Academic Writing Instruction at English Teacher Training Colleges

Magdalena Oz ̇arska
Poland
Some Suggestions for
Academic Writing Instruction at English Teacher Training Colleges
It is a cliché to say that teaching writing skills in English is no easy job. This is not just how students feel, but lamentably is also an opin- ion shared by many English teachers (particularly at the college level), who dread the weekly stack of composi- tions to be marked. Another problem for teachers is that writing classes nec- essarily involve some repetition and thus boredom ensues; after all, how many exciting essays can be assigned, discussed, and graded, and what vari- ety of procedures can be used for that purpose? For many writing instructors, these issues are amplified when teach- ing English for Academic Purposes (EAP) at the advanced level. Learning to write in an academic context in English is a tremendous challenge for students because to master the writ- ing style requires an understanding of an academic text’s logic, structure, and formal vocabulary. To teach aca- demic writing effectively means deal- ing with time-consuming processes of drafting and revising while facing the real deadline of producing an accept-
able final composition. Thankfully, there are many resources and ideas that teacher trainers can draw on, and this article will offer a handful of sug- gestions to make the writing process more manageable.
Writing courses for teachers- to-be
At the advanced level, it takes a large investment of class time to reach the point where teacher trainees are able to use rhetoric and mechanics to write quality academic texts, includ- ing argumentative, persuasive, exposi- tory, and technical essays. A principal objective is to make the trainees pro- ficient in the use of the academic register, as the audience that they and their future students will write for are English teachers at the college level. This means they will have to eventu- ally know the cohesive structure of academic texts, as well as the special- ized vocabulary, formal grammatical features, and how to appropriately
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quote, summarize, and paraphrase from sources.
In an academic writing course for future English teachers, the instructor’s attention is clearly divided between the process of writ- ing and producing a final text. The process approach, which gives trainees indispensable insight into what writing in English will be like for their future students, covers stages such as generating ideas, drafting, evaluating, redrafting, and error correction (White and Arndt 1991). If writing focuses solely on pro- ducing a product by strictly following models and relying on teacher-centered instruction on technique, there is a tendency to neglect the development of essential writing skills that students will need for the long-term. Nevertheless, the final product is always a main concern because being able to produce one is mandatory if trainees are to obtain their teaching qualification and their prospective students are to succeed in college.
Time constraints and the process approach
There is no doubt that the process approach to writing works well with teacher trainees because it increases their confidence by mak- ing them aware of the several stages needed before the final product can materialize. The question is how to balance the need to effec- tively teach these processes with the final goal of creating a product. A major drawback is that the stages of the process approach usually require more time than seems available. The two suggestions below deal with this problem by providing more time for working on the processes of draft generation, revision, evalua- tion, and error correction.
Use of the warm-up period
Initially, in order to give a choice to my students, I usually allow a selection of two or three topics to write on. What students wish to include is decided in pairs, with little, if any, interference from me, as long as the outlines are clear and logical. First drafts are then produced in pairs or small groups, which usually exhausts a 90-minute class. The class periods that follow deal with completing the first draft based on feedback and revision until the final draft is produced and graded. To use time more efficiently, some process activities can be completed by devoting the warm-up
period of each class to reviewing previous drafts, responding to homework paragraphs, revising a work in progress, or having students write a short summary of either their own or another student’s composition.
Use of peer error correction
Error correction of students’ writing also creates time pressure, which is relieved by hav- ing students grade each other’s papers. Error correction at the advanced level should be done through this peer correction procedure, which is clearly more beneficial to learners than exclusive feedback from the teacher (Ur 1996; Adams-Tukiendorf and Rydzak 2003). A specific peer editing strategy to make error correction more efficient is to have one group of peer editors focus on one aspect—whether it be organization, logic, vocabulary, or gram- mar—and have other groups focus on other aspects.
Nevertheless, it is important to realize that error correction can sometimes cause more problems than it fixes. Over the years, I have observed that Polish students find it difficult to respond to others’ writing by ask- ing thought-provoking questions or making useful statements that inspire their peers to improve a composition, although some of them do try to imitate the comments I use when evaluating their writing. What students are prone to do instead is correct with red ink all the mistakes they find. Many teachers do this as well because they are trained to focus on language accuracy and often consider it necessary to identify all types of errors, includ- ing spelling and punctuation, that are less important than the organization of content or quality of ideas. This is a problem because correcting everything can discourage students and actually inhibit their writing. According to Leki (1995, 4), “there is probably no aspect of higher education more antithetical to using a process approach to teach writing than the requirement to grade student writing.” For this reason selective error correction is com- monly advocated by methodologists (Byrne 1992; Harmer 2001; Ur 1996). With selective correction, it is important to mark only those errors that distort meaning. When students are trained in how and what to correct, peer feedback and the use of anonymous mistake sheets definitely contribute to a “nonthreaten- ing environment” (Leki 1998, iv).
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Despite the obvious advantages of teaching and learning writing as a process, the prod- uct-related question remains: “What tasks should be used to get the students into the habit of expressing themselves academically, objectively, and impersonally?” It does not help that students only read a limited number of academic texts during their first two years of college, inside or outside of class. Indeed, if any are assigned, the language is generally felt to be too demanding and thus discourages students. Consequently, a lot of stress must be put on regular in-class practice, usually in the form of workshops. To help students engage in the processes of writing and move towards a final product, teachers must think about the best ways to access and develop materials that motivate students to write.
Finding appropriate texts for academic writing tasks
It is not easy to find academic ready-to- use materials to suit the particular needs of English teacher trainees, although there are several excellent writing books that offer texts and tasks fitting a wide range of academic disciplines, such as Trzeciak and Mackay (1994), Walker (1997), Jordan (1997; 1999), and Heffernan, Atwill, and Lincoln (2000) to name a few. Obviously, teachers must review these books because different sections will apply to different students. As one of the leading college writing experts in Poland put it, there is a need for selective use of writing handbooks because they “are intended for an audience ranging from students and teachers to researchers” (Macpherson 2004, 7).
In addition to these books, there is also a need for supplemental course-related materi- als to teach advanced academic writing to trainees. It must be stressed at this point that the seemingly simplest option—i.e., setting trainees to work with fragments of their own diploma projects in progress—may mean that the writing instructor is doing part of the project supervisor’s job, which is inappropri- ate and pointless. Therefore, I will share some of the tasks that I have used successfully with college students over several years. I have devised and tested the following tasks for use with either pairs or groups, although they work equally well for individual practice. Each of the following three tasks may be followed
up with routine mistake worksheets, peer cor- rection, and additional academic summary or paraphrase tasks.
1. Reacting to an academic review. To practice the academic register in combina- tion with paraphrase and summary skills in short, timed exercises, I give students copies of brief reviews of language teaching resource and methodology books. After reading the reviews, the students have to imagine being the authors of the books under review and write one or two paragraphs that could come from the publication being reviewed. The easiest part to simulate is a passage from an introduction or a conclusion. This has worked well, as English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teaching terminology is familiar to trainees. As a follow-up, students exchange their work with others, who are then instructed to sug- gest a title for the book or to write the next one or two paragraphs, continuing what the first student wrote.
2. Comparing two academic articles. To instill in students the habit of reading aca- demic texts and skillfully incorporating the content into their own writing, I carefully select pairs of brief English Teaching Forum articles. To date I have most successfully used the “A View of the Past” reprint series from 2002 that features excerpts of several influential articles relating to EFL teaching methodology from past decades (Harshbarger 2002; Sullivan 2002). Topics have included conversation classes, authentic English versus classroom English, management of large class- es, and teaching strategies. Students receive two articles and then incorporate themes from both of them into one piece of writing. For example, they use two articles to describe how conversation classes can contribute to increased learner interest, or another pair of articles to write about problems connected with teaching large classes and possible solu- tions. I usually require that students cite each article once in the course of their own text. This task is conducted collaboratively and can also be used for examination purposes.
There are also other options for students to synthesize ideas from two sources. For instance, the instructor can provide several different definitions of two concepts, such as “literature” or “Old English,” and ask students to write about both concepts in a paragraph
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or essay while using paraphrase and a fixed number of properly acknowledged citations. Students may also be asked to juxtapose any two academic issues they can think of, such as two writers, two historical epochs, two lan- guage teaching approaches, and the like. This is effective as it allows them to select topics they are currently working on and with which they are very familiar.
3. Summarizing authentic academic essays. For a longer and more complex end-of-term exercise, likely to take about three classes, I select an authentic academic essay and pres- ent it, unabridged and untampered with, to the students. These model texts should ideally be intellectually controversial and thought-provoking. Some volumes of essays that have been popular with my students are Sutherland’s (1996) Is Heathcliff a Murderer?, Lerner’s (1975) An Introduction to English Poetry, Yule’s (2006) The Study of Language, as well as chapters from English and Ameri- can social history handbooks. After an initial period of vocabulary study and dictionary work, I divide the text and assign one or two paragraphs per pair or small group. The task is to summarize the text and to make sure to avoid plagiarism. When students are finished I collect the summaries and put them on one page without any improvement whatsoever. This page can then serve as a worksheet for error correction during the final class. (See the Appendix for an example of this task.)
In the previous three tasks the teacher’s role is that of organizer, prompter, resource, tutor, and finally, the assessor (Harmer 2001. The collaborative tasks are necessarily monitored by the instructor, who can offer guidance and helpful suggestions as needed. An obstacle to be avoided, however, is excessive reliance on the teacher’s advice by some student writers. Instead, there should be unlimited access to quality monolingual and bilingual dictionar- ies. (Students may require prior training to use them efficiently.)
Conclusion
As illustrated, the focus of my EAP writing classes is not only on process writing, but also on the finished product. I do agree with Yan’s statement that “the product approach still has some credibility because at some point there will be a final draft that requires attention
to grammar, spelling, and punctuation” (Yan 2005, 19). In addition to reducing the time required for use of the process approach, the techniques and strategies offered here moti- vate teacher trainees to engage in the difficult stages of academic writing and to produce a final draft. There is no problem using these techniques repeatedly because, as Showalter (2003) reassures us, teaching differs from scholarship because it “does not have to be original to be good” (9). Most importantly, if academic texts and supplemental exercises offer intellectual challenges and lie within the scope of the trainees’ academic interests, the benefits of tasks based on them will remain unquestionable.
References
Adams-Tukiendorf, M., and D. Rydzak. 2003.
Developing writing skills: A manual for EFL stu-
dents. Opole, Poland: Opole University Press. Byrne, D. 1992. Teaching writing skills. 2nd ed.
London: Longman.
Harmer, J. 2001. The practice of English language
teaching. 3rd ed. White Plains, NY: Longman. Harshbarger, L. 2002. A view of the past: The third decade (1973–1982). English Teaching Forum
40 (3): 40.
Heffernan J. A. W., J. Atwill, and J. E. Lincoln.
2000. Writing: A college handbook. 5th ed. New
York: Norton.
Jordan, R. R. 1997. English for academic purposes: A
guide and resource book for teachers. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
–––. 1999. Academic writing course. 3rd ed. Harlow,
UK: Longman.
Leki, I. 1995. Academic writing: Exploring pro-
cesses and strategies—Instructor’s manual. 2nd ed.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
–––. 1998. Academic writing: Exploring processes and strategies. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Lerner, L. 1975. An introduction to English poetry.
London: Edward Arnold.
Macpherson, R. 2004. English for academic purposes.
Warsaw: Polish Scientific Publishers.
Showalter, E. 2003. Teaching literature. Oxford:
Blackwell.
Sullivan, P. 2002. A view of the past: The first
decade (1963–1972). English Teaching Forum
40 (1): 20.
Sutherland, J. 1996. Is Heathcliff a murderer? Great
puzzles in nineteenth-century fiction. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
Trzeciak, J., and S. E. Mackay. 1994. Study skills for
academic writing: Student’s book. Harlow, UK:
Longman.
Ur, P. 1996. A course in language teaching: Practice
and theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Continued on page 40
English TEaching Forum | Number 1 2008 33

