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#1 Vicente López-Brea Fernández

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 11:12 AM

The main aim of my presentation is on the improvement brought about by ICT. I am no expert, but I am convinced that tools are helpful if we are able to provide a reason for use and a safe atmosphere to use them. In this sense I consider that ICT provide for the language teacher (sorry, this is my field/limitation) a relatively safe environment (provided the teacher "feels" confident with the media), but also a strongly realistic use of language, thus providing a reason to learn. There is little doubt that we, language teachers, need to focus on the use of language, and ICT make it easy for us to do so. Bringing a sense of reality also contributes to facilitate learners be less dependent, fostering their autonomy.

Still what I may foresee for the future is, in the context of Spain and Madrid specifically, is an extension of relationships among the different curricular areas, in which language teachers contribute to the linguistic development of both teachers of other sub-jects and students. The uses of ICT will enable to facilitate the intercommunication of teachers and students, and I think there will be an extension of communities of users hooked to wider thematic areas. This is what I have in mind.

IMPROVEMENT ICT BRINGS TO TEACHING

Professional background to justify my views:

Language teacher (English):

I am no expert, but I am convinced that tools are helpful if we are able to provide a reason for use and a safe atmosphere to use them. As stated I am a language teacher, an English lan-guage teacher. So the main idea I have always had is that it is my duty to use a foreign language and help others become reasonably good users of this foreign language. I have used all kinds of approaches and elements to make my subject close to students’ experiences and relatively safe for my personal self. Computers came to me as one of these gadgets for which I was not fully prepared (still do not know a terrible lot), but was intrigued enough to investigate how to use them. In this sense I consider that ICT provide for the language teacher a relatively safe environment (provided the teacher "feels" con-fident with the media), but also a strongly realistic use of language, thus providing a reason to learn. There is little doubt that we, language teachers, need to focus on the use of lan-guage, and ICT make it easy for us to do so.

Views on Language learning:

It is not very easy to define the key question “how students learn”. In my view (which is “a”, but not “the” view) I believe that students learn by using the language and by reflecting af-ter their language use. My main task is then providing opportunities for meaningful language use, and building up a sense of community between the students and myself, so that we generate a relaxing environment. A second aspect to be taken into consideration is the issues that may come in a classroom as a consequence of a different role demanded for teachers and students: a more open, flexible class structure may defy certain educational institutions or administrators. The ac-cepted role of the teacher as “controller” in a language classroom, in what Jeremy Harmer calls “lockstep” (teacher ex-plaining everything, providing all the contents and students assimilating the information received), is severely defied. So we, and our institutions, are to adopt more flexible patterns of classroom distribution and clearly redefine the patterns of be-haviour. One last aspect to be borne in mind would be, especially in the institutions I have had the opportunity to teach, State Schools in Spain, is the difference between attendants (and even those who do not wish to be where they are when they are in a classroom) and students, which also raises classroom issues. Again flexible patterns of class organization and an accepted code of behaviour have to be established as a pre-requisite for language learning.

Eagerness for new perspectives applied to teaching a FL.

To sum all the views, I believe we must agree on the necessity to show an eagerness for new trends, so long as they are in-clusive (for all students, regardless their abilities) and adapt-able to the varied reality in which we work.

Benefits of ICT

Real life learning: reality of virtuality.

Language appropriacy. There is little doubt that we, language teachers, need to focus on the use of language, and ICT make it easy for us to do so, especially after the use of internet as a didactic tool. Bringing a sense of reality also contributes to facilitate learners be less dependent, fostering their autonomy. Of course this has created an intense demand on the teacher to be selective (to tell the trees from the forest) and to adapt the wide variety of resources at hand to the variety of students.

Meaningful learning

It is clear that the concept of meaningfulness has two main sides: meaningfulness in terms of teachers’ curricular demands/aspirations and the obvious second would be students’ interests and expectations. The presence of a virtual environ-ment proves to be attractive. The main goal is to make it last beyond the mere visual impact, in other words, make it memorable so that the contents and abilities may remain. For such a purpose we still need a great deal of careful planning.

