Shaping the Way We Teach English: Module 01, Contextualizing Language

Shaping the Way We Teach English: Module 01, Contextualizing Language

November 26, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


CONTEXTUALIZATION IS
THE MEANINGFUL USE OF LANGUAGE FOR REAL COMMUNICATIVE
PURPOSES. IT HELPS STUDENTS UNDERSTAND HOW LANGUAGE USERS CONSTRUCT
LANGUAGE IN A GIVEN CONTEXT. TEACHERS CAN CONTEXTUALIZE
LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION BY ORGANIZING THE CONTENT
OF THE LANGUAGE CURRICULUM ACCORDING TO THEMES OR TOPICS. THESE THEMES OR TOPICS
WORK BEST WHEN THEY ARE THREADED
THROUGHOUT THE COURSE OF STUDY. * HEAD, SHOULDERS,
KNEES, AND TOES, * * KNEES, AND TOES * SOME ADDITIONAL REASONS FOR
USING CONTEXTUALIZED LANGUAGE ARE THAT LANGUAGE
IS CONSTRUCTED THROUGH A BLEND OF PURPOSE,
SITUATION, AND SOCIAL NEEDS. CLASSROOM LEARNING EXPERIENCES THAT INCORPORATE
THESE DIMENSIONS ARE MORE LIKELY TO LEAD
TO BETTER LEARNING OUTCOMES. A CONTEXTUALIZED APPROACH
TO INSTRUCTION ALSO SUPPORTS THE USE
OF INTEGRATED SKILLS AND PAIR AND GROUP WORK. AND IT CAN FOSTER A DEEPER
LEVEL OF USE OF THE LANGUAGE, ESPECIALLY WHEN THE THEMES
AND TOPICS ARE HIGH-INTEREST
AND MOTIVATE STUDENTS. VIDEO SEGMENT NUMBER ONE. YOU WILL SEE SEVERAL
SHORT EXAMPLES FROM CLASSROOMS THAT USE CONTEXTUALIZED
LANGUAGE AND THEMES. LOOK FOR EXAMPLES
OF THESE KINDS OF ACTIVITIES: GAMES AND INTERACTIVE
ACTIVITIES; STORYTELLING,
DRAMATIZATION, OR THE ACTING
OUT OF LANGUAGE — THIS CAN ALSO INVOLVE
SINGING OR CHANTING — AND STUDENT PRESENTATIONS. ALSO TRY TO IDENTIFY THE THEMES
OR TOPICS IN THE ACTIVITIES. Teacher:
…SENTENCE
PATTERING CHART. YOU REMEMBER? Students:
YEAH. AND REMEMBER WE STARTED
SINGING A COUPLE SONGS? YEAH. GUESS WHAT.
WHAT? WE’RE GOING TO DO IT
TODAY, TOO.
YAY! GISELLE, YOU WANT
TO SHARE YOURS? OKAY, I’LL
GET BACK UP HERE, AND I’LL TRY AND WRITE
WHILE YOU’RE WORKING. OKAY, WE GOT TO PUT
OUR LISTENING CAPS ON, PLEASE. I’M READY, GISELLE,
WHEN YOU ARE. SMALL POISONOUS MONKEYS
SCRATCH QUICKLY IN THE CANOPY. OH, THAT’S TERRIBLE,
GISELLE! POISONOUS MONKEYS! [ laughs ] I TOLD HER SHE WAS WRITING
A FICTION STORY YESTERDAY. SMALL…POISONOUS… MONKEYS…
WHAT? THAT LETTER LOOKS LIKE
AN UGLY SPIDER. I KNOW, I’M SORRY
IT’S AN UGLY “S,” ISN’T IT. IS IT OKAY IF I JUST
LEAVE IT KIND OF UGLY? OKAY, THANKS.
SMALL, POISONOUS MONKEYS — WHAT ARE THE POISONOUS
MONKEYS DOING? Several students:
WRITING. SCRATCHING. SCRATCHING…
SCRATCH — HOW WERE
THEY SCRATCHING? QUICKLY. QUICKLY…AND WHERE
ARE THEY SCRATCHING? CANOPY. Boy:
IN THE CANOPY. Teacher:
IN THE CANOPY? THANK YOU. OKAY, I NEED
SOME HELP. WHO CAN TELL ME
WHERE THE CANOPY IS? I CAN’T SEEM
TO REMEMBER. WE HAVE OUR RAINFOREST
STARTED OVER HERE. IF WE’RE TALKING
ABOUT THE CANOPY, WHO CAN COME SHOW ME
WHERE THE CANOPY IS? WHO CAN SHOW ME
WHERE IT IS? ALMA, COME ON OVER. YOU CAN HAVE MY POINTER BECAUSE
MAYBE YOU CAN’T REACH IT. MAYBE I CAN’T REACH IT. OKAY, WHERE IS
THE CANOPY? EVERYBODY ELSE,
HAVE IT IN YOUR HEAD. OKAY, WHERE DO YOU
THINK IT IS? WHAT DO YOU THINK?