English Communicative Curriculum Design for the 21st Century

Sandra J. Savignon
UNITED STATES
Communicative Curriculum Design for the 21st Century

“YOU MAY NOT LOITER DOWNTOWN IN ICE CREAM STORES. You may not ride in a carriage or automobile with any man unless he is your father or brother. You may not dress in bright colors. You must wear at least two
petticoats. You must start the fire at 7 a.m. so the school room will be warm by 8 a.m.”
1915 Rules for Teachers
Goodland, Kansas
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What do you think of the 1915 Rules for Teachers? Do they seem somewhat strange or outdated? Do they make you smile? If you had been a talented new teacher in Good- land, Kansas in 1915, you most likely would have found these rules to be the mark of a school system with high standards. No doubt the standards set for students were as high as those set for teachers. Teachers in Goodland could count on students to be respectful and diligent in their work. Teachers, for their part, were expected to set a good example.
Teachers have always been expected to set a good exam- ple for learners, to provide a model of behavior. But as these rules from 1915 so clearly remind us, the model can and does change. What seems a good example in one time or place, a given context of situation, may seem quite strange or inappropriate in another time or place. And so it is with lan- guage teaching. Teachers have found many ways or methods for teaching languages. All have been admired models in some time or place, but perhaps have been ridiculed or dis- missed in other contexts. Times change, fashions change. What may once appear new and promising can subse- quently seem curious or inappropriate.
Within the last quarter century, communicative lan- guage teaching (CLT) has been put forth around the world as the new and innovative way to teach English as a second or foreign language. Teaching materials, course descrip- tions, and curriculum guidelines proclaim a goal of com- municative competence. In Japan, for example, the guide- lines published by the Ministry of Education in The Course of Study for Senior High School state the following objectives of ELT: “To develop students’ ability to under- stand and to express themselves in a foreign language; to foster students’ positive attitude towards communicating in a foreign language; and to heighten their interest in lan- guage and culture, thus deepening international under- standing” (Wada 1994:1). A senior advisor to the Ministry in promoting ELT reform in Japan, Wada (in press) explains the significance of these guidelines:
The Course of Study is one of the most important legal precepts in the Japanese educational system. It estab- lishes national standards for elementary and secondary schools.... For the first time it introduced into English education at both secondary school levels the concept of communicative competence.... The basic goal of the revision [is] to prepare students to cope with the rapid- ly occurring changes toward a more global society.
Parallel efforts are under way in Taiwan for similar rea- sons. Based on in-depth interviews of teacher educators, Wang (in press) reports on the progress:
Much has been done to meet the demand for competent English users and effective teaching in Taiwan. Current improvements, according to the teacher experts, include
the change in entrance examinations, the new curricu- lum with a goal of teaching for communicative compe- tence, and the island-wide implementation in 2001 of English education in the elementary schools. However, more has to be done to ensure quality teaching and learning in the classrooms. Based on the teacher experts’ accounts, further improvements can be stratified into three interrelated levels related to teachers, school authorities, and the government. Each is essential to the success of the other efforts.
How has CLT been interpreted?
By definition, CLT puts the focus on the learner. Learners’ communicative needs provide a framework for elaborating program goals in terms of functional competence. This implies global, qualitative evaluation of learner achievement as opposed to quantitative assessment of discrete linguistic features. Controversy over appropriate language testing mea- sures persists, and many a curricular innovation has been undone by failure to make corresponding changes in evalua- tion. Current efforts at educational reform favor essay writing, in-class presentations, and other more holistic assessments of learner competence. Some programs have initiated portfolio assessment in an effort to better represent and encourage learner achievement.
Although it now has a new name and is enjoying wide- spread recognition and research attention, CLT is not a new idea. Throughout the long history of language teach- ing there always have been advocates of a focus on mean- ing, as opposed to form, and of developing learner ability to actually use the language for communication. The more immediate the communicative needs, the more readily communicative methods seem to be adopted. In Breaking Tradition, Musumeci (1997) provides a fascinating account of language teaching reform efforts dating back to the Mid- dle Ages when Latin was the lingua franca. The book is a favorite of my students, who find it a refreshing and reas- suring reminder that discussions of methods and goals for language teaching by far predate the 21st century.
Depending upon their own preparation and experience, teachers themselves differ in their reactions to CLT. Some feel understandable frustration at the seeming ambiguity in discussions of communicative ability. Negotiation of mean- ing may be a lofty goal, but this view of language behavior lacks precision and does not provide a universal scale for assessment of individual learners. Ability is viewed as variable and highly dependent upon context and purpose as well as on the roles and attitudes of all involved. Some teachers wel- come the opportunity to select and develop their own mate- rials, and thereby provide their learners with a range of com- municative tasks. Also they are comfortable relying on more global, integrative judgments of learner progress.
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Shaping a communicative curriculum
In attempting to convey the meaning of CLT to both pre-service and in-service teachers of English as a second or foreign language in a wide range of contexts, I have found it helpful to think of a communicative curriculum as potentially composed of five components. These compo- nents may be regarded as thematic clusters of activities or experiences related to language use, which provide a useful way of categorizing teaching strategies. Use of the term component to categorize these activities seems particularly appropriate in that it avoids any suggestion of sequence or hierarchy. Experimentation with communicative teaching methods has shown that all five components can be prof- itably blended at all stages of instruction. Organization of learning activities into these components serves not to sequence an ELT program, but rather to highlight the range of options available in curriculum planning and to suggest ways in which their very interrelatedness benefits the learner. The five components are:
1. Language Arts
2. Language for a Purpose
3. My Language is Me: Personal English
Language Use
4. You Be..., I’ll Be...: Theater Arts 5. Beyond the Classroom
Language Arts
Language arts, or language analysis, is the first compo- nent on the list. Language arts includes those things that language teachers often do best. In fact, it may be all they have been taught to do. Language arts includes many of the exercises used in mother tongue programs to focus attention on formal accuracy. In communicative ELT, language arts focuses on forms of English, including syntax, morphology, and phonology. Familiar activities such as translation, dicta- tion, and rote memorization can be helpful in bringing attention to form. Vocabulary expansion can be enhanced by a focus on definitions, synonyms and antonyms, and where applicable, true and false cognates. Spelling tests, for example, are important if writing is a goal. Pronunciation exercises and patterned repetition of verb paradigms, accompanied by an explanation of morphosyntactic fea- tures, can be useful in focusing on form. There are also many language arts games that learners of all ages enjoy for the variety and group interaction they provide. So long as they are not overused and are not promoted as the solution to all types of language learning problems, language arts games can be found in a wide range of formats and are a welcome addition to a teacher’s repertoire.
Language for a Purpose
Language for a purpose, or language experience, is the second component on the list. In contrast to language analysis, language experience is the use of English for real
and immediate communicative goals. Not all learners are learning English for the same reasons. Attention to the spe- cific communicative needs of the learners is important in the selection and sequencing of materials. Regardless of how distant or unspecific the communicative needs of the learners may be, every program with a goal of communica- tive competence should give attention to opportunities for meaningful English use, to opportunities to focus on meaning rather than on form.
