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Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL

My students at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) often ask me how I learned English. Before and after my arrival in the United States I have constantly tried to improve my language ability. Back in China, I excelled at learning English as a foreign language (FL), but my need for using English in a social context was very limited. Therefore, my proficiency suffered. An unprecedented personal breakthrough occurred after my arrival in the U.S.: English became my second language (L2), a survival tool that I relied on to perform social functions. Social interactions have given me ongoing opportunities to pick up new language features, and discover the target forms that construct meanings effectively. Gradually, English grew beyond a mere linguistic tool for my daily life. It enabled me to develop professionally. Owing to my language skills I successfully completed my first U.S. graduate degree. I have also broadened my pursuit of personal interests into realms that have required a high level of English literacy, such as reading about Western art and history. After I took up the profession of teaching Chinese to American adults, I began to contemplate how my language learning influenced my teaching philosophy. I regard language as a dynamic system that displays both regularity and flexibility in use. Besides its function to enable communication, language is also a mediational tool for self-development. When discussing successful language learning in the sense of achieving an advanced level of language competence with fluency and accuracy (VanPatten, 2003), I deem input, grammatical language use, and social interaction as the three most essential factors. As a FL Chinese teacher, maximizing learners input, promoting noticing through output practice, and scaffolding constitute the core of my teaching philosophy.

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL What is Language?

The notion of emergent grammar presents two contrasting traits inherent in language: Its fixed constructions can be traced as stable, yet over time they continue to grow and change through incorporation of new terms and shedding of archaic usages (Hopper, 1988). The following discussion will mainly focus on language as a meaning-form associated system in order to demonstrate its stability, as well as highlight its flexible side. In addition to examining language from a cognitive perspective, I will also address how language acts as a mediational tool of ones thinking from a sociocultural (SCT) perspective. A Dynamic System Larsen-Freeman (2003) breaks language down into three interdependent subsystems: form, meaning, and use. Form mainly represents what we can hear and see in how language is represented, such as through sound and pronunciation, orthography, inflectional morphemes, and grammatical structure; meaning encompasses literal and extended meanings of derivational morphemes, singular words, and grammatical strings (multiple words); and use, or pragmatics, refers to what speakers intend to convey by their language choice. Pragmatics highlights the relationship of an utterance to its given context (Finegan, 2012). Ellis (2007) describes language as a database consisting of associative form-meaning mappings with specific functions such as pragmatics (language use). The three dimensions of language as represented in form, meaning, and use are interconnected through multiple crossreferential relationships. An associative disconnect between any of these two dimensions can result in a breakdown of communication. For example, the noun phrase green light comprises an adjective green, and a head noun light. I used to think a linear correspondence existed between the form, meaning, and use of this lexical string. I had only associated the meaning of green

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL light with the traffic-controlling device. Its contextual use refers to a real-world object.

Therefore, I was completely puzzled when someone said to me one day, I will give her a green light if she asks me. Due to my unfamiliarity with the figurative meaning of green light as in approval, I had to stop my interlocutor and ask him to explain what he meant. The context of this particular conversation was a discussion about giving someone permission to do something. The meaning was borrowed from the primary referent, the green signal in the traffic light that indicates permission to pass; therefore, the use of green light to mean to approve bears a metaphorical resemblance to the traffic-controlling device green light. Based on these two instances, the noun phrase green light presents one written form, but two different semantic references, and two different relationships to their corresponding contexts (two pragmatic uses). The language example above points to the significance of varying contexts in language use. Without knowledge of the specific context, one is unable to build a connection between form, meaning, and use. The two referential meanings of green light above are commonly used in English. Therefore, it is considered a relatively conventionalized and steady linguistic unit. However, new metaphors are created by language users all the time based on conventionalized principles (Finegan, 2012). This phenomenon illustrates the flexibility of language, as both an everevolving process, and an outcome of growth (Larsen-Freeman, 1997). For example, for a long time the word li ( in Chinese) had only one primary linguistic meaning, namely thunder, the explosive noise from lightning. In recent years, due to the frenzy of online language coinages li has been endowed with a brand new metaphor: an exceptionally stunning effect that resembles the shock of thunder. As a result of this metaphorical meaning li has gained two new syntactic uses in two widely popular forms. One acts as an adjective in the term li rn ( in Chinese,

