Theory of Bilingual Education Adriana Sandí Cascante Teaching Language in Context.
Alice Omaggio Hadley
The role learning
Hypothesis 1. Opportunities must be provided to students to practice using language in context. This chapter explores content & context. Students need opportunities to learn language in context and apply it with real situations. This goal can be achieved if language is presented and practiced in communicative context. Natural language occurs in context. “Normal linguistic behavior doesn’t consist of production of separate sentences but in their use of for the creation of the discourse.” (Widdowson). “Classroom thinking and reallife thinking have been a longstanding problem in education” (Strasheim). Slager emphasized the need for context and “sentence connectedness.” Jespersen refers to instruction as mental gymnastics, replete with leap from one range of ideas to another. Disconnected exercises become boring, and disjointed language practice activities can still found in modern text. Scholars believe that programs should incorporate analytic and experiential approaches to language learning. Stern explains that in analytic approach, language is the object of study, and in experiential approach language is learned through communication in contentbased classrooms. Allen et al. feel these two types are complementary. Learners benefit most if form and function are instructionally linked. Students need opportunities to use the target language, to be motivated to use it accurately, appropriately, and coherently. Focused practice activities must be functional, organizational, and sociolinguistic. Analytical activities and formfocused practice is improved if they consist of sentences connected one to another in a logical sequence. In this part of the chapter there are two samples exercises. The first one is descontextualized. The second one is contextualized to a theme of the unit of study, which is politics. Both samples are equivalent in difficult and structure. But while the sentences in the first sample would hardly say in sequence in a real world situation, in the second, it could say in summarizing political views. The second activity is more natural, and focused on particular grammatical point. Meaningful processing can be assured for sample 2 by asking students to use the given model to create their own statements about politics. The fundamental difference between noncontextualized and contextualized practice is that links form with meanings that language learners want to convey in natural communicative situations. Focused practice is designed to students can refine and shape their communicative output to conform to target language norms. It can be beneficial as students’ skills are developing. Higgs & Clifford concluded that if accuracy is a goal of instruction, students must pass through meaningful, structured or monitored practice, to openended communication. McLaughlin expressed the language learning involves the gradual shift from controlled to automatic processing. At first, a learner searches consciously for words because of his lowerlevel processes are not enough automatic. Gradually, he increases the number of situations he can perform without consciously attending. He becomes more capable of devoting his conscious decisionmaking processes to the level of meaning. (Littlewood) He also suggests that classroom
activities be designed to follow a sequence in which meaning plays a role: 1) focus on form, 2) focus on form + meaning, 3) focus on meaning + form, and 4) focus meaning. Type 1 keeps a minimum proficiency oriented instruction. Type 2 constitutes precommunicative practice. Type 3 & 4 develop proficiency. Contentbased instruction and immersion are experiential, and offer full contextualization of instruction.
comprehension process: some theoretical considerations
Learning and practicing language in meaningful context is more appealing to students and teachers than learning isolated bits of language through memorization. The rationale for contextualizing and personalizing classroom activities not rest upon intuition. Additional support is found for the use of authentic input in listening and reading, as well as meaningful and contextualized materials for language production. The role of background knowledge
Cognitive psychologists emphasized it. Ausubel said that learning must bee meaningful to be effective and permanent. It must be relatable to prior knowledge, and existing knowledge must be organized in a way that new information be assimilated or attached to learner’s cognitive structure. Teachers need to provide advance organizers (devices that activate background knowledge) to facilitate learning and retention. There are 3 types of background knowledge potentially activated: 1. Linguistic information: knowledge of target code. 2. Knowledge of the world: including store of concepts and expectations based on prior experience. 3. Knowledge of discourse structure: understanding of how various discourses (conversations, radio broadcasts, literary text, political speeches, newspapers, magazines) are organized. Language practice limited to the use of form, only the first type of background knowledge is involved. The hypothesis that the need for activating knowledge is greatest for lower proficiency levels, is supported by Yorio who separate this factors in the reading process: 1. Knowledge of the language: the code. 2. Ability to predict and make correct choices. 3. Ability to remember previous cues. 4. Ability to associate between different cues selected. In reading a second language appear new elements: 1. Reader’s knowledge of foreign language differs from native speaker’s. 2. Predicting ability is hindered by reader’s imperfect knowledge. 3. Wrong choices make association more difficult. 4. Memory span is reduced making more difficult to remember cues. 5. There is interference from the native language. Yorio concludes that second language learners are in disadvantage because:
1. They are forced to recall cues that they don’t know well, and they forget them much faster. 2. They predict future cues and make association with past cues simultaneously. “If they predict what is coming, they forget past cues; if they concentrate on the past cues, prediction is impaired.” Novice or intermediate students often try to process language in a wordforword fashion. If students use other cues such as knowledge of the world, understanding should be facilitated. Teachers can help students by drawing the three types of background knowledge. They view that various types of background knowledge are used to comprehend written and oral texts was proposed by some theorists such as Smith and Goodman, they addressed firstlanguage reading comprehension had a strong influence on second language theories about the nature of listening and reading process. Readers select elements of the text rather than use all the visual cues (reduction of uncertainty) Reading is a psycholinguistic guessing game (Goodman). The ability to anticipate which has not been seen, is vital in reading. Readers sample the textual cues, use redundancies, and formulate their hypotheses about what the text is going to say. The sampling process helps readers confirm o reject the hypotheses as they process the information in the text (Barnett). Readers don’t process words; they work on the semantic or logical relations of the material. Top down theories of comprehension are replaced in popularity by more interactive models of reading, which suggest that comprehension involves an interactive process between the reader and the text that moves in a cyclical way. Schema theory: Using background knowledge to enhance the languagecomprehension process
