Beyond the symbolic violence dome of the native speaker teacher

An article titled How to end native speaker privilege was posted recently on the always readable site Language on the Move. It includes an intriguing historical account of teachers of Persian in India and England in the 18th and 19th centuries. It also includes a framing of the native and non-native (English) speaker (teacher) which is problematic.

The first problem is the othering of native speaker teachers – who are implicitly depicted as a homogenous, static, monolithic entity, an undifferentiated mass of native speaker teachers.

The second problem is seen in the symbolic violence of phrasing such as “Subordinating native speakers” and that the injustices suffered by non-native speaker teachers can be resolved by “replacing” native speaker teachers with non-native speaker teachers.

Research in France by Martine Derivry-Plard and Claire Griffin reveals a picture of native speaker teachers and non-native speaker teachers in a more differentiated light. And it explores the question of going beyond the widespread symbolic violence that is due to a monolingual-monocultural world view.

Symbolic violence is a way to impose social order by social agents. The social agents act to position themselves favorably in a field. In the present case the field is the foreign language teaching field which is part of the language teaching field which in turn is part of the linguistic field of teaching which itself forms part of the linguistic field.

It is certainly the case that in the foreign language teaching field of English non-native speaker teachers are subject to various forms of symbolic violence. The Language on the Move article notes in passing that certain aspects of this violence are being addressed such as legal prohibitions on discriminatory job adverts and growing discussions of complementary strengths of non-native and native speaker teachers. Derivry-Plard and Griffin (2017) report on symbolic violence present in the experiences of native (mainly English) speaker teachers working in France.

In the first study 19 native English speaking teachers (NESTs) and 19 non-native English speaking teachers (NNESTs) teaching a BTS course (a 2 year course after the baccalaureate) are interviewed. The interviews revealed that NNESTs criticized the teaching skills of their native colleagues, that is NESTs were seen more as speakers than as teachers of English:
“some had not the project of teaching English …I have seen native English-speaking teachers who did not do the job … but, it is just because they are not teachers, they turned up in a classroom … they delivered what they could, they thought that speaking English for two hours is enough! … but this is not having a conversation, speaking about this or that for an hour ? …And some do not know French enough, which is a problem .. Some do not teach!” (Derivry-Plard & Griffin, 2017:39)

Conversely the NNESTs are denied as speakers of English by their native colleagues and consequently NNEST’s cannot be good teachers of English:
“well, it’s second language, it’s second-hand! … in this schoolbook written by French, there are a few mistakes … they make mistakes, with English vowels, their accent is not as good … Sometimes, her accent was awful and there were English teachers I could barely understand …She made so many mistakes .. and some pupils were as good as she was in English! …She could not give a precise meaning of a word with all the connotations… even if the dictionary gives that meaning, it has no longer that meaning…at a certain point, a non native teacher will be embarrassed, this is for sure because, at one point, he/she will apply a grammar rule that we no longer use …they will never get all the shades of meaning ...” (Derivry-Plard & Griffin, 2017:39)

These attitudes reflect the two teaching legitimacies that have developed in the foreign language (FL) teaching field of English in France, since the 19th century, from the spaces of the public education system (institutional) and the private educational system (non-institutional).
1. The professional legitimacy of non-native teachers in institutional spaces was based on the assumption that they were the best teachers as they went through the same learning process as their pupils, so they would be better able to explain the target language to learners sharing the same mother tongue. This is the legitimacy of the FL teacher as a learning model.
2. The professional legitimacy of native teachers in non-institutional spaces was based on the opposite assumption that they were the best teachers because they taught their own “mother tongue” and that they knew more about it. This is the legitimacy of the FL teachers as a language-culture model. (Derivry-Plard & Griffin, 2017:34)

For some time these two legitimacies were not challenged, but with the globalization and marketization of education the boundaries between institutional and non-institutional are breaking down and with it the increase in symbolic violence on non-native and native speaker teachers.

In the second, doctoral study, Claire Griffen interviewed 24 native speaker teachers. 21 were native English speakers from the UK and the Republic of Ireland and 3 were native speakers of Italian, Greek and German who worked in the secondary education sector. These teachers experiences were grouped and analysed into various themes. For example: experiences of resentment at native speakers being able to take the national competitive exams; encounters that NEST’s are not already qualified even if they have in fact more qualifications than their non-native colleagues –
“sometimes people assume that you’re only an English teacher because you’re English. “Well what else is she going to do, she’s married? What else is she going to do? She’s got children. What else can she do? She can speak English” (Derivry-Plard & Griffin, 2017:43);

NESTs are forever operating in the mode of a “learner” as they were not initially socialized in the education system as children; experiencing symbolic violence such as “but you never had to learn English like us, you just have to open your mouth” (Derivry-Plard & Griffin, 2017:46).

I remember when I started teaching in France a student was impressed by what he described as an Oxbridge accent. His subsequent question of where I had studied made me embarrassed to reveal to not having been educated at either Oxford or Cambridge. Although to be fair to the student he did not seem to show any disappointment at my un-elite education. Also, back then, when new English friends and acquaintances found out I teach English as a foreign language they would joke that there would be a generation of French people speaking English with a Welsh accent. Though that joke has not been heard for many a year.

