Scottish Languages Review Issue 14

Issue 14 - 01/08/2006

The first contribution comes from Robin Adamson who reviews The Experience of Language Teaching by Rose M. Senior.  Whilst the language teachers in question all teach English, Adamson points out that there are a number of points here that apply to all teachers, irrespective of which language they teach.

The teachers in Senior’s book all believe in the benefits of the Communicative Teaching Methodology, but as you’ll see from the article by Gillian Campbell this strategy is not universally accepted.  Gillian took a year out to work for the VSO in China and she describes the conditions for learning and teaching English in the province of Xingyi – a real eye opener!  Coincidentally, in June Sheila McLachlan from Scottish CILT interviewed a number of Chinese foreign language assistants, who spoke about their contrasting experiences of learning English in China and teaching Chinese in Scotland.  A number of the points raised by Gillian are confirmed by the assistants. You can read a summary of their comments – they should provide plenty of stimuli for discussion.

In her article, Claire Bleasdale reports on the successful collaboration with Support for Learning staff that helped to increase the self-confidence and self-esteem in a group of low achievers. Val Thornber presents another strategy to improve confidence amongst language learners.  She calls it ‘Progression through High Frequency Words’ using communicative methods but also emphasising the need for understanding language structures.  These two articles are also good examples of the aims espoused by the national ‘Assessment is for Learning’ initiative.

The pupil perspective of language learning is explored in depth by Terry Lamb.  His article expands on the talk he presented at the Scottish CILT conference in January 2005, Language Learners, Their Strategies and Their Voices.  The comments made by the ‘Grafters’, the ‘Angry Victims’, the ‘Sophisticates’ and the ‘Frustrated’ allow us to gain a better understanding of the different ways in which these four groups construct their language learning experience.

Finally, Hazel Crichton reports on her visit to Bilingual Schools in Vienna where pupils are taught part of their curriculum in English.  As Hazel points out, this ties in well with Do Coyle’s article in SLR Issue 13 about CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning). Hazel highlights the benefits of the Vienna approach and concludes that a number of the strategies employed could be transferred to the Scottish context, particularly in view of ‘Curriculum for Excellence'.

Review of Rose M. Senior (2006) The Experience of Language Teaching, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge Language Teaching Library)

Robin Adamson, University of Western Australia

Download full article as PDF - The Experience of Language Teaching

From Stevenston to Xingyi

Gillian Campbell, Holyrood Secondary School

As a teacher of Modern Languages, one is constantly being faced with new challenges such as motivating pupils, using ICT, covering a curriculum, CPD, citizenship, 5-14, and formative assessment. As a teacher and teacher trainer in the second poorest province in China, I wondered if I would be faced with the same thing.

Download full article as PDF - From Stevenston to Xingyi

Working Together for Inclusion

Claire Bleasdale, Kemnay Academy

At the Scottish CILT Aberdeenshire Outreach conference in March 2005 and again at a local Aberdeenshire INSET day in May 2005, Hilary McColl gave a talk on Inclusive Approaches in Modern Languages.  She is a Project Consultant for Working Together for Inclusion (WTI).  This is an in-school project, which aims to improve access to the Modern Languages curriculum through professional collaboration. At Kemnay Academy, we are still in the enviable position of having every pupil in the school study at least one modern language until the end of S4, and by offering Italian as a ‘fresh start’ to the most disaffected from S3 we ensure, as far as possible, that courses are matched to pupils’ needs, and motivation levels are as high as possible.  That’s the theory, at least.

Download full article as PDF - Working Together for Inclusion

Progression through High Frequency Words

Valerie Thornber, Language teacher, Preston Lodge High School

The purpose of this paper is to look at the importance of High Frequency Words (HFW) in language learning and how they can be incorporated into a progressive methodology.  The author demonstrates that the use of HFW can be a powerful tool as they provide pupils with a range of essential words for receptive and productive use. HFW enhance communicative and grammatical competence thus increasing motivation as the learner becomes confident in their ability to deconstruct language. ‘Progression through HFW’, presented in this paper, offers a structured learning approach which uses HFW as the platform for progression. The result is a self-reliant student who is able to use these key words in an increasing range of contexts.

Download full article as PDF - Progression through High Frequency Words

Listening to learners’ voices: on task knowledge in language learning

Terry Lamb, University of Sheffield

This article focuses on one aspect of a larger research project carried out in a secondary school in England, which explored the relationships between motivation and learner autonomy in language learning. After a brief contextualisation and description of the research, the article turns to a rich description of learners’ constructions of language learning, in particular the nature and purpose of language learning as they believe it should be and as they experience it in their classrooms. The article concludes that we have much to learn from listening to our learners’ voices, and that we need to find ways of involving them much more in their language learning experiences. 

Download full article as PDF - Listening to learners’ voices: on task knowledge in language learning

Vienna Bilingual Schools Programme

Hazel Crichton, University of Glasgow

There are many strategies used by different countries to teach English and other foreign languages. The model described below is one of a variety employed by the Vienna Board of Education: the Vienna Bilingual Schooling programme (VBS). This particular model has proved very successful in terms of pupils’ attainment, not only in English, but also overall, according to Stuart Simpson, Project Manager, of the Europabűro of the Vienna Board of Education (2006).

Download full article as PDF - Vienna Bilingual Schools Programme

University of Strathclyde Education Scotland British Council Scotland The Scottish Government
SCILT - Scotlands National centre for Languages