In an ESL setting, where English is the language outside the classroom, there is an immediate and natural need for learners to use English. Where this happens, purposeful lan- guage use is a built-in feature of the learning environment. In an EFL setting, where the teacher may have a language other than English in common with learners, special attention needs to be given to providing opportunities for English lan- guage experience. Exclusive use of English in the classroom is an option. In content-based instruction, the focus is other than the English language. The content is taught through the use of English. Immersion programs at the elementary, sec- ondary, or even university level, where the entire curriculum is taught in English, offer a maximum amount of purposeful language use (see Snow 2001). In addition, task-based cur- ricula are designed to provide learners with maximum oppor- tunity to use language for a purpose.
Learners who are accustomed to being taught exclusively in their mother tongue may at first be uncomfortable if the teacher speaks to them in English, expecting them not only to understand but perhaps even to respond. When this hap- pens, teachers need to take special care to help learners understand that they are not expected to understand every word, any more than they are expected to express themselves in native-like English. Making an effort to get the gist and using strategies to interpret, express, and negotiate meaning, are important to the development of communicative com- petence. For learners who are accustomed to grammar trans- lation courses taught in their mother tongue with an empha- sis on grammar and accuracy, the transition will not be easy. Kusano Hubbell (in press), a Japanese teacher of English in Tokyo, recounts some struggles in her determined effort to teach communicatively:
Many Japanese students have been taught that they have to know every word in a sentence or a phrase in order to understand a foreign language. They are not taught to use the strategies that they already use in their native Japan- ese, that is, to guess the meaning from the context. When the blackboard is full of writing and I am busy in class, I tell a student, “Please erase the blackboard!”, handing him an eraser and pointing to the dirty blackboard. If he does not move, it is not because he is offended. He just did not recognize the word “erase,” and to him that means he did not understand me. If he is willing to accept the ambiguity, he gets up and cleans the board.
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With encouragement and help from their teacher in devel- oping the strategic competence they need to interpret, express, and negotiate meaning, learners express satisfaction and even surprise. Kusano Hubbell (in press) goes on to report the pos- itive reactions she receives at the end of the term:
• “Completely different from any class I’ve ever had!”
• “I have never expressed my own ideas in English before. Work was always to translate this section, to fill in the blanks or read. It was all passive.”
• “In my career of English education from junior high to cram school there was no teacher who spoke English other than to read the textbooks.”
My Language is Me: Personal English Language Use
Personal English language use, the third component in a communicative curriculum, relates to the learner’s emerging identity in English. Learner attitude is, without a doubt, the single most important factor in learner suc- cess. Whether the motivations of a learner are integrative or instrumental, the development of communicative com- petence involves the whole learner. The most successful teaching programs are those that take into account the affective as well as the cognitive aspects of language learning. They seek to involve learners psychologically as well as intellectually.
In planning for CLT, teachers should remember that not everyone is comfortable in the same role. Within classroom communities, as within society at large, there are leaders and there are followers. Both are essential to the success of group activities. In group discussions, there are always some who seem to do the most talking. Often, those who remain silent in larger groups participate more readily in pair work, or they may prefer to work on an individual project. The wider the variety of communicative, or meaning-based, activities, the greater the chance for involving all learners.
Personal language use implies, above all, respect for learners as they use English for self-expression. Although language arts activities provide an appropriate context for attention to formal accuracy, personal English language use does not. Most teachers know this and intuitively focus on meaning rather than form as learners express their person- al feelings or experiences. Many textbooks and tests empha- size structural accuracy, however, so teachers may feel uncomfortable when they do not attend to those non- native-like utterances that do not impede the conveyance of meaning. An understanding of the importance of oppor- tunities for the interpretation, expression, and negotiation of meaning in CLT and of the distinction between lan- guage arts and personal language use can help to reassure teachers that the communicative practice they are provid- ing is important for learners.
Respect for learners as they use English for self-expres- sion requires more than simply restraint when they make formal errors that do not interfere with meaning. Respect
requires recognition that so-called “native-like” perfor- mance may not, in fact, even be a goal for learners. Lan- guage teaching has come a long way from audio-lingual days when “native” pronunciation and use was held up as an ideal for learners. Reference to the terms native or native-like in the evaluation of communicative competence is inappropriate in today’s post-colonial, multicultural world where nonnative speakers of English outnumber native speakers by at least two to one, a ratio that is rapid- ly increasing. We now recognize that native speakers are never “ideal” and, in fact, vary widely in range and style of communicative abilities, especially as the English language is increasingly used as a language of global communication. Moreover, the decision of what is or is not one’s native lan- guage is arbitrary and irrelevant for ELT and is perhaps best left to the individual concerned.
Since a personality inevitably takes on a new dimension through expression in another language, it needs to discov- er that dimension on its own terms. Learners should not only be given the opportunity to say what they want to say in English, they should be encouraged to develop an Eng- lish language personality with which they are comfortable. They may feel more comfortable maintaining a degree of formality not found in the interpersonal transactions of native speakers. The diary entry of a Japanese learner of English offers important insight on the matter of identity:
I just don’t know what to do right now. I might have been wrong since I began to learn English; I always tried to be better and wanted to be a good speaker. It was wrong, absolutely wrong! When I got to California, I started imitating Americans and picked up the words that I heard. So my English became just like Americans. I couldn’t help it. I must have been funny to them, because I am a Japanese and have my own culture and background. I think I almost lost the most important thing I should not have. I got California English, including intonation, pronunciation, the way they act, which are not mine. I have to have my own English, be myself when I speak English. (Preston 1981:113).
On the other hand, learners may discover a new free- dom of self-expression in their new language. When asked what it is like to write in English, a language that is not her native tongue, the Korean novelist Mia Yun (1998) replied that it was “like putting on a new dress.” Writing in Eng- lish made her feel fresh, see herself in a new way, offered her freedom to experiment. When expressing themselves in a new language, writers are not the only ones to experience the feeling of “putting on a new dress.” Personal language use calls for recognition and respect for the individual per- sonality of the learner.
You Be..., I’ll Be...: Theater Arts
Theater Arts constitutes the fourth component of a
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communicative curriculum. In the familiar words of Shakespeare (As You Like It, II, 7), “All the world is a stage.” And on this stage we play many roles for which we impro- vise scripts from the models we observe around us. Child, parent, sister, brother, employer, employee, doctor or teacher—all are roles that include certain expected ways of behaving and using language according to sociocultural rules of appropriateness. Familiar roles may be played with little conscious attention to style. On the other hand, new and unfamiliar roles require practice, with an awareness of how the meanings we intend are being interpreted by oth- ers. Sometimes there are no models. In the last half of the 20th century, women who suddenly found themselves in what traditionally had been men’s roles, whether as fire- fighters, professors, or CEOs, had to adapt existing models to ones with which they could be comfortable. And the transition is far from complete. By the end of the 21st cen- tury women will no doubt have many models.