Having described some of the issues faced by native English speaker teachers in France there is a danger that we move from talking about who is the best teacher to who is the most discriminated teacher (Derivry-Plard, 2018). How then do we go beyond the symbolic violence? The embedded fields given earlier i.e. linguistic field < linguistic field of teaching < language teaching field < foreign language teaching field can help us to see the multilingual multicultural paradigm of today. The linguistic field of teaching involves all subject matter as language is the medium used to deliver the subjects. i.e. all teachers are to some extent language teachers (this is very evident in say CLIL contexts). Next the field of language teaching can be divided into first language, second language and foreign languages. In this way the embedded model of fields takes into account language diversity, lingua cultures and cultural repertoires.

A French teacher of English in a recent twitter chat on native and non-native speaker issues commented jokingly on teaching French teenagers :
“To tell the truth, I feel like speaking their native language doesn’t help either…. someone speaking the “teenager” language would be better off!!” [https://twitter.com/Pascalune12/status/1001905158719229959]

Can we say here that the appearance of “teenager language” in the humor is a glossed acknowledgement of the pluricultural landscape of teaching? The native speaker paradox derives from a monolingual and monocultural assumption that is largely due to the centuries old drive to nation states which culminated in the 19th century. The multilingual, pluricultural paradigm encompases the monolingual-monocultural one. While in the old monolingual paradigm native speakers are included and non-native speakers are excluded in the multilingual world the native speaker is not excluded as a way to right wrongs but is part of the plurilingual continuum.

As Derivry-Plard puts it:
“There are no longer any dichotomies but continua for defining languages, cultures, speakers, and teachers as social actors. In other words, the monolingual paradigm is restrictive and exclusive, whereas the multilingual paradigm is comprehensive and inclusive and accounts for a broader perspective and better understanding of the linguistic field and the linguistic markets.” (Derivry-Plard, 2018:143)

She does not deny that embracing this is a difficult task however ignoring the necessity of this challenge is unethical and counterproductive.

Thanks for reading.

References

Derivry-Plard, M. & Griffin, C. (2017). Beyond Symbolic Violence in ELT in France. In Agudo, J. D. D. M. (Ed.) Native and Non-native Teachers in English Language Classrooms: Professional Challenges and Teacher Education (Vol. 26) (pp. 33-51). Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG.

Derivry-Plard, M. (2018). A Multilingual Paradigm in Language Education: What It Means for Language Teachers. In Houghton, S. A. & Hashimoto, K. (Eds.) Towards Post-Native-Speakerism (pp. 131-148). Springer, Singapore.

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The Prime Machine – a new concordancer in town

One of the impulses behind The Prime Machine was to help students distinguish similar or synonymous words. Recently a student of mine  asked about the difference between “occasion” and “opportunity”. I used the compare function on the BYU COCA to help the student induce some meaning from the listed collocations. It kinda, sorta, helped.

The features offered by The Prime Machine promises much better help for this kind of question. For example in the screenshot below the (Neighbourhood) Label function shows the kind of semantic tags associated with the words “occasion” and “opportunity”. Having this info certainly helps reduce time figuring out the differences between the words.

Neighbourhood Labels for the comparison of occasion and opportunity

One of the other sweet new features brought to the concordancer table, is a card display system as seen in the first screenshot below. Another is information based on Michael Hoey’s lexical priming theory such as shown in the second screenshot below.

Card display for comparison of words occasion and opportunity
Paragraph position of the words occasion and opportunity

The developer of the new concordancer Stephen Jeaco kindly answered some questions.

1. Can you speak a little about your background?

Well, I’m British but I’ve lived in China for 18 years now.  My first degree was in English Literature and then I did my MA Applied Linguistics/TESOL and my PhD was under the supervision of Michael Hoey with the University of Liverpool.

I took up programming as a hobby in my teens.  If I hadn’t got the grades to read English at York, I would have gone on to study Computer Science somewhere.  In those days the main thing was to choose a degree programme that you felt you would enjoy.  Over the years, though, I’ve kept a technical interest and produced a program here or there for MA projects and things like that.

I’ve worked at XJTLU for 12 years now.  I was the founding director of the English Language Centre, and set up and ran that for 6 years.  After rotating out of role, I moved into what is now called the Department of English where I lecture in linguistics to our undergraduate English majors and to our MA TESOL students.

2. What needs is The Prime Machine setting out to fill?

I started working on The Prime Machine in 2010, at the beginning of my part-time PhD.  At that time, I was interested in corpus linguistics but I found it hard to pass that enthusiasm on to my colleagues and students.  We had some excellent software and some good web tools, but internet access to sites outside China wasn’t always very reliable, and getting started with using corpora for language learning usually meant having to learn quite a lot about what to look for, how to look for it, and also how to understand what the data on-screen could mean.

Having taught EAP for about 10 years at that time, I felt that my Chinese learners of English needed a way to help them see some of the patterns of English which can be found through exploring examples, and in particular I wanted to help them see differences between synonyms and become familiar with how collocation information could help them improve their writing.

I’d read some of Michael Hoey’s work while doing my MA, and in his role of Pro Vice Chancellor for Internationalization I met him at our university in China.  His theory of lexical priming provided both a rationale for how patterns familiar in corpus linguistics relate to acquisition and it also gave me some specific aspects to focus on in terms of thinking about what to encourage students to notice in corpus lines. 

