Thursday, 24 June 2010

Double Roles of English in Nepal

A famous British linguist David Crystal estimates that more than two billion people speak English presently. He further claims that this statistics is increasing every year because people have to learn English in order to keep them updated with the world news on politics, education, scientific innovations and economy. In general, we learn English not because it is the world’s largest language but it possesses a huge social and economic resource through which we define our social identity in the present globalized world. We, especially the people from the developing economies (Third World), are learning English not because it is the language of British, America, Australian and other developed countries, but by assuming that English develops our life style, provides job and enriches knowledge. In this regard, another British linguist and researcher, David Graddol in his book The Future of English claims that the nineteenth century British colonialism and the twentieth century American capitalism and culture are the two fundamental reasons for such a wide spread of English as a world language. In the same line, Braj Kachru describes English as a gateway to economic prosperity. Due to such a perceived materialistic charisma of English, the people from the developing economies assume that learning English is inevitable for individual and social empowerment. We consider English as a ‘passport’ to cross the boarder.

Although there are a number of benefits of English as mentioned above, we should not ignore the fact that its spread has also created some serious socio-economic and political issues not only in the developing economies but also in the developed countries like in America and the entire Europe. One of the major social-economic issues, to give an example of Nepal, is: the English language has created a big gap between haves and have-nots. If we flash back the history of the English language in Nepal, we could see it as the language of elites and affluent families. The Ranas’ protectionism of English as the language of rulers and the Panchayat’s covert willingness to make it the language of elites had clearly divided the whole Nepalese society into two groups. This clearly indicates that the English-literates dominate over the English-illiterates as the former possess the socio-economic and political power created by the English language. Moreover, after the restoration of democracy, English became the language of the expensive private schools which are affordable only by the affluent families. This clearly indicates that the English language does not seem to become the language of maintaining social equality in Nepal rather it has become only ‘power’ for the elites to dominate the whole society.

But against such a situation, people from different language communities are becoming aware of their vanishing language identity and on the other hand, different universal declarations (e.g. Declaration of Human Rights) have also clearly stated language as a human right. Following such provisions, Nepal has already introduced Education for All (EFA) programme in which mother tongue education in a major focus.

Moreover, human right activists and indigenous community leaders claim that English language teaching (ELT), especially in early schooling, marginalises the ethno-indigenous cultures and language, and creates social inequality among rich and poor. In this regard, a famous applied linguist, Robert Phillipson passionately contends that maintaining the legacy of the former colonial history of English speaking countries and presently being the language of globalisation, English has become a major threat for local languages. This is happening in Nepal too. In addition to the long domination of the Nepali language in all domains, now, English has been introduced from Grade One in schools without any intensive research. It has been introduced because all, especially policy makers (who are from elite groups), assume that English is important at this modern age. However, they have never looked at the problems faced by children while learning English from Grade One. They are not serious about the vanishing local language and culture. Although there is the provision of mother tongue education, due to the socio-economic power ascribed to English (and Nepali), the innocent children and parents are motivated to learn English by forgetting their own ethnolinguistic identity. This implies that the taken-for-granted assumption towards English will lead to serious economic and political disadvantages in the future.

This is a bizarre fact that developed/industrialised countries are focusing on producing competent multilingual manpower. They have shifted their mind from monolingual-English-speaker to multilingual ones. They have seen that a multilingual young man is more competent than one who is a monolingual English speaker. However, what we are assuming and doing in Nepal is that as far as possible we are trying to make our students monolingual speakers of English through its overemphasis in education. This will of course be a serious disadvantage for the forthcoming generations. This discussion clearly indicates that there is an urgent need of an academic meaningful discussion on the policy of English language teaching in Nepal and in other developing economies.

Another issue of teaching English in Nepal is whether or not we are able to link the English language with students’ real world view. Closely associated with this issue are the questions: Are we following only the methods that are developed in the West or creating our own methods which fit in our context? Are we promoting a sustainable learning through critical thinking or just making students a parrot to drill the grammar of English? Do our textbooks address learners’ identities, cultures and values or only borrows ‘foreign’ ones? Are we teaching English in isolation or by linking it with local and global issues? I am not answering these questions here because they do not have absolute answers. However, these questions lead us to a process which helps us to lay a strong foundation to set up the positive role of English in the diverse context of Nepal.

While talking about the identity, there come different varieties of English. Since the number of native speakers of English is already exceeded by the number of non-native speakers, there is no point in prescribing only one or two so-called standard variety of English. With the global spread of English not only the population of English speakers is increasing but also the varieties of English are increasing. In this context, we should contemplate on some issues like whether we have a Nepalese English variety? How feasible is it to use as a medium of instruction in schools? At this moment, I can only make a hypothesis that one day we will have a separate variety of English, the Nepalese English. This may emerge with the publications of textbooks and materials in Nepal by local authors and writers instead of importing the books from foreign countries.

In this regard Numa Markee, Professor of University of Illinois, argues that Nepalese applied linguists and English teachers should take a leading role in framing the discussion of language issues. In particular, “what (quasi) official role (if any) should English play in relation to indigenous Nepalese languages, and in particular sectors of the economy, education, science, business, and tourism?”

The above discussion suggests that there is an urgent need of a comprehensive survey of language issues in Nepal which closely looks at the role of English in education and social life of people. English teachers should not only be a teacher, they have a social responsibility to address the beliefs and values of learners while teaching English. We should move beyond the English-Only assumption to English-With-Other-Languages. As professor Makee has put: What steps should Nepal take to maintain its linguistic and cultural heritage from the potential “killer” characteristics of English? has to be borne in our mind. Otherwise, English will only become the symbol of ‘hegemony’ as the nineteenth century philosopher Antonio Gramsci says.

(Mr Phyak researches and writes on the issue of English in multilingual contexts, and ethnolinguistic and cultural identity. He can be reached at pphyak@gmail.com)

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Reflection: Week 8

Dear All

Last week, I read three articles on learner autonomy by Dimitrios Thanasoulas (2000), Samuel P-H Sheu and Ricahrd Smith (conversation with Andy Barfield). The articles deal with different aspects of learner autonomy. Dimitrios Thanasoulas discusses the correlation between learner autonomy and learning strategies, activities for promoting learner autonomy and factors affecting learner autonomy. Learner autonomy is based on the philosophy of constructivism in learning in which students take an active role. At the same time, teachers also should play a constructive role to facilitate the learning process. The whole idea as discussed by Thanasoulas is based on the theory of learning strategies. An autonomous leaner makes an effective use of their learning strategies. They are provided many alternatives in order to allow them to work with their own learning strategies. Although meta-cognitive and cognitive learning strategies have been discussed in the article, there is no any discussion about socio-affective strategies which implies that learner autonomy is more concerned with individual phenomenon rather than social one. Is learner autonomy individual or social?

Self-report, diaries and evaluation sheets are major activities suggested to promote learner autonomy. I would also like to add one more activity or technique, project-based language learning, which promotes learner autonomy through collaboration. I am always confused with whether learner autonomy is process or product. I believe that learner autonomy is more a matter of process than a product. All learners are to some extent autonomous. Only the difference is the degree.

Learner autonomy is always affected by beliefs of both learners and teachers towards teaching and learning. If learners do not have positive beliefs towards self-learning and teachers also do not believe in learning through students’ active participation, there is no point in arguing for learner autonomy. Moreover, as discussed by Samuel P-H Sheu and Ricahrd Smith (conversation with Andy Barfield), other factors like teacher autonomy, and academic system (examination system, teaching style, expectation of authority and learners) also seem to affect leaner autonomy. Of course, there is no doubt that if teacher is not autonomous to decide what techniques of teaching and textbooks are relevant for their students, learners cannot be autonomous. In a structured and closed type of syllabus, learner autonomy does not make any sense.

Moreover, curriculum should itself be a guide to promote learner autonomy. For this, it should involve goals, strategies, text, methods, learners’ and teachers’ role etc. which guide learners to be more active in the learning process. Thus, the whole process of learning autonomy depends on the curriculum designing process. Likewise, socio-cultural factors cannot be forgotten. They are crucial to shape the learning process.

I also went through various websites on one-computer classroom. I learned that even a use of one computer in the classroom help learners to be more autonomous and independent.

Cheers
Prem

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Learner Autonomy

Dear All

I went through very insightful and comprehensive articles What is Learner Autonomy and How Can It Be Fostered? and Learner Autonomy: Bird-in-the-hand or Bird-in-the-bush? by Thanasoulas (2000) and Sheu (n.d.) respectively. The former defines learner autonomy, discusses theories underpinning learner autonomy and provides some practical activities for fostering learner autonomy. Learner autonomy is defined as a learning process in which learners learn independently. It is learners' ability to cope with process of learning utilising their own learning styles. Thanasoulas (2000) argues that an autonomous learner is an active agent in the learning process. Likewise, Little (1991:4) defines it as "a capacity for detachment, critical reflection, decision making, and independent action." In learner autonomy, learning is considered as a constructive process in which learners actively participate in exploring meanings which fit in their world views. Learners are not passive recipients of knowledge but an important source of constructing new knowledge. In this sense, in the autonomous learning process, the bottom-up process in which learners are put at the centre is adopted rather than the top-down in which teachers seek to transmit what they have in their head to the students.

