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September 1995 - Issue No. #20 (p. 4)

Abstracts of Global Education Articles from Language Teaching Journals

Please send in relevant news items on global topics from language teaching journals.

The ELT Theme Park

IATEFL Newsletter. No 127. May 1995

by Alan Pulverness, ELT author and teacher trainer, UK

In this article, the author reviews trends in English textbook writing over the past 25 years. Approaches mentioned include the eclectic approach (miscellaneous human interest stories), the storyline approach (usually portraying bland, stereotyped British families), the thematic approach (sport, travel, food, health), the heritage culture approach (British pubs, festivals, the Royal family) and the pop culture approach (international rock musicians and movie stars). In discussing the global/social issues approach (moral debates, ecological awareness, topics such as capital punishment, the population explosion and acid rain), he stresses the need to consider student interests and cultural differences.

He proposes that textbooks pay more attention to teaching cultural awareness which can, in the words of Alan Maley, "sharpen observation, encourage critical thinking about cultural stereotypes and develop tolerance. Cultural awareness raising is an aspect of values education. As such it offers a welcome opportunity for transcending the often narrow limits of language teaching.

Privileged ESL University Students

TESOL Quarterly. Vol 29. No 2. Summer 1995

by Stephanie Vandrick (University of San Francisco, USA)

This article focusses on the many international ESL students at American universities who are "privileged" i.e. who, even if from poor countries, are able to pay high tuitions, have parents in high positions and who write in their ESL compositions about summer homes, expensive overseas vacations, servants and upscale cars received for their 16th birthdays. The author stresses that teachers should be honest about their feelings towards these students (e.g. envy of students who are far more affluent than the teacher), should not just pretend all students are equal (ignoring the class privileges of elite students precludes the possibility of genuine equity) and should consider the points made by critical pedagogy (e.g. Paulo Freire) that education should empower students and not just reinforce the status quo. She calls on teachers to challenge privileged students to think about why they have so much wealth and power when most others do not and concludes "we are entrusted with our students' education and that brings with it a responsibility, not only to teach them to be better writers and speakers of English, but also to help them become critical thinkers and responsible world citizens" who will make the changes necessary for a more equitable, just world."

Anne Frank: A Content-Based Research Class

TESOL Journal. Vol 4. No 4. Summer 1995

by Carl Rosser (Central Washington Univ., USA)

In this article, the author argues that academic skills such as writing research papers are best learned through meaningful content rather than through the traditional focus on drilling formal research skills. He illustrates his content-based approach through discussion of an ESL writing and research skills course he designed around the theme of Anne Frank. During the course, the students (all Japanese) examined photos of Anne Frank, read passages from her diary, had lectures on Hitler and anti-semitism, acted out scenes from a play about Anne, read interviews with people who had known her, talked to a Dutch guest speaker from Amsterdam, the city where Anne hid from the Gestapo, and saw the classic 1959 film The Diary of Anne Frank. - a film which had most students in tears. The author concludes that the students' emotional involvement in the course improved their language, writing and research skills. He quotes one student's essay: "If Anne had survived the war, I imagine she would be an artist. If she had been born in the same generation as I, we might be good friends. Whenever I imagine that, I, somehow, shed tears for Anne, my phantom friend."

Splitting the Atom: Avoiding Consumerism in Language Teacher Training

Teacher Trainer. Vol 8. No 2. 1994.
[abstracted in Language Teaching. Vol. 28. No 2. April 1995]

by Tessa Woodward (Pilgrims Language School, UK)

In this article, the author describes how, in the current deluge of English teaching resource books, magazines and conferences, there is a tendency to be attracted constantly to the 'new', and to be dismissive of anything, including one's own teaching repertoire, that has been heard or seen before. She then introduces a technique for analysing teaching activities according to categories - materials, language, time, process, beliefs and topics - which allows teachers to generate radically different activities by altering details within each category. She claims this "splitting the atom" technique can help teachers (1) understand and memorize old teaching ideas and (2) create new activities confidently by re-cycling and re-inventing rather than depending on external sources.

Perpective and Circumstance: Using the News

TESOL Journal. Vol 4. No 3. Spring 1995

by Wayne Amtzis (USA)

In this article, the author argues that news articles can be made more accessible to students by (1) having them adopt the persona of one of the participants in the situation and (2) adding a later change of circumstance in the role play situation. As an example, he has students read a magazine article on flooding in Bangkok, then assume the roles of those directly involved, the residents of Bangkok. By taking on the roles of flood victims, students can discuss various perspectives: (a) the facts of the situation "What has happened?", (b) personal perspectives "What's at stake for me?", and (c) interaction between participants "What can be done?" Once students have discussed this, the teacher can introduce additional facts or changes in circumstances, such as further flooding or the arrival of government relief. This role playing can then lead to written work such as news stories and letters praising or criticizing government efforts. The author concludes that role play ensures active student involvement and the development of both empathy, analytical thinking and language skills.

Journals Referred To:

IATEFL Newsletter, 3 Kingsdown Chambers, Whitstable, Kent UK CT52FL

Teacher Trainer, c/o Pilgrims House, Orchard Street, Canterbury, Kent CT2 8BF England

TESOL Journal, 700 South Washington Street, Suite 200, Alexandria, Virginia 22314 USA

TESOL Quarterly, 700 South Washington Street, Suite 200, Alexandria, Virginia 22314 USA


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