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL

literally thunder person). It refers to a person whose conduct and/or speech is so absurd and out of the norm that it has a thunderous effect. The other form bi li do ( in Chinese, passive marker + verb + resultative complement) is a verbal phrase in a passive voice where li functions as an intransitive verb. Literally translated as be thunder-struck down, bi li do is used to express an exaggerated feeling of shock with the negative connotation of disgust. According to Larsen-Freeman (1997), the growth and changes of language are what best captures language as a dynamic system. From a single-character noun li to the compound noun li rn , and to the passive verbal phrase bi li do , new language forms are grafted onto old language elements to take on new meanings in extended contexts. A new meaning (e.g., metaphorical extension) assigned to the old form has led to the growth of new forms, as well as new uses. A Mediational Tool for Self-development Language systems consist of bodies of interrelated coding symbols employed to describe experiences and perceptions. To align our thoughts with linguistic symbols requires the efficient mapping of form, meaning, and use. However, in my experience, whether it is in my first language (L1), or L2 English, it has not always been a simple process, which is possibly due to the fact that my perceptions do not always start off as a black-white picture. Rather, they are subject to changes mediated by way of interaction. Mediate here refers to resolving conflicts, whether real or perceived. For example, the other day I expressed a somewhat opinionated view to an American friend that foreigners living in the U.S. should utilize their opportunity to go beyond their cultural comfort zones to develop a greater interest in U.S. culture. He immediately asked me to name some appealing aspects of U.S. culture. The first thing that came to mind was the right to self-determination, which I interpreted as people being able to build their own lives

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL

the way they see fit. The moment I uttered this thought, I saw the outright paradox with my original assumption that foreigners should learn to appreciate U.S. culture in a certain way. Maybe it is precisely because people are able to choose their own life styles and cultural values in the U.S. that the country has attracted immigrants from all over the world. As these thoughts went through my mind I voiced my thinking to my friend until I decided to retract my initial statement. The conversation above exemplifies the mediational power of language. Similar to physical tools we use to change the world around us, the power of language as a symbolic tool resides in its use in action: its meaning-making capacity (Lantolf, 2011, p. 25). Through this particular capacity, Lantolf (2011) reminds us that interaction in early L1 development is not about language itself but about learning other things, which leads to self-development. Lantolfs model of dialogical interaction reveals the significant interplay between the social and psychological aspects of language. In other words, learning begins with interaction, but is then consolidated within oneself through a cognitive process of rethinking ones original assumptions. Also important to note is how this interplay, according to Lantolf, operates on the basis of a minimum of two interlocutors. In my case, the interaction was triggered by my initiation of an opinion, and then expanded by a request for elaboration from my friend. Such a request suggests that the dialogue started on an interpsychological level. Later on when my friend made an inquiry into my conclusion, I had to find an illustration to support my view, which prompted me to cast doubt on my original view. At this point, the dialogue switched to an intrapsychological plane. The latter involves a self-discourse between I and Me, where I was able to reflect on the lack of coherence in my own utterances. As a result I discovered a deductive mismatch between my opinion and the supporting example. When I abandoned my original view I gained a

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL

deeper insight into how language is an indispensable tool through which one can understand U.S. culture. This encounter with my friend shows how I started with an ambiguous belief and eventually arrived at a logically coherent perspective. My fulfilled self-reflection and deepened understanding of U.S. culture amount to self-improvement. However, I could not have done this without the mediational tool of language triggered by social interaction. What is Language Learning? Back in China, my English study was devoid of social use in context. As a self-motivated learner, I paid close attention to the use of new language features in input to increase my language repertoire. I was considered in the upper range among my peers in English skills. However, my confidence in English plummeted into an abyss of self-doubt upon my arrival in New York. There were many unknown meanings of otherwise familiar words (e.g., the story of green light), legions of idiomatic expressions (e.g., chin up means do not get defeated), and most crushingly, I was at a sheer loss when it came to writing an academic paper or doing a formal oral presentation in English. Looking back I would not indiscriminately dismiss my English study in China as a waste of time. Instead, my early habit of noticing carried me a long way to gain greater language accuracy. Via daily interactions with my current L2 community, I have fully realized the other two critical factors that facilitate language acquisition: widened and enhanced input, as well as frequent interaction with English users more competent than myself. To integrate my learning experiences from both China and the U.S., and to build on my earlier examination of what I consider language to be, my discussion of language learning will mainly focus on three aspects: process varied input, noticing, and social interaction.

