Journal Articles: TESOL Review, 2010
Apr13

Journal Articles: TESOL Review, 2010

Full reference: Pollard, Andee. (2010). English and the Korean Learner: A Question of Wants, Needs and Intelligibility. TESOL Review, 2, 75-96. Abstract: This paper looks at how the Korean learner of English perceives a selection of English varieties – General American English, Indian English, Irish English, Korean English and Received Pronunciation – as well as how intelligible these same varieties are perceived. It is through understanding the perceptions of our students thatwe can determine what the best course of action is for them in relation to their English acquisition. This quantitative study presents findings that appear to suggest that English education in Korea and the Korean learner of English are being partially influenced by linguistic imperialism. In competition to this linguistic imperialism, and in the hopes of increasing receptive intelligibility levels for the Korean learner of English in the international context, this research takes what is essentially a World Englishes approach to English as a Lingua Franca and suggests that learners of English could benefit from exposure to otherwise unfamiliar varieties of English. KEYWORDS: Intelligibility, Korean English, World Englishes, ELF, TESOL Full Article: English and the Korean Learner TESOL Review:...

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Talent For Language
Apr10

Talent For Language

You hear it all the time and I’m sure you’ve heard it before… The struggling learner with the ‘once a month’ study plan says it. The person that studied Spanish in high school while reading a comic book and not paying attention says it. The ‘average’ L1 English-speaker says it… It’s the monolingual catchphrase:  “I don’t have a talent for languages” Rubbish. Everyone has a ‘talent’ for language… it’s an in-built mechanism. We are human. We have language. But what do they truly mean when they say that they “don’t have a talent”? Well, it’s my professional opinion that they mean they are ‘lazy’. When people are young – i.e. infants – we are surrounded by language and our ‘talent’ allows us to acquire language without knowing what we’re doing. We have to acquire it or we can’t communicate… Simple. And depending on circumstances, some of us acquire just the one language or some of us acquire multiple languages. In any case, as we age and have to actively think about acquiring – or learning – a foreign language this ‘lack of talent’ comes to the fore. The average L1 English speaker uses their ‘lack of talent’ as an excuse for nothing putting in the effort. Ask any of the people that have successfully acquired an additional language post-puberty and they’ll tell you that it didn’t happen overnight. What did happen though, is that they put in the hard yards and grabbed hold of something that they can use for the rest of their life. This ‘talent’ should more realistically be seen as: ‘motivation’ + ‘effort’ = ‘talent’. Without the motivation, you won’t feel the need to learn. Without the effort, your motivation will eventually shrivel and die. Without a combination of the two, your talent will never emerge. How can you keep the motivation alive? Well, take baby steps… There are mini-milestones everyday and when you achieve them your motivation will keep growing. But to reach the mini-milestones, you have to put the effort in. Even if it’s just reading one sentence and figuring out the meaning; at least you’re putting in some effort. And I’m sure, that one you’ve figured out that meaning and gotten past that sticking point, you’ll feel a sense of achievement. A ‘sense of achievement’ typically has the pleasant side-effect of stoking your motivational fire. And in-turn, you’re likely to put in that little bit more effort. A vicious circle is emerging. Simply put, don’t be lazy! To achieve your language goals, you have to put in the effort. But effort is likely to be fruitless if you don’t have the motivation to back it up....

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Class Activities: Spot the Difference

“OK guys, we’re going to describe this picture…” you say to your eager students. Silence is their response. We’ve all experienced the silent response and will continue to experience it for as long as we teach a foreign language. But what are some ways to alleviate it? One activity that I’ve been trying of late with both younger learners and adult learners utilises spot the difference pictures. Most people love a good puzzle, so to give them something they may enjoy in their L1 and transfer it to something that makes use of the language patterns they are currently learning can give some light-hearted relief and much-needed spontaneous speaking practice. How to use the spot the difference pictures? Well, your imagination is your limit as with any teaching scenario. I’ve used them to cover: prepositions of place descriptions with progressive continuous descriptions of people (appearance) descriptions of the scene differences in thoughts and emotions (via body language and facial expressions) As for how to use them? Well, again… imagination is the key. I’ve used them in pair work, group work and whole class work, and have also made a team game out of them. The game being that the students work in teams to communicate with one another and write down the differences as quickly as possible. This is most effective with the younger learners since they like the competitive side of things, but I’m sure it can be adapted to suit all ages. I’m sure there are other ideas of what they can cover as well… and I’d love to hear about...