Teachers’ roles: redefinition of literacy

It is not easy to be up-to-date, and this is a social requirement, if not a demand. In many cases these new virtual environments are not so teacher friendly as they are required to be, but this is no excuse to prevent teachers from using these resources. I believe that we cannot be stopped by technological challenges. Again, teachers’ attitude may allow a role of a teacher as an average user, not a master. Probably this simple lack of reliability in a role of teacher not holding the strings of knowledge in a class is the single most outstanding obstacle to the extension of ICT in teaching, at least in language teaching.

Language learning and CALL

Initial programs tended to adopt a role similar to that of a “traditions” teacher, providing acceptable/unacceptable responses. CALL tends to be good for reinforcing structures and acquiring vocabulary. Not so much for creativity. New applications are developed that intend to provide resources for teachers to generate their own materials (Hot Potatoes, for example), websites provide free software or support to generate or adapt existing materials.

SEN

If there is a field where technologies have to provide resources is in Special Educational Needs. This is also the area of prime interest for me. I think there is a vast amount of material, mostly in English, though most materials developed in websites require the adaptation to the specific needs of the real students that we have.

Textbook writing?

I must admit I am not a great materials creator. I have always been keener on adapting what others had done (mostly better than I would dream to ever do) than generating my own mate-rials from scratch. I do feel an urge for my students generating materials and using those materials with other students (effort-outcome balance of a reasonable quality. Reading John Simkin’s information about textbook writing I am also concerned about 1st world market demands, but I am still unable to come to grips to a solution to the problem posed.

Requirements

Computer literacy.

In my view, as I stated before, I believe it is more a question of attitude than a question of knowledge. There is little doubt that a certain level of computer skills is more and more a necessity, but it is also true, at least in the environment I work (a Teachers’ Support Centre) more and more resources are devoted to implement teachers’ knowledge of ICT.

Attitudinal requirements

What I said before, eagerness for change, but also a perspective of the roles of the teacher and the student in a classroom.

* Technological Equipment availability

* Class control.

* I will not insit on this idea of agreements for classroom behaviour. I sincerely consider it is a must.

The future to come

Communities:

It seems to me that one of the many uses that internet may bring for contributions of language departments to teacher development.

I do think it is necessary to reinforce the links between the school members, and it is a must the collaboration among the institution de-partments to carry our common processes. This is particularly relevant in the case of State Secondary Schools in Spain. European pro-jects are a good way to incorporate more and more teachers into collaboration, and bridging departamental gaps.

Technological gadgets:

No one (at least, not me) can tell what the latest craze is about to be. The tendency that I notice goes towards easy-to-use, reasonably-priced youngish compressed “walkable” items. I know of language teachers who bring their MP3s or iPods to the class to have the choice of support music for the lessons (used as background to the class, to encourage oral practice, or in many other ways, such as for intensive or extensive listening). That availability and the capacity of storage have made their life easier. Still and all, I have met too few a teacher who do so.

Problems/challenges

Reliable technology and teacher friendly software:

Not everything seems to be valid for classroom work. Technology needs to develop items who are adaptable to classroom environments. The same can be applied to the software to be used. As I have been able to read through the very many posts on the subject, I find the HELP project has many talented members who may well develop tools to help teachers.

1st World 3rd World teaching: differences matter.

We are part of a whole. We teach in responsible institutions (grin!) where a variety of school cultures exist. We are placed under pressure by the different community sectors. In the end it is our students who tell of our teaching and how big the impact is in their future (professional and personal life). Our students are, then, members of a community where what they know is essential for the social texture. Hopefully they are armed with “the necessary skills to function as citizens of the country”. And society demands that the students we teach have a high technological proficiency, the difference that may allow them to be active members of a specialised labour market. Yet, I still wonder if we are contributing or not to widening the gap be-tween worlds. (?)