The main aim of The Prime Machine was to provide an easy start to corpus linguistic analysis – or rather an easy start to using corpus tools to explore examples.  Central to the concept were two main ideas: (1) that students would need some additional help finding what to look for and knowing what to compare and (2) that new or enhanced ways of displaying corpus lines and summary data could help draw their attention do different patterns.  Personally, I really like the “Card” display, and while KWIC is always going to be effective for most things, when it comes to trying to work out where specific examples come from and what the wider context might be, I think the cards go a long way towards helping students in their first experiences of DDL.

Practically speaking, another thing I wanted to do was to start with a search screen where they could get very quick feedback on anything that couldn’t be found and whether other corpora on the system would have some results. 

3. What kind of feedback have you got from students and staff on the corpus tool?

I’ve had a lot of feedback and development suggestions from my students at my own institution.  Up until a few weeks ago, The Prime Machine was only assessable to our own staff and students.  The majority of users have been students studying linguistics modules, mostly those who are taking or have taken a module introducing corpus linguistics. However, for several years now I have also had students using it as a research tool for their Final Year Project – a year-long undergraduate dissertation project where typically each of us has 4 to 5 students for one-to-one supervision.  They’ve done a range of projects with it including trying to apply some of Michaela Mahlberg’s approaches to another author, exploring synonyms, exploring the naturalness of student paraphrases or exam questions.  People often think of Chinese students as being shy and wanting to avoid direct criticism of the teacher, but our students certainly develop the skills for expressing their thoughts and give me suggestions!

In my own linguistics module on corpus linguistics, I’ve found the new version of The Prime Machine to be a much easier way to get students started at looking at their own English writing or transcripts of their speech and getting them to consider whether evidence about different synonyms and expressions from corpora can help them improve their English production.  Personally, I use it as a stepping stone to introducing features of WordSmith Tools and other resources.

In terms of staff input, I’ve had a couple of more formal projects, getting feedback from colleagues on the ranking features and the Lines and Cards displays.  I’ve also had feedback by running sessions introducing the tool as part of a professional development day and a symposium.  Some of my colleagues have used it a bit with students, but I think while it required access from campus and before I had the website up, it was a bit too tricky even on site. 

On the other hand, I’ve given several conference papers introducing the software, and received some very useful comments and suggestions.

I need to balance my teaching workload, time spent working towards more concrete research outputs and family life, but if we can get over some of the connectivity issues and language teachers want to start using The Prime Machine with their students, I’m going to need as much feedback as possible.  I’d like to hope I could respond and build up or extend the tool, but at the same time there’s a need to try to keep things simple and suitable for beginners. 

 4. You have some extra materials for students at your institution, could you describe these?

There’s nothing really very special about these.  But having the two ways of accessing the server (offsite vs. on-site) means if corpus resources come with access restrictions or if a student wants to set up a larger DIY corpus for a research project I’m able to limit access to these.

Other than additional corpora, there are a few simple wordlists which I use in my own teaching and some additional options for some of the research tools.

5. What developments are in the pipeline for future versions of The Prime Machine?

One of the main reasons I wanted The Prime Machine to be publically available and available for free was so that others would be able to see some of the features I’ve written about or presented about at conferences in action.  In some ways, my focus has changed a bit towards smaller undergraduate projects for linguistics, but I still have interests and contacts in English language teaching.  Given some of the complications of connecting from Europe to a server in China, unless someone finds it really interesting and wants to set up a mirror server or work more collaboratively, I don’t think I can hope to have a system as widely popular and reliable as the big names in online concordancing tools.  But having interviews like this and getting the message out about the software through social media means that there is a lot more potential for suggestions and feature requests to help me develop in ways I’ve not thought of.

But left to my own perceptions and perhaps through interactions with my MA TESOL students, local high schools and our language centre, I’m interested in adding to the capabilities of the search screen to help students find collocations when the expression they have in mind is wildly different from anything stored in the corpus.  At the moment, it can do quite a good job of suggesting different word forms, giving some collocation suggestions and using other resources to suggest words with a similar meaning.  But sometimes students use words together in ways that (unless they want to use language very creatively) would stump most information retrieval systems.

Another aspect which I could develop would be the DIY text tools, which currently start to slow down quite rapidly when reading more than 80,000 words or so.  That would need a change of underlying data management, even without changing any of the features that the user sees.  I added those features in the last month or two before my current cohort of students were to start their projects, and again, feedback on those tools and some of the experimental features would be really useful.  On the other hand, I point my own students to tools like WordSmith Tools and AntConc when it comes to handling larger amounts of text!

The other thing, of course, is that I’m looking forward to getting hold of the BNC 2014 and adding another corpus or two.  Again, I can’t compete with the enormous corpora available elsewhere, but since most of the features I’m trying to help students notice differ across genre, register and style, I am quite keen on moderately sized corpora which have clearly defined sub-corpora or plenty of metadata.

One thing I would like to explore is porting The Prime Machine to Mac OS, and also possibly to mobile devices and tablets.  But as it stands, using The Prime Machine requires the kind of time commitment and concentration (and multiple searches and shuffling of results) that may not be so suitable for mobile phones.  I sometimes think it is more like the way we’d hunt for a specialist item on Taobao or Ebay when we’re not sure of a brand or even a product name, rather than the kind of Apps we tend to expect from our smart phones which provide instant ready-made answers.  Redesigning it for mobile use will need some thought.

Personally, I’m hoping to start one or two new projects, perhaps working with Chinese and English or looking more generally at Computer Assisted Language Teaching.  

