiene un impacto en el proceso de aprendizaje. Como se puede apreciar, el
presente taller no sugiere que deban desaparecer las actividades comunicativas del salón de
lenguas o que un enfoque centrado en tareas no es adecuado. Lo que intenta resaltar es que
las características contextuales bajo las cuales se enseña inglés (o cualquier otra lengua
extranjera en México), ofrecen pocas oportunidades de exposición a la lengua meta, lo que
puede impedir que el estudiante pueda ‘adquirir’ las formas gramaticales de forma implícita;
es necesario hacer prominentes esas estructuras (o formas léxicas) para que el estudiante
las pueda notar, como un elemento necesario en el proceso de adquisición de una segunda



Ellis, R. (2002a). Grammar teaching – practice or consciousness raising? En J. C. Richards et. al. Methodology
in language teaching. Cambridge: CUP.
Ellis, R. (2002b). The place of grammar instruction in the second / foreign language curriculum. En E. Hinkel y
S. Fotos. New perspectives on grammar teaching in second language classrooms (pp 17 – 34). New York:
Fotos, S. (2002). Structure-based interactive tasks for the EFL grammar learner. En E. Hinkel y S. Fotos. New
perspectives on grammar teaching in second language classrooms (pp 135 – 154). New York: Routledge.
Krashen, D. S. (1982). Principles and practice in second language acquisition. London: Phoenix ELT.
Matthews, A., M. Spratt y L. Dangerfield (1985). At the chalkface. Practical techniques in language teaching.
London: Edward Arnold Ltd.
Santos, S., T. Carrillo y M. Carrillo (2012) Taniuki. Curso de wixárika como segunda lengua. INALI.
Schmidt, R., & Frota, S. (1986). Developing basic conversational ability in a second language: A case study of
an adult learner of Portuguese. In R. R. Day (Ed.), Talking to learn: Conversation in second language acquisition
(pp. 237-326). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.


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Content-based learning among teachers in training

Terrence Nevin Siders Vogt
Universidad Pedagógica Nacional

I was a member of the panel on Content-based learning among teachers in training organized
by Mexico’s UPN. Following up on previous presentations to MEXTESOL on this
Postgraduate Degree Program in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (especialización;
EEAILE) that aims to provide certification for in-service public middle school teachers, the
panelists reported on their collective experience with the first class.

The role I played was to design an additional component on English language development
designed to employ the academic contents of the course itself as its principal materials, along
with the tutorees’ own products-in-process. The lessons drew on the principles of learning via
authentic materials that researchers in foreign language education have promoted since at
least the 1990s when Snow and Brinton (1997) compiled a state-of-the-art presentation that
took up everything from theory to syllabus, teacher education, research, and methods. That
compilation included a chapter on how content-based learning is fully compatible with the
principles of the Whole Language movement as promoted by Goodman, namely that
language is easier to learn “when... It belongs to the learner.It’s part of a real event. It has
a purpose for the learner. The learner chooses to use it. The learner has the power to
use it.” (1986: 4-5) Since the EEAILE’s lessons deal directly with professional issues of daily
concern to English teachers, it is taken that the tutorees will feel ownership of a purposeful
event, and because the greater part of the tasks require interaction among them, the
voluntary implementation should result.

A more recent, European version of this current is known as Content and Language
Integrated Learning (CLIL). Mehisto, Marsh, and Frigols (2008: 11) describe a dual challenge
nearly identical to the one EEAILE faces from both dimensions of language and content:

The CLIL strategy, above all, involves using a language that is not the student’s
native language as a medium of instruction and learning for primary, secondary
and/or vocational-level subjects such as maths, science, art or business. However,
CLIL also calls upon content teachers to teach some language. Language
teachers in CLIL programmes play a unique role. In addition to teaching the
standard curriculum, they work to support content teachers by helping students to
gain the language needed to manipulate content from other subjects.


In our case the vocational and business subject is education, and the EEAILE tutors are
similarly charged with teaching language. This is the reason why we follow their
recommendations for tasks that are virtually identical to those used by first language
teachers: from the mind map to the writing process and dramatization. (ibid, 2008: 214-237)

Based on the preceding principles, the lessons generally follow a pattern that begins with
Navigating through the Lesson activities that aid in reading comprehension via a bird’s eye
view of the individual chapters. The next section aids lexical development by dealing with
important words in the chapters, often specialized terms and sometimes the Key Words
themselves, complimented by a variety of vocabulary techniques to deduce the meanings of
more everyday words and collocations that are likely to be new or are frequent sources of
error among intermediate students. Along this line, every lesson has a School Words section
that takes up false cognates and cultural differences between the Mexican and U.S.
educational systems. Next there is a listening comprehension section that uses YouTube
videos that often feature experts discussing some further, and at times contradictory, views
on the issues in the chapter. How does this Sound? not only takes up English’s phonemes
that are problematic for Spanish speakers, but also addresses the knotty issue of intonation
using the musical staff that the author of this contribution developed for SEPAinglés and
analyzed in his master’s dissertation. The final section works on written expression, always
with an eye toward the major projects. In the first module, the lessons take up one of Strunk
and White’s famous rules, and exemplify errors or misunderstandings typical of the B1 to C1
range in the Common European Framework.

The last lesson in each module, however, consists almost entirely of advice to get over
writer’s block. Some lessons recommended breaking that block by inviting tutorees to return
to their first set of questions or original mind map; others went into greater depth on rationale
for doing research and how the report is organized, adapted from Bell (2002).

The balance of this contribution reports on how these humanistic principles carried through in
the first class concerning three of the panel’s issues: what authenticity is and how it can be
evaluated; how student progress can be assessed; and how contextualizing language and
learning can foster critical thinking.

Longtime MEXTESOLers will recognize my position that what students produce is the most
authentic of any material, derived from a strong version of Goodman’s precepts mentioned
above on purpose, choice, and power of implementation. Thus the language skills
development lessons revolve around fostering and procuring that tutorees work on their
lesson tasks and prepare their major projects for the three modules.

Given that the instructions for the lessons in the main course consistently request that the
tutorees exchange ideas and drafts of essays via three types of synchronous and
asynchronous forums, the language development portion sought to further support that
mutual revision process by asking them to check whether their peers’ drafts covered the main
ideas, as well as being expressed correctly.


Examples of the latter are suggestions to review the lessons with Strunk and White’s rules,
the one that reviewed the standard patterns of argumentation as presented by Weston
(2005), and the ones that dealt with Bell’s (2002) descriptions of how research is typically

Assessment of progress
Following the recommendations for the tutor that accompanied the language development
lessons, the tutors were able to watch and track their tutorees’ works as they grew from an
initial germ into a full project. In the same manner as a portfolio, both parties were able to
evaluate both the process and the final product — a product that was authentic in this
extreme sense of the term.

The tutors likewise monitored the process of mutual evaluation by tracking who exchanged
with whom and what types of comments were made. The original design was for these to be
copied to the language course developer, so as to further enrich the feedback.

Contextualization and critical thinking
A basic precept of linguistics is that, without a context, a message lacks any meaning
whatsoever. For the purposes of this type of course that aims to deepen professionalization
among classroom teachers who are already in service, the most important of the contexts has
already been created, namely, that same language classroom. Yet there other contexts must
be taken into account.

The most obvious one is the online environment that the EEAILE is carried out within. In fact it
has several virtual spaces. There are the texts of the lessons and their language development
counterparts, the forum, the collaborative board, the individual board, and e-mail. Moreover,
many participants fall back on the telephone to communicate with their tutors when these
media are out of order.

In each of these, both tutors and tutorees must choose their words and expressions quite
carefully so as to be precise when conversing in one of them while avoiding sowing confusion
in another. This inherently becomes a rich exercise in precision in writing instructions.

Other critical thinking skills are explicitly fostered in the language development lessons by
contrasting, for instance, interviews with Piaget, Chomsky, Labov, and others against the
assertions made in the course’s lessons.

There are many types of mind map and conceptual map throughout the language
development course that work on comparing, contrasting, or hierarchizing concepts within the
chapters, similarities and differences between Mexican and U.S. cultures (especially their
educational subcultures), and frequent attention to the endless false cognates in education’s
institutions. For instance, the difference between secundaria and secondary reaches far
beyond the school’s numbering system (K-12 distributed in elementary, middle, and
secondary versus primaria años 1-6, secundaria años 1-3, preparatoria semestres 1-6);
because the ages of the students vary, the slippery concepts of puberty and adolescence
necessarily come into play.


The language development component that parallels the EEAILE enriches tutoree experience
in several ways. The central one is to expand and deepen B1 vocabularies, a process which
means gaining awareness of diverse subtle shades of meaning which are reflected in the
distinctions drawn out by synonyms. A necessary corollary is to deal with the nearly endless
number of false cognates that exist between the U.S. and Mexican school systems.

Fostering discovery of the differences and distinctions between concepts and vocabularies
can be achieved via mind maps and similar devices which can be constructed collectively
within the small teams the EEAILE course assigns. These further lend themselves to
nurturing those critical thinking skills that are promoted in the sections on listening and written


Bell, Judith. 2002. Cómo hacer tu primer trabajo de investigación. Barcelona: Gedisa.
Goodman, Ken. 2005. What’s Whole in Whole Language. Berkeley: RDR.
Mehisto, Peeter; Marsh, David; and Frigols, María Jesús. 2008. Uncovering CLIL: Content and
LanguageIntegrated Learning in Bilingual and Multicultural Education. China: Macmillan Education.
Snow, Marguerite Ann and Brinton, Donna M. 1997. The Content-Based Classroom: Perspectives on Integrating
Language and Content. White Plains: Addison Wesley Longman.
Weston, Anthony. (2005). Las claves de la argumentación. Barcelona: Ariel.


Four Decades of Innovation in ELT Four Decades of Innovation in ELT Four Decades of Innovation in ELT Four Decades of Innovation in ELT
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Responsive learning, an inspiring approach for teenagers’ teachers.

Graciela Vidal Pineda
Universidad Mesoamericana

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is a progress. Working together is a success. Henry Ford

Research on responsive teaching emphasizes the importance of teachers’ understanding the
personal characteristics and contributions of various groups and showing respect toward
these students and their culture. Getting to reach students within this focus contributes a lot
in their education, but enhancing their autonomous learning should be our real goal.

One impetus for this has been the influential work done in the area of ‘individual differences’.
This work emphasizes, among other things, how learners differ in their capacity to process,
store, and retrieve information; how they differ in terms of age, intelligence, beliefs about
language learning; and how they differ in their approaches to learning.

A related area is that of ‘learning styles’, which, based on work done in cognitive psychology
and general education, attempts to identify ways in which learners differ in their learning
preferences. This information may be used by teachers to match teaching styles with
individuals’ learning styles, and to ensure that a range of learning styles is provided. The
realization that learners approach learning tasks in different ways has also led to an interest in
what learners themselves have to say about their learning. The area of ‘learners’ voices’
(Benson & Nunan, 2005), is an example of this interest, and attempts to better understand
learners’ motivations, reasons for success, fossilization or dropping out, and learners choices
in how they approach the language learning process. The interest in learners’ voices is an
example of a sociocultural perspective on learning. In this view, learners and learning can
only be understood with reference to their context: their ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ (Lantolf and
Pavlenko, 2001). Sociocultural views of second language acquisition have had considerable
influence on language teaching methodologies in recent years.

What all these developments and approaches have in common is that they assume that
learners have, or will develop, the ability to manage decisions around lesson content and the
learning process (Fotos & Browne 1997), and are able to act on their individual beliefs,
experiences, learning styles and preferences. In practice, however, this is not necessarily the
case. Students need a great deal of preparation and support before they are comfortable with
and able to assume greater responsibility for their learning. Reinders & Cotterall (2000), for
example, found from a factor analysis that the most important determinant of success in a
self-access center was the degree of preparation the students had received.


The provision of materials for self-study also is not sufficient. Previous studies (for example,
Jones, 1993; Reinders & Lewis, 2006) that such materials frequently lack the necessary
support structures, such as clear instructions or even answer keys, and do not explicitly
encourage students to reflect on the learning process.
Hurd also emphasizes the importance of preparation: ...if learners are not trained for
autonomy, no amount of surrounding them with resources will foster in them that capacity for
active involvement and conscious choice, although it might appear to do so (Hurd, 1998).
Research on responsive teaching has found that whenever working with it, students become
more engaged in learning and learn more effectively. This is due to the fact that both
knowledge and skills taught are presented within a context of their experience and cultural
frames of references (Au & Kawakami, 1994; Gay, 2000; Ladson-Billings, 1995).

To provide an effective responsive learning environment teachers need to:
Communicate high expectations for all students (Gay, 2000)
Use active teaching methods and act as learning facilitators (Banks & Banks, 2001).
Maintain positive perspectives on families of diverse students (Delgado-Gaitin & Trueba, 1991).
Gain knowledge of cultures of the students in their classrooms (Banks & Banks, 2001; Nieto,
Reshape the curriculum to include culturally diverse topics (Banks & Banks, 2001; Gay, 2000;
Hilliard, 1991).
Use culturally sensitive instruction that includes student controlled discussion and small-group
work (Banks & Banks, 2001; Nieto, 1999).

This methodology helps students understand that knowledge is not absolute and neutral but
has moral and political elements. This knowledge makes students from diverse groups view
learning as empowering (Ladson-Billings, 1995; Tharp & Gallimore, 1988).

Strategies for designing curriculum and instruction for culturally diverse students are
necessary tools for diverse cognitive abilities, learning styles, socioeconomic factors,
readiness, learning pace, gender, cultural influences, among other aspects.

Protocols usage is a proven strategy in responsive learning development within teenagers
groups. Incorporating protocols for responding along with cooperative learning structures for
discussion helps to make instruction responsive on a daily basis. The protocols are divided
into two categories: responding and discussing. Responding protocols are designed for whole
group instruction and discussion protocols are designed for small group instruction.
Incorporating non‐mainstream protocols for responding both validates and builds upon the
likely repertoires of practice (learning styles) that students bring to school which, when
suppressed or discouraged lead to disengagement and classroom management issues.

Protocols should be used throughout the entire day. Think about how many times a day the
whole class is engaged with you, or another designated speaker, or responding to your
prompts or questions. During all of these times, you already have an expectation of how you
want them to participate with you, whether it is simply listening, silently taking an assessment,
answering questions one‐at‐time, shouting out an answer, etc. There is never truly a time
when students are not participating in the classroom, whether as a whole group (Responding
Protocols) or in small groups (Discussion Protocols). Therefore, students should always be
aware of the Protocol.


Responding Responding Responding Responding ProtocolsExamples (Whole ProtocolsExamples (Whole ProtocolsExamples (Whole ProtocolsExamples (Whole Group) Group) Group) Group)
(How (How (How (How should should should should students students students students be be be be participating participating participating participating with with with with the the the the facilitator facilitator facilitator facilitator during during during during a aa a whole whole whole whole group group group group lesson, lesson, lesson, lesson, a aa activity, ctivity, ctivity, ctivity, or or or or discussion?) discussion?) discussion?) discussion?)
1. 1. 1. 1. Call and Response Call and Response Call and Response Call and Response
Call and response, rhythmic, interpersonal/ interdependent preference for learning.
Students actively respond in unison to speaker eitherverbally or with
movement (or both) to an either improvised or pre‐taught “call”.
To call students’ attention from small group or independent activities to
the whole group for either a check for understanding/ update with the teacher or a transition
to another activity/ lesson; also can be used to demonstrate appreciation during a performance
or presentation.
Thumbs‐up or thumbs‐down to express agreement with speaker or
understanding of a concept; attention‐getting signals (“Boom‐shocka.... BoomBoom!”);
“You tell it!” or “Go ‘head” during a Poetry Slam performance (poetry recitation).

2. 2. 2. 2. Train or Pass It On (Non Train or Pass It On (Non Train or Pass It On (Non Train or Pass It On (Non- -- -volunteerism) volunteerism) volunteerism) volunteerism)
Improvisation and variety; student‐preference; interpersonal/ socio-centric/ cooperative
preference for learning.
Students call on each other to answer and/or ask questions. Students
should not raise hands to be called on and should be encouraged to callon a variety
of people in the classroom. Students can also “pass” on a
question they do not want to answer by calling on another student for
help. This is called“Pass It On”. This can also be done with the use of
a small soft object that students can toss to one another in order to “pass it on”.
To engage students in the process of questioning in which a series of
answers or questions is required or at least can be applied; to
demonstrate combined classroom knowledge; to provide “aid” to students who are call
ed onthrough another protocol, i.e. Roll ‘Em, and do not want to share their answers;
to keep students engaged while sharing answers to a series of questions.
1) “Let’s see how many states we can name together. Let’s use the
protocol of Train…Maria, you start and I’ll record our answers on the
board.” Maria either provides 1 state and calls on another student or says“pass” and
calls on another student. 2) If a student was chosen through Pick‐A‐
Stick to answer a question and she does not feel confident with
her answer, the facilitator may say, “Would you like to pass it on?” She then can
call on another student to answer the question in her place.
This should be monitored to prevent the same students from always
“passing it on”. One way to prevent this is to provide multiple
opportunities for these students to be successful with questions they can answer by
checking privately with them before the lesson and validating
their answers consistently.


Discussion Discussion Discussion Discussion ProtocolsExamples(Small ProtocolsExamples(Small ProtocolsExamples(Small ProtocolsExamples(Small Group) Group) Group) Group)
(How (How (How (How should should should should the the the the students students students students be be be be learning learning learning learning WITH WITH WITH WITH EACH EACH EACH EACH OTHER?) OTHER?) OTHER?) OTHER?)

1. 1. 1. 1. Jigsaw Jigsaw Jigsaw Jigsaw
Groups of 4‐5 students are established. Each group member is
assigned some unique material to learn and then teach to his group members.
To help in the learning, students across the class focusing on the same material
get together to decide what is important and how to teach it. After practice in these “expert”
groups, the original groups re-form and students teach each other. Tests or assessments
can follow.
Interdependency and accountability within a small group.
Dividing a large portion of content into smaller more manageable partsi.e. science
chapter or research.

2. 2. 2. 2. InnerOuterCircle. InnerOuterCircle. InnerOuterCircle. InnerOuterCircle.
Description Have students stand in a big circle. Every other person should take one giant step
inside the circle and turn around facing those in the outer circle. In other words, there
should be two circles with the outer circle people facing inward and the inner circle
people facing outward, and everyone should be face-to-face. Students in the outer
circle begin by asking the student
facing them on the inner circle a question. This question may
be prepared by either the students themselves or the teacher.
Once the inner circle student has had an opportunity to answer,
either the outer or inner circle rotates and the process isrepeated until a
full rotation is made. Then, the inner circle has
the opportunity to ask questions as the outer circle responds,
and so forth.
Goal: Allows a variety of questions and interactions in a short time
span while including the use of movement.
To review for an assessment, practice questioning and
responding (Question‐AnswerRelationships or inferential/literal), or check for
comprehension of a passage.

These are examples of what kind of protocols can be used to develop students’ awareness
and autonomous learning. There are many which have been developed and many more
which teachers’ creativity can design.

Therefore the teaching methodology shouldn´t be limited to traditional strategies but be
attentive to the students’ needs and reach learning goals within their context. Students
should be silent public no more, but actual responsible learning builders of their own


Benson, P. & Nunan, D. (2005). Learners’ stories: Difference and diversity in language learning. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Fotos, S. S. & Browne, C. (2004). New perspectives on CALL for second language classroom. Mahwah, NJ:
Lawrence Erlbaum
Heacox, D. (2002). Differentiating instruction in the regular classroom: How
to reach and teach all learners, Grades 3–12. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit.
Hilliard, A. G., III. (1991). Why we must pluralize the curriculum.
Educational Leadership, 49(4), 12–16.
Hurd, S. (1998). Too carefully led or too carelessly left alone? Language Learning Journal 17, 70-74.
Reinders, H. & Cotterall, S. (2000). Language learners learning independently: How autonomous are they?
Toegepaste Taalwetenschappen in Artikelen


Four Decades of Innovation in ELT Four Decades of Innovation in ELT Four Decades of Innovation in ELT Four Decades of Innovation in ELT
Querétaro, Querétaro Querétaro, Querétaro Querétaro, Querétaro Querétaro, Querétaro

Analyzing reflective exploratory teaching practice through videos
Maria Luisa Zavaleta Muñoz
Rebeca Elena Tapia Carlín
Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla

Professional English teachers should be autonomous learners during their life-long career
(Nhu & Thuy, 2006). In order to be so, a reflective practice becomes essential in teacher
training courses (Wallace, 1991). Learning to be a teacher through a reflective approach is a
valuable opportunity to critically reflect about self-attitudes, beliefs, assumptions and teaching
practices (Richards & Lockhart, 1994). Such reflection is what makes teachers to develop
professionally. Reflecting on one’s professional performance is crucial in identifying good and
bad aspects of one’s teaching and in thinking about what to conserve or later improve
(Wallace, 1991). According to Orlova (2009), the use of video recordings is one of the most
valuable tools for second language teachers reflect since it is an objective and permanent
source that they can view repeatedly to observe various aspects of classroom practice. Thus,
it may be a stimulus for self-reflection in a pre-service EFL program too. In this study, in order
to complement self-reflection through videos, think-alouds were another tool for the
participant made an introspective reflection and kept record of her thoughts as suggested by
Borg (2006). This paper presents a qualitative case study where a female pre-service English
teacher from a public university in central Mexico reflected on her teaching practice at an
indigenous bilingual primary school through the use of an initial and final video recording and
think-aloud. While the first application of the instruments had the goal to raise the awareness
of the participant about her own teaching performance, the final allowed her to reflect more
deeply. Interestingly, the findings from the initial application of the instruments revealed how
the pre-service teacher focused on her own performance and weaknesses in aspects such as
the use of the board, giving directions, eliciting answers and students’ response to her
directions similar to what Richards & Lockhart (1994) suggest.

Table 1a. Reflection made by the pre-service teacher in the initial think aloud
Point of focus Low quality performance High quality performance
1. Use of the board

2. Giving instructions

3. Elicitation of answers

4. Misunderstandings
occurred in the mother

5. Length of activities

6. Student’s response to the


Table 1a shown above demonstrates the aspects she focused on while watching her video.
They are numbered in order of appearance in the recording of the think-aloud made.

Findings from the second application showed that the trainee focused again on her weak
areas. However, she also focused on her students’ strengths and she was able to point out
suggestions for improvement.

Table 1b. Reflection made by the pre-service teacher in the final think-aloud
Point of focus Performance
Suggestions for improvement
On her On the students Low
1. One of her students was not
integrated to the activity in progress.

2.The song was tiring for her.
3. The students learned the song.
4.She did not prepare a white
board marker.

5. She hesitated about how to
write the correct structure of a
question in English but at the
end she did it well.

6. She should have written the name of the
topic on the board, so the students could know
the aim of the lesson.
7. A way to make their students to pay
attention could have been to ask them about
the topic.
8.She failed in bringing a
drawing, which was
misunderstood by the students.

9.She realizes that one student is
standing up while everyone was doing
other activity.

10. She pointed out that she should have
asked the passive students in order to make
them participate.
11. She recognized the importance of asking
students one by one for making them
12. She recognized her students
learned well.

13. She was worried about the way they
She should focus more on that ability.
14. She pointed out the behavior of a
student. She said that this was one of
the students who hand in a good work
at the end.

15. She pointed out the general
behavior of the students about the
material she lent them.

16. The students did not follow one of
her instructions, so she had to change

17. She got an idea for the next class in order
to help them with the identification of words in
18. She pointed out that the behavior of
one student is different when there is a
camera recording.


Table 1b shown above shows the aspects she focused on while watching her second video.
From it some facts can be stated: 1) as the pre-service teacher knew how the think-aloud
instrument worked, she was more confident when exteriorizing her thoughts and pointing out
existing strengths and weaknesses in her classroom. 2) She now was able to focus not only
on herself but also on her students’ response to her activities. And 3) she did not only focus
on negative aspects but this time she also mentioned positive ones.

Finally, results demonstrate that the participant’s performance giving lessons improved after
integrating reflection to her pre-service teaching practices since she increased her awareness
about what was really happening in her classroom and how positively or negatively she was
contributing to the learning process of her students.We consider these results as a product of
reflection in action and on action as suggested by Schön (1998).

In conclusion, pre-service teachers may improve their teaching practice through the use of
video recordings as a developmental tool in the EFL classroom not only by watching them,
but by being willing to have a reflective attitude towards their performance. By incorporating
the use of video recordings they have the opportunity to watch them as many times as they
may want, each time focusing on a different aspect they may want to improve. An important
aspect to be mentioned here is that reflection on videos should be complemented with other
instruments for reflection as it was demonstrated in this study where think-alouds were used.

Borg, S. (2006).Teacher cognition and language education. London.Continuum.
Nhu, P. Q. & Thuy, T. N. T. (2006) Video-recording: Enhancing pre-service teachers’ self- reflection and teaching
skills. College of Foreign Languages Hue University. Retrieved from:
h%20Thuy.pptx, 24/12/12.
Orlova, N. (2009). Video recording as a stimulus for reflection in pre-service EFL teacher training. English
Teaching Forum, 47(2), 30-35.Retrieved from:, 13/11/12.
Richards, C. J. & Lockhart, C. (1994).Reflective teaching in second language classrooms. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Schön, D. A. (1998). El profesional reflexivo: Cómo piensan los profesionales cuando actúan. Barcelona:
Wallace, J. M. (1991). Training foreign language teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Humanistic and Pragmatic ELT Humanistic and Pragmatic ELT Humanistic and Pragmatic ELT Humanistic and Pragmatic ELT
Morelia, Michoacán Morelia, Michoacán Morelia, Michoacán Morelia, Michoacán
2004 2004 2004 2004

Unrestricting the Academic Restricted Code

Dr. William G. Eggington
Brigham Young University

The English language is currently recognized as the world’s international language, or
language of wider communication, especially in scientific, technological, business and various
academic fields requiring cross-language communication. This phenomenon has resulted in
considerable world-wide personal and national investment in the acquisition of the English
language. However, if people and nations are investing so many resources into this
endeavor, it seems logical to make sure that the investment is aimed at the correct target in
terms of acquiring the variety of the English language that will be of most benefit to language
learners. Although, this decision depends upon the actual needs of each language learner, it
is possible to identify key English language types, or registers that are valuable to many
learners. One such language register is that used by the academic, scientific and
technological discourse communities (Swales, 1990).

A common feature of discourse communities is their ability to mark themselves by the use of
specialized language – a specialized discourse code. Following typical patterns of human
group behavior, many discourse communities create methods that restrict access to the
acquisition of various specialized codes. Restriction mechanisms often involve examinations
or other methods to make sure that only people who have high level proficiency in the code
are allowed into the discourse community. In this sense, the code becomes restricted. One
such code is “academic restricted code,” hereafter referred to as ARC. ARC is the type of
written English used in academic discourse communities to retrieve, store and disperse new
information usually in the form of journals, books and, more recently, electronic media. The
code includes types of complex vocabulary, morphology and syntax that are very different
from spoken English. An exaggerated example follows.

One may take a simple spoken sentence such as:
I looked at the ball
and, by replacing Germanic words with Latinate semantic equivalents, by nominalizing
(changing processes into nouns) and by the use of complex syntactic structures create a
semantically equivalent sentence such as:
Personal observations were conducted vis-à-vis a designated spherical object.

Less striking examples can be found in the language of this very paper and in most other
papers published in academia.


Academic restricted code, together with its related high-literate English language
bureaucratic, technological and scientific registers forms a powerful, and restricted, vehicle of
international information storage and retrieval. At the personal level, individuals who acquire
even moderate level proficiency in these codes generally succeed in an increasingly
international meritocracy while those who do not are denied access to the rewards of the
global information age with most having limits placed on their economic, social and political
potentials. The same scenario is repeated at the national level. Those nations that develop
and implement language-in-education systems that create large numbers of students
proficient in ARC are far more likely to achieve global competitiveness than those nations
whose dominant language policies and English-as-foreign language policies are limited to
basic communicative competence.

This paper first briefly explores selected lexical, and morpho-syntactic aspects of the linguistic
and sociocultural features of academic restricted code and then outlines research-supported
methods and models that could be incorporated into national and regional language-in-
education policies in both English-dominant and EFL contexts that would enhance the
acquisition of academic restricted code without sacrificing first language status.

What is Academic Restricted Code?
As noted above, ARC involves the use of specialized, mostly Latinate, vocabulary, complex
morpho-syntactic processes that often cause readers to simplify in order to achieve
comprehension. Martin (1990:32), for example, examines the linguistic processes involved in
the common, but specialized “code” he refers to as “bureaucratese”. One linguistic feature of
this ARC-related code requires both writer and reader to be proficient in semantically packing
and unpacking nominalized adjectives, adverbs and verbs as in the semantically unpacked
Text 1 becoming the semantically packed Text 2.

Text 1: Unpacked Semantic Coding
Often, because teachers, students and their parents think about school and go about
teaching in different ways, the individuals and groups involved misunderstand each
other and become upset (popularly referred to as “culture shock”).
Text 2: Packed Semantic Coding
In many instances the lack of shared beliefs about and approaches to education can
result in misunderstanding or trauma (popularly referred to as “culture shock”) on the
part of individuals or groups concerned.

Note that the simple adverb often in Text 1, is restructured into the prepositional phrase in
many instances where the adverb, often, is nominalized to become a noun phrase, many
instances. In addition, the main verb of Text 1, misunderstand is changed into a noun
acting as the object of a preposition in Text 2, in misunderstanding. Space does not
permit a complete analysis of the changes that have occurred from Text 1 to the more
semantically packed Text 2, but the reader is invited to continue uncovering the processes
that are common in ARC.

Why should students acquire ARC?
As noted above, much of the world’s current and new information is stored and retrieved in
varieties of ARC. In English-dominant speaking nations such as the United States of America
or Australia, ARC is an empowering variety of English. For children to be successful in the


education system, they must be highly proficient in ARC. Regardless of subject area,
standardized tests use ARC. Textbooks are written in ARC progressively becoming more
complex as students advance through the system. Gateway, high-stakes examinations such
as the various college admissions tests require successful students to be proficient in ARC;
and various specialized graduate school examinations such as the GRE, LSAT, GMAT test
ARC abilities as well as content knowledge. As a matter of consequence, any student from an
EFL background who wishes to succeed in an English-dominant educational system must
acquire high ARC proficiency. This is why the TOEFL and other standardized, gateway tests
of English language proficiency also focus on ARC abilities. In addition, because of the
dominance of the English language in international communication, as well as the
preeminence given to ARC within the English language, any scholar, scientist, technologist or
highly skilled individual in any field requiring international communication, must be proficient
in ARC regardless of whether they intend to study in an English speaking nation or not
(Lowenberg, 2000).

How is ARC acquired?
As the examples given above indicate, ARC is a difficult English variety even for native
speakers of the English language. Many native English speaking students in the United
States, for example, fail to acquire the code to a level that enables them to succeed in college
(Ogbu 1988). This failure has created a need for considerable research that focuses on
predictors of expository ARC acquisition. Obviously, success comes through exposing
students to the linguistic qualities of ARC as briefly touched on above. This can come about
through exposure to high-level literacy tasks involving expository reading and writing rather
than simple narrative literacy exposure. However, there are some underlying variables that
need to be addressed. For example, Snow (1991; Snow et al, 1989) and Beals (1993) have
focused on family-based “explanatory talk” as predictors of academic success. Explanatory
talk is seen as talk that, in some form or other, engages in answering questions such as “what
caused it? (empirical), “for what purpose?” (intentional), “how do you know it? (deductive) and
“how do you do it? (procedural) (Donaldson (1986) as cited in Beals (1993: 494). They
conclude that the “explanatory talk that preschoolers hear and participate in at home is a
likely precursor to the ability to handle the cognitive and linguistic demands of expository text
and talk in school” (Beals 1993:492). Furthermore, from the early 1980s to the present, a
steady stream of research continues to verify the positive relationships among bilingual
metalinguistic awareness, cognitive development and educational success (see Cummins
2000). In essence, supposing a level playing field, children who come from backgrounds
where families engage in explanatory talk will succeed in the educational system regardless
of whether home language and school language are the same or are different. The key, then,
is to ensure that educationally positive experiences such as large (and natural) quantities of
explanatory talk are occurring at home, especially between parents and children, from early
childhood to upper secondary levels.

Note that much of the research indicates that the underlying ARC acquiring enabler is more
cognitive than linguistic. Thus students from any language background can acquire ARC in
English if they have been cognitively prepared in their first language. This is why many of the
most successful students in the U.S. educational system come from non-English speaking
backgrounds. Indeed, Anderson, (2004:15) indicates that “60 percent of the top science
students in the United States and 65 percent of the top math students are the children of


These findings point to some very important conclusions for ESL/EFL teachers in nations
such as Mexico. If English is being taught in order to prepare students for success in
international academic fields such as science and technology, it is obviously vital that
students are taught the language of English ARC. However, such tasks will generally fail if
students have not been exposed to the underlying cognitive development required to ensure
ARC acquiring abilities. Research referred to above suggests that these skills are largely
acquired at home in a students native language with the foundation laid at an early student
age. From a language-in-education planning perspective, this conclusion indicates that
schools and teachers must create partnerships with parents involving parents in the academic
development of their children as well as with the moral and social development.


Anderson, S. (2004) The Multiplier Effect. International Education. Summer, 2004: 14-21.
Beals, D. (1993) Explanatory talk in low-income families’ mealtime conversations. Applied Psycholinguistics 14,
Cummins, J. (2000) Language, Power and Pedagogy: Bilingual Children in the Crossfire. Clevedon: Multilingual
Donaldson, M. L. (1986) Children’s Explanations: A Psycholinguistic Study. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Lowenberg, P. (2000) Non-native varieties and the sociopolitics of English proficiency assessment. In J. Kelly
Hall and W. Eggington (eds), The Sociopolitics of English Language Teaching (pp. 67-82). Clevedon:
Multilingual Matters.
Martin, J. (1990) Language and control: Fighting with words. In C. Walton and W. Eggington (eds), Language:
Maintenance, Power and Control in Australian Aboriginal Contexts (pp. 12–44). Darwin: Northern Territory
University Press.
Ogbu, J. (1988) Literacy and schooling in subordinate cultures: The case of black Americans. In E. Kingten and
B. Kroll and M. Rose (eds), Perspectives on Literacy (pp. 226-238). Carbondale: Southern Illinois Press.
Snow, C., Cancino, H., Gonzalez, P. and Shriberg, E. (1989) Giving formal definitions: An oral language
correlate of literacy. In D. Bloome (ed), Classrooms and Literacy (pp. 233-249). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Snow C. (1991) The theoretical basis for relationships between language and literacy development. Journal of
Research in Childhood Education 6, 5-10.
Swales, J. (1990) Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.


Humanistic and Pragmatic ELT Humanistic and Pragmatic ELT Humanistic and Pragmatic ELT Humanistic and Pragmatic ELT
Morelia, Michoacán Morelia, Michoacán Morelia, Michoacán Morelia, Michoacán
2004 2004 2004 2004

Validation of an oral assessment tool for classroom use

Ana Muñoz
EAFIT University

The purpose of this research study was to examine the rater reliability and the concurrent
validity of an oral assessment instrument developed at a Language Center in Colombia. The
instrument was correlated with the KET (Key English Test) and the PET (Preliminary English
Test), Cambridge Examinations.

Test validity refers to the degree to which the inferences based on test scores are meaningful,
useful, and accurate. In order to validate a test, empirical data must be collected and logical
arguments put forward to show that the inferences are appropriate.

Rater reliability refers to the consistency in scoring of different raters of a given ability.
Sufficiently high rater reliability for test results to be valuable can only be obtained by means
of proper training of the raters, the use of a functional rating scheme, and tasks that lend
themselves to promoting agreement among raters.