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL Process Varied Input

VanPatten (2003) defines input as the language that a learner hears (or reads) that has some kind of communicative intent (p. 25). Input shapes the basis of language acquisition (Gass, 1997). Due to its communicative purpose, input for language acquisition requires making the information comprehensible for what is known as input processing (VanPatten, 2003, p. 29). Language examples, fixed and emergent, consist of countless associative mappings of meaning, form, and use. To encounter, comprehend, and internalize them requires exposure to extensive input over time. Language input for me comes in the form of picking up new terms from context on a daily basis. The order in which language representations appear seems to be linked with ones life experiences. For example, I enjoy reading the often effervescent CD reviews written by enthusiasts of classical music on before making a purchase. In those reviews, I often encounter formulaic chunks, such as technical prowess and individualistic interpretation that I can apply to describe my musical experience. On other occasions, encountering new features of language use can be completely random. The metaphorical use of green light that emerged in an unplanned incidence of social interaction prompted me to adjust my literal interpretation to the speaker's intent. The implication is that learners should expand their language input cross a wide range of topics, pragmatic uses, and sociolinguistic situations in order to pick up new language examples. As mentioned above, input useful for language acquisition needs to be comprehensible (VanPatten, 2003). The academic readings from my first semester of graduate school exceeded my reading proficiency level. The inputs complexity in syntactic structures, context-specific vocabulary, and the prerequisite cultural and historical background knowledge all presented

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL gigantic challenges to my ability to comprehend those reading assignments. To bridge the massive learning gaps, I had to spend lengthy hours to quickly expand my vocabulary,

familiarize myself with the syntactic structures and rhetorical styles of academic language, and enhance my topical and background knowledge in U.S. public policy. By the end of the second semester, my L2 academic reading skills had improved greatly. As my reading comprehension grew, so did my competence in academic language use, such as writing academic papers and doing formal oral presentations. My personal struggles with language learning serve as a daily reminder of the importance of exposing learners to varied input as well as making that input comprehensible for processing. Details regarding the teaching techniques I utilize to address these two focal points can be found in the later section, What is Language Teaching?. Notice Target Forms L2 language proficiency demands rule-based grammatical accuracy and complexity (Skehan, 1998). As pointed out by Larsen-Freeman (2003), grammar concerns accuracy in form as well as creating an effective meaning. Without English grammatical skills, I would have had great difficulty conveying what I intended to say. Grammar is therefore the interconnecting point of form, meaning, and use. To be able to say what I want to say drove me to consciously notice target forms from the very beginning. This noticing involves two subprocesses of conscious activity: detection of the occurrence of a stimulus event, and subsequent storage in long-term memory (Schmidt, 1994, p. 197). The latter is associated with learners intake, defined as linguistic data held in working memory and made available for future processing (VanPatten, 2003, p. 117). Schmidt (1990, 1995, 2001) claims that language features that have been noticed by learners have a better potential to become intake.

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL For instance, here is a recent example of how I used noticing to my advantage as a

language learner. One morning I ran into a working-mom friend at the gym. I asked her, When do you need to drop your kids off the school? She stared at me for a second and asked, Did you mean when I take them to school? I confirmed her recast, but sensed right away that I must have said something off in the first place. I asked if I had confused her in my question. She then explained the differences in meaning between drop off a place and drop off at a place. The language example I produced gave the impression that she would literally drop the kids off from the top of the school. However, with the insertion of the locative preposition at, the grammatical rule mandates that the place coming after it is where the kids will be taken. My personal experience resonates with Schmidt and Frotas (1986) observation that the learners noticing of mismatches between the target input and his/her output is a key factor in making progress. My awareness of the possible difference between my output and the target form caught my attention: I asked for corrective feedback from my native speaker (NS) friend, and tried to register it in my mind. At this point, target input had transferred to uptake, or learners response to feedback (Lyster & Ranta, 1997). First-time detection is perhaps the first step towards internalization. According to Schmidt (1995), completed acquisition demands selfactivated attention to the target form in order to convert the input into intake. Shortly after this incident when I needed to produce an utterance indicating to drop someone off, I mentally checked if I needed to specify the location by inserting at. Through the continued act of attending to the target form, the linguistic knowledge of this particular form was transferred into my long-term memory (intake) which ensured an effective match between meaning and form. Engage in Social Interaction