If the world can be thought of as a stage, with actors and actresses who play their parts, theater may be seen as an opportunity to experiment with roles, to try things out. Fantasy and play-acting are a natural and important part of childhood. Make-believe improvisations familiar to chil- dren the world over are important to self-discovery and growth. They allow young learners to experiment, to try things out, like hats and wigs, moods and postures, gestures and words. As occasions for language use, role-playing and the many related activities that constitute theater arts are likewise a natural component of language learning. They allow learners to experiment with the roles they play or may be called upon to play in real life. Theater arts can pro- vide learners with the tools they need to act, that is, to interpret, express, and negotiate meaning in a new lan- guage. Activities can include both scripted and unscripted role play, simulations, and even pantomime. Ensemble- building activities familiar in theater training have been used very successfully in ELT to create a climate of trust so necessary for the incorporation of theater arts activities. The role of the teacher in these activities is that of a coach who provides support, strategies, and encouragement for learners as they explore new ways of being.
Beyond the Classroom
Beyond the Classroom is the fifth and final component of a communicative curriculum. Regardless of the variety of communicative activities in the ESL/EFL classroom, their purpose remains to prepare learners to use English in the world beyond. This is the world upon which learners will depend for the maintenance and development of their communicative competence once classes are over. The classroom is but a rehearsal. Development of opportunities for English language use beyond those offered in the class- room itself often begins with an identification of learner’s interests and needs.
As a child, I looked forward to receiving letters from my pen pals. They would arrive bearing colorful stamps from France, Wales, Japan, Taiwan, and Australia. I had yet to learn a second language, so all our correspondence was in English. However, this regular exchange of letters put a small-town midwestern American girl in touch with other places around the globe and with other users of English. Technology has since brought the whole world so much closer. English language radio and television programs, videos, and feature-length films are readily available in many EFL settings, along with newspapers and magazines. English-speaking residents or visitors may be available to visit the classroom. The Internet now provides opportuni- ties to interact with English-speaking peers on a variety of topics and to develop grammatical, discourse, sociocultur- al, and strategic competence. In addition to prearranged exchanges, learners can check World Wide Web sites for an almost infinite range of information. These opportunities for computer-mediated communication will increase dra- matically in the years ahead.
Putting it all together
How do we put it all together? Is there an optimum combination of language arts, personal language use, lan- guage for a purpose, theater arts, and language use beyond the classroom? These questions must be answered by indi- vidual teachers for their learners in the context where they teach. Cultural expectations, language goals, and learning styles are but some of the ways in which learners may dif- fer from one another. To the complexity of the learner must be added the complexities of teachers and of the settings in which they teach. Established routines, or institutional belief about what is important, weigh heavily in a teacher’s decisions as to what and how to teach and often make innovation difficult. Finally, the need for variety must be taken into account. Learners who are bored with rule recitation or sentence translation may just as easily lose interest in games or role playing if these activities become routine. Difficult as it is, the teacher’s task is to understand the many factors involved and respond to them creatively.
Teachers cannot do this alone, of course. They need the support of administrators, the community, and learners themselves. Methodologists and teacher educators have a responsibility as well. They should provide classroom teachers with the perspective and experiences they need to respond to the realities of their world, a changing world in which the old ways of language teaching may not be the best ways. The optimum combination of the analytical and the experiential in ESL/EFL for a given context is the focus of ongoing research. A now well-established research tradition in second/foreign language learning/teaching has clearly shown the importance of attention to language use, or experience, in addition to language analysis. Unfortu-
6
JANUARY 2002 ENGLISH TEACHING FORUM
nately the overwhelming emphasis in many school pro- grams is on the latter, often to the complete exclusion of the former.
What about grammar?
Discussions of CLT not infrequently lead to questions of grammatical or formal accuracy. The perceived shift in attention from morphosyntactic features to a focus on meaning has led in some cases to the impression that gram- mar is not important, or that proponents of CLT favor learner self-expression without regard to form. While involvement in communicative events is seen as central to language development, this involvement necessarily requires attention to form. The contribution to language develop- ment of both form-focused and meaning-focused classroom activities remains a question in ongoing research. The opti- mum combination of these activities in any given instruc- tional setting depends no doubt on learner age, nature and length of instructional sequence, opportunities for language contact outside the classroom, and teacher preparation, among other factors. However, for the development of com- municative ability, research findings overwhelmingly sup- port the integration of form-focused exercises with mean- ing-focused experience. Grammar is important; and learners seem to focus best on grammar when it relates to their com- municative needs and experiences.
Communicative language teaching does not necessarily mean the rejection of familiar materials. A teacher with only a grammar-translation textbook can use it to support a focus on communication. Conversely, there is nothing to prevent materials intended to promote communication from being used to teach grammar and translation. What matters is the teacher’s understanding of how language learning happens. The basic principle involved is an orien- tation towards collective participation in a process of use and discovery achieved by cooperation between learners as well as between learners and the teacher.
What CLT is not
Disappointment with both grammar-translation and audio-lingual methods for their inability to prepare learn- ers for the interpretation, expression, and negotiation of meaning, along with enthusiasm for an array of alternative methods labeled communicative, has resulted in uncer- tainty as to what are the essential features of CLT. So let me conclude this overview with a brief mention of what CLT is not.
1. CLT is not exclusively concerned with face to face oral communication. The principles of CLT apply equally to reading and writing activities that engage readers and writers in the interpretation, expression, and negotiation of meaning. The goals of CLT depend on learner needs in a given context.
2. CLT does not require small group or pair work. Group tasks have been found helpful in many contexts as a way of providing increased opportunity and moti- vation for communication. However, classroom group or pair work should not be considered an essential fea- ture and may well be inappropriate in some contexts. 3. Finally, CLT does not exclude a focus on metalin- guistic awareness or knowledge of rules of syntax, dis- course, and social appropriateness.
The essence of CLT is the engagement of learners in communication to allow them to develop their commu- nicative competence. Terms sometimes used to refer to fea- tures of CLT include process-oriented, task-based, and inductive or discovery-oriented. CLT cannot be found in any single textbook or set of curricular materials. In keep- ing with the notion of context of situation, CLT is prop- erly seen as an approach, or theory of intercultural com- municative competence to be used in developing materials and methods appropriate to a given context of learning. Contexts change. The world of carriages and petticoats evolved into one of genomes and cyberspace. Commu- nicative language teaching methods designed to enhance the interpretation, expression, and negotiation of meaning will also continue to be explored and adapted.
References
Kusano Hubbell, K. (In press). Zen and the art of ELT. Interpret- ing communicative language teaching: Contexts and concerns in teacher education, ed. S. J. Savignon. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Musumeci, D. 1997. Breaking tradition: An exploration of the his- torical relationship between theory and practice in second lan- guage teaching. New York: McGraw Hill.
Preston, D. 1981. The ethnography of TESOL. TESOL Quarter- ly, 15, 2, pp. 105–116.
Snow, M. M. 2001. Content-based and immersion models for second and foreign language teaching. In Teaching English as a second or foreign language, (3rd ed.), ed. M. Celce-Murcia. Boston, MA: Heinle and Heinle, pp. 303–318.
Wada, M., ed. 1994. The course of study for senior high school: For- eign languages (English version). Tokyo: Kairyudo
––––––. (In press). Teacher education for ELT innovation in Japan. Interpreting communicative language teaching: Contexts and concerns in teacher education, ed. S. J. Savignon. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Wang C. C. (In press). Innovative teaching in EFL contexts: The case of Taiwan. Interpreting communicative language teaching: Contexts and concerns in teacher education, ed. S. J. Savignon. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Yun, M. 1998. Interviewed on National Public Radio. Weekend Edition. 15 November. z
SANDRA J. SAVIGNON is a professor of applied linguistics at the Pennsylvania State University.
ENGLISH TEACHING FORUM JANUARY 2002
7

