Global TEFL Language

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C.J. - U.S.A. said:
Learning Difficulties I narrowed the general topic Learning Difficulties to the Asian community. I expected to see more articles discussing the problems Asian students have learning English. And yet the emphasis was on how teaching methodology creates many of those problems. The articles would generally refer to pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. Asian students have problems pronouncing certain sounds such as ?l? and ?r? because of the different phonetic symbols Eastern culture and the Western world use. But they are also influenced by the teacher?s regional dialect or own nationality. Vocabulary would include slang or regional usages (e.g., pie for pizza). Grammar included the multitude of irregular verbs as well as the diverse roots of modern English (Germanic, Celtic, Nordic, and Latin). But then the emphasis changes to the receptive and productive skills. The real issues are the reading, writing, and listening skills of the Asian student. These issues come from methodology as well as pedagogy. The pedagogical differences between Asian schools and Western schools lie in the culture. Asian students play a limited role in the classroom: teachers speak, the students listen, and rarely ask questions to that authority figure. Success in school means accurately repeating the material presented in class or studied at home. As one article summarized, ?The ultimate educational objective is for students to be right.? (Barriers to Learning) Asians score high TEFL/ESL tests and on placement/assessment tests. And yet when Asians enter an English-speaking culture, they are unable to communicate effectively or at the high level suggested by their scores. Pronunciation is an issue, but so is understanding the English speaker. Communication is the exchange of information. The exchange breaks down between the Asian speaker (pronunciation, grammar) and the English native (misunderstanding what is being said). The exchange then again breaks down as the Asian person attempts to receive what the English speaker says. Terms, accent, and pace all can hamper the Asians person?s understanding. My research uncovered 5 methodological problem areas that restrict the Asian students learning of English. First, was the inadequate preparation of the TEFL/esl teacher and the courses they went through. Native Asian English teachers follow a rigid and ineffective approach that emphasizes test scores over communication. Based on their experience in and adherence to the Asian educational system, they will continue to stress reading and memorizing in order to pass tests. native english speakers are usually recruited who have little to no teaching experience and whose only qualification is their ability to speak English. They are provided little preparation before entering the classroom. The second problem is that the teachers themselves, both native English and foreign-born, are unqualified. An Asian English teacher could easily transfer their own English problems and errors in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar to their students. A native english speaker must rely on the textbooks and cannot adapt to their students? needs or create an engaging learning environment. Third, the materials are inappropriate, outdated, and uninteresting to the students. They emphasize student reproduction of presented information. Any supplemental materials reinforce the course book rather than expanding into productive and receptive skills. Also, they may only present the Asian culture and worldview without introducing Western culture and ideas. Fourth, the students have minimal speaking, writing, and listening opportunities. For instance, one article estimated that the Asian students writing skills are on a par with an English elementary student (Problems Confronting Asian). The problem again lies in the Asian pedagogical system. If Asian students are tasked with a research project, the teacher specifies the topic, provides a list of articles, and tells how many of those articles to read. Their research is a summary of articles read rather than an analysis of concepts, formulating a thesis, and supporting with arguments. The final issue is a properly planned curriculum. If the materials are inappropriate, then the course becomes deficient and ill-defined. Test preparation is over-emphasized while communication is underemphasized which then reduces the Asian student?s ability to interact fluently with English speakers. This topic really helped me to realize how I can be more effective in the Asian culture: 1. Ensure the students have a lot more opportunity to read, write, and listen to a number of different sources. 2. Make available lots of magazines, books, graphic novels, newspapers, videos, tapes from a wide range of sources to expose the students to different language, styles, and topics. 3. Use a lot of visual cues to help the students anchor their memory for later recall and use. 4. Encourage my Asian students to experiment and be creative with their output. The activate activities on debating, presentations and free role-play will develop these skills. 5. Check the corrective feedback at the door. Although at points it is necessary, it can easily stifle the Asian student?s willingness to try out English language. 6. Allow more time for the students to formulate answers. Many learners must still translate the English word or sentence into their native language and then formulate a response that will then need to be converted into English! That?s a lot for them to do and it takes time. 7. Finally, one of the articles mentioned the different techniques learners use to assimilate language ? cognitive, auditory/verbal, and kinesthetic. The cognitive learner needs to reflect on the dialog or task before issuing an answer or completing the assignment. The verbal learner attempts to try out the words and sentences to aid learning. The kinesthetic learner needs games, music, even clapping to transfer information to memory. I am more of a reflective learner so I need to consciously include the total range of activities in my lesson plans. References: ?Barriers to learning Experienced by Asian students in American Accounting Classes? by Mary Beaven, Matthew Calderisi, and Panadda Tantral, S J Silberman College of Business Administration, Fairleigh Dickinson University ?Common English problems of Asian students? from the US Wind English website ?Language Problems? by Soyoun Park from Alterna-TV News ?Problems Confronting Asian English Learning? from the US Wind English website ?Problems in Learning English? by Nina Makofsky, eHow Contributor