(Carrell & Eisterhold) Any given text doesn’t carry meaning itself. It provides direction to listeners or readers can construct meaning from their cognitive structure, called schemata (the plural of schema). Other similar but not quite synonymous are scripts, plans, goals, frames, expectations, and events chains. Rumelhart defines a schema as an abstract representation of a generic concept for an object, event or situation. For example, the individual abstract concept “house”, may be altered by adjectives like elegant or squalid. Cultural differences also alter the abstract representation for a concept. Misunderstanding happens when we find the wrong schema for a given concept. When a schema represents a whole situation, a chain of stereotypic events or features is called up in mind in association with the situation. Schank & Abelson defined the term “script” as a structure that describes in a predetermined fashion, appropriate sequences of events in a particular context. Hudson refers to the selection of a particular form of a schema as “instantiation”. Comprehending a story depends on the schema that is instantiated as the listener who needs to construct a correspondence between the schema he had activated and the actual information. If both sources match, the message is understood. Comprehension involves fitting the meaning of the message to the schema in mind. Personal history, interests, preconceived ideas, and cultural background influence “Interpretation”. Schema theorists describe an interactive model of comprehension. They posit two modes: bottom up and topdown processing. Carrell and Eisterhold differ these two operations in the type of information used in comprehending the message and the way that information enters to the system. Schemata are organized hierarchically: most abstract schemata at the top, and most specific at the bottom. Bottomup processing: The message is interpreted by paying attention to specific details, and attempting to instantiate the fitting lowerlevel schema for the incoming data. (Datadriven moving from
the parts to the whole) Topdown processing: The listener/reader begins with a general highorder schema, predicts based on background knowledge, and searches the input for information to fit into the slots. (Conceptually driven moving from the whole to the parts) These two processing modes occur at the same time. Carrell says that skilled listeners/readers shift from one mode to the other as they accommodate the demands of the task, while lowerproficiency listener/reader rely on one mode. This unidirectional processing has five causes: 1. Linguistic skill deficiencies 2. Failure to activate available schemata 3. Reading misconceptions 4. Individual differences in cognitive style Carrell and Eisterhold explain that there are two kinds of schemata used to understand messages: 1. Content schemata: prior knowledge and expectations about objects, events, and situations. 2. Formal schemata: knowledge of the rhetorical or discourse structures of different types of text.
Research on the role of context in comprehension
Some practical questions that second language teacher have asked are addressed in this chapter. They are about visual organizers, nonpictorial prereading or prelistening activities, cultural knowledge, influence of different types of text. The role of visual organizers
Bransford and Johnson made four studies of listening comprehension. They showed that relevant contextual knowledge is a prerequisite for comprehending prose in the native language. They found the importance of a suitable organization of store of previous knowledge facing a difficult text. They demonstrated that subjects don’t simply interpret sentences intrinsically and store meaning. They create semantic products with input information and prior knowledge. The experiment consisted of an acquisition phase (subjects listen to the passage) followed by 2 tasks: 1) subjects were asked to rate the comprehensibility of the passage and 2) subjects were asked to recall the facts in the passage. Five groups of subjects participated: 1. Nocontext : hearing the passage with no pictorial support. 2. Contextbefore : Seeing the contextual visual before hearing the passage. 3. Contextafter : hearing the passage and then seeing the picture. 4. Partialcontext : Seeing the picture before hearing the passage, but the objects in the picture are rearranged. 5. No context 2 : hearing the passage twice with no pictorial support. The results revealed that only the Contextbefore had a real advantage in comprehending the passage. The ambiguity of the passage was removed by the appropriate prior knowledge: the picture. Omaggio said that visual contextual information makes the comprehension task easier because
appropriate background knowledge or schemata is activated. She investigated the effects of selected pictorial contexts. Two variables were explored: 1. Pictorial contextual organizer : consisted of 6 levels or experimental conditions: a. No visual organizer provided. b. A single object drawing depicting the title of the story. c. A contextual picture provided prior to reading depicting an action from the beginning of the story. d. A contextual picture provided prior to reading depicting an action from the middle of the story. e. A contextual picture provided prior to reading depicting an action from the end of the story. f. All three contextual pictures provided prior to reading. 2. Type of text : consisted in three conditions: a. No text provided to one group, just the pictures. b. A text in French provided to a second group. c. The same text in English provided to a third group. Comprehension of the text was measured by asking students to 1) write a resume of the passage content in English and 2) complete a 20item multiple choice and true/false test. The results showed different effects of the conditions on reading comprehension in native and target language. Advance organizers had a significant advantage. Also this study revealed that not all pictures are equally effective in enhancing comprehension in the second language. Mueller in a similar study investigated the effects of visual organizer on listening comprehension in German. He used one variable in measuring those effects. Subjects were asked to recall an English resume of the passage heard in German, it was heard only once. He found that providing a visual before hearing the passage had more beneficial effect. Visual organizers compared to other prereading activities
Hudson’s study: at lower levels of proficiency, the provision of the pictorial context cues aid comprehension. Read/test/reread/retests and vocabulary treatments are less effective at the beginning and intermediate levels than visual condition, they are effective at advance level. Induced schemata via picture cues can overcome lowerproficiency deficits. Advanced readers are able to bring more nonvisual information in the comprehension process. Visual and prequestioning treatments produce a deeper and more active involvement of the subject in prior to reading. Script activators and other organizers
Titles and topic cues In Bransford & Johnson experiments, subjects listened to the passage once without information about the topic, others were given the topic in a short statement, and a third group was given the topic after hearing the passage. The passage was more comprehensible for the subjects who had the topic before the passage.
