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Title: Biting the bullet: getting the best out of speaking practice in languages tutorials


1
Biting the bullet getting the best out of
speaking practice in languages tutorials
  • Helga Adams and Margaret Nicolson
  • The Open University
  • h.l.adams_at_open.ac.uk

2
Focus of enquiry
  • Case studies of 6 beginners students of French,
    German, Spanish.
  • Under what conditions do students feel best
    enabled to exploit speaking practice
    opportunities, progressing their skills in the
    language and shaping their identity as successful
    language learners?
  • Tutorial attendance/ communication of tutorial
    content, tasks rationale and tasks
    management/pair and group work/physical response
    tasks/personal information/opting out or adapting
    tasks

3
Educational context (1)
  • Distance learning
  • Independent study with support of personal tutor
  • Infrequent face to face tutorials, largely for
    the purpose of speaking practice. Not compulsory
  • Changing population

4
Educational context (2)
  • Diversity
  • Students background age, educational and social
    background, cultural and ethnic provenance,
    disability, competence and confidence levels.
  • Equal opportunities and meeting your needs
    policies
  • Student expectations/ new hierarchies of needs
  • Older pedagogic models losing relevance
  • Need for greater methodological discrimination

5
Research influences (1)
  • Pennycook critical moments
  • Holliday et al(2004) Language shock Hall (1995)
    acculturation
  • MacIntyre and Gardner(1994) Horwitz and
    Young(1991), Daly(1991) anxiety and
    communication apprehension
  • Hall (1990),Blommaert (2005) identity moveable
    and context dependent
  • Bhabas third space(1990) which should allow for
    individuals to redefine themselves in relation to
    the new, other meanings they encounter (Fougere,
    200313)
  • Stratton (2005) Pre-understandings
  • Van Lier(2008163) agency Is not something
    that learners possessbut is situated in a
    particular context
  • Pellegrino (20052) social and psychological
    factors can inhibit spontaneous use of the
    second language

6
Research influences(2) Paying critical attention
to practice
  • Commitment to continual critical evaluation in
    practice (Blommaert, 2005)
  • Rejection of too rigid a belief in the
    application of a particular methodology
    (Howard,1996)
  • Kumaravadivelu (2003, 2006) post-method pedagogy-
    stresses teacher autonomy and principled
    pragmatism rather than the theory of pedagogy
  • Need for alignment between pedagogy and
    socio-cultural influences (Guangwei, 2002)
  • Developing a practioner theory which is
    concerned with judgement and understanding
    (Usher and Bryant, 1987)

7
Tutorial attendance(1)
  • Opportunity for spontaneous speaking practice
  • Rona I needed the oral experience I knew that I
    was weak on hearing comprehension and speaking
  • Hugh You can learn a lot in just a short amount
    of time. It gives you the experience.of speaking
    with other people. It helped me with confidence.
  • Janet The motivation was the practice, the
    speaking.
  • Don I have not missed any. I value them. Just
    the desire to actually nail it
  • Rosemary..the experience was such that I didnt
    want to repeat itI didnt feel comfortable and
    that put me off to be honest. Yeah, I mean I had
    always gone to tutorials with my other OU courses
    and you know I always enjoyed them. I thought it
    was something I particularly wanted to do , that
    face to face tutorial, but when I went, cos I
    hadnt been to the first couple, I felt it was a
    small band of united people so I didnt feel
    particularly welcomed.
  • Ian I appear normal to most peoplebut I do have
    great difficulty negotiating tight places with
    obstacles like desks and people to deal with. I
    did almost come a cropper once when my left leg
    got trapped under my right when turning

8
Tutorial attendance (2)
  • Acculturation
  • familarity with format and practices
  • familiarity with people(including the teacher)-gt
    sense of security Pellegrino, 2005)
  • Critical moments for Rosemary and Ian
  • For a sense of validation and safety to be
    fostered, students have to feel welcome
    (Pellegrino, 2005)
  • Ian unable to exert agency

9
Communication of tutorial content, task rationale
and execution (1)
  • Janet Yes definitely .. .it is to make you
    prepare more and you will know what to expect
    when you go into that tutorial what language you
    would expect to know, especially the topics you
    would want to learn. Then it will give you a
    chance before you went along.
  • Rona I think in retrospect it is very important
    .. I am not a person who easily thinks on her
    feet . I am quite good if I can prepare things. I
    am always thinking , oh, if I had had the chance
    to think about that whereas you know in the
    tutorial I hadnt been given the opportunity
  • Ian The tutor sent you an e-mail ..so you had a
    fair idea of what you were going into I think it
    made you less frightened
  • Preparing oneself for interaction with other
    speakers in order to improve ones prediction of
    success in interactionelevates ones internal
    sense of security (Pellegrino, 2005)