Humanity

But essentially, are we doing anything different from what others did 2000 years ago? I was shocked by John Simkin’s words when “he thought he was debating this issue with himself” and stated “the structure of what is going on in the classroom has not changed (in fact it has remained the same for over 2000 years)”. Shocked, as I guess expected by the author of such opinion, I experienced a feeling of panic: Are we moving? Or it is just introducing new gadgets to preserve the isolated mastery of knowledge and let others out of the race? Is there a 1st world learning, sophisticate, technology-oriented,

I still consider that the act of learning, if we consider that an act of apprehension of content in a memorable and independent way, is always affected by those who participate in the process (Teacher and Student). Still my idea of a teacher is more that of a facilitator than that of an content instiller, by that meaning that a teacher needs to lead to knowledge, create ways in which this content is graspable by the students (in their diversity) and LET THEM LEARN by using. As the English saying goes “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”. In my view what I intend to do is making my students (was tempted to continue with horses, but resisted temptation – I am closer to sanctity now!) as thirsty (of using the language, that is, of needing to express their ideas regarding a particular field) as possible so that they do want to participate, do want to join in, and consequently discover that “the water” that satiates their eagerness to participate is the knowledge they have acquired by using the lan-guage object of study. The image is clear to me: the water (the content) flows from their inside (their use of the content). Not a bad metaphor after all.

#2 David Wilson

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 09:38 PM

SEN

If there is a field where technologies have to provide resources is in Special Educational Needs. This is also the area of prime interest for me. I think there is a vast amount of material, mostly in English, though most materials developed in websites require the adaptation to the specific needs of the real students that we have.


The use of ICT to meet modern foreign language (MFL) learners' special educational needs (SEN) is a teaching and research interest of mine. There are over 100 references to ICT usage with such students at:

http://www.specialed.../mfl/biblio.doc

What kind of adaptations do you make when you use ICT to differentiate your MFL delivery to accommodate your MFL learners with SEN? Have you written any papers about your work with these students? Despite exhaustive web searches, I have found very little literature about the teaching of MFL to those with SEN in Spain. Is there a Spanish book about MFL for SEN? There have been three such publications in recent years in Britain.

David Wilson
http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com

#3 Vicente López-Brea Fernández

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 04:15 PM

There is not many ways in which one can ask many more questions in less space. I did some writing (unfortunately in Spanish), but most of it was providing a "framework" for the legal aspects of SEN students in ordinary classrooms, as required by some legislation in my country. SEN is definitely one of my leading challenges, and will come back to the forum with examples of activities to adapt MFL to SEN (to some kinds of impairment). Any how I will look through the webpage you included.

SEN

If there is a field where technologies have to provide resources is in Special Educational Needs. This is also the area of prime interest for me. I think there is a vast amount of material, mostly in English, though most materials developed in websites require the adaptation to the specific needs of the real students that we have.


The use of ICT to meet modern foreign language (MFL) learners' special educational needs (SEN) is a teaching and research interest of mine. There are over 100 references to ICT usage with such students at:

http://www.specialed.../mfl/biblio.doc

What kind of adaptations do you make when you use ICT to differentiate your MFL delivery to accommodate your MFL learners with SEN? Have you written any papers about your work with these students? Despite exhaustive web searches, I have found very little literature about the teaching of MFL to those with SEN in Spain. Is there a Spanish book about MFL for SEN? There have been three such publications in recent years in Britain.

David Wilson
http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com

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#4 John Simkin

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 12:49 PM

Still what I may foresee for the future is, in the context of Spain and Madrid specifically, is an extension of relationships among the different curricular areas, in which language teachers contribute to the linguistic development of both teachers of other subjects and students. The uses of ICT will enable to facilitate the intercommunication of teachers and students, and I think there will be an extension of communities of users hooked to wider thematic areas. This is what I have in mind.

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I am sure language teachers have a lot to teach other subjects about learning. In the 1960s educationalists like Jerome Bruner argued that people learn best when they learn in an active rather than a passive manner. He used the example of how we learn language. It is claimed that this is the most difficult thing we have to do in our life, yet we learn it so young and so quickly – so easily in fact, that some experts in this field have argued that language is, to a certain extent, an inherited skill.

