Site Search:
 
TEFL International Supports Dave's ESL Cafe
TEFL Courses, TESOL Course, English Teaching Jobs - TEFL International
Job Discussion Forums Forum Index Job Discussion Forums
"The Internet's Meeting Place for ESL/EFL Students and Teachers from Around the World!"
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Winging it - the key to successful language learning?
Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Job Discussion Forums Forum Index -> General Discussion
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1216

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 10:06 pm    Post subject: Winging it - the key to successful language learning? Reply with quote

It's occurred to me that much of what we try to do as English teachers misses the mark.

When I see how multilingual groups communicate in a shared language (i.e. English) it makes me realise that a lot of successful communication is due to other factors (none of them the stuff they've learned in class):

- a willingness to understand (to ignore mistakes or lack of vocabulary, willingness to speak in "half sentences", focused eye contact and 100% attention etc)

- total dispensation of grammar rules (the communication being more important than accuracy)

- real interest in what the other person is saying

I've seen the same thing with students trying to interact with native speakers of English, say in London. Nobody seems to give a hoot about being grammatically accurate, or having the right phrases. It's all in the listening, will to communicate, and being comfortable with not knowing everything before you start speaking.

So this is my question. Should we be helping students to wing it? To go ahead and just try to communicate, rather than preparing them with phrases upon useful phrases, for example? (Tying in to the interesting thread earlier about what coursebooks don't cover, and about how much of speech might be non-standard).
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I understand you correctly, my answer is yes. Yes! YES!

It will be harder for some people because of their fear of shame or losing face, but they need just as much or more experience as anyone else in learning that if you stay quiet, you not only lose out in a conversation (whether just to have a fun time or to seek information), but you also don't improve.

I think a lot of us tell students, "If you don't say anything, I won't know your weaknesses and can't help you improve". Silence is NOT golden.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Janiny



Joined: 31 May 2008
Posts: 171

PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Steve Martin says,"The secret of comedy is the ability to...um, uhh... ad lib."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2730
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, but most so-called "communicative" teachers already do, certainly in the freer portions (which may be large) of their lessons, more or less precisely what you're suggesting they ought to, TIR! (Well, OK, maybe not always the 'real interest in what the other person is saying' part LOL).

For a well-argued counter to the "Mistakes are necessary, hell, almost recommended" school of thinking, take a look at the serious~bookish approach to learning that Antimoon.com suggests.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We learn our own L1 by making mistakes. Why should it be any different for L2?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2730
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think there's a difference between hypothesis-forming and -testing or parameter setting or whatever as a young "native speaker", and making any number of mistakes at least partly because one hasn't bothered to learn enough as an adult foreign language learner, Glenski. That is, there is a difference between being "genuinely" mistaken (due to simple ignorance and reaching too far), and slight slips and performance errors (but what about memory, or should that be memorization, failures?).
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, when a youngster is getting used to their own L1, the only rules are what people around them impart, and often it's just a matter of putting things in a general order or sense. Grammar doesn't necessarily come into play for a while, but for L2 learners it is more important early on.

But, if we want our students to get to the point of uttering anything at all just to enter that "fearless" stage of a child, it is important to give them the sense that anything is ok for us knowledgeable listeners. Kids learning their own L1 get that from day zero because they feel safe with the people around them. L2 learners need that, too, even if it means making mistakes in their communicative efforts.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1216

PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But, if we want our students to get to the point of uttering anything at all just to enter that "fearless" stage of a child, it is important to give them the sense that anything is ok for us knowledgeable listeners


Yes, this is the crux of it, I think. The conversation partner (who may or may not be a native speaker) acts as the knowledgeable / willing listener.

I've seen learners with limited grasp of English communicate quite complex, abstract concepts with others limited in their knowledge of these concepts. As long as the other person overlooks the gaps in language of person A, rephrases, or clarifies where possible; and where person A concentrates on the message rather than the form, you get some really lively, co-operative exchanges, where both speakers look happy and satisfied. (But where the English itself may be full of mistakes, half-utterances, and so on.)

Conversely, when I've tried to do that peer correction thing, students always wind up far more interested in what their partners are saying than how they're saying it. I've tried peer correction with different groups, at different times across my teaching career (normally because the text book / resources have "suggested" it) and generally not found it to work well - or even be particularly helpful.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9551
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
We learn our own L1 by making mistakes. Why should it be any different for L2?


Is this a serious question?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Denim-Maniac



Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1238

PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@TeacherinRome

I agree - but would add that most of my students do tend to focus on communication over form, recognising that there is a time and place for accuracy, and a time and place for fluency.

I dont think this is because of my teaching style or methods, but rather the maturity and ability level of my students. Very rarely do I have anyone below B2 / Intermediate in my classes, and the vast majority are also over 16 and mature. As a result I think they have already learnt to experiment and make mistakes.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1837

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think my students learn by making mistakes. I think they succeed by balancing the need for accuracy with the confidence to make mistakes while getting there. I certainly don't dispense with grammar; they are supposed to be learning the language and they often expect grammar to be part of it.

The winging it is the spontaneity of making lessons fun, so mistakes hurt less.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9551
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stretching their interlanguage is a much more acceptable way of saying 'winging it'. Tsk tsk...
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1837

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sashadroogie wrote:
Stretching their interlanguage is a much more acceptable way of saying 'winging it'. Tsk tsk...

and even less comprehensible.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9551
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not to the initiated...
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1837

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sashadroogie wrote:
Not to the initiated...

Presumably that's part of the standing orders comrade.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Job Discussion Forums Forum Index -> General Discussion All times are GMT
Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4  Next
Page 1 of 4

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page is maintained by the one and only Dave Sperling.
Contact Dave's ESL Cafe
Copyright © 2011 Dave Sperling. All Rights Reserved.

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group

Road2Spain - TEFL and Spanish with one year student visa
EBC