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL


In my previous section on what language is, I discussed its use as a mediational tool and underscored the importance of social interaction. Here, I extend that observation by elaborating on the significance of social interaction in language learning. My English study reached a turning point after I moved to New York from Beijing. Participation in various social activities, such as taking classes, looking for an apartment, making new friends, and exploring the kaleidoscopic locations of New York, led me to a host of brand new experiences. As a result, I was able to broaden the scope of my language input, discover new target forms, and compare my own output against the target input. Discussions on the social aspects of language learning and development brings into focus Vygotsky and his Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). Vygotskys (1986) ZPD delineates the distance between a novices independent ability in performing a certain task in the future and his/her current ability in doing so under the guidance of a more capable and experienced member. The SLA implication of ZPD is that language learners make progress in their language proficiency through collaborating and interacting with language users with higher competence (Lightbrown & Spada, 2006). My befriending a NS classmate in New York illustrates how learning with a more capable peer through everyday social interaction greatly contributed to my academic success and self-growth. My classmate was a diligent note-taker, enthusiastic reader, and a thoughtful writer. She and I would carry on extensive discussions over school subjects whenever time allowed, and I believe this helped my oral presentations in class. Furthermore, by working with her on class assignments and group projects, I was able to benefit from the scaffolded help she provided to clarify my thinking process. Scaffolding refers to the guidance and feedback received by learners in the process of collaborating (Donato, 1994). For example, she would listen to my ideas, proofread my portion of the group writing

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL


assignments, and ask me to clarify my intended meanings if my language was unclear. When I tried to restate or clarify my point she would sometimes challenge me to think differently. Other times she would say, I think what you meant is and I would either feel enlightened, or disagree with her, and offer further explanation. By drawing on her feedback and the guidance she provided me, I gradually learned how to construct and articulate my points with precise academic language, which marked the fulfillment of my self-development. Via interacting with a more competent peer, as in Vygotskys model of ZPD, I witnessed the growth of my L2 proficiency as well as academic skills. What is Language Teaching? Based on the critical aspects of language learning discussed above I would like to elaborate on three areas of language teaching that are closely related to my day-to-day classroom practice: maximizing learners access to input, promoting learners noticing through output practice, and using scaffolded tasks. In contrast to Van den Brandens (2006) more narrow definition of task as communicative behavior that naturally arises from performing real-life language tasks (p. 9), I have elected to go with Duff and Coughlans (1994) broader interpretation of task as a behavioral blueprint with specified objectives provided to subjects in order to elicit linguistic data (p. 175). The reason is simply that the latter definition applies to all the tasks included in my lesson plan. Maximize Learners Access to Input Ellis (2005) asserts that the L2 should be treated not only as the object of instruction but also the medium (p. 217). In a classroom, a teachers speech is a rich source of input. However, the existence of comprehension gaps between NS teachers and non-native speaker (NNS) students presents obstacles for language immersion. Incomprehensible input may be a

