Discusión:Bachillerato por Madurez/Área de Comunicación y Lenguaje/Subárea de Comunicación y Lenguaje L3 (Inglés)< Discusión:Bachillerato por Madurez
Students realize that learning a foreign language can be easy if they engage in meaningful activities that require using the language and its parts of speech. Throughout each task, learning English should be fun, so students get an authentic, contextualized and interesting learning process.
Nowadays, English is the international communication language, used in commercial, technical, scientific and academic fields. English is the key to accessing the globalized world in a 21st century characterized by technological and communication advances.
Students who learn another language develop communication and interpersonal skills to communicate with people from different places and cultures. This cultural exchange helps learners develop critical thinking through judgement and reflection when comparing other societies to their own social, cultural, political and economic environment. In addition, English speakers have a powerful key to access labor markets and gain better academic preparation to face technological and global challenges. Language learning promotes cultural exchange, and increases knowledge that will improve a student's performance in the business field he or she choose.
Four basic communication skills support their learning process, which should be supported by a strong proficiency in their native language: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
These skills determine their performance level. The approach to English learning must be technical, functional and communicative to assure students' competence to use the language appropriately in any circumstance.
The language practice and skill development activities have been designed to involve students in all aspects of the contents, making them active participants in the learning process. This process is centered on learners to encourage them to express their own reality in English and to help them to maintain a high motivation level.
This sub-area includes:
- Oral Expression and Comprehension: Listening and speaking are a must in a successful communication. Students must know how to discriminate phonemes in the new language, distinguish meaning from homophonic words within the context, and use inflection, clear pronunciation, accent and speech melody according to the context and speaker; they also have to use new vocabulary and idioms from the new language properly.
Developing oral skills will allow students to have a conversation or to give a speech and exchange more and more complex information about many topics. This learning includes knowledge and use of sayings, proverbs, idioms, greetings and other popular language uses.
- Written Expression and Comprehension: Reading is a complex process. Students must understand and interpret not only words and sentences but signs, icons, pictures and other graphic resources that may appear in a written text. Writing allows students the opportunity to share ideas, information and feelings through the use of tools and processes previously learned.
Since reading and writing are processes that students already learned in their own language, they should transfer cognitive and metacognitive strategies for reading and writing into the new language. Whether or not that happens, teachers of English will also work to facilitate reading comprehension. It is very important to take into consideration that English is a second or third language for students. They probably already speak one or two Guatemalan languages.
Reading comprehension involves use of active and passive voices so it is treated in a separate component. Needless to say, writing is a more complex learning level in a second or third language so the English teacher will also help students to improve their skills. This component also includes intellectual and communicative tasks related to the knowledge of grammar and syntactic structures.
- Vocabulary Development: Having a wide vocabulary and idioms from the new language will allow learners to obtain more knowledge and better ways to interact with other people.
Mastery of vocabulary is a good indicator of learning level. The more accurate, wider and stronger vocabulary the student acquires, the more possibilities he or she will have to communicate needs or feelings, as well as to process and interpret the information he or she receives. It could take many years to go from one level to another. At a very low level, the learner can easily exchange simple information using basic vocabulary to understand and be understood in predictable daily situations and conversations in which he may produce language but mostly is the recipient of his or her interlocutor's messages. At an advanced level, students can easily and clearly express ideas and opinions about a wide range of topics. They also understand and exchange information reliably and proficiently communicate with other people about situations other than academic, commercial, technical, literary and conceptual topics.
- Culture and Society: Oral and written comprehension plus wide vocabulary and idioms, in the new language, should help students better understand the culture involved as well as compare and value their own language. It is well known that language categories rely on uses that native speakers give to them, becoming a kind of window to grasp another view of reality and life.
From greetings, the common gateways to other communities, to sophisticated metaphors, students should recognize that they are in contact with other traditions, references and meanings linked to Anglo- American cultures.
- Uses listening and speaking skills in both the student's mother tongue and in other languages learnt, according to dialogic needs, supported by verbal and non-verbal language.
- Uses reading as a means of information, extension of knowledge, development of the sensitization and production of different types of texts, in agreement with the rules of the language, based on the national and international historical-cultural context.