Bruner argues that the reason we learn language so quickly is due to the method we use. As we are introduced to words, we use them. We test them out. Words immediately became practical. We can quickly see why it helps us to know these words.

I suppose this is reinforced by the speed that someone learns a foreign language when living in that country. The foreign language, like the English language, is used in a practical rather than an academic sense. Bruner was interested in how these ideas could be used in other subject areas.

#5 Graham Davies

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  • Interests:I began my career as a teacher of German and French in secondary education in 1965, moving into higher education in 1971, where I taught German (and also English as a Foreign Language to students training to become professional translators) until 1993. I have been involved in Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) since 1976. In 1982 I wrote one of the first introductory books on computers in language learning and teaching, which was followed by numerous other printed and software publications. In 1989 I was conferred with the title of Professor of CALL by the Academic Board of Ealing College of Higher Education (later integrated into Thames Valley University). I retired from full-time teaching in 1993 but I continued to work as a Visiting Professor for Thames Valley University until 2001. I was the Founder President of EUROCALL, holding the post from 1993 to 2000. I am a partner in Camsoft, a CALL software development and consultancy business, which was founded in 1982. I have lectured and run ICT training courses for language teachers in 22 different countries and I sit on a number of national and international advisory boards and committees. I have been actively involved in WorldCALL since 1998 and I currently head a working party that is in the process of setting up WorldCALL as an official organisation that aims to assist countries that are currently underserved in the area of ICT and the teaching and learning of modern foreign languages. I am fluent in German, I speak tolerable French, and I can survive in Italian, Russian and Hungarian. I enjoy golf, skiing, walking my dog (a retired racing greyhound) and travelling. I used to scuba-dive regularly - my last dive was on the Great Barrier Reef in 1998 - but now I just swim at my local fitness centre.

Posted 28 February 2005 - 02:55 PM

Learning a language takes time. If you grow up in a country or live in a country for a long period then you are exposed to the language continually and for many hours per day. This is why you make good progress. If you learn a language at school then you get very little exposure in comparison and therefore make slow progress. The Council of Europe calculates that you need around 350-400 learning hours to achieve Threshold Level (B1) on the Common European Framework scale. B1 corresponds roughly to a higher GCSE grade in the UK - but I wonder how many children get anywhere near enough learning hours in currently overcrowded timetables to be able to achieve this level.

My former university was involved in developing French language training materials for the Eurostar train drivers. To get an English mother tongue train driver from scratch to a safe operational level in French takes 600 class-contact hours plus homework, including a period of residence in France combined with language training by native speakers.

ICT - and other aids such as audio and video materials - can speed up the language learning process by offering additional opportunities for practice outside the classroom.

#6 javier mendez

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Posted 05 March 2005 - 06:59 PM

Teaching in non native contexts

Let me remember one of the aspects of HELP-project. I know it is important the use of ICT in teaching any subject, but one of the points which were brought up in preparing HELP project was the use of a foreign language in teaching any other subject but English, especially History, due to most participating teachers in the project were teachers of History.
I want to specify some points about this part of the project:
1.- ICT are important, but it is important too the difficulties in teaching history in a foreign language
2.- Both teachers and students are using a language different from their mother toungue and they may feel unconfortable if not unsecure with the foreign language
3.- Interference between mother toungue and foreign language (Spanish-English, French- English, etc). There may be tipical errors and mistakes due to interference from the native language. Teachers should be able to identify them and correct them.
4.- Encouragement of using foreing language. Teachers must encourage their students to use the working language and avoid the use of mother toungue. This may arise problems related to the contents of the subject (History) What’s more important, History or English?
5.- Assesment of the subject: Should teachers evaluate only the contents of the subject or take into account the command of the foreign language as well?
6.- In order to be a successful teacher of history in a foreign language, the teacher must know some strategies when dealing with a foreign language and some language methodology to avoid students’ dissappointment. Theachers should be aware that they are not only teachers of History but teachers of foreign language as well.