Thanasoulas further says that "Learner autonomy consists in becoming aware of, and identifying, one's strategies, needs, and goals as a learner, and having the opportunity to reconsider and refashion approaches and procedures for optimal learning." This clearly tells us that learners must be aware of their own learning styles or strategies. I agree with the idea that without identifying the needs and goals of learners, teachers cannot facilitate them towards being an autonomous. With an extensive review of the literature on learner autonomy, Thanasoulas argues that the objective of language teaching should be to produce an autonomous learner. Without promoting autonomy, we can of course question or doubt on sustainability of any language teaching program and effectiveness of teaching.

He has also discussed activities that promote learners autonomy. First, he talk about self-reports in which learners are asked to report how they will be learning (introspective self-report) and how they learned (retrospective self-report). I agree that self-reporting promotes learner autonomy in general. However, it is very difficult for learners to self-report their own learning. Especially, young learners cannot self-report their learning. Moreover, this process does not seem to foster any kind of cooperation among learners. Diaries are better than self-report, I think. On the one hand, they help us to keep record of learning styles and on the other hand, they help students reflect on their own learning. Importantly, diaries represent learners' voices.

However, learners' beliefs and attitudes towards learning, teachers and themselves are very important factors to determine learner autonomy. For example, in my contexts, learners expect notes through dictation from teachers and they consider teachers' idea final. Even the master's level students do not go through the books prescribed in the course. They ask teachers to give notes. They never ask questions in the classroom. This is the continuity of how children are taught in schools in Nepal. When I was in school, I was never asked to read the passages and discuss with friends to answer questions based on the text. Teachers used to give us answers. Moreover, I was never asked to write a paragraph or essay myself. Teachers used to dictate us all essays on discipline, value of time, river in Nepal etc. for example and we should parrot them line-by-line. The same learning style gets continuity upto higher level. One of the lacunas in Thanasoulas's article is that he does not discuss anything about the role of academic culture and socio-cultural factors which shape the whole teaching and learning process. In this regard, Samuel P-H Sheu opines that the degree of learner autonomy is not only an individual process but it is determined by the whole teaching system. I agree with him. For example, my students are not motivated to learn themselves independently. There are two reasons behind this. First, the whole evaluation system of university is so limited that students' performance is evaluated on the basis of a 4-hour written examination in which they have to answer the structured questions asked from the syllabus. They cannot put their views and critiques. They have to write what the teachers say but not their own judgement and opinions. Second, teachers have to finish the whole course within a limited time frame. So they focus mainly on finishing the course by delivering lectures and giving notes rather than involving students in independent works. Moreover, as the students are evaluated on the basis only what they score in the examinations, they do not see any relevance of reading more books, articles and judging them from their own perspectives.

Richard Smith, as cited by Sheu, is right to argue that learner autonomy is correlated with teacher autonomy. If he/she does not believe in the exploratory learning, does not involve students in classroom interaction, does not try bringing changes within the teaching system where he/she works and does not have his/her own idiosyncratic way of teaching and learning, there is no point of discussing the value of learner autonomy. At the same time, teachers can an agent of change by giving students active role in the learning process. In my opinion, teacher autonomy is equally important for learner autonomy.

Thanasoulas (2000) argues that persuasive communication changes learners' beliefs and attitudes. But I argue that teachers' autonomy reflected in the classroom teaching is more important to change the beliefs and attitudes of learners. Until, teachers are able to leave positive impact in the classroom through their teaching, students are not motivated to become autonomous learners.

From the above discussion, some issues of contentious have emerged. First, is learner autonomy an inborn capacity (as Thanasoulas, referring to Benson & Voller 1997, puts) which is suppressed by institutional education? In my opinion, learner autonomy is neither inborn nor it can be suppressed by institutional education. I think it is more socio-cultural which is shaped by different socio-cultural factors including institutional education. Thus, as a teacher we need to consider the socio-cultural things which shape the beliefs and attitudes of learners towards the way of learning, teachers and themselves.

Second, is learner autonomy only an individual or social? This question is related to aanother question: Is it process or product? I think learner autonomy is not only individual but also social. And it is not only a product but also a process. I think that we cannot produce a 100% autonomous leaner. Autonomy always remains in degree and process. In order to enhance autonomy, learners need to be engaged in interaction in which they get chance to negotiate their views. At some point, I find that the concept of learner autonomy contradictory with the concept of learning through interaction and collaboration. This tension is intense if we take learner autonomy as an individual. Thanasoulas (ibid.) also does not address this tension as he does not focus on the social strategies of learning (Cook, 2008) – learners collaborate with friends to learn – rather focuses only on metacognitive and cognitive strategies.

To sum, the theory behind learner autonomy has to integrate social-cultural factors. A discussion on process vs. product of learner autonomy has to be backed up by some empirical studies. I argue that learner autonomy is closely related to teacher autonomy. The way teacher presents himself in the classroom through his/her way of teaching determines the degree of learner autonomy. One of the important tools in this regard will be technology which empowers the ability of both teachers and students as we have discussed in previous weeks. Moreover, technology provides a motivating space for collaboration and sharing among friends which gradually promote learner autonomy.

I will be happy to read you comments on this post.

References
Benson, P. & Voller, P. (1997). Autonomy and independence in language learning. London: Longman.
Cook, V. (2008). Second language learning and language teaching. UK: Hodder Education.
Sheu, S. P-H. (n.d.) Learner Autonomy: Bird-in-the-hand or Bird-in-the-bush? Available at http://coyote.miyazaki-mu.ac.jp/learnerdev/LLE/8.1/sheuE.html
Thanasoulas, D. (2000).'What is Learner Autonomy and How Can It Be Fostered?' The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 11. Available at http://iteslj.org/Articles/Thanasoulas-Autonomy.html
Little, D. (1991). Learner autonomy 1: Definitions, issues and problems. Dublin: Authentik.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

some issue

Dear All

Many interesting points are emerging from the discussion in this thread. Most of the posts suggest that teaching in a large class is challenging as B├╝lent and Mary argue "Teaching in large classes is really challenging for every teacher. Keeping students engaged in large lecture classes is a hard thing to do." Of course, there are many issues, ranging from low classroom interaction to noise, in large classes. However, I have a bit different idea. I have been teaching in large classes of around 130 students in a class. I feel that a large class can be a significant source for teaching English. I enjoy teaching in a large class as I can see so many people listening to me attentively even for 4 hours with 20 minutes break in the middle.

Since a large class consists of students from diverse linguistic and socio-cultural backgrounds, we can ask them to share their own cultural backgrounds. On one hand, this process motivates them to interact in the classroom and on the other hand, an intercultural atmosphere will be developed in the classroom. In this connection, technology will be a help to explore the videos and cultural texts of the students from different cultural backgrounds.
I argue that the presence of technology is not a big deal in a large class. Out-of-Class-Technology can also be a significant source to create an interactive classroom environment. Exploring text, activities and videos appropriate to the level and need of the students will, of course, motivate students to interact in the classroom. What do you think friends? Please comment on this.

Cheers
Prem

Using technology in large classes

Dear All

I went through Using Technology In Teaching Large Classes at http://www.uoregon.edu/~tep/workshops/teachertraining/largeclasses/usingtechnology/usingtechnology.html where I could see so many ideas to use technology to make teaching effective especially in the large class context. I could see that there is a great role of technology in promoting interactions or discussions in the classroom. First, technological tools like WebQuest and technology-integrated projects allow students to work in a small group independently. Second, since such tools have clear expected outcomes, they are focused on the activities or tasks. In order to accomplish the tasks, students have to interact with each other.

The above discussion indicates that introduction of technological tools undoubtedly helps to maintain interaction in large classes. Moreover, technology also helps teachers to focus on the topic and encourage students to ask questions. To give my own example, I used to be tired while shouting for 2 hours to teach a large class. I could hear noises in the classroom. But after I started using power point, I feel comfortable and students pay attention on the point mentioned on the PPT. Overall, the lesson is more organised.

However, it is true that we need to handle technology properly in order to make it more interactive. I argue that technology itself may not be interactive. It largely depends upon how we use it in the classroom. I like 'priming' for large classes. It will motivate students to discuss on the issue of discussion. But in my context, Just-in-Time teaching does not work as there is no facility of computers and internet connections in the classroom. However, this technique involves students in the thinking process before beginning of the class.
One of the important points that Felder (1997) discusses is out-of-class group assignments. In this technique, students are divided into various groups depending on their number. For example, if there are 100 students we can divide them into ten groups. After the group division, we provide students with technology-integrated projects or webquests. We can ask them to work in group and present their report in the classroom. This will create an interactive classroom environment. This will also help teachers to manage large classes.

Moreover, interactive power points with the interactive techniques like Think-Pair-Share and Concept Tests make large classes more interactive. To sum up, if teacher can select an appropriate technology, large classes can be made more interactive. But technology itself is not interactive. It needs proper handling with clear objectives in the classroom.

There are a lot to share. There are tons of articles to read which takes may than a month to finish. Please share your ideas and comment on my post.

Regards
Prem
References
.
Felder, R.M. (1997). Beating the numbers game: Effective teaching in large classes. Available online at
http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/Papers/Largeclasses.htm
Teaching Large Classes. Available online at
http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/earlycareer/teaching/largeclasses.html#technology
Using Technology In Teaching Large Classes. Available online at http://www.uoregon.edu/~tep/workshops/teachertraining/largeclasses/usingtechnology/usingtechnology.html

Using technology in large classes

Dear All

I went through Using Technology In Teaching Large Classes at http://www.uoregon.edu/~tep/workshops/teachertraining/largeclasses/usingtechnology/usingtechnology.html where I could see so many ideas to use technology to make teaching effective especially in the large class context. I could see that there is a great role of technology in promoting interactions or discussions in the classroom. First, technological tools like WebQuest and technology-integrated projects allow students to work in a small group independently. Second, since such tools have clear expected outcomes, they are focused on the activities or tasks. In order to accomplish the tasks, students have to interact with each other.