Validation procedures implied: 1) Definition of the construct oral language ability and the
specification and validation of assessment tasks (logical or theoretical procedure); 2)
Collecting empirical information

Definition of the construct and validation of tasks
The models that were followed in the definition of the construct are based on those proposed
by Canale and Swain (1980), Savignon (1970, 1983), and Bachman (1990). Their models,
adapted to the Language Center context, may be summarized as follows:

Communicative competence is demonstrated through the ability to communicate and
negotiate by interacting meaningfully and accurately with other speakers. In other words,
language ability requires that students be able to:
Express ideas with linguistic accuracy in appropriate contexts
Interact with peers in a dynamic process
Express intended communicative functions

Validation of tasks was done by analyzing oral assessment tasks in light of a set of guiding
questions (adapted from Richards, 1983: 219-240, and Genessee and Upshur, 1996):
Does the activity measure speaking or something else?
Does the activity assess memory? (retrieving from long term memory)
Does the assessment activity reflect a purpose for speaking that approximates real-life?
(is the activity authentic?)


Is the activity appropriate for the level it is intended to? (too easy, too difficult?)
Is the activity understandable with respect to expected performance?
Does the activity elicit the kinds of language skills established in the standards?

Collection of Empirical Information
An empirical analysis was conducted by establishing correlations between the Language
Center Rubric (LCR) and the speaking components of the Key English Test (KET) and the
Preliminary English Test (PET), Cambridge examinations. Participants in the study were 14
students from levels 1 to 4 (beginners) who took the KET; and 18 students from levels 5 to 10
(intermediate) who took the PET. Both groups of students came from the Adult English
Program. Multiple mean comparison and Pearson correlations were calculated for both KET
and the Language Center Rubric (LCR) and PET and LCR.

ANOVA at a 10% level of significance indicates that there are not significant differences
between the LCR and the KET (P-value = 0.0792). However, a multiple range test indicates
that the KET evaluator tends to assign higher scores (mean = 3.46) than Language Center
Evaluators (highest mean = 3.07). The correlation results indicate low correlations between
the LCR and the KET (0.2) and from moderate to strong correlations among the four
Language Center Evaluators (0.56 – 0.76).

Mean comparison by One Way ANOVA, considering all oral language aspects scored and all
evaluators, indicates that there are not significant differences between the scores of the four
LC evaluators and the PET evaluator at the 90% confidence level (P-value = 0.0722).
However, the PET evaluator tends to assign higher marks (mean = 3.5) than the LCEs
(highest mean = 3.2). Furthermore, there are not statistically significant differences between
the mean scores of the Language Center evaluators at the 95% confidence level. The
results of the correlation analysis indicate significant correlations between the LCR and the
PET for three aspects analyzed: Grammar and Vocabulary = 0,675; Pronunciation = 0,655;
and Interactive Communication = 0,725

The analyses indicate that the rubric for oral assessment is a fairly valid instrument. The
definition of the construct allowed researchers to specify the assessment criteria to be
included in the instrument. Both the criteria and the language aspects considered in the rubric
are in agreement with the teaching methodology proposed by the Language Center and the
theoretical definitions of communicative language competence. This means that the rubric
incorporates accurately the attributes that are deemed most important under the
communicative competence framework as it is taken at the Language Center.

Problems with the low correlations between the PET and the LCR are most likely due to the
inadequacy of the rubric for measuring oral language traits at basic levels of proficiency. It
appears that the proficiency standards in the rubric are too high for basic levels. This creates
a mismatch between the demands of the rubric and actual students’ performance, leading the
LCEs to evaluate students harsher than the KET evaluator. Nonetheless, there is evidence of
consistency among the LCEs. Inter rater reliabilities range from moderate to strong, meaning


that the LCEs have a similar understanding of both the traits being measured and the
performance descriptors of the rubric.

The correlations obtained from this study provide evidence of concurrent validity between the
PET and the LCR . The high correlations suggest that both PET and LCR tap virtually the
same sets of language abilities. As such, the language Center might find both of these
instruments useful for assessing various aspects of student performance related to
communicative competence. More importantly, the strength of the relationship shows that the
language ability construct can be judged consistently by both the external evaluator and the

The implications of this study are (a) the adaptation of the LCR to the lower levels at the
EAFIT Language Center and (b) the design of an appropriate examiners training program in
order to optimize the use of the assessment tool (LCR) for intermediate levels.

The results obtained suggest that the LCR proficiency standards for beginners may have
been set too high. By consequence, it will be necessary to make adjustments to the rubric to
make it an appropriate measurement of low level students, for which the definition of the
abilities tested will need to be redefined and the assessment criteria revised.

As for intermediate students, the LCR proved to be an appropriate assessment instrument. It
has concurrent validity and rater reliability. The successful use of this tool (and the revised
version), however, implies qualitative training of examiners to enable them to attain adequate
reliability levels, which must guarantee that examiners understand the framework and the
principles used, the consistent and shared interpretation of the descriptors and the planning
of assessment and task design.


Bachman, L. (1990) Fundamental Consideration in Language Testing. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Canale, Michael and Merrill Swain (1980) “Theoretical Bases of Communicative Approaches to Second
language Teaching and Testing.” Applied Lingsuitics 1.
Galloway, V. (1980) Perceptions of the Communicative Efforts of American Students of Spanish. Modern
Language Journal 64:428-33
Genesee, Fred and John Upshur (1996) Classroom Based-Evaluation in Second Language Education.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Hadden, B. (1991) Teacher and Non-teacher Perceptions of Second Language Communication. Language
Learning 41: 1-24
Richards, J. C. (1983) Listening Comprehension: Approach, Design, Procedure. TESOL Quarterly, 17 (2): 219-
Savignon, S.J. (1983) Communicative Competence: Theory and Classroom Practice. Reading, Mass.: Addison-
Savignon, S.J. (1972) Communicative Competence: An Experiment in Foreign Language Teaching.
Philadelphia: Center for Curriculum Development


Humanistic and Pragmatic ELT Humanistic and Pragmatic ELT Humanistic and Pragmatic ELT Humanistic and Pragmatic ELT
Morelia, Michoacán Morelia, Michoacán Morelia, Michoacán Morelia, Michoacán
2004 2004 2004 2004

Accelerated learning: Strategies to enhance learning and teaching
Elvia Leonor Diaz Valdez

Accelerated learning provides a whole brain-based system for enhancing the
learning and design process. Accelerated learning is efficiency learning. Everyone
has a great memory and can become a powerful learner. The inability to recall or
poor performance is most often caused by "interference" and "anxiety" that disrupts
the efficiency of functions within the brain. Accelerated learning will increase your
awareness of how you learn giving you the ability to learn without interference.
Rick Sheridan

Have you ever wished, as a teacher, that you had the magic wand to reach the ultimate goal
and help your students become more effective learners? We all wish it existed. but magic
comes from within and perhaps if we strive to become better teachers and enhance our
learning-teaching process with effective strategies the magic just might happen.

This presentation mainly tackles the following questions:
What is Suggestopedia or accelerated learning?
What are the fundamentals and principles?
What are the main strategies / techniques used in accelerated learning?

What is accelerated learning?
Giorgi Lozanov, a Bulgarian scientist, is the father of accelerated learning. He called his
method “suggestopedia” in 1978. Lazanov believed that relaxation techniques and
concentration help learners tap their subconscious resources and retain greater amounts of
vocabulary and structures than they ever thought possible. It promotes the use of different
tones of voice and music to induce the brain to a concentration level. (Alpha).

Accelerated learning has become more popular nowadays as it has been given new
dimension. It is learning and teaching methodology to improve learning based on the way we
learn naturally and on the premise that human’s capability to learn is unlimited. It emphasizes
the fact that learning depends mainly on the Potential Coefficient of the individual rather
than the Intellectual Coefficient.


What are the fundamentals and principles?

The Guiding Principles of Accelerated Learning are mainly seven:

1.Learning Involves the
Whole Mind and Body

Learning is not all merely “head” learning,
(conscious, rational, “left-brained”, and
verbal) but it involves the whole body/mind
with all its emotions, senses, and receptors.

2. Learning is Creation,
Not Consumption.
Knowledge is not something a learner
absorbs, but something a learner creates.
Learning happens when a learner integrates
new knowledge and skill into his/her existing
structure of networks.

3. Collaboration Aids

All good learning has a social base. We often
learn more by interacting with peers than by
another means. Competition between
students slows learning. Cooperation among
learners speeds it.

4. Learning Takes Place
on ManyLevels

Learning is not a matter of absorbing one
little thing at a time in linear fashion, but
absorbing many things at once. Good
learning engages people on many levels
simultaneously (conscious and para-
conscious, mental and physical) and uses all
the receptors, senses and paths

5. Learning Comes
From the Work Itself
(With Feedback)

People learn best in context. Things learned
in isolation are hard to remember and quick

6. Positive Emotions
Greatly Improve
Feelings determine both the quality and
quantity of one’s learning. Negative feelings
inhibit learning. Positive feeling accelerate it.

7. The Image Brain
Absorbers Information
Instantly and

The human nervous system is more of an
image processor than a word processor.
Concrete images are much easier to grasp
and retain than verbal abstractions.
Translating verbal abstraction into concrete
images of all kinds will make those verbal
abstractions faster to learn and easier to


The main strategies used when teaching with accelerated learning are:
a. Brain storming

Brainstorming is a method for developing creative solutions to a variety of challenges.
It works by focusing on a problem, and deliberately coming up with as many unusual
solutions as possible.
Once the group has brainstormed as many options as possible, analyze these ideas
and further refine the best possibilities
b. Mind Mapping

A mind map consists of a central word or concept that has 5 to 10 main ideas related to
that word. You then take each of those words and again draw several main ideas that
relate to each of those words.

A mind map lets you rapidly produce an almost infinite number of ideas, and at the
same time organize them by placing each idea next to what it is related to

c. Speed reading

• Howard Stephen Berg suggests:

1. You must have the desire to improve, the willingness to try new techniques and the
motivation to practice.
2. Learn to read groups of words (phrases) at a time, instead of word by word. Avoid
vocalizing the word while you are reading.
3. Use a pencil or your finger to follow your progress along the line. This also helps to
avoid losing your place while reading.
4. Adjust your reading speed to the material you are reading and the level of
comprehension required. You might rapidly skim an article on a fun subject that you are
already familiar with. You might also choose to slowly read an important technical
manual where you are not familiar with the subject material.
5. Try to understand the main ideas by focusing on titles, subtitles, table of contents,
etc. Think of the passage as a whole.
6. Skim read the document to get an idea if you even really need to read it. Look for
subject headings, illustrations, keywords in the index to determine the content,
complexity and relevance

d. Mnemonics

This technique uses wordplay, ditties and other associative techniques. Using the first
letter we read down the word RAISE, Each letter stands for one of the thinking skills
helping us to remember easier.
• R ecall
• A nalize
• I nfer
• S ynthesize
• E valuate


To summarize here are The ten keys to accelerated learning
1. Give the big picture first, then follow up with the details
Some people prefer to think in large-scale concepts while others prefer smaller parts
which fit together.
2. Involve positive emotions
Examples might include; fun, anticipation, excitement, wonder, challenge.
3. Maintain relaxed attention
Help learners to maintain a relaxed and resourceful mental and physical state.
4. Use all sensory channels
V isual
A uditory
K inesthetic
5. Use all seven/nine intelligences
Howard Gardner's work on Multiple Intelligences points the way to effective learning
using the full range of intelligences.
6. Visualize a clear goal
What will this new learning help me to get? What will I be able to do in the future?
7. Set aside negative self-talk
Ask about concerns, but focus on past or future achievements, visualize goals and
encourage positive self-talk
8. Maintain positive esteem of learners
Success is not only possible; it is inevitable. Maintain positive expectations of learners.
9. Reflect and review
Reflection can be an active process - do it in pairs, groups and individually
10. Use aids to long term memory
Use mnemonics, visualizations, Mind Maps, reviews, physical actions

Actual tips taken from

Learning and review game quality review
TV Gameshows are often ideal formats for fun review sessions. Robin Brisson of Liberty Bank
uses the show Win, Lose, or Draw to help new hire bank tellers review technical aspects of
their jobs. Here’s how the game works: She creates a deck of cards. The front side of each
card has a category or a topic covered in the training. The back side of the card contains two
questions related to this topic. The class is divided into two teams.

The game starts with one person from the first team picking a card. He or she then has to
depict this topic in pictures on a flipchart. His or her team members have 30 seconds to guess
the topic. If they guess correctly, they get a chance to answer the two questions on the back
of the card. They earn one point for each correct answer, so a total of three points are
possible each turn.

If the team cannot guess the category within 30 seconds, the other team gets a chance to
answer the two questions on the back of the card.

Robin says that the competition is ‘intense’ but the important thing is that it gets learners
actively thinking about the content of the entire program. [ (860) 526-6004


Learner processing
Stop your presentations frequently and have learners do something with the information.
When learning, people have an ability to take in about 15 minutes of information before
becoming distracted. And we know that the learning really occurs when participants get
involved with the information.

To make the most of this, pause frequently during a presentation and allow time for learners
to process the information. (As a rule of thumb, you should lecture no longer than 15 minutes
without having learners process in some way.)

Stop your presentation and ask learners to:
Describe out loud to a partner what they just learned.
Write a brief summary of what was just covered.
Develop five to ten review questions and exchange them with a partner.
Give a partner a quick oral quiz about what was just covered.
Take five minutes to create a graphic or pictogram of what was just covered.
Sort out a jumbled deck of cards containing information from the presentation. Put the
deck in order showing proper sequences or connections between elements.
Quickly create a comic strip that would illustrate the most important points of a
presentation. Share this with tablemates.
In teams, write a song parody or rhyme about what was presented.
What else could you have learners do?

Regardless of the methodology we use, we must remember that to help our learners become
more effective and independent, we need to aid them to find the processing time they need..
But above all accelerate learning means responsible teaching. We must believe in students
and help them believe in themselves, with out self confidence and a proper emotional
intelligence nothing can be achieved. We need to work together with our students believing
and helping them believe that the proper attitude is more important than an enormous


Goleman, Daniel La Inteligencia Emocional: Porqué es más Importante que el
Coeficiente Intelectual Vergara 2000
Kasunga de Y Linda et. al. Aprendizaje Acelerado : Estrategias para la
Potencialización del Aprendizaje Tomo 1999
Omaggio, Alice Teaching Language in Context: Proficiency Oriented Instruction.
Heinle & Heinle Publishers 1986
Pérsico, Lucrecia Inteligencia Emocional Libsa 2003
Sheridan, Rick


Crossing Boundaries in TEFL Crossing Boundaries in TEFL Crossing Boundaries in TEFL Crossing Boundaries in TEFL
Zacatecas, Zacatecas Zacatecas, Zacatecas Zacatecas, Zacatecas Zacatecas, Zacatecas
2005 2005 2005 2005

Crossing paths in EFL professional development: The Mexican context
Dr. Andy Curtis
Queen’s University

Some key historical and educational developments in Mexico
In the first part of my Mexico TESOL plenary talk, Crossing Paths in EFL Professional
Development, I referred briefly to some of the relevant historical background regarding the
growth and development of general education and language education in Mexico. This is not,
in my experience, necessarily well-known to teachers working in Mexico – whether natives or
non-natives of the country. This paper is, therefore, a brief summary of some of the details of
this background which we need to consider in more detail in order to better understand the
contexts within which we are exploring the importance of professional development.

In her 20-year review of research into primary education and literacy in 19
century Mexico,
Mary Vaughan, at the University of Illinois-Chicago, starts by stating that: “Mexico as a nation
has endowed education with magical meaning” (1990, p.31). In tracing these origins, she
goes on to say that “From the moment when twelve Franciscans set foot in the New World in
1524 to evangelize, education assumed a transforming mission in Mexico” (ibid.). Vaughan
examines the transforming role of the Enlightenment, and the introduction of free primary
education, under the Bourbon kings, concluding that “the obstacles to realizing mass literacy
have been multiple and prolonged. In 1910 an estimated 68 percent of all Mexican adults
could not read. Yet even this limited proportion of literate adults were active and contributed
significantly to the Revolution of 1910” (ibid.)

According to James McLaughlin (2002), in his Brief Guide to Schooling in Mexico for U.S.
Educators: “The first important law related to education, passed under the leadership of
Benito Juarez in 1867, declared that primary education would be nonreligious, free, and
obligatory. Later, Article 3 of the 1917 Constitution gave the federal government great powers
over education and made all private schools subject to government supervision” (p.1). Moving
quickly across the decades – as Mexico itself has done –McLaughlin brings us up to date,
discussing the1992 federal initiative, which “changed Articles 30 and 31 of the Constitution
and related new policies required secondary education (through grade 9) for all students; a
re-emphasis of subject areas in the curriculum; and the decentralization of preschool, primary,
and secondary education administration” (ibid.). Although McLaughlin concludes that “today,
Mexico has nearly reached its goal of providing facilities for all school-age children” he also
notes that “despite historical advancements and heroic efforts by educators, Mexico continues
to struggle with rezago or educational failure” (ibid.) According to McLaughlin: “Millions of
students are retained or drop out after primary school and secondary school. Rural
communities – especially those of Indigenous people where millions of citizens speak
Spanish as a second language – have high rates of poverty. In these settings, many children
drop out of school to work and support their families, which contributes to a higher rate of
illiteracy” (ibid.).


It is precisely this kind of situation that international organizations such as the World Bank
have been trying to help Mexico to address. In a recent World Bank report (2004), Education
for All: Compensating for Disadvantage in Mexico, Harry Patrinos, Joseph Shapiro and Jorge
Moreno Trevino note that the challenge of providing education for everyone “is a particular
challenge in a diverse country such as Mexico, where many children so not speak Spanish,
live in villages inaccessible by roads and cannot afford such basic expenditures as school
uniforms” (p.1).

Patrinos et al. report on the Compensatory Education Program (CP), created in the early
1990s by the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP), which highlights the importance of
professional development as one of a number of ways of helping schools geographically
isolated and with minimal resources: “For disadvantaged rural schools, the CPs provided
updated audiovisual technology, professional development of teachers, improvement to
school infrastructure and other interventions designed to improve the learning outcomes of
disadvantaged Mexican students.” (p.2). In terms of socio-economic indicators, Patrinos et
al’s report also provides some important facts and figures for 2002, when the population was
recorded as 110.9 million and adult illiteracy rate, i.e., for those 15 years and older, had
dropped nearly nine-fold in nine decades, from nearly 70% in 1910 (see Vaughan, above) to
8% over the intervening 90 years.

Professional development and teacher development in Mexico
According to Gladys Lopez-Acevedo, in a recent World Bank policy paper entitled
Professional Development and Incentives for Teacher Performance in Schools in Mexico
(2004), in terms of education: “In order to globally compete, Mexico would have to raise its
standards beyond its current low achievement”. Lopez-Acevedo goes onto describe a number
of Mexican federal and state government initiatives designed to raise the quality of basic
education, focusing on the Carrera Magisterial (CM) project, which Lopez-Acevedo describes
as “a professional development program created as part of the National Agreement for the
Modernization of Basic Education in 1992. This program is aimed at raising the quality of
basic education through teachers’ professional training, new learning presence in schools,
and improving working and salary conditions.”

According to Lopez-Acevedo, there are four main benefits of the CM program:

teacher’s enrollment in the CM program has a positive impact on learning achievement
family characteristics are important in explaining students’ achievement
investment in primary school teachers is most effective when targeted toward increasing
teachers’ practical experience and developing content-specific knowledge
students in schools with a high degree of supervision on the part of the school principal
achieve better scores

Although the CM program has its own drawbacks and limitations – as all programs do – this
initiative shows that for at least 13 years, the importance of teacher training and professional
development has been recognized at the national level.

Lopez-Acevedo’s report alludes to the relationship between the quality of teaching and the
quality of learning, which is more directly addressed by Fernando Reimers, based at Harvard
University’s Graduate School of Education and whose current research, according to his


website “focuses on the relationship between teacher quality, educational expansion, and
social inequality in Mexico and on civic education in Latin America”. In an interview with
Reimers, entitled Why Good teaching Matters Abroad as at Home (2003), he was asked:
What have you discovered in Mexico about teacher quality and poor children's learning? In
his reply, Reimers refers to one of his recently completed studies in which he focused “on
how good teaching influences the reading literacy of graduating elementary students whose
parents are illiterate.” He described his findings as follows: “I found that good teaching
matters more than differences in home experiences when explaining inequalities in student

This finding both support and challenge the benefits of the CM program as identified by
Lopez-Acevedo, in that although “family characteristics are important in explaining students’
achievement”, an even more important factor may be the quality of teaching in school.
According to Reimers, who gathered and analyzed longitudinal data for 4,000 schools over
five years,1996 and 2000, his studies show that “teacher professional development influences
instructional improvement in schools” and shows that “the impact of professional development
is mediated by powerful contextual conditions, such as the social composition of the school,
availability of instructional resources, and school culture” which indicates that, as well as
familial factors, there are other equally influential sociocultural and contextual factors,
including teacher professional development.

It is important to note here that this awareness of the impact and the importance of
professional development in education in Mexico has not been confined to the school sector.
In his 1993 book, The University System and Economic Development in Mexico Since 1929,
David Lorey collected original quantitative data from graduates of Mexican universities in a
dozen major professional fields since 1929, in order to consider a number of questions about
the Mexican university system, including:

How have the changing policy priorities of the Mexican government affected the
university’s education of professionals?
How have the Mexican economy’s needs for professionals shaped the functioning of the
university system?
Has Mexico trained “enough” professionals? Have they been trained in the “right” fields?
Has the university been able to respond to demands for upward mobility through higher

Lorey expanded on this discussion in a talk entitled University Graduates and Economic
Development in Mexico Since the 1940s: Implications for Global Change, presented to the
Institute of Latin American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing in
1996. Lorey’s paper was a historical review of the political economy of Mexican higher
education since the 1940s with two main foci:

the relationship between university graduates and jobs
the evolution of higher education policy in a period during which a mismatch between
graduates and jobs became pronounced

Lorey’s work is important in the context of professional development in Mexico, as he makes
a fundamental distinction between what he refers to as ‘technicians’ and ‘professionals’,


apparently referring to important differences between technical skills and professional
qualifications, as well as a number of other distinctions.
Lorey is critical of what he described as “a parochial view of higher education policymaking”
caused by “fundamental economic and social stresses” which have resulted in “a malaise of
Mexican higher education” which is now “shared by many other countries in the world”. Lorey
concludes that there is “a complex relationship between the Mexican university system and
the process of economic development in the period since the 1940s” and that in Mexico,
economic forces have “exerted a greater relative demand for technicians than for
professionals; I suggest that this is an evolution that may well be characteristic of other
countries”. Although Lorey’s view of the Mexican tertiary education system, as well as tertiary
education system’s in other countries, may perhaps appear to be overly bleak and
pessimistic, his data does appear to support the importance of maintaining the educational
distinction between ‘training’ and ‘development’, in which ‘training’ involves the acquisition of
a particular set of skills for the completion of a specific task, whereas ‘development’ is based
on ways of improving what we do professionally through enhanced awareness and reflective
practice (Curtis, forthcoming).
Moving further down the path: The future of teacher professional development in
In the last part of this summary paper, I will give a brief glimpse into what the future may hold
for teacher professional development in Mexico, based on some recent reports. The first of
these is the 60-page report on the 47
International Conference on Education: The
Development of Education: National Report of Mexico, recently published by the Secretariat
of Public Education (SEP) (August 2004). In relation to training and development, the report
refers to 2003, when “a national consultation process was conducted that was oriented
toward formulating a comprehensive policy for the training and professional development of
basic education teachers” (p.47). According to the report: “The process enjoyed broad-based
and qualitatively relevant participation which resulted in the National Policy Guidance
Document for Training and Professional development of Basic Education Teachers. This
policy seeks to linkteacher training programs with the teacher career path” (ibid.). As the
term ‘career path’ can have many different meanings, depending on the career and on the
individual following their chosen path, the writers of the report clarify that by ‘career path’ they
mean: “admission, initial training, entry into service, continuing education, promotion, tenure
and incentives” (ibid.)

What becomes clear after reviewing the literature and reading the reports is that collaboration
will be the key to the growth of professional development for teachers in Mexico. This
collaboration will take at least three forms: between governments; between international
institutions; and between schools and businesses. An example of the first kind of
collaboration can be found in the announcement last year (December, 2004), by the
Canadian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), that:
“To celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and Mexico,
Canada will contribute $35,000 per year for a programme of visits by Mexican cultural
professionals to Canada.” Although the term ‘cultural professionals’ appears to refer mainly to
artists of various kinds, rather than teachers, this kind of government collaboration and
support has the potentially to greatly assist in the promotion of international professional
growth and development.


A good example of crossing paths through collaboration at the international and institutional
level is the program at Arizona State University (ASU), recently reported on (October, 2004)
under the title Program offers Mexican educators professional development. According to the
University’s website: “The CASS Indigenous Teacher Professional Development Program is a
yearlong professional development program in Multilingual/Multicultural Education, which
began in August and runs to July 2005”. Focusing on supporting Mexican children falling
within a particular group, the Strengthening Education for Indigenous Children program is
“multifaceted, targeting primary school teachers and administrators working with indigenous
students and their families in Mexico. The program is delivered through a combination of
university level coursework, internships, seminars and focused workshops, job shadowing
and professional and community linkages.” The programs are part of the Cooperative
Association of States for Scholarship (CASS) Program, sponsored by ASU’s Center for Indian
Education (CIE) in conjunction with Georgetown University.
In terms of the third kind of collaboration identified, i.e., between schools and businesses, the
technology company IBM has been working, since January 2001, with the Technological
Institute of Studies of Monterrey (ITESM) to develop a Spanish version of an online course
designed to train teachers to use new kinds of technology-based instructional tools. Building
on this work, in June 2003, IBM Mexico and the State of Hidalgo launched a Reinventing
Education partnership designed to improve teacher professional development and instruction.
According to the company’s website: “The initial phase of the project is focusing on improving
standards-based instruction of primary and secondary school teachers of Spanish, biology,
history, science and mathematics.”

In this brief summary of my plenary address, I have presented my understanding of some of
the most important stages in the development of education in Mexico, with a focus on
language and literacy, and education in rural parts of Mexico. In the second part of the paper,
I explored aspects of professional development and teacher development in Mexico, with
reference to Mexican federal and state government initiatives, and the relationship between
factors ‘outside’ of school, including socio-economic and familial variables, and achievement
in school. After considering the tertiary education system in Mexico, I considered some of the
possibilities for the future of teacher professional development in Mexico, based on at least
three kinds of collaboration: governmental, institutional, and business. I conclude that the
future of EFL teacher professional development in Mexico has great potential, but it will
require great commitment and determination to realize this potential – to make what is
possible become a reality.


Arizona State University: Program offers Mexican educators professional development. October 5, 2004.
Canada and Mexico: A Productive Partnership: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade:
Government of Canada. 12 December 2004.
Curtis, A. (Forthcoming). From Judgmental to Developmental: Creating Community through Conference. In T.
Murphy and Y, Sato. Professional Development in Language Education. Volume Four: Creating Communities of
Supportive Professionals. TESOL Association: VA.
IBM Mexico and the State of Hidalgo in Mexico Launch Reinventing Education Partnership.
Lopez-Acevedo, G. (2004). Professional Development and Incentives for Teacher Performance in Schools in
Mexico. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 3236.
Lorey, D.E. (1993). The University System and Economic Development in Mexico Since 1929. CA: Stanford
University Press.
Lorey, D.E. (1996). University Graduates and Economic Development in Mexico Since the 1940s: Implications
for Global Change. Institute of Latin American Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, People’s
Republic of China. Talk given October 3, 1996.
McLaughlin, J. (2002). A Brief Guide to Schooling in Mexico for U.S. Educators. ERIC Publications (071). ERIC
Digests in Full Text (073).
Patrinos, H., Shapiro, J. & Trevino, J.M. (1990). Education for All: Compensating for Disadvantage in Mexico.
World Bank Education Notes.
Vaughan. M. K. (1990). Primary Education and Literacy in Nineteenth-Century Mexico: Research Trends, 1968-
1988. Latin American Research Review, 25(1), 31-44.
Why Good Teaching Matters Abroad as at Home: An Interview with Associate Professor Fernando Reimers.
Harvard Graduate School of Education. April 1, 2003
International Conference on Education: The Development of Education: National Report of Mexico, August
2004, published by the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP)


Crossing Boundaries in TEFL Crossing Boundaries in TEFL Crossing Boundaries in TEFL Crossing Boundaries in TEFL
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2005 2005 2005 2005

Promoting cultural intelligence within the EFL/ESL curriculum

A. Edwards
A. Ramos
Universidad de Colima

Culture and language are inseparable. Culture is not only taught through language, but
language affects how culture is reflected in society and how it evolves. Some common
questions then arise: “Is language a product of culture or is culture a product of language?”
and “Can language or culture exist without one another?” This article will discuss how
contemporary English classes require a much more in-depth treatment of culture in a
globalized world where actual interaction with native speakers is not only possible, but likely.
Finally, it proposes the concept of “Cultural Intelligence”(CI) and its addition to the ESL/EFL
curriculum to provide both variety and more real-life, relevant cultural knowledge for students.

Culture represents a fundamental aspect of language and represents an important part of
language instruction because without language, there can be no culture, and that because of
language, humans can transmit culture from generation to generation. However, as
inseparable as language and culture are, culture is often covered in the foreign language
classroom in very superficial terms.

Typically, culture in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) textbooks consists of a small
section that provides superficial examples of culture in terms of architecture, customs, the
arts, cuisine, landmarks, customs, etc. These sections are generally added to books to
provide a cultural background to the lesson or some additional information. This practice,
however, is a throwback to more traditional times and methods, such as the reading
approach, where cultural knowledge was considered an important example of learning.

Cultural knowledge, in contrast to Cultural Intelligence basically gives much more importance
to knowing about the culture of the language one is learning. Unfortunately, one of its
premises is that one is not going to extensively interact with the speakers, therefore, a more
developed intelligence of how the people actually think or intereact is often ignored.

Although cultural knowledge can be interesting and colorful — and not entirely irrelevant — a
century globalized world in which travel, commerce and communication is so simple and
universal, requires a reconceptualization of what culture is and how it is taught within the EFL


Common definitions of culture: Some common dictionary definitions of culture focus on the
intellectual or artistic activity and the works produced by a culture, including:
Development of the intellect through training or education
Enlightenment resulting from such training or education
A high degree of taste and refinement formed by aesthetic and intellectual training

Some more global definitions of culture include:
The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other
products of human work and thought
These patterns, traits, and products considered as the expression of a particular period,
class, community, or population
The predominating attitudes and behavior that characterize the functioning of a group or

Cultural Intelligence
In the most extensive study of cultural intelligence to date, Earley and Ang (2003) defined
cultural intelligence as “a person's capability to adapt effectively to new cultural contexts” (p.
59). This definition is extremely important for language teachers as our role has evolved from
teaching about a language to assisting people use a language in a contextually and culturally
correct manner.

Recent attempts to develop a measure of cultural intelligence have used similar definitions;
Ang, Van Dyne, and Koh (2004) defined cultural intelligence as “an individual's capability to
deal effectively in situations characterized by cultural diversity” (p.3). Their attempts to
measure cutlural intelligence are important because some of the more important multinational
companies are beginning to screen applicants according to their cultural intelligence. They
have discovered that people with cultural intelligence work better in a more pluralistic society
and better adapt to the workplace, particularly if that workplace should be in another country
or include people from other races or cultures.

Earley and Ang and their colleagues (e.g., Earley & Ang, 2003; Ang et al., 2004; Earley &
Peterson, 2004) linked the construct of cultural intelligence to other types of intelligence,
including emotional and social intelligence (Cantor & Kihlstrom, 1985; Goleman, 1998), which
emphasize intelligence as the ability to adjust to one's environment (Sternberg, 2000). Earley
and his colleagues have also argued that cultural intelligence differs from both emotional
intelligence and social intelligence. Specifically, Earley and Ang argued that emotional
intelligence, which reflects an individual's ability to interpret and respond to the affective
states of others, as well as to regulate one's own affective state, “presumes a degree of
familiarity with culture and context that may not exist” (p. 8).

These perspectives may provide a rich basis for understanding cultural intelligence. Consider
the following quote from Mischel (2004) regarding the person-situation perspective: “Adaptive
behavior should be enhanced by . . . the ability to make fine-grained distinctions among
situations—and undermined by broad response tendencies insensitive to context and the
different consequences produced by even subtle differences in behavior when situations differ
in their nuance.” (p. 5)


Mischel (2004) touches upon the very essence of cultural intelligence in that it allows the non-
native participant in a cultural and linguistic setting to employ training and knowledge in order
to bridge potential barriers and lower possible affective barriers that can be created either
linguistically, racially or culturally (

Borrowing from the person-situation approach, there are three basic possibilities here. One
possibility is that an individual's behavior is invariant across cultures; a second possibility is
that an individual's behavior varies across cultures, but in a way that is not consistent with
what is most appropriate for each culture. A third possibility is that an individual's behavior
varies across cultures, in a way that is consistent with what is most appropriate for each

Both verbal and non-verbal behavior must be interpreted in a consistent manner for true
communication to be effective. If what a person says is accompanied by inappropriate
actions, the communication process, affectivity and the ultimate success of the intereaction
between participants may become seriously jeopardized. Therefore, in a globalized
economomy where communication can be held between almost anybody from any culture at
any time, it is necessary for there to be a much more in-depth understanding of how language
and culture interact. In class, teachers need to be more effective in relating the complications
resulting from miscommunication due to a lack of cultural intelligence.

Recently, in fact, companies have recently become more concerned about cultural
intelligence and have begun to even test applicants as part of their hiring processes. Even the
United States military provided cultural intelligence courses to its soldiers before sending
them to Iraq in the hope that this training might reduce tensions between troops and civilians.
Papadopoulos, I Tiki, M. & Taylor, G (1998), include the following points (as well as others)
about culture at: which are
important for reflection and discussion as they provide many classroom opportunities for
developing CI.

Cultural Self Awareness
Self Assessment
Language( Linguistic Competence)
Learning Skills
Desire to be culturally competent (explore culture of self & others)
Desire for experience with others
Empathy (actions & thoughts)
Reject or reinforce biases, prejudice
Aware of insensitive, inappropriate, and / or discriminating practices
Emotional Intelligence
Sensitivity to self
Sensitivity to others
Cultural Intelligence
Salient knowledge of culture held with family
Groups sharing same culture with family
Where family & groups “fit” with region (Ethnohistory)
Personal Interpretation & Practices
Stereotyping, Ethnocentric Thinking
Health Beliefs, Practices, & Behaviors
Power Distribution (self, culture, others)


Many of these topics can be included in the EFL curriculum, particularly in more advanced
levels. The inclusion of these topics is of even more importance in language programs
designed to produce students who must interact with native speakers, such as the case of
English as a Second (ESL) or English for Special Purposes (ESP) classes. Adult advanced-
level conversation classes or students wishing to participate in foreign exchange programs
represent two exceptional opportunities to cover cultural intelligence as part of the foreign
language classroom curriculum.

Cultural Intelligence, which is also defined as “the ability to grow and evolve personally
through continuous learning and good understanding of diverse cultures, wisdom and values,
and to deal effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds and beliefs,” can also
be promoted by providing students both language and cultural knowledge and linguistic
practice with some of the following topics, which are represent excellent points of discussions,
including: customs, celebrations, presence, health, resilience, spirit, bonding, religion, values,
ethics, esthetics, tabus, precedence, rights and duties, sex roles, rewards and privileges,
power, myths and superstitions, etc.

The reading translation approach was used at the beginning of the 20
century because it
was unlikely or impossible for people to actually come into contact with people who spoke
another language. Travel was slow, expensive, and limited only to a few. The language
teaching revolution of the 1970s emphasised the need to communicate verbally with “real”
people who we were doubtlessly going to meet. Modern transportation, communications and
the Internet have made the world a much smaller place. At the beginning of the 21
the phenomonon of globalization has encompased almost every aspect of our daily lives. It is
now almost inevitable we have contact with people from other cultures and language.

