viernes, 28 de mayo de 2010

Evolution of English Teaching

About fifteen years ago, the Ministry of Public Education started with a new plan trying to insert English as a second language in public schools. They wanted to give the opportunity to those students from public schools to have better opportunities in their future, being English an important tool for them to get better jobs.
By that time only students from private schools had access to learn English.
At the beginning they started hiring people who speak English, but not necessarily those who knew how to teach.
The plan was so successful that they felt the need of hiring more people, and on the way, many people showed interest in this area, which was good, since those people started to study not only the language, but the tools needed to teach it, and they started hiring teachers of English as a second language.
The different universities started to implement this program to prepare the best they could those students, but unfortunately not all of them had the skills needed to teach the language, only few of them who had opportunities to travel abroad and be in touch not only with the language but with the culture (an important part of the language), or those who were very interested in acquiring the skills and did their best to get them.
Recently, the government implemented a plan to train those teachers with lack of skills in the language, and they have done great, they invested a lot of money in these workshops and they have been successful. Now, the students have better prepared teachers.But obviously, we need to find ways of being always updated, not only in the language, but in those techniques that can improve our daily life in classrooms.

sábado, 22 de mayo de 2010

Language and Music

The history of music predates the written word and is tied to the development of each unique human culture. The development of music among humans occurred against the backdrop of natural sounds such as birdsong and the sounds other animals use to communicate.
Before learning to speak, primitive man would make noises to communicate. When "moods" started to develop, man would make noises which ascertained their moods and convey them to their fellow men. Thus music developed.
Musical exposure can be controlled and manipulated to an extent not possible in humans. Also, any features of music perception found in nonhuman animals must not be part of an adaptation for music, and must rather be side effects of more general features of perception or cognition.

I would like to establish the link between music and language development in children by drawing together the music and linguistic developmental research literature. It informs educators the significance of integrating the two domains in the study of early childhood development three aspects in the developmental processes was investigated: early perception of sound, premusical and prelinguistic vocalization and the emergence of singing and speech. In addition, the linguistic and musical environmental stimulation, that is baby talk and lullaby respectively, was also discussed. It was shown that music and language development are indistinguishable during the early stages, and only until later stages that they become more diversified. The implication for educators is that in order to enhance the learning of either or both, music and language should be closely related.

Components of motivation in foreign-language learning (FLL) which involves learning the target language in institutional/academic settings without regularly interacting with the target language community. It was assumed that the results obtained from second-language acquisition (SLA) contexts those in which the target language is learned at least partly embedded in the host environment–are not directly applicable to FLL situations. Therefore a motivational questionnaire was developed and administered to 134 learners of English in Hungary, a typical European FLL environment, with the aim of defining the relevance and characteristics of integrativeness and instrumentality in FLL, as well as to locate other motivational components. Based upon the results, a motivational construct was postulated consisting of (1) an Instrumental Motivational Subsystem, (2) an Integrative Motivational Subsystem, which is a multifaceted cluster with four dimensions, (3) Need for Achievement, and (4) Attributions about Past Failures. The results also indicated that in mastering an intermediate target language proficiency, the Instrumental Motivational Subsystem and Need for Achievement especially, play a significant role, whereas the desire to go beyond this level is associated with integrative motives.

Choose a topic from the curriculum given by the MEP for elementary public schools, and invent a song according to their level and the vocabulary required for that level.

“I think music in itself is healing. It's an explosive expression of humanity. It's something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music.”

Cyberspaces vrs Books

There are many advantages on having acces to different cyberspaces to get information. First of all, we can save time, since we can get on different websites, choose information, compare and in few minutes we can gather ideas and by "copy pasting" we don`t have the need of typing.

Meanwhile, some years ago, when we used to go to the libraries, we had to take time to go there, ask for information to the person in charge, fill formulas to get the books, read one by one the books related to the topics we were interested in, and then copy in a notebook by handwriting all the information, or in the best cases, photocopy the parts of the books we needed. After all this time consuming process, we had to type or write.

Nowadays, we have the chance to develop more intertained activities, that would help the students to have fun and learn at the same time, such as musical videos, movies, games, or just by letting them look for information is fun enough for them.

Since most of the people is involved with the internet, we as teachers must be updated, and find ways to use technology in our classroom, specially in learning English as a second language, we can have acces to different activities to help the students to improve their skills such as pronunciation, for example singing in a karaoke, and even better having conversations through Skype or any messenger with native speakers of English. In this way we can help the students to get involved in the culture which is an important part of the learning process, and have virtual trips abroad.