Equipping Teachers to be Language Explorers Exploring language in the classroom Elaine Tarone Background: The Minnesota Context Enduring Scandinavian heritage Other historic ethnic groups: AfricanAmerican and German French voyageurs and American Indians gave us place names and north country activities like ice hockey, canoeing, and exploration Increasing Linguistic & Cultural Diversity 25% of students in St Paul Public Schools are Hmong Hispanics are the fastest growing “minority” group Largest Somali immigrant group in the U.S. is in the Twin Cities It is a very diverse group of learners that we are preparing our language teacher-learners to face. Years ago I asked a teacher at my school, what do you teach? I expected something like “I teach French to a diverse group of high school freshmen.” She answered, “I teach Prentice-Hall.” Basic Message of this Talk: Teach the learner Don’t teach the book Don’t teach the curriculum Don’t teach the test Don’t teach the parents. FOCUS ON THE LANGUAGE LEARNER Basic Message to Teacher-Learners: Figure out who your students are Figure out what language your students know and don’t know, and what they need to learn Teach that, in ways that work for them. Language Teaching is like a Trip: Approach #1 Teaching Approach #1: “I teach the book.” – teach students who are all from the same linguistic and cultural background, in programs where someone else has ordered the book, and planned the schedule, the activities, and the tests. – based on some professional’s global assumptions about “the average student” Language Teaching is like a Trip: Approach #1 Travel Approach #1: “I do the tour.” – travel in groups of people like yourself on preplanned tours where someone else has selected popular routes, schedules, hotels, restaurants, activities – based on trip organizer’s global assumptions about average interests and needs of people like them There IS no readymade book that is designed to meet the language learning needs of YOUR LEARNERS. Language Teaching is like a Trip: Approach #2 Language Teaching Approach #2: “I teach the language my students need to learn.” – teach a L2 to students from different native languages and cultures, in a class where on an ongoing basis you choose your own teaching materials, schedule, activities, and tests – based on your analysis of YOUR particular students’ diverse needs Language Teaching is like a Trip: Approach #2 Travel Approach #2: “I explore.” – travel on your own, get off the beaten track, choosing your own route, schedule, hotel, restaurants and activities – based on YOUR needs and interests Approach #1 Approach # 1 is EASY: just show up and follow directions Approach #2 Approach # 2 is HARD: requires special training, equipment and skills, sensitivity to changing contexts, and wisdom to use the right skills in the right context U.S. teachers ill-equipped to teach students from diverse languages and cultures (Adger et al 2002) Multicultural and multilingual classes are the norm Students’ discourse and learning patterns are affected by their culture and language background Mainstream teachers must know more about language and culture in order to teach ANY content effectively Teaching world languages requires a deep and explicit knowledge of the facts about language (map), and the skills to analyze language on an ongoing basis (mapreading skills) Language teachers as school experts Increasingly, mainstream teachers in schools may turn to their language teacher colleagues (English, ESL, FL) for the knowledge they need But do language teachers themselves have the expert knowledge about language facts that is needed? Are they equipped with the skills they need for exploration in this new territory of language and culture? Language Teacher Knowledge Base What should be the knowledge base for language teacher education? Is what we teach in our LTE programs USEFUL to language teachers? Does it include tools and skills they need to do language analysis? Knowledge Base = Just the Facts? Some LTE books and programs conceptualize the knowledge base as no more than a body of facts Teacher learners must internalize those facts … … and demonstrate they know those facts on essay and M/C tests, and in ‘reviews of the literature’ Examples: grammar and SLA courses Goal of many grammar and SLA courses for teachers: Show you know facts about the field. Memorize them to repeat them on the test. Knowledge Base = FACTS? “The rules for using ser and estar in Spanish are …” “The polite form for greeting a superior in Japanese is …” “Research shows that teachers prefer to use implicit corrective feedback (recasts) …” “Research shows the stages of acquisition of questions in German L2 are …” Facts are not enough You do need the basic facts but … …just owning the map and knowing the names of the parts of a canoe doesn’t make you an expert orienteer and canoeist. You need to develop skills in the USE of the equipment. Remember where you’re going …. it’s a much more complex context than it used to be... requiring skills, knowledge, and understanding. Can we teach teachers to use facts to solve such language learning problems as these? “I need a way to get these students to use ser and estar correctly.” “This kind of error may require a more explicit correction strategy than a recast.” “I wonder if consciousness-raising will get this learner to use a polite greeting form. “Is this learner developmentally ready for this lesson on German questions?” Reconceptualizing