Consequently, it becomes imperative that we get to know people more intimately insofar as
their more internal selves are concerned. The days in which our cultural knowledge of the
London Bridge and Thames River sufficed have now been replaced with a more in-depth
knowledge about how the British people actually live, how they celebrate, what they desire,
how they think. This perspective represents a challenge to future English teachers who can
serve as facilitators to help their students better understand and contribute to a warmer, more
understanding world.

Ang, S. , Van Dyne, L., & Koh, C. (2004, April). Cultural intelligence: Development and cross-validation of a four-factor measure. Paper
presented at the Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Chicago, IL.
Cantor & Kihlstrom, 1985, Social intelligence: The cognitive basis of personality. Review of Personality and Social Psychology, 6, 15-33.
Earley, C., & Ang, S. (2003). Cultural intelligence. Stanford, CA: Stanford Business Books.
Earley, C., & Peterson, R. (2004). The elusive cultural chameleon: Cultural intelligence as a new approach to intercultural training for the
global manager. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 3, 100-115.
Goleman, D. (1998). Working with emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.
Krashen, S. Stephen Krashen's Theory of Second Language Acquisition Assimilação Natural -- o Construtivismo no Ensino de Língua,, Retrieved July 29, 2005.
Mischel, W. (2004). Toward an integrative science of the person. Annual Review of Psychology, 55, 1-22.
Sternberg, R. J. (Ed.). (2000). Handbook of intelligence. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Papadopoulos, I Tiki, M. & Taylor, G (1998). Transcultural Care: A
Guide for Health Care Professionals. PDF Document SummaryRetreived July 29, 1005,


Crossing Boundaries in TEFL Crossing Boundaries in TEFL Crossing Boundaries in TEFL Crossing Boundaries in TEFL
Zacatecas, Zacatecas Zacatecas, Zacatecas Zacatecas, Zacatecas Zacatecas, Zacatecas
2005 2005 2005 2005

Crossing into the park: Literature and TEFL

Phyllis Herrin de Obregón
Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro

John Hollander in his Rhyme’s Reason (Hollander 1989: 2) compares poetry to a municipal
park where few people dare to cross into the interior and become familiar with the landscape.
Most are content to stay on the safe path and see only the monuments. He invites his readers
to cross into the park and enjoy less known poems as one enjoys nature. Such a metaphor
seemed fitting for a workshop on literature and the teaching of English as a foreign language.
My invitation for teachers in this workshop would be to dare to cross into the park of literature
and take their students along with them.

Defining Literature
The first task of this workshop is to attempt a definition of literature to try to help participants
understand how these literary texts can lead to a dynamic encounter with language and
promote acquisition on the part of the language learner. What is literature? Of course this is a
question that keeps literary critics busy, but at least the discussion of the question is pertinent
to teachers’ understanding of the value of literature for them. Participants are asked to
consider the following definitions of literature and arrive at their own definition.

“a sort of disciplined technique for arousing certain emotions.”(Iris Murdock, The Listener, 1978).
“Literature is the question minus the answer” (Roland Barthes, New York Times, 1976)
“Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost” (Ezra Pound, How to Read, Part
II) (the above taken from Lazar 2001:2)
“writings in prose or verse, esp; writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of
permanent or universal interest.” (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 1997: 680)
"Literary’ is a quality conferred upon texts not according to what they are, but according to what they do. It
is, if anything, a functional description, not an ontological one." (Simpson 1997: 8)

It can be seen that the definitions of literature could be divided into two different categories:
‘type of language used’ and ‘function of text’

Reasons for using literature to teach language
The workshop establishes that perhaps the best definition would be that of a combination of
the two, i.e. literature is effectively written language commenting on the human experience.
Thus, authentic literary texts are examples of the most effective language possible dealing
with matters that are of the utmost importance to our students because they reveal how
people of other cultures solve problems that we all face. They also give our students
opportunities to study form; practice the four language skills of reading, listening, speaking
and writing; and see the pragmatic aspect of language. In this workshop I share with the
participants a series of activities that I have used suggested by various authors such as Henry
Widdowson, Ronald Carter and Gillain Lazar among others.


Meaning through form
Literary texts illustrate how meaning is manifested through form. An example of this is the use
of passive voice in Ted Hughes’s “Hill-stone was content” from the collection Elmet (1994).
Peter Stockwell (2002: 21) in his analysis of this poem shows how the passive voice is used
to bring the hill-stone into the foreground and push the active agent, mankind, into the
background, ultimately illustrating that the active is not so active and the passive is not so

Hill-stone was content
To be cut, to be carted
And fixed in its new place.

It let itself be conscripted
Into mills. And it stayed in position
Defending this slavery against all.

It forgot its wild roots
Its earth-song
In cement and the drum-song of looms.

And inside the mills mankind
With bodies that came and went
Stayed in position, fixed like the stones
Trembling in the song of the looms.

And they too became four-cornered, stony

In their long, darkening, dwindling stand
Against the guerilla patience
Of the soft hill water.

Another example of literature being “language charged with meaning” could be the following
poem by Emily Dickinson:

A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.

I say it just
Begins to live
That day.

Emily Dickinson (Johnson 1961: 534)

Here, by ‘language’ we do not mean just the words, but also the cadence. Our instinct in
reading the first three lines of the poem is to stop after each line, partly because of the
punctuation or the rhyme. Whereas the second group of lines flow out quickly without
stopping. The meaning of the second three lines is that words flow and never stop.


One type of poem that can be interesting for students to work with is the so-called pattern
poem which has appeared since the Hellenistic to the modern age. These are poems which
are typographically arranged to look like their meaning. (Hollander 1989: 30) One example is
the seventeenth century poet George Herbert’s poem Easter wings.

Easter wings
Lord who createdst man in wealth and store,
Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more,
Till he became
Most poore:
With thee
O let me rise
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My tender age in sorrow did beginner:
And still with sicknesses and shame
Thou didst so punish simme,
That I became
Most thinne.
With thee
Let me combine
And feel this day thy victorie:
For if I imp my wing on thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight on me.
George Herbert (Carter and Long 1990, 68)

Not only is poetry a representation of meaning through form, but prose can exemplify this
also. An author whose particular style is an example of this in that her use of language
reflects the thoughts of the characters is Virginia Woolf. To demonstrate the meaning
obtained by the use of subordinate clauses and different types of modifying phrases, an
excerpt from Mrs. Dalloway is presented. Participants are divided into groups of four or five
and asked to find examples of clauses and phrases and rewrite them in complete sentences.
This technique is called reducing sentences and it can help to understand long complicated
sentences. Afterwards, participants can discuss, in groups, the effect achieved by the clauses
and phrases.

And for a second she wore a look of extreme dignity standing by the flower shop in the sunlight
while the car passed at a foot’s pace , with its blinds drawn. The Queen going to some hospital; the
Queen opening some bazaar, thought Clarissa.
The crush was terrific for the time of day . Lords, Ascot, Hurlingham, what was it? She
wondered, for the street was blocked. The British middle classes sitting sideways on the tops of
omnibuses with parcels and umbrellas, yes even furs on a day like this, were, she thought, more
ridiculous, more unlike anything there has ever been than one could conceive, and the Queen herself
held up; the Queen herself unable to pass. Clarissa suspended on one side of Brook Street; .Sir John
Buckhurst, the old Judge, on the other, with the car between them (Sir John had laid down the Law for
years and liked a well-dressed woman) when the chauffeur, leaning ever so slightly, said or showed
something to the policeman, who saluted and raised his arm and jerked his head and moved the
omnibus to the side and the car passed through.
Virginia Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway (Carter and Long 1990: 76)


The stream of consciousness style used by Woolf is a reflection of how one thinks, i.e. one
thought leads to another and another, etc. Also, this string of modifiers could be a reflection
of the scene that Clarissa is viewing, the situation of a street filled with traffic.

Reading strategies such as understanding the introduction of new information, use of
agreement, anaphora, meaning of punctuation, recognition of the meaning of subordinate
clauses, and use of tenses can be practiced in unscrambling a poem. I was first introduced
to this technique by Henry Widdowson in a workshop at a MexTESOL conference in 1996.
However, it’s also used by both Carter and Long and Lazar. The idea is simple. The teacher
rearranges the lines of a poem, but leaves all the punctuation as it is. Gillian Lazar (2001: 94)
uses a poem by e. e. cummings which I use to illustrate the idea of this activity. Although e. e.
cummings is rather unconventional in his use of punctuation and capitalization, the poem
really lends itself to interesting analyses.

1. and molly was chased by a horrible thing
2. so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles, and
3. went down to the beach (to play one day)
4. may came home with a smooth round stone
5. which raced sideways while blowing bubbles: and
6. it’s always ourselves we find in the sea
7. maggie and milly and molly and may
8. and maggie discovered a shell that sang
9. milly befriended a stranded star
10. For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
11. as small as a world and as large as alone.
12. whose rays five languid fingers were;

We locate the first line by looking for a type of introduction to our characters and what they
did, thus establishing numbers 7 and 3 as the first two lines. Then we look for a pattern. It
appears that each girl did something. We could start with the first girl in the series, maggie,
establish what she did in numbers 8 and 2, and continue with the rest. We have to figure out
some relative clauses and what they modify, for example in numbers 9 and 12, 1 and 5, 4 and
11..Finally since there is only one sentence with a capital letter, it would appear to be the first
of a couplet meant as a type of moral (good reason to start with a capital letter.), numbers 10
and 6. Participants might comment on other vocabulary or grammar points that could help to
arrange the lines. Then, I distribute other scrambled poems for the participants to work with in

Speaking and Reading
Speaking and reading will be practiced in a technique that might be called find your
conversation partner. The purpose of this activity is for students to become involved in a short
story and practice making predictions. The story “Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl is
used. Twenty participants are each given a card on which a sentence from the dialogue of
this story is written.


1. “Tired, darling?
2. “Yes,” he said, “I’m tired”
3. “Anyway ,” she went on. “I’ll get you some cheese and crackers first.”
4. “I don’t want it,” he said.
5. “But darling , you must eat. I’ll fix it anyway, and then you can have it or not, as you like.”
6. “Sit down,” he said. ”Just for a minute, sit down.”
7. “Listen,” he said. “I’ve got something to tell you.”
8. ”What is it darling? What’s the matter?”
9. “So there it is,” he added,” and I know it’s kind of a bad time to be telling you, but there simply isn’t
any other way. Of course I’ll give you money and see you’re looked after. But there needn’t really
be any fuss. I hope not anyway. It wouldn’t be very good for my job.”
10. “I’ll get the supper .” she managed to whisper and this time he didn’t stop her.Etc. (Miller1982: 86)

They are then asked to find the participant who has the corresponding card. When all the
partners are found, the twenty read aloud their utterances in the order that they think they
appear. .The rest of the group makes predictions about the plot. Fifteen minutes are allotted
to the reading of the short story, and then follow-up exercises will be considered.

Although many writing activities could follow the reading of “Lamb to the Slaughter”,
participants are asked to write a summary of the short story in 25 words or less. This is an
interesting activity suggested by Ronald Carter.(1997:175) This activity emphasizes how
different readers will focus on different aspects of the story according to their interpretation of
what is the main idea. Also, writing within an established time limit is a good way to perfect

The workshop concludes with an evaluation of the activities practiced in the workshop and an
invitation for participants to share their own experiences with literary texts.


Carter, Ronald and Michael N. Long. (1990). The Web of Words: Exploring literature through language. New York, N.Y.; Cambridge
University Press.
_________. (1997).Investigating English Discourse: Language, Literacy and Literature. London: Routledge,
Hollander, John. (1989). Rhyme’s Reason: A guide to English verse. Stoughton, Ma.; The Alpine Press.
Johnson, Thomas, Ed. (1961). The Complete Works of Emily Dickinson .Boston; Little, Brown and Company.
Lazar, Gillian. (2001). Literature and Language Teaching: a guide for teachers and trainers. New York , N.Y.; Cambridge University
Miller Jr., James, Roseann Dueñas Gonzalez, and Nancy C. Millett. (1982).Question and Form in Literature. Glenview, Illinois; Scott
Foresman and Company
Simpson, Paul. (1997). Language through Literature: An Introduction. London: Routledge.
Stockwell, Peter. (2002).Cognitive Poetics: and introduction. New York,N.Y.; Routledge.
Webster, Mirriam.(1997). Mirriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 10
Ed. Springfield, Ma.; Mirriam Webster Inc


Reflecting on o Reflecting on o Reflecting on o Reflecting on our Teaching ur Teaching ur Teaching ur Teaching
León, Guanajuato León, Guanajuato León, Guanajuato León, Guanajuato
2006 2006 2006 2006

Experiencing and reflecting on integrated skills

C. Patricia Cánovas C.

Ever since the dawn of the Communicative Approach the integration of skills has been a
major issue. The Communicative Approach switched away from structuralism (e.g., the
Audiolingual Method) to communicative competence (Hymes, 1972), that is the ability not only
to form grammatically correct sentences, but also to know when, where and how to use them,
and to whom. The aim is that learners develop not only linguistic competence, but also
pragmatic, strategic, and discourse competence which will allow them to deal with real world
language and situations.

But, have we achieved this goal? Not according to Michael Lewis (1994). Lewis states that
although there were successes in the communicative approach, its proponents urged
important changes which have simply been ignored; for example, the use of real tasks which
necessitate communication, non-correction, emphasis on fluency not accuracy and student
autonomy, among others.

For Lewis, lexis is central to communication. “The Lexical Approach embraces all that the
communicative approach suggested. Its principal addition is a recognition of lexis as well as,
or sometimes instead of, structure as an organising principle affecting both content and
methodology.” He suggests a much more principled system of introducing and exploiting lexis
in the classroom. He emphasizes the teaching and learning of collocations, lexical phrases,
pre-fabricated formulaic items or chunks, which will enable to learner to speak more fluently
and adequately.

Furthermore, for Michael Byram (1997) the goal has not been achieved because the concept
of communicative competence is based on an ideal monolingual speaker-listener. When this
concept is transferred to the teaching of a foreign language, the native speaker becomes the
implicit model to imitate – a fact which may have tremendous consequences since it
subordinates the learner to the native speaker. The learner participates in an unequal
interaction where the knower (the native-speaker) holds the power. Byram suggests that we
aim at Intercultural Communicative Competence to avoid failure. He defines it as the linguistic
competence, whichever it may be, of a person in a foreign language when he socially
interacts with someone from a different country. Participants are intercultural social actors
who interact with each other in equal circumstances, keeping their own identity and trying to
understand the others’.

We teachers know, through experience, that our specific students in our specific foreign
language context do not always achieve the goals we hope them to. What can we do? I dare
say that it is through activities which integrate skills that learners are offered opportunities to
use the language in a way that may lead to acquisition. Different authors have emphasized
the importance of integrating skills:


“The process of integrating language skills involves linking them in such a way that what has
been learnt and practiced through the exercise of one skill is reinforced and perhaps
extended through further language activities which bring one or more of the other language
skills into use.” (Byrne, D., 1981)

“Developing interlinked sets of activities in which succeeding steps are dependent on those
which come before (either in terms of content or skills), will ensure greater coherence and
consistency for your language programme.” (Nunan, D., 1989:120)

“We have stressed the need for the integration of skills, showing how in real life people
seldom work with one skill only when dealing with a topic” (Harmer, J., 1991:54).

“An important feature of the sequence is the interlocking nature of the activities; to a large
extent each task develops from those that have come before and prepares for those that are
to follow, The skills are thus not practised in isolation but in a closely interwoven series of
tasks which mutually reinforce and build on each other.” (Read, C., in: A. Mathews, M. Spratt
and L. Dangerfield, 1991:73).

“It may be appropriate for you to read, or to play a recording of all or part of the text so the
students read and listen simultaneously. By doing so the sounds and spelling of the language
are linked.” (Gower, Phillips and Walters, 1995: 98 [referring to dictation]) .

In this workshop, participants reflected on their own preconceived knowledge on the topic.
They also experienced a number of activities which demonstrated the usefulness of
integrated skills. Lesson plans prepared by trainee teachers were displayed to show that the
preparation of an integrated skills lesson need not be an overwhelming task for the teacher.
Two, three or even the four skills may be integrated – this will vary depending on the learners,
their level and the objectives of the lesson itself. What is important is that the tasks are
“closely interwoven” so that they “mutually reinforce and build on each other,” as Carol Read
states. Following are descriptions of four such activities.

The Cats of Kilkenny (Aguirre, 2004) is a short poem which appeared in a children’s reading
book. In this integrated skills lesson, the poem was used to demonstrate how to deal with
conflict – a real life situation among fifth graders. The pre-task to trigger the learners’
schemata is a brainstorm of fighting verbs and resolving verbs (e. g., fight, quarrel, hit, kick,
scream, shout, argue, scratch, bite vs. listen, understand, ask, agree, explain, accept,
discuss). The learners then listen to the short poem, jot down words they hear, and later use
them to say what the poem is about.

There were once two cats of Kilkenny!
Each thought there was one cat too many;
So they fought and they fit.
And they scratched and they bit.
Till excepting their nails
And the tips of their tails,
Instead of two cats, there weren’t any.


Next, in small groups, learners discuss the poem and, if possible or with the teacher’s help,
relate it to themselves. Then, they work cooperatively on writing a paragraph on what The
Cats of Kilkenny is really about, ways to resolve conflict or alternate solutions to physical
violence. Finally, if time allows, or as a follow-up activity, the poem may be memorized to
focus on pronunciation, stress, intonation and rhythm. Speaking, listening, writing and
reading are integrated and cognitive and affective skills are put into use in the process.

Crime and Punishment (Chapman, 2004) is a series of activities planned for upper
intermediate learners. The aim is for them to be able to present their opinions and
justifications to their classmates. In order to do so, they will conduct a simulation concerning
crime and punishment – an everyday issue in our cities. First, the teacher introduces the topic
referring to the latest crime news. Students discuss questions for laws that people commonly
break, crimes which carry long jail sentences or more importantly, very short jail sentences in
Mexico and in other countries; and the effects on ordinary people, judges, prosecutors and
police. Topic related vocabulary is provided here including vocabulary that will appear in the
song Cell Block Tango from the musical Chicago. Learners listen to the lyrics for specific
information and write down next to each woman’s story the reason why she killed her man.
During a second listening, the learners write down the men’s crimes. Then, they compare
results and help each other with new words. After that, students get together into groups of
five for a simulation activity. They read the following instructions.

Students choose one person to write down their recommendations and report them to the
whole class. The simulation ends with these reports. All four skills have been integrated, plus
practice in presenting opinions and justifications, convincing and being convinced, agreeing
and disagreeing.

Jogging Dictation (Woodward, 1988; Davis & Rinvolucri, 1988) is a competition. A text is
posted outside the classroom, groups of four or five are formed, the members name a jogger
(someone to dictate to the others). The jogger goes back and forth from the text to the small
group dictating the segments of the text he or she can remember. The team that completes
the dictation first should let you, the teacher, know. Check their dictation with an extra text at
hand. If they have mistakes, the jogger should continue jogging back and forth until they have
the full text. The winner is the team that first completes the full version accurately. All types of
dictation integrate the four skills. In this specific case, the competition element makes it
motivating and fun. Besides, it is totally learner-centered.

Dictogloss (Wajnryb, 1989) is a more elaborate and fully integrated type of activity which
involves the speedy dictation of a short text to a group of language learners – no pauses, no
repetition of words or sentences, no punctuation specified, read just as you’d hear it on the
radio or in a conversation. The students take notes during the reading of the text and then,
You have been appointed to be on a justice commission to help decide what to do with these women. At present they are all
awaiting their sentences. In this country, they will probably be sentenced to death. Your job is to carefully weigh each woman’s
case and make a recommendation.
Consider the nature of their crime. Did any of the men deserve to die for what they did?
Should any of the women receive the death penalty? If so, which one/s? Justify your reasons.
If they do not deserve the death penalty, what sort of punishment would you recommend?
If your group cannot agree on the decision, you will have to vote.


working in small groups, proceed to piece together the text as a cooperative endeavor. This is
achieved by the pooling of the group’s notes and the making of grammatical decisions about
the text: specifically about word choice, sentence formation, and cross-sentence connections.
After each group has produced its own version of the text, the whole class reconvenes and
the groups’ versions are analyzed and corrected.

The text below, taken from TIME, Letters, November 28, 2005, worked out beautifully as a
dictogloss for, at that time, the learners had been listening to the news or reading about the
conflict in the streets of Paris and could relate to the concepts expressed in the letter.

The four skills are fully integrated along with cultural information. However, the fact that
learners have to reconstruct the text from their own notes makes writing the ultimate goal.
They have to use all their writing skills, strategies and knowledge in order to create a truly
cohesive and coherent text.

In sum, when classroom activities integrate skills, the learners are allowed to move beyond
the controlled type of textbook exercises to opportunities that are often culturally loaded, more
realistic, and more similar to real life situations. They can then use the language recently
learned in many varied ways which will allow them to make connections that will help them
acquire the language faster and more firmly.


Byram, M. (1997). Intercultural Communicative Competence. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, Ltd.
Davis, P. and M. Rinvolucri (1988). Dictation New methods, new possibilities. Great Britain: Cambridge
University Press.
Gower, R., Phillips, D. & Walters, S. (1995). Teaching Practice Handbook. Great Britain: Heinemann.
Harmer, J. (1998).The Practice of English Language Teaching. Longman.
Hymes, D. H. (1972). “On Communicative Competence”. In T. Hedge: Teaching and Learning in the Language
Classroom (2005) China: Oxford University Press.
Lewis, M. (1994). The Lexical Approach. England: Language Teaching Publications.
Lightfoot, Amy, “Using Dictation”, at Accessed: 24th November 2005.
Nunan, D. (1989a). Designing Tasks for the Communicative Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Read, C. “ (1986). “Integrating the Skills”. In A. Mathews, M. Spratt & L. Dangerfield: At the Chalkface.
England: Nelson.
Wanryb, R. (1989) “Dictogloss: A Text-Based Approach to Teaching and Learning Grammar”. In FORUM, Vol.
XXVII, Number 4, October 1989.
Woodward, T. (1988) Loop Input. Great Britain: Pilgrims.
Student-Teachers’ Activities
Amnesia (Ice breaker). 2004. César Cifuentes. Source unknown.
Crime and Punishement (simulation). 2004. Shelley Chapman. Original.
The Cats of Kilkenny (discussion). 2004. Silvia Aguirre. Original.
Test your attention (problem solving). 2003. Yánzer Rebollo. Original.

Streets on Fire
Many times hatred springs from not being and respected in one’s family or society. That kind of hatred can be countered by focusing
on humanistic values such as love and respect through practicing empathy, tolerance and creativity. There is a crucial need for
society and the world’s political leaders to strengthen the role of those values and finance organizations that teach those qualities.


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León, Guanajuato León, Guanajuato León, Guanajuato León, Guanajuato
2006 2006 2006 2006

Teaching with humor

Sally La Luzerne-Oi
Hawai‘i Pacific University
Christina Scally
Truckee Meadows Community College

When discussing the use of humor in the classroom, it is not uncommon to hear some
teachers say that using humor is a waste of time; teachers should be professionals not
performers; they will lose control of their classroom if they use humor, they might offend
someone (Tosta 2001); students won’t get it; or I’m not funny.

Nevertheless, there are many reasons to cultivate and nurture humor in the classroom. Using
humor helps build rapport and create a good atmosphere. It shows the students that the
teacher is human and helps put them at ease. In addition, it can help get students’ attention,
help them remember more, and decrease anxiety or embarrassment in stressful situations.

When we talk about teaching with humor, we do not mean that teachers should be comedians
and start off every class with a joke or cartoon. What we mean is the conscious strategic use
of humor as a teaching tool to inspire students to learn. In this presentation, we share some
overall strategies as well as several activities that teachers can use to weave humor into their

There are several overall strategies that can add a touch of humor. We should begin by
looking to ourselves as a resource and laughing at ourselves when the occasion arises.
According to Rich Furman (2002), “Self-effacing humor serves several purposes. First, it
models not taking oneself overly seriously. Sometimes faculty become so enamored of the
perceived importance of our role that we can become intimidating and inaccessible to
students. Humor directed at the self helps students see our foibles and weaknesses. It
models for them that perfection is not required, not even possible. They are allowed to be
themselves, warts and all.” In fact, Tim Murphey noted that he makes a practice of telling his
students “mistake stories” and having them do so in turn. These stories, embarrassing when
they occurred, often later become humorous. Moreover, they help language learners see
how they can learn from making mistakes. Another way of using ourselves as a resource, is
to lighten up when giving directions or managing our class. One way to do this is by using
exaggeration which often proves humorous.

A second strategy is using our students as resources. One way to do this is by keeping track
of funny things students say from year to year and referring to these comments in the
appropriate context. Another way is to watch for times when our students are speaking in L1
and laughing. Ding Jiali (2005) writes about her frustration with a lack of response from her
students when using funny anecdotes and jokes intended for native English language
speakers. She goes on to tell about a time when her students were speaking in their L1,


Mandarin, and laughing. She writes, “I asked them what was so funny and if they wanted to
share their joke with the rest of the class. Immediately, they fell silent. I knew that I had only a
moment to decide how to treat this silence and that if I was careful, I might be able to turn an
embarrassing moment into a fun English learning experience.” Ding Jiali encouraged these
students to tell the rest of the class in English what they had thought was funny. She told
them not to worry about making mistakes that she would help them with the words they
needed. The result was the class laughed until they cried while listening to their classmate’s
story in English. Such moments of sharing provide the material for inside jokes, and we
should encourage our students to cultivate humor which is unique to their particular class. In
fact, teacher trainers, Katherine Abbot and Mark Lewis (2005), say that the best kind of
classroom humor is Just-in-Time Humor which comes spontaneously from the students and
enlivens the class just when it is needed.

Another strategy for weaving humor into lessons is to take a good look at our lessons and
textbooks to see where a funny picture, sound, or prop could help catch students’ attention
and ultimately help them remember the material better. Using unusual names or situations in
dialogues or role plays is another way to add humor to the lesson.

These are general strategies that we can work on and make our own. It is also possible to
develop classroom or homework activities with a touch of humor which have our students
practice different skills and functions. Abbot and Lewis (2005) advise that it is better to design
well thought out activities that will bring about a humorous moment rather than working on
being a funny teacher. Activities based on storytelling, for example, can bring out humor while
providing practice with a number of skills. Here Christina Scally recounts one of those
storytelling activities that she has used successfully.

It has been said that laughter is a great equalizer. The following activity, which I have my
students do near the beginning of a class or humor unit, helps them laugh at themselves and
become comfortable with one another; it also narrows the distance between teacher and
student. This exercise involves transforming “mistakes” into humorous anecdotes carefully
designed to entertain others.

I begin by sharing a personal story of an embarrassing mistake or faux pas that caused
others to laugh at – not with – me and caused me to cringe at each remembrance of the
event. The aim here is to make the class laugh. Inevitably I succeed. I believe the
success is based on my knowledge of the particular group of students; my willingness to be
self-effacing; and my embellishment of the story with vivid, though not always accurate,
I then tell the students that they, too, can use the wealth of their own experiences as the
basis for becoming confident and effective entertainers of their classmates, if not famous
stand-up comedians. Their first step toward this goal is to brainstorm embarrassing
mistakes from their rich, past lives and then to select an especially interesting one – based
on the embarrassment it caused, laughter by others it provoked when it occurred and the
extent to which it now, in hindsight, looks really funny.
The students are asked to recall as many details related to the event as possible and to
write up a vivid step-by-step “picture” of it. They are told that a) the story’s purpose is to
provoke laughter, b) its audience is this class and that c) keeping in mind what they know
about their classmates as they write their story will make the telling especially effective. As


part of their story-planning process, they are also asked to try to understand and express
why the event caused laughter by others and shame for themselves and what they might
have learned about themselves, about others and about humor through its reliving.
When their stories are brought to class, students meet in pairs to tell and explain them,
receiving feedback from their partners and from me as I move around the class. Then, for
several class sessions with their partners, they rehearse their stories--focusing on
introduction, timing, punch line or climax, conclusion, and overall clarity: pronunciation,
appropriate vocabulary, syntax.
The culminating step is telling the story to the whole class. A brief discussion and
question/answer session follows each student’s story.

As a result of this assignment, students have grown closer to one another, gained self
understanding and confidence, and contributed to a warm and non-threatening classroom
environment. As second-language learners, they have practiced the rhetorical devices of
narration, description, analysis, generalization, purpose and audience. They’ve practiced
pronunciation and grammar. And they’ve learned some humor vocabulary (butt of a joke,
foolish, black humor, irony).

Up to this point, we have given reasons for using humor and ways to strategically place
humor in class lessons. However, we would like to end with a few caveats when it comes to
teaching with humor. Chiasson (2002) reminds teachers that like all activities in the
communicative language classroom, any activities you use involving humor should be well
prepared and have an objective. In addition, these activities should be tailored to the age and
personalities of the group. With that in mind, get started by trying one overall strategy or
activity that you feel comfortable with. Don’t overuse humor or it could lose its affect. And
remember that something funny one day, might not be funny the next. After all “The ability to
laugh starts early, but it takes a lifetime to perfect.” – Anonymous

Abbot, K., & Lewis, M. (2005) Humor in the classroom: Cultivating camaraderie to maximize learning. Retrieved
May 29, 2006, from
Berlin, L. (2002). Effective ESL instruction: Common themes from the voices of students. Journal of Intensive
English Studies 14, 1-17.
Chiasson, P. (n.d.) Humour in the second language classroom; It’s not a laughing matter! Retrieved October
16, 2002, from
Furman, R. (2002). The definition of enlightenment-lighten up: My use of humor in social work education and
practice. Retrieved May 29, 2006, from
Jiali, D. (2005). Using L1 humor in an L2 class. TESL Reporter 38 (2), 63-64.
Marklin, J., & Milner, J. (2001). It’s no laughing matter. Studies in Teaching 2001 Research Digest. Research
Projects Presented at Annual Research Forum (Winston-Salem, North Carolina), 51-55.
Murphey, T. (2005, April 8). Learners’ and teachers’ transformational narrative reflections. Paper presented at
Hawai‘i Pacific University TESL Speaker Series, Honolulu, HI.
Nguyen, H.T. (2006, March 22). Rapport building in language instruction: A microanalysis of the multiple
resources in teacher talk. Paper presented at Hawai‘i Pacific University TESL Speaker Series, Honolulu, HI.
Ross, K. (1999). Touch of humor goes a long way in class. Retrieved October 16, 2002, from
Senior, R. (2001). The role of humor in the development and maintenance of class cohesion. Prospect 16, (2).
Tosta, A. (2001). Laugh and learn: Thinking over the “Funny Teacher” myth. Forum, 39 (1). “Retrieved April
19, 2002, from


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2006 2006 2006 2006

Strategies for solving lexical problems in L2 writing

Saul Santos García
Universidad Autónoma de Nayarit

Vocabulary plays a role of paramount importance in L2 writing. The efficient retrieval of
vocabulary is especially crucial in tasks set with a time limit which students often face in their
academic lives, such as essays required for placement in language courses. It is important,
therefore, that the writers develop a set of strategies to solve lexical problems during the act
of composing.

Strategy use has been widely researched under the domain of communication strategies
(CS). A considerable amount of research has been carried out on the nature of CS,
taxonomies of strategic language devices, and variation in CS use. The vast majority of CS
literature is concerned with devices applied to repair or save the interaction when problems
occur, especially in the lexical domain, either as a result of a gap in the speakers’ knowledge,
as a performance problem – e.g. problems of lexical retrieval, or as a problem perceived with
the interlocutor – c.f. meaning negotiation mechanisms (see e.g. Dörnyei and Scott, 1997). It
should be noted that this whole notion of communication strategies has, predominately, been
developed in the domain of spoken language.

A research area that touches on written CS is general writing strategy research. Most
taxonomies of the strategies offered to describe the process of writing make reference to
either the process of planning or to the process of reviewing, and little reference to the
complex operation involved in the process of matching the material from the memory with the
syntactically organized linguistic units is made (Roca et al. 1999), despite the fact that text
production is the only non-optional component of writing (unlike planning and reviewing).
Typically strategies of the CS type are lost in the general classification system used for writing
behaviours or strategies and are not singled out (Scholfield, 1999).

This research intends to shed light in a neglected phenomenon of language use: CS in the
written medium. It aims at studying the strategies employed to solve the lexical problems
Mexican university EFL students at two different proficiency levels face when they write in
English. Two questions are addressed in this paper.

1. What vocabulary problems do EFL students face while they are composing in the
target language?
2. What strategies do they use to solve them?


Thirty one Mexican undergraduate students were asked to compose for an hour on a given
topic in English, and were instructed to think aloud while writing. Eight randomly selected
subjects from the group were interviewed after they performed the writing task. The recording
of the think aloud and the protocol of the composition were used during the interview.

Language proficiency of the subjects was obtained using the Oxford Placement Test. For the
purpose of comparisons, subjects were further divided into two groups: subjects of group A,
16 students, are considered at an upper intermediate level or above, whereas subjects in
group B, 15 students, fall between foundation (waystage level) and elementary (limited user)
level, as described by the OPT guidelines. As possible, variables such as age, gender, L1,
and academic background were controlled.

Three criteria were used to determine whether specific features of writing performance, as
revealed by the protocols, indicated that the planning/execution processes leading to this
performance were strategic (based on Faerch and Kasper, 1983):
that the learner is aware of experiencing a problem in reaching his or her
communicative goal by means of his available linguistic resources,
that he learner has attempted to solve this problem and
that the data in question has been produced on the basis of this plan.
The definition of problem in this study included vocabulary-related decisions concerning (lack
of or partial) knowledge, retrieval, and selection.

Discussion of findings: What vocabulary problems do EFL students face while they
are composing in the target language?
In the identification of problems, the coding system developed by Hemmati (2001) was used.
A governing criterion for grouping the problems is the number of words involved in the
problem. Three general categories are identified:

There is no word: The subject either does not know a word or temporarily cannot retrieve it.
Example: some students mmm no les importa mm no les importa [mmm don’t care about
mm don’t care about] some students mm don’t like school

There is one word: the subject retrieves a word but either some aspect of the word is
unknown or is perceived as wrong or inappropriate by the subject.
Example: I agree with the second with the second view because because many times
many times the students start the career when the students finish finish the career
(dictionary) carrera carrera carrera r s carrera carrera career

There is more than one word: the subject retrieves more than one word and is either
confused or has to choose between them.
Example: there are many industries in this world that cause great amount or quantities ay
amount or quantities quantities or amount cantidades cantidad [quantities quantity] quantity
ah amount of amount es la medida si la medida [amount is the measurement yes the
measurement] amount a ver entonces [then let’s see] amount amount of grande [big] as a
amount amount es cantidad cantidad monto no entonces [it is quantity quantity amount no
then] quantities bueno le voy a poner [ok I’m going to put] quantities big quantities (of


Each of these problems has a number of subcategories related to both competence and
performance. The subjects wrote 9,914 words altogether, from which 504 were identified as
having caused difficulty and the consequent use of a lexical strategy. This means that on
average, the subjects consciously faced 5 lexical problems in every 100 words. The
proportion of these three types of problems is shown in Graph 1 below; as can be seen, the
most frequent problem type was the no-word problem.

As mentioned before, each of these three categories is further divided into two subcategories
according to the origin of the problem: competence and performance. , as shown in Graph 2.
Graph 2 shows that the nature of the problem is clearly different within each general category.

It can be observed that the proportion of competence-based problems decreases across each
type of problem, with a higher proportion of no-word than one-word competence problems,
and an even lower proportion of more-than-one-word competence problems. This does not
necessarily mean that the subjects have more full lexical gaps than partial lexical gaps.
Despite the fact that the compositions may reveal an important number of unspotted one-
word errors, this falling pattern can be due to the fact that this research deals exclusively with
problems that the subject is aware of. Clearly, it is easier to realize that one has a no-word
gap than a one-word gap, so not surprisingly the no-word proportion is higher.
Graph 1: Distribution of Problem Types
One-Word Problems
No-word Problems
More-Than... Problems One-Word Problems No-Word Problems
Problem Type
Graph 2: Proportion competence/performance by problem type


On the other hand, more-than-one-word problems although also include problems of partial
lexical knowledge (the fact that the subjects have retrieved two or more words means that at
least they know some aspects of the retrieved word such as form, either in pronunciation or
spelling), they are more associated with lexical selection of well known words. Hence, their
struggling with the two words might be associated with trying to enhance the quality of the
compositions rather than with facing a lack of linguistic resources. Perhaps the contribution to
these kinds of problems comes from subjects with a higher L2 proficiency level, hence, the
predominance of performance more-than-one-word problems.

