Classroom leaning of language has to be supported by learning outside the class. What activities can you design and use to enhance learning of English outside the classroom.
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication. The scientific study of language in any of its senses is called linguistics. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Language is a formal system of symbols governed by grammatical rules combining particular signs with particular meanings. This definition stresses the fact that human languages can be described as closed structural systems consisting of rules that relate particular signs to particular meanings. Ferdinand de Saussure (1983)
Generally Language can be understood as a system of combining arbitrary symbols to produce an infinite number of meaningful statements.
Learning is acquiring new or modifying existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Learning is a relatively permanent change in behaviour as a result of past experience. Don & Sandra (1997)
Learning can generally be viewed as the process of acquiring new skills, knowledge and behaviours, which help in shaping the existing ones.
In becoming competent in a language, speakers of a language have to acquire four basic components of a language being described here as phonology, semantics, grammar and pragmatics. Any language involves mastering of four language skills namely speaking, writing, listening, and reading. Therefore, the activities to be designed are in line with developing these skills, for the leaner to have a good mastery of the language (competence) and to be able to use it in actual situations (performance). As supported by Sadker & Sadker (2003) in the following paragraph.
Language arts programs emphasize literacy development, which includes reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and media study. In elementary school, the language arts Curriculum addresses the essentials of how to use language- reading, grammar, spellings, speaking, handwriting, composition, capitalization, punctuation, word processing, peer editing, and research skills. At secondary school level, the language art instruction shift focus to literature.
The activities that can be designed to support the learning of English language outside the classroom include the following;
Home Reading. As far as reading language skill is concerned, students should be encouraged to take home the books for reading. They may be asking for assistance from adult members of their families, if they are conversant with English Language. This idea is supported by Hewins & Wells (1992:39) who comment that;
It is our expectation that our students will take books home from the classroom or school library. One of our primary objectives is to convince them that, reading books is a good way for them to spend their time at least as entertaining as watching television or playing a video game... we want them to see that reading is not just a classroom activity but also one that can be carried out anywhere anytime.
Writing workshops. A workshop is a period of discussion and practical work on a particular subject in which a group of people, share their knowledge and experience. This can develop students’ writing skill, speaking skill, and listening skill, because after writing their papers, students will have to present their drafts in front of their fellow, who will be listening and later criticize each other’s work. This idea is again supported by Hewins & Wells (1992:44);
We also acknowledge that it is necessary to provide time to students to write on topics of their own choice as well as in response to books. Such writing includes stories, poems, songs, journal entries, letters, information writing and personal reflections. After writing/drafting their works, students with their writing partners will have to read their pieces and discuss their writings. The teachers have to guide them how to listen and know how to respond to each other’s writing.
Essay writing. In academic discourse, there are many types of essays that can be written on different subjects. Be it argumentative or descriptive essay, it helps to develop learners writing skills plus the logical flow of ideas. When writing an essay a student not only concentrates on the contents of his/her work but also the rules of that language as Langan & Swinstanley (1999) say in the following paragraph.
Students are asked to write formal essays with an introduction, three supporting paragraphs and a conclusion. Anyone who has tried to write a solidly reasoned essay knows how much work is involved. a logical essay requires great deal of mental discipline and close attention to a set of logical rules.
After writing an essay, the student will have to revise, proofread, and edit to ensure that his/her sentences are effective and error-free. This may also be done by another expert by showing the mistakes and errors to be corrected.
Oral presentation. This refers to the delivery of a message in spoken form, usually, to a special group of people for a special purpose. For this reason, such presentation usually takes place in formal situation. Hashim (2002:135). there are many speech events that constitute oral presentation, the difference among them base on the nature of the message involved, the methods of delivery, the type of the audience involved and the purpose for the speech event. Hashim proposes the following as being part of oral presentation; “a lecture, an interview, a meeting, a workshop, a conference, and a panel discussion.” Many big talks and lectures are accessible to all, and these are wonderful chances to hear the people who shape how you live and what you learn speaking first-hand on their subject of expertise.
Debate-this is an argument or discussion expressing different opinions. It should be noted that possessing a large number of vocabularies is one thing, but knowing how to use then effectively is quite another thing. Hashim (2002) students may possess quite a reasonable number of words in their vocabulary stocks, but may fail to use them appropriately. Therefore, we need to give them chances to practice the vocabularies they have in concrete situations. One way of achieving this is through debate. In debate, there are always points of interruption, point of correction, point of information, and the like. Collectively they help students to master their use of the language appropriately.