Using L1 in the English Classroom

Jinlan Tang
CHINA
Using L1
in the English
Classroom
THERE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN CONTRADICTING VIEWS ABOUT WHETHER TO use the mother tongue of the students in the foreign language classroom. The monolingual approach suggests that the target language ought to be the sole medium of communication, implying the prohibition of the native language would maximize the effectiveness of learning the target language.
36 JANUARY 2002 ENGLISH TEACHING FORUM

Background
A proponent of the monolingual approach, Krashen has argued that people learning for- eign languages follow basically the same route as they acquire their mother tongue, hence the use of the mother tongue in the learning process should be minimized (1981).
Authors of some introductory books on teaching EFL, such as Haycraft (1978), Hub- bard et al. (1983), and Harmer (1997), do not address this issue or pay very little attention to it. This suggests either the mother tongue does not play an important role in foreign language teaching or the issue of native language use does not exist in the classrooms of these authors, since most of them are native speak- ers of English accustomed to working with multilingual groups of students (Dörnyei, per- sonal communication).
During the past 15 years, however, mono- lingual orthodoxy has lost its appeal. Medgyes considers this orthodoxy “untenable on any grounds, be they psychological, linguistic or pedagogical” (1994:66). It has been argued that exclusion of the mother tongue is a criti- cism of the mother tongue and renders it a sec- ond-class language. This degradation of the mother tongue has harmful psychological effects on learners (Nation 1990).
Professionals in second language acquisi- tion have become increasingly aware of the role the mother tongue plays in the EFL class- room. Nunan and Lamb (1996), for example, contend that EFL teachers working with monolingual students at lower levels of Eng- lish proficiency find prohibition of the moth- er tongue to be practically impossible. Dörnyei and Kormos (1998) find that the L1 is used by L2 learners as a communication strategy to compensate for deficiencies in the target language. Auerbuch (1993) not only acknowledges the positive role of the mother tongue in the classroom, but also identifies the following uses for it: classroom management, language analysis, presenting rules that govern grammar, discussing cross-cultural issues, giv- ing instructions or prompts, explaining errors, and checking for comprehension.
My personal experience as a learner and teacher of English as a foreign language has shown me that moderate and judicious use of the mother tongue can aid and facilitate the learning and teaching of the target language, a
view shared by many colleagues of mine. However, the value of using the mother tongue is a neglected topic in the TEFL methodology literature. This omission, together with the widely advocated principle that the native language should not be used in the foreign language classroom, makes most teachers, experienced or not, feel uneasy about using L1 or permitting its use in the class- room, even when there is a need to do so.
Should the students’ L1 be used in the EFL classroom? Though its use has been defended by some language teaching special- ists, little empirical research has been done to find out if it is an effective teaching and learning tool.
How do students and teachers look at this issue? Schweers (1999) conducted a study with EFL students and their teachers in a Spanish context to investigate their attitudes toward using L1 in the L2 classroom. His results indicate that the majority of students and teachers agreed that Spanish should be used in the EFL classroom (Schweers 1999).
Inspired by his research and driven by my own interest, I decided to carry out a similar study on the use of the native language in the Chinese context. However, differences exist between Schweer’s study and mine. Firstly, in Schweer’s study English was the official second language of his participants, while in mine English was a foreign language to the partici- pants. Secondly, the participants in my research were all first-year English major stu- dents and the classes observed were first-year reading classes. Thirdly, I used a variety of research methods, including classroom obser- vations, interviews, and a questionnaire.
Research design
Questions
This study aimed to answer the following questions: (1) Is Chinese as the L1 used in ter- tiary-level English classrooms in China? If so, how frequently is it used and for what purpos- es? (2) What are the attitudes of the students and teachers toward using Chinese in the EFL classroom?
Participants
The participants of this study were 100 first-year English major students attending a university in Beijing. Their English was at the intermediate level. The 20 teacher participants
ENGLISH TEACHING FORUM JANUARY 2002
37
were all faculty members at the same universi- ty, with their teaching experience ranging from one year to 30 years.
Methods and Procedures
Both qualitative and quantitative research methods were used, including classroom observations, interviews, and questionnaires.
Classroom Observations
Three randomly-selected first-year reading classes (of about 50 minutes in length) con- ducted by three teachers were observed and recorded to find out how frequently and on what occasions Chinese was used. To obtain more authentic classroom data, the teachers and students were not informed of the obser- vation purpose beforehand.
Interviews
The three teachers whose classes were observed and recorded were interviewed and asked why they sometimes preferred using Chinese to English in their classes. The inter- views were recorded and summarized.
Questionnaires
A questionnaire (see Appendix 1) was dis- tributed to 100 students, and another ques- tionnaire (see Appendix 2) to 20 teachers to discover their attitudes toward using Chinese in the English classroom. The questionnaire items focused on the subjects’ opinions toward the use of L1, the various occasions when they think L1 can be used, and the perceived effec- tiveness of L1 in their EFL classroom.
Results
Classroom observations
Table 1 shows the number of times and
Table 1. Classroom observation results
occasions that Chinese was used in the three 50-minute reading classes.
The table shows that Chinese was used by the three teachers in the tertiary-level English reading classes to give instructions and to explain the meaning of words, complex ideas, and complex grammar points. The greatest use of Chinese, 13 times, was to explain the mean- ing of words. Teacher 1 used Chinese to explain the words steep, strain, scatter, fine, spout, terrain, melt, and beneficiary after her English explanations, which proved to be quite effective judging from the students’ responses. Teacher 2 used Chinese to explain the meanings of the words surge, high, and spell following her English explanations. In explaining the word high in the phrase a search for a ‘high’ that normal life does not supply, she came up with an appropriate and culturally- specific Chinese translation, and the students seemed to understand it quickly. One could conclude that the teachers use Chinese only when they explain abstract or culturally-spe- cific words. All three teachers first attempted to explain the words, grammar points, and meanings of complex ideas in English, but resorted to Chinese when they thought the students did not or could not understand their English explanations.
Teacher 3 used Chinese most frequently to give instructions. In the first five instances, the teacher used Chinese only after first giving instructions in English, apparently to ensure that every student was clear about what was said. Because it was quite noisy outside the classroom at the time, the teacher used Chi- nese instructions alone on four occasions to
38
JANUARY 2002 ENGLISH TEACHING FORUM
hold the students’ attention and make them follow him.
These three class observations indicate that Chinese is used on occasions when English explanations fail to work, hence the L1 plays a supportive and facilitating role in the classroom.
Interviews
After the classroom observations, the three teachers whose classes had been observed were interviewed about their occasional use of Chi- nese in the classroom and how they viewed the common criticism that using Chinese reduces the students’ exposure to English. Their answers are summarized as follows:
• Teacher 1: Firstly, I think using some Chi- nese is more effective and less time-con- suming. Occasionally, when you spend quite some time or use several English sen- tences to explain one word or idea, and the students still look confused, using one sim- ple Chinese word or idiom might solve the problem. Class time is limited; if using Chinese is helpful, why not do it? Second- ly, criticizing the use of Chinese on the grounds that the students’ exposure to Eng- lish will be reduced does not reflect the fact that students read the English text and still communicate in English with the teacher and other students in the classroom. The use of some Chinese in the class actually provides more time for students to practice their English and get exposure to English. Lastly, the amount of English used depends on the students’ language proficiency level. If their English is at an advanced level, I feel no need to use Chinese. All in all, I think that using some Chinese in the class- room is necessary and the advantages of doing so outweigh any disadvantages.
• Teacher 2: The main reason I use Chinese in the classroom is that sometimes stu- dents—because of their low proficiency level in English—fail to follow me when I only use English to explain the meaning of the text or to give instructions. Also, when I happen to know a very vivid and appropriate Chinese translation of an Eng- lish sentence, I will give it to students so they can immediately comprehend the meaning of the English sentence. This also helps them compare the word choices in the two languages.
• Teacher 3: I use Chinese to discuss the meaning of some difficult, abstract words and to explain the grammar and ideas expressed in long and complicated sen- tences. Sometimes when students look puzzled after my English explanation of certain points, I will use Chinese to rein- terpret them. Furthermore, when the class- room is noisy, using Chinese to keep order is more effective than using English.
Questionnaires
As noted earlier, questionnaires were dis- tributed to students and teachers. Of the 100 given to students, 98 were returned. Of the 20 given to teachers, 18 were returned. The find- ings are presented in Table 2.
Table 2 shows that a high percentage of the students (70 percent) and the teachers (72 per- cent) who participated in the study think that Chinese should be used in the classroom. The vast majority of students (97 percent) like it when their teachers use some Chinese. According to students, Chinese was most nec- essary to explain complex grammar points (72 percent) and to help define some new vocabu- lary items (69 percent). For teachers, Chinese was most necessary to practice the use of some phrases and expressions (56 percent) and to explain difficult concepts or ideas (44 per- cent). Only two teachers indicated that Chi- nese could be used to give suggestions on how to learn more effectively. In choosing the open-ended “Other” option about when it is necessary to use Chinese in the EFL class- room, a few students indicated that the L1 could be used to translate well-written para- graphs and to compare the two languages.
