The following paper is a variation on the ?What I wish I had known before the course? topic. I have decided to focus on what I can do with what I have learned.
I am not certain I will enter into the field of English instruction. In my traditional business courses, and if I enter into English instruction I plan to focus on the following three areas.
?Advocate for the use of high quality, Standard English
?Use grammar instruction carefully
?Encourage writing proficiency in all subjects/courses
When teaching English?Quality Counts
Advocating for Standard English
The launch speech of Professor Koh Tai Ann, Chairman of the Speak Good English Movement of Singapore is a wonderfully crafted document that spells out the economic and social advantages of English mastery. The professor, as one would expect, outlines the advantages of knowing English in the global economy as well as for access to higher education in international universities. However, the speech goes on to point out the important role of adults (parents/teachers) as role models and the degree that a common language can be used for building relationships and for creating ?emotional literacy?. The Speak Good English Movement seems to be taking the approach that the pursuit of ?good English? is totally compatible with a pride in one?s Singaporean culture.
As a newly certified TEFL instructor what will this mean for me? First, it means that respect for, interest in and discussions of varying cultures and languages can still happen in a class that has Standard English mastery as an end goal. It also means that I should, as an American be conscious of my own English language usage and strive for individual improvement during my teaching career. Though English is widely acknowledged as the international language of business, many Americans do a poor job of communicating with those who have learned English as a second language. According to Peter Krouse (2003) of Newhouse News Service, American speech is filled with slang, words with double meaning and confusing figures of speech. This chronic problem is something I can address now in business courses as I encourage students to write documents so ESL readers can easily read them and to avoid colloquialisms and slang when speaking.
Using grammar instruction carefully
The study of grammar is how we understand our language, not the way we acquire it. Like most students and teachers of English I too dreaded grammar lessons. The goal of ESL classes is to have students who can communicate in English both in writing and verbally. Without grammar study, students will always be guessing for the correct words. However, the idea of whether or not English classes should teach grammar is still hotly debated. According to the Antimoon.com (Learn English Effectively) website grammar rules and exercises are responsible for student ?hatred? of English classes.
Grammar must be looked at as a dynamic and not a static set of rules to be memorized. Languages evolve over time and so does accepted word usage. In 1997 the Center for Applied Linguistics put out an article challenging the common myths about teaching grammar. Even amongst those in the teaching field there?s a reluctance to tackle grammar. When even teachers worry about not knowing enough grammar to approach the subject, it?s no wonder that students are apprehensive about grammar exercises. So it will be my goal to use grammar to help students ?dig into? English.
Encourage writing proficiency in all subjects/courses
In October 2006 The Partnership for 21st Century Skills released a report decrying the lack of basic communications skills among graduates of US high schools and colleges. Singled out for special attention was the lack of writing skills. While entry-level workers in the United States can claim a host of deficiencies in job skills, the lack of applied writing skills is cause for special concern. The report defines applied skills in the writing area as the ability to produce traditional business documents like memos, letters and technical reports. This means that as a business teacher I must incorporate writing practice into every subject where possible. TEFL certification provides me with a new approach to helping students produce, edit and digest business documents.
In 2001 John Edlund jumped into the ?should we teach grammar? debate with an article outlining some specific writing issues for ESL students. He reviews yet again the arguments for a natural acquisition of a second language but eventually comes down on the side of grammar as a needed tool for producing quality writing. According to Edlund?s article an experienced ESL teacher can almost predict the first language of students based upon their written error patterns. This allows the English teacher to be of more help to students in producing understandable written documents. For the newly certified TEFL instructor the evidence is clear that long-term investment in developing student writing skills is indispensable.
I anticipate incorporating much of the philosophy and methodology from the TEFL course into my business training.
Antimoon.com; Learn English Effectively Why we don?t like English Classes file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Karen/Desktop/ITTT% 20course/englishclass [retrieved November 6, 2006]
Edlund, John. Teaching ESL writers; issues of grammar, style and evaluation Writing Center News Spring 2001 file:///C:/Documents% 20and%20Settings/Karen/Desktop/ITTT%20course/ESLwriting [retrieved November 6, 2006]
Krouse, Peter. English Is Language of Business, but Americans Aren&acute;t Fluent [electronic version] 2003 Newhouse News Service http://www.newhousenews.com/archive/krouse072103l [retrieved December 11, 2006] Larsen-Freeman, Diane. Grammar and Its Teaching: Challenging the Myths Center for Applied Linguistics, March 1997 file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Karen/Desktop/ITTT% 20course/1997%20Grammar%20article [retrieved November 6, 2006]
Partnership for 21st Century Skills; Most Young People Entering the U.S. Workforce Lack Critical Skills Essential For Success file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Karen/Desktop/ITTT% 20course/writing%20skills [retrieved November 30, 2006]
The Speak Good English Movement http://www.goodenglish.org.sg/SGEM/archive/speech/radm [retrieved December 11, 2006]
Date of post: 2007-04-10