10
Communication of tutorial content, task rationale
and execution (2)
  • Ian we got the e-mail listing what was going to
    take place. but then you find you are playing
    sort of, as I say, games and things, that involve
    getting up, moving around and a lot of activity ,
    and then some of these activities are actually
    very very taxing if you are still very vague
    about what you are doing, like learning a
    language, in fact I found it quite a shock.. I
    just couldnt take it. I didnt realise it was
    going to be like that.all the information
    you could get beforehand would be very useful
    actually youd be forearmed and at least get to
    the stage where you could actually cope with
    that.
  • Hughif we were doing group work I would think,
    oh, this would help me with my confidence, this
    with speaking to others. It might be important
    for someone who is not aware of those things.
  • Rosemary I dont think it was very important
    I was aware of how people are taught nowadays



11
Pair and group work (1)
  • Mixed competence and confidence
    levels/behavioural factors
  • Ian If someone you are paired with is
    exceptionally good that can be embarrassing that
    they are doing all the work and you are doing
    nothing, and at other times you may be paired
    with someone who is really much worseyou are
    sitting there, or youve got the answer or the
    person says something in French and you dont
    know what they have said.there are lots of
    issues around that
  • Rosemarythe girl I was sitting next to was
    very quiet and shy so we just sort of muttered a
    few things and then we just didnt do anything.
    In the second groupingthe person I was talking
    to was a lot more fluent and tended to jump in
    when I was trying to think of a word and I felt
    like saying Stop doing thatsome people just seem
    to be in the spotlight all the time and Im not
    being allowed to
  • Rona it is a tremendous effort I can see the
    theory behind it but Im not sure you always got
    the results that you wanted.

12
Pair and group work (2)
  • Preparation
  • Preparing work at home
  • Working on vocabulary and structures in class
    before more open ended group/pair tasks -gt
    building confidence
  • Encouragement to say I havent done this yet or
    I am no good at this sort of thing in order to
    lower others expectations of the learners
    performance thus reducing the risk of
    condemnation for inadequate peformance
    (Pellegrino, 2005)

13
Physical movements in tasks
  • Getting up, moving around, catching objects,
    circulating or miming.
  • Challenges
  • Eye and hand co-ordination
  • Motor difficulties
  • Shyness/embarrassment (acting and moving about in
    front of other people)

14
Personal information
  • Rosemary I tend to make things up, things I need
    to learn. So If I am a bit rusty on family
    members Ill make up that Ive got about fifteen
    brothers and sisters to get my practice. Ill
    describe another town other than mine to make me
    think more about language I need to be using, so
    I dont use my proper antecedents as it were.
    Its just something I have developed myself.I
    like to stretch my vocabulary , my language, and
    secondly I dont really like giving out a lot of
    personal information to people I dont know
  • Hugh You cant really say my wife and I .but
    I feel that you cant really be honest about
    reality.
  • Janet They were saying I wasnt really happy
    about doing that, giving the information out I
    felt uncomfortable. I could have cringed. I
    felt really uncomfortable for them.

15
Opting out and adapting tasks
  • Ian it would have been wonderful if someone had
    said you dont have to do this, you can do it in
    a different way .If it was said in French at
    the time, maybe I didnt notice.
  • Rosemary it would give you the confidence of
    trying something cos if somebody says have a go
    and you find that perhaps you can do something
    different that would give you confidence
  • Don If people feel pressured too much thenif
    they feel they are not coping, or not allowed the
    flexibility to deal with the course in their own
    way, then I suppose if its to the extreme level
    they may may actually opt out altogether.
  • Rona I was just pleased if I could get through
    it
  • Hugh We didnt have to do anything. we didnt
    feel comfortable with doing, so for instance, if
    we were asked to speak in front of the whole
    tutorial we would have been fine if we had said
    look, I dont feel confident with that and then
    the tutor would come and give us help with this
    personally
  • Janet would students feel worse for attending if
    they had attention draw drawn to their special
    needs?

16
Main findings
  • Benefits of research interview the listener may
    offer the participant a mechanism for reflection,
    greater self-awareness, finding a voice.and
    venting repressed emotions (Colbourne and Sque,
    2005)
  • Reflection enabled students to come to a more
    in-depth understanding of the options available
    to them
  • Identity issues Individual student identity,
    teaching group identity, teacher identity.
  • Agency
  • Realisation of the third space? critical
    moments, problems of integration, anxiety,
    discomfort

17
Implications for teacher development
  • Post method pedagogy must be sensitive to a
    particular group of teachers teaching a
    particular group of students pursuing a
    particular set of goals within a particular
    institutional context embedded in a particular
    socio-cultural milieu Kumaravadivelu(2006)
  • .helping teachers to develop the knowledge and
    skills, attitude and autonomy necessary to
    construct their own context-sensitive theory of
    practice (ibid)
  • Development of personal theories by interpreting
    and applying professional theories in practical
    situations while they are on the job (Pennycook
    )
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