In explaining why they think the use of Chinese is necessary in EFL classes, the major- ity of student participants (69 percent) indi- cate that it helps them to understand difficult concepts better. Fewer than half of the stu- dents (42 percent) answered that Chinese was necessary to understand new vocabulary items better. Only six percent of the students responded that they felt less lost. This figure is significantly smaller than the corresponding student responses in Schweer’s study, in which 68.3 percent of the students preferred the use of the L1 in order to feel less lost (1999:8). A possible explanation for this difference is that the students’ English language proficiency level in my study was higher than in Schweer’s.
ENGLISH TEACHING FORUM JANUARY 2002
39
Table 2. Results of the questionnaires on the use of Chinese in the English classroom.
Note: Where participants could choose more than one answer to a question (items 3 and 4), totals add up to more than 100 percent.
1. Should Chinese be used in the classroom?
Students: yes 70% no 30% Teachers: yes 72% no 28%
2. Do you like your teacher to use Chinese in the class? (students only)
not at all 3% a little 45% sometimes 50% a lot 2%
3. When do you think it is necessary to use Chinese in the English classroom?
a. to explain complex grammar points
b. to help define some new vocabulary items c. to explain difficult concepts or ideas
d. to practice the use of some phrases and
expressions 45% 56% e. to give instructions 6% 6% f. to give suggestions on how to learn more
effectively 4% 11%
4. If you think the use of Chinese is necessary in the classroom, why? Students
a. It helps me to understand the difficult concepts better. 69% b. It helps me to understand the new vocabulary items better. 42% c. It makes me feel at ease, comfortable and less stressed. 8% d. I feel less lost. 6% Teachers
a. It aids comprehension greatly. 39% b. It is more effective. 44% c. It is less time-consuming. 28%
5. Do you think the use of Chinese in the classroom helps you learn this language? (students only)
no 3% alittle 69%
fairly much 22% a lot 6%
6. How often do you think Chinese should be used in the classroom? (students only)
never 0% very rarely 38%
sometimes 60% fairly frequently 2%
7. What percentage of time do you think Chinese should be used in the class? (students only)
Time 5% 10% 20% 30%
Response 38%
25%
20%
10% (No students answered higher than 30%.)
Students
72% 39% 69% 39% 48% 44%
Teachers
40
JANUARY 2002 ENGLISH TEACHING FORUM
The few students who chose the open-ended “Other” option for why it is necessary to use the L1 indicated that Chinese could be used to understand jargon and to improve their trans- lation ability.
Concerning why the use of Chinese was necessary, teachers answered because “it is more effective” (44 percent) and “it aids com- prehension greatly” (39 percent). One teacher suggested that the use of L1 helps students become more aware of the differences and similarities between different cultures.
More than half of the students (60 percent) think Chinese should be used in the classroom “sometimes.” Concerning how much time Chinese should be used in the English class, 63 percent of the students answered the amount of Chinese used should range from 5 to 10 percent of class time, and 30 percent of the students answered it should be from 20 to 30 percent of class time.
The questionnaire results show that in the reading classes of first-year English majors, the use of Chinese is justified. It is especially use- ful for language tasks such as defining vocabu- lary items, practicing the use of phrases and expressions, and explaining grammar rules and some important ideas. This is in agree- ment with the classroom observation results (see Table 1). Students prefer the use of Chi- nese because it enhances their comprehension of new concepts and new vocabulary items; teachers think using Chinese is more effective and can aid comprehension.
Discussion
The results of the present study on the use of the mother tongue in a Chinese EFL con- text bear many similarities to Schweer’s study in a Spanish context. Both studies indicate that the mother tongue was used by the majority of teachers investigated, and both students and teachers responded positively toward its use. Minor discrepancies exist con- cerning the occasions when the L1 should be used. Some of these differences can be accounted for by the participants’ different levels of L2 language proficiency.
The teachers participating in this study indicated that the translation of some words, complex ideas, or even whole passages is a good way to learn a foreign language. My observa- tion of the three classes suggests that without
translation, learners would be likely to make unguided and often incorrect translations.
This study also reveals that in the EFL classes observed Chinese plays only a support- ive and facilitating role. The chief medium of communication in the class is still English. As with any other classroom technique, the use of the mother tongue is only a means to the end of improving foreign language proficiency. I agree with the majority of student participants (about 63 percent combined) that no more than 10 percent of class time should be spent using Chinese. In my experience, this percent- age decreases as the students’ English profi- ciency increases. Of course, a translation course would be an exception.
Unlike Schweer’s student participants, the students in the present study are highly moti- vated to learn English. As English majors in the university, their English language profi- ciency is regarded as a symbol of their identity and a route to future academic and employ- ment opportunities. Few of them feel that English is imposed on them or regard the use of English as a threat to their identity. Instead, they generally prefer greater or exclusive use of English in the classroom. In their view, Chi- nese should be used only when necessary to help them learn English better.
Conclusion
The research seems to show that limited and judicious use of the mother tongue in the English classroom does not reduce students’ exposure to English, but rather can assist in the teaching and learning processes. This is not to overstate the role of the L1 or advocate greater use of L1 in the EFL classroom, but rather to clarify some misconceptions that have troubled foreign language teachers for years, such as whether they should use the mother tongue when there is a need for it and whether the often-mentioned principle of no native language in the classroom is justifiable. It is hoped that these findings will help make more people acknowledge the role of the native language in the foreign language class- room and stimulate further study in this area.
References
Auerbach, E. 1993. Reexaming English only in the ESL classroom. TESOL Quarterly 27, 1, pp. 9–32.
ENGLISH TEACHING FORUM JANUARY 2002
41
Dörnyei, Z. and J. Kormos. 1998. Problem-solving mechanisms in L2 communication: A psy- cholinguistic perspective. Studies in Second Lan- guage Acquisition, 20, 3, pp. 349–385.
Harmer, J. 1997. The practice of English language teaching. London: Longman.
Haycraft, J. 1978. An introduction to English lan- guage teaching. London: Longman.
Hubbard, P., H. Jones, B. Thornton, and R. Wheeler. 1983. A training course for TEFL. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Krashen, S. 1981. Second language acquisition and second language learning. Oxford: Pergamon.
Medgyes, P. 1994. The non-native teacher. London: Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
Nation, I. S. P. 1990. Teaching and learning vocab- ulary. New York: Newbury House.
Nunan, D. and C. Lamb. 1996. The self-directed teacher. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Schweers, W. Jr. 1999. Using L1 in the L2 classroom. English Teaching Forum, 37, 2, pp. 6–9. z
JINLAN TANG is a lecturer in English at Beijing Foreign Studies University.
APPENDIX 1–STUDENT QUESTIONNAIRE ON THE USE OF CHINESE IN THE ENGLISH CLASSROOM
This questionnaire aims to find out your attitude toward using Chinese in the English classroom. Your answers will be used for research purposes only. Thank you for your cooperation!
1. Should Chinese be used in the classroom?
Yes No
2. Do you like your teacher to use Chinese in the class?
not at all a little sometimes a lot
3. When do you think it is necessary to use Chinese in the English classroom?
a. to help define some new vocabulary items (e.g., some abstract words)
b. to practice the use of some phrases and expressions (e.g., doing translation
exercises)
c. to explain complex grammar points
d. to explain difficult concepts or ideas
e. to give instructions
f. to give suggestions on how to learn more effectively g. other, please specify
4. If you think the use of Chinese is necessary in the classroom, why?
a. It helps me to understand difficult concepts better.
b. It helps me to understand new vocabulary items better. c. It makes me feel at ease, comfortable and less stressed. d. I feel less lost.
e. other, please specify
5.Do you think the use of Chinese in the classroom helps you learn this language?
no a little fairly much a lot
6. How often do you think Chinese should be used in the classroom?
never very rarely sometimes fairly frequently
7. What percentage of the time do you think Chinese should be used in the class? Choose one.
5% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90%
42
JANUARY 2002 ENGLISH TEACHING FORUM
“Where’s the Beef?”
Answer to the logic puzzle on inside back cover:
WHAT WAS YOUR ORDER?
Reggie had the cola, cheeseburger with pickles, and French fries. The numbers in parentheses beside each person’s name indi- cate which facts applies for figuring out who ordered what.
Jane (6 & 10)
Diet cola, grilled chicken sandwich, and French fries Jack (4, 7 & 11)
Vanilla milkshake and two hot dogs
Jill (4, 5 & 11)
Cola and taco salad
Archie (6, 7 & 8)
Cola, plain hamburger, and French fries
Betty (5, 7 & 8)
Diet cola, fish sandwich, and onion rings
Reggie (5, 7, 8 & 9)
Cola, cheeseburger with pickles, and French fries
APPENDIX 2–TEACHER QUESTIONNAIRE ON THE USE OF CHINESE IN THE ENGLISH CLASSROOM
This questionnaire aims to find out your attitude toward using Chinese in the classroom. Your answers will be used for research purposes only. Thank you for your cooperation!
1. Should Chinese be used in the classroom?
Yes No
2. When do you think it is necessary to use Chinese in the classroom?
a. to help define some new vocabulary items (e.g., some abstract words)
b. to practice the use of some phrases and expressions (e.g., doing translation
exercises)
c. to explain complex grammar points
d. to explain difficult concepts or ideas
e. to give instructions
f. to give suggestions on how to learn more effectively g. other, please specify
3. If you think the use of Chinese is necessary in the classroom, why?
a. It aids comprehension greatly. b. It is more effective.
c. It is less time-consuming.
d. other, please specify
ANSWERS TO THE LIGHTER SIDE
ENGLISH TEACHING FORUM JANUARY 2002
43

