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On Activities in Junior High School English Teaching

By Susan Edwards,2014-09-02 11:08
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On Activities in Junior High School English Teaching

    On Activities in Junior High School English

    Teaching

    Abstract: The available literature on English teaching showed that involvement in English related activities are closely related with the student language learning success The thesis first gives a definition of activity in English teaching through the analysis of different versions of definition of activity in different authoritative English dictionaries and online dictionaries. Then the thesis focuses on discussing the reason of applying activities according to the psychological factors in learning, the nature of junior high school students and the aim of junior high school English teaching. At last, the thesis talks about how to apply activities in the teaching and learning, which talks over the choice of activity that is made on the basis of make-up of the class, aim of the content, teaching style and feature of well-chosen activities, the organization of activities that depends on student groupings, seating arrangement, selection of supplementary materials, language use. The latter part refers to some suggestions for teachers to adopt in designing and completing activities.

    Key Words: activities, junior high school students, effective English teaching and learning.

     内容摘要!为了获得有效的初中英语教学和学习?本文围绕把活动带入英语课堂进行全面的探讨。本文首先通过分析各种英文字典和网上字典对活动的解释?提出了对活动的定义。然后?根据影响学习的心理因素、初中生的心理特点及英语教学的目的?讨论把活动带入英语课堂的原因。再次?从活动的选择及组织两大方面论述了如何把活动带入英语课堂。最后?通过列举活动在初中英语教学中的运用实例?证明把活动带入英语课堂能获得有效的英语教学及学习。

    关键字!活动?初中生?有效的英语教学和学习

    Contents

    Abstract…………………………………………………………………………………i 摘要………………………………………………………………………………………ii Contents…………………………………………………………………………………iii Introduction……………………………………………………………………………1 1. What is Activity……………………………………………………………………2 2. Why Use Activities…………………………………………………………………3

    2.1 Aim of Junior High School English Teaching and Activities……3

     2.1.1 Communicative Competence and Activities…………………3

     2.1.2 Initiative Learning and Activities……………………………4

     2.1.3 Creative Ability and Activity…………………………………4

    2.2 Psychological Factors in Learning and Activities………………4

    2.3 Nature of Junior High School Students and Activities……………6

     2.3.1 Self-display and Activities……………………………………6

     2.3.2 Concentration Span and Activities……………………………7 3. How to Apply Activities…………………………………………………………8

    3.1 Choice of Activities…………………………………………………8

     3.1.1 Make-up of the Class…………………………………………8

     3.1.2 Aim of the Content……………………………………………9

     3.1.3 Teaching Style…………………………………………………9

     3.1.4 Features of Well-Chosen Activities…………………………10

    3.2 Organization of Activities…………………………………………10

     3.2.1 Student Groupings……………………………………………10

     3.2.2 Classroom Re-Arrangement…………………………………10

     3.2.3 Supplementary Materials……………………………………11

     3.2.4 Language Use………………………………………………12

    3.3 Examples of Using Activities………………………………………13 4. Some Suggestion…………………………………………………………16 Conclusion…………………………………………………………………18 Bibliography………………………………………………………………19 Acknowledgements…………………………………………………………20

Introduction

    As English becomes more and more accepted as an international language, and junior high school students are nation builders, the teaching of English to junior high school students are increasingly taken seriously. For centuries, methodologists have been making efforts to find out the most effective way of teaching English. In line with the study of the junior high school students, methodologists proposed that junior high school English teaching should obey the principle--teaching English through playing.

    But, in China, under the pressure of the entrance examination to senior high school, most of junior high school teachers are only cramming language points to students in a short time and then making full use of the rest minutes to get students into doing the written examination exercises and correcting mistakes and giving marks; they ignore activities and even think doing activities is a waste of time.

    It is an essential and meaningful step that teachers should realize that they are disobeying the principle of junior high school English teaching-teaching through playing, and be ware of that cramming-duck teaching and intensive dull examination exercises may only help students get a relatively positive mark in examination temporarily, but they cannot help students develop language skills in an all-round way.

    Activities must not be neglected. It is not a supplementary aid, not a surplus in English teaching, but a very necessary and important part of English class. This thesis tries to probe into activity comprehensively to prove that applying activities to teaching English not only suits "learning through playing ",but also develops junior high school students all-round English language competence besides the competence of getting high mark in

    examination, thus results in a positive cycle of learning; second to provide ideas of applying activities to the English teaching and learning .