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL


disservice to achieving the goal of language acquisition (Long, 1981; Wong, 2005). Therefore, one challenge of language immersion is finding solutions to bridge comprehension gaps. Negotiation for meaning (NFM) stands out as one solution. NFM represents adjustments made in linguistic form, conversational structure and message content to remove communication breakdowns between NS instructors and NNS learners (Long, 1996, p. 418). Researchers (e.g., Long, 1983; Varonis & Gass, 1985a, 1985b) have reported on commonly used devices of NFM, such as repetition, reformulation, and comprehension checks. For instance, my students asked me to explain the meaning of a Chinese phrase pingwn de gngzu ( in Chinese, literally level stable job), which appeared in a listening passage. The phrase, composed of the adjective pingwn de ( in Chinese, meaning steady) and the noun gngzu ( in Chinese, meaning job), translates as a secure job. I first provided the students a context: You do not have to worry about your job because you will always have it. I looked around for a quick comprehension check: One student nodded and the rest still looked puzzled. I asked the student who nodded to name one job commonly thought of as pingwn de. She uttered dentist. Her answer brought out a few smiles but one student still looked puzzled. So I drew on the board both a wavy line and a contrasting straight line. I pointed at the wavy line and said b pngwn (, or not steady, b here is a negation word), and then referred to the straight line as pngwn , followed by the repetition of my earlier explanation. As a result of my using multiple NFM strategies such as reformulation, repetition, and relying on a graphical aid, my students were all able to work out the meaning of the word. Another key aspect of maximizing learners input is varied input. Language teachers should diversify the classroom input in terms of genres, sources, pragmatic uses, and even regional variants. Task 3 in my lesson plan exemplifies this principle. The DLI official textbook

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL material assigned to the class hour, an edited article regarding Chinese peoples weekend activities, was written in dry, formal, and non-authentic language. To offset this, I found a


current video clip from YouTube featuring a Chinese-speaking foreigner interviewing Chinese people about their weekend activities. Previously I have introduced other authentic materials in the classroom to help the students develop a comfort zone with this kind of input. Drawing on my familiarity with the DLI Chinese textbooks, I filtered through the key words and syntactic structures in the video to ensure a high degree of working comprehension readiness. The video contained a fair amount of language representations familiar to my students at that point in the class. On the other hand, the video also featured some unknown colloquial, fun, and authentic expressions for acquisition. Before watching the video I made the students read the videos title, and then introduced the interview's topic to activate the learner's schemata (Hedgcock & Ferris, 2009). Via the aid of Chinese subtitles, reference resources, and NFM strategies, most of my students were able to contribute to the peer oral report on the discussion question which I had previously prepared (Appendix D in the lesson plan). Some of them even attempted to incorporate the new expressions in their oral report from the video they just watched. Enhance Noticing through Output Practice As noted by Schmidt (1994) earlier, noticing involves two subprocesses: detecting, and storage in long-term memory. More recently, Nassaji and Fotos (2011) argue that Focus on Form grammar instruction can be both input-based and output-based. Furthermore, Swains (2005) Output Hypothesis points out the inadequacy of input processing in L2 acquisition, but language production can compensate for this. Output refers to language produced by learners for a communicative purpose (VanPatten, 2003). Output is the critical trigger of noticing: While

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL


producing/using the language, learners notice what language features they need to use to ensure successful communication (Swain, 1995). This noticing-enhancing function of output has been witnessed on a daily basis in my classroom experience. Oftentimes my students have trouble saying what they want to say. My responsibility is to find the right words and structures to help them complete their utterances. When they orally reproduce what I say, I encourage them to note down their new linguistic discovery (detecting). This note taking will remind them how to use the form correctly in the future (long-term memory storage). Between input-based and output-based grammar instruction, I believe working with the latter is more conducive to language learning, based on my classroom observation. Pre-task 2 in the lesson plan illustrates my effort to use output practice to enhance noticing. In order to maximize output practice opportunities, I designed a small competition that used an open-ended prompt to make students respond to a new grammar feature by drawing on their personal experiences. Within a brief period of time they were asked to produce as many responses as possible that were relevant to the prompt. Then they had to come up with their own prompts with which to conduct peer interviews. As they walked around the classroom and talked to their peers, their attention was drawn to the target grammar structure each time they used their self-created prompt. When a peer asked for clarification of the meaning of the prompt, the learner had to negotiate for meaning in order to facilitate communication which provided additional opportunities for noticing. Scaffold Learning Tasks According to Lantolf (2000), Vygotskys notion of ZPD suggests that a novices future ability to perform social tasks independently can be shaped and brought out by an experts