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Acronyms and abbreviations in English Teaching

Acronyms and abbreviations in English Teaching


BE - Business English
EAL - English as an additional language. The use of this term is restricted to certain countries. See the discussion in Terminology and types.
EAP - English for academic purposes
EFL - English as a foreign language. English for use in a non-English-speaking region, by someone whose first language is not English. See the discussion in Terminology and types.
EIL - English as an international language (see main article at International English)
ELF - English as a lingua franca
ELL - English language learner. The use of this term is restricted to certain countries. See the discussion in Terminology and types.
ELT - English language teaching. The use of this term is restricted to certain countries. See the discussion in Terminology and types.
ESL - English as a second language. English for use in an English-speaking region, by someone whose first language is not English. The use of this term is restricted to certain countries. See the discussion in Terminology and types.
ESOL - English for speakers of other languages. This term is used differently in different countries. See the discussion in Terminology and types.
ESP - English for specific purposes, or English for special purposes (e.g. technical English, scientific English, English for medical professionals, English for waiters).
EST - English for science and technology (e.g. technical English, scientific English).
TEFL - Teaching English as a foreign language. This link is to a page about a subset of TEFL, namely travel-teaching. More generally, see the discussion in Terminology and types.
TESL - Teaching English as a second language. The use of this term is restricted to certain countries. See the discussion in Terminology and types.
TESOL - Teaching English to speakers of other languages, or Teaching English as a second or other language. See the discussion in Terminology and types.
TYLE - Teaching Young Learners English. Note that "Young Learners" can mean under 18, or much younger.

Other abbreviations
BULATS - Business Language Testing Services, a computer-based test of business English, produced by CambridgeEsol. The test also exists for French, German, and Spanish.
CELT - Certificate in English Language Teaching, certified by the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (ACELS).
CELTA - Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults
CELTYL - Certificate in English Language Teaching to Young Learners
DELTA - Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults
ECPE - Examination for the Certificate of Proficiency in English
IELTS - International English Language Testing System
LTE - London Tests of English by Pearson Language Tests
TOEFL - Test of English as a Foreign Language
TOEIC - Test of English for International Communication
UCLES - University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, an exam board

Source: Wikipedia

Teaching Our Youngest - Part 7



SOME HELPFUL TERMS TO KNOW
Here are some terms that you may encounter as you read more about early childhood education.

Alliteration The same consonant sounds at the beginning of words in a sentence or a line of poetry. For example, the sound of P in Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

Alphabetic principle The understanding that written letters systematically represent sounds. For example, the word big has three letters and three sounds.

Big books Oversized books that allow children to see the print and pictures as we read them.

Cognitive development Children's developing knowledge, skills, and dispositions, which help them to think about and understand the world around them.

Decoding The translation of the letters in written words into recognizable sounds and combining these sounds into meaningful words.

Emergent literacy The view that literacy learning begins at birth and is encouraged through participation with adults in meaningful literacy-related activities.

Environmental print Printed materials that are a part of everyday life. They include signs, billboards, labels, and business logos.

Explicit instruction Teaching children in a systematic and sequential manner.

Experimental writing Young children experiment with writing by creating pretend and real letters and by organizing scribbles and marks on paper.

Invented spelling Phonemic-based spelling where children create their own nonconventional spelling.

Letter knowledge The ability to identify the names and shapes of the letters of the alphabet.

Journals Writing books in which young learners scribble, draw, and use their own spellings to write about their experiences.

Literacy Includes all the activities involved in speaking, listening, reading, writing, and appreciating both spoken and written language.

Phonemes The smallest parts of spoken language that combine to form words. For example, the word hit is made up of three phonemes (h-i-t) and differs by one phoneme from the words pit, hip and hot.

Phonics The relationships between the sounds of spoken language and the individual letters or groups of letters that represent those sounds in written language.

Phonological awareness The ability to notice and work with the sounds in language. Phonological awareness activities can involve work with alliteration, rhymes, and seperating individual syllables into sounds.

Print awareness The knowledge that printed words carry meaning and that reading and writing are ways to obtain ideas and information. A young child's sensitivity to print is one of the first steps toward reading.

Scaffolded instruction Instruction in which adults build upon what children to per-form more complex tasks.

Sight vocabulary Words that a reader recognizes without having to sound them out.

Vocabulary The words we must know in order to communicate effectively. Oral vocabulary refers to words that we use in speaking or recognize in listening. Reading vocabulary refers to words we recognize or use in print.

Word recognition Using any one of a number of strategies such as recognition by sight or decoding so as to figure out their meaning.

What is Scientifically Based Reading Research?

Some federal programs may have a specific statutory or regulatory definition of this term. In general, scientifically based reading research includes concepts such as those below.

Scientifically based reading research uses scientific procedures to obtain knowledge about how young children develop reading skills, how children can be taught to read, and how children can overcome reading difficulties. Scientifically based reading research has the following characteristics:

1) It uses clear, step-by-step methods of gathering data. These methods involve careful observations and measurements. Often, experiments are used to gather information. For example, an experiment may compare how well children learn to read when they are taught in different ways.

2) It uses established, acceptable ways of measuring and observing. Let's say a researcher is trying to find which type of instruction best helps children learn the meaning of new words. The researcher must decide how to measure the children's word learning. Should the children just be asked whether they know the word? Should they be able to recognize the correct definition among several choices? Or, should they be able to use the new word correctly in their writing? The way the researcher chooses to measure word learning must be acceptable to other researchers as a good, or valid, measure of word learning.

3) It requires that researchers use established, acceptable ways of making sense of, or interpreting, the data they gather. Researchers must show that the conclusions they reach follow logically from the data they collected. Other researchers must be able to draw the same or similar conclusions from the data, and similar experiments must produce similar data.

4) It requires that several other researchers have carefully reviewed the report of the research. The report must include enough specific information about the research so that other researchers could repeat the research and verify the findings. These expert reviewers must agree that the research was done carefully and correctly and that the conclusions follow from the data. Usually, scientifically based reading research is published in professional journals and presented at professional meetings so that other researchers can learn from the work.

Scientifically based reading research provides the best available information about how you can help prepare the young children in your care for learning to read in school.


SUGGESTED READING
Here are some books that can provide you with more information about early childhood education.

Adams, M. J., B.R. Foorman, I. Lundberg, and T. Beeler (1997). Phonemic Awareness in Young Children: A Classroom Curriculum. Baltimore, Md.: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Anderson, R. C., E.H. Hiebert, J.A. Scott, and I.A.G. Wilkinson (1985). Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the Commission on Reading. Champaign, Ill.: Center for the Study of Reading, Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Education.

Burns, M. S., P. Griffin, and C. Snow (Eds.). (1999). Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children's Reading Success. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Dickinson, D. K. and P.O. Tabors (2001). Beginning Literacy with Language. Baltimore, Md.: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Hart, B. and T.R. Risley (1995). Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children. Baltimore, Md.: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Neuman, S. B., C. Copple, and S. Bredekamp (2000). Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Neuman, S. B. and D.K. Dickinson (2001). Handbook of Early Literacy Research. New York: Guilford Press.

Schickedanz, J. (1999). Much More than the ABCs. Washington, D.C.: NAEYC.

Snow, C. E., M.S. Burns, and P. Griffin (Eds.). (1998). Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Adapted from U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Early Childhood-Head Start Task Force, Teaching Our Youngest, Washington, D.C., 2002.



Teaching Our Youngest - Part 6



CHECKING CHILDREN'S PROGRESS
The more you know about children's academic, social, and emotional development, the more able you will be to meet their needs. Information about how well the children are progressing helps you to plan your teaching. You want the children in your care to feel successful and confident, but you also want to offer experiences that will help them to develop further. In addition, through initial screening and by checking the children's progress, you can identify those children who need special help or who face extra challenges.

Here are some ways that you can keep track of children's progress:

  • Observe them daily. Watch as they play with each other, respond to your directions, participate in activities, and use language to communicate.
  • Collect samples of their drawings, paintings, and writing.
  • Keep notes about what they say and do.
  • Encourage them to talk about their own progress.
  • Regularly assess their progress so that your instruction will meet their needs.
  • Talk with parents and caregivers. Ask them what they have observed at home. Tell them about their children's strengths. Let them know about any concerns you may have.
  • Also, remember to talk often with the children about what they are doing. Be sure to focus on their strengths—what they can do and the progress they have made. This will help them build confidence and motivation for learning.


COMMUNICATING WITH PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS
As a teacher, you and the children's parents and caregivers are partners in helping to get the children ready for future school success. Good communication with parents and caregivers can build support for and strengthen the important work that you are doing in the classroom.

It is important for you to communicate with parents and caregivers because:

  • They will have a better understanding of how you are helping to prepare their children for success in school.
  • They will learn how well their children are progressing in developing the building blocks of learning.
  • They will learn ways in which they can help their children at home.
  • You will have a better understanding of the background and experiences of the children.
  • The children will see that the adults in their life care about them and are interested in their learning and development.