1. What is Activity?

    Most of junior high school English teachers are familiar with the word activity and they may apply activities in teaching English, but they might not be able to give a definite definition of activity.

    There are many different versions of definition of activity in English

    [1]dictionariesOxford Advanced Learners' Dictionary (1997), one of the

    popular English dictionaries among the English learners, explains activities in two ways:"(1) busy or energetic action;(2) specific thing or things done; action; occupation, including outdoor sports, recreational, classroom activities”; another popular dictionary-Long man Dictionary of American

    English (1998) states that activity is "something done for pleasure, interest or educating”. Some online dictionaries also define activity variously, such as Your Dictionary. Com-American Heritage says that Activity is "providing entertainment or amusement; a pastime"

    Although these definitions emphasize the different aspects of activity, they share one similarity: activity is the combination of action and activate; it is an interesting action done for one purpose-activating someone or something. There are many different types of activity, and when it refers to a particular situation, it can be defined specifically, such as sports activities, entertainment activities. Therefore, when activity comes into English teaching, it means a kind of classroom activity, defined specifically as interesting actions done in teaching English for activating English learners vigorously in learning English, which brings about effective English teaching and learning.

2. Why Use Activities?

    The definition of activity in English teaching can reveal the importance of applying activities to English teaching to an extent, but the following three factors-psychological factors in learning, nature of the learners and aim of the teaching materials, which affect English teaching and learning, much require the application of activities to teaching English, as applying activities in teaching English can make full use of the merits of these factors together, overcoming the demerits, which leads to san effective English teaching and learning.

    2.1 Aim of Junior High School English Teaching and Activities

    According to Junior High School English Teaching Syllabus of China, English education must serve the socialist modernization drive and people to develop intellectually. Successful English teaching first must make students master English-native-like communicative competence; second must develop initiative learning, creative ability and cooperative spirit in students. 2.1.1 Communicative Competence and Activities

    "Language is a means of communication." The main trend dominating the language teaching profession today is Communicative Language Teaching, which emphasizes that, the goal of the language learning is communicative competence, as language is a means of communication. One of the important methodological principles listed in the textbooks compiled by the People' Education Press and the Long man Group Ltd. is "Learning by using active use of the language is encouraged."

    Activities can help teachers to create English contexts in which the language is useful and meaningful, an ease English-speaking environment to encourage junior high school students to take part in, and to do so, students must understand what others are saying or have written, and then they must speak or read or write in order to express their own point of view or give information. Students seldom use one skill in completing activities. So, in this way, activities integrate all four language skills-listening, speaking, reading

    and writing, and give students opportunities to develop strategies of language use and functional and performance skills, hence realizing learning by using and making students grasp English-native like communicative competence. 2.1.2 Initiative Learning and Activities

    Activities, like playing games, singing songs, tongue twisters, jazz chants, can lower anxiety, thus creating a relaxed and enjoyable and cooperative atmosphere. This positive atmosphere has significantly made their learning much more enjoyable, memorable, what is more, through those activities, students can learn English the way children learn their mother tongue without being aware that they are studying, and without stress, they can learn a lot, so they can have achievement which will build their self-confidence and develop motivation for further learning. This cyclical process generates a positive attitude toward learning English, which is one of the most valuable thing that every English teacher would like to transmit to their students, thus making students learn for themselves in their lives, not teachers, not parents.

    2.1.3 Creative Ability and Activity

    Students can develop the ability of creativity in performing activities, as activities can make students use more active use of creative power. Activities such as Making a Time Clock, can exercise students' imagination and creation, make them think actively, Innovatively, so that to have students educated to the highest standards of intellect.

    [2] 2.2 Psychological Factors in Learning and Activities

    According to educational psychology, motivation, Interest, attention, memory are the four main psychological factors, which influence learners in learning. Psychologists agree that if learners have great interest in the target language, they will have high motivation and be willing to pay attention to the learning objectives and engage themselves entirely in learning, thus memorize the learning materials faster and better and progress.

