Friday, November 23, 2012

Richard-Amato, Chapter 4: Participatory Language Teaching

Richard-Amato, Chapter 4: Emergent Participatory Language Teaching, p. 92 - 113

       The traditional type of classroom learning is transmissive and not transformative. Transmissive classroom learning is in play when an IRF structure is used. "IRF" stands for "initiation, response, feedback." The teacher is the active player and the students are passive. According to Paulo Freire, this type of education is meant to "indoctrinate, control, dehumanize students" and preserve the status quo (95). By contrast, transformative discourse is meant to encourage the reflection and action of students by giving them some control over their learning. For this process the work, the teacher has to listen to the topics that interest students and then find a way to "highlight those issues and tap into what is meaningful" (99).
      One way to encourage transformative teaching is through the use of dialogical writing. Dialogue journals are a way for students to express real concerns while also improving their writing ability and confidence. The teacher's job is not to correct grammatical errors but to listen and respond. Students can also keep reaction journals in which they are presented with a story, picture, poem, or some type of stimulus and they react by writing in their journals.
      This type of teaching seems to depend on the motivation of the students. Although I can see myself implementing dialogue journals and I plan to incorporate students' interests into my teaching, I disagree that an entire semester's worth of curriculum can be based off of student interest. Especially since students tend to have very focused, narrow interests. Isn't it important for teachers to expose students to stories, ideas, and stimuli outside of their comfort zone? That way students can develop new interests.

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