The above discussion indicates that introduction of technological tools undoubtedly helps to maintain interaction in large classes. Moreover, technology also helps teachers to focus on the topic and encourage students to ask questions. To give my own example, I used to be tired while shouting for 2 hours to teach a large class. I could hear noises in the classroom. But after I started using power point, I feel comfortable and students pay attention on the point mentioned on the PPT. Overall, the lesson is more organised.

However, it is true that we need to handle technology properly in order to make it more interactive. I argue that technology itself may not be interactive. It largely depends upon how we use it in the classroom. I like 'priming' for large classes. It will motivate students to discuss on the issue of discussion. But in my context, Just-in-Time teaching does not work as there is no facility of computers and internet connections in the classroom. However, this technique involves students in the thinking process before beginning of the class.
One of the important points that Felder (1997) discusses is out-of-class group assignments. In this technique, students are divided into various groups depending on their number. For example, if there are 100 students we can divide them into ten groups. After the group division, we provide students with technology-integrated projects or webquests. We can ask them to work in group and present their report in the classroom. This will create an interactive classroom environment. This will also help teachers to manage large classes.

Moreover, interactive power points with the interactive techniques like Think-Pair-Share and Concept Tests make large classes more interactive. To sum up, if teacher can select an appropriate technology, large classes can be made more interactive. But technology itself is not interactive. It needs proper handling with clear objectives in the classroom.

There are a lot to share. There are tons of articles to read which takes may than a month to finish. Please share your ideas and comment on my post.

Regards
Prem
References
.
Felder, R.M. (1997). Beating the numbers game: Effective teaching in large classes. Available online at
http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/Papers/Largeclasses.htm
Teaching Large Classes. Available online at
http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/earlycareer/teaching/largeclasses.html#technology
Using Technology In Teaching Large Classes. Available online at http://www.uoregon.edu/~tep/workshops/teachertraining/largeclasses/usingtechnology/usingtechnology.html

Learner Autonomy

Dear All

I went through very insightful and comprehensive articles What is Learner Autonomy and How Can It Be Fostered? and Learner Autonomy: Bird-in-the-hand or Bird-in-the-bush? by Thanasoulas (2000) and Sheu (n.d.) respectively. The former defines learner autonomy, discusses theories underpinning learner autonomy and provides some practical activities for fostering learner autonomy. Learner autonomy is defined as a learning process in which learners learn independently. It is learners' ability to cope with process of learning utilising their own learning styles. Thanasoulas (2000) argues that an autonomous learner is an active agent in the learning process. Likewise, Little (1991:4) defines it as "a capacity for detachment, critical reflection, decision making, and independent action." In learner autonomy, learning is considered as a constructive process in which learners actively participate in exploring meanings which fit in their world views. Learners are not passive recipients of knowledge but an important source of constructing new knowledge. In this sense, in the autonomous learning process, the bottom-up process in which learners are put at the centre is adopted rather than the top-down in which teachers seek to transmit what they have in their head to the students.

Thanasoulas further says that "Learner autonomy consists in becoming aware of, and identifying, one's strategies, needs, and goals as a learner, and having the opportunity to reconsider and refashion approaches and procedures for optimal learning." This clearly tells us that learners must be aware of their own learning styles or strategies. I agree with the idea that without identifying the needs and goals of learners, teachers cannot facilitate them towards being an autonomous. With an extensive review of the literature on learner autonomy, Thanasoulas argues that the objective of language teaching should be to produce an autonomous learner. Without promoting autonomy, we can of course question or doubt on sustainability of any language teaching program and effectiveness of teaching.

He has also discussed activities that promote learners autonomy. First, he talk about self-reports in which learners are asked to report how they will be learning (introspective self-report) and how they learned (retrospective self-report). I agree that self-reporting promotes learner autonomy in general. However, it is very difficult for learners to self-report their own learning. Especially, young learners cannot self-report their learning. Moreover, this process does not seem to foster any kind of cooperation among learners. Diaries are better than self-report, I think. On the one hand, they help us to keep record of learning styles and on the other hand, they help students reflect on their own learning. Importantly, diaries represent learners' voices.

However, learners' beliefs and attitudes towards learning, teachers and themselves are very important factors to determine learner autonomy. For example, in my contexts, learners expect notes through dictation from teachers and they consider teachers' idea final. Even the master's level students do not go through the books prescribed in the course. They ask teachers to give notes. They never ask questions in the classroom. This is the continuity of how children are taught in schools in Nepal. When I was in school, I was never asked to read the passages and discuss with friends to answer questions based on the text. Teachers used to give us answers. Moreover, I was never asked to write a paragraph or essay myself. Teachers used to dictate us all essays on discipline, value of time, river in Nepal etc. for example and we should parrot them line-by-line. The same learning style gets continuity upto higher level. One of the lacunas in Thanasoulas's article is that he does not discuss anything about the role of academic culture and socio-cultural factors which shape the whole teaching and learning process. In this regard, Samuel P-H Sheu opines that the degree of learner autonomy is not only an individual process but it is determined by the whole teaching system. I agree with him. For example, my students are not motivated to learn themselves independently. There are two reasons behind this. First, the whole evaluation system of university is so limited that students' performance is evaluated on the basis of a 4-hour written examination in which they have to answer the structured questions asked from the syllabus. They cannot put their views and critiques. They have to write what the teachers say but not their own judgement and opinions. Second, teachers have to finish the whole course within a limited time frame. So they focus mainly on finishing the course by delivering lectures and giving notes rather than involving students in independent works. Moreover, as the students are evaluated on the basis only what they score in the examinations, they do not see any relevance of reading more books, articles and judging them from their own perspectives.

Richard Smith, as cited by Sheu, is right to argue that learner autonomy is correlated with teacher autonomy. If he/she does not believe in the exploratory learning, does not involve students in classroom interaction, does not try bringing changes within the teaching system where he/she works and does not have his/her own idiosyncratic way of teaching and learning, there is no point of discussing the value of learner autonomy. At the same time, teachers can an agent of change by giving students active role in the learning process. In my opinion, teacher autonomy is equally important for learner autonomy.

Thanasoulas (2000) argues that persuasive communication changes learners' beliefs and attitudes. But I argue that teachers' autonomy reflected in the classroom teaching is more important to change the beliefs and attitudes of learners. Until, teachers are able to leave positive impact in the classroom through their teaching, students are not motivated to become autonomous learners.

From the above discussion, some issues of contentious have emerged. First, is learner autonomy an inborn capacity (as Thanasoulas, referring to Benson & Voller 1997, puts) which is suppressed by institutional education? In my opinion, learner autonomy is neither inborn nor it can be suppressed by institutional education. I think it is more socio-cultural which is shaped by different socio-cultural factors including institutional education. Thus, as a teacher we need to consider the socio-cultural things which shape the beliefs and attitudes of learners towards the way of learning, teachers and themselves.

Second, is learner autonomy only an individual or social? This question is related to aanother question: Is it process or product? I think learner autonomy is not only individual but also social. And it is not only a product but also a process. I think that we cannot produce a 100% autonomous leaner. Autonomy always remains in degree and process. In order to enhance autonomy, learners need to be engaged in interaction in which they get chance to negotiate their views. At some point, I find that the concept of learner autonomy contradictory with the concept of learning through interaction and collaboration. This tension is intense if we take learner autonomy as an individual. Thanasoulas (ibid.) also does not address this tension as he does not focus on the social strategies of learning (Cook, 2008) – learners collaborate with friends to learn – rather focuses only on metacognitive and cognitive strategies.

To sum, the theory behind learner autonomy has to integrate social-cultural factors. A discussion on process vs. product of learner autonomy has to be backed up by some empirical studies. I argue that learner autonomy is closely related to teacher autonomy. The way teacher presents himself in the classroom through his/her way of teaching determines the degree of learner autonomy. One of the important tools in this regard will be technology which empowers the ability of both teachers and students as we have discussed in previous weeks. Moreover, technology provides a motivating space for collaboration and sharing among friends which gradually promote learner autonomy.

I will be happy to read you comments on this post.

References
Benson, P. & Voller, P. (1997). Autonomy and independence in language learning. London: Longman.
Cook, V. (2008). Second language learning and language teaching. UK: Hodder Education.
Sheu, S. P-H. (n.d.) Learner Autonomy: Bird-in-the-hand or Bird-in-the-bush? Available at http://coyote.miyazaki-mu.ac.jp/learnerdev/LLE/8.1/sheuE.html
Thanasoulas, D. (2000).'What is Learner Autonomy and How Can It Be Fostered?' The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 11. Available at http://iteslj.org/Articles/Thanasoulas-Autonomy.html
Little, D. (1991). Learner autonomy 1: Definitions, issues and problems. Dublin: Authentik.