Discussion of findings: What strategies do EFL students use to solve lexical problems
while writing?
To talk about the strategies employed to solve lexical problems, at least three aspects need to
be mentioned:

The source from which information to solve the problem is obtained.: The subjects of
this study employed two different ones: their own resources, (e.g. mental lexicon in L1
and L2, grammar knowledge in L1 and L2, and so on) and an external source, (e.g.
bilingual dictionary, monolingual dictionary, and thesaurus). Proportions are shown in
Graph 3.

The mechanisms employed to execute the solution: Regarding the execution
strategies, a total of 25 types of strategies were identified and the data showed
evidence that they were evoked 1,375 times (tokens). It could be said that per every
problem, the subjects could have resorted roughly to two execution strategies (e.g. the
subject retrieves two words simultaneously, (1) self questions making a direct
reference to the two words in question, (2) says candidate words repeatedly, and
chooses one). In other words, the problem solving mechanism in the example
described above can be schematised as follows:

Problem identification → Execution strategy 1 → Execution strategy 2 → Solution

However, often a problem is solved using only one execution strategy, such as in the
following example, where the subject seems to have a spelling problem with the word
environment. He breaks the word in question into syllables and retrieves the missing

Graph 3: Proportion of Source of Knowledge
Own Resources


Example: mankind is the only animal that harms its own + environment + en vir +
(Fluent writing) + (Problem identification) + (Execution strategy 1) + (Solution)

The outcome, that is, the way in which the solution is presented: Finally, regarding the
outcome, there was a consistent pattern of strategies used to solve competence
(knowledge) and performance (retrieval) problems. The taxonomy developed with the
data of this study shows that after spotting a lexical problem the subjects either (a) take
immediate action by (1) trying to solve the problem, (2) de-problematising the problem,
or (3) giving up and changing the problem, or (b) delay the solution of the problem. In
this study, the delay of the solution (e.g. by using target word in L1) turned out to be
the final solution. This might be due to time constraints imposed by the nature of the
task (i.e. the subjects were given a time limit to complete the task).

Taking into account that problems of lexical knowledge were the most frequent problems (as
compared to retrieval or selection problems), it is worth paying special attention to the way
these problems are most effectively solved. To confirm information regarding a given lexical
item or when lacking the lexical item for a given idea or partial information of a given lexical
item, the dictionary seems to be the best choice. Although the subjects of this study proved
to be relatively successful dictionary users, they faced some problems. Basically the
subjects faced problems in two different stages, (1) finding the word (lexical search) and (2)
choosing the right information (lexical selection).

On the whole, the results of this study support Canale and Swain’s (1980) view that language
learners have a certain ability referred to as strategic competence that exists as part of the
components of communicative competence. It seems that, due to the restricted knowledge of
the target language, learners are in constant need for CS to bridge gaps in their vocabulary
knowledge in the process of writing. The analysis of the protocols showed that EFL writing
relies on strategies which help learners to activate their lexical store, retrieve items from
memory and use them in contextually appropriate ways. Although the teachability of
communication strategies is a source of considerably controversy, some recommendations
are applicable: (1) raise the learners’ awareness about the nature and communicative
potential of CS, (2) provide L2 models of the use of certain CS, (3) Teach CS directly by
presenting devices to write them, (4) provide opportunities for practice in strategy use, and
finally, given that the use of the dictionary is a strategy that particularly belongs to writing and
lends itself readily to classroom instruction (5) extensive practice of dictionary skills both in
item finding and item selection is encouraged.

Dörnyei, Z. and M. L. Scott (1997). Communication strategies in a second language: definitions and taxonomies.
Language Learning 47 (1), 173 – 210.
Hemmati, F. (2001) Vocabulary problems in the EFL writing of Iranian students: taxonomies and strategies.
(Unpublished PhD Dissertation. University of Essex.
Faerch, C. and G. Kasper (1983). On identifying communication strategies in interlanguage production.
Roca de Larios, J., L. Murphy, and R. Manchon (1999). The use of restructuring strategies in EFL writing: a
study of Spanish learners of English as a foreign language. Journal of Second Language Writing, 8(1), pp 13-44.
Scholfield, P. (1999). Is there an ecology of communication strategies in writing? (unpublished).


Where to from Here? Where to from Here? Where to from Here? Where to from Here?
Boca del Río, Veracruz Boca del Río, Veracruz Boca del Río, Veracruz Boca del Río, Veracruz
2007 2007 2007 2007

Action Research: Making a difference in the language classroom

Sonia Acosta Domínguez
Ana Gabriela Guajardo
Universidad Autónoma de Baja California

Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.
~John Cotton Dana

The teaching profession is very rewarding, but also very demanding. It demands that we
continuously be up-to-date and that we produce immediate and observable results of our
students’ learning. How are we going to address these demands? Our commitment as
teachers, especially as language teachers, is to provide a learning environment where all of
our students are able to thrive and develop to their full potential.

This paper presents a series of strategies that will enable teachers to analyze our teaching;
focusing, not only on what may not be producing the desired results, but also on our
successes. We begin by presenting Wallaces’ (1984) model of Reflective Teaching for
language teachers, as well as the description of some strategies that foster reflective thinking
in the classroom.

Action research (AR) is the focus of this proposal, since it promotes “active reflection” of our
teaching activities. What do we mean by active reflection? It entails not only analyzing and
being aware of the positive features and shortcomings of our teaching, but also acting
accordingly. That is not taking for granted our strengths, and finding solutions for our
weaknesses. We have included several definitions of AR, as well as its main characteristics.
An explanation of AR’s “cyclical nature” and steps to be followed during the process are
briefly developed.

Reflective Teaching
Although formal training is important, all teaching experiences should be considered as part of
a teacher’s development towards professional competence. Wallace (1994 ) proposes a
model for developing professional competence in formal training programs for language
teachers. This model is called the “Reflective Model” and is divided into three stages. The
pre-training stage, according to Wallace, “highlights the trainee and what they bring to the
development process” since it is considered that people who go into any training program
very rarely enter without preconceived notions regarding their profession. In the second
stage, not only are “received knowledge” and “experiential knowledge” considered important
elements in achieving professional development, practice and reflection are also placed at
the core of this stage. The third stage is professional competence.


Acquisition of reflective thinking is a process that requires time. Due to our busy lives, we find
little time to reflect on past events; therefore we rarely stop to develop actions that will help
solve some of the problems that arise in our daily lives. Teachers are no different. We go
about our daily routines and accept whatever comes our way,

thinking that it is all part of our duties. We very rarely analyze what we are doing right and
only when we are faced with a situation that overwhelms us, do we feel the need to sit down
and find out what is really happening in our classrooms. Teachers should allow for time to
reflect on our practice if we intend to reach our goals successfully.

There are several activities that promote reflective thinking in the classroom:
reflective journal
written self-evaluation
development of a professional portfolio
action research

Reflective journal: A teaching journal, according to Richards and Lockhart (1994), is a
teacher’s or a student teacher’s response to teaching events. Keeping a journal serves two
purposes: a) Events and ideas are recorded for the purpose of later reflection and b) the
process of writing itself helps trigger insights about teaching.

Richards and Lockhart (Ibid) suggest some questions to guide journal entries:
Questions about your teaching: Did you discover anything new about your teaching?
Which parts of the lesson were most/least successful?
Questions about the students: Were the students challenged by the lesson? What do you
think the students really learned from the lesson?
Questions to ask yourself as a language teacher: How am I developing as a language
teacher? What are my strengths and/or weaknesses as a language teacher?

Written self-evaluation: This is a structured self analysis. It is used to encourage continuing
reflection to promote an on-going, innovative approach to teaching. The purpose of self-
evaluation is to encourage individual professional growth in areas of interest to the teacher.
There are two levels of teacher self-evaluation: reflection on day-to-day classroom instruction
and professional self-evaluation. Teachers refine their skills through reflecting upon elements
of their instruction.

Development of a professional portfolio: A professional portfolio allows teachers to keep a
record of their growth and achievement over time. Scholastic (2007), an online journal,
describes the purpose of a portfolio: “Portfolios allow us to become reflective about what it is
we do. And they allow us to document the practices we'd like to preserve and even pass on to

If we ask our students to select examples of their work over time to demonstrate how much
they've learned, we must do the same. Scholastic (Ibid) suggests what to include in portfolios:
background information, teaching artefacts and reflections documenting an extended teaching
activity and professional information.


Action Research: There are several definitions of action research. Kurt Lewin is generally
credited as the person who coined the term “action research” (History of Action Research,
2007). He defined it as (1947): “ a three-step spiral process of (1) planning which involves
reconnaissance; (2) taking actions and (3) fact-finding about the results of the action.”
Another very pertinent definition is by Carl Glickman (1992): “Action Research in education is
study conducted by colleagues in a school setting of the results of their activities to improve

The objective of a classroom action research project, according to Richards & Lockhart
(1994): “is an action plan designed to bring about change in some aspects of the teacher’s
class with subsequent monitoring of the effects of the innovation.”

Action research tends to be:
Cyclic – similar steps tend to recur, in a similar sequence;
Participative – the clients and informants are involved as partners, or at least active
participants, in the research process;
Qualitative – it deals more often with language than with numbers; and
Reflective – critical reflection upon the process and outcomes are important parts of
each cycle.

Stephen Kemmis has developed a simple model of the cyclical nature of the typical action
research process. (Kemmis & McTaggart, 1988) Each cycle has four steps: plan, act,
observe and reflect.

Observation phase: the issue of a problem is monitored and described; useful data is
recorded and kept.
Reflective phase: observations are interpreted and shared so that the issue or problem can
be better understood.
Planning phase: actions are proposed to address the issue or problem.
Action phase: the plan is implemented and the cycle repeats itself.


Teacher research does no necessarily start with the setting of precise hypotheses. As
Kemmis and McTaggart (1981:18) point out in their first edition of The Action Research

“You do not have to begin with a ‘problem’. All you need is a general idea that
something might be improved. Your general idea may stem from a promising
new idea or the recognition that existing practice falls short of aspiration. In
either case you must centre attention on: What is happening now? In what
sense is this problematic? What can I do about it?

Steps in the Action Research Process: Mettetal (2003) mentions that Classroom Action
Research (CAR) :is a way for instructors to discover what works best in their own
classroom situation, thus allowing informed decisions about teaching.”. Mettel continues to
comment that the CAR process includes seven very easy steps and that teachers are able to
complete some projects within a single semester, although more in-depth projects should
allow more time for planning and data colleting.

The following are the steps that Mettetal (2003) describes.
Step 1: Identify a question
Step 2: Review the literature.
Step 3: Plan a research strategy.
Step 4: Collect data.
Step 5: Analyze data.
Step 6: Take action based on results.
Step 7: Share your findings.

When choosing a question for a Classroom Action Research project one should consider the
following criteria: It should be: significant , important to you and your students; under your
control, you can take action based on your findings and feasible, in terms of time, effort and

In order to reflect on a teacher’s performance in the classroom, “professional action” should
be recalled so it is available for reflection (Wallace, 1986). There are several procedures for
recalling data for CAR, such as: field notes, audiotape recording, student diaries, interviews,
videotape recorder, questionnaires, and of course, classroom observation.

Classroom observation involves sharing a teacher’s concerns with a colleague, which helps
view a situation from a different perspective. When inviting a colleague to participate in
observing a class, you should choose someone that you trust and that you feel comfortable
working with. Before the actual observation, there should be a meeting where joint planning
of the observation takes place. During this meeting there are several things that must be
addressed, such as: the focus of the observation, the role of the observer (overt-covert), the
way in which feed-back will be conducted, etc. It is always a good idea for teachers to
reciprocate the favor.


Conducting Action Research is not as rigorous, nor as time consuming as formal scientific
research. Any teacher who is interested in improving the learning environment of the
classroom, can successfully develop and implement an AR project.

To teach is to learn twice.
~Joseph Joubert, Pensées, 1842

Action Research should not be a solitary endeavor; it is a collaborative activity that benefits all
involved. Steps that are taken towards improving ones teaching should include all the
stakeholders in the teaching-learning process: students, colleagues and administrators. The
findings of an Action Research project should be shared with all.

As we have said before, conducting an action research project is a task that does not entail
the rigors of scientific research, since a teacher does not need special training to make it a
part of a teaching routine. It is just necessary for teachers to get together in an effort to
improve their teaching, and develop a plan that will address a particular situation in a
classroom. The results are well worth the effort


History of Action Research (date retrieved, April 20, 2007)
Hopkins, D. (1985). A Teacher's Guide to Classroom Research. Philadelphia: Open University Press. Pgs. 63-68
Institute of Community Learning. Research Methodology (2005)
Johns, C. (2004) Becoming a Reflective Practitioner. Chicago. Blackwell Publishing
Kemmis, S., & McTaggart, R. (1988) The Action Research Planner. 3er. Ed. Victoria: Deaking University Press.
Mettetal, G., ( 2003) Improving Teaching through Classroom Action Research. Essays on Teaching Excellence.
Toward the Best in the Academy Vol. 14, No. 7, 2002-2003
Richards, J.C. & Lockhart, C. (1994) Reflective Teaching in Second Language Classrooms. U.K. Cambridge
Language Education.
Scholastic, on line journal (2007) The Professional Portfolio.
Wallace, M., (1994) Training Foreign Language Teachers: A Reflective Approach. UK. Cambridge University


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2007 2007 2007 2007

Giving effective feedback: some practical suggestions

Gabriela Ladrón de Guevara De León
The Anglo Mexican Foundation

Formative assessment is becoming more popular in our scholar system. With this type of
assessment, feedback for improving is closely linked to the purposes of the assessment and
the teacher takes a more interactive role with those being assessed. Feedback becomes a
priority issue because the main purpose of assessment is to inform and support learning.
Here we can share some practical ideas about effective (and friendly) feedback

What is feedback?
Feedback defines for students what their teacher thinks is important for a topic or a subject.
At its best, feedback should: guide both teachers and students; be a core part of teaching
and learning, not an add-on ritual; focus around course and topic learning outcomes; guide
students to become independent learners and their own critics; account for a developmental
approach for achievement in a discipline.

Feedback ought to aim at enabling students to improve their future efforts. However, one
often gets the impression that students leave the courses making many of the same errors
that they made when they entered. An explanation for this common phenomenon could be
that teacher's feedback is little more than editing and does not give students a clear message
about what they must do to improve future pieces of work. In addition, students don't read or
take the advice that is given and are not required to do so.

Feedback is needed by: teachers to adapt and adjust teaching to accommodate learning
needs and for students to adapt and adjust their learning strategies. Feedback should be:
Constructive, so that students feel encouraged and motivated to improve their practice
Timely, so that students can use it for subsequent learning and work to be submitted
Prompt, so that students can recall what they did and thought at the time
Supportive of learning, should be linked to a clear statement of orderly progression of
learning so that students have clear indications of how to improve their performance
Focused on achievement, not effort. The work should be assessed, not the student
Specific to the learning outcomes so that assessment is clearly linked to learning
Consequential so that it engages students and they are required to attend to feedback,
removing the need for continually giving the same student the same advice
Fostering of independence so that it leads students to being capable of assessing their
own work
Efficient for teachers to do.


Types of feedback
Informal: worked examples e.g. verbal feedback in class, personal comments
Formal: in writing e.g. checklists, written commentary, generic exemplars
Direct: to individual student, either in written form or in consultation
Indirect: to whole class e.g. generic exemplars
Formative: given during the run of the topic, enabling risk taking and adjustment prior to
final submission
Summative: given at the end of a topic, with the purpose of letting students know what
they have achieved.

Difficulties associated with giving and getting feedback
Academic Concerns:
Time-consuming: Giving useful feedback can be very time consuming for academics and
has limited value if students don't read it or act on it.
Repetitive: It is not uncommon to correct the same common errors on a particular
student's work and on most students' work with little change occurring over time in
students' performances.
Too late: Few assessment tasks enable teachers to get timely feedback to adjust either
content or teaching strategies to focus on actual learning needs.

Student Concerns:
Too late: Often occurs when a subject/topic is over and there is little that can be done to
remedy misunderstanding. Students are rarely required to act upon it.
No explanation: Students report that they are often left not knowing what they have done
well, what they need to change and why they have achieved the grade they have. It is often
students who don't do well who get feedback and good students receive little more than
'excellent' on their work without gaining an insight into what they have done well and what
they could do to enhance their performance.
"One-off": Many assessment tasks are 'one-off' and for real grades. Students don't get the
opportunity to take the advice given. There is little room for risk taking, experimentation and
Limited value: Much feedback is either editing of grammar or spelling, or cliché,
e.g."More", "Good", "What's this?", etc. Much feedback does not actually give the student a
sense of what they might do to improve their learning or the products of their learning.
Not progressive: Does not give students a sense of what they have achieved in
progressing towards a goal and what they have yet to achieve.

Feedback strategies: providing feedback to large groups

Lectures are a source of quick formative assessment to ascertain for yourself that students
are understanding correctly. Feedback given in this manner can be used to guide future
teaching and to give a class some indication of their progress thus far.

Give students a brief writing task such as those suggested. Students' contributions can be
anonymous or work required that is not graded. Collect and briefly review students'
responses before the next lecture. If your class is very large, analyze a random percentage
of them.


The one-minute paper: Students write for one minute on what their understanding is of
the main idea of the lecture or the most intriguing point and one or two questions that
remain uppermost in their mind.
The five main points: Some lecturers have found that they made 120 main points
according to their students who have been unable to distinguish anecdote from
example from the concepts.
Concept map: Students are given a few minutes to illustrate the relationship between
ideas or to fill in a pre-drawn concept map with the links provided, but the concepts
Applications card: Students brainstorm some of the ideas discussed and then select
two and illustrate ways that these ideas may be applied to everyday life.
The Muddiest Point: Students write for one minute the idea that is least clear to them at
that moment
Assessment Profiles: These are ideal answers with which students can compare their
answers. Ideally, students should be required to correct their work as necessary making
observations as to where and why they went wrong.
Generic feedback: A typed page of generic feedback, that is common for all students,
and that briefly describes the characteristics of papers that achieved each grade can be
issued after a final paper. This enables students to see how their learning product fitted
into a scope of possible achievements. It provides students answers and ideas to
provide clarification of misconceptions on a broad scale, rather than a private
written/verbal consultation with individual students which loses the comparison with
peer responses element.

Follow-up to lecture feedback: Hand out a sheet of paper to the entire class with (i)
examples of appropriate responses and (ii) examples of some misconceptions with some
explanations about why they were not correct and (iii) resources for follow-up study to correct
the misconception. Use the first 5 minutes of the lecture to give the students a verbal
response around what was appropriate and what was misconceived. While students come
in to the next lecture and get settled, put an overhead up that outlines the main idea of the
last lecture, corrects misconceptions, answers questions and suggests further
reading/activities. Base your next lecture around students' learning needs.

Value of using these strategies: They are low cost in terms of time taken by the teacher and
the student. They are learning-focused and can be used to increase students' meta cognitive
awareness. Teachers get an instant insight into how students are interpreting lecture content
and have an opportunity to clear up misconceptions. Students receive quick feedback on
their perceptions and interpretations while they are constructing its meaning. Students can be
creative and take risks because it is not for grades. Students are actively engaged in the

Providing feedback to individuals
1. Check-lists: Students conduct self-evaluation of a body of work prior to submission to
check that particular areas or issues have been covered. Students could then refine work
as necessary


2. Selecting: Students are required to request the nature of feedback required from the
teacher as stipulated in a request form. The teacher then provides the specific feedback in
a particular format or addresses particular issues. Ideally this should be an element of
formative assessment as it would have little value if this was at the end of a particular

Feedback in practice
It is common for teachers who question the value of their diligent editing of students' texts
especially, to find that students did not read what they had written on their assignments and
particularly did not use they comments as a reference for the next assignment.

A possible solution for this is that on the first assignment you

resist writing all over the assignment. Note a particular type of error once, and indicate
that the student needs to look for other potential errors and find out a way to correct them.
For example, when they have poor spelling you can advise them to use a spell checker;
poor grammar – direct them to advice or use a computer program; poor structure and
design – direct them to course books; or poor arguments – advise them to organize their
ideas and to support their arguments.
give students only three or four pieces of advice about changes/improvements.
make known that you expect the advice to be attended to for subsequent paper(s).
make the grade assigned to the subsequent paper contingent upon students' clear and
specific indication about how they had acted upon the prior advice.
ask students to return the first piece of work and its feedback with the subsequent
assignment with a single page explanation of the ways in which they had acted on the
advice provided in the prior assignment. In this case, the final paper students submitted
merely received a grade with no written comments. The rationale for this is largely based
on an assumption that students will not have the opportunity to act on advice at the end of
a topic.

It can be concluded that this type of approach to feedback reduces the 'one-off' nature of
most assignment demands; makes students take responsibility for their own learning; and
increases the value added nature of your teaching (you can indicate improvements made for
all students). It also increases the opportunity for high achieving students as well as low
achieving students to get constructive feedback; helps increase students' meta-cognitive
awareness; and reduces the hoop-jumping approach to assessment and the repetitive nature
of assignment writing and giving feedback.


Angelo, T. A. & Cross, K. P. 1993 Classroom Assessment Techniques, San Francisco, Josey-Bass Publisher
Assessment on-line course, Cambridge. Assessment Network, April 2007. Course notes.
Giving students effective feedback, Keren Brigh
Inside the Black Box, Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam


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2007 2007 2007 2007

Speaking as a skill: Teaching the negotiation of meaning

Carlos Vásquez López
Universidad del Golfo, Campus Oaxaca
Peter Sayer
Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca

Introduction and rationale
As English as foreign language (EFL) teachers, we often search for ways to make our
classrooms more “communicative.” Although communicative language teaching (CLT)
includes developing the four skills, it especially includes trying to give our students more
practice with speaking. Being able to speak English well is the primary goal of many of our
students, and most prominent second language acquisition theories state that output and
interaction play an important role in L2 learning (Long, 1996; Swain, 1995).

There are a variety of activities and tasks that can supply opportunities for students to
practice speaking. However, too often they are simply that: an opportunity to practice, with
little directed guidance from the teacher about how to develop speaking as a skill (Sayer,
2005). Instead, role-plays, situational dialogues, and other sorts of speaking tasks are
undertaken with the vague aim of “promoting learner fluency.” For us, teaching speaking as a
skill involves direct, explicit instruction on strategies for successful oral communication.
Furthermore, we define speaking as a social activity involving two or more interlocutors
engaged in a negotiation of meaning.

With speaking as a skill and the negotiation of meaning as our premises, we designed an
action research project that followed a group of students during a semester-long course.
During the course, we implemented an intensive approach (Dornyei & Thurell, 1994) whose
objective was to raise students’ awareness of the discourse and conversational strategies that
we use during negotiation of meaning. One special feature of this course was the use of
transcripts of the students’ own speaking activities. These transcripts served not only as data
for the research, but also a didactic tool, so that students were examining speaking strategies
they had used successfully or unsuccessfully in the context of their own previously reading

Common approaches to teaching speaking
Teachers generally set activities which are supposed to develop student’s oral competency,
such as role-plays, repetitive drilling, or games. However, these activities often do not
actually help students’ competency. Students will many times learn the role-play by heart and
just act a conversation. In drills students just repeat utterances, and with games they
frequently practice a grammatical structure. Activities carried out this way, we would argue,
are not really practicing speaking, but they do not promote the negotiation of meaning.


On other occasions, for example on oral exams, the teacher just asks students some
questions which are always related to the grammar points they are working on at the moment.
Rather than focusing on meaning, the student must demonstrate accuracy, that is, the ability
to correct produce a given structure. The situation becomes then an interview in which the
student just answers the teacher’s questions without any negotiation of the conversation. In
this way with these activities students just “produce”; however, producing is not the same as

As EFL teachers, we have used these sorts of activities many times in the past, and were
never quite satisfied with the results that we got. When we really began to examine what
speaking entails and how we could help our students develop speaking skills that would help
in authentic communicative situations, we realized we needed to find a new approach.

The negotiation of meaning
When we interact in real conversations in any language, we do not worry too much about
accuracy, that is, using correct grammar aspects or pronunciation. Instead, our attention is
on what we say in the moment and on what our conversational partner is saying. Successful
communication is about collaboration between interlocutors to achieve on a mutual
understanding. This communicative collaborate is the negotiation of meaning. The
negotiation of meaning is the “engine” of communication since it motivates and propels
authentic interaction between interlocutors.

We negotiate meaning by employing a variety of conversational strategies. In English as in
any other language we have these strategies to communicate successfully, these strategies
that we called ‘negotiation or interaction’ strategies are the most important part of ‘negotiation
of meaning’ since they let us fix or repair problems in real communication, in this way we can
interact successfully. The objective of the project was to make students conscious about the
importance of these strategies and how we can use them in oral way.

The design of the action research project
This project was carried out by the first author (Carlos) in the Universidad del Golfo de México
in Oaxaca City. Although I also included some elements of the project with all the groups I
teach, my focal group was a licenciatura-level group of 19 students (12 women and 7 men)
who were in their second semester as business majors. The goal project of the project was to
investigate whether a direct approach to teaching speaking by focusing on the negotiation of
meaning through and awareness of and practice with negotiation strategies could yield
positive results.

The project consisted of several elements:
1. A pre-course speaking diagnostic consisting of a several communicative tasks done with
a partner.
2. Various communicative tasks done during the semester (a total of XXXX)
3. Direct instruction about the negotiation strategies (connected to the tasks in #2)
4. A post-course evaluation to compare with #1
5. Audio recording and transcripts of all students’ pre-, during, and post-course tasks.
6. Fieldnote observations taken while the students were performing the tasks.
7. A questionnaire at the end of the course for the students to evaluate the course and
their own progress.


For the research, #1-4 served as our data, and #5-7 served as a data collection instruments
and methods.

The tasks consisted of a variety of communicative tasks designed to promote the negotiation
of meaning. The types of tasks I used included information-gap, problem-solving, decision-
making and opinion exchange, done in pairs and small groups.

Speaking strategies
Besides the communicative tasks themselves, the other important element of the course was
the direct instruction about the speaking strategies. Some of these strategies we had
identified beforehand based on our review of the literature on speaking and discourse (Brown
& Yule, 1983 Cook, 1989; McCarty, 1991; Sayer, 2005). Other strategies we discovered
when we analyzed the transcripts of the students’ conversations. Because we transcribed the
tasks within a few days of recording them, we were able to analyze them and incorporate new
strategies we found into the course as it proceeded.

Clarification requests: We use clarification requests when the utterance has not been
understood or when the utterance is ill-formed in some way and a repetition or a
reformulation is required (Lyster and Ranta, 1997)

Useful expressions: Pardon? / Pardon me? / What? I don’t quite understand / Sorry, I don’t
understand. Can you repeat that please? / Can you repeat that more slowly please? / Can
you repeat that slower please? / What do you mean? What do you mean by that?/ What did
you say? / How do you spell it/ how do you spell that? / Can you explain me please?

When we use a clarification request, there are some options for the interlocutor who is
speaking to make him/herself understood, such as:
Repetition: to repeat the information given; it could be slower or louder.
Reformulation: to say the same information in different words, or in easier way.
Contextualize: to give the same information by putting the listener in a determined context.
Meta-linguistic help: to explain the same information by using the language we want to
Extra linguistic help: to use gestures, mimic, etc; in other words the body language.
Paralinguistic help: To make use of intonation for example.

Metalinguistic help
Extralinguistic help
Paralinguistic help
Clarification request


Comprehension checks (used by the speaker): We use a comprehension check when we
want to check that our message or information is being understood by the listener.
Useful expressions: Do you understand? / Do you know what I mean? / Do I make myself
clear? / Do I make myself understood? / Do you want me to explain? / Would you like me to
explain? /Is it clear? / Is that clear? /Does it make sense? /You got it? /Have you got that?

Extension or Expansion requests: Referential questions. Questions which request
information not known to the questioner. We can use Wh-questions depending on the
Useful Expressions: Why? / Where? / When? / What time? / Who? / How come?

When we use an expansion request, the interlocutor can use an expansion to give more
information to the listener.

Back channels –According to Van Lier (1988) back channels are turn lubricators which are
typically demonstrations of approval, attention and understanding. Their character is
supportive or neutral as regards the turn in hand and in that sense they may facilitate the
turn’s development (lubricate it) and may boost the duration and smoothness.
Useful expressions: short utterances which provide feedback to the speaker: uh-huh / aha /
yeah / I see / ok / right / that’s right / sure / got it / I got that / good / really?)

Confirmation requests – Positive or negative reply: these are used when we think we have
understood what has just been said and we want to confirm our hypothesis.
Useful expressions: Do you mean X? / so does that mean X? / so you are saying X / so what
you are saying is X? / let me see if I understand / let me see if I got your point or we can just
repeat the received information.

When one interlocutor makes a confirmation request, the other interlocutor can confirm or
disconfirm the information given.

When we confirm someone else’s hypothesis we can use expressions such as: right / that’s
right / that’s correct / you’re right / you got it / you got that / yeah / uhu. On the other hand
when we disconfirm the hypothesis we can use a clarification move such as: I didn’t mean
that, what I mean is X / I didn’t mean that what I mean by this is X / I didn’t say that what I’m
trying to say is X.

Hesitation device: Hesitation device is used to maintain the flow of the conversation; we
can use sentences or sounds.
Useful expressions: let me see / you know / well / let me think / so / mhh / ehh / ok / etc.

Other strategies were: requesting instruction, turn taking, interrupting (taking the floor),
clarification moves, giving clarification, and helping someone else.
Confirmation request
Expansion Expansion request


Examples from the speaking tasks: The transcripts help illustrate what some of the strategies
looked like when the students applied them in during their speaking tasks.
Excerpt 1: Shirley, Emmanuel and Justo are trying to choose a movie
1) S: would you like to go to the cinema?
2) J: yes (4 sec) I like + the movie+ the action+
3) S: what movie would you like to see? [laughs, speaking Spanish inaudible]+ eh?
4) E: I like +++ I like the movies ++ the [pointing at a movie 6 sec]
5) S: horror [helping E]
6) E: horror [pause 5 sec] I like movie ++ zodiac
7) J: zodiac? [speaking Spanish inaudible 8 sec]
8) S: ok + I don’t like horror movies +++ but+ I::::: +++
9) J: what? +
10) S: I want+ to see ++ norbit
11) E: norbit
12) S: it’s a ++ comedy movie +++ []

In this activity the teacher gave students the show times and they had to reach an agreement
and choose a movie, because they were going together to the cinema. In the excerpt, Shirley
in line 8 says that she does not like horror movies. Justo did not understand, and uses
“what?” in line 9 as a clarification request. It is interesting to note that Shirley avoids to some
extent the request and explains in other words that she wants to see the comedy movie called
Norbit. Although there are other expressions that would be less brusque and more socio-
linguistically appropriate, this is a clear example of a clarification request.
Excerpt 2: Noemí and Erika discuss how to spend lottery money they’ve won
1) E: mimi + I ++ I winners loteria [pause 3 sec] emmhh [2 sec] eehhmm
2) N: [helping E] I want
3) E: I ++ I want ++ to share
4) N: ~with you [speaking softly because she is helping E]
5) E: [laughing] I want to share ++ emmhh +++ in lottery?
6) N: ~with you [speaking softly]
7) E: with you? [pause 5 sec]
8) N: the money [coughing]
9) E: the /money?/
10) N: ok ++ mmhh (3 sec) you tell me +++ ahh that you + win the lottery
11) E: mmhh
12) N: how much + you win?
13) E: repeat?
14) N: how much you win?
15) E: eemmhh
16) N: the money + money
17) E: money + oohh [5 sec] laughing [4 sec] five
18) N: five pesos? [laughing]

In this activity students had to imagine that one of them had won $5,000 in the lottery and this
student wanted to share the money with his/her classmate. In this part of the extract on line
12 Noemi asks Erika how much money she had won, but Erika did not understand the
question and on line 13 Erika makes use of a clarification request (“repeat?”) and in line 14
Noemi repeats her question and says “how much you win?” In the next line Erika is hesitating
and it looks like she had not understood yet, Noemi realizes that and in line 16 she uses a
reformulation and says “the money + money.” Then Erika uses a recast which consists on
repeating the received information and finally understands what Noemi refers to and says that
she has five. Even though the students struggled to remember to use the “useful
expressions,” the excerpt shows that even for student with lower levels of proficiency, the
strategies helped them find ways to make their communication more effective by using
whatever linguistic resources they could to negotiate the meaning.


Results of the project
After the semester we gave students a questionnaire in order to know their opinion about the
project, most of them agreed that the strategies were very useful for them because they gain
in aspects such as pronunciation, vocabulary, fluency and self confidence mainly, they also
think the activities they did were very interesting and that Foreign English teachers should use
these activities and focus students’ attention on the use of these negotiation strategies more
frequently. Some students also accepted that although they felt nervous during the activities
in general their performance was better than it was at the beginning of the course.

Students did not always make use of these strategies, sometimes when they had a problem
in conversation they used Spanish or they just ignored it, and this happened because maybe
they thought the strategy was not necessary, or they just forgot it. In general students enjoyed
the activities and we could realize they felt more confident at the end, because with the
negotiation of meaning in these kinds of activities, students did not worry about preparing a
conversation, or practicing the grammar aspects in excess, etc. They just focused on the
meaning of the conversation and tried to communicate with each other, moreover, they
enjoyed the activities because they had the freedom to invent new words sometimes, they
could test new hypothesis and when they interacted in the classroom they learnt more from

The main conclusion we have reached is that as EFL teachers we have to be conscious that if
we focus our activities in negotiation of meaning and we give our students the tools they need
to interact instead of worrying about grammar aspects, accuracy or pronunciation, we will
have more natural practice in the classroom, students will be motivated and they will be ready
to transfer this knowledge to the real world in real conversations, also with the practice of
these activities, students will master the negotiation strategies and at the same time they will
have the opportunity to participate in real interaction.

Brown, G. and Yule, G. (1983). Teaching the Spoken Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cook, G. (1989). Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dornyei, Z. and Thurrell, S. (1994). Taeching conversational skills intensively: Course content and rationale.
English Language Teaching
Journal, 48(1): 40-49.
Long, M. (1996). The role of the linguistic environment in second language acquisition. In W.C. Ritchie and T.K.
Bhatia (Eds.), Handbook
of Second Language Acquisition (pp.413-468). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Lyster, R., & Ranta, L. (1997). Corrective feedback and learner uptake: Negotiation of form in communicative
classrooms. Studies in
Second Language Acquisition, 19, 37-66.
McCarthy, M. (1991). Discourse Analysis for Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sayer, P. (2005). An intensive approach to building conversation skills. English Language Teaching Journal,
59(1): 14-22.
Swain, M. (1995). Three functions of output in second language learning. In G. Cook and B. Seidlhofer (Eds.),
Principle and Practice in
Applied Linguistics (pp.125-144). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
van Lier, L. (1988). The classroom and the language learner: Ethnography and second-language classroom
research. London: Longman.


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2008 2008 2008 2008

Expansive reading: the text and beyond

Robert Hill
Black Cat Publishing / Vicens Vives

For designers of reading programs as well as for teachers choosing and teaching reading
material, the choice over the past couple of decades has usually been between intensive and
extensive approaches. The bipolar choices that these two approaches have traditionally
offered us can be summarized as follows:

Extensive reading

Intensive reading
The main aim is fluency. The main aim is accuracy.
Long texts, such as complete
books, stories and articles
Short texts, generally extracts
from longer texts
Quick, non-repetitive reading: no
Slower reading: there is often
No comprehension questions
after reading
Comprehension questions after
No study of lexical / structural
Often followed by activities on
Usually done outside class, alone Mostly done in class, with the

Particularly for materials designers, it would appear that the debate has very often centered
on the question of whether to present a text and follow it with comprehension tasks and
perhaps language tasks as well (intensive), or not (extensive).