the knowledge base Defining the elements of the knowledge base that needs to be provided in any language teacher education program. Three dimensions of knowledge for language teacher education (Allwright, 2001; Tarone & Allwright 2005) Dimension #1: SKILLS TECHNIQUES – How to demonstrate a new speech sound – How to keep students engaged in class – How to recast an error in conversation Essential to language teaching, but not enough Skills and techniques may enable one to “teach the book” -- but not to make decisions required in teaching a group of students with varied needs Dimension #2: KNOWLEDGE FACTS about language / language learning – Basic units of language – Rules for using definite and indefinite articles – Stages of acquisition of questions in the L2 Essential to language teaching, but not enough Knowing these facts does not enable the teacher to move beyond “teaching the book” Dimension #3: UNDERSTANDING How and when to USE skills and knowledge – When to provide a particular form of corrective feedback to learners – Why Group Activity X helps learners to move from Stage 2 to Stage 3 question formation – How and when to analyze a sentence’s structure The ability to USE implicit skills and explicit knowledge is what enables one to move beyond teaching the book to teaching students. John Dewey: Pragmatism (Hickman & Alexander, 1998) Education [of language teachers] should not be simply teaching “dead facts” Skills and knowledge learned should be fully integrated into their lives Learn by doing: not just knowledge, not just skills, but skills that put knowledge to use Teacher learning requires a combination of content mastery, skills development and understanding Is the knowledge base implicit or explicit? Implicit: unconscious, unanalyzed, unstated, not the focus of attention Explicit: conscious, analyzed, verbalized, the focus of attention Language Learner Knowledge May be almost entirely implicit, particularly for a native speaker or a student from a program like: – Communicative Language Teaching – Natural Approach – Language immersion with little language focus Implicit knowledge of the language is not an adequate knowledge base for language teaching Language Teacher Knowledge Language teacher knowledge is both implicit and explicit – Skills are implicit – Knowledge of facts is explicit – Ability to use both is both implicit and explicit LANGUAGE Language teachers need to know more than just the language. Language teachers must have explicit knowledge about the way language is structured, and know how to analyze and sometimes talk about language structure Language teacher educators have the job of helping teacher learners make their implicit knowledge about language EXPLICIT (fostering the ‘aha!’ moment). Teaching Grammar as Fact AND Process Celce-Murcia and Larsen-Freeman (1999) The Grammar Book (supplement w/Yule 1999). Approach to teaching L2 grammar to teacher-learners: (described in Tarone and Lazaraton, 2005) Facts of English grammar presented in terms of Form, Use, Usage Example: English passive Form of the ‘be passive’: the prescriptive rule – Describe syntactic rules: The patient, or receiver of the action, becomes the subject of the passive sentence. – The midfielder kicks the ball. – The ball is kicked by the midfielder. Use of the ‘be passive’: the function or meaning – use the passive to foreground the patient, and background or even delete the agent Usage of the ‘be passive’: the descriptive rule – The ‘get passive’ may be more common. – Speakers seldom include the agent in ‘by phrase’ Usage Studies and Applications Teacher-learners are asked to compare prescriptive grammar rules in the book with actual usage (descriptive rules) ‘Usage studies’: they ask a RQ, gather data, analyze it, and compare Then they consider implications for pedagogy If I would have known … FORM: Book rule for past counterfactuals: – If I had known, I … USAGE: – If I would have known, I … Noriko Ishihara After this grammar course, teacher-learners can … Move beyond the book, treating textbook grammar rules as prescriptive, not descriptive Confidently analyze grammar usage by native speakers in the real world, and compare it to the grammar rules in the book Transfer that new knowledge into their own language classrooms, considering implications for pedagogy -- perhaps, ways to transmit the knowledge implicitly to their students SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION LTE programs often now require teacher-learners to take a course on second language acquisition (SLA) research Rationale: language teachers ought to understand how their students learn foreign languages Problem: the content of SLA courses focus on knowledge, not skills or understanding SLA COURSE CONTENT Proponents of these courses argue they teach how to evaluate published SLA research. Is this knowledge useful for language teachers? (Freeman & Johnson 1998) Is this knowledge all that language teachers need? Many SLA teachers are happy if at the end of the course, their teacher-learners can say things like this: “Research shows that teachers prefer to use implicit corrective feedback (recasts) …” “Research shows the stages of acquisition of questions in German L2 are …” CONTENT of SLA Course Intro SLA books: cover prominent SLA theories and theorists, and research that supports or contradicts them Published research studies: ‘hot off the press’, the newer the better Evaluation: essay tests or papers focused on