Contemporary Paradigms in Syllabus Design Part II
ABSTRACT 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.
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ABSTRACT: Given the tendency of language classrooms to promote debilitative anxiety, the promotion of a low-stress language learning environment must be an important priority for the teacher. This paper explores how language teachers in Korea might identify and address sources of anxiety in their classrooms. In addition to self- examination on the part of the teacher, this involves encouraging realistic expectations about accuracy and errors, offering training in affective strategies, to help students manage anxiety and improve performance, reassuring students that they are not alone in their affective reactions and that these feelings are normal, making or choosing appropriate learning materials, and showing that the teacher/evaluator understands the tensions caused by language learning. Self- and peer-assessment involving partner and small-group work, interviews, problem-solving, role-plays and practice of test- tasks are also an effective and relatively painless means of involving learners in the learning and assessment process and can reduce anxiety-raising competitiveness and apprehension.
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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.
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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.