IS THAT THE CANOPY? Students:
NO-O-O! UH-OH,
WHAT’S WRONG? Student:
IT HAS TO BE
ON THE TOP… CAN YOU REACH
A LITTLE HIGHER, ALMA? OHHH! SO WHAT’S SPECIAL
ABOUT THE CANOPY? IF THIS IS
OUR CANOPY, RIGHT HERE, WHAT’S SPECIAL
ABOUT IT? WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Thank you, Alma. WHAT’S IT LIKE,
RODRIGO? Boy:
LIKE THE…THE TOP. IT’S THE TOP,
RIGHT? IS IT THE TALLEST,
TALLEST? NO, IT’S JUST
THAT TOP LAYER. AND WHAT IT LIKE? Boy:
A UMBRELLA. A BIG UMBRELLA, RIGHT? REMEMBER OUR
LAYER SONG? THE CONOPY IS
LIKE A BIG UMBRELLA. SO THEY’RE FIGHTING
ON THE GROUND? Students:
NO. WHERE ARE
THEY FIGHTING? UP IN THE TREETOPS,
RIGHT? Girl:
SCRATCHING! OH, RIGHT, THEY’RE NOT FIGHTING;
THEY’RE SCRATCHING. BUT IF YOU’RE
SCRATCHING SOMBODY, ARE YOU JUST SCRATCHING
OR ARE YOU FIGHTING? Students:
FIGHTING.
YOU’RE FIGHTING. SO, YOU READY
TO SING THIS ONE? All:
* SMALL, POISONOUS MONKEYS
SCRATCH QUICKLY IN THE CANOPY * * QUICKLY IN THE CANOPY * * QUICKLY IN THE CANOPY * * SMALL, POISONOUS MONKEYS
SCRATCH QUICKLY IN THE CANOPY * * QUICKLY IN THE CANOPY ** WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOU? [ speaks indistinctly ] …GO TO PLAY
WITH YOUR FRIENDS. I WANT TO PLAY
WITH MY FRIENDS NOW! I’M VERY WORRIED HERE. [ speaks indistinctly ] OH, YEAH, BUT I DON’T NEED
THE T.V. ANYMORE. I DON’T THINK SO. MY T.V. IS GONE, BUT I’M
HAPPIER THAN THE LAST WEEK. I DON’T KNOW WHY.
COULD YOU EXPLAIN IT? MAYBE BECAUSE YOU JUST SPEND A LOT OF TIME
WATCHING T.V., AND IT’S… OH, EXCUSE ME, BUT…MY FATHER. …PLAY WITH MY FRIENDS. HI!
LET’S PLAY SOCCER! LET’S GO!
HOW ARE YOU FEELING? I DON’T NEED THE T.V.
ANYMORE. [ laughter ] OKAY,
THE OTHER STEP IS INDIVIDUAL’S
GENETIC INFORMATION WILL BE USED
AGAINST THEM. EXAMPLE: DISMISSAL
FROM WORK. STEPS FORWARD
FOR SCIENCE FIRST: NEW GENETIC RESEARCH
MAY MAKE IT POSSIBLE TO IDENTIFY AN INDIVIDUAL’S
LIFETIME RISK OF CANCER, HEART ATTACK,
AND OTHER DISEASES. THEREFORE — CAN YOU
ELABORATE ON THIS? WHY IS THIS
A GOOD THING? WHY IS THIS
A STEP FORWARD? Boy:
BECAUSE IT’S USEFUL… OKAY. GOOD. OKAY,
THE OTHER STEP IS GENETIC TESTING,
IT HAS ENORMOUS POTENTIAL FOR IMPROVING
HEALTH CARE. VERY GOOD.
SO THEY’RE REALLY RELATED. YES. THIS IS WHAT
IT MEANS. OKAY.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH. SUMMARY: IN THESE CLASSES,
WE SAW EXAMPLES OF BOTH LOWER AND HIGHER LEVELS
OF LANGUAGE LEARNERS AND EXAMPLES
OF BOTH LIGHTHEARTED AND MORE SERIOUS TOPICS. THE THEMES AND TOPICS
WERE FROM THE “REAL WORLD” AND WERE OF OBVIOUS INTEREST
TO THE LEARNERS. THE TEACHERS USED A VARIETY
OF ACTIVITIES TO GET STUDENTS INVOLVED IN BOTH THE LANGUAGE
AND THE CONTENT OR CONTEXT. THE FOCUS IN MODULE ONE HAS BEEN ON THE CONTEXT
OF LANGUAGE TEACHING. CONTEXTUALIZING LANGUAGE
THROUGH THE USE OF THEMES, TOPICS, AND REAL WORLD
SITUATIONS CAN BE A WAY TO BRING
ENGLISH ALIVE FOR LEARNERS AND ACTIVELY ENGAGE THEM
WITH BOTH LANGUAGE AND CONTENT. SEE THE MANUAL
FOR READINGS AND MORE INFORMATION ON THIS AND OTHER TOPICS RELATED TO
CONTEXTUALIZING LANGUAGE.