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Re: [TDSIG] Another newbie

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  • Maggie Holmes
    I am also new so forgive me if I have come in at the tail end of a lengthy exchange. Following on from the first Sandra (is that one person writing to herself,
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 2, 2001
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      I am also new so forgive me if I have come in at the tail end of a lengthy exchange.
       
      Following on from the first Sandra (is that one person writing to herself, or two?!), I had a very similar experience with diary writing in Turkey. I did an experiment so that students could choose to have their journal corrected in the usual way, or to receive a 'natural' response without correction, as if letters were being exchanged (again, confidential). Those who saw themselves as serious students chose the former option, but without fail their writing dried up after one or two attempts.  Most of those who chose the dialogue option continued writing for weeks and sometimes months. Yes, it was an awful lot of work, but yes, I did see improvement over time. However, I have recently offered the same choice to a group of mainly Chinese students, and the corrected diaries seem to be continuing. This may be chance, but it may well show cultural differences in the approach to learning.
       
      Which brings me to your discussion of MI.  The growing awareness of MI seems to be having very positive results in terms of enlivening the classroom and reminding us that not everybody learns in the same way. But, I confess, I am a sceptic. Isn't this yet another attempt to categorise the parts of the human mind and/or intelligence in such a way that is unlikely to be demonstrable empirically?  Is it realistic to try to break down something which functions as an organic whole?  Even if we accept that there are separate parts of the mind, how does MI theory help to show how they interrelate? Presumably we could go on ad infinitum adding whichever new intelligences occurred to us. I am reminded of previous discoveries which seem to have receded from view, such as right-brained/left-brained; memory-based/analytic/even; field dependent/field independent; holist/generalist/serialist; visual/aural/kinaesthetic ... and so on and so forth.  When I remember to pay attention to MI theory, my teaching does seem to improve. But I suspect this is not because the theory is valid, but because the students appreciate a bit of variety!
       
      Following on from this, it perplexes me that in a profession which works almost entirely with groups of people, we have chosen to focus so much on individual psychology.  We talk so much at present about individual learning styles etc, but I have come across very little on how to work successfully with groups. There is a wealth of research and literature on this subject in other disciplines - why don't we use it? 
       
      Please, someone, reply!
       
       
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Sandra Fraser
      Sent: 25 November 2001 10:54
      To: TDSIG@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [TDSIG] MI
       





      Hello

      I  too am new to the list and really wanted to reply to Sandra's request for help with  motivating Japanese learners. I worked with monolingual groups of Japanese students in the  UK for two and a half years and really struggled for the first six months as I seemed to be fighting against a wall of silence all the time. Instead of giving in to their seeming demands for traditional teaching methods, we compromised and combined what they had been used to with what they were expecting from a UK classroom. Sue Leather's Safety and Challenge recognises this need to gradually introduce them to a different way of learning; they come to the Uk expecting to encounter a more communicative style and indeed many acknowledge that this is what they need after so many years of formal grammar study but it doesn't necessarily follow that they will be able to cope with such a paradigm shift.

      In the conversation course, we built up to freer communicative practice through memorisation of dialogues, substitution, conversation techniques (from starting a conversation , expansion, turntaking, nominating), conversational gambits to arranging for opportunties to put it all into practice through interaction with native speakers. The students often felt ridiculous or embarrassed speaking English to each other and so this put up affective barriers in the classroom. As the students shared accommodation with British students, it was always possible for them to find "real" people to speak to.

      As for writing, we tried to draw on their own experiences as much as possible, using their year in the UK in particular. The compromise you've reached regarding their diairies sounds good. Surely there are only so many times they can go to the cinema! I tried to get my students to keep diairies but it was a constant battle at first to keep it going. Those who continued with it would write things like what they had done at the weekend and also make some observations about how they had seen / heard English used outside the classroom. they could then ask about these notes during their weekly tutorials.

      I think it is especially important to adopt an MI approach for Japanese learners if only to allow them to find out which learning styles they prefer. After so many years of studying a language in the traditional way, it may help them to see that they are much better learners than they had previously thought.

      Anyway, hope this helps. Are the students going on to study for a degree at St. Andrews?

