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(原创)Approaching Practical Ways of Communicative English  

2006-11-13 15:24:45|  分类: 教育园地 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Approaching Practical Ways of

                                              Communicative English

Outline

Introduction

     Communicative Approach is the closest to the nature of a language.

I.                                      A teacher is not only a teacher, but a director and actor.

II.                                It is a worthwhile and successful approach to organize students doing group work or pair work.

III.                          Let students help each other. Discussing problems together in class is always a welcome method.

IV.                           Reading aloud is seen as the single most influential factor in young student’s success in learning to read.

V.                                 Instruct students to write journals to improve their writing skills.

VI.                           Scientifically adjusting one’s teaching plan for a certain period is often necessary.

VII.                     English Corner--- a short way to train the Ability of Communication.

VIII.               Action research is a method of teacher cooperation.

Conclusion

    Teaching ways of communicative English remain to be further approached.

                    

  

Approaching Practical Ways of

Communicative English

 (May/’2000)

Introduction

Communicative Approach is the closest to the nature of a language.

   From generation to generation, many English teaching methods have been used. In the early 1950s came into being Grammar Approach, which influenced tens of thousands of people and lasted nearly 30 years. Then in the late 1970s,a new teaching technique called Audio-linguistic Approach was born. It's a completely new method which played a very important role in recent English teaching in China.

    With the development of world economic trade and cultural exchange between many countries, the earth is relatively becoming smaller. English, as a foreign language, without doubt, emerges as one of the most important languages. How to teach English effectively is extremely urgent in order to meet modern China's reform and open policy. Thus," Communicative Approach "with a new set of textbooks for modern Chinese students and teachers emerges at that historic moment.

    Communicative Approach is the closest to the nature of a language. Language is a tool of communication. Though we can't completely ignore grammar, which is considered as the operating system of the language by L.G. Alexander, a famous British linguist, the most important thing is to learn to listen, speak and then read and write. As students are learning these things, however, their grammar will naturally be improved. It doesn't matter too much whether one makes mistakes if one can express what he or she wants to say and make himself or herself understood. What's the use of a person with good grammar if he or she lacks the ability to listen and speak? Communicative Approach is just for the purpose of raising the practical level of using English.

     

 

 

I.                                      A teacher is not only a teacher, but a director and actor.

      The teaching process is the communicating process. As soon as the teacher comes into the classroom, he or she must do something to catch the students' attention and bring as many positive factors as possible into play to warm up the classroom atmosphere. The teacher plays a role according to the content and asks the students to imitate. Most of the time, the alert teacher participates in the communication. Many language points and grammar rules practised in the communication exert a subtle influence on students' sense of language. In these pre-designed situations, students are kept busy practising what is to be learned. The teacher is not only a teacher, but a director and actor. Usually, beforehand the teacher has analyzed the teaching materials. He or she may decide his or her exact role and adopt a certain way of teaching according to the type of the text and its characteristic. Though there is a little difference in teaching a passage reading and a dialogue, the basic teaching technique is the same, that is, a good teacher will make full use of his or her role, create as many information gaps as possible for students to practise the target language.

     

II.                                It is a worthwhile and successful approach to organize students doing group work or pair work.

     Usually there are a large number of students in the same class, maybe sixty or more. Teachers cannot communicate with each one. The teacher can't all the time play a role himself or herself or with only a few of his or her students. He or she should encourage more students to recite after him or her. If it is done one by one, it takes much valuable time. So it's always necessary and useful to organize groups to do group work or pair work, encouraging all students at the same time. Though some are discussing and half are listening in the classroom, it's worthwhile. What the teacher does is to watch students engaging in the assigned activity, walking here and there, praising and appreciating students. The teacher is a facilitator, making sure that each has a role to play. The aim lies in the teaching while students' interest in learning is always inspired through their active participation. Though sometimes considered by students as playing a game, learning goals will be met. They don't feel a bit nervous but amused and learn under no pressure. Every student will value these times and treasure the chances that allow for success while learning about others. The pleasure of gaining success will constantly enable a student to do more active learning.

    

III.                          Let students help each other. Discussing problems together in class is always a welcome method.

     American educator Maleline Hunter said that a child is born to be inquisitive, to discover new things and to develop creative energy.(Hunter's book: Reinforcement Theory for Teachers 1987 TIP PUBLICATIONS)A teacher needn't tell everything to his or her students. Accentuate the positive built on a learner's strengths. The best reinforcers are those that build a student's feeling of worth and competence. The teacher should not just tell the students what to do and what not to do. He or she is not putting on a one-man show. In fact, the teacher is only a member in the communication. So it's best to give students time to think for themselves and ask them to speak out about their ideas. Always reinforce with positive "Good job", "You did very well" and other warm encouragement.