Learner Autonomy

Dear All

I went through very insightful and comprehensive articles What is Learner Autonomy and How Can It Be Fostered? and Learner Autonomy: Bird-in-the-hand or Bird-in-the-bush? by Thanasoulas (2000) and Sheu (n.d.) respectively. The former defines learner autonomy, discusses theories underpinning learner autonomy and provides some practical activities for fostering learner autonomy. Learner autonomy is defined as a learning process in which learners learn independently. It is learners' ability to cope with process of learning utilising their own learning styles. Thanasoulas (2000) argues that an autonomous learner is an active agent in the learning process. Likewise, Little (1991:4) defines it as "a capacity for detachment, critical reflection, decision making, and independent action." In learner autonomy, learning is considered as a constructive process in which learners actively participate in exploring meanings which fit in their world views. Learners are not passive recipients of knowledge but an important source of constructing new knowledge. In this sense, in the autonomous learning process, the bottom-up process in which learners are put at the centre is adopted rather than the top-down in which teachers seek to transmit what they have in their head to the students.

Thanasoulas further says that "Learner autonomy consists in becoming aware of, and identifying, one's strategies, needs, and goals as a learner, and having the opportunity to reconsider and refashion approaches and procedures for optimal learning." This clearly tells us that learners must be aware of their own learning styles or strategies. I agree with the idea that without identifying the needs and goals of learners, teachers cannot facilitate them towards being an autonomous. With an extensive review of the literature on learner autonomy, Thanasoulas argues that the objective of language teaching should be to produce an autonomous learner. Without promoting autonomy, we can of course question or doubt on sustainability of any language teaching program and effectiveness of teaching.

He has also discussed activities that promote learners autonomy. First, he talk about self-reports in which learners are asked to report how they will be learning (introspective self-report) and how they learned (retrospective self-report). I agree that self-reporting promotes learner autonomy in general. However, it is very difficult for learners to self-report their own learning. Especially, young learners cannot self-report their learning. Moreover, this process does not seem to foster any kind of cooperation among learners. Diaries are better than self-report, I think. On the one hand, they help us to keep record of learning styles and on the other hand, they help students reflect on their own learning. Importantly, diaries represent learners' voices.

However, learners' beliefs and attitudes towards learning, teachers and themselves are very important factors to determine learner autonomy. For example, in my contexts, learners expect notes through dictation from teachers and they consider teachers' idea final. Even the master's level students do not go through the books prescribed in the course. They ask teachers to give notes. They never ask questions in the classroom. This is the continuity of how children are taught in schools in Nepal. When I was in school, I was never asked to read the passages and discuss with friends to answer questions based on the text. Teachers used to give us answers. Moreover, I was never asked to write a paragraph or essay myself. Teachers used to dictate us all essays on discipline, value of time, river in Nepal etc. for example and we should parrot them line-by-line. The same learning style gets continuity upto higher level. One of the lacunas in Thanasoulas's article is that he does not discuss anything about the role of academic culture and socio-cultural factors which shape the whole teaching and learning process. In this regard, Samuel P-H Sheu opines that the degree of learner autonomy is not only an individual process but it is determined by the whole teaching system. I agree with him. For example, my students are not motivated to learn themselves independently. There are two reasons behind this. First, the whole evaluation system of university is so limited that students' performance is evaluated on the basis of a 4-hour written examination in which they have to answer the structured questions asked from the syllabus. They cannot put their views and critiques. They have to write what the teachers say but not their own judgement and opinions. Second, teachers have to finish the whole course within a limited time frame. So they focus mainly on finishing the course by delivering lectures and giving notes rather than involving students in independent works. Moreover, as the students are evaluated on the basis only what they score in the examinations, they do not see any relevance of reading more books, articles and judging them from their own perspectives.

Richard Smith, as cited by Sheu, is right to argue that learner autonomy is correlated with teacher autonomy. If he/she does not believe in the exploratory learning, does not involve students in classroom interaction, does not try bringing changes within the teaching system where he/she works and does not have his/her own idiosyncratic way of teaching and learning, there is no point of discussing the value of learner autonomy. At the same time, teachers can an agent of change by giving students active role in the learning process. In my opinion, teacher autonomy is equally important for learner autonomy.

Thanasoulas (2000) argues that persuasive communication changes learners' beliefs and attitudes. But I argue that teachers' autonomy reflected in the classroom teaching is more important to change the beliefs and attitudes of learners. Until, teachers are able to leave positive impact in the classroom through their teaching, students are not motivated to become autonomous learners.

From the above discussion, some issues of contentious have emerged. First, is learner autonomy an inborn capacity (as Thanasoulas, referring to Benson & Voller 1997, puts) which is suppressed by institutional education? In my opinion, learner autonomy is neither inborn nor it can be suppressed by institutional education. I think it is more socio-cultural which is shaped by different socio-cultural factors including institutional education. Thus, as a teacher we need to consider the socio-cultural things which shape the beliefs and attitudes of learners towards the way of learning, teachers and themselves.

Second, is learner autonomy only an individual or social? This question is related to aanother question: Is it process or product? I think learner autonomy is not only individual but also social. And it is not only a product but also a process. I think that we cannot produce a 100% autonomous leaner. Autonomy always remains in degree and process. In order to enhance autonomy, learners need to be engaged in interaction in which they get chance to negotiate their views. At some point, I find that the concept of learner autonomy contradictory with the concept of learning through interaction and collaboration. This tension is intense if we take learner autonomy as an individual. Thanasoulas (ibid.) also does not address this tension as he does not focus on the social strategies of learning (Cook, 2008) – learners collaborate with friends to learn – rather focuses only on metacognitive and cognitive strategies.

To sum, the theory behind learner autonomy has to integrate social-cultural factors. A discussion on process vs. product of learner autonomy has to be backed up by some empirical studies. I argue that learner autonomy is closely related to teacher autonomy. The way teacher presents himself in the classroom through his/her way of teaching determines the degree of learner autonomy. One of the important tools in this regard will be technology which empowers the ability of both teachers and students as we have discussed in previous weeks. Moreover, technology provides a motivating space for collaboration and sharing among friends which gradually promote learner autonomy.

I will be happy to read you comments on this post.

References
Benson, P. & Voller, P. (1997). Autonomy and independence in language learning. London: Longman.
Cook, V. (2008). Second language learning and language teaching. UK: Hodder Education.
Sheu, S. P-H. (n.d.) Learner Autonomy: Bird-in-the-hand or Bird-in-the-bush? Available at http://coyote.miyazaki-mu.ac.jp/learnerdev/LLE/8.1/sheuE.html
Thanasoulas, D. (2000).'What is Learner Autonomy and How Can It Be Fostered?' The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 11. Available at http://iteslj.org/Articles/Thanasoulas-Autonomy.html
Little, D. (1991). Learner autonomy 1: Definitions, issues and problems. Dublin: Authentik.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Reflection: Week 7

Dear All
Week 7 was a motivating and relevant week for me. It was motivating because I was dealing with making the power point presentation (PPT), which I have been using for 2 years, more interactive. It was relevant because there was an extensive discussion on teaching in large class contexts like that of mine in Nepal where I have been teaching more than 100 students in a class.

Regarding interactive PPT, I learned major techniques like Minute Paper and Concept Test to include in PPT to make the presentation more interactive. Moreover, it is interesting to know that there are many ready-made templates available in different websites which help us to design jeopardy games and interactive stories.
Moreover, I also learned to hyperlink (both external and internal) different websites and texts in order to make the presentation more interactive. I learned that hyperlinking helps teachers to make a thread on a particular topic which encourages students to learn in detail. This technique does not only make a class interactive but also addresses the multiple learning styles of students. Overall, I learned how to make PPT more interactive.

I also designed an interactive PPT incorporating different media like pictures and videos. I also hyperlinked the slides in order to make PPT more interactive. By incorporating the feedback from Deborah, I removed texts from the overloaded PPT. I learned that PPT should have minimum texts but it should have more visuals.

Another important thing that I learned was how technology helps to make a large class more interactive. There are so many wonderful ideas for this. One of the ideas is applying WebQuests or Project-integrated language teaching for students. In the context where there is no access to the internet in the classroom, we can also give students Out-Side-Classroom projects and ask them to work in group. We can ask them to research on a particular issue, write a report and present in the classroom.
There are some issues which emerged from the discussion last week. First, PPT may be boring too if it is not designed by keeping multiple learning styles of students in mind. It also spoils class sometimes. Second, the use of multimedia in PPT must be relevant to the lesson and level of students. Likewise, although technology can be a help to promote interaction in the classroom, teachers’ and students’ beliefs towards technology should always be positive. If they do not take it positively, there is no point of using technology in the classroom. For this, we need to assess the beliefs of the students first.

Oh! How I can forget the most important thing. I got a partner, Eve, to work on report jointly. We had wonderful chats last week.

Cheers
Prem

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Reflection: Week 6 (Rubrics)

Dear all
I am sharing my reflection on creating the rubrics for assessment. It was one of the challenging tasks I faced during the course. It was challenging due to the nature of students' work that I intended to assess i.e. an objective assessment of research and academic writing skills is not possible. What I feel is that preparing the rubrics for assessing research and academic writing skills subjectively is really a tough job. First, it is tough to fix criteria to assess these skills. Second, to make a clear description of each criterion is tougher. The toughest job is to make how one category is different from other ones.

However, the rubrics shared by the colleagues were marvellous. I found the site http://rubistar.4teachers.org easy to prepare the rubrics for the any kind of assessment.