In an approach which breaks out of the restraints of the intensive-extensive debate, activities
give space to the full variety of areas which the text itself suggests that we might want to
explore. In this approach, which I call ‘expansive reading’, the areas listed below can all be

Expansive reading

Naturally, the following two areas will be covered in an expansive reading approach:
Comprehension, as is the case in intensive reading (but extending comprehension to
include interpretation and evaluation as well as initial understanding of ‘surface
Language practice, as is not unusual in intensive reading (but aiming to provide
practice for all the language skills during the course of study of a longer reading text).


In addition, the following areas can all be explored through activities that surround the reading
text (the three marked with an asterisk* are developed further in this summary):
Biography of the author: her/his life and times
Cross-curricular connections*
Culture & intercultural awareness*
Project work (including using the Internet)
Practice for external certification

Cross-curricular connections: Over 35 terms are used around the world to refer to
teaching curriculum subjects in the foreign or second language (1). Two common terms are
CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning), used in European methodology, and CBI
(Content Based Instruction), used in American methodology. The emerging importance of
CLIL/CBI is attested by David Graddol’s research for the British Council, “Content and
Language Integrated Learning has emerged as a significant curriculum trend in Europe.
Similar approaches are now used, under different names, in many other countries.” (2)

Now, it is hardly possible to claim that occasional, or even regular, activities that connect with
historical, geographical, musical or whatever areas suggested by a reading text are full-blown
examples of CLIL or CBI, but they are certainly examples of a cross-curricular approach, and
it is worth pointing out that opportunities for cross-curricular connections crop up regularly
during the reading of fictional texts, particularly in the case of history and geography: fictional
works are always set in time and place, so history and geography are always areas to
explore. Is background information about the setting in time and place of a fictional work and
option or a necessity? In the following view, it is necessary, as is information explaining
cultural background:

“The judges in the advanced category would like to append a note on a problem with almost all the
books nominated this year and last. We regret the lack of support given to learners in understanding
the background and purpose of a book. Do editors suppose learners of all cultures are equally familiar
with varieties of background, place and time, and literary techniques found in fiction of their culture, let
alone of all other cultures? [] We urge series editors to see their task as that of ensuring that
learners understand as much as possible and enjoy all aspects of a story as they read it.” From the
citation for the 2005 Language Learner Literature Awards of the Extensive Reading Foundation, for
books published in 2004 (my underlining). (3)

The clear message from this statement is, therefore, that the two curriculum subjects of
history and geography should be brought into play in the provision of background information.

Culture and intercultural awareness: Just as a reading text naturally embeds history and
geography in its setting, so too does it embed all kinds of socioculturally specific and universal
references which the student might need help with and/or might benefit from reflecting on.

The Common European Framework of Reference states the importance of sociocultural
knowledge like this: “ knowledge of the society and culture of the community or communities in
which a language is spoken is of sufficient importance to the language learner to merit special
attention, especially since it is likely to lie outside the learner’s previous experience and may well
be distorted by stereotypes.” (CEFR: (4)


The CEFR then lists some examples of features characteristic of societies, just some of which
are listed below:
1. Everyday living, such as: food & drink; meal times; table manners; public holidays; working
hours and practices; leisure activities (such as hobbies, sports, reading habits, the media);
2. Living conditions, such as: living standards (with regional, class & ethnic variations);
housing conditions; welfare arrangements; etc.
3. Interpersonal relations, for example with respect to: class structure of society; relations
between sexes; family structures; relations between generations; relations in work
situations; relations between public and police, officials, etc.; race and community
relations; relations among political and religious groupings; etc.
4. Values, beliefs & attitudes, for example with respect to: social class; institutions; tradition
and social change; history (especially iconic people and events); minorities; national
identity; arts; religion; etc.
5. Body language (an example of sociocultural competence).
6. Social conventions, for example with respect to: hospitality; punctuality; behavioral
conventions and taboos; humor; etc.
7. Ritual behavior in such areas as: birth, marriage, death; audience and spectator activity at
performances; celebrations, festivals, dances, discos, etc.

It is my contention that it is usually not sufficient to leave cultural references simply embedded
in a text, but that more often than not it is desirable and worthwhile to focus attention on them
in activities which both explain cultural phenomena and their causes and encourage
comparison between the ‘world of origin’ and the ‘world of the target community’. Awareness
and understanding of the similarities and differences between these two ‘worlds’ facilitates
reflection on the learner’s own culture from a refreshed point of view and stimulates
intercultural awareness.


Intertextuality was introduced into literary theory in the late 1960s by Julia Kristeva (6). Since
then, it has been used in many ways. It can refer to deliberate allusions to a previous text by
an author, or to a reader’s own references to other texts while reading the text in question.
According to this latter use of ‘intertextuality’, every text is informed by other texts which the
reader has read, and the reader's own cultural context.

Intertextuality is one of the connection-making strategies which have become standard in
American TESOL reading comprehension methodology (7). Three kinds are commonly
Text-to-Self Connection: readers make personal connections with events or
characters in the text; people they know, things they have done, places they have
been, experiences they have had, etc.
Text-to-Text Connection: readers connect events, characters or plot in the text with
other texts: fiction, and other genres such as films, musicals, poetry, songs, drama,
artworks, etc. This can be considered as intertextuality.
Text-to-World Connection: readers connect events, characters or themes in the text
with real-life events, people or issues. As Ezra Pound wrote, “Literature is news that
stays news.”(7)


Encouraging student readers to make these connections is clearly useful for educational
aims. Their usefulness as the basis of language activities lies in the fact that they
automatically provide something - and almost always something motivating - to talk and/or
write about.

The worksheet attached as an annex at the end of this summary, to do after reading Romeo
and Juliet (in a full, abridged or adapted version – it doesn’t matter), is one example of a
procedure to raise awareness of both intertextuality and intercultural awareness. Charts such
as this, which encourage students to make comparisons and also identify differences, might
also be considered as valid training towards the development of what Howard Gardner calls
the ‘synthesizing mind’, which "takes information from disparate sources . . . and puts it
together in ways that make sense to the synthesizer and also other persons" (8).

In the chart in question, texts for comparison can be dramatic or not (e.g. novels, poems,
films, etc.), and fictional or not (from real life, newspaper articles, etc.). It will become clear,
for example, why the film Titanic was so successful: it follows so closely the plot of Romeo
and Juliet that even the span of the love affair is the same – three days! But Shakespeare’s
originality also emerges: it is very rare in fiction for a woman to dare to declare her love first.
Other crucial differences emerge, too: Romeo and Juliet is the kind of tragic love story where
both lovers die (such as Francesca da Rimini and her lover Paolo in Dante’s Purgatorio,
Tristan and Isolde, etc.), which is different from the kind of tragic love story where one lover
dies, so leaving the other to mourn the rest of his/her life (as is the case in Titanic, Love Story
and Wuthering Heights, etc.). Speaking practice is guaranteed by the invitation to choose
the most important elements of a tragic love story and discuss one’s reasons, and perhaps
even engage in a pyramid discussion to arrive at a class decision. For speaking practice to
take place, one must have something to talk about, and opinions about stories offer a rich
source of things to talk about.


Great Love Stories
In the left-hand column there is a list, a-h, of elements of great love stories. In column 1 you
can see that Romeo and Juliet has all of these elements.

Work in pairs or groups. What do you know about other great love stories? Choose one
classic love story from the past (perhaps from your own culture) and one contemporary love
story (perhaps a film, or even a true story). Write the titles (or the lovers’ names) at the tops of
columns 2 and 3.
Now complete columns 2 and 3 with yes or no, to show whether the stories have the
elements a-h or not.

Elements of great love stories 1. Romeo
and Juliet
2. 3. 4.
a. The story ends with the death of one or both of the lovers. Yes

b. One or both of the lovers falls in love at first sight, or in a very short
c. Their love is ‘impossible’: it must stay a secret. Yes
(the feud)

d. The lovers are very young and good-looking. Yes
e. The lovers have a very short period of happiness before something
terrible happens.
(a few days)

f. One of the lovers has had a previous experience of love which was
not satisfactory.

g. The woman says she is in love first.

h. Most of the lovers’ meetings take place in secret. Yes

1. Which of the a to h elements are most important in tragic love stories? Number them
from 1 (the most important) to 8 (the least important) in column 4. Compare your ideas
in class.
2. Why do you think Romeo and Juliet has become the most famous love story in the
Western world, the classic love story?

1) The many terms for CLIL/CBI are listed by Robert Dickey at
2) English Next, David Graddol, British Council, 2006. It is also downloadable from
3) The Extensive Reading Foundation website is
4) The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment, Council
of Europe, Cambridge University Press, 2001. The English CEFR is downloadable from
5) Semiotikè: recherches pour une sémanalyse, Julia Kristeva, Seuil, 1969.
6) A celebrated example is Mosaic of Thought, Ellin Oliver Keene & Susan Zimmermann, Heinemann, 2007.
7) ABC of Reading, Ezra Pound, chapter 2.
8) Five Minds for the Future, Howard Gardner, Harvard Business School Press, 2007. For further information
and a review on Gardner’s website go to


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Connectivism – Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) for 21st century teachers

Frank Stonehouse
Instituto Angloamericano, Morelia

A teacher’s greatest resource is another teacher. But, yet, so many educators are not
optimally "connected." In this academic workshop teachers are encouraged to bring or share
an internet-ready laptop, as they will begin to create their online Personal Learning Networks
(PLNs). With limited travel and training budgets, isolated geographic regions, globalization,
and increasing uses of technology for business and academic purposes; connectivism is key
to 21st century success.

Connectivism, or networked learning, is a learning theory for the digital age. Connective
knowledge is knowledge that could be described as distributed, because it is spread across
more than one entity (Siemens). George Siemens is a well-known theorist on the changing
nature of learning in a digitally-based society. He is the author of a widely cited article
Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age and the book Knowing Knowledge - an
exploration of the impact of the changed context and characteristics of knowledge. Born in
Mexico and currently living and working in Canada, Siemens is the Associate Director in the
Learning Technologies Centre at the University of Manitoba.

In the table below, Siemens indicates how prominent learning theories differ from


A property of one entity must lead to or become a property of another entity in order for them
to be considered connected; the knowledge that results from such connections is connective
knowledge. Collaboration and collective intelligence, knowledge embedded in societies or
large groups of people, are drivers for this connectivism. In this academic workshop
participants will begin to explore and set up their PLNs. And, they will leave the convention
continuously connected with each other and EFL teachers and other educators around the
world. Participants will compare and contrast the typical teacher network with connected
teacher networks (see images below, Couros 2007), explore microblogging and blogging, join
and begin participating in online social and professional networks, learn how to harness the
power of information syndication via RSS (Really Simple Syndication) readers, begin sharing
bookmarks and photos, and more. Of course the ultimate goal beyond getting connected is
facilitating the connectivity of our students. First step: get connected yourself (before you
facilitate other educators and students getting connected) Participants will not only explore
the underlying conceptual and pedagogical implications of connectivism; they will also get
connected for life. This may be the greatest gift that they can give to themselves in their
professional careers. And also serve as the greatest gift for their students, as they will bring
fresh, creative, new ideas and activities into their classrooms that meet the interests and
needs of today's 21st century learners.

Web 2.0 Tools to be introduced and explored during the workshop include:

Microblogs- for recording short thoughts or questions, generally up to 140 characters in
length, such as: Twitter ( and Plurk (

Social Networks – for communities that share a common interest (ie. teachers, artists,
stamp collectors, etc.). These networks typically include discussion forums, member
blogs, image and video sharing, news items, and the like; such as: Mexico English
Teachers’ Alliance, META ( and Classroom 2.0


Social Bookmarks – for exchanging browser bookmarks from FireFox, Internet Explorer,
Opera, Safari, and other browsers within a network, such as: (
and Diigo (

Virtual Worlds – for exploring professional development resources and learning
experiences in 3D computer-generated environments, such as: Second Life
( and Lively (

Social Photo/Video/Live Broadcast Sharing – for sharing images, videos, slideshows, and
live broadcasts of events, such as: Flickr (, Slideshare
(, YouTube (, Ustream TV (,
Mogulus (

Chat/Video Conferencing – for online meetings
and educational dialogues, such as: Skype

Document Sharing – for collaborating with text
documents, spreadsheets, presentations and
more, such as: Google Docs

Blogs - for recording personal reflective
thoughts (or commenting on another person’s
blog). There are many free blog services
available such as:
( Ex. The 21st Century
Teacher Blog (,
Blogger (,
Wordpress (

Wikis – for collaborative content creation, such as: Wikispaces –
( Ex. K12 Online (, PBwiki –

RSS (Realy Simple Syndication) Readers and Aggregators - for subscribing to timely
updates from favored websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place, such
as: Google Reader (, Netvibes (,
PageFlakes (, iGoogle (


George Siemens, University of Manitoba, 2006
Dr. Alec Couros, University of Regina, 2007


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Using multigenre projects in the T/ESOL classroom

Dr. Alfredo Urzúa B.
Department of Languages and Linguistics
University of Texas at El Paso

The use of a multigenre approach to develop writing and research skills has become
increasingly popular in a wide range of educational settings. Whether the task involves
investigating animal communication in an elementary school curriculum or exploring the role
of English as an international language in a college-level writing class, the techniques that
lead to the creation of a multigenre research project have proven useful, effective, and
motivating. In this summary, the basic features of a multigenre project are described. In
addition, I illustrate how I have used this approach in TESOL methodology courses and offer
suggestions for adapting them to ESOL classrooms.

What is a multigenre project?
The idea of teaching writing using a multigenre approach is attributed to Tom Romano, now a
teacher educator at Miami University. In his book Writing with Passion (1995), he describes
how he guided high school students to develop texts in various genres and integrate them
into one coherent paper or project. In essence, in a mutigenre research project, each of the
texts (using the term in its broadest sense) included in the project is structured according to
the conventions of distinct genres (e.g., stories, letters, ads, poems), and each text is
expected to reveal a particular aspect or facet of the topic selected (Allen, 2001).

In general, Romano has characterized this type of projects as a series of tasks that demand
the use of research skills, personal experience, and imagination. In his book Blending Genre,
Altering Style: Writing Multigenre Papers (2000), Romano emphasizes that each piece in the
multigenre paper should not only be self-contained and express a particular message of its
own, but that it is equally important that the various pieces be connected, whether by
language, images, or content. The trick, he adds, “is to make such a paper hand together” (x-
xi), even though it comprises multiple voices (sources) and modes of communication (printed,
visual, aural-oral, or multi-modal).

Why use a multigenre approach?
Multigenre projects can be implemented in a wide diversity of educational settings in part
because they can be adapted to local needs (e.g., students’ competencies and skills,
interests, resources and materials available), but also because they can be easily integrated
to other content areas. In addition, this pedagogical approach encourages both task-based
and autonomous learning. More importantly, by using a multigenre approach, instructors can
guide students into exploring themes and topics adopting specific viewpoints according to
each genre: classified ads, songs, interviews, newspaper editorials, photo-stories, podcasts,
obituaries, etc. By developing multiple texts, students have the opportunity to position


themselves in distinct rhetorical spaces to communicate their thoughts and ideas. This
approach helps students to create a series of texts that are thematically connected but which
are very distinct in terms of their textual characteristics, which not only facilitates groups
discussions related to audience, text structure, word choice, and rhetorical styles, but also
encourages students’ creativity and reflection.

Can this approach be implemented in T/ESOL classrooms?
Even though the use of the multigenre approach originated in L1 instructional settings,
especially in writing classrooms, it has slowly made its way into second language teaching
and learning. Personally, I have found that a multigenre research project is very well suited
to teacher training and teacher education courses. First, because teaching methodology
courses typically include students with varying degrees of teaching experience, content
knowledge, research skills, and familiarity with traditional academic conventions. Secondly,
because I believe that methodology courses should model the type of collaborative, task-
based, student-centered activities that we would like to see teachers implementing in their
own classrooms. And yet another reason is that many students seldom have the opportunity
to use their creativity and imagination in their academic endeavors.

In the following section, as way of example, I introduce a project developed by a student in
one of my TESOL Methodology courses in order to illustrate a TESOL multigenre project.
Even though I can only include here shorts excerpts from the original texts, I think they can
give the reader at least of glimpse of the overall project and the range of possibilities that a
multigenre project generates.

Project: Native vs. non-native English-speaking teachers
Claudia chose to investigate the topic of native speaker status among language teachers.
She had been a teacher of French as a second language in the US for many years. Despite
her years of experience in this field, she shared with our class that she had always had
reservations about whether or not she could be as effective in her job as a native speaking
teacher of French. In part, this was the reason why she was taking TESOL courses. If she
could teach English, she reasoned, she wouldn’t have to worry about not being a native
speaker. Of course, the topic sparked interest among her classmates, especially because
several of them were not native speakers of English themselves. I suggested that she could
choose this topic for her multi-genre project.

The texts that Claudia developed for her project included a power-point presentation
summarizing information from the growing literature on native vs. non-native language
teachers, a ‘Desiderata for the Non-English Speaker Teacher’ inspired by the famous poem
by Max Ehrmann, a letter to a colleague who is doubting her teaching abilities as a non-
native- speaking teacher, and a standard review of one the books she consulted for her
project. Because of space constraints, only excerpts from each original text are included
here. The two stanzas in text A come from the middle of the text. For texts B and C, I have
selected the first paragraph and another (non-consecutive) paragraph from the body of the


Excerpt from ‘Desiderata for the Nonnative English Speaking Teacher’ (by Claudia T.)

Excerpts from ‘Letter to a Colleague’ (by Claudia T.)

Dear Monique,
I am writing to you because of a doctoral dissertation I am reading that I thought might interest you.
You know how you have often thought of leaving the language teaching profession because you thought
your students would be better served by having a native-speaking English teacher. Well, the author of
this work, Ahmar Mahboob, states that while studies show that administrators prefer hiring native
speakers since they perceive that students prefer native speaking English teachers to non-native
speaking English teachers, ESL students may not in fact have that preference. He attempted to prove his
thesis by surveying 32 intermediate to advanced level, ESL students from diverse linguistic backgrounds
who were enrolled in an intensive English language program at a large Midwestern university.

It may surprise you to hear that while, overall, ESL students had 29 positive comments and 12 negative
ones for native-speaking teachers, they gave a whopping 63 positive comments and only 6 negative ones
to non-native speaking instructors. Although the study showed that non-native teachers were viewed,
on the whole, in a more positive light by their students, it also indicated that the distribution of
perceived strengths for the two groups of teachers was complementary.

Excerpts from ‘Book Review’ (by Claudia T.)

Published by the University of Michigan in 2004, Learning and Teaching from Experience explores a
variety of views on non-native English speaking instructors who teach ESL or EFL in universities,
community colleges, and adult education classes as well as in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Lia
Kamhi-Stein, Associate Professor and chair of the Master’s in TESOL Program at California State
University in Los Angeles, edits this first volume of work completed by the founding members of the
caucus for nonnative English-speakers in TESOL.

Learning and Teaching from Experience presents research to support that students do not necessarily
prefer native speaking teachers to nonnative ones. Including writings from both native and nonnative
English speaking professionals, this well-organized informative volume consists of sixteen chapters
divided into four sections focusing on the theoretical underpinnings, research, teacher preparation and
classroom applications that are specific to issues facing nonnative English speaking professionals. For
me, each section has its highlights. From the theoretical underpinnings section, I particularly enjoyed
reading the confessions of a nonnative English-speaking professional, two personal narratives describing
his professional development process.
Avoid feelings of inadequacy and guilt,
They are hurtful to the spirit.
If you compare your speaking ability with that of a native,
You may become vain or bitter;
For always there will be more or less proficient speakers of English than
Enjoy your subject as well as your students.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
It is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise patience with your students,
Remembering your own personal struggle with language learning.
Believe in them and expect them to strive for high ideals,
Never underestimating the power of the human spirit.


As can be seen in these short excerpts, each text is composed according to the rhetorical
conventions of the corresponding genre. And while they all discuss the same topic, each
offer new information and conveys a specific message about it. Of course, other projects I
had received from students include visual (posters, collages, photo-stories) and oral texts
(podcasts, songs), as well as multi-modal texts.

At present, I am planning to include a multigenre research project in an EAP class I am
teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso. The course aims to develop basic academic
research skills among English language learners, mostly Spanish-speaking students from
Mexico. Given that this is a bridge course between integrated, four-skills courses and the
more advanced, research-focused, writing courses, the classes typically include students who
are still unfamiliar with the textual and rhetorical conventions of academic texts. Even though
our main goal is to help students to write “traditional” school papers, a multigenre approach
can be a good way to help students move from creating texts they are more familiar with
(songs, letters, diaries, short stories) to more academic types.

One textbook I have found very useful in designing a project for my class is Melinda Putz’
(2006) The multi-genre project, which includes not only suggestions and recommendations on
how to conduct the project, but also model assignment instructions, grading rubrics, student
peer evaluation forms, and multiple examples from student projects. I encourage your, the
reader, to learn more about his approach (see references listed below) and to adopt it as part
of your methodological repertoire.


Allen, C. (2001). The multigenre research paper: Voice, passion, and discovery in grades 4-6. Portsmouth, NH:
Putz, M. (2006). A teacher’s guide to the multigenre research project: Everything you need to get started.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Romano, T. (1995). Writing with passion: Life stories, multiple genres. Portsmouth, NH:
Romano, T. (2000). Blending genre, altering style: Writing multigenre papers. Boynton/Cook.

To learn more about multigenre research projects:

Edgington, B.M. (2001). Writing and grammar communication in action: The multigenre research project. Upper
Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
- Multigenre writing (
- Exploring genres (
- Your multigenre web (


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Talking learners into learning

Rosa María Funderburk Razo
Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo

‘a learner’s actual achievement is never just a reflection of that individual’s inherent ability,
but is also a measure of the effectiveness of the communication between a teacher and a
learner. ’ Vygotsky ( in Mercer, 1995)

Being language the tool by which thought and knowledge is built upon through social
interaction, the how and when this tool – language – is used by teachers in the classroom,
cannot be dismissed or taken for granted. The creation of interpersonal and collaborative
spaces through the use of language by both teachers and learners – the expert and the
apprentice – does not belong to one approach or methodology; it is inherent to our human
nature and must be brought back into the language classroom. Teachers need to be aware of
the power behind their choice for words at the different points and stages throughout the
learning process and of the multi-circumstantial discourse nature of the classroom. The
principal question then remains as to how teachers should talk to their learners to promote
thinking and learning.

Thinking about our Teacher Talk
The following groups of words make up two famous quotations. Try and see if you can work
out what each of the quotations says.

make them think
I cannot teach
I can only

What does the
quotation say?
something to take home
I like a teacher
besides homework

What does the
quotation say?


Read the two quotations below (which the previous two puzzles correspond to) and stop a
couple of seconds to think about what they mean. Then try to connect them with teachers with
whom you studied a foreign language or any other subject. What did these teachers do that
you think is reflected in the quotations?

He who is free of faulty questioning techniques, throw the first stone
‘Teachers in schools and other educational institutions use language to pursue their
professional aims and goals.’ Mercer (1995; 25)

As pointed out by Long (1983), the fact that language is ‘both the vehicle and object of
instruction’ in the L2 classroom –FL classroom—, dictates that this, said of L2—or in this case
FL—, becomes the object, goal and focus of instruction; the process and product
(Seedhouse, 2004). This can explain the nature of our Teacher Talk when teaching a
language as a second or foreign language and the particular features of this motherese talk
(which this paper does not deal with) as well as some of the peculiarities of the types of
teacher – student interaction which predominate in EFL and ESL classrooms. Let us look at
the following excerpt from a real English class,

T: What does your father do?
S1: Teacher
T: He’s a teacher. Good. What does your father do? (looking at
another student)
S2: My father dead.
T: Good, and what about your father? (pointing to someone else).*

* Transcript from a real teacher-learner interaction. Thompson G. 1997:104

What do you think happened? What do you think of the teacher’s reply to the student whose
father passed away? What could the possible reasons for such a response be? We have said
that teacher talk (especially that found in foreign language classrooms) observes certain
features which would ideally help learners acquire new knowledge.

Let us go back to the excerpt above. What kind of Teacher – student interaction can you
identify? The initiation-response-feedback exchange- all too familiar to teachers and learners-
has been and continues to be in many places, the dominating pattern for teacher-learner
interaction( Van Lier in Candlin and Mercer ,2001;94-95) . The format itself does get a
number of things done yet in a very mechanical way and with a marked control on the amount
of speech produced by the learners; as well as the content of such output. ‘The central
feature of IRF is that the teacher is unequivocally in charge... it discourages student initiation
and student repair work.’(Van Lier, op cit). However, the format can ‘move beyond mere
recitation and display’ and be regarded as a way of scaffolding instruction.’(Van Lier, op cit).
“I cannot teach anybody anything; I can only make them think.” Socrates
“I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.”
Lily Tomlin


Go back to the extract once more. What kinds of questions predominate? Should this teacher
be judged over using these kinds of questions? Why or why not? Think twice as you read and
think about the following questions:
1) What drove the teacher’s choice for this specific type of questions?
2) What was the teacher’s goal?
3) Do you think the teacher’s choice of questions served in achieving this goal?

Asking Questions
‘Questioning generates the kind of talk and communication which can lead to learning;
questioning reveals to the teacher the readiness of students to take control; and questioning
(by both student and teacher) establishes the cultural nature of the classroom. And it is the
nature of the discourse which dictates the quality of the learning.’ Morgan and Saxton

Teachers have often been criticized for relying too much on questions designed just to elicit
“the right answer” (which may fit the case of the transcript above). The view of a teacher
leading classroom interaction by series of questions to which he or she knows the answer
may be only partially true. But teachers do not simply make enquiries to assess their pupils’
learning, but also to guide their activity as well as the process of collective knowledge
construction. It may be that the issue on the kind of questions teachers should ask in order to
achieve these goals should be the guidelines as we reflect on which questioning techniques
we implement and how we go about doing this. This reflection must be guided by an honest
reflection on what it is we do when we question our students. As Musumeci (1996: 314)
suggests: ‘teachers . . . speak more, more often, control the topic of conversation, rarely ask
questions for which they do not have answers, and appear to understand absolutely
everything the students say, sometimes before they even say it!’. It is only appropriate then to
look into our practice and more specifically, in this case, into the types of questions that

So...what kind of questions?
Richards and Lockhart (1996) identify the following types of questions:
Procedural questions (related with classroom procedures and routines; classroom

Not procedural questions (intended to help the learners master the content of a lesson)
a. Convergent questions (encourage similar students responses)
Short statement answers (often used to : help develop aural skills and
vocabulary and to encourage whole class participation before moving on to
some other teaching technique)
b. Divergent questions (not short answer/ require students to engage in higher level

Other authors, such as Ellis (1994), present a variation of such classifications. Read the
following table and check the similarities and differences with those of Richards and Lockhart


Type Sub-category Example
1. Echoic

2. Epistemic: of, relating to, or
involving knowledge; cognitive
a. comprehension checks

b clarification requests

c confirmation checks

a referential

b display

c expressive

d rhetorical
All right? Does everyone understand polite?

What do you mean? I don’t understand. What ?

S: Carefully
T: Carefully?
Did you say ‘he’?

Why didn’t you do your homerwork? ( teacher does not know the
answer )

What is the opposite of ‘up’ in English?

It’s interesting the different pronunciations we have now, but isn’t

Why did I do that? Because..

A taxonomy of the functions of teachers’ questions ( in Ellis, 1994 ; adapted from Long and Sato,1983;based on Kearsly, 1976).

Research in this area, shows mainly that teachers ask a staggering number of questions and
that such questions are far often from those had in natural conversation (Long and Sato,
1983). It also shows that the specific choice for one or other type of questions has an impact
on the learners’ response ( at a cognitive level) and that different questions promote different
output ( Koivukari, 1987).On this same aspect, other authors, such as Brock (1986), find that
learner output is different when confronted with display and referential questions. The type of
interaction between teachers and learners is also affected by the predominant types of
questions, and teachers who are specifically trained on this aspect of their practice do find the
job more satisfying and perceive more successful students (Thompson, 1997).

Some facts about

How much time is spent asking questions?
Research suggests that questioning is one of the most common techniques used by teachers. In some
classrooms over half of class time is taken up with question and answer exchanges (Gall , 1984 in Richards and
Lockhart :99)

How many questions does a teacher ask?
522 questions of various types in three hours of language-content teaching (Johnston 1990)
938 questions in elementary level ESL lessons ( Sato, 1983)

One must remember that it may happen that learners need cueing while being elicited for
information in which case teachers can ask questions. The success for cued elicitation
(Mercer, 1995; 26-27) lies in the kind of questions a teacher might ask. Mercer does not refer
to typical class management questions, but to questions related to knowledge being sought.
The process may seem to follow the IRF model in the sense that it is teacher initiated, and
that there will be ‘expected’ answers by learners as the process evolves, yet the last move (F)
may not necessarily serve evaluation purposes, but rather guide the learners in directions to
enable the co-construction of knowledge.


Other risks of the questioning trade...
There are other aspects that must be taken into account. One that is surely controversial is
that of wait time. How long do we usually wait for a student to answer a question? One
second? Two seconds? That is, before moving to another student or worse even, answering
the questions ourselves? Teachers often use a very short wait time, but its increase (from one
to three or five seconds), directly increases student participation as well as the quality of that
participation (Long et al in Richards and Lockhart, 1996), allowing students to use their own
English. This yet helps us reflect on the complexity of the teacher-student dialogue which
takes place every day in millions of EFL classrooms.

Let us try this last quotation:
‘I cannot make anybody think anything, I can only teach them?’ Whocares

Teacher Talk and in this case, teachers’ questioning techniques must facilitate learning and
make knowledge available to students. We cannot learn for them but we can indeed build
those paths where they will learn by and for themselves. This ,said of questioning, is an
invaluable tool for learning but it requires that a number of conditions be fulfilled in order to
help us help our learners be successful: 1)If our questioning promotes thinking and is
conducive to thinking as well as fostering reflection hence facilitating learning ; 2)If we can
distinguish when to use one type of question or the other and start planning what kind of
questions fit our purposes, and 3) If we can find appropriate times for using referential
questions to promote thinking and allow our learners to use their own language – even for
beginners-. If this is the case, then let ustalk away!!!


Brock, C. 1986. ‘The effects of referential questions on ESL classroom discourse’. TESOL Quarterly 20:47-57
Ellis R. 1994. Second language acquisition research and teacher development: the case of teachers’ questions.
Exploring second language teacher development. David C. S. and D. Mahoney and J.C. Richards ( eds.) Hong
Kong: City Politecnia of Hong Kong
Koivukari, A. 1987. ‘Question level and cognitive processing: Psycholinguistic dimensions of questions and
answers’. Applied Psycholinguistics 8:101-120
Long, M. 1983. Inside the ‘black box’. In H. Seliger and M. Long (eds.) Classroom oriented research in second
language acquisition Rowley MA: Newbury House pp 3-36
Long M and C. Sato 1983. Classroom foreigner talk discourse:forms and functions of teachers’ questions in
Seliger and Long (eds) 1983
Mercer,,N. 1995. ‘The Guided Construction of Knowledge: Talk Amongst Teachers and Learners ’ Clevendon:
Multilingual Matters
Morgan, N and Saxton J. 1994 Asking better questions: Models,techniques and classroom activities for
engaging students in learning Ontario: Pembroke Publishers Limited :77
Musumeci, D. 1996. Teacher-Learner Negotiation in Content-Based Instruction: Communication at Cross-
Purposes? Applied Linguistics 17(3):286-325
Richards, J.C. and Lockhart C. 1996. Reflective Teaching in Second Language Classrooms. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Seedhouse, P. 2004. The interactional architecture of the language classroom: A conversation analysis
perspective. Oxford: Blackwell
Thompson G. 1997. Training teachers to ask questions. ELT 51/2 99-105
Van Lier, L 2001 Constraints and Resources in Classroom Talk : Issues of Equality and Symmetry in English
Language Teaching in its Social Context: A Reader Candlin and Mercer (eds) London: Routledge pp 90-107


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A Post-CLT Theoretical Framework

Holly Wilson
Alliant International University
San Diego, California, USA

Krashen’s (1982) Monitor Theory, which provides the theoretical framework for CLT, has
been the leading model for language pedagogy for the last twenty-five years. However, the
Monitor Theory has been challenged by researchers who have proposed a new set of
hypotheses to account for SLA. As a result, the “Post-CLT” Era is characterized by a re-
evaluation the Monitor Theory and CLT. This paper discusses how these new hypotheses
dispute assumptions of the Monitor Theory, how they can be incorporated into a new
theoretical framework for second language pedagogy, and what this implies for modern
language pedagogy.

Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) has been on the forefront of second language
methodology for more than two decades. It developed as a result of the “Communicative
Revolution”, sparked by the failure of Grammar-Translation and Audiolingualism to produce
fluent speakers of non-native languages. Krashen’s (1982) Monitor Theory was the credo of
the revolution, providing the theoretical framework for CLT (Wilson, 2007). The Monitor
Theory was intuitively appealing because it explained many of the factors that inhibited L2
learners from achieving native-like competency, and it was supported by the second language
acquisition (SLA) research of its day. This new curriculum that it supported was dynamic,
interactive and encouraged students to use their L2 for real communication.

The Monitor Theory is a unified model that consists of five hypotheses, each of which
accounts for a specific component of the SLA process (Krashen, 1982). In addition, their
interrelatedness forms a cohesive framework for SLA. Nevertheless, while Krashen’s Monitor
Theory is arguably the most influential theory in L2 pedagogy, it has also met much criticism.
For instance, Swain (1985) showed that while comprehensible input promotes fluency, it does
not promote accuracy to the same level. Other researchers who have challenged Krashen’s
concepts include Long, Schmidt, and Bialystok. As a result, SLA theory and language
pedagogy has entered the “Post-CLT” era, characterized by a new set of hypotheses that re-
evaluate the Monitor Theory. This paper discusses how seven alternative hypotheses retain,
modify and reject concepts from the Monitor Theory, and their implications for language
pedagogy in the Post-CLT Era.

The Revised Input Hypothesis
Krashen’s (1982) Input Hypothesis proposes that processing comprehensible input is all that
is necessary for language acquisition to occur, and that speaking emerges naturally from
processing input. The Revised Input Hypothesis (Wilson, 2007) proposes an alternative role
for input processing by claiming that input is not the only type of language processing
necessary for language acquisition to occur, but rather, the first step in the process. Input


processing allows learners to form their initial hypotheses about structures, causing the
restructuring of L2 competence by incorporating this new information into the existing
representation of L2 in long-term memory. However, unlike Krashen’s Input Hypothesis, this
restructuring does not automatically lead to acquisition, as demonstrated by Swain’s (1985)
English speaking French students who did not reach high levels of accuracy despite being
exposed a comprehensible input-rich environment for many years. Instead, the production of
output is seen as the second and more essential step which must occur for language
acquisition to take place.

The Output Hypothesis
Swain’s (1985, 1998) Output Hypothesis ascribes a much greater role to output than input.
For one, it allows language structures to become proceduralized. This notion is supported by
Anderson’s ACT Model, which proposes three stages to skill acquisition (De Keyser, 1998).
The first is the development of declarative knowledge (also call explicit knowledge), when the
learner acquires information consciously about the skill. During the second stage, declarative
knowledge is proceduralized by practice, which involves mentally accessing the necessary
pieces of information, ordering them, and then performing them. This stage is at first slow and
labored, contains errors, and requires conscious thought. Finally, through repeated practice,
the learner reaches the level of automaticity, in which the skill may be performed smoothly
and efficiently without conscious thought, that is, by accessing implicit knowledge.