Anderson, Reynolds, Schallert, and Goetz showed that the background and interests of readers influence their interpretation of passages. Highlevel schemata determine how discourse is understood, it cause a person to see a message in a certain way, without considering alternative interpretations. Familiar scripts facilitate reading comprehension; they help to make appropriate predictions and hypotheses about what will occur in the story. The higher proficiency level, the less impact script activators had, since highproficiency students create a context from the linguistic cues in the text itself. Cultural background cues It has significant effect on reading comprehension. Johnson said that exposure to the meanings of difficult vocabulary didn’t seem to affect comprehension. But who studied the target vocabulary before the reading, were in advantage. He concluded that background knowledge helps enhance comprehension. Attitudes and emotional reactions as well as knowledge structures may have a role in the instantiation of schemata and in the comprehension process. Story structure and expectations Spiro showed how expectations about the outcome of a story could affect comprehension and recall. Comprehension is an active, hypothesistesting procedure in which the reader constructs his own version against the incoming information. If a match can’t be achieved, they adjust the input to fit their hypotheses, choose a different schema and beginning the hypothesistesting process again. Rhetorical schemata show that comprehension suffers when the structure of a story violates the expected norm. It can cause the reader to fail to comprehend. Carrell found that the content is kept constant but the story’s structure was violated, second language reading comprehension suffers at the same way. The role of formal schemata in language comprehension is shown to be as important to consider as that of content schemata. For ESL students, the more loosely organized structure of collections of descriptions is more difficult to recall than the more tightly organized comparison, causation and problem solution. Teaching them about rhetorical structure of a text before reading it improves their comprehension. Lee & Riley found that students with an expanded framework as an advance organizer remember more than those with the minimal framework. Providing readers at lower levels of proficiency with advance organizers about passages structure is an important step in helping them learn how to get the most information form a foreignlanguage text. Conclusion: contextualization and schemabased understanding
Comprehension is an active process where students interact with the text, using background knowledge, and the rhetorical features of the text itself. Schematabased understanding supports the view that learning language in context is easier than processing language in bits and pieces. Second language learners must be aware of conventions and constraints of discourse in the target language. Sociocultural factors need to be taught overtly at various points along the course.
Immersion programs: Adaptations for schools in the United States. 1. As educational, cultural, and linguistic enrichment programs in elementary grades. 2. As magnet schools to bring about an ethnic and/or racial balance within a school district. 3. As means of achieving a kind of twoway bilingualism in communities with large minority populations (Genesee) Although the initial purposes for the immersion an contentbased instruction, a common gal of such programs is the development of significant levels of language proficiency through experiential learning in subjectmatter areas. Met defines contentbased programs as instruction that uses learning objectives and activities drawn from the elementary school curriculum as a vehicle for teaching foreign language skills. Genesee defines Canadian immersion programs as those in which target language is used for teaching regular school subjects. He describe 3 immersion models: 1. Early immersion : in the first to 4th grades of schooling are done in French with a gradual incorporation of English until sixth grade. 2. Delayed immersion th and 5th grades receive instruction in French, with reintegration into : 4 the English curriculum in the subsequent grades. 3. Late immersion : all French instruction in 7th or 8th grade with a daily period of English. Also programs can be characterized as total immersion or partial immersion models. In discussion the effectiveness of a contentbased instruction for ESL students, Snow and Brinton conclude about the need to integrate language and content in a coherent fashion. Simply teaching language through content or content through language is not enough. An integrated of form focused activities and contentbased assignments is needed to achieve the best results, regardless the age or level of proficiency of the student.