Now that The Prime Machine is available, while of course it would be great if people use it and find it useful, more importantly beyond China I think I’d hope that it could inspire others to try creating new tools.  If someone says to the developer working on their new corpus web interface, “Do you think you could make a display that looks a bit like that?”, or “Can you pull in other data resources so those kinds of suggestions will pop up?”, I think they wouldn’t find it difficult, and we’d probably have more web tools which are a bit more user-friendly in terms of operation and more intuitive in terms of support for interpretation of the results. 

6. What other corpus tools do you recommend for teachers and students?

Well, I love seeing the enhancements and new features we get with new versions of popular corpus tools.  And at conferences, I’m always really impressed by some of the new things people are doing with web-based tools.   But one thing that I would say is that for the students I work with, I think knowing a bit more about the corpus is more useful than having something billions of words in size; being able to explore a good proportion of concordance lines for a mid-frequency item is great.  I think having a list of collocations or lines from millions of different sources to look at isn’t going to help language learners become familiar with the idea that concordance lines and corpus data can help them understand, explore and remember more about how to use words effectively. 

Nevertheless, I think those of us outside Europe should be quite jealous of the Europe-wide university access to Sketch Engine that’s just started for the next 5 years.  I also really like the way the BYU tool has developed.  I was thrilled to get hold of the MAT software for multidimensional analysis.  And I think I’ll always have my WordSmith Tools V4 on my home computer, and a link to our university network version of WordSmith Tools in my office and in the computer labs I use.

Thanks for reading. Do note if you comment here I need to forward them to Stephen (as he is behind the great firewall of China) and so there may be a delay in any feedback. Alternatively contact Stephen yourself from the main The Prime Machine website.

Also do note that the current available version of The Prime Machine may not work at the moment but wait a few days for a fix to be applied by Stephen and try again then.

Explore some topics in applied linguistics

Thanks to a post by Jason Anderson I read a paper called – Research trends in applied linguistics from 2005 to 2016: A bibliometric analysis and its implications.

The authors kindly sent me a file of the abstracts that they had collected. I thought some topic modelling would be interesting to do on the data. Topic modelling is a way to discern what a set of documents is “about” by getting a program to find clusters of words. Lei & Liu (2018) used a different approach called n-grams to find their topics.

They found for example that between 2005-2016 there was a significant decrease in formal linguistic issues, such as phonology and syntax.

The topic modelling also shows this decrease (note that the corpus used in the topic modelling runs from 2000-2016):

By contrast they found significant increases in topics related to sociocultural issues. The topic modelling also indicates this:

The topic model correlational matrix is interesting to look at. The screenshot below shows that the topic “english chinese paper” (full topic cluster is “english chinese paper hong use varieties kong world local language”) is significantly related to the topic “language social identity” (full cluster is “language social identity how practices literacy languages policy linguistic multilingual”):

Though I am not sure how to interpret the red blobs! If you do let me know.

Finally the model indicates that topics related to child language development seem to be on the wane (full cluster is “children language age children’s development early study acquisition adults years”):

Have a play with the model and if you spot anything interesting do leave a comment. Note running iterations can be a tad slow.

Thanks for reading.

References:

Lei, L., & Liu, D. (2018). Research Trends in Applied Linguistics from 2005 to 2016: A Bibliometric Analysis and Its Implications. Applied Linguistics.

The paradox of re-usability in language materials

The title is adapted from a critique of learning objects (orginally defined as digital resources used to aid learning) in the field of instructional design by David Wiley. What follows is borrowed heavily/paraphrased from his writings.

Author Julie Moore raises intellectual rights and copyright issues with the idea of having editable materials from course books. However there is a deeper paradox in editable or re-usable material.

If we look at a typical unit in a coursebook it may have sections such as language focus and practice, input reading and/or listening and output speaking and/or writing all centered around the unit topic. We could describe this unit has having an internal context, that is the elements which make up the unit – instructions on how to use a language point, practice exercises on this language point, a picture that goes with the reading text, a role play that goes with a speaking activity etc. The more elements that are in the unit the larger the internal context of the unit.

External context would be the other units in the coursebook. A learning object is said to have no external context independent of its instructional use. That is external contexts exists for a learning object only for the purposes of some instructional procedure.

The number of external contexts in which a learning object will instructionally fit varies according to the internal context of the said object. An instructional fit is the effectiveness of the object.

A large object (i.e. one with many elements) has a greater internal context than a small object. Larger objects fit into fewer external contexts than smaller objects.

To restate this the fit of an object with other objects is a function of 1) its internal context and 2) its external context with other objects. The more internal context you have i.e. the more elements, the better will be the (pedagogical) effectiveness of the object. But the internal context is inversely related to the number of other objects in the external context. So the paradox is that the effectiveness of a learning object and its potential for reuse (i.e. to fit in with external context) are contradictory.

So you have a trade-off between effectiveness and re-usability. For editable materials the more you make it re-usable the less effective it will be pedagogically.

Now one could argue that learning objects is concerned with conceptual knowledge (e.g. teaching someone how to develop web pages) whereas language goes beyond the limits of such knowledge. Language avoids the re-usability paradox. It has both a lot of internal context (systems such as phonology, syntax) and a lot of external context (systems such as semantics, pragmatics).

However as the world of language course books currently exists it could be said to follow the path set by other books that deal with conceptual knowledge. If this is the case then the re-usability paradox applies.