Here are some ways that you can communicate with parents and caregivers:

  • Talk with them as they deliver and pick up their children.
  • Send home newsletters, notes, or e-mails to inform them of what their children are learning in your classroom.
  • Schedule regular meetings to let them know how their children are progressing—both the areas of strength and the areas that could use more support at home.

Teacher Talk

Jason's doing a great job of learning his letters. Maybe he can show you tonight how many he knows!
Amanda is having a little trouble talking about the stories that I've been reading to the class. It would probably help if you could ask her to talk about the stories you read to her at home. When you've finished reading a book, you could say something like, "Amanda, can you tell your teddy bear what that story was about?"
Encourage parents and caregivers to:

  • Talk with children during daily routines such as when riding in the car and during meal and bath times.
  • Help children to name objects in their environment (labeling).
  • Read and reread stories.
  • Recount experiences and describe ideas that are important to them.
  • Visit libraries and museums.
  • Provide opportunities for children to draw and print, using markers, crayons, and pencils.
  • Share ideas with them about activities that they can do at home to build on what you are doing in the classroom.

Teacher Talk

You can help Roberto practice his "R" and write his name and then together come up with other fun words that start with the letter "R."
Here's a book that Lucas was interested in today. It is about animals. Maybe you can go to the library and get another book about animals. You can also take this book and read it and talk about which animals he likes the best and why.
As you know, today we went on a field trip to the grocery store. Please, ask Maurice to tell you some of the things we did.
Invite parents and caregivers to visit your classroom.


Adapted from U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Early Childhood-Head Start Task Force, Teaching Our Youngest, Washington, D.C., 2002.




Teaching Our Youngest - Part 2

READING ALOUD TO CHILDREN
In the landmark 1986 review Becoming a Nation of Readers, the Commission on Reading, called reading aloud to children "the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for success in reading." The best time to begin reading books with children is when they are infants—babies as young as six weeks old enjoy being read to and looking at pictures. By age two or three, children begin to develop an awareness of printed letters and words. They see adults around them reading, writing, and using printed words for many purposes. Toddlers and preschoolers are especially ready to learn from adults reading to and with them.

Reading aloud to young children is important because it helps them acquire the information and skills they need to succeed in school and life, such as:
• Knowledge of printed letters and words and the relationship between sound and print.
• The meaning of many words.
• How books work and a variety of writing styles.
• The world in which they live.
• The difference between written language and everyday conversation.
• The pleasure of reading.

Here are some suggestions for reading aloud to children.
• Make reading books an enjoyable experience. Choose a comfortable place where the children can sit near you. Help them feel safe and secure. Be enthusiastic about reading. Show the children that reading is an interesting and rewarding activity. When children enjoy being read to, they will grow to love books and be eager to learn to read.
• Read to children frequently. Read to the children in your care several times a day. Establish regular times for reading during the day, and find other opportunities to read:
Start or end the day with a book.
Read to children after a morning play period which also helps settle them down.
Read to them during snack time or before nap time.

• Help children to learn as you read. Offer explanations, make observations, and help the children to notice new information. Explain words that they may not know.

Point out how the pictures in a book relate to the story. If the story takes place in an historic era or in an unfamiliar place, give children some background information so that they will better understand and enjoy the story. Talk about the characters' actions and feelings. Find ways to compare the book that you are reading with what the children have been doing in the classroom.
• Ask children questions as you read. Ask questions that help children connect the story with their own lives or that help them to compare the book with other books that they have read. Ask questions that help the children to notice what is in the book and ask them to predict what happens next.

Teacher Talk
• This story is about Gregory, a little goat that didn't like to eat what his parents thought he should. Do you feel this way sometimes?
• Does this book remind you of any other books we've read? Yes, we've read other books about Clifford, the big red dog. Do you remember Clifford? What do you remember about him?
• What is similar about Gregory and Clifford? What is different?
• Encourage children to talk about the book. Have a conversation with the children about the book you are reading. Answer their questions. Welcome their observations, and add to what they say. Continue to talk about the book after you have read it. Invite the children to comment on the story. Ask them to talk about their favorite parts and encourage them to tell the story in their own words.

Teacher Talk
• Why do you think Max asked his grandmother if he could play outside? Could it be because he wanted to throw a ball? Sometimes it is better to throw balls outside because things could be broken inside. What are some other games that are better to play outside?
• Yes, that bird in the picture does have a seed in its mouth. It's probably going to eat it.

Reading Aloud with Children
In this example, a teacher reads Eric Hill's "lift-the-flap" book Spot's First Walk. Notice how the experience is like a conversation. The teacher invites the children's comments and answers their questions. She builds on what they say and encourages them to make sense of what is happening in the story. She tells the children new information that will help them to understand and enjoy the book more.

Book

Teacher and Children
Not in there, Spot.
T: Where's Spot going?
C: Out there.
T: Yes, he's going through a hole in the fence.
C: What's he going to do?
T: I don't know. Let's read and find out. (lifts flap)
Hello!
T: Who's saying "hello"? Do you know what that is?
C: No.
T: It's a snail. . .a little animal that you might find in a garden. See the shell on its back?
(points to shell)

Watch out!
T: Who's saying, "watch out!"?
C: That bird (points to bird).
T: That's right! The blue bird that's sitting on the shovel is telling Spot to watch out.
C: Why?
T: Maybe Spot could get into trouble if he goes in that little blue house. Let's see what happens. (lifts flap)
(Picture of angry-looking cat with "!!!" in speech cat balloon)
C: Oh, it's a cat!
T: Yes, a cat that looks as big as Spot. Does that cat look happy to see Spot?
C: He looks like a mean cat.
T: Yes, he looks mean to me, too. I don't think he's happy to see Spot. That's probably why the bird told Spot to watch out.
C: I'd be scared.
T: Me, too!
C: What's this? (points to exclamation marks in speech balloon)
T: These are called exclamation marks. Cats can't talk, but they make a hissing sound when they get angry (makes a hissing sound). I think that's the writer's way of showing us that the cat is hissing at Spot and telling him to get away.


• Read many kinds of books. Children need to be read different kinds of books. Storybooks can help children to learn about times, cultures, and peoples other than their own; stories can help them understand how others think, act, and feel. Informational books can help children learn facts about the world around them. These books also introduce children to important concepts and vocabulary that they will need for success in school. Read books that relate to the children's backgrounds: their experiences,
cultures, languages and interests. Read books with characters and situations both similar and dissimilar to those in the children's lives so they can learn about the world.
• Choose books to help you teach. Use alphabet books to help you teach the names of the letters and the sounds that each letter represents and use counting books to teach children how to count and to recognize numbers. Use poetry or rhyming books to support your teaching of phonological awareness. Use big books (oversized books that your children can easily see) to point out letters, words, and other features of print and to teach book handling. Choose stories that help children learn about social behavior, for example books about friendship to help children learn to share and cooperate. Also choose stories that show children how the world around them works for example, what is happening with the eggs that are hatching in your science area.
• Reread favorite books. Children love to hear their favorite books over and over again. Hearing books read several times helps children understand and notice new things. For example, they may figure out what an unfamiliar word means when they have heard the story several times. They may notice repeated sound patterns. If you point out some letters and words as you read the book repeatedly, children also may pick up specific words that are easily recognized and specific letter-sound relationships.

Types of Books for Reading Aloud

Alphabet books. Alphabet books usually feature the capital and lowercase forms of a letter on each page and one or more pictures of something that begins with the most common sound that the letter represents.

Counting (or number) books.

In these books, each page usually presents one number and shows a corresponding number of items (two monkeys, five dinosaurs, and so forth).
Concept books. These books are designed to teach particular concepts that children need to know in order to succeed in school. Concept books may teach about colors, shapes, sizes (big, little), or opposites (up, down). They may focus on concepts (farm or zoo animals, families around the world, trucks, or places to live).
Nursery rhymes. These books often contain rhymes and repeated verses, which is why they are easy to remember and recite and why they appeal to children.
Repetitious stories and pattern books. In these predictable books, a word or phrase is repeated throughout the story, forming a pattern. After the first few pages, your children may be able to "read along" because they know the pattern. This ability will let them experience the pleasure of reading.
Traditional literature. Traditional literature includes fairy tales, folktales, fables, myths, and legends from around the world and across the ages of time. Through these beloved stories, children become familiar with many different times, cultures, and traditions. Some stories, such as Cinderella, vary slightly from culture to culture and it is interesting to compare their differences.

Wordless picture books.

These books tell stories through pictures, without using words. Wordless picture books give children the opportunity to tell stories themselves as they "read," an activity that most children enjoy. In telling their stories, children develop language skills; they also get a sense of the sequence of events in stories.
 
Adapted from U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Early Childhood-Head Start Task Force, Teaching Our Youngest, Washington, D.C., 2002.
 

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