- Expresses in oral and written form ideas, feelings, opinions, proposals, among others, with autonomy and creativity, based on reflexive and critical thinking.
- Uses information and communication technologies (ICTs) to acquire knowledge and to interact with the world.
Teaching Methodology Notes
Before any learning action, it is necessary to make diagnostic assessment to check language level for each student. This will help determine the developed skills level and which of them will need reinforcement and practice.
Teachers should be opened to dialog, arguments, reflections about social norms, good relationships, activities and to provide cooperating tasks and achieving goals. They should use techniques from specialized methods for learning languages such as suggestopedia, which allows teacher to encourage students to go through negative assumptions like «I cannot do it, it is too hard for me, I do not like it, I do not want it, I do not understand it» to positive and active ideas: «it is possible, I will try to do it, I can do it, it is fun, it is not as hard as it seems».
So, teachers should build up an amusing environment with resources as posters, draws, pictures, lights, videos, songs, sounds, music, to make everyone to relax and to settle other kind of associations to understand and interpret meaning of words and phrases. These activities allow students to stimulate their right cerebral hemisphere so the creative part is learning and not only the conscious one. They would act in an assertive way, would look and accept their own intuitions and would trust in their learning capacity.
Teachers model the foreign language class and their actions are actually suggestive for students. The inflection in their voices, the gestures and body movements, the construction and orientation for every dynamic exercise, as well as recommended resources become significant. This method makes teachers prepare to practice positive experiences to develop a meaningful learning and to have pleasant emotions. Teaching a foreign language conveys collaborative participation, to throw out stage fright, suspicion and fear to be wrong or punished. The activities must be interdisciplinary and motivating to reinforce positive behavior and self-confidence from learners.
To organize a learning language classroom, we suggest:
- To develop oral and written interaction mechanisms: cooperation,negotiation,newinformation,coherence, relevance, emphasis, repetition, summarizing in different topics.
- To speak only in the learning language as possible.
- To teach grammar in an inductive way; this means that students should reach conclusions about learning language grammar structures by themselves better than receiving explanations.
- Lots of vocabulary should be taught with practical demonstrations of objects, pictures; the figurative vocabulary should be taught by associating ideas.
- Start the class with a short story or dialog in the new language, using modern and conversational speech.
- To design short dialogs and exercises based in common questions in learning language about motivation topics.
- To intuitively teach associated culture to the learning language.
- To focus in creative uses of language. Speaking does not mean to repeat given phrases but to build up all possible phrases (linguistic competence).
- Stimulate reading, writing and speaking with motivating activities according to the student’s interests.
- Mistakes are necessary to learn. Never let correction inhibit the communicating process.
Criteria for Assesment
Assesment criteria are intended to guide teachers to aspects that they have to take into account to determine level and kind of learning the students reached in every teaching process moments according to competences settled in the curriculum. From this sight, they function as regulator of learning-assessment-teaching strategies.
The following assessment criteria are suggested:
1. Uses English knowledge to exchange information about different topics:
- Spontaneously talking about interesting topics with a clear and rich vocabulary.
- Answering in a proper way to questions or commands.
- Sharing with native speakers or learners clubs in any opportunity.
- Conversing with native or non native speakers.
- Using new learned words, idioms, sayings and proverbs when needed.
- Joining to cultural activities such a holiday celebrations and others.
- Telling and hearing stories, anecdots, among others.
2. Produces oral or written texts based in previous readings:
- Reading Anglo-american books as a reliable source to find information and inspiration.
- Avoiding literal translation when reading or writing.
- Using accurate syntaxis and spelling in writing.
- Taking care of proper tense or mood when using regular and irregular verbs.
- Applying new vocabulary in written texts.
3. Value different cultural practices:
- Applying perceived social interactions when conversing with native or non-native speakers.
- Judging the different approaches to every day activities, as well as commercial and advertising ones.
- Being aware the idioms, sayings, and other local uses given to words in his/her community.
- Grasping relation between language and culture through behavior and communication patterns.
- Role-play about history and traditional characters.
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