demonstrating knowledge of the facts I’d like to propose a different kind of SLA course for language teachers … to FOCUS ON THE LEARNER New SLA COURSE CONTENT THE LECTURE COMPONENT – Provides a broad overview of state of knowledge in the field, the main theories, and most generally agreed upon facts about SLA derived from research – An intro course does not get into detailed theoretical nuances, research design, or the very latest published findings THE LAB COMPONENT – Provides teacher-learners with the tools to analyze the language of learners FOR THEMSELVES, and opportunities to practice using those tools in a lab setting before trying them on their own – Asks them to consider pedagogical implications of their analyses Goal of Lab Case Studies Through carrying out their own case study analyses of learner language, teacher learners will: Develop a deeper understanding of SLA research by DOING it (learn by doing) Develop analytical skills to better understand language learning in their own classrooms (local research) Develop confidence in assessing the usefulness of published SLA research for their own context (move away from subservience & toward autonomy) HOW? Provide teacher-learners with video clips of actual L2 learners Provide teacher-learners with transcripts of the language produced on those video clips Set up pair-work activities focused on identifying particular interlanguage features in the learner language samples they have Report what they see and reflect on what they have and haven’t learned GETTING VIDEO AND TRANSCRIPTS Commercially available option (used differently) – Teemant & Pinnegar, 2002 Make your own Forthcoming book for ESL, with videos – Tarone & Swierzbin Planned CARLA site for FL videos Transcript: Barbara I have two years and a half, two years and a half have been in USA and I came from Guatemala. And I stay for three month, an’ first in Las Vegas, then my dad didn’t like Las Vegas, so we came... My dad before work in Geneva, that’s a company, and he, he work there, he was a welder, welder. Lab in LTE Provides Supportive Context for Learning: How to use knowledge of language structure as a tool to analyze language How learner language changes in changing contexts How to think about best pedagogy to use in response to learner language needs Equip teacher-learners to be language explorers … Give them knowledge about the structure of language … Give them knowledge about the way second languages are learned … Give them practice analyzing the language that learners produce … Help them reflect on pedagogical implications … And they will have tools to take pedagogical action in meeting the local needs of language students in their own classes. They will be well-equipped to be … Language Explorers … … language teachers who can do more than just survive in the new territories of linguistically and culturally diverse language classrooms --- they … … will be enabled to thrive there! They’ll know when to portage past rough water … and come to places we ourselves may never see. References Adger, C. T., Snow, C.E., & Christian, D. (Eds.) (2002). What teachers need to know about language. McHenry, Ill: Delta Systems Co., Inc; Washington, D.C.: Center for Applied Linguistics: ERIC. Allwright, D. (2001). Three major processes of teacher development and the appropriate design criteria for developing and using them. In B. Johnston & S. Irujo, Eds., Research and practice in language teacher education: Voices from the field. (pp. 115-134). CARLA Working Paper #19. Minneapolis, MN: Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA). Allwright, D. (2003). Exploratory practice: Re-thinking practitioner research in language teaching. Language Teaching Research 7, 113-141. Celce-Murcia, M. & Larsen-Freeman, D., with Williams, H. (1999). The Grammar Book: An ESL/EFL teacher’s course. (2nd ed.) Boston: Thomson Heinle. Freeman, D. & Johnson, D. (1998). Re-conceptualizing the knowledge-base of language teacher education, TESOL Quarterly, 32, 397-418. Hickman, L. & Alexander, T. (1998). The Essential Dewey: Vols. I and II. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Lightbown, P., & Spada, N. (2006). How Languages Are Learned, 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Tarone, E. (2006) The language classroom: A co-production of all participants, in S. Gieve and I. K. Miller (Eds.), Directions in Classroom Language Learning and Teaching: A festschrift for Dick Allwright. (pp. 163-174). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. References (cont.) Tarone, E. & Allwright, D. (2005). Language teacher-learning and student language-learning: Shaping the knowledge base, in D.J. Tedick (Ed.), Second Language Teacher Education: International Perspectives (pp. 5-23). Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers. Tarone, E. & Lazaraton, A. (2005). The teacher-learner as fellow scholar: A model for ESL teacher education, in J. Frodesen & C. Holten (Eds.), The Power of Context in Language Teaching and Learning - A Festschrift in Honor of Marianne Celce-Murcia. (pp. 55-66). Boston: Thomson Heinle. Teemant, A. & Pinnegar, S. (2002). The Second Language Acquisition Case. Provo, UT: BEEDE Program, Brigham Young University. [Order: Mary Jo Tansy, Creative Works Dept, (801) 422-7634.] Yule, G. (1997). Referential Communication Tasks. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Yule, G. (1999). Explaining English Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.