Friday, October 22, 2004

LookWayup online concordance

Yesterday I got an email from Tony, who told me that he read my published article about concordance the other day and recommand the LOOKWAYUP online concordance. I went to the website to have a look; I actually found it amazing that this online concordance is quite easy to use. User just need to install it to the browser and only by double click they can look up words. If you would like to have a try before you install it, you can come to this page; simply try to double click anyword you want to look for meanings! Also, you can listen to the pronunciation of words as well.

This is certainly a very good tool for language learners! one thing that concordance benefit language learning is it tends to offer authentic sentences or contexts. Usually dictionaries can only give at most 3 sentence examples for each word entry; and those sentences are usually artificial...

However, learners still need to be trained prior to the use of concordance for they will be exposed to very large amount of data. I am still looking for a suitable online concordance that is suitable for EFL learners, especially for younger one.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Culture and Language Teaching Through Electronic Technology

Authough more language teachers now acknowledge the importance of communicative language teaching, that focus on learners' communicative competence; for the limitation of traditional classroom where interaction mode tend to be liner, teachers do feel difficulties to promote learners' communicative competence; this is especially the case for teachers who teach English as a foreign language; interactions that allow langauge practice is usually insufficient.

The constrains that makes the practice of communicative language teaching difficult usually become an excuse that justify 'focusing on form accuracy' teaching.

Using CMC tools for langauge teaching is proposed by lots of reserachers; however, most articles focus on the suggestion that CMC encouraging more interaction among students can helop promote learners linguistic knowledge. I recently have uploaded some CMC articles here.

Today, I finally saw an article talking about the use of technology to teach pragmatic. It is a research article that discusses about an experiment on the electronic communication effect on Arab students' pragmatic learning. The conclusion is : electronic communication can make the gap between two cultures smaller.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

If I Keep Listening...Will I be Able to Understand?

The other day, Paul just wrote about his experience of using TPR (Total Physical Response) approach in an EFL classrooms. I belive the TPR approach was based on Krashen's comprehensible input, which suggests that all language teachers need to do is to provide authentic and sufficient input for our students; when learners are ready, they can start to produce language output.

As soon as the hypothesis was proposed, some researchers was ready to attack. Yesterday I happend to read some research findings related to comprehension-based ESL/EFL classrooms in Lightbown & Spada's (1999) article-Second Language Learning in The Classroom. I couldn't find it want to recommend it though it's a little too long.

So, the conclusion of those research findings is ' although comprehensible input seem contribute positive effect on language learning, it is considered to be insufficient to help learners develop their language ability to advanced levels.
A possible explanation is 'when learners are exposed to language input, they are more likely to acquire forms that frequently appear in the input' That is, for some less-frequent words or phrases, unless learners pay more attention on them, they are not likely to be acquired.

Go back to the TPR approach, I would like to agree that it is very useful to motivate our students; and it also allows our students to learn some English usages that are frequently used in the classroom (eg. stand up, turn to page 6, class dismissed...and etc.) However, I would still want to emphasize the importance of instruction.

Lightbown, P., & Spada, N. (1999). Second Language Learning in The Classroom. How Languages are Learned. (Ch 6).

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Don't let anyone kill your language and culture

English, as a global langauge, is now getting even stronger. It seems like everybody is learning English for getting higher pay, for learning more about western culture, for fashion, for prestige...etc. English reflect modern life!! Everybody loves English!!

It is certainly a good thing to see people from different cultures can communicate by using the same langauge; however, it is also the sad thing to see other languages dying and disappering... can we blame English as a killer of other less-popular languages?? well... if you want :) However, I would rather focus on how we teachers or members of ethnic groups should do to support the less-popular languages?

Language is not just a mean of communication but also about culture and identify. An article 'language gap' pointed out 'Middle Eastern linguists are hard to find' although the government has been funding in this field. I believe the same thing is happening to other less popular is just the 911 event caught people's attention to this particular area.

The other day I wrote about the Ethnic community, which is an online community that aims at bring teachers teaching ethnic languages together and exchanging new teaching ideas. When involving in this project of supporting the ethnic groups, I keep having one very bad feeling that I had never had before I came to Melbourne: why PRC Mandarin? rather than both PRC and ROC??

I would never want to talk about politics! however, I would still want to emphasize that PRC and ROC Mandarin are so different (not just writing system but also pronunciation, typing system, pronunciation, and terms). As a linguist, a teacher, and a Taiwanese, I really do not want my language and culture to disappear; at least do not disapper because we are colonized by China. Please excuse me...but I do think so :(

I do feel I have the responsibility to keep Taiwanese language and culture; it is not just because I am a Taiwanese but because I am a linguist (though I still have a lot more things to know about) and I know what will happen if we do not care enough. So...if you have the same concern as mine, you are invited to join our ethnic community. Or, even better, please help me forward this blog to other teachers you know. I will be very appreciate.



The EVO Online

The other day I just got an invitation mail from EVO (Electronic Village Online). So I followed the link to the website. Basicly, this is nearly like an academic conference that educators get together to present their new teaching approaches or strategies about teaching. Computer and technology certanily can change how people communicate and learn; now teachers do not need to cancel their classes and travel to the other end of the world to attend the conferences. From 1999, TESOL and CALL members started to organize this online conference. For more information about what EVO is and how you can participate in, you can come here.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Can pragmatic competence be taught???

According to Kasper's article CAN PRAGMATIC COMPETENCE BE TAUGHT?, it is proposed that pragmatics can't be taught in classroom (I guess he means 'not to directly teach on the board'). She suggested that pragmatic competence, whether pramalinguistic or sociopragmaic, needs to be acquired through noticing the input, understaninding and using the pragmatic knowledge.

In Kasper and Roever's paper, they suggested the pragmatic knowledge is teachable; instruction has certain advantages to learners' pragmatic acquisition.

According to the interlanguage hypothesis, direct instruction on linguistic form is not beneficial to learners' acquisition of the target language. I myself suggested explicit instruction on form is still important . I would be very happy to agree on the idea that instruction can be beneficial to the interlanguage of pragmatics.

So... how can EFL teachers help learners acquire the target pragmatic? For EFL learners, there is usually insufficient access to the target language. Providing authentic input that enables learners to learn pragmatic knowledge becomes a challenge for language teachers. I would like to suggest that by creating authentic-like interaction between studnets or providing audio or video tape with authentic interaction examples to learners, teachers can engage learners into the learning of pragmatics.

To involve in interactions, notice and understand the pragmatic difference between their native culture and the target culture is crucial for learners to acquire the knowledge (Kasper, 1997). Discussions about the target pragmatics in the classroom can help learners understand the rules. Of course, learners' language proficiencies are still important; there are several studies showed that there is a correlation between learners' language proficiency and the develpment of pragmatics.

So... I was just thinking... can writing interaction be also influential to the learning of pragmatic knowledge???

I probably need to do more research on it...

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Thanks for Bee's invitation- Webheads in Action

I recently have been working on Japanese English-English loanwords in Japanese society. Read lots of articles! I will try to put something interesting here later as soon as I have time to do it.

Hmm..okay~ I guess it should not be the excuse for my laziness to blog. I came here and saw Bee's comment to one of my blogs that I posted the other day. Bee also goes to Barbara; she's from Brazil and is also interested in CALL.

Thanks for Barbara's comment and invitation to the community called Webheads in Action I went there and found there are lots of educators with the same interest with me (CALL). Really looking forward to exchange ideas with them.

Bee, Thanks again!!