These are the kind of thoughts I would like teachers of history to ask themselves if they are going to be teachers of history in non-native contexts. It would be very interesting to know what history teachers think about these aspects and to know teachers’ experience when dealing in teaching history in a foreign language (I suppose basically English)

#7 Juan Carlos

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 10:33 AM

[quote]1.- ICT are important, but it is important too the difficulties in teaching history in a foreign language[quote]
Absolutely, I am a history teacher, I studied French at school, then I learnt (badly) English and ICT (badly again). For me, as for most of Spanish teachers dealing with teaching history in English using ICT, all that means a triple work  :D[/quote]2.- Both teachers and students are using a language different from their mother toungue and they may feel unconfortable if not unsecure with the foreign language[quote]The point is not succumb to temptation and start talking in Spanish[/quote]3.- Interference between mother toungue and foreign language (Spanish-English, French- English, etc). There may be tipical errors and mistakes due to interference from the native language. Teachers should be able to identify them and correct them. [quote]It would be very interesting that history teachers get to know those typical mistakes. I think we absolutely need some help from our English colleagues at schools. It will be very useful for Spanish history teachers to have a sort of collection of "typical errors" of Spanish students when speaking or writing in English[/quote]4.- Encouragement of using foreing language. Teachers must encourage their students to use the working language and avoid the use of mother toungue. This may arise problems related to the contents of the subject (History) What’s more important, History or English?[quote]I am going to be very frank. If I have to choose, I will opt for teaching History. First History, then English and ICT or ICT and English.[/quote]5.- Assesment of the subject: Should teachers evaluate only the contents of the subject or take into account the command of the foreign language as well?[quote]Is it possible to distinguish student's ideas about history and the way they convey them by writing? When I am evaluating an exam in Spanish, I cannot avoid assessing the way the student is writing in Spanis. The point is: it is evident that, when assessing students' works, I have to bear in mind that they are not writing in their mother tongue, but in which degree should I change my assessing?[/quote]6.- In order to be a successful teacher of history in a foreign language, the teacher must know some strategies when dealing with a foreign language and some language methodology to avoid students’ dissappointment. Theachers should be aware that they are not only teachers of History but teachers of foreign language as well.
[/quote]
Absolutely, that's what I (and a lot of Spanish, French, Italian.. teachers) need.

Edited by Juan Carlos, 06 March 2005 - 10:35 AM.


#8 David Wilson

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 11:40 AM

It's doubly difficult for me to comment on the last few contributions to this thread because my mother tongue is English and I teach French and German, not History. As an outsider, therefore, I remain sceptical about "content area" teaching through a foreign language, because I see it as a hurdle for the teacher as well as the student. The first time I wrote a history essay in a foreign language was during my year abroad in France and I made a mess of it, not so much because of linguistic problems but because my experience of learning history in school proved woefully inadequate. I just didn't have the grounding in the subject to respond. My next attempt at writing a history assignment was when I did an MA in German and one of the papers was on 20th century German history. I managed this time because the seminars I attended prepared me well for the exam.

I've spent years lurking on, and contributing to, a translators' forum and the experience convinced me that a first degree in languages focusing on literary studies had ill-prepared me for translating the scientific, medical and legal documents which are the "bread and butter work" of a professional translator. I would have needed further training in those fields to be confident enough to tackle such work.

I used to teach German up to GCE A-level. One of the examinations required students to write essays about German literature in English. Both I and my students enjoyed such literary study. Then the examinations boards changed their syllabuses and the students had to write essays in German about their set books. This was disastrous. They had to learn a completely new and complex vocabulary, that of literary criticism, in German. Their great ideas about literature had to be toned down to fit their knowledge of the language. Not long after this change, I decided to drop out of A-level teaching. This was one hurdle too many.

