Tuesday, September 21, 2010

CIP: Never Been To A Hill

Every Wednesday right after lunch I teach a combined class of first and second graders. The differences in their respective language abilities make for a challenging teaching environment but it is through classes such as this one that one becomes a better teacher. On this particular sunny day we were learning the names of different locales in preparation for more advanced sentence structures that will come in the following weeks. The flashcards that I used to facilitate learning included one of each of the following: a pond, a lake, a stream, a river, a hill, a mountain, and a beach. Just by reading the title one will know what the focus of this particular post will be about.

As I presented the flashcards to the students, I questioned them to see if they comprehended the locales and had them raise their hands if they had been to the locale in question. The homeroom teacher also provided a translation for the more ambiguous flashcards. All of the students raised their hands for all of the flashcards until I came to the picture of a hill. For some reason, one of the first graders was very adamant about not having been to a hill. I tried to explain to the student that the school itself is on a hill and the homeroom teacher provided a translation for the student but that wasn't enough. He sat there shaking his head as if to say, "nothing doing".

I reckon that because of the way the concept of a hill was being shown the student may have had trouble with it. It seemed straight forward to me and the other students but apparently not to that particular student. That student's concept of a hill differed from what was being shown and that led him to believe that he had never been to one. 

I believe that one of the meanings that could derived from the student's reaction is not everyone will view the same picture or even the same assignment in the same manner. Because every student's experience is different the way that one perceives an object can and often will be different from others. 

Teachers must remember at all times that things are relative. There is no one way of seeing things. This means that teachers shouldn't take anything for granted when presenting new content to students. Teachers should keep an open mind and should always try to see things from multiple angles. This is especially relevant for EFL teachers.  

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Paraphrasing to avoid plagiarism

I wholeheartedly agree with the part of the plagiarism article that talks about how difficult it can be for non-native and native English speakers to come up with acceptable paraphrases. I believe this to be especially true for individuals that do not particularly enjoy writing. Often I find myself wondering if I have changed the sentence around enough that it can now be considered something new and it is usually at those times I opt to use quotes instead.

For writers that are using English as their L2, I surmise that the process could be all the more challenging. But I do think that it could be a way to help them develop or further their language skills. It could potentially force them to think more in English and that would boost their cognitive skills.