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL


mediating guidance and collaboration. The concept of scaffolding is compatible with the abilityenhancing guidance as described by the ZPD. Scaffolding requires consistent pursuit of learning goals, nurturing support created by the mentor, and the novice's interest to participate in the learning tasks (Wood, Bruner & Ross, 1976; see also Donato, 1994). The prerequisites of scaffolding present two SLA pedagogical implications: The teacher needs to identify (a) the interests as well as challenges of the students, and (b) appropriate resources for guidance. As mentioned above, the authentic video I chose for the lesson plan (Appendix D) features a foreigner who interviewed local Chinese people in his flawless Chinese. My students immediately took an interest in his effortless way of interacting with ordinary NSs. This video also presents a few challenges in listening comprehension: rapid speech rate, lack of precise articulation, and prevalence of non-standard language use. The discussion question I prepared (Appendix D) further defined the challenge. This task aimed to move the students from comprehending the controlled presentation text (predictable language features) to less predictable language usage. The Chinese subtitles in the video served as background support and an invaluable aid for comprehension. These subtitles can almost be viewed as equivalent to the teachers assistance since the students could stop the video when needed. Additionally, pair discussions enabled the students to draw on each others extra skills to gather facts pertaining to the question. For example, I noted several occasions when one learner noticed some key language features in the subtitle/utterance, looked them up in the dictionary, and then explained them to his/her partner in the TL. The story above sheds light on another strength of ZPD-driven scaffolding: using peer assistance as a form of guidance to help individual learners accomplish learning goals. Most formal language instruction is not conducted on a one-on-one basis. Part of the teachers

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL responsibility in scaffolding is to allocate resources to maximize the appropriate guidance


provided to students. Assigning group work, for example, is an economic way of bridging ones learning gaps via peer help and collaboration. Task 2 in my lesson plan was designed for student pairs to produce a graph in order to show the relationship between the variable they chose and the findings presented in a social survey. First, they worked under my guidance to identify all three variables by scanning the text. Then, they negotiated with a partner to pick out one of the three variables. Next, each pair produced one graph on the easel board. The students checked with one another on their comprehension of the survey findings, discussed which form to use, and what key facts to present with the graph. Through negotiated and mediated talk, the final product varied in accordance with their favored design and form. One pair did a symbolic drawing; another used a pie chart; and the third opted for a table. One way or another, the graphs had enabled them to connect the findings with the variables, thus allowing them to gain a thorough understanding of the survey results. The design of Task 2 illuminates the beneficial effect of peer-interaction in allowing students to move further along their ZPD manifested by overcoming challenges and completing the task. Conclusion Language is a dynamic system that reflects both stability and change. It is also a mediational tool with which we generate and refine our thoughts. As a result, it pushes us through personal development. Language learning is not only composed of cognitive activities, but is also interlaced with social interactions. Successful language learning requires wide access to input, noticing, and assistance from more competent users of the language. It is the teachers goal, as well as responsibility, to address these learning needs in his/her lesson plans. My teaching philosophy is an eclectic approach based on both cognitive and sociocultural beliefs.

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL


The result lies in combining comprehension-enhanced activities with extensive input varieties, grammar instruction with output practice, and teachers guidance with inter-peer assistance in scaffolded learning. (Word count: 5028)

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL References


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Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL


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Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL


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Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL


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Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL


zhnggurn znme gu zhum What do Chinese people do on weekends? Instructor: Zhengzheng Wu Setting: Level: Length: the Defense Language Institute (DLI) Intermediate-low (6 students) 50 minutes

Materials: SmartBoard; Tablet PCs; Easel Boards; Color markers; Reading text and audio recording from DLI Chinese Unit 6 textbook; Handout with listening questions based on the presentation; One prompt relating to a new grammar pattern; YouTube video clip; Handout with discussion question based on the video. Background of the lesson: In the preceding session of this lesson the students studied the new vocabulary and expressions related to the text in the presentation (Appendix A). Therefore, they have been prepared to directly process the text input with a degree of readiness. Objectives: Students will be able to: 1. 2. 3. 4. Comprehend the main ideas of the presentation text via listening and reading activities Notice the function of +subject+ result construction1 and integrate it in language use Design and draw graphs demonstrating the key findings of a social survey Discuss the significant facts revealed by the YouTube video relating to changes in Chinese peoples weekend activities. Activities Greet students and have a short conversation about their previous weekend activities Pair up students to use tablet PC to listen to the selected audio hyperlinked Objective(s) met N/A Materials

Time (Est.) Pre-Task 1 (2 min.)


