English language learning course

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Introduction

English in India has become an aspirational issue in education determining opening or closing of schools, enrolment of government versus private schools and so on. Learning in mother tongue and the associated impact on learning skills and attainments in different fields is still being debated among educationists, it is also true that English proficiency still determines mobility and employment opportunities in many ways, for a combination of reasons. Further, in India, it is important to recognize that English needs to be understood in the context of a multi-lingual language context.

Language learning is now widely recognised as having two objectives – one of communicative competencies and using language for learning. English is no different and the Position Paper on Teaching of English recommends a similar approach for the teaching of English. In the context of a country like India where there are multiple languages, English is not to be seen stand alone but in the context of multiple languages.

Yet another context in which the learning of English is being explored here is in the increasing use of digital technologies also referred to as Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in this article. ICT provide methods of creating and communicating in multiple formats and present new opportunities for building language competencies. Digital platforms also now make it possible to create multiple educational resources which can be offered to learners using multiple methods – combining physical and virtual means. This presents new possibilities and pathways for designing curricular materials and instructional design for learning English.

It is against this backdrop that this course on English learning has been developed. The course has been developed as a series of course modules focusing on building language competencies in English as well as using English for learning. These modules can be attempted in sequence or independently.

Objectives

  1. To understand different approaches to early language learning – both first language and second language; and the role of multilingualism in supporting language learning
  2. To understand/ reinforce the different objectives and processes of language learning and the role of technology in this
  3. To identify areas and modules for teacher development to support English learning - that support their own English proficiency as well as develop English learning strategies for their classroom contexts
  4. To identify resource needs and plan for their creation, revision, curation and publishing
  5. To develop resources using multiple tools - H5P, Open Board, animation applications, and audio visual tools – for language teaching learning
  6. To develop structured modules for an understanding of the basis of English language learning as well as provide strategies for the teacher/ student to explore language in all its dimensions – the listening, speaking, reading and writing – using technology, and integrate these with the textbooks for languages
  7. To explore new digital tools and applications for language learning - especially for students with special learning needs (visual and auditory impairments) To develop a plan for the language program for the school development program of IT for Change
  8. To develop a plan for the language program for the TCOL 3rd phase - through workshops, onsite demonstrations and resource sharing

Who can use this course

  1. The course is intended to be transacted in multiple contexts - of different levels of English in the environment and differing levels of teacher proficiency. The materials can be used for lower primary, higher primary or high schools.
  2. The course can be used by teachers in formal schools - rural or urban, government or private - at different levels based on their contexts.
  3. The course can also be used as a simultaneous learning program for teachers and students in rural and / or tribal or urban sum contexts where teacher proficiency may be lower in English. The activities proposed will contain variants to allow such a transaction.
  4. The program would be useful for other (Kannada, Hindi, Telugu etc) language teachers as well, the program aims to develop similar course for teachers of other languages
  5. The program would also be useful to teachers teaching Mathematics, Science, Social Science and other subjects through the English medium of instruction.
  6. The program can also be used by teacher educators working in the area of language teaching

Core principles of language learning adopted

The core principles of language learning have been based on different approaches and methods tried in English learning in India and elsewhere, as well as based on widely accepted theories of language development. A techno-pedagogic integration has been attempted across multiple methods to bring the affordances of digital technologies to bear on language learning competencies.

  1. English learning must focus on two dimensions - communicative competence and using language for learning. Building communicative competencies takes priority over using language for learning. English will be presented in the context of a prevailing multi lingual language environment and not create or perpetuate any hegemonies of English over the local language (NCF Position Paper on Teaching of English)
  2. Stephen Krashen's theory of Second Language Acquisition is the approach used for developing the language curriculum and the following are the guidelines for developing the curriculum
    1. The English learning environment will create an environment that allows the child to acquire language in ways and methods that they have acquired the first language, believing that the child will want to use language contexts for meaningful interaction
    2. The focus will be on hearing and producing; and seeing and producing. The child's first language / mother tongue/ local language are used to support the meaning making from the English language interactions. This is to be distinguished from the translation method.
    3. Phonetics based approaches integrating hearing and seeing as methods of learning the sounds and combinations of sounds to make words. Wherever possible and relevant Montessori methods for early language learning have been adopted into the development of the curriculum
  3. ICT are regarded as a new language and different ICT tools and methods are used for exploring communicative possibilities as well as in the creation of a resource rich environment
  4. Children who come to different English language learning environments come with different levels of competence in English, based on the environment they are surrounded by. This impacts both their levels of language acquisition as well as their perceived benefit from learning English. The learning modules are therefore to be developed to support a multi-level learning even in a single-age classroom
  5. Teacher proficiency and beliefs about English language learning are critical to influence for creating a meaningful context for English language acquisition. The curriculum will therefore also focus on this.

