Tuesday, September 03, 2013

EFL Blogs-the obstacles and solution

There are many articles that suggest involving language learners into blogging experience can benefit and maximize the learning. Here I won't talk about the benefits anymore; however, I would like to list several obstacles that EFL teachers usually face to in traditional classrooms and suggest how teachers can do with weblogs to solve the problem.
(1). insufficient exposure to the target language (TL)
EFL learners usually do not have enough exposure to the TL. Apart from the textbook and other printed materials that the teacher gave in class, learners usually do not have chance to be exposed to sufficient and suitable authentic materials (for authentic materials are usually designed for readers from the target culture, not for language learning).
->suggestion: I often try to find interesting articles or discussion topics online, and then rewrite it to suit my student's langauge level. After rewrite it, I post it on the classblog and have a discussion with my students afterwards. After the class, I would also post several links related to the discussed topics for mere entertaining materials (sometimes as homework) and encourage them to write their comments. Learners can arrange their own time to learn online, post comments and homeworkl; learning becomes 24 hours and is not restrained in time and space.
(2). individual inequality to use the TL in tradional classroom
EFL learners usually only have 3-5 hour English class (at most) per week. there are usually at least 8-10 students in one class (in junior high or high schools, there can be more than 35 students in one class). Factors of learners' different personalities, learning and response pace, motivation, and language proficiency can all lead to individual inequality to speak up in class or in groups. It has always been a challenge for EFL teachers to make interaction going and maximize the learning.
=>suggestion: by involving learners in blogging experience, teachers can promote social equality and identity. It is because that learners usually have more time to think and plan their language output before they post their voice on the blog, and they do not have to be stared by the whole class. Online communication is usually more face-saving than face-to-face communication. Every class member has equal chances to express their feelings and practice the language; individual differences leading to social inequality to speak in traditional classrooms can all be overcome; more!! teachers can give comments (or encouragement) to individuals (learners usually feel great about this).
(3). insufficient chance to learn the target pragmatic knowledge
EFL learners generally do not have enough chances to learn the target pramatic knowledge for they do not have opportunities to take part in the target social and cultural context. For not to experience 'culture shock', EFL learners, who grow up in different cultures, need to learn not only 'language with correct grammar' but 'appropriate language'.
=>suggestion: how to let our students take part in the sociocultural context? teachers can try to pair up our students with learners from other culture, better from the target culture (or put several learners in a group). Teachers can create a 'multicultural blog' for students and ask them to introduce their own culture by showing photos, pictures, or links to audio and video files to other students and encourage question asking. Teachers can offer help to put the photos, pictures, and links online.
So...blogs are very helpful to language learning; I would say it is especially helpful for EFL learners to get one step closer to the target culture and improve the language proficiency without spending money to go abroad.
so, when using weblogs to language learning, there are several principles that EFL teachers need to know about:
1. design tasks/lessons that is related to the target culture (learners need to learn not only the language but the culture)
2. create motivation by giving collaborative tasks (eg. pair up students to keep story journal together)
3. encourage online opinior exchange (the more the better)
4. more links to authentic materials. ( eg. I use text-to-speech software to create authentic-like listening practice for learners, upload to a server, then give links to learners, and ask them to download the listening files)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

my second published article

I am glad to annouce that I've published my second article related to CALL.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Computer can talk-my experience of teaching businesspeople English on the net

what's the most obvious barrier that most EFL teachers may face to? Well, according to my biggest problem is that my students do not have the environment to learn English. Most EFL learners would complain that they are not having much chances to listen to and speak English. It is usually difficult for EFL teachers to find not only authentic listening material but a suitable one. For example, listening to BBC news or Discovery may help; however, for businesspeople who want to improve their very basic listening and speaking skill (for handling basic conversation with foreigners), those materials may be too difficult or not very helpful to them.

I am now teaching businesspeople English online. I ask my students to download English materials from the learning blog before class and upload their homework on it after class. We use msn to text and audio chat about a central topic, which is similar to everyday conversation. We only meet at least 4 hours every week.

For listening practice, I use text-to-speak software to create sound files with clear and natural voice and then I upload those files on the net, making available for learners to download and listen to them. Teachers, especially EFL teachers, do not need to spend money and time choosing suitable listening materials for their students.

