Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Approaches Reflection

Reflection July 8, 2015: Class #11
Matt’s comment about ethnographic research got me thinking about at first how I didn’t know what it was and then later that I really did, I read a lot of them but I just didn’t know the name for it. I think ethnographic research is super helpful for inexperienced teachers such as myself. I find it extremely helpful to watch a classroom video if it’s something I need to see modeled before I feel comfortable doing it in the classroom myself. The second item that struck me was the discussion on automaticity we had at the start of class. I have written in my notes “a constant fear of being wrong interferes with producing automaticity” and I couldn’t agree more. I didn’t realize that this was going on with me, but this is probably what is interfering with my language learning process. How does one get over the constant need to be perfect all the time? Logically I know that I am not perfect in my L1, but I still can’t get over the fact that I sound “American” when I speak Spanish. The other comment that struck me during this discussion was the idea that most teachers don’t worry about automaticity until the advanced levels of language learning, but how will a beginning learner every get there if we as teachers don’t encourage automaticity early on in the process? It seems like it might be like a vicious cycle of frustration for some learners. If it’s desirable to create automaticity, why don’t most teachers do it? Because it’s hard. It requires planning and high expectations, and experience. My piano teacher used to tell me that practice does not make perfect but practice makes permanent. I think the saying fits teaching and language learning too. Teaching becomes practice, just as one practices a musical instrument. If one practices a piece with the wrong fingering or rhythm without much mindfulness, one can learn it very wrong. Same with teaching. If you do the same thing over and over again in a classroom, without paying attention, eventually habits start to form, whether good or bad. Developing automaticity in a classroom takes more mindfulness on behalf the teacher so that she doesn’t do the same thing over and over again. If something sticks when you are learning a language and you practice it over again, you may be practicing it wrong and that sticks. I’m not sure if this is a perfect analogy, but I’m just getting some thoughts down on paper. The final thing that made me think was the discussion on research vs. teaching practice. I was surprised to learn (maybe not all that surprised, actually) that teaching many researchers are not teachers currently and can be blinded by their own research. It’s hard to come up with realistic implications from research being done when you haven’t seen the inside of a classroom for 20 years or you are so committed to your belief system that you can’t get out of that even if the data says something else. I thought about what post-method teachers are supposed to do with research. I think that we as post-method teachers are supposed to take what we can use from research like this, which again, makes the job that much harder. How much research is out there to sift through? When do we know we’ve got the right research? How do we know exactly when we are doing it correctly? In a ready to use society, why can’t we take short-cuts? Because we are committed to excellence? Student success? And not every student has the same needs.

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