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Conference Notes: Linguistics and Education
Apr04

Conference Notes: Linguistics and Education

Over the last year or so I have given papers at a number of conferences throughout the region. These conferences have primarily involved discussions within TESOL and Applied Linguistics but have also crossed-over into the related realms of general education, lifelong learning and learning disorders. There have been some great presentations at the conferences I’ve attended (..and some not-so-great!). And I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many knowledgeable and wonderful people within my profession. However, as with many conferences… the presentations go relatively unheralded due to limited publication numbers. So, I’m going to be writing some notes from my files on the conferences as well as perhaps uploaded some of my own presentation slides; I won’t be uploading all of the papers I’ve given due to some of the already having been published and in those cases I’ll probably just give a brief summary and the full reference (with link if available online). I’ll go through my files and pull out some notes from the conferences listed below, and if you want any more information than that I provide… please let me know Anyway, the conferences I have notes from that I’ll post about include: The Second International Conference on Language and Communication, Bangkok, Thailand, 2010 The 18th PAC-KOTESOL International Conference, Seoul, Korea, 2010 The Second Asian Conference on Education, Osaka, Japan, 2010 The 2011 Winter International Conference on Linguistics in Seoul, Korea, 2011 Others I will be giving papers at over the next few months include: The 2011 KOTESOL National Conference, Daejeon, Korea The Fourth International Conference of English as Lingua Franca, Hong Kong The 9th Asia TEFL International Conference, Seoul, Korea The 2011 Korea English Education Society International Conference, Cheongju,...

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Class Activities: Audio Diary

What’s a common homework assignment or part of the so-called on-going assessment? Getting your students to write a diary is a pretty safe bet. We’ve all requested it and most students will deliver. The diary is used as a reflection of general speech and trying to get the student to find their own voice in their L2. But at the end of the day, no matter how much of their voice we can help them find, they don’t always progress when it comes to speaking. Be it confidence or perhaps even the physicality of actually speaking the L2, there are often obstacles. One possible way to alleviate these obstacles are to change tact a little bit. Where many of us teach (Korea, Japan, China…), the students are rather tech savvy little creatures… perhaps more so than the old-fashioned teacher gripping his chalk. It probably goes without saying that the majority of them will have an iPod, mobile phone or access to a computer. Any of these have recording capabilities – yes, even the iPod if you get a measly $2 microphone attachment available from all good electronic outlets based in places like Hong Kong. And for recording on a computer there’s always Audacity… Anyway, it’s these recording capabilities that we need to tap into. Out students want to speak, they have trouble speaking. We assign them writing, they still have trouble speaking. So here’s a pretty radical idea… let’s assign them speaking! Give our students a speaking assignment. It’s pretty simple. They keep an audio diary and can just email it to us before class (I record 45 minute presentations at 32kbs; they are perfectly audible and only weigh in at around 8mb… so a 3-5 minute diary is going to be sub 1mb). Or if it’s a weekly assignment, have them bring them on CD or even have them upload to a free web space. As for corrections, you can either provide written feedback or take the alternate route and give the students audio feedback to assist their listening skills. The ideas today are to focus on verbal communication, so I like the audio feedback route with perhaps a few key notes in the written form if they’re needed. In the beginning, students are likely to forget these assignments but with time and enouragement should become more comfortable. One possible way of clearing the first hurdle is to take the iniative and send a recording to each student via email to get the ball rolling. Once the students get over their initial reservations about this form of assignment, they should open up a little and take some risks… and hopefully they will be able to see the benefits...

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