The best text-to-speak software I have found so far is AT&T natural Voices. If teachers do not want to spend money buying the software, they simply can come here and try their Demo. Both US and UK English are available (even German and French). You can also choose voices spoken by different people to create a conversation.

This is my fist time teaching English on the net. The learning outcome is still unknown; however, it is sure that EFL learners can have more chances to get one step closer to the target language.

Friday, January 14, 2005

the 180kg love story

I just received a mail, in which a very cute photo album was attached. If you would like to see the 180kg love story, you should come here and have a look http://member.verywed.com/timpani/album/10889

Sometimes we just care too much about people's appearance...looking at this photo album, don't u just believe that there is always someone out there waiting for you??

Not a Linguistic Blog anymore?!

Searching for a job is easy; however, to find a job that I really like and wish to devote myself in is not as easy as I thought.   However, finally, I found one! and now I am working as a senior English editor in a English textbook and magazine company, which you can find here at


I actually tried to find a job related to CALL-Computer Assisted Language Learning; While I was searching for it, I found now many companies and schools in Taiwan are trying to integrate classroom English learning with online technology.   The term, e-learning, becomes very popular.   However, it seems like different companies are trying to develop different kinds of online learning system, and most of them are still paying more attention on the presentation of lessons to learners and ignore the more effective side of CALL (interactive and experience learning).


While surving in the EVO 2005 yahoo group, a question 'how does a blog different from a forum?' caught my eye, and I did spend some time thinkging about this question. Except for the sense of 'ownership' that learners can have during the process of learning, what benefits are worth of talking about? and more, I also though of the courseware of Moodle and blackboard where teachers can post lessons, discussion topics, and other extra materials online. Without trying to figure out different features of forums, blogs, and online courseware, teachers can definately make good use of these 'free' resources and upgrade our teaching quality.


So... the main reason, or the most reasonable reason, for companies and schools to hire professionals of IT and develop a new, hopefully a better online learning system is to create or enlarge the market.


The goal is to 'attract customers and earn money'!! I was actually hoping 'probably I can learn something' from my job if I could find something related to CALL; however, while sitting in front of the managers and listening to the description of how they want their E-learning products to be, the only feeling I had at that time is 'I will not be able to fit in this place!"


Anyway...although I didn't step on the route that I planned, I chose another one that I am also interested in. (reading and writing). I am thinking...probably this blog shouldn't be called 'linguistic blog' anymore :P cuz I am really not sure whether I will still write something about teaching and CALL in the future.


 


 




Sunday, January 02, 2005

so fragile

Saw an interesting report hereHow Did Animals Escape Tsunami?
"I think animals can sense disaster. They have a sixth sense. They know when things are happening."

it's pretty amazing that the animals can sense disaster... human beings, the smartest creature in the world, seem so fragile.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Teachers should not just provide knowledge-the role of LLS(language learning strategy)

Warden wrote his opinion about the diverse research arguments for the impact of grammatical correction on language learners' learning.

"By citing a few others who tell their opinions and a couple studies that failed to find a significant influence from grammar correction, a conclusion is reached that it doesn't work. The problem with this logic is that not finding something does not prove it is not there, and you need to compare it to something else to understand which method is more effective. NO DIFFERENCE means all methods are equal. Call them bad or call them good--it is the same"

I believe many language teachers must find language learning theories not as helpful as they should be in practical classroom settings; after all, learners are individuals. I've always struggled to use different teaching techniques on different learners or in different classrooms. Just as Warden suggested learners in different cultures may prefer different kinds of learning ways.

There are also several articles suggest the importance of training learners to learn in a certain way. To teach learners how to learn (learning strategy) should be more helpful than just pouring knowledge to them and expect them to absorb everything.



Tuesday, December 14, 2004

lifetime career..must be a great one!

Haven't updated for a long time!! I went back to Taiwan for one month and came back to Melbourne yesterday (with my Mom). The 12 -hour flight almost killed me..felt so tired!
Well, I actually have finished everything here...today is my graduation ceremony!! [:)], which means I will finally get my degree today!! After the ceremony, I will travel around Melbourne with my Mom for about 1 week and then will back to Taiwan; hopefully I can find a good job afterward.
What kind of job that I may be interested in? Well, it's still in the air; however, I think I may try to do something different... hmm... it will be a lifetime career..I should choose something that I really like!