Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Going back to the text with a purpose in ESL, ELL or EFL learning by Marta Braylan

When we work with authentic texts (literary, expository, academic, and so on...) we tend to place focus mainly on comprehension. However,  approaching a text with a different purpose other than checking comprehension, can give our students a chance to go back to the text meaningfully. 

Metacognition is the action of reflecting on our own learning process.  When we are able to explain or show how we learned  something, we are witnesses to our own learning process. There has been a growing recognition that metacognition or self awareness, including awareness of ourselves as learners, helps us to learn more effectively (Scottish, 1996)

Gardner said "
I use the term metacognition to refer to what a learner knows about how he or she learns a language; and, therefore, view it as a process of relating the language learning to the self".

Once the student becomes familiar with a text she/he can go back to it in order to reflect about meaning and grammar. This is, also, a way of showing understanding; however, it requires an action from the learner that shows awareness and self reflection.

But how do we go about it?

Using a known text with different learning objectives:
  •  To locate and identify certain words such as: describing words (adjectives), verbs in the present/past/future/action verbs and others. 
  •   To locate and identify words that refer to a certain topic of study (personality, wheather, nature, ecology, scientific process, story organization, the arts, history, etc.)
  • To correct mistakes related to the meaning and/ or the grammar/spelling
  •  To identify and make changes: changing the characters, the setting, the time, the ending, the moral, the conflict. (Making the necessary adjustments to the new text, such as plurals/singulars, verb tenses, persons, and so on.)
  •  To fill out a graphic organizer in order to classify, to understand a process, to infer, to conclude, to compare, to organize a sequence of events, etc.
  •  To make a list of words related to a certain topic of interest.
  • To identify main ideas in paragraphs.
  • To understand concepts related to coherence and cohesion.
Authentic texts provide context and meaning to the learning process. As students approach a text without fear and feel comfortable to "play" with its words and ideas they are learning
that language has a purpose, is real and close to their lives.