In language acquisition, declarative knowledge is information learned in the classroom about
language structures and how to use them. Opportunities for proceduralization are provided
when the teacher engages students in production activities, such as answering questions and
expressing their opinions. Automaticity is achieved if students are given repeated
opportunities to produce the same structures until they do not have to consciously think about
using them. Evidence that processing input does not automatically lead to the production of
output comes from studies that have demonstrated that they are separate skills (e.g.,
DeKeyser & Sokalski, 2001). That is, structures practiced in input processing improve
listening skills, but do not improve speaking skills; only practicing output production improves
speaking skills. Another role of producing output is that it focuses the learner on forms.
According to Swain (1985), processing input allows for focus on semantics, but not syntax,
because a knowledge of syntax is as not necessary for comprehension. However, having to
produce language means that the learner must also focus on syntax in order to assemble
linguistic components. Therefore, the processing of input works more to facilitate the
acquisition of meaning, and producing output, the acquisition of form.

Producing output also allows learners to test the hypotheses that they have developed from
processing input. When learners are faced with the need to communicate, they draw on
whatever forms they have in their L2 competence, and try out forms they only have guesses
about (Swain, 1998). This pushed output occurs when the learner needs to produce output
that goes beyond the limits of their current L2 competence, (Ellis, 2002a), and can be
characterized as “o + 1”, by analogy to Krashen’s (1982) “i + 1”. Similar to Krashen’s concept
that processing comprehensible input slightly above the current level of the learner moves the
acquisition process forward, the Output Hypothesis proposes that the production of output
slightly beyond the current level of the learner is even more crucial to driving the acquisition


The Noticing Hypothesis
The Noticing Hypothesis (Schmidt, 1990) challenges Krashen’s assumption that only the
unconscious processing of language information leads to acquisition, especially for older
learners (Ellis, 2008). Noticing is defined as the mental registering of an event (Schmidt). In
language acquisition, it refers to the conscious awareness of forms. Evidence for noticing is
demonstrated when learners can verbalize the experience of becoming aware of structures,
and can describe their structures (Swain, 1998). According to the Noticing Hypothesis,
noticing is crucial to language acquisition because it allows input to become intake when
information from working memory is transferred to short-term memory as a result of additional
processing (Doughty & Williams, 1998). This intake, then, has the potential of being
transferred into long-term memory where it can restructure L2 competence (De Keyser, 1998;
Doughty & Williams).

According to this point of view, it is not sufficient to only process input because learners might
not notice the structures it contains, especially since they are focused more on meaning than
form. This explains Swain’s (1985) observations that French immersion students who
experienced an input-rich immersion curriculum still made many grammatical errors after
reaching a high level of fluency. The Noticing Hypothesis also contradicts Krashen’s (1982)
Affective Filter Hypothesis because it proposes a distinct process for transforming input into
intake (i.e., by being noticed rather than by a low affective filter).

Besides noticing during input processing, there are two other ways in which noticing can
facilitate language acquisition. Noticing a hole occurs when a language learner tries to
express an idea and finds that they do not have the language to express it (Swain, 1998).
Noticing this deficit in their L2 competence, the active learner seeks to fill the hole by
consulting an “expert”. This can include asking a teacher or classmate how to say something,
or looking up information in a dictionary or grammar book. If the hole is filled, it results in the
restructuring of their L2 competence to include this new information. Noticing the gap occurs
when a learner becomes aware of differences between their output, and the pronunciation,
vocabulary or grammar structures of more proficient interlocutors (Swain, 1998). Noticing the
mismatch between their output and that of their interlocutor’s input causes the learner to re-
evaluate and modify their hypothesis about a structure, which also leads to the restructuring
of L2 competence.

The Interaction Hypothesis
The Interaction Hypothesis (Long, 1981) expands the role of input. Krashen’s (1982) Monitor
Theory supports the use of communicative activities in that they create situations for learners
to be exposed to more input. The Interaction Hypothesis claims that interaction is a crucial
site for language development because of the negotiation for meaning it involves (Long &
Robinson, 1998). According to Long, when communication breaks down, more proficient
interlocutors modify their output to make it more comprehensible to less proficient learners.
This modified input makes structures more salient to the learner, so they can be noticed.

The negotiation for meaning also provides the learner with feedback on the successfulness of
their output. When interlocutors appear to understand what the learner says, learners know
they have produced comprehensible output (Swain, 1985). Positive feedback is a response to
a learner’s output that contains no indication of linguistic errors. It confirms learners’
hypotheses about the L2 system so they can be integrated more deeply into L2 competence.


Negative feedback is an indication from an interlocutor that there is a structural problem in the
learner’s output. Negative feedback serves to highlight linguistic forms that are not accurate,
so they can be noticed, and the hypotheses that govern them, re-evaluated and modified.

The Interface Hypothesis
The Interface Hypothesis agrees with Krashen’s (1982) assumption that language information
processed consciously is stored differently from language information processed
unconsciously, resulting in two distinct mental representations for language information,
known as “dual representation” (Doughty & Williams, 1998). However, Krashen’s noninterface
position claims that there is no interconnection between the two types of knowledge in
memory, so that learned knowledge cannot lead to acquisition. On the other hand, the
interface position proposes a synergy between explicit and implicit knowledge (Bialystok,
1995), in which the same language information can be stored as both types of representation,
there are interconnections between the two memory stores, and one type of knowledge can
transform into the other.

The Interface Hypothesis is supported by Anderson’s ACT model (De Keyser, 1998) because
it explains how explicit knowledge can become implicit knowledge through repeated practice.
Furthermore, both the Noticing and Interface Hypotheses propose a role for explicit
knowledge in adult L2 acquisition. This notion is supported by Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive
Development, which characterizes adults as in the final “formal operations stage” in which
they develop the ability to think abstractly, draw conclusions from the information available,
and reflect on their learning process. Consequently, some researchers believe that adults do
not have the same unconscious grammar-generating capacities of children, and instead apply
general conscious problem-solving skills to the learning of L2 grammar (De Keyser &
Sokalski, 2001). The Interface Hypothesis is also related to the Noticing Hypothesis in that
explicit knowledge can serve as an “advance organizer” (Doughty & Williams, 1998). This
means that students who become aware of target structures through explicit instruction can
notice them more easily when subsequently encountered in input.

The Learnability Hypothesis
Pienemann’s (1994) Learnability Hypothesis claims that learners cannot acquire structures
from instruction until they are at the point of readiness. Pienemann proposed this hypothesis
after observing that L2 learners of German follow a four-stage process of acquiring syntax, in
which those who were at Stage 2 did not benefit from instruction at Stage 4. The point of
learnability can be recognized by the teacher when students either ask about a form or
attempt to use a form incorrectly because this indicates that they are aware of the structure
but have not mastered it yet.

This hypothesis is related to learners’ internal syllabus (Long & Robinson, 1998), which
learners construct themselves according to their own needs, interests, and language abilities.
It is also consistent with Krashen’s notion of “i +1”, in which structures slightly above the
learner’s current level move the acquisition process forward, and interacts with the Noticing
Hypothesis by claiming that forms cannot be noticed unless learners are already on the
“verge” of discovering them (Long & Robinson, 1998).


The Inherent Difficulty Hypothesis
The Inherent Difficulty Hypothesis (Wilson, 2007) claims that in general, more complex rules
take longer to acquire than relatively simple rules. This can be explained psychologically by
the notion that structures that involve relatively little manipulation of components or little
demand on working memory are easier to acquire (Doughty & Williams, 1998). According to
this hypothesis, a cluster of factors that characterize structures act in concert to determine
how complex they are. Formal complexity refers to the difficulty of explaining the details of a
rule, while functional complexity refers to the difficulty of conceptualizing the meaning and use
of a structure (DeKeyser, 1998). Forms with greater formal and functional complexity are
more difficult to acquire. Other factors that affect inherent difficulty are regularity (regular
forms are acquired before irregular forms), saliency (more salient forms are acquired before
less salient forms), frequency (more frequent forms are acquired before less frequent forms),
redundancy (forms that are not redundant are acquired before redundant forms), and
adjacency (continuous forms are acquired before discontinuous forms).

Inherent difficulty explains observations that learners of the same L2 tend to acquire
structures in the same order. Pienemann’s (1984) four stages of acquiring German syntax
can be interpreted in terms of inherent difficulty, since the canonical SVO order is mastered
first, followed by somewhat more difficult adverb proposing, and then the even more difficult
separation and inversion. The fact that any specific structure is characterized by a unique set
of factors explains why not all structures are acquired in the same way (Larsen-Freeman,
1995). This hypothesis is similar to Krashen’s Natural Order Hypothesis, which claims that all
learners of the same L2 acquire forms in the same order. However, it claims that the order is
only approximate, and recognizes that individual students’ orders vary, depending on factors
such as their first language, their language learning abilities, and the content of their
instruction. This means that there may be long periods of great variation and U-shaped
behavior, which does not represent a linear order of acquisition (Long & Robinson, 1998).

A new set of seven hypotheses has been presented, each of which accounts for a component
of the L2 acquisition process, but which can also be interwoven into an integrated model.
According to this model, the processing of input and output can be viewed as two overlapping
stages of acquisition. Input provides the information for formulating and re-evaluating
hypotheses, while output provides the means of testing them. Noticing is involved in
identifying forms in input, identifying deficits in L2 competence, and identifying errors in
output. However, structures cannot be noticed unless the learner is at the point of learnability,
and inherent difficulty indicates approximately in what order learners might be expected to
reach the point of learnability. Interaction provides the context for receiving input and
producing output. It also allows learners to receive feedback from interlocutors, which acts to
reinforce learners’ hypotheses about L2 structures, or disconfirm them so they can be re-
evaluated. The opportunity for repeated practice of the same forms in meaningful interaction
allows language information that might have first been stored as explicit knowledge from
conscious processing to be transformed into implicit knowledge. Learners gain fluency from
repeated practice, accuracy from noticing correct forms in input and receiving feedback about
them, and complexity from producing pushed output.


This theoretical framework supports a curriculum that provides ample input, but even more
opportunities for students to produce language, especially in meaningful, interactive activities.
It also implies that students should be led to noticing structures by strategically using input
enhancement (Schmidt, 1993), input flood (Doughty & Williams, 1998), and corrective
feedback (Long, 1991) to draw them to their attention. It allows for the direct teaching of rules
as long as it is followed by activities that involve the repeated, contextualized practice of those
rules. However, rules may also be presented in inductive, consciousness raising activities
(Ellis, 2002b). Teachers should combine a teacher-directed approach in which structures are
presented in an order related to their inherent difficulty, but teachers should also use a
learner-directed approach that monitors students’ questions about structures and attempts to
use them in order to modify the curriculum to match their internal syllabus.

We currently find ourselves at an exciting point in the history of L2 pedagogy, in which both a
new theoretical framework and methodology are in the process of being developed. This
framework suggests many effective options for language teachers to implement, but also
gives them the responsibility of understanding how to conduct them, when to conduct them,
and why they are effective for language acquisition.


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and explicit learning of languages, London: Academic Press.
DeKeyser, R. (1998). Beyond focus on form. In C. Doughty & J. Williams (Eds.) Focus on form in classroom second
language acquisition (pp. 42-63). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
DeKeyser, R., & Sokalski, K. J. (2001). The differential role of comprehension and production practice. In R. Ellis (Eds.),
Form-focused instruction and second language learning (pp.81-112). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
Doughty, C. & Williams, J. (1998). Pedagogial choices in focus on form. In C. Doughty & J. Williams (Eds.), Focus on form in
classroom second language acquisition (pp. 197-261). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Ellis, R. (2002a). The place of grammar instruction in the second/foreign language curriculum. In E. Hinkel & S. Fotos (Eds.).
New perspectives on grammar teaching in second language classrooms (pp. 17-34). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Ellis, R. (2002b). Methodological options in grammar teaching materials. In E. Hinkel & S. Fotos (Eds.). New perspectives on
grammar teaching in second language classrooms (pp. 155-180). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
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Social Echoes of ELT Social Echoes of ELT Social Echoes of ELT Social Echoes of ELT
Monterrey, Nuevo León Monterrey, Nuevo León Monterrey, Nuevo León Monterrey, Nuevo León
2009 2009 2009 2009

Code-mixing in text messages: Communication among university students

Alma Lilia Xochitiotzi Zarate
Universidad de las Américas, Puebla

This investigation researched the phenomenon of code-mixing in text messages (Short
Message Service –SMS), by using the Computer Mediated Discourse Analysis (CMDA). The
results were focused on the domains of social behavior and grammatical structure. The
CMDA helped in analyzing and describing the social functions and grammatical components
that Mexican bilingual (Spanish/English) university students use when mixing elements from
Spanish and English in a SMS. The results are based on a corpus of 42 text messages
gathered in a private university from Mexico. The elements found in the SMSs in English
suggest that the bilingual participants reinforce the social bonds with people close to them, in
addition to the identification with the English speaking group. Furthermore, these L2 elements
show that it is possible to type fewer characters using structures (lexicon, phrases,
sentences) from that language within the text message.

The purpose of this investigation was to study the language used by bilinguals when text
messaging, specifically when those bilinguals included L2 elements in the SMS. In this case,
the Spanish-based text messages that included English code-mixing were used. For
achieving this purpose, there were three research questions, which were:
What motivates bilingual university students to code-mix in their text messages?
What is the most common language function (transactional or interactional) and
grammatical structures (lexical, phrasal, and sentential) from the L2 that appear on the
text messages?
Are these features of L2 (functions and grammatical structures) related to the motivation
students have for code-mixing in their text messages?

With the results of my research, authors from other studies or books related to language
teaching can include the kind of abbreviations, contractions, etc., that I found and make them
part of the content of their publications. Thus, those interested in English language teaching
will see that learners do not only acquire the strategies used in the English SMS system,
either from books, such as: Interchange 3
Edition –student book 1 (Richards, 2005) and
American Inside Out –upper intermediate (Kay and Jones, 2003), or by their communication
with bilingual peers, they also feel more connected to the English speaking group. Besides,
language teachers can contrast the language used for academic purposes and the one used
for informal writing, which includes the SMS language and other type of communication


A study with similar characteristics to my study was done by Angel Lin (2005) in Hong Kong.
Lin’s investigation took into consideration how her participants used language(s) when using
their cell phone, whether there were instances of code-switching or code-mixing and when
those cases were common. Participants in her study were university students, which is the
population I studied as well. The instrument this author used contained elements (questions
related to the receivers of the messages, the languages used when sending a text messages,
and the motives people had for sending text messages) that were important for my

Another study very similar to the one I did was done by Deumert and Masinyana (2008). They
worked with 22 bilingual (isiXhosa/English) South African participants, whose age was ranged
from 18 to 27. All of them owned a cell phone, and all of them were text messages users.
Deumert and Masinyana found that their participants, when mixing the two languages in one
SMS, the message contained abbreviations from English words and paralinguistic restitutions.
Another feature reported by the researchers was that the mixed messages were used for
friendship work, practical arrangements and the exchange of information; while non-mixed
English and isi-Xhosa text messages were intended to show love or emotions. In the case of
the latter, the SMS typed in this language also showed values and beliefs from their culture.

The number of bilingual (Spanish/English) university students that participated in the data
collection was 124; however, from them only 108 were Mexicans, the rest were foreigners,
and their responses were not considered for the results and conclusions of this study.

The participants’ contribution to the study was recorded with the help of an instrument, a
questionnaire, which contained specific questions about the mixture of languages and the
relationship participants had with their contacts with whom they code-mixed. In the same
instrument, the participants were asked to provide a text message in which they had mixed
two languages. This questionnaire was based on previous studies (Lin’s study, 2005, Peters,
Almenkinders, Van Buren, Roy, and Wessels, 2003) and translated into Spanish for the 3 pilot
studies and final application.

For the analysis of the data, a corpus with 42 text messages was created. The analysis of the
content of the text-messages was focused on two main domains, which in terms of the
Computer Mediated Discourse Analysis (CMDA) cover the domain of structure, that is, the
lexicon, phrase and sentence. In case of these three structures, the parts of the speech
(noun, pronoun, adjective, adverb, verb, preposition, conjunction and interjection) were also
considered for giving a more accurate analysis. The other domain has to do with the language
functions (interactional and transactional) that appeared on text messages. These in the
CMCA were analyzed through the domain of social behavior.

In order to analyze the domain of social behavior, the model that Thurlow (2003) proposed for
analyzing social interactions was used. The orientations he suggested were: Informational-
Practical orientation, Informational-Relational Orientation, Practical Arrangement Orientation,
Social Arrangement Orientation, Salutory Orientation, Friendship Maintenance Orientation,
Romantic Orientation, Sexual Orientation and Chain Messages.


What motivates bilingual university students to code-mix in their text messages?
According to the results, the main motivation that bilingual university students had for code-
mixing in SMSs was the need they have for economizing the language in text messages. This
behavior was accompanied by the fact that the bilingual participants also code-mixed during
oral speech as part of their everyday lives. Thus, they reflected bilingualism not only by code-
mixing during oral speech, but also when communicating through text messages.

What is the most common language function (transactional or interactional) and grammatical
structures (lexical, phrasal, and sentential) from the L2 that appear on the text messages?
The most common language function was the transactional. In this case, served as a
reinforcement of the existing bonds between the person who texted the message and the
receiver. This language function appeared to be the most common because the receivers of
the code-mixed SMSs, who were bilinguals as well, had a close relationship with the
producers of the messages, in other words, they were close friends, boyfriends, girlfriends or
family members.

Examples of these are the following:
Happy-b-day!!! Espero te la pases increíble
Hi como estas? Acuerdate de la cita. See you around
Hola amor! I miss you =*
I’m busy righ now, pero vamos al antro

In the case of the most common grammatical structure, it was found that the preferred
grammatical structure was the lexicon. Within that category, the most common part of the
speech was the noun. Some examples are the following:
Vamos por unos drinks, va a haber una party en casa de Lalo
Oye ya te extrañamos! Hasta mis roomies! Ya apurate! Te quiero!
Bitchie a que hora pasas por mi?
Que fish dnd nos vemos see you

Are these features of L2 (functions and grammatical structures) related to the motivation
students have for code-mixing in their text messages?
It is possible to say that that there was a close relationship between the grammatical
structures and language functions and the motives the participants had for code-mixing in text
messages. This, as was acknowledged in the response to question 1, the grammatical
structures and language functions used had to do with the space that the words would
occupy. The use of lexicon and the interactional function for communicating a message had
to do with the use of fewer characters, in addition to the maintenance or reinforcement of
social relations. These were a friendship or a romantic relationship that the participants
shared with other people, who in this case were the receivers of the messages. The
maintenance was reflected when the producers of the SMSs decided to use lexicon, phrases
or sentences that suggested greetings or farewells, words of appreciation, words, phrases or
sentences that indicated love, support and the coordination of activities, such as meeting in a
certain place or planning pastimes together.


The results presented in this study display the manner in which young adults communicate
among each other. These people are making or following the same rules that English native
speakers when using text messages as a communication media. This is a result also found by
Deumert and Masinyana (2008). The decision on the part of the participants, who contributed
in my study, to follow the same rules as the English native population seems to imply that the
participants considered themselves part of a group that knows that language, and they
showed that knowledge by using elements that exhibited it.

This study contributed to our society, linguistics and language teaching by describing what is
happening in a community where technology not only improves people’s lives, but also is
adapted according to people’s personal needs. One of these adaptations is the use of
technology together with communication, in which the most important part is the negotiation of
meanings. It is in the negotiation of meaning where people use creativity in order to create or
transfer strategies they commonly use for other situations, such as making rules for text
messaging in which the inclusion of elements of other languages appears to be common.


Deumert, A., & Masinayan,S. O. (2008). Mobile language choices – The use of English and isiXhosa in text
messages (SMS). English World-Wide (29) 2, 117-147. Retrieved on November 5
, 2008, from Communication
and Mass Complete Database.
Kay, S., & Jones, B. (2003). American Inside Out. Student’s book upper-intermediate. Thailand: Macmillan
Lin, A. M. Y. (2005). Gendered, Bilingual Communication Practices: Mobile text-messaging among Hong Kong
College Students. Fibreculture, Issue 6. Retrieved August 26
, 2008, from
Peters, O., Almenkinders, J. J., Van Buren, R. L., Roy, S., & Wessels, J. T. (2003). Motives for SMS use.
Conference Papers -International Communication Association. Retrieved on December 4
, 2008, from
Communication and Mass Media Complete Database.
Richards, J. C. (2005). Interchange 3
Edition. Student’s book 1. China: Cambridge.
Thurlow, C. (2003). Generation Txt? The sociolinguistics of young people’s text messaging. Retrieved on April
, 2008, from:


Revolutionary Teaching, Independent Learning Revolutionary Teaching, Independent Learning Revolutionary Teaching, Independent Learning Revolutionary Teaching, Independent Learning
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International MEXTESOL Convention International MEXTESOL Convention International MEXTESOL Convention International MEXTESOL Convention
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Central American and Caribbean Convention Central American and Caribbean Convention Central American and Caribbean Convention Central American and Caribbean Convention
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2010 2010 2010 2010

Energizers and Yawnbreakers: An eclectic medley of kinesthetic resources
Renata Bobakova
Intensive English Program
University of South Carolina

Successful second language acquisition is an extremely intricate process whose positive
outcomes are determined by a number of factors. These include but are certainly not limited
to relevant teacher education that should be efficiently transferred to and applied in second
language classroom, followed by second language educators’ abilities to correctly identify and
appropriately respond to their learners’ needs. Nowadays, second language practitioners
strive to create learner-centered, stress-free environments that stimulate second language
education and they are expected to consistently employ the knowledge of the target language
and an array of ever-expanding methodological strategies to help their students learn the
language in question.

One of the approaches that second language educators may wish to employ to ensure the
smooth transition between teaching and learning is their awareness of how students tend to
learn. The significance of this finding is supported by the fact that learning varies from student
to student and each person ‘responds differently to different stimuli’ (Haydn, 2008). Therefore,
one of the tasks second language educators need to undertake and incorporate into their
methodological repertoires is the identification of individual students’ learning styles and
preferences, results of which can then be used to encourage second language acquisition.

The model of learning styles has been around for a number of years. In the late 1960s, Dr.
Rita Dunn and Dr. Kenneth Dunn started exploring this concept by looking at reasons behind
poor student scores. Based on their extensive research we now know that students become
more successful and efficient learners and it is more beneficial for them if they are able to
utilize their preferred learning modalities in both learning and testing (Dunn & Dunn, 1978).
The Dunn and Dunn Learning Style Model, which was the product of the Dunns’ probe,
accentuates that educators need to correctly recognize their learners’ strengths and exclusive
techniques with which they ‘concentrate on, process, and remember new and difficult
academic information’ (Dunn & Favre, 2009).

Most scholars identify four elementary types of learning styles and modalities: visual (spatial),
aural (auditory-musical), verbal (linguistic), and physical (kinesthetic). However, other and
slightly different variations of learning styles and modalities exist and they comprise logical
(mathematical), social (interpersonal), and solitary (intrapersonal) learning channels. These
somewhat correspond to the so-called Multiple Intelligences Theory developed by Howard
Gardner in 1993. In his study, Gardner analyzed eight intelligences: linguistic,
logical/mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and
naturalist. His theory asserts that intelligences assist in creating an individual who is ‘better


empowered and more fulfilled and a better second language learner and user’ (Richards &
Rodgers, 2001).

It is vital to add that at present, second language educators have at their disposal a variety of
instruments and resources that enable them to utilize the knowledge of learning styles in their
classroom instruction. After a second language educator has identified her/his students’
learning preferences, s/he needs to compile an inventory of relevant activities and strategies
that will enhance her/his learners’ second language acquisition. For instance, visual learners
need to be exposed to printed materials of various kinds and those include maps, graphs, and
charts. Visual learners also benefit from watching videos and taking notes and they prefer to
highlight important information. On the other hand, auditory learners tend to engage in
discussions and debates; they are capable of memorizing better and enjoy using music in
their learning. They also prefer listening to material on tape and perform well when retelling

When it comes to kinesthetic and tactile learners, they benefit from active learning and they
need to be engaged in activities that challenge their sense of touch; they like to move around
and become frustrated when they are required to stay still for prolonged periods of time. They
succeed more easily if they are engaged in and encouraged to use various puzzles,
charades, pantomimes, skits, role plays, scavenger hunts, field trips, hands-on experiments,
projects, surveys, interviews and demonstrations (Middendorf, 2009). Even though these
activities were initially compiled with kinesthetic learners in mind, they have been proven to
enliven school lessons and furnish both instructors and pupils alike with much sought-after
components of energy and fun and may be used with students of other learning styles.

Here is a limited selection of the kinesthetic activities from the presentation:

Shout it to me!
Skills: Speaking Fluency/ Listening/Pronunciation. Level: Intermediate and above.
Time: 10-15 minutes. Materials: Index cards with various discussion topics [pollution;
restaurants; education; dating; exotic vacations, etc.].
Procedure: Divide the class in half and have students stand with their backs to the opposing
walls while facing their partners. Show students the first card with the topic of your choice.
They have three minutes for a conversation with their partner, but since they are far away
from each other, they have to shout. When three minutes are over, students run to the
opposing walls and take a different position so that they have a new partner. Repeat this
procedure with a new topic.

Line energizer
Skills: Vocabulary/Listening. Level: Any. Time: 10-15 minutes. Materials: Duct tape and a
handout with both correct and incorrect definitions of the reviewed words.
Procedure: With the duct tape, divide the room into two parts—one part is the ‘TRUE’ and the
other the ‘FALSE’ area. Say/read a definition of a word; if students think it’s a correct one,
they run to the ‘true’ area; if they think it’s an incorrect definition, they run to the ‘false’ area.
[For example, read: ‘A mountain is a type of car,’ after which students should run to the ‘false’
Notes: This is a great way to assess your students on their vocabulary knowledge.


Card-swapping energizer
Skills: Reading/Writing/Listening/Speaking/Vocabulary. Level: High beginning and above.
Time: 10-15 minutes. Materials: Large index cards and dictionaries.
Procedure: Distribute index cards to students. Ask them to draw an oval in the middle of the
card and divide the rest of the card into four parts. Students then choose one of the words
you are hoping to review and write that word inside the oval. Ask them to put an antonym or
synonym of that word in the upper right corner, a definition of the word in the upper left
corner, a sentence with that word in the lower right corner, and a picture representing the
word in the lower left corner. When students are done, they stand up and move around the
room. They show their cards to partners, explain, and read what they wrote, and then they
switch the cards. Students repeat this procedure for as long as you deem necessary.
Notes: This is a fun way to review vocabulary, and students especially enjoy looking at each
others’ pictures.

What’s your take on this?
Skills: Listening/Speaking. Level: Low intermediate and above. Time: 15-20 minutes.
Materials: A questionnaire with multiple answers (for the teacher only).
Procedure: Students need to get rid of all the clutter on their desks, so that they can stand up
when appropriate. Prepare a handout with statements (it would be best if you did this as
a type of review of the topics you have covered in class). Read a statement and three or four
answers, for example, ‘The food I prefer eating most is a) sweets b) fruit c) meat d) pasta.’
Upon hearing the statement for the second time, students have to stand up based on their
answer. Topics can include music, exercise, vacation, colors, favorite holiday, seasons, best
time of the day, etc.
Notes: Ask students to explain their choices to the class as a variation of this activity.

‘Steal that word’ energizer
Skills: Listening/Vocabulary. Level: Any. Time: 10-15 minutes. Materials: A CD player, a song,
and words on index cards.
Procedure: Select a level-appropriate song students are not familiar with. Write 10-20 words
from the song on index cards and mount them on the whiteboard. Divide the class into two
groups. Students need to stand in line when you start playing the song. Upon hearing the first
word in the song that they can see on the board, the first two students from each team run to
the whiteboard and try to snatch that word. They then have to get to the back of the line and
their teams continue with new team members until all the words have been stolen. The team
with most words wins.
Notes: Do not stop the tape and do not select vocabulary that comes close to each other in
the song. Feel free to repeat the song several times if necessary. Sing the song with your
students after you are finished. Award a prize to the winning team.

‘Spell me out’ energizer
Skills: Spelling. Level: Any. Time: 10-15 minutes. Materials: A stuffed animal/a ball and a
number of words.
Procedure: Divide students into two groups. Give the ball to the first student in the first group
and say a word. The first student has to stand up and say the first letter of that word. S/he
then sits down and passes the ball to the second student in the group who stands up and
says the second letter of that word. Students continue in that fashion until the word is
completely spelled out or they make an error, at which point the second group gets their turn.


Notes: This can easily be made into a game and each correctly spelled word earns a point.

Miming fun III (Hot seat and categories)
Skills: Vocabulary. Level: Any. Time: 15-30 minutes. Materials: Level-appropriate lists of
words in categories.
Procedure: Divide students into pairs. Students in front of the room are ‘hot seat’ students and
they need to sit with their backs to the whiteboard; students in the back are ‘mimes,’ and they
are facing the whiteboard. Tell students the category, for example Christmas words. Write
words such as Santa Claus, snow, bell, reindeer, tree, Christmas card, and decorations on
the whiteboard. Start the time. Mimes have to mime the words out to their partners, who then
write them on a piece of paper. When the time is up, students read their words and get a point
for each correctly guessed word. Students change seats, so if they were mimes, they sit in
the hot seat and vice versa. Repeat with different categories. Students with most points win.
Notes: Use picture dictionaries for ideas on categories and words. Samples:
The living room: sofa; armchair; lamp; stereo; rug; pictures; book case; television;.
Places: school; supermarket; library; airport; police station; park; museum;
Words with ‘oo’: look; school; pool; book; zoo; boo; good; moon;
Words that begin with ‘r’: run; road; ring; ride; rope; rain; roller skates; restaurant;
Things on a wall: map; paint; nail; calendar; picture; thermometer; clock; mirror.

Rope crawl/ rope jump energizer
Skills: Vocabulary. Level: Beginning to low intermediate. Time: 10-20 minutes. Materials: A
jumping rope and pictures of objects/words you wish to review.
Procedure: Spread pictures of objects/words on the floor. Divide students into two groups.
One of the students and you will have to hold the rope (or two students if you have an even
number of students). The first student from the first group needs to crawl under the rope. If
s/he is successful and does not touch the rope while crawling underneath it, s/he gets to pick
a card with the picture of the word you call out. If s/he picks a wrong card, s/he puts it back on
the floor. If s/he picks a correct card, her/his group gets a point.
Notes: You may ask your students to jump over the rope, but consider their age and physical
fitness before you attempt this activity.

Sentence craze energizer
Skills: Grammar/Writing/Vocabulary. Level: Any. Time: 10-20 minutes. Materials: Duplicate
index cards with vocabulary you wish to review and a CD player.
Procedure: Divide students into two groups and distribute word cards. Each group should
have the same set of words. Play the music. Call out the first word. The student from each
group with that word has to run to the whiteboard and write a sentence (with at least five
words in it), using that particular word. Other students from the group can help their mate out,
but when the time is up, the student at the whiteboard needs to return to their seat. Call out
another word. Repeat the procedure until all the words have been used in sentences. Check
all the sentences for grammar mistakes and assign points. The group with most points wins a

When utilizing kinesthetic activities in language teaching and learning, instructors ought to
keep several key points in mind. First of all, students do not have to be identified as
kinesthetic learners in order to enjoy these activities. Second, each and every student needs
to be respected while engaging in these tasks as learners may require a little bit of time to


adjust to the novelty of kinesthetic activities. Third, it is our responsibility as teachers to make
the environment safe and instructions clear for our students. And last but not least, language
learning does not need to mean textbooks and tests only; it, in all actuality, can and should be
a fun and joyful experience.

In order to encourage language instructors to incorporate kinesthetic resources into their
lessons, let us leave with one final thought of Dr. Rita Dunn, the originator and avid supporter
of learning styles and modalities: ‘When students cannot learn the way we teach them, we
must teach them the way they learn’ (1990).


Anderson, L. W. (1989). The effective teacher. New York, NY: Random House.
Armstrong, T. (1994). Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and
Curriculum Development.
Dunn, R. (1990). Rita Dunn answers questions on learning styles. Educational leadership, 48(2), pp. 15-19.
Dunn, R. (2002). Effects of learning-style strategies on special needs students. Retrieved May 1, 2010, from
Dunn, R., & Dunn, K. (1978). Teaching students through their individual learning styles: A practical approach.
Reston, VA: Reston
Publishing Co.
Dunn, R., & Favre, L. (2009, July). Do as I do. Language magazine, pp. 20-24.
Dunn, R., & Griggs, S. (2000). Practical Approaches to Using Learning Styles in Higher Education. Westport,
CA: Bergin & Garvey.
Dunn, R., Honigsfeld, A., & Perna, M. (2009, October). Matching styles to students. Language magazine, pp. 21-
Haydn, G. C. (2008, November). Communication on the fly. Language magazine, pp.32-34.
Hoffpauir, J. (2010, February). Read all about it. Language magazine, pp. 30-33.
Middendorf, C. (2009). The scholastic differentiated instruction plan book. New York, NY: Scholastic Teaching
Reid, J. M. (1987, March). The learning style preferences of ESL students. Tesol quarterly, 21 (1), pp. 87-110.
Richards, J., & Rodgers, T. (2001). Approaches and methods in language teaching. Cambridge, United
Kingdom: Cambridge University
Sims, R. R., & Sims, S. J. (Eds.). (1995). The importance of learning styles: Understanding the implications for
learning, course design,
and education. Westport, CA: Greenwood Press.


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International MEXTESOL Convention International MEXTESOL Convention International MEXTESOL Convention International MEXTESOL Convention
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Central American and Caribbean Convention Central American and Caribbean Convention Central American and Caribbean Convention Central American and Caribbean Convention
Cancún, Quintana Roo Cancún, Quintana Roo Cancún, Quintana Roo Cancún, Quintana Roo
2010 2010 2010 2010

Case study of a blind EFL student’s learning process

M. Martha Lengeling
Universidad de Guanajuato
Judith Hernandez
Escuela Secundaria General No. 1 Hermanos Aldama

Learning English as a foreign language is a difficult process. Yet if a learner has a disability
such as blindness, this process is even more difficult. For the most part English teachers are
not used to dealing with students who are blind.

This article presents an in-progress case study of the English learning process of a blind
student, Lupita, in the public secondary school system in central Mexico. We begin with a
brief description of Lupita followed by a number of definitions of learning strategies. Then we
define what a case study is and the techniques that were used in this research. Examples of
strategies used with and by Lupita are given as well as the multiple contexts of Lupita. The
research was carried out by an EFL teacher, Judith, with the help of her thesis director,

The case study is about Lupita, a 13 year old student who was born with sight, but due to the
malpractice of the delivering doctor, she unfortunately lost her sight soon after she was born
prematurely. She lives in a modest home with her parents in Leon. Having a number of
obstacles to find adequate educational attention, she began to take EFL classes at the
secondary level and this is where her teacher, Judith, was faced with the challenge of having
a blind student. Judith documents in a journal how she felt frustrated as a teacher because
of her lack of knowledge on how to handle a blind student. She also writes about how Judith
saw Lupita also frustrated with Judith’s use of L2, using little L1. This is when Judith decided
to research the case of Lupita in order to aid one of her many students. Here Judith had to
rethink how to look at the processes of teaching and learning.

Learning strategies
Concerning the term learning strategies, there are a number of people such as Rubin, Oxford
and O’Malley et al., to name only a few, who are known for their research in this area.
Griffiths (2004) maps out how the term learning strategies has evolved throughout the years:

Rubin (1975, p.43) provided a very broad definition of learning strategies as “the
techniques or devices which a learner may use to acquire knowledge. (p. 3)


Griffiths continues to provide us with more definitions such as the below:

When O’Malley et al. (1985) came to conduct their research, they used the definition
of learning strategies as being “operations or steps used by a learner that will facilitate
the acquisition, storage, retrieval or use of information” (p.23), a definition originally
used by Rigney (1978). (p. 3)

Finally Oxford (1990) defines learning strategies in the following:

are specific actions taken by the learner to make learning easier, faster, more
enjoyable, more self-directed, more effective, and more transferable to more
situations. (p. 8)

Based upon the above definitions we can see that learning strategies are activities, actions or
procedures that facilitate the learning process to be more positive in many ways. Griffiths
(2004, citing Rubin 1981, pp. 124-126) also makes mention as to how Rubin classified
learning strategies into:

two kinds of learning strategies: those which contribute directly to learning, and those
which contribute indirectly to learning. (p. 3)

Direct learning strategies are also seen as cognitive and indirect learning strategies are
metacognitive. There are a number of classifications of strategies (see Wenden and Rubin,
1987 or Oxford, 1990). Oxford (1990) also provides an inventory (Strategy Inventory for
Language Learning) which can be given to students as a way for them to better understand
what strategies they tend to use or possible future strategies to be explored.