Furthermore the paradox is due to the author rights issues covered by Julie Moore. In the copyright context “reuse” means more or less “use as exactly as is”. So is there a way out of the re-usability paradox?

As David Wiley puts it:

The way to escape from the Reusability Paradox is simply by using an open license. If I publish my educational materials using an open license, I can produce something deeply contextualized and highly effective for my local context AND give you permission to revise and remix it until it is equally effective to reuse in your own local context. Poof! The paradox disappears. I’ve produced something with a strong internal context which you have permission to make fit into other external contexts.

How likely are we to see open content from commercial parties judging by the state of current play in the ELT publishing world? Happily individual teachers and grassroots organizations are already thinking and working on this.

Thanks for reading.

#TESOL2018, #IATEFL2018 corpus related talks and posters

Geez another year gone as measured by the fast approaching TESOL 2018 and IATEFL 2018 annual knees-up. Here’s a rundown of corpus related talks. Note for IATEFL2018 I also searched for vocabulary/lexis and included those that seemed interesting. FYI the website program for TESOL2018 is neat. You might consider when looking at respective programs to see if they reflect trends of topics in Applied Linguistics.

 

 

 

 

#TESOL2018 (click here to expand)

Wednesday 28 March

Student-Centered Corpora Activities for Improved Academic Writing
Jonah Moos (Saint Michael’s College)
The online tools for inquiry based learning of collocations and other vocabulary usage are free and readily accessible. While most educators are now familiar with these tools, learners need a few easily mastered skills to become lifelong learners. This session demonstrates activities to teach those skills.

Hands-On Corpus Searches: Helping Students Discover Authentic Pragmatic Routines
Kathleen Bardovi-Harlig (Indiana University), Sabrina Mossman (Indiana University), Yunwen Su (Indiana University)
This session shows teachers how to use a free online corpus to teach pragmatic routines. Participants learn how to (1) identify expressions, (2) create supported searches, and (3) develop noticing activities. Participants who want to do hands-on searches are invited to bring devices.

Empowering ELLs Through Assessing L2 Pragmatics
Aysenur Sagdic (Georgetown University)
Pragmatic competence is a challenging yet crucial ability to master for ELLs. This presentation demonstrates how one instructor uses three assessment tools and corpus to measure IEP learners’ receptive and productive pragmatic knowledge. Participants receive ready-to-implement materials to incorporate pragmatic assessment in their classroom setting.

Using Language Corpora for Acquisition of Grammatical Collocations
Christine Wingate (University of Iowa)
Why make your students memorize lists of grammatical collocations, when they can discover them for themselves using authentic material? This presentation will demonstrate a lesson that teaches students how to use the COCA database for learning grammatical collocations. The demonstration will focus on using a corpus for collocations involving gerunds.

WebSCoRE: Effective and Enjoyable for Beginner Level Remedial Grammar (POSTER)
Kiyomi Chujo (Nihon University)
A new, free, web/smartphone-based, bilingual WebSCoRE corpus tool was created for beginner level EFL students and evaluated for efficacy for improving specifically targeted grammar. Results suggest improvement in proficiency and student feedback was highly favorable.

Best Practices for Developing Academic Discourse Through Contrastive Corpus Analysis
Brad Evans (Valley High School)
This session merges research on sociolinguistics and contrastive corpus analysis to provide teachers with applications for improving students’ academic discourse. Brief video vignettes of students using the proposed strategies move past theory and illustrate how real-world applications from these fields can effectively develop learner autonomy and academic discourse.

The Grammar You Need for Academic Writing: Beginning through Advanced
Michael Berman, Henry Caballero, Eileen Cotter, (Montgomery College)
The authors of the new “Grammar You Need” series of fold-out cards, free workbooks, and just-released free mobile apps demonstrate methods of teaching core grammar structures at basic, intermediate and advanced levels. The approach is visual, corpus-based and flexible. Participants leave with practical techniques and useful materials.

Thursday 29 March

The Science and Math Academic Corpus for Kids (SMACK)
Eric Dwyer, S.J. Ehsanzadeh, (Florida International University)
The researchers collected a linguistic corpus – the SMACK – of over 8 million running words from over 150 K–12 science and mathematics textbooks. Findings of the STEM-based corpus, including word lists representative of academic language, are offered. Participants are invited to discuss in-class activities, proficiency determination, and materials development.

College at the Ready: A teacher’s perspective
Colin Ward (Lone Star College-North Harris)
Today there is a growing trend to fast track English language learners into college-level classes. In this session, participants will explore how the use of authentic and corpus-based materials in Q: Skills for Success and Elements of Success can help student meet this demand with relevant, motivating academic content.

Preparing L2 Writers for College/University Content Courses
Gena Bennett (Independent Scholar), Jan Frodesen, PhD (University of California, Santa Barbara), Diane Schmitt (Nottingham Trent University), Margi Wald (Univ California Berkley)
How can L2 writing teachers design curricula, courses, and assignments that best support multilingual students writing across and within the disciplines? The presenters discuss possibilities from a variety of perspectives, including interviews with students and faculty, corpus-based and genre models, and their own experience with materials and course design.

Vocabulary and Grammar Practice for Building Your Academic Voice
Jeanne Lambert (The New School), Randi Reppen (Northern Arizona University)
This workshop explores how systematic study of vocabulary and grammar develops students’ academic writing voices. Presenters discuss corpus-informed approaches to designing EAP curricula and the vocabulary and grammar needed for academic discourse. They also present grammatical structures for rhetorical modes. Participants leave with resources and activities.

