Archive for March 14, 2011

Using Content in Kazakhstan’s Context (Part II)

For those people who are invested in academia, you will recognize the following as course descriptions for the four courses I taught the last two sessions starting fall of 2010.  As you can see, my focus is computer technology and also cross cultural methods.  The whole time I focussed much on writing since I required my students to reflect on things they heard or read.  I think we enjoyed the learning process rather than studying to pass the IELTS test, taking it to the next level.  That is NOT learning, that is cramming.  You never hear anyone cramming for life but living it by learning all along the way.

The following four courses were used in our PDP classes for 20 weeks:

1) Educational Technology in the Language classroom (ETLC I and II) These two courses explored the uses of computer technology in ESL/EFL classes,including language learning through word processing, language practice, home-oriented and educational software and the Internet. During the course, studentshad practical experience with social networking, Moodle, applications software,instructional software and classroom management tools.
2) Teaching Reading and Writing (TRW) This course enabled students to explore academic reading and writing development bywriting discursive and problem/solution essays. Also, reflective writing in weblogs onparticular topics such as assessment, grades, organization, learner autonomy, imaginationbased on the chosen relevant reading texts from academic sources. Further, TRWstudents examined the teaching of writing by becoming familiar with the use of effectivetools such as Thesis statement builder and Citation builder. Finally, designing researchmaterials through the use of surveys (i.e. Survey Monkey and Web Survey Master) fordata to be included in the final research project was required. This course contributedto the development of critical thinking skills with the process approach of building up aportfolio including (working bibliography, outline, three self-study reactions and the finalpaper using APA formatting style).
3) Cross-Cultural Teaching Methods (CCTM I and II) These two combined courses over two semesters brought better understanding about western style teaching (learner-centered) versus the traditional teacher-centered approaches that are commonly taught in the Kazakh pedagogical institutes. In order to facilitate the successful transition in Kazakhstani classrooms, the PDP students watched several relevant films about teaching and also listened to outside guest speakers who were oriented more to a give-and-take approach intheir delivery. This helped the adult learners to know western culture in generalbut also reflect about their own Kazakh cultural influences to appreciate thedifferences in teacher-centered and student-centered interactions from various cultures. Emphasis was placed on the effect of culture on communication, multiple intelligences and learning styles.
4) Teaching Listening and Speaking (TLS) – This course was designed to help adult learner students to prepare for thedemands of developing effective principles of oral communication in an academicsetting. The TLS students built on their linguistic competencies, improved theirEnglish pronunciation, stress, intonation and vocabulary by listening to native speakers lectures and listening to online Ted.com speakers. This course facilitated TLS students’ ability to confidently deliver two mini-lectures (informative and persuasive speeches). Also, they learned effective Powerpoint presentation skills necessary to accomplish their goals in being a fluent, public speaker of Englishin an academic setting. They presented their research findings from their final written paper to an audience of guest expats who gave helpful feedback and asked questions.

(to be continued)

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