Hismanoglu (2000) comments:

All language learners use language learning strategies either consciously or
unconsciously when processing new information and performing tasks in the language
classroom. Since language classroom is like a problem-solving environment in which
language learners are likely to face new input and difficult tasks given by their
instructors, learners' attempts to find the quickest or easiest way to do what is required,
that is, using language learning strategies is inescapable. (p. 2)

So the learner is aware or unconscious of a strategy use. Promoting this awareness of
students could be one part of the teacher’s complex job of teaching. Perhaps the teacher’s
job is to help the student understand what learning strategies are useful for his or her student
learning process and even observe what the strategies the student may use or not use. Yet if
a student has a disability, the choice of these strategies will depend on the disability.

Case study approach, research aims and techniques
A case study is often used in the social sciences (Denscombe, 1998; Yin, 1994) and this
approach was chosen to better understand what the learning process for Lupita was and also
how Judith could respond to this learning process. This was the impetus of the case study.
Yin (1994) bring up the basis of case studies in the following:


In general, case studies are the preferred strategy when “how’ or ‘why’ questions are
being posed, when the investigator has little control over events and when the focus is
on a contemporary phenomenon within some real-life context. (p. 1)

In the above quote the two words of how and why are important for this study. These words
guide the research as to what we are looking at. Denscombe (1998) mentions that case
study research usually highlights: depth of study, the particular, relationships/processes,
holistic view, natural settings and multiple sources (p.37). The objectives of this research
were to explore in-depth Lupita’s learning process of English while taking into consideration
the many contexts which played a part in her learning. The multiple sources of information
come from different techniques used in this case study such as: a teacher journal, interviews,
observation and ethnographic notes.

Strategies for Lupita
In this case study the student is blind and not being able to see makes the choice of
strategies limited. Judith became aware of what strategies Lupita used to compensate her
blindness. In a sense Judith began to see through Lupita’s eyes as to what her world was
like. This empathy helped Judith to decide what she should do as a teacher and also this
empathy created a strong desire to advocate Lupita’s rights as a learner within the public
school system.

One of the first actions that the teacher did was to understand the multiple contexts of Lupita.
This refers to understanding the position and the reality of the SEP (nationally and locally)
and also the context of her school. These contexts play a pivotal role in determining the path
of Lupita’s educational journey. Judith has made a number of visits to Lupita’s home to gain
perspective of her student and her home life. Without taking into consideration these
contexts, Judith could not understand completely what her blind student goes through.

Concerning other learning strategies, the teacher paired Lupita with sighted peers during the
class. This pairing was used in hopes of offering her support which the teacher could not
always provide because of the large class size and time limitations. Activities in group work
were also used yet not all of the students accepted Lupita and did not want to work with her.

Another strategy was to provide more input of listening and speaking activities in class and
outside of class. The teacher has given Lupita a CD player and a MP3 player to listen to
music, educational textbook listening material and any downloaded materials. Concerning
speaking, Lupita did oral repetition in class. Alternative testing was carried out by speaking
and listening with Lupita which implies extended time. At the beginning of Judith’s classes, L2
was somewhat stressful for Lupita so Judith has used L1 as a bridging strategy for L2

The teacher has also tried to network Lupita with other blind people in order to obtain
information, Braille classes, and donations of software for Lupita’s computer. These activities
are extracurricular and have been done through the initiative of Judith. At times the
compatibility of the software and computer has been a problem to solve.


Judith has found that there is a lack of materials for Lupita as a blind student. She has had to
experiment as a teacher with techniques and methods in order to get across her ideas to
Lupita and also to provide a balance of activities for Lupita and the rest of the class. She also
mentions that for the most part the other secondary teachers lack knowledge of Braille and
information as to how to deal with a blind student.

It should be mentioned that we have not processed nor categorized the strategies at this
moment and that this research is still a work-in-progress. The above strategies have been
recognized at this moment.

What is clear is that there needs to be more research carried out concerning the learning
process of students with disabilities. We also question if enough is done for the acceptance
of such students. It is our belief that one’s eyes need to be opened in order to see exactly
how a student, such as Lupita, is treated and learns. We argue that more needs to be done in
order for such students to improve their success in learning another language such as
English. Finally we would like to thank Lupita and her family for their generosity and
openness in providing support and information concerning Lupita.


Denscombe. M. (1998). The Good Research Guide. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.
Griffiths, C. (2004). Language learning strategies: Theory and research. Occasional Paper No. 1. School of
Foundations Studies, AIS St Helens, Auckland, New Zealand, 1-26.
Hismanoglu, M. (2000). Language learning strategies in foreign language learning and teaching. The Internet
TESL Journal, VI, 8.
O’Malley, J. M., Chamot, A. U., Stewner-Manzanares, G., Kupper, L. and Russo, R.P. (1985). Learning
strategies used by beginning and intermediate ESL students, Language Learning, 35/1, 21-46.
Oxford, R. (1990). Language Learning Strategies: What Every Teacher Should Know Boston: Heinle & Heinle
Rubin, J. (1975). What the ‘good language learner’ can teach us, TESOL Quarterly, 9, 41-51.
Wenden, A. and Rubin, J. (1987). Learner Strategies in Language Learning. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Yin, R. K. (1994). Case Study Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Revolutionary Teaching, Independent Learning Revolutionary Teaching, Independent Learning Revolutionary Teaching, Independent Learning Revolutionary Teaching, Independent Learning
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th th th th
International MEXTESOL Convention International MEXTESOL Convention International MEXTESOL Convention International MEXTESOL Convention
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Central American and Caribbean Convention Central American and Caribbean Convention Central American and Caribbean Convention Central American and Caribbean Convention
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2010 2010 2010 2010

The effectiveness of sustained silent reading in helping learners become independent

Atsuko Takase
Kinki University
Higashi-Osaka, Japan

Extensive reading (ER, hereafter) has been recognized as one of the best strategies to
improve second or foreign language learners’ English proficiency. ER involves learners
reading a lot of easy materials of their own choice. It also plays an important role in motivating
second language learners to read (Day & Bamford, 1998; Takase, 2003;2007) and helps
them become independent readers. Although the benefits of ER have been well documented
(e.g., Elly & Mangubhai, 1981; Mason & Krashen, 1997), there are always some learners,
male students in particular, who are not willing to read. There remains a serious dearth of
research investigating gender differences in regards to ER. The limited extant literature on
this topic shows that women tend to read more (Cloer & Dalton, 2001; Bauerleon & Stotsky,
2005; Brantmeier, 2003) and perform better on proficiency tests than their male counterparts
(Kobayashi et al., 2010; Takase, 2009b).

According to Krashen (1993), reading proficiency can be improved by free voluntary reading
(FVR), which refers to any in-school program where students are provided a short time for
reading that requires no accountability measures. Sustained Silent Reading (SSR, hereafter),
which is one kind of FVR, is a system whereby students engage in silent in-class reading for a
designated period of time “when students are allowed to read whatever they like”(Pilgreen,
2000, p.xvii). The effectiveness of SSR has been shown by many teachers and practitioners
to develop students’ reading proficiency in their L1 (e.g., Henry, 1995: Pilgreen, 2000) and L2
(Furukawa, Nishizawa, & Takase, 2009; Takase, 2004; 2008; 2009a). According to Henry,
SSR produces “the most beautiful silences on earth” (1995, p.ix).

This study examined the effectiveness of SSR in motivating male students to read extensively
as well as their female counterparts. It also investigated if male students became as
independent readers as their female counterparts, if they are provided with time to read in
class. Thus, the following research questions were posed.

1. Are there differences between students in the SSR group and non-SSR group in their ER
2. Are there differences between male and female students within each group in their
reading performance?
3. Does the difference in reading performance affect their performance in the post test?
4. Does SSR motivate male students to read extensively outside of class?


Initially, a total of 124 EFL students from two universities participated in an ER program for
one academic year: Group1 (76) and Group2 (48). However, G1 consisted of students with
various English proficiency levels, whereas G2 was a homogenous group, in which students
were enrolled in the highest class based on their TOEIC scores. Therefore, in order to make
the two groups equivalent, out of 76 G1 students, 48 students from the top, who scored
higher in the pre-test, were chosen for analyses: G1 (M = 27, F = 21) & G2 (M = 28, F = 20).
G1 met 26 times a year, out of which 6 sessions were utilized for orientation of ER, the pre-
and the post tests, and final examinations, leaving 20 sessions for class work. G2 met 28
times a year, and four sessions were utilized for a pre-, and a post tests, and the TOEIC
practice test, leaving 24 sessions for class work. One session lasted for 90 minutes, half of
which was utilized for reading strategy practice for both groups. After that, G1 had SSR for
approximately 45 minutes, whereas G2 had reading and listening practices for the TOEIC,
instead of SSR.

Both groups were required to read as much as possible and to keep their reading log after
they read. Edinburgh Project on Extensive Reading (EPER, hereafter) placement tests were
given as the pre-test and the post-tests during the 10-month ER program.

Results and Discussion

Research Question 1: Are there differences between students in the SSR group and non-SSR
group in their ER performance?

Table 1. Differences in Reading Amount between SSR and Non-SSR
Group Mean G1 Min-Max G2 Min-Max
1s Sum of Books Read 94.7 17-163 24.6 3-101
1s Sum of Words (1,000) 121 26-428 27 3-86
1s Words per Book (1,000) 1.6 0.3-6.3 1.1 0.6-7.8
2s Sum of Books Read 42.7 11-146 19.4 1-124
2s Sum of Words (1,000) 241 31-886 41.7 1.4-129
2s Words per Book (1,000) 6.1 1.1-13.1 2.1 0.6-10.0
Sum of Books (year) 137.4 28-295 38.1 4-203
Sum of Words (1,000) 362 104-1,267 67 4-152
Notes: 1s = 1
semester, 2s = 2

Table 2. Average Number of Books Read in Different Levels
G1 1
Sem. G1 2
Sem. G2 1
Sem. G2 2
Level 0 64.3 9.3 19.0 6.0
Level 1 18.1 9.3 8.0 3.0
Level 2 8.4 17.3 1.0 1.1
Level 3 1.6 6.8 0.0 0.5
Level 4 0.2 0.4 0.0 0.0
Level 5 0.0 0.2 0.0 0.0


Table 1 shows that G1 read approximately 3.8 times as many books and 4.5 times as many
words as G2 did during the 1
semester. During the second semester, G1 read 2.2 times as
many books and 6.3 times as many words as G2 on average. Table 2 shows that G1 read
64.3 of the easiest books on average, 3.4 times as many books as G2 read. These results
suggest that G1 group members, who read an abundance of easy books at the beginning of
ER, were able to raise the level of books much faster than G2 members in the second

Research Question 2: Are there differences between male and female students within each
group in their reading performance?

As seen in Table 3, female students in both groups read more than their male counterparts.

However, G1 male and female students showed a distinctive reading style, reading an
abundance of easy books at the beginning and then raising the level of the books steadily and
quickly. On the other hand, although G2 female students shared the similar reading style with
the SSR group, G2 male students’ reading performance was unique. This is, which is reading
a small amount or difficult English from the beginning.

Research question 3: Does the difference in reading performance affect their performance in
the post test?

Table 4. Pre- and post EPER test results
Group N M (Min-Max) SD M (Min-Max) SD
G1M 27 22.9 (18-35) 3.84 29.4 (18-46) 6.58
G1F 21 25.3 (18-33) 4.37 32.9 (15-46) 8.08
G2M 28 22.4 (11-37) 6.51 23.3 (11-35) 7.63
G2F 20 25.4 (20-31) 3.12 29.6 (22-43) 4.97
Table 5. Paired-samples t-tests for the pre-, and the post EPER tests
Group N M SD SEM t df Sig
G1M 27 6.82 4.86 0.94 7.29 26 .000**
G1F 21 7.24 5.5 1.2 6.03 20 .000**
G2M 28 0.89 4.51 0.85 1.05 27 .304
G2F 20 4.15 5.42 1.21 3.42 19 .003*
**p <.001, *p <.005

Table 3. Difference in Reading Amount between Male and Female Groups
G1 M. G1 F G2 M G2 F
Sum of Books 127.9 149.6 21.9 60.9
Min-Max 37-188 28-295 4-86 5-203
Sum of Words (1,000) 352 375 53 60
Min-Max (1,000) 126-996 104-1,267 5-152 5-146
Words per Book (1,000) 2.8 2.7 2.6 1.2


Figure 1. Changes in the Pre- and Post EPER Test Scores
Tables 4 and 5, and Figure 1 illustrate the pre- and the post EPER test scores. As seen in the
Tables 4 and 5, both male and female students from G1, who had participated in SSR gained
significantly at p < 0.001, on an average test score gain of 6.82 (SD = 4.86) and 7.24 (SD =
7.24), respectively. Female students from G2 with Non-SSR also showed significant gain,
although smaller than G1, 4.15 (SD = 5.42) on average, at p < .05. However, no significant
gain was observed in G2 male students (M = 0.89, SD = 4.51) at p = .304. It is considered
that this difference is mainly due to the difference in the amount they read and partly due to
their reading performance. These results show that the more you read, the more you gain in
your post test on the condition that you read an abundance of easy books well within your
reading level at the beginning of ER.

Research Question 4: Does SSR motivate male students to read extensively outside of class?

Table 6. Differences in Reading Time between SSR and Non-SSR Groups
Group (n) GIM (27) GIF (21) G2M(28) G2F(20)
Sum of words 352 375 53 60
Min-Max 126-996 104-1,267 5-152 5-146
Time for SSR (minutes) 900 900 0 0
Words read during SSR 90 90 0 0
Words read out of class 262 285 53 60
Min-Max (36-906) (14-1,177) (5-152) (5-146)
Time spent out of class 43.7 47.5 8.8 10
Min-Max (6-151) (2.3-196) (0.8-25) (0.8-24)

Table 6 shows the different amount of time spent in reading inside and outside of class. As
seen in the Table, both male and female students from G1, SSR group, spent significantly
longer time in reading outside of class than their Non-SSR counterparts. G1 male and female
students read 262,000 words in 43.7 hours and 285,000 words in 47.5 hours, respectively,
whereas G2 male and female students read 53,000 words in 8.8 hours and 60,000 words and
10 hours, respectively. This means that the amount of reading the male and female students
from the SSR group accomplished was approximately five times more than their Non-SSR
counterparts did, and the amount of time spent in reading was also five times more than those
of their Non-SSR counterparts. It can be concluded that SSR motivated both male and female
students to read outside of class in addition to their in-class reading, which means that
students seemed to become independent readers.

20 20 20 20
22 22 22 22
24 24 24 24
26 26 26 26
28 28 28 28
30 30 30 30
32 32 32 32
34 34 34 34
Pre-EPER Pre-EPER Pre-EPER Pre-EPER Post Test Post Test Post Test Post Test


In conclusion, there are some gender differences in extensive reading performances
concerning the level of books, in particular, that male students are likely to read difficult books
beyond their reading level. However, with monitoring and encouragement from the instructor,
SSR enables both male and female students to start reading easy books well within their
reading level. Thus, SSR students become motivated to read even outside of class, gradually
developing good reading habits and becoming independent readers.


Bauerleon, M. & Stotsky, S. (2005). Why Johnny Won’t Read. [Electronic Version] Washington Post Retrieved
November 12, 2006 from
Brantmeier, C. (2003). Does gender make a difference? Passage content and comprehension in second
language reading. Reading in a
Foreign Language, 15 (1).
Cloer, T. Jr., & Dalton, S. R. (2001). Gender and Grade differences in Motivation to Read. Journal of Reading
Day, R., & Bamford, J. (1998). Extensive reading in the second language classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Elley, W. B., & Mangubhai, F. (1981). The impact of a book flood in Fiji primary schools. New Zealand Council
for Educational Research
and Institute of Education: University of South Pacific.
Furukawa, A., Takase, A., & Nishizawa, H. (2009). A Successful ER Program for Japanese Students of All Ages.
Paper presented at the
43rd Annual TESOL Convention and Exhibit in Denver, USA.
Henry, J. (1995). If not now. NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers, Heinemann.
Kobayashi et al. (2010) Potentials of Extensive Reading: Promoting English Learning and Much More, Seikei
University, Seibido.
Krashen, S. D. (1993). The Power of Reading. Libraries, Limited.
Mason, B., & Krashen, S. (1997). Extensive reading in English as a foreign language. System, 25(1), 99-102.
Pilgreen, J. L. (2000). The SSR Handbook. Boynton/Cook Heinemann.
Takase, A. (2003). Effects of eliminating some demotivating factors in reading English extensively, JALT 2002
Takase (2004). Effects of Silent Reading on High School Students' Motivation to Read Extensively, 2003 JALT
Takase, A. (2007). Japanese high school students’ motivation for extensive L2 reading. Reading in a Foreign
Language 19(1), April 2007, 1-17.
Takase (2008). The two most critical tips for a successful extensive reading program. Kinki University English
Journal (1). pp.119-136.
Takase, A. (2009a). Effects of SSR for Motivating Reluctant Learners to Read Extensively (2) Poster presented
at the Annual Meeting of
the AAAL Conference in Denver, USA.
Takase, A. (2009b). Are Female Students Better Readers? Paper presented at Extensive Reading in Japan
Seminar 2009.


New Challenges for the New Decade in ELT New Challenges for the New Decade in ELT New Challenges for the New Decade in ELT New Challenges for the New Decade in ELT
Morélia, Michoacán Morélia, Michoacán Morélia, Michoacán Morélia, Michoacán
2011 2011 2011 2011

Writing intervention from a psychological perspective: Graduate Writing Seminar

Sara Merino Munive
Nancy Susan Keranen
Benemérita Universidad Autonóma de Puebla

It is generally accepted that writing brings professors and teachers benefits in their
professional development (Borko, 2004). Writing could be seen as a step in teachers’
development, which brings prestige, promotion or in some cases publications. Writing by
teachers is also regarded as a type of self-education process, where teachers have the
possibility to continue learning and growing professionally through their writing in various
forms (Burton, 2005). However, in spite of all the benefits, few teachers write (Burton, 2005).
The most widely given reasons for this are: lack of time, lack of support to write, lack of
confidence in their abilities to write, lack of reward or recognition as teachers when they do
write (Burton, 2005, Conclusion).

To date, there are few systematic studies that go on to attempt to explain how teachers
actually regard writing (Burton, 2005). Studies of this nature are certainly called for because
of the widely accepted benefits of writing for development, both professional and personal.
Teacher research and writing are especially important for understanding the classroom and
learning. The low participation of teachers in this area denies the field of education access to
the knowledge that teachers have and can potentially construct and perpetuate educational
results that affect everyone (Allwright& Bailey, 2004).

There are some theories about the reasons why teachers do not write on a regular basis, and
particularly why they do not write for publication. Burton’s (2005) reasons abovehint at the
possible explanations. They indicate a need that goes beyond linguistic issues. Boice
(1990, pp. 7-14) provides a list of the six main sources of writing problems that go beyond
language management: internal censors, fear of failure, perfectionism, procrastination, early
experience,mental health,personality types,working habits and attitudes, and work habits and

The purpose of this paper is to describe the underlying barriers to productive writing that
framed the study presented in the conference.

Internal censors

‘It took me my whole life to learn how to paint like a child again’ – Pablo Picasso.

Boice (1990) considers Freud’s idea about the internal censor as a major impediment to
productive writing. Freud, in Interpretations of Dreams, called it the ‘watcher at the gate’.
Those watchers are our internal sensors about our own work; their main job is to examine the


ideas by “rejecting too soon and discriminating too severely” (Boice, 1990, p. 8). Common
strategies of these ‘watchers’ (‘internal critics’ as Boice calls them) involve inducing “bad
feelings about our own writing [and undermining] our ability to generate ideas, creativity,
and confidence” (1990, p. 9).These watchers or inner critics have enough power over the
writer to provide a serious block to productive writing. If the writer does not first recognize the
existence of the inner critic, and second try to suppress it, productive fulfilling writing is

Fear of failure
‘Atychiphobia’ is the irrational fear of failure (Wikipedia). Its source is speculated to be from
childhood experiences of trauma or severe embarrassment resulting from a failure. It could
also stem from demanding parents or other authorities who punished failure too severely.
Atychiphobes (those who fear failure) are generally characterized by their extreme
procrastination when beginning activities and by their reluctance to take on anything that
might potentially end in failure.

Psychologists have dedicated many studies to the understanding of different kinds of
limitations in human activities, but they still know very little about fears of failure in writing.
Those are commonly related with: “1) negative self-attitude, 2) negative self-statements, 3)
phobias and 4) self-fulfilling prophecies” (Boice, 1990, p. 9). Considering the sources of fears
of failure mentioned in the previous paragraph and the common early experiences of almost
every grammar student and writing, it is easy to see sources for this phobia in writing
(Reeves, 1997). The experiences do not end with grammar school but continue on in all
levels of formal education where teachers tend to focus on problem areas of writing rather
than success areas.

Communication researchers have provided the best information about fears of failure in
writing. Daly and Miller (cited in Boice, 1990) developed a standardized test that assessed
writer apprehension. This is generally recognized as the first attempt to systematically
investigate anxiety as it relates to writing. Daly and Wilson (1983) identified two broad
categories of writers, ‘low apprehensives’ and ‘high apprehensives’. The latter characterize
people who have high levels of anxiety related to writing. People in this category find writing
“unrewarding” and even “punishing” and as a result of these attitudes tend to avoid situations
which could potentially involve writing (Daly & Wilson, 1983, p. 327). High apprehensive also
tend to be afraid of public exposure as a failure and fraud via their writing, and thus, limit
themselves or stop writing in order to not face failure.

Research on this construct is generally lacking and there is no agreed on definition of it.
However, it is generally characterized by undue aversion to making mistakes, high personal
standards, the excessive concern about authority figure perceptions or evaluations, a low
tolerance for criticism, and doubts about one’s ability to successfully carry out an action
(Frost, et al., 1990). These characteristics in writers can be manifest as the inability to finish
off a piece of writing for fear that it is not yet in perfect submission quality. These writers
check and recheck their writing to make sure it conforms to their often unreasonable
expectations of quality (Boice, 1009).


Many writers have experienced this feeling of revising and checking their work many times as
it is possible until they consider their work acceptable. It is clear to see how writers with this
problem suffer and often are blocked to such a degree that they never do a paper in the level
of perfection they want; writers tend to spend many hours revising and correcting their papers
without going on. Additionally, perfectionism brings writers the idea that what is already
published has a lack of quality; thus, when they finish their paper, it would have a higher level
than what they consider the public is used to or able to recognize (Boice, 1990).

Like many of the barriers to productive writing thus presented, procrastination has its roots in
fears of failure, irrational expectations, aversion to the task, and various associated anxieties
(Solomon &Rothblum, 1984).Although procrastination is one of the most common phenomena
associated with why writers do not write as a habit, like perfectionism, it is not yet well
understood (Steel, 2007). What we seem to know is that its origins are in self-regularity
failure, i.e., a person’s inability to fully control their actions. Writing is particularly susceptible
to procrastination because it is generally carried out as a ‘non-recurring task’ and generally
comes with no immediate rewards (Boice, 1990, p. 10). So in a world where individual
actions are fighting for attention and completion, writing often takes a second position to
actions that offer more immediate rewards or those actions that must be carried out in the
course of a period of time.

Procrastination is also conceptualized as a cultural aspect; such as, professors tend to control
class time, tasks and so on; but in writing students (writers) have the control of deciding when
they want to work on writing. As such, students may use their ability to control their writing,
as in not completing it on time, as a way of controlling the inequality of the classroom (Boice,

Whatever the underlying reasons, procrastination is common and debilitating when it comes
to productive writing. Studies cited in Steel (2007, p. 3) indicate that procrastination is almost
a “way of life” for students. The studies indicate that 80-95% of students procrastinate; 75%
consider themselves procrastinators, and 50% do it consistently and to their own detriment
(ibid). Most procrastinators wish they could control it in some way.

Early experience
Primary and secondary school teachers are often the ones blamed for the negative writing
experiences that lead to the pathologies reviewed above.Almost everyone has memories of
receiving written assignments back from the teacher with the notorious red pen editing marks
all over it.This type of writing response has been blamed for undermining students’ writing
confidence, for making writing a tiresome chore, and for not providing any useful instruction
for improving writing (Boice, 1990, p. 11).

Mental health
There is a kind stereotype that good writers are characterized by psychological problems:
subject to various kinds of addictions, are antisocial, pessimists, and suicidal. At the same
time, it is put forward that mental health conditions derail productive writing (Boice, 1990).
Studies reported in Boice (1990, p. 12) indicate writers have above normal representations of
psychological disorders. The nature of much writing could contribute to mood disorders.
Writing done in binges and under pressure “induces tension, irritability, and


obsessiveness.” Writing involves high levels of concentration which for some can lead to
psychological imbalances especially when coupled with the stress of having to complete
writing within tight deadlines. If not managed properly writing can lead to serious emotional

Personality types
Again in this area, stereotypes and mythologies tend to influence attitudes towards writing.
Studies have found that writers are classified as silent types, unsociable, skeptical,
overachieving. Men have been identified in studies as “mass producers, highly competitive,
and energetic” but tend to lose interest or ambition when their peers do not respond as
anticipated to their writing. Women have been seen as “silent” and “perfectionist” as writers
(Boice, 1990, p. 13). These negative opinions and stereotypes about writers could cause
resistance to writing by writing novices. Our opinions of ourselves may be in conflict or
contrast to the general conception of writers creating a kind of ‘dissonance’ between how we
conceptualize ourselves and how in general writers are typified.

Working habits and attitudes
As clearly evidenced in this study reported in the conference, writing tends to be fraught with
bad habits. In particular writing tends to get done after every other obligation is dealt with. It
tends to not get done until the writer is ‘in the mood’ or there is a looming deadline. Many
writers engage in ‘binge’ writing. However, research on successful and productive writers
indicates that regular habitual writing that follows a set schedule tends to lead to writers
feeling less stressed, less resentful towards writing, and more relaxed (Boice, 1990). So it
seems clear that establishing healthy writing habits is the key to productive writing.

Work habits and busyness
Time. Why do we not write more? We do not have enough time. As mentioned before,
teachers’ most common excuse for not writing is the lack of time. Almostall professors argue
that they have a lot of work during the workweek, which are typically 60-80 hours long (Boice,
1990, p. 14). They are all very busy. However, beyond self-reported conceptions of how
busy teachers are, there are studies which examine time allotted to various activities that
show gaps in schedules where writing on a regular basis can be added (Boice, 1990). Most
people conceptualize writing as needing large blocks of time, but according to Boice, small
regular blocks of time dedicated to writing are much more efficient in terms of productive
writing than waiting until there is ample time to write, which tends to lead to binge writing and
all its detractions. It is much more essential for people who have very little time to engage in
time management than those who have lots of ‘time to manage’.

The aim of this paper was to present the principal psychological impediments to productive
writing as found in the literature. This review supports the research project presented at



Allwright, D., & Bailey, K. (2004). Focus on the Language Classroom: An Introduction to Classroom Research for
Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Boice, R. (1990). Professors as Writers: A Self-Help Guide to Productive Writing. Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA:
New Forums.
Borko, H. (2004). Professional development and teacher learning: Mapping the terrain. Educational Researcher,
Burton, J. (2005). The importance of teachers writing on TESOL.TESL-EJ, 9(2).Available at http://tesl-
Daly, J. A., & Wilson, D. A. (1983).Writing apprehension, self-esteem, and personality. Research in the Teaching
of English, 17(4), 327-341.
Frost, R. O., Marten, P., Lahart, C., &Rosenblate, R. (1990).The dimensions of perfectionism. Cognitive Therapy
and Research, 14(5), 449-468.
Reeves, L. (1997).Minimizing writing apprehension in the learner-centered classroom. National Council of
Teachers of English, October 1997. Accessed 19 February 2011 from
Solomon, L. J., &Rothblum, E. D. (1984). Academic procrastination: Frequency and cognitive – behavioral
correlates. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 31(4), 503-509.
Steel, P. (2007).The nature of procrastination. Psychological Bulletin, 133(1), 65-94.
Wikipedia (n.d.).Atychiphobia.Accessed 19 February 2011 at


New Challenges for the New Decade in ELT New Challenges for the New Decade in ELT New Challenges for the New Decade in ELT New Challenges for the New Decade in ELT
Morélia, Michoacán Morélia, Michoacán Morélia, Michoacán Morélia, Michoacán
2011 2011 2011 2011

Improving Efficacy of Feedback in the Classroom

Sim Wee Chee
Ann Teo
Alston Publishing House Pte Ltd, Singapore

This workshop investigates the benefits and problems of peer review, and presents some
possible strategies to address the common problems that teachers have with implementing
peer feedback effectively. Participants will have the opportunity to experience how technology
tools such as the digital pen and dot pattern paper can help to improve the efficacy of peer
feedback in the classroom.

Benefits of peer feedback
Peer assessment benefits both teachers and students. It can help reduce teachers’ workload
since it is often not possible to provide individual feedback to students. More importantly, peer
assessment improves students’ critical thinking skills as they go through the process of
providing meaningful and “quality” feedback to their peers. Peer feedback can extend the
cognitive tasks of the giver of the feedback by forcing the student to “read, compare, or
question ideas, suggest modifications, or even reflect on how well one’s own work is
compared with others” (Ertmer, P., et al., 2007). When students are consistently asked to
evaluate their peers’ work, it can enhance self-motivation and self-correction behaviours and
train students to take greater responsibility for their own learning, as well as their peers’.

Problems associated with peer assessment
Despite the benefits of peer assessment, there are some problems with implementation. One
problem has to do with the quality of peer feedback, which can be inconsistent and unreliable.
Students may not have sufficient knowledge about the content to provide useful or meaningful
feedback. Students may also feel reluctant to give negative feedback to their peers because
of the friendships they have with their classmates. They are likely to end up either being too
lenient or overly critical. They may also tend to focus on trivial or irrelevant information in their

Students also tend to value teacher feedback over peer feedback since teachers have the
“final” say when it comes to assessing their work. Therefore, students may not take peer
feedback seriously and may avoid making corrections based on their peers’ suggestions. A
study by Connor and Asenavage (1994) found that only 5 percent of peer feedback was taken
into consideration when students were making corrections to their work.

These issues may cause students, and perhaps teachers, to have a negative perception
about the nature of peer feedback in general. This may lead teachers to under-utilize peer
feedback as a valuable learning aid. They may even avoid using peer feedback altogether in
their classrooms. It is a vicious cycle as some of the problems associated with peer
assessment are due in part to such negative perceptions.


Teacher’s role
The role of the teacher is an important factor in improving the efficacy of peer feedback in the
classroom. Studies have shown that consistent practice, effective intervention and guidance
from teachers can improve students’ skills in peer assessment. Key aspects of the teacher’s
role include providing clear instructions at the onset of peer assessment so that students
know what and how to assess; monitoring the process closely and providing immediate
feedback to the students; and ensuring that peer assessment is carried out consistently.

Participants of the workshop will work together in groups to outline concrete steps for
developing their students’ peer review skills.

1. Steps for developing students’ peer review skills include the following:
2. Teacher explains the task that the students will be doing.
3. Teacher states the criteria for the peer review i.e. the skills to be assessed. The
teacher may hand out a rubrics sheet to students and also clarify any of the students’
4. Based on the given task, students may watch video clips (e.g. to assess speaking
skills) or read writing models (e.g. to assess writing skill), and critique accordingly.
5. Teacher goes through with students what is considered good performance and what is
6. Students engage in the task. Then, they carry out an anonymous peer review through
technology tools such as online forms or by writing their ratings on score
sheets.Teacher gives feedback to students based on their reviews.
7. Once students have built up confidence in peer review, they can progress to doing
peer reviews in a group, then one-on-one with fellow students.

Addressing students’ perceptions
While students are unlikely to change their perception that teacher feedback is superior to
their peers, they can be encouraged to learn to value their peers’ feedback more, as well as
think more critically about the process of assessment.

One way to achieve this is to get students involved in developing the assessment rubrics.
Students could be asked to reach an agreement of what constitutes satisfactory performance
by assessing the usefulness and limitations of assessment instruments. For example, by
getting students to be involved in the process of developing assessment rubrics, it not only
helps them understand its importance, it also ensures that they take the process of peer
assessment more seriously. Another way is to make peer review a part of students’
assessment. This will motivate students to take on a more active role.

Participants of the workshop will work in groups to share their own experiences when
implementing peer feedback in their classrooms. Participants will work together to develop
solutions by sharing the strategies they have used to overcome the problems they faced.


Technology tools
Technology tools can help teachers save time and effort by making the process of peer
feedback more efficient. They can enable students to give and receive immediate feedback
from their peers. They also help teachers moderate students’ feedback effectively and track
whether students are incorporating peer feedback to improve their work. Furthermore,
technology tools can also lead to an improvement in students’ overall attitudes towards peer

Throughout the duration of the workshop, participants will experience how interactive
classroom tools such as digital pens and dot pattern paper (e.g. Symphony) can be used to
improve the efficacy of feedback in their classrooms.

Peer assessment is a valuable tool for students because it not only improves the overall
quality of students’ work assignments, it also enables students to experience deeper learning
by developing important life skills such as evaluation and negotiation. Furthermore, a report
on international trends in assessment (Dysthe and Engelsen, 2009, cited in Nordseth et al.,
2010) suggests that self-assessment and peer assessment will gradually replace traditional
forms of assessment in the classroom. Therefore, it is important for teachers to tap on the
benefits of peer feedback through the development of various strategies to overcome the
problems they face.


Connor, U. M., &Asenavage, K. (1994). Peer response groups in ESL writing classes: How much impact on
revision? Journal of Second Language Writing, 3, 257–276.
Ertmer, P. A., Richardson, J. C., Belland, B., Camin, D., Connolly, P., Coulthard, G., et al. (2007). Using peer
feedback to enhance the quality of student online postings: An exploratory study. Journal of Computer-Mediated
Communication, 12 (2), article 4. Retrieved August 1, 2011 from
Lombardi, M. M. (2008). Making the grade: The role of assessment in authentic learning.Educause.Retrieved
August 1, 2011 from
Nilson, L. B., (2003). Improving student peer feedback.College Teaching, 51, No. 1 Winter: 34–38.
Nordseth, H., Ekker, S., &Munkvold, R. (2010). Tools for peer assessment in an e-learning
environment.International Journal of Media, Technology and Lifelong Learning, Vol. 6, Issue 3. Retrieved August
1, 2011 from
Paz Dennen, V., (2005).Designing peer feedback opportunities into online learning experiences.19th Annual
Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning. Retrieved August 1, 2011 from
Saito, Hidetoshi (2008). EFL classroom peer assessment: Training effects on rating and commenting. Language
Testing 25(4), 553–581.


New Challenges for the New Decade in ELT New Challenges for the New Decade in ELT New Challenges for the New Decade in ELT New Challenges for the New Decade in ELT
Morélia, Michoacán Morélia, Michoacán Morélia, Michoacán Morélia, Michoacán
2011 2011 2011 2011

Exploiting L1 in the classroom: designing communicative translation tasks

Andrew Watson
British Council

The received wisdom in contemporary ELT is that teachers whose first language is English
don’t, or shouldn’t, use students’ first language (L1) as a medium to teach English. This is a
precept of the direct method, which has dominated the profession from the early twentieth
century and which has insisted that English should be taught through the medium of English.