Academic Rebels? Informality in L1 and L2 University Student Writing
Tetyana Bychkovska, Michelle Larue, Joseph Lee, James Maxwell, (Ohio University)
Based on a taxonomy of the most common informal features mentioned in style manuals, this presentation reports findings of a comparative corpus-based analysis of informal elements in L1 and L2 university student argumentative essays. Implications for L2 composition instruction are discussed.

Irregular Verbs: A Corpus Analysis of Lists From Grammar BooksSpeakers
Nicole Carrasquel, Alex Davies, (University of Central Florida), Ekaterina Goussakova (Seminole State College of Florida)
This presentation reports on a study in which frequencies of irregular verbs from 10 grammar book lists were extracted from the Corpus of Contemporary American English. Findings revealed a relatively arbitrary inclusion of such verbs on lists. An order of frequency list is shared with participants and practical implications discussed.

It, This, and That in ELs’ Academic Writing (POSTER)
Erik Larson (University of Minnesota)
This presentation will explore the use of the cohesive devices it, this, and that in academic writing by ELs and non-ELs from two online corpora. The presenter and participants will discuss ELs’ errors as well as the pedagogical implications for EL writing instructors.

Friday 30 March

AntConc: A Tool for Learner Corpus Analysis
Jose Franco (Universidad de Los Andes NURR), Julio Palma (Universidad del Zulia)
Writing error correction without analysis becomes inefficient for teachers to identify students’ general weaknesses and their causes. AntConc allows for corpus analysis by means of its interface features. Attendees will be provided with the tips to create and analyze learner written mini-corpora to categorize deficiencies and design effective correction strategies.

Using Lexical E-Tools to Teach Vocabulary the Lexical Way
Patricia Ribeiro, Wendy Wang, (Eastern Michigan University)
Teaching academic vocabulary is more than just teaching individual words. In this session, the presenters will demonstrate how to teach lexically using free corpus-based lexical e-tools to enhance students’ academic vocabulary development.

Let’s Chit Chat: Small Talk in Academic Communities
Sarah Warfield (U.S. Department of State)
In this interactive workshop, participants are introduced to corpus-based data reflecting the importance of small talk in academic communities. They engage in communicative tasks for teaching small talk strategies to L2 learners in academic language communities, including focusing on the lexico-grammatical features of small talk.

Teaching Formulaic Language with British and American English Corpus Software
Ildiko Porter-Szucs (Eastern Michigan University), Hoda Zaki (Camden County College)
ESL teachers are invited to learn how their students can become more fluent, accurate, and idiomatic speakers and writers using formulaic language with the help of the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), the British National Corpus, and other web-based tools. Step-by-step handout.

Using the Corpus of Contemporary American English with Advanced-level Students
Rosario Giraldez (Alianza Cultural Uruguay Estados Unidos)
The Corpus of Contemporary American English provides an excellent tool to help advanced-level students enhance their language use in speaking and writing. The aim of this session is to show some uses of this corpus as well as to present a few ideas to incorporate it in the language class.

Facework and Negotiation of Meaning in Synchronous Transnational Telecollaboration
Begona Clavel-Arroitia, Barry Pennock-Speck, (Universitat de Valencia)
The presenters provide research data and results from a corpus of synchronous telecollaborative interactions in English and other languages between secondary school students from five European countries. They posit that a task-based approach provides for student-centred exchanges and show that this, in turn, leads to more autonomous and meaningful interactions.

How Useful Are Corpus Linguistic Tools for Learners’ Error Correction?
Natalia Dolgova (George Washington University)
This presentation explores feasibility and efficacy of using corpus linguistic tools for instructed L2 writing. Specifically, the study aimed to gain insight into learners’ corpus-assisted error correction in written production, and the results provide implications regarding error types that are most compatible with the use of corpus tools.

#IATEFL2018(click here to expand)

Tuesday 10 April

Just the word or word and phrase?
Sharon Hartle (Verona University, Italy)
Although many teachers have felt that using corpora requires specific skills, with recent technological developments this is no longer true. Nowadays, user-friendly interfaces are being developed with the precise aim of helping learners and teachers. This presentation looks at two such easily accessible tools: Just the Word and wordandphrase, and provides practical ideas for both learners and teachers.

Do some words matter more or the frequency fallacy?
Leo Selivan (Leoxicon / ETAI)
Much research on second language vocabulary acquisition has pointed out that high-frequency vocabulary should be given priority in the classroom. However, by their very nature, highly frequent words carry multiple meanings, some more common than others. This talk focuses on the importance of collocation when selecting vocabulary for teaching and discusses whether corpus frequency should always dictate the syllabus.

Discourse layering: practical activities to teach lexical chunks
Laura Laubacher (Embassy English London)
What classroom activities help learners use new vocabulary spontaneously in speaking? In this session, we will look at learner-centred, low-prep activities that help students use and acquire functional lexical chunks. We will examine our own beliefs about language learning and discover how a ‘discourse-layering’ framework could be applied to our own teaching and be adapted for use with coursebooks.

Vocabulary @ 500 to engage, enrich and empower tribal learners
Viswanath Kannepalli (National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, India)
Rural tribal children from deprived backgrounds, receiving English medium education under a unique a government sponsored scheme in India, have been the beneficiaries of an experiment to teach 500 English words through creative vocabulary-building activities. I’ll present on this successful experiment that has resulted in the development of relevant content.

