rpc2- my responses

The following are some of the thoughts that have coalesced in recent days since posting our second challenge in the reflective practice blog challenge (#rpc).

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grammar police1) Teachers must teach grammar explicitly if learners are to acquire language effectively.

If this statement were posed to me in real life I think I would have found my way to the “strongly disagree” crowd without a second thought. I don’t remember learning grammar rules before learning to speak to my parents as a toddler. However, after reading some of our other participants ideas and after given this statement more thought I am finding myself in far grayer territory.

Now, without diving into the whole second language acquisition debate, I do think there might be a place for grammar explicitly taught. Certainly not a large, or long lasting place. I would be loth to spend time trying to explain the complexities of the rules behind articles or prepositions for instance. But I do think that some focus on a specific form can be helpful. If only for the repetition of it.

I have found that focus on accuracy, when used sparingly, helps students build confidence. It also assists them in working out the kinks of the pure mechanics of production (think tongue movement etc). As a learner, attempting learner that is, of a second language I appreciate very minimal focus on some grammar on occasion.

Just thinking writing this feels sacrilegious after seeing the sterling results of Korea’s grammar based education system (heavy dose of sarcasm). It should be stated that over egging the pudding in terms of grammar teaching is easily done, and so should certainly be done sparingly. That said, I’m still in my gray area as to whether or not it’s necessary to be effective. Perhaps, as with most things, the situation matters the most. ESL learners will have far less need for it than EFL learners I’d guess.

I’ve surprised myself with this answer. Maybe I’ve surprised you too. Any thoughts or guidance or light hearted mockery is welcome.

2) Teachers who don’t utilize technology in class are doing a disservice to their students.

I covered this somewhat inadvertently in a recent post that can be found here.

3) Teachers have to understand the correlation between student feelings and student needs to be effective.

Here again I would fall onto the agree side of the fence. Let’s consider an example. A student is not engaged in a lesson. They are trying to sleep or staring at their desk. A teacher who dismisses that student for being a “bad” student has done that student a disservice. In addition, poorly handled, the situation could cause push back from other members of the class. A teacher could easily find themselves fighting to remain effective.

Most of the participants in this challenge have questioned whether or not they make the correlation in their own class, but then mention that they DO recognize students have needs and that feelings stem from them. That, in my mind, is exactly what the statement is saying needs to be done. Nothing more.

I do not believe this statement is saying that teachers have to successfully understand the needs behind a students feelings or behavior, merely that we must be aware that there is a correlation and heed that awareness when addressing the issue.

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That does it for me.

Feel free to comment and if you haven’t already seen what our other participants have had to say on these matters, have a look…

Anne Hendler asks herself and all of us some very pertinent questions.

David Harbinson joins in with some very thoughtful analysis of his own.

and Hana Ticha responds in her own way providing sage wisdom along the way.

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7 thoughts on “rpc2- my responses

    • Hi Kate,

      Thanks for linking to a relevant post from your blog. I think it was right on point and quite informative to our conversation. Hope to hear more from you as we progress through this reflective practice challenge.

      John

  1. You know what, John? I think the great thing about reflective practice (and about your questions) is the ability to see, through reflection and discussion, that there *is* a gray area for these statements. Normally we might reply very strongly within what we believe to be right without ever knowing that there’s another side to the argument. As Hana mentioned, there’s the learners’ side that we will never fully experience. And that’s important to remember, whatever we choose to do with the information.

    • Hey thanks Anne,

      I was actually apprehensive about putting this one out there! I’m so glad to hear it’s fallen on understanding ears (wasn’t really worried that it wouldn’t have been 😉

      I know I for one am apt to jump to strongly this or that. I like the connection you have made to Hana’s thoughts. It’s absolutely true and should always remain a part of the consideration.

      John

  2. I completely agree with your statement about technology, john. I find that in this day and age, when technology plays such an important role in our lives, not using it in lessons is so unnatural. This is especially the case with young learners, who master technology quickly. I suggest looking at http://www.edmodo.com – a social network for learners and teachers and http://www.quizlet.com – great for making flash cards and quizzes. I find these resources indispensable!

  3. Pingback: Reflective Practice Challenge 2: Grammar, Tech, Feelings and Needs | Throwing Back Tokens

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