Barbara Sawhill gave an engaging two-hour interactive talk last Friday to TESOL/TFL students on the importance of renouncing a “multi-paged, intricately detailed, iron-clad syllabus” and replacing it with a student-centered, participatory class outline with collaborated class goals between the students and teacher. Barbara teaches Spanish at Oberlin College and is the Director of the Cooper International Language Center.
photo from: cogdogblog
Barbara renounces the old Factory Model of Education, which in her opinion lacks a context for students’ learning. This “Fordist” classoom is out of touch with the world around it and sees students as empty vessels who simply absorb and memorize, rather than experience and create.
As an educator, Barbara sees her job as “making this experience [in the classroom] as meaningful for you [the student] as possible”. She insists that as educators, we need to listen and model for students what we expect of them. As learners, we don’t need to simply find all of the answers, but learn how to create “really well-rounded, thoughtful questions”.
Four questions that Barbara asks her students at the beginning of each term are:
In December, the Principles and Practices in Language Education classes came together and showcased some of their knowledge on educational macrostrategies that they had been studying over the semester. The Kumar Trade Fair (named after B. Kumaravadivelu) has become a tradition for the TESOL/TFL students and represents a chance for the students to talk to people outside of the language education department about different teaching approaches.
For the Trade Fair, a small team of students designed and demonstrated a series of tasks that students could do as part of a language lesson. Some of the tasks included tasting salads to learn about different food cultures, thinking about dream jobs, and learning about cultural differences through watching a Saturday Night Live skit.
After the Trade Fair, the students gathered and discussed what they had learned from the Trade Fair, and most students agreed that it was interesting to see how a single macrostrategy could be represented in so many different ways. A member from another department mentioned that she had always considered her own department to be the one that tried to “save the world”, but she was pleased and surprised to see that the language education students were also creating activities which worked toward the same goal.
This past weekend GSTILE students, faculty and staff attended a five-hour workshop on corpus linguistics and concordancing, presented by Susan Conrad, an alumna of the MIIS TESOL program, and now a faculty member in the Department of Applied Linguistics at Portland State University.
Susan Conrad, corpora and concordancing workshop
Susan’s workshop focused on the use of corpora for language teachers, and covered both software programs and web-based resources.
MIIS TESOL alumna Janine Poreba recently received news that her Applied Linguistics Research (ALR) project will be published in the Winter 2010 issue of the CATESOL Journal. She writes,
Recently, I dusted off my ALR project (“Negotiation Strategies in Two-Way Conversation Partnerships: Their Use and Usefulness”) and re-read it. I’m working at Santa Monica College, and some colleagues and I are starting a Conversation Exchange Program here, so I wanted to see if I’d uncovered any useful information back in my grad school days. Sure enough, I had, and what’s more, the paper was still interesting to read. I made some changes and submitted it to the CATESOL Journal, and I just found out that it’ll be published in their Winter 2010 issue.
Congratulations, Janine! And thanks to Kathi Bailey for passing along the news.