The following blog post was written by Rostam Pooladi-Darvish, a faculty member at the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement. This blog post is part of our Conference Reflection blog series. The blog series is an opportunity for Centre faculty to share a key finding or teaching technique learned at a conference.
Getting Real About Paraphrasing/Antiplagiarism Instruction One
Dr. John Sivell
In this presentation, I learned that the problem of learners not being able to paraphrase is not only an L2 issue but also very prevalent with L1 speakers simply because many learners don’t know what paraphrasing is truly about and why it is challenging.
Paraphrasing involves higher order thinking. It is not about changing language structure (i.e. from direct to indirect or active to passive). According to Dr. Sivell, paraphrasing is challenging not merely because of the learner’s incompetence in writing but more importantly due to the learner's inability to read effectively. Learners need to enhance their reading comprehension and strategies to a greater extent to be able to understand the purpose of the text they want to paraphrase.
In addition, learners need to understand the purpose of their own writing and realize that paraphrasing is not just substituting words or structure. Learners find paraphrasing challenging because they find code switching difficult; they often don’t allow themselves to interfere with what the expert has said fearing that they may be wrong. Learners often confuse their role and duties in the given task. All of this takes time to develop and most learners are not given enough time to develop the academic skills needed to become good paraphrasers. Often aesthetic quality of writing is given more importance than cognitive clarity. Sivell stated that paraphrasing and antiplagiarism should not be a punishing process but rather a learning one.
Ten Ways to Read
Dr. Ken Beatty
The session with Dr. Beatty on reading for different purposes encouraged us to think about reading not as a skill that fulfills one purpose. Rather, he gave us examples of readings where readers:
- read to inspect
- read to transfer
- read to classify
- read for beauty
- read to be inspired
- read to stretch
- read to remember
- read to model
Benchmarking Student Speaking
In this workshop, we were advised to look for the following descriptors when benchmarking our learner’s speaking proficiency:
- CLB 1 – Word level
- CLB 2 – Phrase level with isolated words
- CLB 3 – Phrases with short sentences
- CLB 4 – Varieties of short sentences and some compound sentences
- CLB 5 – Variety of simple and compound sentences as well as some complex sentences
- CLB 6 – Reasonably fluent discourse with some hesitations. Grammar and pronunciation errors are still frequent.
- CLB 7 – Fluent discourse with self–corrections and rephrasing. Vocabulary is still mainly concrete
- CLB 8 – Fluent discourse – use of abstract vocabulary and ideas
A view from the Foothills: Exploring the Rationale for Task-Based Language Teaching
From this presentation, I learned important aspects of a task-based activity. A task:
- engages the learner’s interest
- focuses on meaning
- uses language with an outcome in mind
- relates to language in real life
The presenter encouraged us to use language for various purposes, change groups periodically, create tasks that lead to another, use text at hand to draw grammar, and repeat grammar with similar text or tasks.
Self-directed Strategies for Adult English Language Learners
According to the presenter, learners who improve beyond four years of initial learning are self-directed, goal-oriented, and intensely motivated.
Adult learning is not only a cognitive process; it is a spiral and multi-dimensional. We should remind our students that learning happens both in formal and informal settings. Adult learners should be encouraged to volunteer, join conversation clubs, and use audio-visual resources.
Cartoons can be a good audio-visual resource as language is often enunciated clearly, focuses on social interactions, and is repetitive. Online structured English lessons are useful as well. We also learned that self-directed learners plan, implement, monitor, and evaluate their learning.