      Bye for now,

      Sandra

      >From: Sandra Piai
      >Reply-To: TDSIG@yahoogroups.com
      >To:
      >Subject: [TDSIG] MI
      >Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2001 11:50:06 +0100
      >
      >From: Sandra Piai
      >Date: Friday, November 23, 2001 11:37 am
      >To:
      >Subject: MI
      >
      >Hi Everyone
      >
      >I'm afraid like Robin I've been rather quiet up until now for various
      >reasons, so let me introduce myself. My name's Sandra Piai and I am
      >co-editor of the Sig Newsletter along with Kate. I work at the University of
      >St Andrews where I am involved in teacher training and also teach Japanese
      >students intending to enter the univeristy next year. So if anyone has any
      >experience of, or ideas for, encouraging Japanese students to be more
      >communicative in the classroom I'd be eternally grateful!
      >
      >Regarding the MI thread, I've been interested in MI for the last two or
      >three years and have read quite a lot about it. Frames of Mind is the best
      >introduction to the theory and ideas behind it, but Multiple Intelligences
      >is also a good read. There is also a book called A Multiple Intelligences
      >Road to an ELT Classroom by Michael Berman published by Crown House
      >Publishing Ltd, Wales, and many, many others. I'll see if I can get a list
      >together over the weekend. There are also some articles on the TD SIG web
      >site unless Kate has removed them recently.
      >
      >The Naturalist Intelligence is, I agree, a bit of a 'problem'. Whilst easy
      >to integrate into classes under its classification heading, the link to
      >plants and wild life is somewhat dubious in my mind. The naturalist
      >intelligence is basically the ability to recognise things such as plants,
      >animals, etc on the one hand and clouds, rocks etc on the other, as parts of
      >the natural environment. Therefore when (or perhaps if) the student looks
      >for patterns in the world around him/her s/he should see order instead of
      >chaos. Therefore by noticing relationships between, ordering, categorising
      >and classifying language, eg separating sentences into two stories, sortng
      >words into different word groups, matching verb collocations etc we are
      >supposedly using our naturalist intelligence to a certain extent. (You
      >could always have background noises of cows mooing or birds singing I
      >suppose, but perhaps that's stretching it to its limit!). If you want to
      >know more, try reading Patterns and the Eighth Intelligence, published by
      >Zephyr Press.
      >
      >As for Diarmuid's other comments about Learner Diaries, I tried to persuade
      >my Japanese students to stop writing about what they had for supper last
      >night and which friend they went to the cinemas with and to reflect on their
      >classes, write what they feel they've learnt or not learnt in their lessons
      >and why they enjoy some and not others, but they went on strike as a result.
      >So now we have compromised on them keeping up their personal diaries, but
      >reflecting on classes once a week. However, I did have a very positive
      >experience of dialogue journals in Turkey, but that is a lot of work for the
      >teacher. You write a letter to each student in their journal/diary which
      >they have to reply to for homework, or even in class. You then reply again
      >but after that it's optional when the student replies, but you could make
      >three letters a term, for instance, a minimum. Nobody reads it but you, and
      >the student can write whatever he or she likes, but you must assure them of
      >the confidentiality. You do not correct anything (unless you want to), but
      >it is amazing, once the students get the idea, and their confidence
      >increases, how much they write and how their fluency improves. I also did
      >it with 12 year old elementary students in Spain. Predictably the boys
      >wrote mainly about football, so I wrote a few questions to try and veer the
      >writing away from that topic, and was successful in a few cases. It is very
      >time consuming, but not everyone writes at the same time and if I was really
      >busy I would write that and promise to write more next time. I found it
      >very rewarding.
      >
      >Sorry I didn't get any of this together in time for your assignment,
      >Diarmuid, but I'd be interested to read it!! And thanks for pumping new
      >life into this list.
      >
      >Sandra
      >
      >
      >


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    • Diarmuid Fogarty
      Welcome, Maggie, Don t worry about apologising! It would be nice if you *did* come in at the end of a lengthy exchange, but we don t seem to have had many
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 3, 2001
      • 0 Attachment
        Welcome, Maggie,
        Don't worry about apologising! It would be nice if you *did* come in at the end of a lengthy exchange, but we don't seem to have had many "lengthy" exchanges yet. There's hope yet though...
         
        As for your comments about MI, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that 'The growing awareness of MI seems to be having very positive results in terms of enlivening the classroom and reminding us that not everybody learns in the same way. '  That's what makes it a success.
         