Cheers
Regards

Reflection: Week 6

Dear All

Last week I read interesting and useful articles by Gardner (1999) at http://eduscapes.com/tap/topic68.htm, and by Barbara A. Soloman and Richard M. Felder (index of learning style) at http://www.engr.ncsu.edu/learningstyles/ilsweb.html and at http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/ILSdir/styles.htm (Learning Styles and Strategies). It is very important to know that without addressing learning strategies of students there is no meaning of teaching. At the same time, it is also true that there is no single learning style in a class. Learning styles are also shaped by the socio-cultural background of the students. However, without considering socio-cultural contexts, Howard Gardner (1999) argues that there are nine different learning styles: Verbal-Linguistic, Logical/Mathematical, Visual/Spatial, Bodily/Kinesthetic, Musical/Rhythmic, Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, Naturalist and Existentialist. These intelligences are very difficult to identify since they are psycholinguistic attributes. Moreover, this is very difficult to distinguish one intelligence with another.

Dee Dickinson’s (1998) article How Technology Enhances Howard Gardner's Eight Intelligences at http://www.america-tomorrow.com/ati/nhl80402.htm which is similar to the article Technology and Multiple Intelligence at http://eduscapes.com/tap/topic68.htm. These articles deal with how technology helps to address these intelligences. I learned that technology can help integrate these styles. For example, Wiki helps to enhance interpersonal and verbal-linguistic intelligences. Likewise, the use of videos from YouTube addresses the visual learning style.
I also read Enhancing Learning by Engaging Students by Rick Finnan and Donna Shaw at http://oregonstate.edu/dept/eli/osu-hedp/large_classes_engaging_students.html. This article discusses various tools like Minute Paper, Concept Map, Think-Pair-Share, Scripted Cooperative Learning to assess students’ performance on various skills. For example, minute paper will assess short-term memory of students.

There are some major issues emerged from the discussion. First, how to integrate different learning styles. Second, how to select valid tools for testing skills and ability of students. Third, how to deal with as many learning strategies as possible in a class. I would love to discuss on these issues.

Regards
Prem

Reflection: Week 6

Dear All

Last week I read interesting and useful articles by Gardner (1999) at http://eduscapes.com/tap/topic68.htm, and by Barbara A. Soloman and Richard M. Felder (index of learning style) at http://www.engr.ncsu.edu/learningstyles/ilsweb.html and at http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/ILSdir/styles.htm (Learning Styles and Strategies). It is very important to know that without addressing learning strategies of students there is no meaning of teaching. At the same time, it is also true that there is no single learning style in a class. Learning styles are also shaped by the socio-cultural background of the students. However, without considering socio-cultural contexts, Howard Gardner (1999) argues that there are nine different learning styles: Verbal-Linguistic, Logical/Mathematical, Visual/Spatial, Bodily/Kinesthetic, Musical/Rhythmic, Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, Naturalist and Existentialist. These intelligences are very difficult to identify since they are psycholinguistic attributes. Moreover, this is very difficult to distinguish one intelligence with another.

Dee Dickinson’s (1998) article How Technology Enhances Howard Gardner's Eight Intelligences at http://www.america-tomorrow.com/ati/nhl80402.htm which is similar to the article Technology and Multiple Intelligence at http://eduscapes.com/tap/topic68.htm. These articles deal with how technology helps to address these intelligences. I learned that technology can help integrate these styles. For example, Wiki helps to enhance interpersonal and verbal-linguistic intelligences. Likewise, the use of videos from YouTube addresses the visual learning style.
I also read Enhancing Learning by Engaging Students by Rick Finnan and Donna Shaw at http://oregonstate.edu/dept/eli/osu-hedp/large_classes_engaging_students.html. This article discusses various tools like Minute Paper, Concept Map, Think-Pair-Share, Scripted Cooperative Learning to assess students’ performance on various skills. For example, minute paper will assess short-term memory of students.

There are some major issues emerged from the discussion. First, how to integrate different learning styles. Second, how to select valid tools for testing skills and ability of students. Third, how to deal with as many learning strategies as possible in a class. I would love to discuss on these issues.

Regards
Prem

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Alternative assessment

I read Enhancing Learning by Engaging Students by Rick Finnan and Donna Shaw at http://oregonstate.edu/dept/eli/osu-hedp/large_classes_engaging_students.html. The problems of large classes mentioned in the article represent the problems of most of the large classes. As I have already mentioned in the second week, I have to teach more than 100 students in a class. One of the major problems in my class is: there is no teacher-student and student-student interaction. Moreover, there is no frequent testing and feedback on students’ performance. I agree with what Finnan and Shaw argue “students feel little sense of responsibility or accountability in class, and students do not retain the content of the lecture.”

At the same time, we can use a large class as significant source for teaching if it is handled properly. The foremost thing is to think about how to make the classroom more interactive so that students learn more effectively without losing their attention.

A major issue here is: how to create such an environment in which students collaborate to each other to perform a task and learn. There are different technological tools to promote collaboration among the students. We can provide them technology-integrated projects in group as we discussed in the last week.

Think-Pair-Share can be enabled by showing some videos related to the lesson. For example, I can download photos from http://www.molon.de/galleries/Nepal/. By showing some pictures, I introduce the lesson for 10 minutes. And then, I show some more pictures and ask students to work in pair (person sitting next to them) and compose a six-line poem about the pictures. Later, they will read out the poems for the whole class. This process will make students interact to each other. This will also develop their creative writing ability. By taking responses of other students, I evaluate each group’s work.

Use of Minute Paper in the Power Point is another important technique. I can use it to make my class effective. Before I begin the lesson, I can ask students a couple of questions related to the previous lesson. In this regard, they will be asked to maintain the reflective blogs as we are doing now. Students make use of their reflective blogs to answer the questions.

Moreover, we can also use a Minute Paper in order to assess what students learned in today’s class. Students write two important things they learned in today’s class in a card or a sheet of paper and share in class. This can also be done as a group or pair work.

Scripted Cooperative Learning is another useful technique that can be used to engage students in large classes. In this technique, students are divided into groups. And one student summarises the content of the lesson and another student evaluates the summariser’s note. This develops cooperation and collaboration among them. This also develops their ability to judge/evaluate each others’ written work.

This is what I think about the useful techniques in my context. What do you think about this?

Best regards
Prem
Dear All

I like the idea of learning styles or strategies in teaching English or any other languages. Learning styles or strategies are coming into focus as methods are more prescriptive which do not fit in to all contexts. Moreover, a method of teaching does not become appropriate for the learners who come from different academic and social-cultural backgrounds. Now people like Rebecca Oxford (1990), and Suresh Canagarajah (2002) argue that since the prescriptions of a method do not address diverse idiosyncratic natures of the students, we (teachers) should much focus on learning styles (i.e. how our students learn rather than how we teach) for an effective learning.

Learning styles or strategies are not only individual but also socio-cultural. For example, my observation shows that the students in UK are more creative, critical, exploratory and interactive. They do not hesitate to ask questions to the teachers and refute others’ ideas logically. They also love to work in a group and carry out the projects. They consider classroom as the place for discussion and sharing ideas facilitated by teachers.

But in contrary to this, in Nepal, students, in general, are not creative and critical. This applies to my students too. They hesitate to participate in the classroom interaction. They solely rely on teachers and take what teachers say as a granted. They do not engage themselves into an exploratory learning. In think, one of the fundamentals reasons behind this is lack of resources. Since there are only classes and teachers as a source of knowledge, they are obliged to be a passive recipient of what teachers say. They do not even believe that they can cerate and construct knowledge through interaction and discussion in the classroom.

Against this backdrop, technology, of course, can be a useful source to address different (not single) learning styles of the students. But it is wrong to assume that technology only addresses what learning styles students have. It also helps them change their styles or strategies for better learning. Just to give a few examples, Blogs help students to be a reflective and an analytical learner. This is similar to what we are doing now. We are not only discussing the importance of technology in language teaching/learning but also reflecting on what we learn during the whole week. At the same time, we are reading each others’ reflection on the course which helps us to be more reflective and critical.

Richard M. Felder and Barbara A. Soloman argue that a reflective learner keeps quiet, and think more before doing a task. They prefer to work alone. On the other hand, an active learner reads the texts, explores and understands information, explains them and discusses with others. This clearly indicates that technology promotes active learning skill. It also makes the passive learners active. Just for an example, we are doing so many thorough reading, writing and sharing among friends. We are following various websites which are useful for our students. We are giving the materials to them and see the effectiveness of the materials. This process makes us more active as well as reflective.

Other three categories of learning strategy as provided by Felder and Barbara are: sensing and intuitive, visual and verbal, and sequential and global. In my opinion, technology can address all these strategies. Technology provides a lot of materials for both visual and verbal learners which are relevant to local culture and context. I remember http://www.cctv.com (China Central Television) posted by Wang in which we could see many videos and texts related to the Chinese culture which are relevant to the sensing learners. At the same time, the idea of WebQuests and technology-integrated project works are relevant to the intuitive learners who always try to bring innovations in their learning process. However, it does not mean that project works and WebQuests are only tools to bring innovations. What I think is that technology itself is not an innovation for teaching. We should always think about how it can be integrated in language teaching. Technology could be a great source for teachers as they could get a huge amount of materials for their students who would like to be innovative and explore more information to learn.

Technology also provides many videos from different websites (e.g. YouTube, BBC, Voice of America) which are useful for the visual learners. We can download videos and use as a model of teaching pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar and language skills. Similarly, there we can access texts on various issues with the help of technology. We can download them and provide to our students to read. This process addresses the aspiration of the verbal learners.

