Michael P. Breen is a lecturer in the Department of Linguistics and Modern English Language at the University of Lancaster. He has been a teacher for 28 years in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. He has worked with teachers in over a dozen overseas countries. At Lancaster, he has directed the M.A. in Linguistics for ELT, been Director of the Institute for English Language Education, and currently coordinates the many research students in the department.
"Such variables or 'connec tivities' are interactive and co-dependent. motivation, attitudes, anxiety, stress, etc.), utility (reasons for studying), learning styles, the learning environment (its conduciveness for learning in terms of the teacher, the curriculum, the state of the room, the level of competitiveness, and other variables) (Fraser, 1984), and the subjective interpretation of the syllabus by the teacher (Breen, 1987). It is also rare to find a teacher-training program or a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) text that acknowledges the multiplicity and complexity of variables involved in language teaching, the essentially human nature of language teachers, their subjectivity (and even confusion) in terms of the teaching philosophies they subscribe to, and the way in which they apply these principles in the classroom. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Finch, Andrew. (2012). Language teaching and researching: Principled practice or webs of beliefs? Modern English Education, 13(4), 109-133. The topic of student beliefs and perceptions has been the subject of significant research. However, there has been less attention to the important topic of teacher and researcher beliefs, perhaps due to practical and ethical problems involved in researching these beliefs and the efficacy of the language teachers and researchers who hold them. This study therefore attempts to describe the 'webs of beliefs' that determine the thoughts and actions of human beings in general and discusses how teacher-held webs of beliefs can affect the learning environment of their students and how researcher-held beliefs can affect the objectivity of their findings. The relationship between beliefs and actions is not always straightforward however, and the second focus of attention is on the conscious and unconscious gaps between beliefs, teaching theory, and classroom practice which can occur, despite the fact that courses on teaching philosophy, psychology and methodology are standard in teacher training institutions. In conclusion, it is suggested that teachers need to be aware of their own webs of beliefs and the 'dispositions' of their students and that ELT researchers need to clearly state their philosophical standpoint before presenting research findings, so that the reader might be informed of their webs of beliefs and make appropriate conclusions.
"As a result, negotiation of meaning will be more likely to occur. However, tasks should also present requisites of authenticity, that is, they should resemble as closely as possible "actual tasks which a person may undertake when communicating through the target language" (Breen, 1987, p. 162). Task authenticity promotes meaningful interaction, which encourages the production of comprehensible output and provides purpose and personal involvement (Nunan, 1993). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article reports on the process of design and development of two language courses for university students at beginning levels of competence. Following a preliminary experience in a low-tech environment for distance language learning and teaching, and a thorough review of the available literature, we identified two major challenges that would need to be addressed in our design: (1) a necessity to build sufficient flexibility into the materials to cater to a variety of learners' styles, interests and skill levels, therefore sustaining learners' motivation; and (2) a need to design materials that would present the necessary requisites of authenticity and interactivity identified in the examined literature, in spite of the reduced opportunities for face-to-face communication. In response to these considerations, we designed and developed learning materials and tasks to be distributed on CD-ROM, complemented by a WebCT component for added interactivity and task authenticity. Although only part of the original design was implemented, and further research is needed to assess the impact of our environment on learning outcomes, the results of preliminary evaluations are encouraging.
Language, Learning and Technology 09/2003; · 1.74 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A task-based approach to second language learning and teaching has been advocated by a number of contemporary authors, but has received little atten- tion in terms of program evaluation. This study presents a formative evaluation of a three-year task-based conversation program designed for tertiary stu- dents in the Republic of Korea. Three task-based textbooks were produced, which (as with every other aspect of the program) were the subject of continu- ous reflection and modification, in which program design, implementation, and evaluation were a single formative process. A humanistic view of language learning as education was found to be appropriate for the student-centred emphasis of the task-based approach, and program goals promoted acquisi- tion of long-term learning skills through development of student confidence, motivation, independence, and communicative competence. Assessment re- flected these goals via self-evaluative and reflective methods. The program evaluation used a mix of quantitative and qualitative research, focusing on affective aspects of language learning and on the importance of student be- liefs, perceptions and attitudes in the learning process. Research questions focused on positive attitude change in students and teachers as a marker of program success.
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