I have a Masters degree in German, but I certainly wouldn't feel confident enough to teach a lesson in another subject through the medium of German. In the UK, where History and Geography are sometimes taught through French, German or Spanish within a school's "section bilingue", those subjects seem to be taught by language teachers. I wonder sometimes whether the history teaching there is up to scratch even if the foreign language teaching is fine. I'm assured by those in the know that it all works perfectly well, but I remain sceptical, partly because I couldn't do it without a lot of additional study and also because I sense it's something that can only be offered to the gifted and talented students, while I teach mainly those with learning difficulties, who are experiencing problems with literacy in the context of their own mother tongue, English.

David Wilson
http://www.specialed...ionalneeds.com/

#9 Graham Davies

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 12:59 PM

I share many of David’s reservations about teaching a subject such as History through a foreign language, but it can be done properly. The university at which I last taught offered an Applied Language Studies degree course on which specialist subjects such as Economics, Law, Politics and Technology were taught and examined in the foreign language. But most of the teachers of these specialist subjects were native speakers or bilingual.

I taught translation from German into English on the Applied Language Studies course, using texts that covered the same speciliast subject areas, so I could focus on the language that the students needed in order to follow the lectures and write their essays in German. I often consulted my subject specialist colleagues when I was unsure about the meaning of specialist terms. Other lecturers (native speakers) taught translation from English into the foreign language, and students were also introduced to summarising, interpreting and a variety of other practical skills. Students spent a whole year abroad as part of their course, six months in two different countries. They graduated having learned two languages to a very high level and with a very practical focus and, in addition, they had a thorough grounding in a specialist subject. Many of our graduates got high-flying jobs.

The course was closed at the end of the 1990s. By this time the supply of students with good language qualifications from school had dried up.

Regarding David’s comments on translating, most of our students could have got jobs as professional translators specialising in the subject areas that we offered on the Applied Language Studies course. Some managed to get jobs in translation departments with companies such as Siemens, which offered additional on-the-job training in technical German. It was also possible to do a one-year top-up course in translating at my university.

Professional translators need to know the subject area as well as the language, and they normally work from the foreign language into their mother tongue or “language of habitual use”. High standards are set, and a professional translator will guarantee the accuracy of his/her work. Translators are usually well insured too. Imagine what would happen, for example, if the instructions for the administration of medication were incorrectly translated – the translator could be sued! But, stupidly, many companies skimp on translation. I recall the story of a company that translated the instructions on safety notices on an oil rig by referring to a dictionary rather than getting them professionally translated. Most of the resulting “translations” were hopelessly wrong and in the end they had to be redone by an accredited professional translator. Here is an example of a safety notice (in an Italian hotel) that has been badly translated – but it’s great for a laugh!

“Fire! It is what can doing we hope. No fear. Not ourselves. Say quietly to all people coming up down everywhere is a prayer. Always is a clerk. He is assured of safety by expert men who are in the bar for telephone for the fighters of fire come out.”

#10 Vicente López-Brea Fernández

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 10:03 AM

In my presentation to the Toulouse meeting I mentioned as a requirement the need of contributions of language departments to teacher development
"I do think it is necessary to reinforce the links between the school members, and it is a must the collaboration among the institution departments to carry our common processes. This is particularly relevant in the case of State Secondary Schools in Spain. European projects are a good way to incorporate more and more teachers into collaboration, and bridging departamental gaps."

I do consider it is possible to find a link between different curricular areas. It is possible (in Spain, at least) to create a seminar on these issues (and be granted formative credits for such a task!!), and come to conclusions (this is a wonderful element of GOOD PRACTICE) to publish them or to let others know. If we are to develop intuitive, autonomous and collaborative students in a given field we are asked to come to common trends (respecting different teaching styles, but needing to lead to a convergence of objectives).

#11 Juan Carlos

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 08:33 PM

I have a Masters degree in German, but I certainly wouldn't feel confident enough to teach a lesson in another subject through the medium of German. In the UK, where History and Geography are sometimes taught through French, German or Spanish within a school's "section bilingue", those subjects seem to be taught by language teachers.

I share many of David’s reservations about teaching a subject such as History through a foreign language, but it can be done properly.