Moreover, technology provides materials for teaching specific aspects and skills of language. We can use these materials to teach vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, reading, writing, speaking, and listening one at a time. This process enhances the sequential learning skill of the students. However, this process sometimes does not seem effective as it does not integrate aspects and skills of language which may not be fruitful for the global learners. But technology also provides the materials which can be used for learning the ‘whole’ of language. For example, through WebQuests we can provide students to read, listen to and write the text. We can also ask them to present their ideas orally.

The above discussion indicates that technology addresses different learning styles of the students. It does not deal with one style at a time but also addresses more than one style. Moreover, technology does not only address the existing styles of the learners but also develop new and better learning styles.
However, I argue that in order to address different learning styles, we should be aware of our learners’ learning styles. We should also evaluate which materials are useful and relevant to the level and background of our students. What I want to argue is that technology itself does not address the learning styles; it is a teacher who should have a good understanding of technology and the resources provided by it to use in the classroom.

Overall, technology promotes better learning by addressing and integrating various learning styles and helping them to form new and better styles for language learning. Friends, what do you think?

Cheers
Prem

References

Canagarajah, S. (2002). Globalization, methods and practice in periphery classrooms. In Block, D. and Cameron, D. (Eds.) Globalization and language teaching. London: Routledge.
Felder, R.M. and Soloman, B. A. (n.d.). Learning styles and strategies. Available at http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/ILSdir/styles.htm.
Oxford, R. (1990). Language learning strategies: What every teacher should know. New York: Newbury House.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Reflection: Week 5

Dear All

Every week is a new week! Every week, a new knowledge!!

This is what I am feeling until now. There are so many things to explore for our students. The more we go into the sites the more we make a thread of the unlimited resources. It is very difficult to articulate what exactly I learned since there are tons of things I did last week. It was overwhelming indeed.

First, I got an opportunity to go through various technology-integrated projects and WebQuests. Going through various links and posts shared by friends, I learned that technology provides a large number of projects for our students which we can use to develop their language skills, make them aware of various issues/contents and build the habit of exploratory learning.

The project works and WebQuests give students more freedom to learn. Likewise, teachers are not considered as the source of knowledge or authority rather they are co-learners or facilitators for the students.

We also discussed different issues ranging from the lack of motivation to read and write to cheating in the examination. We had insightful discussions on how technology helps to solve these problems. I learned that there are many tools and resources which we can obtain from technology to enhance our teaching skills and help our students learn more.

The most important and exciting thing I leaned was creating the WebQuest. I had heard about it before but I had never learned how to create and use it for the classroom purposes. Although I struggled a lot to design it, when I designed one, I realised that I accomplished something. I got chance to go through the wonderful WebQuests designed by friends to teach different skills and aspects of language.

I also went through various websites shared by friends which provided me many insights on teaching English. I will be using them for various purposes. The idea of using controversial issues in the classroom is what I like most to develop critical thinking skills of students.

Cheers
Prem

Friday, 7 May 2010

"Ever cried for your country?"

FULL TEXT OF ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN THEKATHMANDU POST

"Ever cried for your country?"
By BAN WHI MIN


Nepalese complain about the caste system and corrupt officers. They openly vent their anger against the government. But have they ever thought About Nepal's real problems? I believe that they have not. I want to say that Nepal's real problems are lack of patriotism among the people and lack of love for one another. This is the conclusion I have reached during my stay. This summer, I did voluntary work from July 5 to July 30 at FHI Ever Vision School, Matatirtha, Kathmandu.

Let me first tell you about my country, Korea. This might help you understand my point. Just after the Korean War, which claimed lives of more than 5 million Koreans, Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world. Without natural resources, Korea had no choice but to desperately struggle for its survival by all means. Under this gloomy situation, Koreans envied other Asian countries like Japan, Taiwan, and Nepal. Korean government officials were horribly corrupt. With the dual classes of Yangban (nobles) and Sangnom(peasants), Korean society was sickening day by day. However, Koreans, having determination to become rich, overcame the unfair social structure and put the country onto the track of development. When the former president Park Jung Hee took over the government, there were few factories in Korea. Korea could not attract loans or expect foreign investments. Under these circumstances, President Park 'exported' miners and nurses to then West Germany. The salaries that they earned were used to building factories and promoting industrialization of Korea. In 1964, when President Park visited then West Germany, the miners and nurses asked the president when the Koreans would become rich. The president replied, crying with the miners and nurses, that someday the Koreans would become rich.

Many of Korean scientists and engineers, who could just enjoy comfortable lives in the United States, returned to Korea with only one thing in their mind: the determination to make Korea the most powerful and prosperous country in the world. They did their best even though their salaries were much less than what they would have received in other countries. The Koreans believed that they have the ability to change their desperate situation and that they must make the country better, not only for themselves but also for the future generations yet to come. My parents' generation sacrificed themselves for their families and the country. They worked 14 hours a day, and risked their lives working under inhumane conditions. The mothers, who went to work in factories, fed their babies while operating machines in dangerous environments. They always tried to teach their children the true value of 'hard work'. Finally, all of these hard works and sacrifices made the prosperous Korea that you see now. Nepalese! Have you ever cried for your country? I heard that many of Nepali youth do not love their Nepal. I also heard that they want to leave Nepal because they don't like caste system, or because they want to escape the severe poverty. However, they should be the first ones to voluntarily work for Nepal's development, not the first ones to complain and speak against their country.

I have a dream that someday I would be able to free the souls from suffering from the underdeveloped countries, anachronistic customs and the desperate hunger. My belief has become stronger than ever after seeing the reality in Nepal.

A child with a fatal disease who doesn't have enough money to buy a pill; a child living in what seems like a pre-historic dwelling and not having the opportunity to receive education; and a student who cannot succeed, no matter how hard he studies, just because of the class he comes from. A society, in which wives not only take care of children but also work in the fields, while their husbands waste their time doing nothing; a society in which a five-year-old must labour in a brick factory to feed herself. Looking at the reality of Nepal, I was despaired, yet this sense of despair strengthened my belief. I already know that many of the Nepalese are devout Hindus. However, nothing happens if you just pray to hundreds of thousands of gods while doing nothing. It is the action that you and Nepal need for the better future. For Nepal and yourselves, you have to show your love to your neighbours and country just as you do to Gods. You know that your Gods will be pleased when you work for the development of your country and improvement of your lives. Therefore, please, love your neighbours and country. Teach your children to love their country. And love the working itself. Who do you think will cry for your Nepal? Who do you think will be able to respect the spirit of Himalayas and to keep the lonely flag representing it? You are the ones responsible for leading this beautiful country to a much brighter future. This responsibility lies on you.

(The writer is a 15 year-old student of Hankuk Academy of Foreign
Studies, South Korea).

"Ever cried for your country?"

FULL TEXT OF ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN THEKATHMANDU POST

"Ever cried for your country?"
By BAN WHI MIN


Nepalese complain about the caste system and corrupt officers. They openly vent their anger against the government. But have they ever thought About Nepal's real problems? I believe that they have not. I want to say that Nepal's real problems are lack of patriotism among the people and lack of love for one another. This is the conclusion I have reached during my stay. This summer, I did voluntary work from July 5 to July 30 at FHI Ever Vision School, Matatirtha, Kathmandu.

Let me first tell you about my country, Korea. This might help you understand my point. Just after the Korean War, which claimed lives of more than 5 million Koreans, Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world. Without natural resources, Korea had no choice but to desperately struggle for its survival by all means. Under this gloomy situation, Koreans envied other Asian countries like Japan, Taiwan, and Nepal. Korean government officials were horribly corrupt. With the dual classes of Yangban (nobles) and Sangnom(peasants), Korean society was sickening day by day. However, Koreans, having determination to become rich, overcame the unfair social structure and put the country onto the track of development. When the former president Park Jung Hee took over the government, there were few factories in Korea. Korea could not attract loans or expect foreign investments. Under these circumstances, President Park 'exported' miners and nurses to then West Germany. The salaries that they earned were used to building factories and promoting industrialization of Korea. In 1964, when President Park visited then West Germany, the miners and nurses asked the president when the Koreans would become rich. The president replied, crying with the miners and nurses, that someday the Koreans would become rich.

Many of Korean scientists and engineers, who could just enjoy comfortable lives in the United States, returned to Korea with only one thing in their mind: the determination to make Korea the most powerful and prosperous country in the world. They did their best even though their salaries were much less than what they would have received in other countries. The Koreans believed that they have the ability to change their desperate situation and that they must make the country better, not only for themselves but also for the future generations yet to come. My parents' generation sacrificed themselves for their families and the country. They worked 14 hours a day, and risked their lives working under inhumane conditions. The mothers, who went to work in factories, fed their babies while operating machines in dangerous environments. They always tried to teach their children the true value of 'hard work'. Finally, all of these hard works and sacrifices made the prosperous Korea that you see now. Nepalese! Have you ever cried for your country? I heard that many of Nepali youth do not love their Nepal. I also heard that they want to leave Nepal because they don't like caste system, or because they want to escape the severe poverty. However, they should be the first ones to voluntarily work for Nepal's development, not the first ones to complain and speak against their country.

I have a dream that someday I would be able to free the souls from suffering from the underdeveloped countries, anachronistic customs and the desperate hunger. My belief has become stronger than ever after seeing the reality in Nepal.