    On the basis of this psychological viewpoint, we can see that among these four factors, Interest is the most important one. Some researches show that interest accounts 25% for successAn old famous saying is “ Interest is

    the best teacher.” As Einstein said, “Interest and hobbies are the greatest power.” Educator Bruna also noted, “The most powerful stimulation of learning is from the interest in the leaning materials.” As a psychological

    research has indicated, “The interest in learning is the most practical and active part in the learning enthusiasm. ”It is the common sense that if learners raise great interest in the leaning objectives, they will be highly motivated, and even eager to invest more effort in what they are involved.

    So, the most important part of teachers' task is to arouse learners 'interest, causing high motivation, intensive attention and good memory.

    Activities can attract students' interest and encourage their desire to invest more effort in English learning. For example, in a forty-five-minute lesson, if students spend all of the time listening to the teacher and taking note, like ducks being crammed, they will probably get bored. “One of the greatest enemies of successful teaching is student boredom.” Gradually, students' enthusiasm in English is likely to flag and finally, their interest in English will also be killed. But, if in that forty-five-minute class, there are two or more activities with a selection of different topics focusing on the teaching objectives, students are more likely to raise interest and remain it for a long time, so that to achieve the productive English teaching and learning.

    Activities are interesting and vigorous actions. For instance, competition activities are challenging and stimulating, and students are liable to take interest in the activities and are spontaneously highly motivated; story telling or joke telling activities are amusing, and students are happy to learn English in the story telling or joke telling activities. If students are amused, angered, intrigued or surprised in the activities, the content is clearly meaningful to them, thus the meaning of the language they listen to, read, speak and write

    will be more vividly experienced, and, therefore, more quickly and deeply remembered.

    Thereby, junior high school English teachers can only make good use of these four main psychological factors in learning through applying activities to teaching English, then in this way to make English teaching and learning much more effective.

    2.3 Nature of Junior High School Students and Activities

    Junior high school students from the age of 11 to 14 are called adolescents in psychology. On the point of the psychologists' view, adolescents have two distinct natures in this period: first, adolescent learners have developed self-reliance gradually and are fond of displaying themselves; second, the concentration span of this period is short. Successful English teaching should conform to these two natures. The best way to realize this is to use activities in class, as activities can allow students to display their abilities and attract their attention longer.

    2.3.1 Self-display and Activities

    Junior high school English students are intermediate English learners; they have basic competence in speaking and writing, and the ability to comprehend fairly straightforward listening and reading. They all have their own ideas, opinions, feelings, experiences and areas of expertise. All of these are important to them. What they need from English classes is opportunities to express all of those in English to show others what they have grasped.

    Applying activities to English teaching meets their needs, providing students, particularly the shy students, with and ease English-speaking environment and enough chances to express their opinions and feeling, and to display what they can do, which contribute to self-reliance, self-confidence and self-respect.

    2.3.2 Concentration Span and Activities

    Compared with child learners, the concentration span of junior high

    school learners are a little longer; while compared with adult learners who may well have a view of the importance span of junior high school students is

    [3] shorter.Research shows that child learners can only concentrate on studying for 10 to 15 minutes, while junior high school students can concentrate for 20 to 25 minutes.

    Language learning is an intense and hard task, which sometimes can be frustrating. Constant effort of the learner is required at every moment to understand, produce and manipulate the language and must be sustained for a long period of time. It is absolutely true in English language learning.

    Since the concentration span of junior high school students is not long enough, if English lessons are wholly taken up by teachers' teaching, students will find it more difficult to concentrate and may get bored and irritable which will detract from leaning and may produce discipline problems in some classes. So the need for surprise and variety within a forty-five-minute lesson is overwhelming, actually, even adults need a varied diet to keep them stimulated.

    Activities provide variety and amusement, thus make the long daily English lessons vividly and lively, hence avoiding the diversion of students' attention. Well-chosen activities in class not only give students a break, but also sustain their attention, interest and work. Junior high school students will spend hours in absorbing in activities that really interest them. Furthermore, when students are engaged, the learn better that when they are partly or when they are wholly disengaged.

3. How to Apply Activities?

    Besides knowing why use activities, teachers should further know

    [4] another important one -how to apply activities.Using activities in a wrong

    also makes English class invalid. To use activities in a right way to achieve the most effective English teaching and learning, teachers should know how

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