    Famous ancient Chinese educator Confucius said, "I will not instruct my students until they have really tried hard but failed to understand." So developing students' imagination and training their habits of thinking are the base for communication. If they have difficulty in solving problems separately, let students help each other. Discussing problems together in class is always a welcome method. Students communicate with each other through discussion. They are playing leading roles then. The teacher is no more than a director and viewer at that time.

     

IV.                           Reading aloud is seen as the single most influential factor in young student’s success in learning to read.

    Benjamin Franklin was once asked what condition of man he thought deserved the most pity. He answered almost immediately: "A lonesome man on a rainy day who does not know how to read." So what teachers do to help their students learn to read is of great importance as they instruct. Often teachers can read some short interesting stories which are easily understood by their students. We can send out the word that reading to students is good for their curiosity, their imagination, and their vocabulary, that it helps them hold attention longer, think better and communicate more successfully. After reading, teachers can ask questions or ask their students to retell the stories to a partner if they'd like them to do so. Reading is such a wonderful way to develop communicating ability that students' level of listening and speaking is quickly raised. What's more, students will not rest content with what their teachers read to them. As soon as they become aware of the benefits of reading, they will actively seek some interesting reading materials to read for themselves. Really, reading aloud is seen as the single most influential factor in young students' success in learning to read.                     .                                                 

V.                                 Instruct students to write journals to improve their writing skills.

When we teachers are reading a very good book, we can't help arousing sympathy with the ideas of the author. Sometimes, one may inexplicably have something in mind that the author can write such words while the readers can't. Then he or she may be eager to have a try to writing something. This is the beginning of writing. Students feel just the same after reading a lot and they have more courage to write. As the famous proverb says, "Newborn calves are not afraid of tigers", good teachers are good at leading such students to the right way of writing. They can instruct their students to write journals to improve their writing skills. Through the implementation of journals, teachers can often exchange ideas with their students. That's a rewarding and enjoyable technique, if teachers and students both keep on doing so.

Every student is a messenger who takes home information about the school’s program each day. Homework pads, worksheets, and notices all serve to inform parents of what is happening in school. Teachers can take a variety of steps to improve their own relations with parents (Grossnickle,1981). Among the materials that can be sent home with students are suggested reading lists, vacation packets, suggested activities for home practice of newly learned skills, ideas for family field trips, and class achievement notices.

More formalized written communications such as newsletters can be used to inform the public of school program (Gelms, 1970). Newsletters can be created by an individual class, a school, a special program (Chapter 1,ESL, music), or the district. These should provide information on current policies and practices, the success of the program, future plans, and program personal. Other written communications from the school to the community can include calendars, school and district handbooks, and information packets (Beale, 1985).

    Usually at the beginning teachers may find mistakes in their students' compositions. However, it is important at this time that the teacher does not pay too much attention to correctness. Teachers can offer their young authors "warm praises", encouraging them to write more. In the meanwhile, teacher's timely comments may include the right words or patterns that their students misused. At this very moment, these silent words are better than correcting aloud in the classroom.

VI.                           Scientifically adjusting one’s teaching plan for a certain period is often necessary.

    We teachers may have the same feeling that many students learn well at the beginning but they slacken later. That is because they have problems in study and they find it difficult to learn a foreign language, hard to master grammar and remember words and expressions, etc. How to solve this problem? In my opinion, the teacher is the decisive factor. We can't blame our students but ourselves. It may be our own dull teaching methods that cost the loss of their interest in learning. Interest is the mother of learning. A teacher must scientifically adjust his or her teaching plan for a certain period. If we do not quickly take measures, the communicating obstacles will accumulate and finally students will give up. “Good practice requires not only experience, but artistry in using that experience for the benefit of those being served” (Gage & Berliner, 1989, p.213). So I think teachers should have many teaching methods to have students' interest retained. Hold an English party if possible. Such games as what Simon says, pin the tail on the donkey, musical chairs and so on can be applied. In the classroom it is helpful to teach students to sing English songs and to write Haiku, a form of poem easy to be learned to arouse students' interest. Play a game of word puzzle using Charades, which is a good chance for each student to work hard for his or her group. Students will use their brain quickly to search vocabulary words they know and choose the best one for the other group's performance. Everyone will feel the pressure that their group has less points than the others. Thus the whole group feel the pressure. It's the group pressure needed in the classroom. No one will like to fall behind. The teacher is just one of the audience and referee. Sometimes students play different roles to the teacher's ordering words, therefore, the teaching goal will be well reached.