A child with a fatal disease who doesn't have enough money to buy a pill; a child living in what seems like a pre-historic dwelling and not having the opportunity to receive education; and a student who cannot succeed, no matter how hard he studies, just because of the class he comes from. A society, in which wives not only take care of children but also work in the fields, while their husbands waste their time doing nothing; a society in which a five-year-old must labour in a brick factory to feed herself. Looking at the reality of Nepal, I was despaired, yet this sense of despair strengthened my belief. I already know that many of the Nepalese are devout Hindus. However, nothing happens if you just pray to hundreds of thousands of gods while doing nothing. It is the action that you and Nepal need for the better future. For Nepal and yourselves, you have to show your love to your neighbours and country just as you do to Gods. You know that your Gods will be pleased when you work for the development of your country and improvement of your lives. Therefore, please, love your neighbours and country. Teach your children to love their country. And love the working itself. Who do you think will cry for your Nepal? Who do you think will be able to respect the spirit of Himalayas and to keep the lonely flag representing it? You are the ones responsible for leading this beautiful country to a much brighter future. This responsibility lies on you.

(The writer is a 15 year-old student of Hankuk Academy of Foreign
Studies, South Korea).

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Blogging

I agree with Susana that a blog has created a collaborative environment for learning. There is no doubt that a blog can be an affective tool to enhance a group learning atmosphere which ultimately makes a learner an autonomous learner. As Stanley (2005) argues that a blog does not only develop students' reading ability but also develops their writing ability. Writing in the blog for example enhances learners' ability to write for the peers and other real-life audiences but not only for their teachers as it happens in the traditional way of writing. The most important point in Stanley's article is that the use of the blog involves the students in a process-based writing. But I doubt with Susan's question (in her posting) – whether blogging can be art. Yes, it can be an art as you can upload photographs and make it more attractive with different designs and images. However, when students focus more on the art they might be focusing on technology which may not help in language learning as Santana (2010) argues that 'technology doesn't help you learn; interaction helps you learn' and ' [we should] focus on the activities, not on the technology'. This clearly indicates that Stanley's article lacks a comprehensive discussion on how the blog can be more interactive and activity focused. What sort of task should be designed to make the blog more interactive is an important issue at this point.

I also agree with all of the previous postings especially of Naveda that we can integrate all four language skills through the blog. Moreover, we can also teach different aspects of a language e.g. vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation through the blog. We can create different class blogs where students have to find out the meaning of the new words from their course and make one meaningful sentence of their own using the words. When they put their example sentences in the blog other students come up with different sentences for the same word. This develops students' vocabulary and grammar simultaneously through collaboration.

Among the three blogs (Teaching ESL to Adults, ESL Class Blog and Larry Ferlazzo's blog) the first two are better than the third one. It is because the first two blogs provide more varieties of tasks so that students can interact each other. At the same time, they have a lot of reflection on the lessons both from the teachers and students which I think is useful for improving our teaching for better students' learning. But, as others have already commented in the blog, the third blog tends to make only a list without providing any practical tasks for the students. This comparison indicates that if the blog or any technology does not make learners active, social, and it is not learner-centered, there is no point in using technology in the calssroom (Oblinger and Oblinger, 2005). Based on this, I argue that I should use the blog not only for information sharing but also for engaging students in a meaningful interaction. For this, I use post the task for the students in the blog along with some sample activities and invite their concrete comments on them. And then, I ask all of them to reflect on the usefullness the tasks they were involved in.

Sincerely yours
Prem

References
Oblinger, D., & Oblinger, J. (2005). Is it age or IT? In D. &. Oblinger, Educating the NET Generation. Washington, DC: EDUCAUSE.
Santana, D. (2010) Points to consider when using technology in the classroom. Available online at http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2010/sessions/2010-04-08/points-consider-when-using-technology-classroom-1.

On CCTV

Dear Wang and All

I went through the website http://www.cctv.com (China Central Television) which you used for your teaching. I went through the videos of different Chinese cultures and arts. They are wonderful! Thank you for sharing your ideas and making us know about the Chinese culture and arts.

I agree with your ideas to introduce the Chinese culture listening texts to the Chinese students. There are many advantages of using local cultures in English language teaching. First, the use of local cultural texts in the classroom motivates students to learn English as it reflects their values and beliefs. When we talk about motivation, it should be defined as a value-based drive rather than traditional achievement-based one. I have also used the Nepalese cultural texts (videos and passages) in my classroom. What I have found is my students interacted more in the group and pair work activities related to the local culture. Since they get chance to listen to or read the texts from their own culture and society, it gives a sense of relevance of learning English.

Another important point is that since the texts represent diverse cultural backgrounds, such listening or reading texts also help maintaining intercultural communication. Such texts also encourage students to share their own culture in the post-listening stage. This process integrates the listening and speaking skills at the same time.

However, while adapting such cultural texts teachers need training on how to handle multicultural texts. Moreover, there is always a question of authenticity in using local cultural texts. Whether the language used to interpret such cultural texts represents the culture is another issue to discuss.

With regards
Prem

On CCTV

Dear Wang and All

I went through the website http://www.cctv.com (China Central Television) which you used for your teaching. I went through the videos of different Chinese cultures and arts. They are wonderful! Thank you for sharing your ideas and making us know about the Chinese culture and arts.

I agree with your ideas to introduce the Chinese culture listening texts to the Chinese students. There are many advantages of using local cultures in English language teaching. First, the use of local cultural texts in the classroom motivates students to learn English as it reflects their values and beliefs. When we talk about motivation, it should be defined as a value-based drive rather than traditional achievement-based one. I have also used the Nepalese cultural texts (videos and passages) in my classroom. What I have found is my students interacted more in the group and pair work activities related to the local culture. Since they get chance to listen to or read the texts from their own culture and society, it gives a sense of relevance of learning English.

Another important point is that since the texts represent diverse cultural backgrounds, such listening or reading texts also help maintaining intercultural communication. Such texts also encourage students to share their own culture in the post-listening stage. This process integrates the listening and speaking skills at the same time.

However, while adapting such cultural texts teachers need training on how to handle multicultural texts. Moreover, there is always a question of authenticity in using local cultural texts. Whether the language used to interpret such cultural texts represents the culture is another issue to discuss.

With regards
Prem

Pronunciation through technology

Dear All
I went through the website of BBC Learning English
http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/pron/. I found the page 'The Sounds of English' http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/pron/sounds/ quite useful.
This site is useful for the primary level students. However, any other level of students of the English as a foreign language can be benefited from the site.

The site primarily enhances better pronunciation of the students. All sounds, both consonants and vowels, of English are given in the website along with their pronunciation. The sounds have been further categorised into long, short and diphthongs in the case of vowels. Likewise, the consonants sounds have been put under voiceless, voiced and other sounds. Since the students can also listen to the sounds, their listening skill will also be enhanced. Moreover, this site provides the examples of /I/, /i:/, /u/, /u:/ and some other vowels at the word level in five different units. This helps the students to pronounce the words correctly.

Overall, the site is relevant to the level of primary students. By using the site, students can practice the pronunciation of all English sounds. However, the site does not provide the word level examples of all sounds. The pronunciation of sounds in isolation sometimes create problem especially when the students make a sound-symbol correlation. Sometimes, the same symbol is pronounced differently and sometimes the same sound is represented by different symbols. Similarly, the site does not give any minimal pair examples (e.g. fan and van) which enable students to discriminate and identify correct sounds. It would have been better if there were examples of the sounds at different position on the word (e.g. initial, middle and final).

Besides these lacunas, the site is useful for the students to improve their pronunciation.

With regards
Prem
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>..
Dear Prem,
This is my teaching philosophy when using technology with my students. I consider tech as a tool only, to show them the path that will lead them, by their own, to go autonomously, forward for more exploration.

I have used my favourite website for pronunciation with a group of engineers in a training course. Do you believe that they sent me after the coursed ended, maybe weeks later, that they still used it in their free time? If you are interested you can have a look at it here:

I agree with you that BBC Learning English is very beneficial for students.

You wrote "It would have been better if there were examples of the sounds at different position on the word (e.g. initial, middle and final)." I cannot agree more. For example, this website pronounces words with photos. It's suitable only for young learners.

You also wrote "Sometimes, the same symbol is pronounced differently and sometimes the same sound is represented by different symbols.". How about this website:


It gives you an idea of the sounds of American English. I hope you will find it useful. Even website offering services like: do not work properly and may waste students' time trying to shorten phrases or re-edit a word.

Regards, Hala

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Dear Hala
Thank you for your comment on my post. What I wanted to say about the web page I have discussed in my previous post was: the page does not provide any example of the occurrence a particular sound at word middle and final level. It only provides examples at word initial level.

Moreover, sound-symbol correlation is tricky in English which poses a great problem for my students. For example, 'ch' is pronounced as /tS/ in 'chocolate' 'choice' but /k/ in 'chorus'. My point is that although the website is useful, there is no doubt, it'd been better if there are some examples of such variations in pronunciation.

Cheers
Prem

Lesson Plan with technology

Dear All
Following is my lesson plan with technology

Class (name, type of student): 20 M.Ed. students (who are appearing for their practice teaching sessions)

Duration: 2 hours

Materials
Technology component downloaded from/accessed in class at: Required materials will be downloaded from http://www.nepalhumanrightsnews.com/news.asp?id=1221 (For reading texts)
and http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/1003/100309-internet_access.html (Fir model lesson plan)

Other material:
Chart paper

Introduction
Review of previous lesson: Briefly talk about the theories behind teaching reading and major types of reading which were discussed in the previous lesson.