Nevertheless, as Guy Cook points out in his thought-provoking book Translation in Language
Teaching (OUP, 2010), the direct method has little to support it in terms of empirical second-
language acquisition research. It is, in fact, less of a scientifically founded methodology and
more of a commercially-rooted one. It harks back to the days when native speakers of English
would roam the world in search of English-teaching jobs in countries where they didn’t speak
their students’ languages, and when publishers found it more convenient to produce materials
for a global audience, rather than regional ones. However, Cook cites SLA research that
English-language teaching exclusively through the medium of English is no more effective
than bilingual teaching, and he provides reasons why the latter may in some situations be
superior. For Cook, the idea that a language should be taught monolingually and without
recourse to translation may prove to be a curious historical interlude – a bit like the empire of
the Soviet Union which did not outlast the century that gave birth to it.

Yet even today, so long has the direct method has been the received, mainstream, ELT
wisdom that rarely do we admit to using our students’ own language in the English-language
classroom, and when we do it is usually in hushed tones, on the fringes of conferences like
these! Unfortunately, this taboo has created a situation in which even the useful skill of
translation has also been outlawed, even though the use of translation is the norm at
university-level language teaching and in the teaching of many languages other than English.

Let me at this point distinguish between, on the one hand, the judicious use of the students’
first language as a teaching tool -- to explain new vocabulary for example -- and on the other
hand, developing translation as a language skill alongside the traditional four language skills:
reading, listening, writing and speaking. Because the arguments for and against the use of L1
as a pedagogical tool have been so well-rehearsed (see for instance Deller and Rinvolucri
2002), I’d like to focus our attention on translation and emphasise that the latter should be
indeed regarded as the fifth language skill

As Cook argues, translating is a needed skill – and not only by professional translators and
interpreters. ‘Real-world’ foreign language use is full of translation, whether it be explaining
the menu to monolingual friends in a restaurant or negotiating between companies to achieve
a business deal. I myself have worked in Mexico in the fields of business journalism and
finance, which make extensive use of translation. The act of switching and negotiating


between languages is part and parcel of everyday language use for the majority of the world’s
population and yet many in our profession assume it to be boring, artificial and the last refuge
of the incompetent teacher.

In addition, for those teachers who can do it (and that of course means they that they must be
bilingual themselves), translation is an indispensible teaching tool.

This is true both for grammar, where it compels students to use structures which might be
otherwise avoided, and pre-eminently – for vocabulary. Direct method purists are fooling
themselves when they claim to have explained words through mime and context. The
obvious fact is that almost all students use bilingual dictionaries, which provide – by
definition – translations.(Cook 2002: 6)

The usual objections to translation as a pedagogic tool are two-fold: that it encourages a
sense of false equivalence between the two languages, and that it impedes automatic and
fluent language use.

But neither is necessarily the case. A good teacher would correct a student who carries over
a grammatical construction from the first language or is misled by a false friend. As for the
impediment to automaticity, this is just assertion without evidence: witness the millions of
successful language learners who, having begun the study of a language go on to become
fluent speakers without recourse to an inter-lingual equivalent.

One possible explanation for the continued antagonism towards translation in language
teaching is that it has never really shaken off its association with the methodology of
Grammar Translation, whose academic formality, and almost exclusive attention to formal
accuracy in writing, made it seem quite distinct from the use of language for actual
communication. Cook argues persuasively that, ‘in addition to the insights TILT can provide
into language form, as it does in grammar translation, it can also be lively communicative
activity, which inevitably arises from, and merges into, other kinds of cross-lingual activity.’

However Cook recognizes that support for own-language use is not the same as support for
translation, nor should we confuse the two. Many who support the former are against the
latter, while others don’t seem to have considered the possibility that own language use may
open a gateway for translation.

We will look at meaningfully communicative translation tasks towards the end of the talk. But
first I would like to turn to teachers’ opinions on the proper role of a student’s L1 and
translation in the English-language classroom. One of the most interesting findings was that
teachers were, by quite a large margin, somewhat uncomfortable about using their student’s
first language whether it be as a teaching tool or for translation!

My colleague, Grant Munro, carried out two parallel internet-based surveys: the first was
administered to 54 native English-speaker teachers in British Council centres in Ibero-
America (Colombia, Mexico, Spain and Venezuela) and the second was given to 23 teachers
in the Far East, Middle East and Eastern Europe (the countries were Singapore, Jordan and
Poland). Both surveys asked very similar questions to find out how often and in what
situations these supposedly monolingual teachers used students’ L1 to highlight differences


between the two languages or had asked them to carry out a translation task. It transpires
that the teachers surveyed in the Spanish-speaking centres had a much higher level of
mastery of their students’ first language and were much more confident in using their
students’ L1 in the classroom. Over 50% of those surveyed had lived in Spain and Latin
American countries for 10 years or more, compared to only 17% for the Far East, Middle East
and Eastern Europe countries. This finding is perhaps not surprising because 57% of the
Ibero-American respondents live in Spain. The British Council in Spain is famed for its long-
stay residents and these tend to achieve a relatively higher level of proficiency, whereas the
Asia and Middle East and Eastern European teachers tend to be more mobile and less
proficient in the local language.

In only two questions did teachers from these very different regions give similar answers:
1. How often do you compare grammar English to the grammar of your students’ first
language and 2. How often do you refer to cultural differences when comparing language
forms? The results for questions 4, 5, 6, & 7 are in Annex #1.

The results show Ibero-American English teachers use translation much more frequently to
check understanding of lexis, to highlight errors and 41% have even use Spanish at some
time to present new language in class. In contrast, teachers in the other regions
overwhelmingly (83%) never use L1 to present new language or give explanations and 78%
had never used translation in feedback to highlight errors.

Curiously, while the data from both surveys suggests that customers are happy with teachers
using their own language pedagogically, the vast majority of teachers in both sets of regions
do not feel encouraged by their centres to do so, nor are they particularly keen themselves on
using students’ own language. Fully 89% of teachers in Spain and Latin America answered
‘no’ to the question ‘do you feel encouraged by your teaching centre to use Spanish in the
class.’ All respondents answered ‘no’ in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
Annex #1
4. How many years have you been teaching English?

1 2%

1 2%

3 5%

10 17%

11 18%

34 57%
Total 60 100%
5. How often do you compare English grammar to Spanish grammar in class? E.g. article rules, tense selection, subjunctive structures and conditionals.

13 22%
Once in a while

31 52%

11 18%

5 8%
Total 60 100%
6. How often do you compare formulaic language and lexical chunks in Spanish and English? E.g. "mas o menos" "Es lo que hay"

11 18%
From time to time

29 48%
At least once a week

12 20%

8 13%
Total 60 100%
7. How often do you refer to cultural differences when comparing language forms?

8 13%
From time to time

34 57%
At least once a week

14 23%

4 7%
Total 60 100%


Here are some of the comments from the Spanish-speaking centres that reveal that
ambivalence about handling translation and own language:
I believe the students "absorb" more English if you can try to give the whole lesson in
English where possible.
I use it enough. Most students like to have some translation but also value having a
native teacher.
I think it is much better to not use L1 in class as you can become too dependent on it
and it could encourage your learners to speak more in Spanish.
It's not a Spanish class for me, it's an English class for my students. If I were teaching
in China I hope there wouldn't be an expectation for me to use Manderin (sic)

All of these are beliefs commonly held by teachers that Cook seeks to challenge in his book.
#1 sounds like Stephen Krashen’s input hypothesis, i.e., that input can only become intake if
there is plentiful exposure and the second language is made comprehensible. But this
teacher’s view doesn’t exclude translation as a vehicle for acquiring language, because the
act of translating from one language to another will make the English input more
comprehensible. In answer to #2, Cook is not advocating abandoning monolingual teaching
(i.e., learning English through the medium of English). Rather, he argues that best results will
be achieved when there is a combination of monolingual and bilingual teaching. In answer to
#3, if it is thought too much Spanish is becoming a problem, teachers and students can
negotiate spaces within lessons in which there is a combination of L1 and L2 use, and times
when the second language is used exclusively. Objection # 4 it is difficult when the teacher
has a low level of proficiency in L1, but in the Latin American region many teachers do have a
high level of proficiency in both English and Spanish. #4 could also be an objection to using
translation in a multilingual class, which is indeed more challenging although not impossible.

Here are some classroom activities you may wish to try out with your students (These are
adapted from Deller and Rinvolucri 2002; Kaye 2009 and M. González Davies 2004). The
authors of these activities show how translation is indeed an authentic, meaning-focused real-
world activity and as such, fits well into communicative paradigms.
Learner groups work on translating different sections of a text into English, and then
regroup to connect together their parts into a full text, with suitable connecting
Learners bring in examples of Spanish for discussion and translation into English.
Signs can be particularly interesting. This can also be done by sharing material via
group e-mails.
Learners bring in short texts/proverbs/poems and present them to the class, explaining
why they like them. These are then used for translation.

Fluency and spontaneity
Tourist guide. Put learners in groups of three. Tell them that learner A is a tourist in a
country where Learner B is a resident. Learner C is an interpreter. Explain that the tourist
wants to get a good itinerary for a day’s sightseeing in the town. The tourist only speaks
English, the resident only speaks Spanish, the interpreter speaks both. Ask them to role-
play this situation via the interpreter. Get them to change roles and repeat the procedure.
There could be a fourth member of the group who writes down any problems the interpreter
has. These can then be worked on after the activity.


Project work
Learners develop a webpage or blog with their own translated work.
Learners participate in live online forums such as Word Reference (see bibliography
Learners research and then present their findings on the translations of a particular
group of words, such as those of their own professional field.
Learners evaluate translation software/web pages and then report back to the group.
Learners translate the Spanish-language script of a scene from a film, then dub over
the scene itself with their new version in English.

Although fluent, meaningful authentic language use is the goal of language learning, it is not
the only means. Translation can also foster the more traditional accuracy perspective that
‘communicative’ approaches tend to dismiss. Here are some examples:

Learners work in groups on short texts then regroup and compare their versions,
before producing a final text. This can then be compared with an ‘official' published
Learners translate and then other learners back translate, then compare versions and
discuss why there are differences.
Learners look at ‘bad' translations and discuss the causes of errors. Translation
software programmes and web pages are good sources of these (see below).

Translation as part of the communicative ELT classroom approach is still a controversial area
and one that provokes strong opinions, as shown by our survey results. As Cook (2010: 147)
argues the strength of TILT is that ‘unlike hard-line ‘communicative’ teaching which struggles
to declarative knowledge and formal accuracy without abandoning its own principles, the
focus of TILT can easily be both ‘traditional’ and ‘communicative’.’ Moreover, there is good
evidence from our survey to show translation can be popular with students when it is
appropriately put into practice. It is easy to see why: it gives an important recognition to
students’ own languages. Learners will always relate English to Spanish, and if forbidden will
continue as a means of resistance.

Cook, G. 2002. ‘Breaking Taboos’. English Teaching Professional Issue 23: 5-7
Cook, G. 2010. Translation in Language Teaching Oxford: Oxford University Press
Deller, S. and M. Rinvolucri. 2002. Using the Mother Tongue. London: English Teaching Professional
Deller, S. 2003. ‘The Language of the Learner.’ English Teaching Professional Issue 26: 5-7
Duff, A.1989. Translation Oxford: Oxford University Press
Graddol, D. 2007 ‘English next: why global English may mean the end of ‘English as a Foreign Language.’
British Council, available at
González Davies, M. 2004. Multiple Voices in the Translation Classroom: Activities Tasks and Projects
Amsterdam: John Benjamins
Kaye, P. 2009. ‘Translation Activities in the Language Classroom.’
Tudor, I. 1987. ‘Using Translation in ESP’. English Language Teaching Journal 41 (4): 268-273
Widdowson H.G. 2003 Defining Issues in English Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Forums: (discussion forums for various languages)
*Complete studies with author.


Leading the Way to Excellence in ELT Leading the Way to Excellence in ELT Leading the Way to Excellence in ELT Leading the Way to Excellence in ELT
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
2012 2012 2012 2012

The process of curricular revision involving the community

Martha Fonseca Vicencio
Pia Maria White
Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes

English as a foreign language was first taught in Mexican public schools in secondary school
or what could be considered in the USA as middle school. As post – secondary school
learning became more regular; students continued their schooling in preparatory (high school)
and subsequently university studies. Before the 1990’s, there was a curricular overlap in
where most of the English learning began with the teaching of the verb, “to be”, in other
words, this was seen in middle school and then repeated in the preparatory level. Around this
period, the Ministry of Education in Mexico became aware of the need for the appropriate
teaching of English because the country was becoming part of globalization since many
foreign countries were coming to Mexico and were opening a lot of industries, but also had
the need of people who spoke at least 75% of English.

This academic evolution in the teaching of English to students in the public school system
prompted the opening of a Bachelor of Arts in ELT in many universities throughout Mexico.
Prior to the existence of these teacher education programs, most of the English teachers did
not have a formal ELT education, and with this innovation, big changes were going to take
place, both for in-service and pre-service English language educators.

Process of redesigning our curriculum
Aguascalientes is a small state situated in the central part of the Mexican Bajio, and
unfortunately there are not that many English speaking tourists who could be an opportunity
for the population to make use of the English that they know, such as it is seen in bigger cities
or on beach sites. When some teachers were asked to design a curriculum for future
teachers of English, there was a lot of confusion of what were the needs in order to design a
good curriculum for our students. In our original attempt we did not consider our local
community’s needs, which resulted in doing a curriculum with a large amount of subjects in
English and in Spanish. Most of the students were dropping out because there were too
many subjects, and besides that, they were having lots of problems with their English, due to
the fact that no student can be denied the entrance to our university. All these problems were
appearing in our context, and as White (1993) mentions, “confusion simply leads to frustration
and disappointment”; which is exactly what happened, and by this I mean the high percentage
of students dropping out from our BA in ELT.

It became clear to us that in order to keep our students in the BA, and to be able to graduate
high-quality professionals in ELT, we needed to focus more on what is required within the
community. Taking a good look at the curriculum we had been working with, and with some
help from English language teachers from other cities, we decided it was time to redesign our


curriculum in order to help bring about an academic change within our students that would
benefit our ELT community.

In our institution, it is necessary to assign a committee in a very formal way because we
cannot just go ahead and act without the necessary official procedure; therefore, we began by
inviting seven full time teachers, two students in their last semester, two graduates, two
external advisors, and two institutions in our community that are mainly interested in hiring our

The seven full time teachers were in charge of designing three different questionnaires which
were administered to graduates, employees, and to those enterprises that had hired our
undergraduates a year before the redesigning of the curriculum, and had done their teaching
practice with them. The results from the questionnaires helped as an evaluation of our
graduates from the BA in ELT in our community.

When conducting the employer interviews, we asked about the importance of English for their
enterprise, and how was the level of English of our students. The answers were mainly
positive, although the need for more group control was required.

Based on the results from the questionnaires, the committee began by discussing possible
curricular changes and we came up with the following items that could be changed or
included, and they are the following:
which subjects needed to be eliminated


which would be added
which subjects would be moved to different semesters due to their characteristics
how subjects would become more theoretical or more practical
how to give the appropriate hours and credits to all the subjects

Since one of the biggest problems with many of the new students is their level of English, and
as it was mentioned above, all students must be accepted; therefore, two propedeutic
semesters were added to the curriculum so that those students who get a TOEFL internal
exam score under 450 have to take intensive English courses, while those that got more than
450 are able to go into the first semester of the BA. If students remain in the propedeutic year
course, they will graduate in five years; whereas, those that go straight into the first semester
will be graduating in four years.

In these two semesters of propedeutic courses, students take listening I and 2, grammar 1
and 2, reading and writing 1 and 2, second language learning strategies, and preparation for
a TOEFL exam, which will take place in their fifth semester.

In the new curriculum, more time is dedicated to classroom management, and an intensive
English strand was also incorporated because now more emphasis is given to the language
use more than to the language form.

In Aguascalientes, and in most of Mexico, there is a very good program known as PNIEB
(Programa Nacional de Inglés en Educación Básica), and this has been an excellent
opportunity for our students to support the PNIEB program as interns and full or part time

Difficulties in redesigning the curriculum
Redesigning our curriculum was not an easy task because we would have revisions done by
two different departments; the Under-Graduate Department and the Curriculum Design
Department. We would get together on our own, but every three weeks we would have the


Curriculum Design department come and check on how we were doing. During the one year
period, we had five different people come and visit us from this Department, and each one of
them had a different opinion about our curriculum. Sometimes this was quite frustrating,
because more than once we had to do quite a lot of changes. The final revision was done by
the Under-Graduate Department, and here we would have strong discussions in order to
defend our position with the subject matters. Finally, after having our proposal going back
and forth, it was approved and is being used more successfully than the previous one.


In redesigning our BA in ELT curriculum, we were more aware of what we had to do this time.
We found out that it was important to take into account the communities’ opinion and needs in
order to help our graduates enter the working environment with more confidence on how they
had to perform. We also noticed that many subjects had to go into different semesters, or
really were not that important for practical reasons. Curriculum designers must really keep up
to date with academic changes in order to help future English language teachers achieve their
goals inside the classroom, and become a model in their teaching performance.


Nunan, D. (1988), Syllabus Design, Hong Kong, Oxford University Press
Richards, J. (2005) Curriculum Development in Language Teaching, USA, CUP
White, P. (1993) Notes from Material Development MA TESOL, Mexico Project


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2012 2012 2012 2012

Writing and publishing in academic journals: Whys and hows

M. Martha Lengeling, Editor-in-Chief of the MEXTESOL Journal
Universidad de Guanajuato

Rebeca E. Tapia Carlín, Member editorial board MEXTESOL Journal
Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla

JoAnn Miller, Associate Editor of Refereed Articles of the MEXTESOL Journal

Ma. Guadalupe Rodríguez Bulnes, Associate Editor of Non-refereed Articles of the
MEXTESOL Journal, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León

Ulrich Schrader, Past Editor-in-Chief of the MEXTESOL Journal

Clare Marie Roche, Member editorial board MEXTESOL Journal
Universidad Regional del Sureste

A professional ESL/EFL teacher has many goals, but perhaps one of the most neglected is
publishing. One of the reasons for this is a fear of the many obstacles that might be
encountered when writing an article for publication. This discussion group is for those
teachers who are interested in writing manuscripts for publication, but who have never had
the confidence to take that first step.

The panel consists of the Editor-in-Chief and the Associate Editors of the MEXTESOL
Journal, members of the Editorial Board of the MEXTESOL Journal, and people who have
had experiences publishing articles in the area of EFL in Mexico and in the world.

The presentation begins with a review of the many reasons why academic writing and
publishing are a necessity. Then the writing process itself is covered and what a writer should
consider before submitting an article for publication is examined. The review process itself is
summarized and the aspects to consider if an article does not get published are touched
upon. Suggestions are given to overcome problems encountered at all stages. Hopefully, this
valuable information will guide writers in these processes and that they are successful in the
publication of articles.

The reasons to write and publish are numerous. More and more EFL teachers are asked to
publish in public and private universities in Mexico. Academic production is part of what we
are being required to do in these contexts. Writing and publishing are ways to contribute to
our profession and at the same time one becomes updated and more fluent as an academic


writer. Our ideas and experiences concerning our profession become permanent in writing
and can be read throughout the world. They also serve as a voice within our profession.

The writing process
The first step in writing an article is to establish a research territory (Swales & Feak, 1994) so
it is necessary for the writer to find a topic that awakes interest and to do some initial
research. It is important to look for a general research area that can be considered important,
central, interesting, problematic, or relevant in some way to what is happening in education
today. You must also remember to review previous research in the area so that this can lend
support to the work.

The next step is to look for a gap in the research that has been carried out previously or an
area that has not been researched in a particular context whether it may be local, national or
international. The new questions to be answered are posed about the chosen topic or
previous knowledge is extended in some way.

Now the writing process is ready to begin. The purpose of the present research should be
outlined first, announcing the principal findings and by indicating the structure of the paper.
The figure below shows how it is necessary to constantly write and re-write ideas.

The writing process:

This requires a lot of patience and hard work. The writing process is not linear and a writer
may frequently need to evaluate what has been written and make changes so that the final
article can make a real contribution to second language education. In the next section we will
look at the publishing procedure for our journal.


MEXTESOL Journal - Publishing Procedures
The process for publishing (or not) an article which is received by the Editor-in-Chief is as
1) The Editor-in-Chief receives the article (which includes whether the author would like the
article to be refereed or not) and looks it over to determine its general suitability for the
MEXTESOL Journal, and that it is complete. She writes the author acknowledging receipt of
the article and informs the author of the following steps.
2) The Editor sends the article to the appropriate Associate Editor (for Refereed or Non-
refereed Articles) who, in turn will also read it and make a tentative decision regarding its
suitability and its status as a refereed or non-refereed article. In some cases, the Editor might
suggest that the article be sent for mentoring before it is sent to the readers.

For refereed articles:
If the Associate Editor feels that the article is suitable for review.

3) The article is then sent on to two readers for a blind review. The two readers are from two
different institutions and are believed not to know the author.
4) The Associate Editor establishes direct contact with the author and informs him/her of what
is happening.
5) Meanwhile, the two readers read and evaluate the article according to the Review Format,
and determine if the article is accepted, rejected or given a conditioned acceptance status.
6) The Associate Editor receives the evaluations from the readers and if they concur, sends
them on to the author. If the two readers have divergent opinions, then a third reader is
7) Usually the author is asked to make revisions according to the comments received. The
Associate Editor relays information and the manuscript back and forth between the author
and the readers as often as necessary until the article has the complete approval of all
8) The Associate Editor now turns the article over to the Style Editor who makes a final
reading for editing and proofreading purposes. If additional changes are necessary, there
may be further correspondence between the Style Editor and the Associate Editor, who
communicates with the authors.
9) The Production Editor checks the references and works with the author regarding any
10) The authors are asked to provide an unformatted final manuscript according to specific
guidelines and submit it to the production manager. Suggestions are often made to make the
article more presentable for an online format, e.g. color, image resolution, etc.
11) The author is informed of the final acceptance of the article and the approximate
publication date.
12) After the article is published, the author receives a letter from the Editor- in-Chief that the
article has been published and is given the official publication reference information.

For non-refereed articles:
The Associate Editor for Non-refereed articles and one other reviewer decide if the article is
accepted for publication in the Journal and work together with the author to prepare the
manuscript for publication.
Then steps 9-12 for refereed articles (above) also apply to non-refereed articles.


Part of the writing process is the theme of ethics. If you want to write and publish in academic
journals you must consider ethical aspects. According to Saldaña (2003) there are four
aspects you have to consider when writing:
1. Negotiating and maintaining access to the research site;
2. Obtaining informed consent;
3. Protecting the identity of the participants and
4. Avoiding plagiarism.

Regarding negotiating and maintaining access to the research site, it is important to get
permission from the authorities to conduct research. If the participants are children, you need
to tell their parents and get their consent (Bell, 1993; Tapia, 2008). Participants in your study
must be given the opportunity to agree or not to agree to participate by giving their written
consent. They should be informed about the purpose of the research, the way their identity
will be protected and how the information will be used. According to Richards (2003) the
researcher must obtain the consent from the participants of the study. It is necessary to
change all the participants’ names, and perhaps the research site to pseudonyms in order to
guarantee anonymity especially if requested by the participants (Tapia, 2008).

Honesty is crucial when conducting research and publishing. Taking someone else’s work
without acknowledging it is not acceptable in research. Thus, it is essential to report all the
sources that have been used to avoid plagiarism.

What should you do if your article is not accepted?

Imagine you have submitted an article to our journal and the day arrives that you have gotten
a message that your article has not been accepted for publication. Here are some
suggestions about what to do. Read the message carefully and understand what the reasons
are for its status. Look at the comments from the reviewers and try to understand how they
may have seen your article. Having done the above, you may decide to start working on
improving your article.

Some common problems include careless proofreading, missing information, improper
citation of references or organization problems. Be sure you ask a colleague to read your
article before you send it in. You need to explain everything clearly and imagine the person
who has read the article knows little about your topic.

If your article was rejected, it might be because it was sent to the wrong Journal. There are
many journals throughout the world that are possibilities. Do some research and get a feel for
what journal would be appropriate for your article. Read some of the articles from the journal
and find what each journal is looking for in an article. Writing an article takes a lot of time and
patience but once you have been successful the process of writing and publishing will be



Bell, J. (1993). Doing your research project: A guide for first-time researchers in Education and Social Science.
Buckingham: Open University Press.
Richards, K. (2003). Qualitative inquiry in TESOL. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.
Saldaña, J. (2003). Longitudinal qualitative research: Analyzing change through time. Walnut Creek: Altamira
Swales, J. M. & Feak, C. B. (1994). Academic writing for graduate students: Essential tasks and skills. Ann
Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.
Tapia, R.E. (2008). Identifying trainee beliefs about thesis writing and professional development in a
constructivist thesis writing experience. Doctoral thesis in Applied Linguistics. Macquarie University, Australia.


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Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
2012 2012 2012 2012

Researching with children: Particular complexities with data collection / interpretation.

Dr. Caroline Moore Lister
University of Guadalajara, CUCosta.

The question of how to go about collecting and interpreting data in ways which lend validity to
a study in the field of social science is one which continually crops up in discussions between
researchers. This is particularly so in the case of qualitative data, where researchers attempt
to use first-hand information from participants to uncover patterns of beliefs and behaviours in
order to inform social theory. When research involves young children, the study acquires an
added dimension of complexity, and it is essential that the researcher is able to enter the
child´s world in order to collect data in participant-appropriate ways, and then to make reliable
interpretations of this data. This paper addresses some of the particular complexities of
qualitative data collection and interpretation in social research with children.

Traditionally it has been thought that children’s lack of linguistic sophistication and capacity
for abstract thinking makes them ‘bad research respondents’ (Scott, 2000) and as a result
much research into children has used ´proxy informants´ (i.e. adults close to the child’s
world). However, it is increasingly recognized that research into children should be done with
children, and that researchers should strive to find ways to include the child’s voice. In
planning a research project under this ‘new sociology of childhood’, it becomes a prerogative
for the researcher to establish child-centred methods which will open up access to the child’s
world. It cannot be assumed that instruments which may be effective for collecting data from
adults can, in an age-appropriate form, be equally effective for data collection from children.
Neither can it be assumed that the kind of data the researcher wants to collect is the kind of
data the child will want to give. Indeed, what is salient on the researcher´s agenda may have
little salience at all in the child´s world and the researcher needs to adopt a research
approach which is sufficiently open or flexible to accommodate these changes in focus. This,
of-course, presents particular challenges for the researcher since it subsumes both a high
degree of unpredictability and much ´messiness´ in the research process.

One way to accommodate this unpredictability is to include in the design of the project a
combination of data collection techniques, and to take what is called a ‘multi-modal approach’
to research. When a variety of strategies to interest and engage the children is used, the
opportunities to more fully involve children increase, giving the researcher access to fuller
articulations of their experiences and perceptions. Furthermore, by placing the particular
insights gleaned from each data collection technique side-by-side, unexpected
understandings of key concepts may be uncovered. It can be argued, then, that using multiple
methods in researching children’s experiences is both philosophically appropriate and
pragmatically valuable.


In my own research into initial literacy acquisition in bilinguaI children a multi-modal approach
has proved particularly fruitful in providing complementary data, where concepts or themes
are expanded or reformulated as initial ideas are built upon from one mode to another. The
study I am involved in takes place in a bilingual primary school, working with children from 1

– 3
grade, and its design combines three key strategies to help children to think and talk
about their world of reading: play groups; draw and tell; and participant observation. Each is
detailed below.

Child-centred research techniques and their complexities

Play groups:
A ´play group´ is an adaptation of the standard qualitative research technique of ‘focus group’
to a more child-friendly format. In much the same way as for a ‘focus group’, the aim of the
play group was to generate interactive conversation with and between children rather than
being merely individual interviews within a group of people. However, rather than being
structured around dialogue, the play group was structured around play – a more ‘real’ and
appealing norm for communication for this age group.

The main purpose of the play group was to enable and allow the children to discuss and
articulate in their own words their perceptions, understandings and experiences in relation to
learning to read simultaneously in a first and in a second language. To do this, the
researcher, building on a technique first introduced by Darbyshire et al (2005) (‘the jumping
focus group’), involved the children in a series of games which centred around the topic of
reading, and she took notes on what the children did to resolve the challenges each game
set, and on what they said to each other as they played. At the end of each game a short
‘round-up’ session was held to prompt reflections on some of the issues about reading that
had arisen during the playing of the game, allowing the researcher to clarify certain
understandings or to achieve a deeper understanding of the aspects mentioned.

Issues to consider:
Whilst the idea of using ‘play’ as the organizing heuristic for the focus group worked well, and
children seemed to become quickly involved in the fun of things, at the moment of the ‘round-
up’ session for each game the spontaneity and involvement the children had showed during
the game quickly dissipated and the children tended to behave as if they were back in the
classroom. Routines such as hand-raising, speaking only when spoken to, deferring to ‘the
best student’, looking for the ‘right answer’ to give, mumbled answers or silence when not
sure, etc., quickly replaced the animated flow of communication the children showed during
the game and the researcher was not able to re-establish an interactive conversation about
issues that had arisen as a result of the game. Although the play group sessions were held in
the playground, to indicate to the children that this was different from classroom work and to
break with classroom norms, it appears that the classroom dynamic has a very strong hold in
terms of children´s expectations of how they should communicate in a dialogic setting.

It also became apparent during the playing of the games that the inter-group dynamics and
established power relations between children, built up over the school year, also permeated
the play group. Leaders continued to dictate to others, and followers tended to defer to the
leaders; issues that appeared to be of general consensus during the play group often turned
out to be not so when the researcher worked with children on an individual basis. It is


important for the researcher, then, to also acknowledge the effects of gender dynamics, peer
pressure and personality when designing and interpreting data from play / focus groups.

Questions I was driven to ask myself then, as research designer, was whether carrying out
research in the location of the school would limit the children´s willingness to share with me
(and their peers) their thoughts and perceptions; and might the school setting limit their
expression to what they considered to be ´expected´ answers? It became apparent that I
would need to consider ways to break away from established classroom / school routines and
the associated power dynamic. The benefit of a multi-modal approach to research is that the
researcher is able to take certain actions to offset these difficulties at following stages of data

Draw and Tell:
Just as ‘play’ is an age-congruent approach for a researcher to adopt when aiming to observe
and collect data from children, ‘drawing’ is seen as a common way for children to express
themselves. Since entering pre-school, children are encouraged to draw pictures to show
their understandings of how their world works and drawing is a technique that many teachers
include throughout the primary years of education. Psychologists, too, would agree that it is
often easier for a child to communicate through a drawing what is perceptively and
emotionally salient for him or her.

I used the technique of drawing in my own study to allow the children to portray graphically
what learning to read in Spanish and learning to read in English each meant for them. (In this
respect ‘drawing’ can be seen as a type of ‘mapping’ – another established technique in
qualitative research). Each child was given a folded sheet of blank paper and asked for
‘homework’ to draw a picture of themselves on one half of the page reading in Spanish, and
another picture of themselves, on the other half, reading in English. At school the next day, in
a space outside the classroom and in an individual interview, the child was prompted to tell
the researcher about his or her pictures. The process of ‘drawing’, then, encourages children
to express in ‘their own words’ their perceptions on the topics, and the process of ‘telling’
gives them the space to explain what they mean and to expand on the significance of the
elements they have included in their sketches. The researcher, meanwhile, has the
opportunity to lead the conversation down certain paths in order to explore in more depth
issues that may have arisen in the play group, without the overt interference of dominating
peers or ‘expected discourses’.

Issues to consider:
Whilst it became clear during the play group stage of data collection that, in spite of efforts by
the researcher to establish a non-classroom atmosphere and an equal and open forum for
discussion, the school environment has a strong influence on what the children do and say.
One possibility to move the children away from the overpowering influence that the school
environment may have is the setting of a task for children to do away from the school, and
after school hours – in this case the drawing of self-portraits.

However, although the draw and tell technique may be age-congruent, it is important to
consider that some children simply do not like to draw and may not wish to carry out the task
or put the time and thought into it, such as the researcher may have hoped for. Drawings may
end up being ‘copied’ from a sibling or a classmate, or embedded primarily with shared social


constructions (rather than individual interpretations) of the scene asked for. A child who is not
inspired by the topic may simply resort to ‘standard’ representations of a (any) child reading,
rather than invest time in fully portraying what reading means to him or her. Nevertheless, in
these cases, at the ´telling´ stage of the technique there may be opportunities for the young
participant to personalize the representations he or she drew and to reveal more fully through
words what reading means to him or her. The need to take up what is salient for the child and
not follow blindly what we have on our research agendas is an important consideration when
researching with children.

As research designer, then, it is important to be sensitive to children´s desire to carry out
data-generating activities such as drawing and to avoid exerting pressures on them to comply
when they feel uncomfortable and disengage. Instead, the researcher needs to reflect on
what it might mean when a child disengages or does not answer a direct question: is it the
case that the child perceives the task or question as trivial or uninteresting? Or does the child
not understand what we want him or her to do?

Furthermore, in the role of data interpreter, it is important for the researcher to realise that
children may assign very particular meanings to their drawings and that the researcher needs
to be aware of and try to suspend adultist assumptions about what particular graphic
representations may mean. For example, in one instance, where the adult researcher
assumed that the brightly shining sun in the centre of the picture signified a positive
representation of reading, on questioning the child it became apparent that the brightness of
the sun signified the ´hot-and-botheredness´ that reading caused him. The danger of falling
back on adult semantic categories to interpret child-generated data is a very real problem.

Participant Observation:
‘Participant observation’, another standard qualitative research technique, can also be
effectively adapted when working with children. Whilst the play group and the draw and tell
techniques provided opportunities for the children to express what reading in Spanish and in
English means for them, a participant observation allows the children to show the researcher
how they approach the activity of reading. With this technique the researcher works
individually and alongside each child on a short series of reading activities in both languages.
The researcher can observe at first-hand how children go about their reading and children
can be stopped and prompted to think about and explain the processes they are using in their
reading, as they happen. The value of this kind of ‘think aloud’ data is that it has immediacy –
in other words it is not data that has been recalled from past experiences and therefore is less
likely to take the form of generalized or ‘expected discourses’. In this respect, it is a useful
complement to the representations elicited from the play group and the draw and tell

Issues to consider:
In observing participants at work, as with each of the techniques for data collection described
above, it is important for the researcher to draw back from established notions of how children
read and merely look to confirm these; if something new is to be learned the child must be
allowed to drive the activity and the researcher must listen carefully to what the child has to
say. The researcher needs to be aware that some children may be unaccustomed to working
at the metacognitive level at which the ‘think aloud’ protocol works and to be able to milk the
activity it may take some careful guiding and prompting from the researcher.


Here the researcher may need to question him or herself on the appropriacy of the task set
and the language used, in terms of its cognitive demands. Using cognitively inappropriate
tasks to generate data or adult semantic categories to frame our questions is something the
researcher must strive actively to avoid.


In this paper I have discussed how the adaptation of standard qualitative research techniques
to make them more age-congruent and child-friendly can increase the possibilities of
accessing the child’s world. By taking a multi-modal approach, which combines a series of
techniques, the possibilities for including modes for generating data which may suit the styles
and interests of different participants is also increased. Finally, the juxtaposition of the data
generated from different techniques can provide thickened data and allow for unexpected and
complementary insights and understandings. Importantly, then, this approach may enable the
researcher to reach more meaningful understandings of social phenomenon, from the child´s


Darbyshire, P., Macdougal, C. & W. Schiller (2005) ‘Multiple methods in qualitative research with children : more
insight or just more?’ Qualitative Research vol . 5(4), pp 417-436.
Scott, J. (2000) ‘Children as Respondents: The Challenge for Qualitative Researchers’, in P. Christensen and A.
James (eds) Research with Children: Perspectives and Practices, pp. 98–119. London: Falmer Press.
Woodhouse, B. (2004) ‘Re-Visioning Rights for Children’, in P. Pufall and R.
Unsworth (eds) Rethinking Childhood, pp. 229–43. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.


Proceedings compiled by Guadalupe Pineda for the 40

International MEXTESOL Convention held by MEXTESOL
A.C. in Santiago de Querétaro, Querétaro from
November 7 to 10, 2013.

Graphic design and production by Daniel Sanchez at in San Luis Potosí, S.L.P.