        Gardner himself stressed that it was nothing more than a theory and stood to be disproved or modified by future researchers. Ultimately, of course, 'intelligence' is a tricky concept which can (and has) been used for purposes very far from the goals of education.
         
        I think a lot of the scepticism about MI comes from dodgy interpretations of what it means. Gardner didn't advise people to break down the organic whole, he stressed that the organic whole was made up of individual parts. At a time when people's 'intelligence' was being measured largely by discredited IQ tests, he probably did a favour to many students.
         
        In light of the many different theories, your scepticism is easily understood. However, the value of all of these theories is in the fact that they remind us/teach us that our classes are *not* homogenous groups, they are gatherings of individuals. It would seem that when we remember that, our teaching does seem to improve.
         
        That said, *my* scepticism gets the better of me when I hear about NLP. Anyone like to come to its defence?
         
         
        ----- Original Message -----
        Sent: Monday, December 03, 2001 1:00 AM
        Subject: Re: [TDSIG] Another newbie

        I am also new so forgive me if I have come in at the tail end of a lengthy exchange.
         
        Following on from the first Sandra (is that one person writing to herself, or two?!), I had a very similar experience with diary writing in Turkey. I did an experiment so that students could choose to have their journal corrected in the usual way, or to receive a 'natural' response without correction, as if letters were being exchanged (again, confidential). Those who saw themselves as serious students chose the former option, but without fail their writing dried up after one or two attempts.  Most of those who chose the dialogue option continued writing for weeks and sometimes months. Yes, it was an awful lot of work, but yes, I did see improvement over time. However, I have recently offered the same choice to a group of mainly Chinese students, and the corrected diaries seem to be continuing. This may be chance, but it may well show cultural differences in the approach to learning.
         
        Which brings me to your discussion of MI.  The growing awareness of MI seems to be having very positive results in terms of enlivening the classroom and reminding us that not everybody learns in the same way. But, I confess, I am a sceptic. Isn't this yet another attempt to categorise the parts of the human mind and/or intelligence in such a way that is unlikely to be demonstrable empirically?  Is it realistic to try to break down something which functions as an organic whole?  Even if we accept that there are separate parts of the mind, how does MI theory help to show how they interrelate? Presumably we could go on ad infinitum adding whichever new intelligences occurred to us. I am reminded of previous discoveries which seem to have receded from view, such as right-brained/left-brained; memory-based/analytic/even; field dependent/field independent; holist/generalist/serialist; visual/aural/kinaesthetic ... and so on and so forth.  When I remember to pay attention to MI theory, my teaching does seem to improve. But I suspect this is not because the theory is valid, but because the students appreciate a bit of variety!
         
        Following on from this, it perplexes me that in a profession which works almost entirely with groups of people, we have chosen to focus so much on individual psychology.  We talk so much at present about individual learning styles etc, but I have come across very little on how to work successfully with groups. There is a wealth of research and literature on this subject in other disciplines - why don't we use it? 
         
        Please, someone, reply!
         
         
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Sandra Fraser
        Sent: 25 November 2001 10:54
        To: TDSIG@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: [TDSIG] MI
         





        Hello

        I  too am new to the list and really wanted to reply to Sandra's request for help with  motivating Japanese learners. I worked with monolingual groups of Japanese students in the  UK for two and a half years and really struggled for the first six months as I seemed to be fighting against a wall of silence all the time. Instead of giving in to their seeming demands for traditional teaching methods, we compromised and combined what they had been used to with what they were expecting from a UK classroom. Sue Leather's Safety and Challenge recognises this need to gradually introduce them to a different way of learning; they come to the Uk expecting to encounter a more communicative style and indeed many acknowledge that this is what they need after so many years of formal grammar study but it doesn't necessarily follow that they will be able to cope with such a paradigm shift.

        In the conversation course, we built up to freer communicative practice through memorisation of dialogues, substitution, conversation techniques (from starting a conversation , expansion, turntaking, nominating), conversational gambits to arranging for opportunties to put it all into practice through interaction with native speakers. The students often felt ridiculous or embarrassed speaking English to each other and so this put up affective barriers in the classroom. As the students shared accommodation with British students, it was always possible for them to find "real" people to speak to.

