|Second Language Learning:
At a recent teachers' meeting, we had an interesting discussion about class issues,
questions, and things that we would want to explore more in our instructions.
Several topics were brought up-homework, group work, meta-cognition, problem solving,
students' behaviors, pronunciation and so on; all points taken.
of the ESL issues that kept resonating was the issue of pronunciation. Some teachers would
want to focus more on this part. In one class, students would complain about other
students' pronunciation, that they couldn't understand what they were saying. One of the
teachers asked, "But they all have accents?" The teacher who had mentioned the
class said, "Yes."
Teachers have dealt and managed with pronunciation practice in their classes in
different ways, may it be non-traditional or traditional, whichever works for their
classes and their sets of students. And there is a wide scope of software and materials
that are available. The question is how do we talk and discuss thepronunciation issue with
In an adult second language learning, it's almost impossible to perfect one's
accent in any language learning. "There is little doubt that native-like
mastery of a second a language (L2) by adult non-native speakers is hard to attain
(Schachter, 1988).Some adult second language learners are fossilized, a cognitive issue
that affects the acquisition of a second language (Selinker, 1972)." This phenomenon
has been discussed and learned in studies and research.
Age may also play a part in second language learning issues and this. This
applies in my case. Having learned other languages at a late age, I have come to a
realization that I can never master German or French even in reading and writing...Just
simply impossible! But age should not stop language learners from learning and attaining
their goals to function in a second language. "It's never too late to learn
In cosmopolitan cities, you expect people with different accents and different ways of
speaking. I've had students from all parts of the globe, so I'm familiar with varied
verbal communication, even mixed with gestures for more clarification. And that adds
richness to my teaching because I can work with different students, without being shocked
or frustrated all the time. Students and instructors must know that it is normal to hear
different ways of speaking, especially in an ESL class setting environment.
In class interactions, the main concern is on the clarity of expression. Students
need not to speak fast. When students are called to read out loud or talk, some of
them may express words in a fast manner; perhaps, they're nervous, or the manner is
carried off from their own speaking style or they don't want to be put on the spot and so
they want to finish as soon as they can. In any case, it may help students to know
to listen to themselves as they convey their message. Clarity is important.
Keep it simple, specific and direct to the point, as we also say in writing.
Any classroom issues that need to be discussed in class, be it about homework, group
work, behavioral problem, pronunciation and so on, teachers need to communicate about it
openly and not set them aside for fear of being disliked or not heard. There's always
a room for acceptance...
Meta-cognition:Another topic that caught my attention was meta-cognition.
Teachers provide students cognitive skills/strategies to meet their objectives like
understanding a reading material.
"Knowledge is considered to be metacognitive if it is actively used in a strategic
manner to ensure that a goal is met. For example, a student may use knowledge in planning
how to approach a math exam: 'I know that I (person variable) have difficulty with word
problems (task variable), so I will answer the computational problems first and save the
word problems for last (strategy variable).' Simply possessing knowledge about one's
cognitive strengths or weaknesses and the nature of the task without actively utilizing
this information to oversee learning is not metacognitive."(Livingston, 1997).
I'll read more on this subject as I constantly exploring how to provide students with
strategies to acquire language skills in different ways. Simply providing information
(e.g. about verb forms) without practice is not sufficient. Meta cognition is more work,
but it is crucial in teaching/language learning.