Objectives of this lesson (tell students about them):
At the end of the lesson students will be able to design a lesson plan for teaching intensive reading.

Procedure
Presentation (teacher or student), including key vocabulary

1.Introduce the class with a brief talk on what a lesson plan is and its importance.
2.Introduce key vocabulary items: warmer, presentation, objective, learning style, pre-reading, while-reading, post-reading and evaluation.
3.Introduce the lesson in brief.

Activity (student)

1.Ask students the following questions and discuss in a pair.
a)What is an intensive reading?
b)How can it be fostered?
c)Should grammar and vocabulary be focused in an intensive reading? Why or why not?
d)What are the major points to be focused on while planning a lesson for the intensive listening?
2.Provide the lesson plan downloaded from http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/1003/100309-internet_access.html and ask them to do the following activities:
a)What are the major components of the lesson plan?
b)What are the purposes of each component?
c)Ask them to read the text again and do the activities given in the lesson. (They will read the text for each component of the lesson)
3.I will provide them a text from http://www.nepalhumanrightsnews.com/news.asp?id=1221
and ask them to design the similar kind of exercises for the each component of the previous lesson plan (Gorup work)
4.Ask them to share their ideas with other groups.
5.Ask them to work in a group and discuss how the model of the lesson plan they are already familiar with is different from present one. Also ask them which is more effective and how for teaching reading?
6.Ask them to share their ideas among the group.

Learning styles addressed: Group work, pair work, intensive reading

Technology alternative (in case things don't work as planned): Show them some more examples of the lesson plan from the website mentioned above.

Review before the end of the class session:
Ask the students to work in group and reflect on what they learned in the lesson.

Homework:
Go through the website http://www.nepalhumanrightsnews.com/news.asp?id=1221, find a text related to any issue and design the lesson plan for teaching intensive reading to the secondary level students. For more information go through http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/1003/100309-internet_access.html

Comment
The template of the lesson plan provided by the University of Tennessee indicates that there is a difference between the technology integrated lesson plan and the plan without technology. First, in the technology integrated lesson, the source of where ideas come from is clearly stated. Since there are alternative websites for the same lesson, there is more chance of giving the lesson a variety. However, the effectiveness of technology enhanced lesson plan depends largely upon the access to technology both for the teachers and students.

I could see many differences between the lesson plan that I have been following and the template I have used here. I have been following PPP (Presentation, practice and production) which, as I reflect now, does not provide freedom to do activities. Moreover, the PPP model does not provide any chance for the reflection on the lesson from the part of the students which is crucial to make students realize the importance of what they learned. But in this new template, I could see that component. In the same way, since the technology integrated template provides a source for exploring more lesson plans or materials, it seems to promote the learner autonomy.

Sincerely yours
Prem

Technology for reading and writing

Dear Deborah, Sueanne and All

I went through Liao's (1999) article 'E-mailing to Improve EFL Learners' Reading and Writing Abilities: Taiwan Experience' (http://iteslj.org/Articles/Liao-Emailing.html ) which highlights the importance of e-mailing in developing reading and writing skills of students. The ideas discussed in the article can be used for all levels of students especially for those who can write e-mails. To be specific, I use this idea with the Bachelor level students who are doing their course on Reading, Writing and Critical Thinking. Since my students have easy access to e-mails than other technological tools, they can use e-mail to share their ideas.

Based on the experiences of working with Taiwanese students, Liao argues that the students who join Computer Pals Across the World (CPAW) do not only develop their communicative competence but also intercultural competence through e-mails. This means students do not only share their ideas and experiences but also share their culture with the people from other cultural backgrounds. This indicates that the use of e-mail enhances students' ability to communicate effectively with people from other cultures.

Moreover, students have to use appropriate mechanics (e.g. punctuation), correct grammar, cohesive devices and style while e-mailing people from other cultures. This will of course develop their writing skill. At the same time, in order to answer the queries and know more about other cultures, they have to read the e-mails sent by the friends. In this sense, e-mailing is the useful tool to integrate both reading and writing skills.

Similarly, as students have to communicate with people from other countries they will be motivated to read their e-mails and write about their own culture. On the one hand, this will maintain intercultural communication and on the other hand, this will make students aware of their own culture which is called 'reflexive impact'.

However, the article does not mention much about the process of providing feedback to the students' writing. There is no detail account of how e-mailing develops intercultural competence as there is no any description of testing the intercultural competence in the article. Moreover, the focus on fluency rather than accuracy may create the fossilisation of learning grammar.

Another useful article is by Belisle (1996) E-mail Activities in the ESL Writing Class (http://iteslj.org/Articles/Belisle-Email.html). I found the idea of the article useful for my students. Belisle argues that by using e-mail, teachers can provide task in a group and monitor their activities closely. One of the most important points in using e-mail is it makes writing more focused and audience-oriented. Students have to write something keeping in mind that other friends read what they write.

I found 'Operfect paragraph' and 'Chain stories or sentences' more useful for my students. The former involves students in the writing process. They do not only write a paragraph but also edit and fine tune it. This process also enables students to edit their own language. Moreover, such an activity enhances language awareness of students. Similarly, the second activity engages them in developing a complete story by contributing one line of the story. On the one hand, this activity involves the students in a meaningful interaction and on the other hand, it develops the ability to use language cohesively and coherently which is one of the important aspects of writing.

Overall, both articles provide insightful ideas and activities for using e-mail to develop reading and writing skills of the students. However, both articles lack discussion on how to establish a good rapport and interaction among the students in a group. They do not discuss much about the role of teacher for making the writing and reading more effective.

The ABCD objective to go with these articles is: Provided that students are given access to these articles (C), my students (A) will write one e-mail a week (D) sharing their ideas, stories and edit the paragraph (B).

Sincerely yours
Prem

References
Belisle, R. (1996). E-mail activities in the ESL writing class. The Internet TESL Journal, 2(12). Available at http://iteslj.org/Articles/Belisle-Email.html.
Liao, C. (1999). E-mailing to improve EFL learners' reading and writing abilities: Taiwan experience. The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. V, No. 3. Avaibale at http://iteslj.org/Articles/Liao-Emailing.html

Technology for reading and writing

Dear Deborah, Sueanne and All

I went through Liao's (1999) article 'E-mailing to Improve EFL Learners' Reading and Writing Abilities: Taiwan Experience' (http://iteslj.org/Articles/Liao-Emailing.html ) which highlights the importance of e-mailing in developing reading and writing skills of students. The ideas discussed in the article can be used for all levels of students especially for those who can write e-mails. To be specific, I use this idea with the Bachelor level students who are doing their course on Reading, Writing and Critical Thinking. Since my students have easy access to e-mails than other technological tools, they can use e-mail to share their ideas.

Based on the experiences of working with Taiwanese students, Liao argues that the students who join Computer Pals Across the World (CPAW) do not only develop their communicative competence but also intercultural competence through e-mails. This means students do not only share their ideas and experiences but also share their culture with the people from other cultural backgrounds. This indicates that the use of e-mail enhances students' ability to communicate effectively with people from other cultures.

Moreover, students have to use appropriate mechanics (e.g. punctuation), correct grammar, cohesive devices and style while e-mailing people from other cultures. This will of course develop their writing skill. At the same time, in order to answer the queries and know more about other cultures, they have to read the e-mails sent by the friends. In this sense, e-mailing is the useful tool to integrate both reading and writing skills.

Similarly, as students have to communicate with people from other countries they will be motivated to read their e-mails and write about their own culture. On the one hand, this will maintain intercultural communication and on the other hand, this will make students aware of their own culture which is called 'reflexive impact'.

However, the article does not mention much about the process of providing feedback to the students' writing. There is no detail account of how e-mailing develops intercultural competence as there is no any description of testing the intercultural competence in the article. Moreover, the focus on fluency rather than accuracy may create the fossilisation of learning grammar.

Another useful article is by Belisle (1996) E-mail Activities in the ESL Writing Class (http://iteslj.org/Articles/Belisle-Email.html). I found the idea of the article useful for my students. Belisle argues that by using e-mail, teachers can provide task in a group and monitor their activities closely. One of the most important points in using e-mail is it makes writing more focused and audience-oriented. Students have to write something keeping in mind that other friends read what they write.

I found 'Operfect paragraph' and 'Chain stories or sentences' more useful for my students. The former involves students in the writing process. They do not only write a paragraph but also edit and fine tune it. This process also enables students to edit their own language. Moreover, such an activity enhances language awareness of students. Similarly, the second activity engages them in developing a complete story by contributing one line of the story. On the one hand, this activity involves the students in a meaningful interaction and on the other hand, it develops the ability to use language cohesively and coherently which is one of the important aspects of writing.

Overall, both articles provide insightful ideas and activities for using e-mail to develop reading and writing skills of the students. However, both articles lack discussion on how to establish a good rapport and interaction among the students in a group. They do not discuss much about the role of teacher for making the writing and reading more effective.

The ABCD objective to go with these articles is: Provided that students are given access to these articles (C), my students (A) will write one e-mail a week (D) sharing their ideas, stories and edit the paragraph (B).

Sincerely yours
Prem

References
Belisle, R. (1996). E-mail activities in the ESL writing class. The Internet TESL Journal, 2(12). Available at http://iteslj.org/Articles/Belisle-Email.html.
Liao, C. (1999). E-mailing to improve EFL learners' reading and writing abilities: Taiwan experience. The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. V, No. 3. Avaibale at http://iteslj.org/Articles/Liao-Emailing.html