Findings

Ethical Issues
It is important to consider ethical issues in making decisions regarding research which includes the participation of people in their place of work. Research was undertaken according to these principles and professionalism and equality were aimed for at all times.

Evaluation
1.    Language Development

It is important to remember that it takes 5-7 years to become a fluent speaker of any language. Language development should always target the 4 literacy domains: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. To assure success in the L2 (second language), the learner's oral and written skills in L1 (first language) must be developed to a high level at least through the earlier years. The learners’ social language should not be used as an indicator of their academic level.
There are usually different stages expected in order to acquire fluency in a second language. The initial stage which can also be a silent stage, a time when the learners are becoming familiar with the language. The learners are taking in the new language. It is important to remember that the learners are learning even though they are silent. They can express themselves through pictures. During the next stage, the learners are increasing their courage to verbalize. They can deviate from the standard language. The later stages progress from the learners continuing to deviate from language standards and still using pictures to summarize understanding. The learners then become practically fluent before having the courage to speak in their learnt language.

It is also important to know why learners wish to develop their language skills:

Language is at the centre of human life. It is one of the most important ways of expressing our love or our hatred for people; it is vital to achieving many of our goals and our careers; it is a source of artistic satisfaction or simple pleasure … Knowing another language may mean: getting a job; a chance to get educated; the ability to take a fuller part in the life of one’s own country or the opportunity to emigrate to another; an expansion of one’s literary and cultural horizons; the expression of one’s political opinions or religious beliefs. (Cook, Vivian (1981) Second Language Learning and Language Teaching Edward Arnold )

Some theorists believe that listening and speaking exercises should have priority over reading and writing and that phonetic exercises could be helpful. Learners could also learn the rules of language themselves through the structures and use should be made of grammatical structures. In terms of curriculum planning grammar should be graded according to difficulty, putting the easier elements first and syntax and construction ought to be learnt (not individual words) in various context until they become automatic. Teaching aids must be used from the simplest (blackboard and chalk) to language laboratories. The more strategies and senses used the better the learning.

2. Academic Development

It has been found, particularly with adult learners that vocabulary should be taught within a meaningful context. Meaningful context being that which is important to the learners and their lives.

It is important to use informal assessments (tutor observation, portfolios, etc.) to gather information about the learner's academic ability and linguistic understanding. These informal assessments should be given in their first language to determine a learner’s academic level and ability. Academic development transfers from first to second language. The first language needs to be supported to facilitate academic development.  It is also important to remember the learner's community and home environment and that learners go through periods of adjustment every day within their individual lives. Some factors to remember are self-esteem, anxiety, stress and peer pressure. Tutors need to acknowledge the classroom stressors that inhibit or enhance the learner's learning. They also need to be aware, if possible, the learner's general life, educational background, and socioeconomic status. Prejudice and discrimination within the community affects the learner's learning and attitude. Family support of the taught language is extremely important as is creating a cooperative learning environment among learners which is also an essential key to language acquisition.

3. Cognitive Development

Cognitive development is often overlooked although it is extremely important in language learning. It is important to recognize Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) development in the fist language (L1) and the second language (L2). Tutors need to provide opportunities for learners to develop higher order thinking skills. and to remember that it is easier for learners to transition from L1 to L2 if the learners have a good foundation in their L1. Tutors need to engage the language learner in real life experiences in their new language and to use explicit instruction when using cognitive learning strategies. Tutors need to help the learners take ownership of their learning in order to become independent adult learners.
Research has proven that learners that reach full cognitive development in both their first and second languages are at a cognitive advantage to monolinguals.

4. Staff Development

Sessions should be planned according to learning cycles and the needs of the learner. The tutor should provide ‘whole task practice’ through various kinds of activity, structured in order to suit the learners’ level of ability. These activities should improve motivation with the ultimate objective being to take part in communication with others. Their motivation to learn is more likely to be sustained if they can show how their classroom learning is related to this objective and helps them to achieve it with increasing success. Learners need to be encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and learn naturally as many aspects of language learning can take place only through natural process, which operate when a person is involved in using the language for communication. Tutors can create a context which supports learning.
Communicative activity provides opportunities for positive personal relationships to develop among learners and between learners and teachers.
Tutors need to be trained appropriately as all successful teaching depends upon learning; there is no point in providing entertaining, lively, well-constructed language lessons if students do not learn.
Tutors need to be able to coordinate the activities so that they form a coherent progression, leading towards greater communicative ability. They manage the classroom and are responsible for grouping activities into ‘lessons’ and for ensuring that these are satisfactorily organised at the practical level. This includes deciding on their own role within each activity. In many activities, they may perform the familiar role of language instructor; they will present new language, exercise direct control over the learners’ performance, evaluate and correct it. In others learning will take place through independent activity. Learners need effective and immediate feedback on their learning and tutors may also move about the room monitoring the strengths and weaknesses of the learners, as a basis for planning future activities. Tutors often participate in activities and in this role can stimulate and present new language, without taking the main initiative for learning away from the learners themselves.
In order for these needs to be addressed some element of staff development should be organised, monitored and evaluated.

 

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