Textbook presentation

(sh)+noun + result indicates enabling a result to happen to someone or something, similar to the English present participial adjective, such as exciting in Chinese can translate into , literally meaning enabling () people () excited ().

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL Task 1: pair work on listening questions (7 min.) on their electronic presentation text (paragraphs 1 & 2 in Appendix A) Ask pairs to work on the handout questions based on the audio (Appendix B) Note: students have previewed new vocabulary and expressions relating to the presentation text in a preceding class session Call on each pair to orally share their answer on one of the questions from the handout Use the question prompt featuring the +subject+ result construction (Appendix C) to elicit as many response items as possible from each student (a one-minute mini competition) Find out who has produced the longest list and share his/her answers (a small prize prepared) Make each student produce 1or 2 questions containing the grammar pattern and interview 2 classmates using the self-created prompt Re-pair students Have each pair skim through paragraphs 3 & 4 (see Appendix A) Help pairs identify the three variables and let each pair pick one Guide each pair to design a graph representing the corresponding findings related to the variable chosen (see Appendix E)


audio (paragraphs 1 & 2 in Appendix A) Appendix B Tablet PCs

Post-Task 1 (3 min.)

Appendix B

Pre-Task 2: grammar constructio n (8 min.)

One pre-written brainstorming prompt that contains +subject + result

Task 2: pair work on producing graph (12 min.)

1 3

Paragraphs 3 & 4 in the presentation (Appendix A) Easel boards

Post-Task 2: swap graphs

Have students walk around the classroom to read and comment on graphs made by the other pairs

1 3

Easel boards Color markers

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL (4 min.) Pre- Task 3 (2 min.) Make students resume their previous pairing arrangement Instruct pairs to use the link given (Appendix D) to locate a YouTube video on their tablet PCs Have pairs read the title on the YouTube video to activate background knowledge Brief on the topic of the interview and the characters involved N/A


YouTube video clip (Appendix D) Tablet PCs

Task 3: watch a video clip (10 min.)

Post Task3: Wrap-up (2min.)

Encourage students to go through the entire video twice and try to grasp the main idea and general topic Orient students to focus on one selected video segment2and suggest students use the Chinese subtitles as a comprehension aid Help students prepare for an oral report that answers the discussion question (Appendix D), and also bridge the comprehension gaps of unfamiliar terms and concepts when needed Answer additional questions ( e.g., vocabulary, grammatical structures, and content-related) and during the pair discussion Have a volunteer pair give their oral report to the whole class

Appendix D Tablet PCs

Appendix D

The segment starts at 1min. 14 sec. and ends at 2 min. 04 sec.

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL Appendix A: Presentation text (Presentation 3, Lesson 36, Unit 6)


Note: The presentation text is directly extracted from Unit 6, DLI official textbook for the Basic Chinese Program. Its readability lies in the fact that the DLI textbook materials are coherently developed and validated by the curriculum design specialists for DLI Chinese students to gradually gain language proficiency throughout the program.

OK 3
Appendix B: Listening questions 1. Who were interviewed? (3 details) Residents of female and male, various ages and professions from a local apartment complex. 2. What was the interview question? What was the rationale for this interview? Due to the expanded weekend from one day to two days (the implementation of five working days since 1995), it would be interesting to find out how Chinese people spend their weekend (what weekend activities do Chinese people normally have?).

The underlined sentence contains the new grammatical construction +subject+ result introduced in pre-task 2.

Component 4: Language, Language Learning, and Teaching from the Perspective of a Practicing Teacher Zhengzheng Wu MATFL Appendix C: Grammar practice prompt 1. ? (What activities make you happy on the weekend?) Appendix D: Link to the YouTube video: Discussion question:


(What changes are reported relating to Chinese peoples leisure activities through the foreigners interview of Chinese ice-skaters?) Appendix E: Example pair work on Task 2

(Age) 4

(young people) (watch films)

(senior people) (housework) (rest) (online

(dance) OK (Popular weekend activities) (Karaoke), (hike) activities), (hike)

The example only shows one variable (age) and its related findings.