As a Spanish-speaking History teacher that will start teaching History (according to Spanish curriculum) in English in the next future, I have a lot of doubts about the pedagogical efficiency of my future work. I have tried to find some literature on the subject (history teaching in English in non-English speaking context), but, so far, I have not been successful.

A couple of years ago, I visited a Grammar School in Dartford (I don't remember the name of the school, but I do remember that it was the place where long time ago Mick Jagger studied) and I attended (and taught for half an hour the Spanish Civil War) a history class taught in Spanish. The teacher, an excellent one, was a Spanish teacher trying to teach History. I think that it is not the way we should follow. Students already had their Spanish class to learn Spanish. The point is that pupils are to learn history in history classes. Otherwise, they will learn neither history nor Spanish.

I absolutely agree with Vicente that we need interdisciplinary work to teach history in English in a proper way. I hope that, as members of E-HELP, we can find pedagogical strategies to do it. I think we should set up some examples to be used in the Comenius course we will give at the end of the project.
I hope that experience teachers as Graham, David or Javier can help us to achieve it.

Edited by Juan Carlos, 07 March 2005 - 08:34 PM.


#12 David Richardson

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 12:22 PM

This is a complex area. I have a colleague here who's writing his Ph.D. thesis on exactly what happens when a Swedish lecturer lectures about maths or physics in English to Swedish-speaking students.

He's at the stage of collecting observational data at the moment, but it seems that hardly anyone has done any hard field research in this area. His first set of data seems to suggest that students who understand the concepts anyway will learn, no matter how good or bad they and the lecturer are at the language being used. But then there's all the others …

I'll keep you all posted as his research develops.

#13 Graham Davies

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 03:50 PM

Surely there is a lot of data to be collected from bilingual schools? We have such schools on our doorstep here in Wales, where History, Maths, Geography etc are taught both in English and in Welsh. I can't provide data myself, but presumably the National Assembly for Wales can point someone in the right direction. If you search in Google under "teaching through the medium of Welsh" a lot of relevant info comes up.

I have a friend who works in a bilingual school in Austria. He is a German native speaker, but he teaches in English as well as in German. I think he teaches subjects such as the Cinema in English and in German. I am meeting him this weekend. I'll mention this topic to him.

#14 javier mendez

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 07:48 PM

About if a History teacher whose mother toungue is not English can't properly teach history, I think it also works the other way round: a foreign language teacher can't either teach History properly. I agree with what Vicente and Juan C. say: there is a need of collaborative job to be done.
Another point, have the problems to be identify by experience or we can foresee some of them prior to teaching? Before facing a class to teach history in English without planned training beforehand where nobody is confortable with the English language can be very frustrating, and as Graham says, we are in the danger of not teaching either subject, nor English, nor History.

#15 Vicente López-Brea Fernández

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 08:19 PM

As stated above coordination is an absolute must. If things are planned and departments collaborate we can start agreeing on the terms of collaboration (creation of -virtual- dictionaries with specific terms either for the class or the subject area, demanding collaboration from in-service training bodies -Teachers' Centres- so that non-specialist teachers may rise their oral standards; collaboration in the planning and design of the different subjects so that they may coincide in some areas of interest;...). It is, in any case, important that we do not lose sight from the specialties of the teachers involved. A History teacher does not have to teach English (ie, grammar), but uses this language as a means. The consideration of grammatical mistakes (orthography, language inadequacy) may be agreed with the help of the English department (If the language cannot be understood it cannot be valued) or simply by using common sense. Students make all kinds of mistakes, even when they write in their own language. History teachers do use assessment criteria to evaluate the performances of their students. These criteria tend to be agreed on by the members of the Department. I go back to the beginning: there is a need of collaboration and a need of discussion before we start teaching. No doubt there are drawbacks, but the possibility of learning a subject matter in a foreign language is in itself a great advantage (I have to admit that I am a language teacher :)

Edited by Vicente López-Brea Fernández, 08 March 2005 - 08:21 PM.





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