Implementing a vocabulary-based strategy to promote parallel language use
Pete Westbrook (University of Copenhagen)
Increasing internationalisation has led the University of Copenhagen to adopt both Danish and English as parallel languages. This presentation covers a university project, run in conjunction with the course Medical applications of ionizing radiation, concerned with integrating vocabulary learning strategies and vocabulary testing to ensure that students learning content in English also know key technical radiation terms in Danish.

Wednesday 11 April

A corpus analysis of phrasals and modals in teacher talk
Eric Nicaise (Universite catholique de Louvain, Belgium)
This talk will present a corpus study which explores the differences in the use of phrasal verbs and modal auxiliaries as used by NS (native-speaker) and NNS (nonnative speaker, in particular French-speaking) teachers of English as a foreign language within the framework of their most common teaching functions. Implications for TEFL will also be considered.

Vocabulary lists: snog, marry, avoid?
Julie Moore (Freelance)
Standardized vocabulary lists are increasingly being used to help design ELT syllabuses and write teaching materials. Reducing the mass of possible vocabulary that learners might need to a simple list has an intuitive appeal, but what factors should we be wary of when using such lists? This session explores the usefulness and some of the pitfalls of wordlists in ELT.

Lexical sets are history: insights from vocabulary research
Tim Herdon & Andrew Dilger (Oxford University Press)
In this practical, hands-on workshop we explore recent, at times surprising, research on key aspects of vocabulary learning. Drawing on insights from How Vocabulary is Learned (Webb & Nation, OUP, 2017), we consider topics such as vocabulary size and autonomous learning strategies, and discuss how to analyze and adapt the vocabulary activities you use in your classrooms for best results.

Applying frequency, spacing and variability theories to oral skills instruction
Maria Parker (Duke University) & Carson Maynard & Brenda Imber (University of Michigan / English Language Institute)
This workshop focuses on applying three learning theories (frequency, spacing, variability) to oral skills instruction. Participants are introduced to the theories with sample materials that address voicing and lengthening in US English vowel sounds, vocabulary acquisition and conversational pragmatics. They then work in groups to either practise the activities or adapt the materials for their own settings.

Thursday 12 April

Using corpus to teach academic writing
Fatma Abdelati Elshafie Mohamed (Zayed University)
This presentation will report on a research study that aims to: categorise the types of collocational errors produced by EAP Emirati students in their writing; investigate the effect of corpus on learners’ academic writing performance; explore how to design classroom activities using concordance lines; and suggest a range of corpora that can be used to teach writing.

Get as an auxiliary in passives: a corpus-based study
Jennifer Jean Lowe (Lancaster University, UK)
Get-passives have always been problematic to teach and to learn because pedagogical materials do not provide clear definitions about their usage. Get-passives, however, can be explained clearly and learnt easily, using two categoriesthat encompass different shades of meaning, as has emerged from a recent corpus-based study. I will show the link between academic research and its practical applications.

EMI and facilitating vocabulary growth of proficient L2 users
Piet Murre (Driestar University, The Netherlands)
Explicit teaching of vocabulary to proficient L2 speakers can hardly be done efficiently, as it concerns infrequent words and sight vocabularies may vary widely. However, using EMI for general teacher education modules for C2 level student teachers of English in the Netherlands, this may present opportunities to efficiently teach emerging new vocabulary. I’ll discuss the exploratory study that offers some findings and ideas.

AWL: adventures in word land
Richard Hillman (Bell London, UK)
Engage your students’ interest with these ideas for developing their academic lexis. We will have fun ourselves during this practical workshop, exploring and evaluating five simple but innovative ideas for teaching the vocabulary all students need for IELTS, university and their advance towards Advanced and beyond. This is the Academic Word List as you’ve never seen it before!

Focusing on lexical chunks in business emails – a beneficial approach?
Rachel Lawson (SprogEU, Denmark)
This talk will share the results of my study for my master’s final project. It investigates using a lexical approach with specific focus on chunks to improve BE learners’ email writing skills. I examine learner and teacher attitudes pre- and postcourse. And through my action research, I hope to gain useful insight into the appropriateness and success of this approach.

Friday 13 April

Improving lexical difficulty in academic writing using Text Inspector
Alexander Lewko (The American University in Cairo)
Improving lexical skills for writing can pose a challenge for students. This presentation focuses on developing lexical difficulty suitable for academic writing using the website Text Inspector. Activities utilizing this website, that allow students to analyze their writing and that of their peers as well as use corpus-based vocabulary tools to improve their own lexical awareness and output, are described.

No word is an island: the importance of word partnerships
Alex Warren (National Geographic Learning)
No man is an island, and neither are words. Just like us, they form partnerships and relationships with other words, working together to form something all the more substantial and useful. Using examples from National Geographic Learning titles, this practical session will explore and demonstrate how focusing on wordpartnerships can help speed up vocabulary learning and develop greater language awareness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Articles and collocational effects

While I was doing some marking I came across what Master (2007) in discussing article choice has called “overgeneralisations from similar patterns” or effects of collocational phrases.

The following patterns were found in the same essay (on cyber warfare):
1. Those types of attacks are occurring everyday, and are often due to the lack of awareness of the victims.
2. The USA has declared unofficially that they have been under several cyber attacks from China, but with the lack of evidence, they can’t press charges against them.