        As for writing, we tried to draw on their own experiences as much as possible, using their year in the UK in particular. The compromise you've reached regarding their diairies sounds good. Surely there are only so many times they can go to the cinema! I tried to get my students to keep diairies but it was a constant battle at first to keep it going. Those who continued with it would write things like what they had done at the weekend and also make some observations about how they had seen / heard English used outside the classroom. they could then ask about these notes during their weekly tutorials.

        I think it is especially important to adopt an MI approach for Japanese learners if only to allow them to find out which learning styles they prefer. After so many years of studying a language in the traditional way, it may help them to see that they are much better learners than they had previously thought.

        Anyway, hope this helps. Are the students going on to study for a degree at St. Andrews?

        Bye for now,

        Sandra

        >From: Sandra Piai
        >Reply-To: TDSIG@yahoogroups.com
        >To:
        >Subject: [TDSIG] MI
        >Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2001 11:50:06 +0100
        >
        >From: Sandra Piai
        >Date: Friday, November 23, 2001 11:37 am
        >To:
        >Subject: MI
        >
        >Hi Everyone
        >
        >I'm afraid like Robin I've been rather quiet up until now for various
        >reasons, so let me introduce myself. My name's Sandra Piai and I am
        >co-editor of the Sig Newsletter along with Kate. I work at the University of
        >St Andrews where I am involved in teacher training and also teach Japanese
        >students intending to enter the univeristy next year. So if anyone has any
        >experience of, or ideas for, encouraging Japanese students to be more
        >communicative in the classroom I'd be eternally grateful!
        >
        >Regarding the MI thread, I've been interested in MI for the last two or
        >three years and have read quite a lot about it. Frames of Mind is the best
        >introduction to the theory and ideas behind it, but Multiple Intelligences
        >is also a good read. There is also a book called A Multiple Intelligences
        >Road to an ELT Classroom by Michael Berman published by Crown House
        >Publishing Ltd, Wales, and many, many others. I'll see if I can get a list
        >together over the weekend. There are also some articles on the TD SIG web
        >site unless Kate has removed them recently.
        >
        >The Naturalist Intelligence is, I agree, a bit of a 'problem'. Whilst easy
        >to integrate into classes under its classification heading, the link to
        >plants and wild life is somewhat dubious in my mind. The naturalist
        >intelligence is basically the ability to recognise things such as plants,
        >animals, etc on the one hand and clouds, rocks etc on the other, as parts of
        >the natural environment. Therefore when (or perhaps if) the student looks
        >for patterns in the world around him/her s/he should see order instead of
        >chaos. Therefore by noticing relationships between, ordering, categorising
        >and classifying language, eg separating sentences into two stories, sortng
        >words into different word groups, matching verb collocations etc we are
        >supposedly using our naturalist intelligence to a certain extent. (You
        >could always have background noises of cows mooing or birds singing I
        >suppose, but perhaps that's stretching it to its limit!). If you want to
        >know more, try reading Patterns and the Eighth Intelligence, published by
        >Zephyr Press.
        >
        >As for Diarmuid's other comments about Learner Diaries, I tried to persuade
        >my Japanese students to stop writing about what they had for supper last
        >night and which friend they went to the cinemas with and to reflect on their
        >classes, write what they feel they've learnt or not learnt in their lessons
        >and why they enjoy some and not others, but they went on strike as a result.
        >So now we have compromised on them keeping up their personal diaries, but
        >reflecting on classes once a week. However, I did have a very positive
        >experience of dialogue journals in Turkey, but that is a lot of work for the
        >teacher. You write a letter to each student in their journal/diary which
        >they have to reply to for homework, or even in class. You then reply again
        >but after that it's optional when the student replies, but you could make
        >three letters a term, for instance, a minimum. Nobody reads it but you, and
        >the student can write whatever he or she likes, but you must assure them of
        >the confidentiality. You do not correct anything (unless you want to), but
        >it is amazing, once the students get the idea, and their confidence
        >increases, how much they write and how their fluency improves. I also did
        >it with 12 year old elementary students in Spain. Predictably the boys
        >wrote mainly about football, so I wrote a few questions to try and veer the
        >writing away from that topic, and was successful in a few cases. It is very
        >time consuming, but not everyone writes at the same time and if I was really
        >busy I would write that and promise to write more next time. I found it
        >very rewarding.
        >
        >Sorry I didn't get any of this together in time for your assignment,
        >Diarmuid, but I'd be interested to read it!! And thanks for pumping new
        >life into this list.
        >
        >Sandra
        >
        >
        >


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