    All kinds of these games may contain what teachers are going to teach. Students will feel extraordinary fun and stick to the determination to study English hard. Games and children go hand in hand to greatly facilitate learning.

     Just consider for a moment how beneficial the effort might be to prove an important point to a class of skeptical students. We all seek to effect change in our students; the very process of learning implies a perpetual state of change. Yet no one will embrace a change unless he or she can see the efficacy of such action. So “how to handle” a student? Do we “threaten or cajole or plead?” Assuredly not. We convince, using all the artistry of our craft. And to that end, classroom action research can enlist the very students themselves in a pursuit of meaningful change. But one may have to be willing to accept a bit of “artistic license” with the traditional scientific approach to research. As pointed out in the Journal of Reading, “Classroom action research may be as formal or as informal as the teacher chooses” (p.216).

VII.                     English Corner--- a short way to train the Ability of Communication.

    Besides classroom learning, the after-class English corner is a practical method for students to communicate with each other. Teachers should create as many situations as possible. When all the members gather in the corner and begin to talk, they are learning. Perhaps some people will talk more while some won't. For those who can't talk well it is a good chance to listen to others speaking English. Sooner or later, they will learn to speak. Though change is slow, it really works.

    English corner is a key to success for the hopeful student to speak English fluently. Learners can take charge. They know what they want to communicate with each other and how to express what they are going to say. If someone fails to make himself or herself understood, maybe the other one will hint to help him or her directly how to say what he or she wants to say. As time goes on, they will constantly learn from each other and help each other. Therefore, rapid progress is made. Comparing with those who don't attend English corner, the members in it are sure to be able to speak English more fluently than those not participating.

    English corner is also a media in which to make friends. Learners can practise English in any form they choose. Everyone is free to talk about what he or she likes. Learners take responsibility for their own learning. So no one will feel bad if others wouldn't like to speak. Many people choose the same topic. They share the same idea and the same feelings. It doesn't matter much whether they have objections or not. People who have the same interest in some hobbies will talk more about them. They find it great fun to exchange each other's opinion. Thus, they are making friends.

For the organizer, it is he himself or she herself who makes the role. If things aren't going on well as he or she has expected, he or she can join all the members in talking. The facilitator continuously encourages them, saying that they are doing a good job, helps to arouse their courage , filling them with confidence. If all of these things are done, the members will persevere and will surely improve their speaking and listening ability. English corner is so nice an after-class activity. It is a short way to train the ability of communication.

 

VIII.               Action research is a method of teacher cooperation.

Action research is a method of teacher cooperation. This approach is a collaborative method where a group of teachers identify a problem and then develop a workable solution. One middle school, established as a college laboratory school, wanted to determine whether activity-based science or textbook-based science was the best method to use to teach students about a unit on ecology. Activity-based science had been used in the areas of electricity and chemistry but not with other science areas. The teachers decided to set up a research design to see which group made the most progress. Pretest and post-test designs were decided upon, and student groups were matched according to as many variables as possible. The teachers conducted the research, collaboratively wrote an article, and then modified their teaching to include more activity-based teaching for theoretical concepts like ecology and pollution. That is a very good example of experimental teaching. In teaching a language, teachers can do just the same. Language is acquired by learning through interaction. So activity-based teaching should be often organized in class. The simplest thing that could be done to improve students’ listening, speaking, reading, and writing etc. would be to try to make sure that teachers talk less than half of the period. In classes where students score better, the students are practicing more and the teachers talking less. I feel, that any teacher who is talking for more than half of the period is probably doing more damage than good. This is particularly true for the bottom two-thirds who don’t do very much homework or have parental support.

Conclusion

    Teaching ways of communicative English remain to be further approached.

Now when we Chinese teachers incorporate positive reinforcement techniques into our classroom teaching, increased students achievement will become obvious. Student and teacher attitudes will become continuously more positive. Students of English as a second language will come to believe they are capable of learning English, for their teachers believe they can. The reciprocal effect is that teachers work harder as their students respond positively to their positive methods!

    As I have nearly finished my article, the newly-published textbook lies quietly aside. I feel to fully incorporate effectively the new textbook and methods, the burden is heavy and the road is long. Teaching ways of communicative English remain to be further approached. In the situation of quality education, I am increasingly convinced: if every leader and teacher understands the real meaning of quality, uses Communicative Approach and has the teaching skills needed to accomplish their goals, the whole level of the students of English will greatly be raised. I am also convinced, with the study of many experts, that we have brighter future in English teaching cause.

                            

liography

 

1.                WSRA Journal (Spring 1994)

2.                WSRA Journal (Summer 1990)

3.                Analects of Confucius

4.                Hunter's book: Reinforcement Theory for Teachers 1987 TIP PUBLICATIONS

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