Course design

The course is conceptualized as a series of modules which can be attempted independently or in sequence. Each course module will have several units along which the concepts will be organized. The units have been designed to be transacted as a whole but it is possible for different units and modules to be combined to address the needs of specific contexts. Each unit will consists of a group of lessons, objectives (learning outcomes), intended audience, activities, resources required. It can also have optional/alternative activities and extensions.

The following is an initial list of modules being offered in this course.

Module 1 - An overview of different language learning approaches and associated methods

Objectives
  1. To introduce teachers to different theories and approaches of language learning
  2. To develop an insight into the ways children process and learn languag
Audience
  1. Teachers in different contexts
  2. Teacher educators
Resources
  1. Summarized readings of works of leading linguists and educators
  2. Videos/ recordings of different classroom approaches
  3. Examples:
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tXzNjAfTwI
    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBsyq7_RPNk
Units
Unit 1 -

Module - Sounds and scripts

Objective
  1. Introducing script (which is an arbitrary artefact)
  2. Introducing the connection between script and sound (which is a second arbitrary item)
  3. Combination of sounds and scripts
  4. Sensitizing the ear layer to the sound and shapes
Audience
  1. Young children.  Early/ any daily classes
  2. Reinforcement for adults (useful for second language learning)
Materials (content)
  1. Script, the drawing of the letters, the sound associated with the letter is available on TOER - H5P resources, click here
  2. Words using the letter, audio of the words, images of the word also available
  3. Alternate sources of materials
Activities / processes (pedagogy)

Self learning, can browse through the letters and hear the sounds and register

Activities / processes (assessment)
  1. Self assessment - Quiz oneself - identify sound on seeing the letter.
  2. Hearing the sound and writing the letter

Listening to sounds and building vocabulary

Audience

  1. 1 year children.  Early/ any daily classes. Useful for second language learning)
Materials (content)
  1. Simple words, commonly used words - audio of the words, images of the word (no focus on script) to register and build vocabulary - available on TOER - H5P resources, click here
  2. Concrete items which are commonly used/accessed/seen
  3. Basic verbs
  4. Word categories - animals, plants, relationships - See a list in this spreadsheet
  5. Simple sentences
Activities / processes (pedagogy)

Self learning, can hear the sounds of the words and register

Activities / processes (assessment)
  1. Self assessment - Quiz oneself - identify sound on seeing the letter.
  2. Hearing the sound and writing the letter
Variation

For second language learning, for each word, the translation and transliteration of the word can be provided in the first language. This can make acquiring the second language vocabulary easier/quicker. Available on TOER - H5P resources, click here

Module - Listening to simple audio stories

Objective
  1. Deepen knowledge of language by broadening vocabulary, with sentence construction, set of sentences comprising a simple story
Materials
  1. Simple short stories as audio clips - Available on TOER - H5P resources, click here
  2. Alternate sources of materials - Pratham story viewer
Activities / processes (pedagogy)

Self learning, can hear the story and understand

Variation

Simple set of visuals that complement the story.

Module - Beginning reading - reading materials

Objective
  1. Introducing to the construction of letters and sound make meaning and form words
  2. Vocabulary building using the knowledge of scripts and sounds
  3. Build fluency in reading
Audience
  1. Young children
  2. For second language resources to learn vocabulary

Module - Language word list

  1. With pictures – pictures
  2. With pictures and word
  3. Only word – word
  4. Pictures  - Advance reading – L1 – L2 -L3 -

Module - Level 2 – Simple stories

Objective
  1. Reading to make meaning
  2. Reading for pleasure
  3. Introducing Grammar Implicit
Audience

Level 2 children