In 1 article use seems to be okay but in 2 at first glance there seems to be an error i.e. the student should have chosen “a lack of evidence”.

However Master (2007) argues that:

article selection may have been the product of overgeneralization from an already learned collocational phrase rather than from the misapplication of a rule.

In our example we can see that in 1 the student has correctly used “due to the lack of awareness of the victims” whilst in 2 we could argue that the student is implying the thought “with the lack of evidence (that they have)”.

In marking feedback you might consider that since in sentence 1 the student has postmodified “the lack of awareness” with “of the victims” then we could give the student the benefit of the doubt in sentence 2 by saying they are implying a postmodification of “that they have” in the use of definite article in “the lack of evidence”.

Master (2007) found based on 20 low-advanced proficient students doing timed essays that:

more than a quarter of the article “errors” were actually viable choices that should have been honored.

He classed his data into noun phrase structure, modification structure and discourse structure. The noun phrase structures included count/noncount, generic/specific and idioms. The modification structures included pre-modifying ranking adjectives, postmodified/nonmodified, unlimited/limited quantity, partitive/descriptive Of-phrases, intentional vagueness. The discourse structure was first and subsequent mention.

As an example of a count/non-count distinction:

An example of a pedagogical intervention is:

Master (2007) uses two reasons to justify this approach of looking at how students  choose articles. One is that based on Yoon & Bailey (1988), as cited by Masters (2007), “teachers as editors often correct article usage in ways unintended by the original author”. And two based on Sheen (2007), as cited by Masters (2007), metacognitive feedback in addition to corrective feedback can impact student article use more than just corrective feedback.

Furthermore teaching article use in context such as lexical bundles, which are another form of collocation, has shown to be effective (Shin & Kim 2017). It must be noted that the chances of finding what could be called a paired example (as in my student’s two sentences above) may be rare and so giving students more leeway could be harder to justify.

Thanks for reading and if you want to explore more on article use have a read of some previous scribbles on this: Classified and Identified – A pedagogical grammar for article use and A, an, the, definiteness and specificity.

References:

Master, P. (2007). Article errors and article choices. The CATESOL Journal, 19(1), 107-131. Retrieved from (pdf) [http://www.catesoljournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/CJ19_master.pdf]

 

Shin, Y. K., & Kim, Y. (2017). Using lexical bundles to teach articles to L2 English learners of different proficiencies. System, 69, 79-91.

Improving working conditions – isn’t that in the remit of teacher associations?

The title paraphrases a somewhat incredulous question from a teacher attending the open forum on working conditions at the TESOL France colloquium last Saturday (18 November 2017). She assumed that TESOL France like its sister organisation in the US are already pushing teachers concerns over the conditions of their work. I think she asked this after I mentioned TaWSIG (Teachers as Workers Special Interest Group, www.teacherswasworkers.org).

And that is precisely what the founders of TaWSIG tried to advance with IATEFL to no success. Teacher associations such as IATEFL & TESOL France do sterling work in many areas. And regarding the issue of working conditions, TESOL France supported the survey conducted in 2014 that reported in numbers the cold reality of some aspects of private language school conditions. The survey showed teachers “typically had multiple employers, limited or no job security, limited sick pay and holiday pay, very little training and low hourly rates that were deteriorating”. (http://www.eflmagazine.com/tailors-not-rich-salaries-conditions-elt-trainers-france/)

The open forum showed how such frustrations reproduces in other parts of Europe using interviews with a co-operative from Spain (www.slb.coop), a teacher’s advocacy group from Ireland (eltadvocacy.wordpress.com) and a working conditions information network from the UK (teflguild.wordpress.com).

The following url will take you to the presentation slides with audio (wait a few seconds for audio to load) [http://media.englishup.me/tesolfrance-2017/assets/player/KeynoteDHTMLPlayer.html].

The attendees wrote down some of their frustrations:

The discussion got lively enough that there was what one attendee described as a stage invasion.

One of the outcomes we wanted with the forum was to get a mini-committee together to meet regularly, we hope this will pan out in the coming weeks.

Unfortunately the hour was not enough time to discuss more ideas to address working condition frustrations though I think people appreciated the role of imagination in this area. This was illustrated in the slides via the example from ELT Advocacy Ireland – from a very simple idea of mapping schools in Dublin to the writing of an underground teacher fanzine.

On the topic of imagination in tactics here is a delightful example from US organiser Saul Alinksy describing an idea that was related to organising a black community against the Eastman Kodak company, in Rochester, New York:

Another idea I had that almost came to fruition was directed at the Rochester Philharmonic, which was the establishment’s — and Kodak’s — cultural jewel. I suggested we pick a night when the music would be relatively quiet and buy 100 seats. The 100 blacks scheduled to attend the concert would then be treated to a preshow banquet in the community consisting of nothing but huge portions of baked beans. Can you imagine the inevitable consequences within the symphony hall? The concert would be over before the first movement — another Freudian slip — and Rochester would be immortalized as the site of the world’s first fart-in. (http://stonestreetpress.com/1916/saul-alinskys-flatulent-blitzkrieg-his-own-account-of-his-famous-fart-in-taking-on-eastman-kodak-in-rochester-and-winning/)

Note the above was never carried only imagined. But this is the sort of imaginative tactics needed.

Lastly much appreciation and gratitude to all the volunteers who made the TESOL France 2017 Colloquium happen. See you next year!