Dramatizing- this involves presenting a book, story, or an event as a play or film or movie. Teachers may select an event, or a book, say “I Will Marry When I Want” and direct students to dramatize it in English in front of their follow students and teachers. The actors/actresses will develop their use of language in conversation. Likewise, the audience will be learning from the actors/actresses use of the language. This creates not only language competence but also its performance in concrete contexts. The folowing paragraph from http://www.pathwaystolaw.org.uk puts it clear that
Universities with strong arts and/or cultural programmes will often have a great number of international musicians and theatrical groups visiting to perform in their concert halls and theatres. Students usually get discounted entry and this is a great introduction to the culture behind the languages you are learning. Watching a Moliere farce or Lorca tragedy, or hearing an Austrian String Symphony or German stomp is a stepping stone to greater awareness and understanding of the people and languages you study
Public speaking-(morning and evening speeches). “This involves one person speaking at a time to an audience of people who do not talk back but just listen”. Leech & Svartvic (2003). We can therefore plan to have regular morning and evening speeches in which the selected students will have to express their mind in English on any area of their interest, while others are listening. This creates confidence, in addition to developing speaking and listening skills.
Private speaking –(Organising a conversation.). Conversation is a type of speech involving two or more participants taking their turns when talking to each other either face to face or via some technical devices such as telephone or computer. This method or activity, essentially help the learners of English in mastering their speaking as well as listening skills of a language, bearing it in mind that without listening effectively, one can not correctly respond to the conversation. This is emphasized by Leech & Svartvic (2003) in the following paragraph; “For the foreign students of English this is a particularly important type to learn because it is a most common everyday use of speech. Conversation is impromptu and spontaneous.”
Group discussion-this allows a number of people to discuss a single topic. A school being a kind of community the ideas held by the community members can be shared through group discussion. The key point here is not to focus on how the discussion is conducted but its chief contribution to language learning. Sanford (1979) suggests the discussion to take the form of, panel discussion, a round-table discussion, or some form of town meeting. All these types of discussions allow students to express themselves in English thus giving them chances to apply the rules of the language they learn in the classroom.
Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). The computers today, may be used as complete teachers by themselves, if both teachers and students use them effectively. Computers may have many Programmed Logic/Learning for Automated Teaching Operations. (PLATO). The computers have what Ahmed et al, (1985) describe as “intelligent features such as tests that are followed by directions to complete appropriate remedial work depending on the errors a learner has made. The system also includes rudimentary spelling and grammar checkers.” That being the case, the students will learn the language anywhere, say, at home, assisted by their home computers. This is particularly supported by Betty (2003:19) who says, “in ‘PLATO’ the learners have to adapt to the materials by creating personal learning strategies beyond those offered by the teacher or suggested by the learning materials”.
Language clubs. Students who share a common interest get together and form clubs and societies that are often subsidised and very well managed. Most schools have language societies (e.g.English clubs, kiswahili clubs, ) that organise events based on the language they represent. Schools may also have national societies if they have a big enough student population.for exapmle Universities have CHAWAKAMA. (Chama cha Wanafunzi wa Kiswahili Afrika Mashariki) . Societies are a great way to make friends, and get involved with university life, and in your first year you will be encouraged to join as many of them as possible. This helps them exchange their knowlege of the Language.
Designing Language cafés/ language laboratories. These will usually be language-specific, and one should not be fooled by the name, coffee is not usually included. Think ‘café’ in the ‘internet café’ sense. They are basically, get-togethers for native speakers and learners to speak the language in an informal setting. This will also include all the necessary materials required in learning a language as dictionaries, grammar books, novels, plays, DVDs Recoded CDs and the like. This is emphasized in the following paragraph, from, http://www.pathwaystolaw.org.uk
“It’s a great way to meet people and make friends, learn conversational expressions and just practice your speaking and listening skills. They usually happen in places with some relevance to the language being learned . Universities organise these weekly or bimonthly, so if you miss one you can always go to the next one.”
Therefore then, when our students are studying languages, only about half of their learning takes place in the classroom. Most language activities offer a whole host of events that are designed to give them the opportunity to supplement their classroom learning. Stress is to be put on these activities if we want to see our students excel in the use of the language, the way we would wish them to.
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Betty K. (2003) Teaching and Researching; Computer Assisted Language Learning: Harlow:
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Don & Sandra (1997) Psychology. New York: Worth Publishers
Hashim, M (2002) Learn to Communicate Effectively. Mzumbe: Mzumbe Book Project
Hewins, L&J Wells (1992) Read it in the Classroom: Organising An Interactive Language Art
Program Grades 4-9. Pembroke Publishers Limited
Langan, J & S Winstanley (1999) College Writing Skills with Readings. New York:
Leech G& J Svartvic (2002) (3rd ed) A Communicative Grammar of English. London:
Longman- Pearson Education Limited
Sadker, M,P & D,M Sadker (2003) Teachers, School and Society.(6th ed) New York:
Sanford A. (1979) Using English. Grammar and Writing Skills. New York: Harcourt Brace
Saussure, Ferdinand de; Harris, Roy, Translator (1983) . Bally, Charles; Sechehaye, Albert.
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http//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/. Visted on 10th April 2011
................Language learning outside the classroom in http://www.pathwaystolaw.org.uk visted on 10th April 2011