Teach English as foreign language through teaching

马芙蓉 原创 | 2006-10-22 17:20 | 收藏 | 投票

Teach English as foreign language through teaching thinking






(湖南澧县双龙中学: 07363550610


Abstract: In spite of the progress in English teaching in China, there are radical tendencies in many perspectives. The article tries to analyze them from the aspects in teaching:  methodology,material ,objective and  on radical tendencies in English teaching.

摘要: 近年来国内各种英语教学理论也轰轰烈烈地展开,然而,我们认为,国内的一些英语教学尚存在许多偏激之处。许多教学手段,虽然形式新颖,但是教学效果并不尽人意,教学目标也有所偏移。也许,可以通过思考过程提高英文教学效果。


Key words: English teaching; radical tendencies; the communicative approach ;    activity

关键词:英语教学   偏激    交际法   自主学习


Generally speaking, it’s known that there is no uniform way in which learners acquire the knowledge of a foreign language ,the goal of foreign language teaching is to help the learner master the target language in the shortest possible time.The aim is an all-round develepment of the four language skills,listeningspeakingreading and writing,but different stages emphasis is laid on  different aspects of language learning.To be specific, listening and speaking are given priority in low levels, while reading and writing are given more attention in higher levels. Translation exercises are to call the  students’ attention to the contrast between the two languages. The materials should attempt to provide as much practice as posible for students to develop communicative competence at the same time as  practice for the achivement of linguistic competence is given.Because by mastering the target language, we mean that the learner is able to have successful communications with others in the target language. In order to reach the goal, foreign language teachers as well as applied linguists try very hard to find out the most efficient and effective ways in foreign language teaching. In the history of foreign language learning and teaching, roughly speaking, there are three major views presenting an ever wider view of language. The Structural view limits knowing a language to knowing its structural rules and vocabulary. The Communicative or Notional-Functional view adds the need to know how to use the rules and vocabulary to do whatever it is one wants to do. And the third is the The Interactional view. Besides, with the combination of modern linguistics and translation, translation theories have been developed to a large extent. Compared with traditional translating theories, translation theories nowadays are more scientific. They reveal the process of translating, discuss the difficulty in translating and try to solve the difficulty accordingly. Among current translation theories are the relevance theory and equivalence theory. The latter can be furthered divided into different equivalence. Pragmatic equivalence is one of its major concerns. However, I think, from my own experience of learning and teaching English, our education pay more attention to feeding students with knowledge than to fostering their ability to learn by themselves and to think independently. Todays education is not “teaching students in accordance with their aptitude”, but “teaching students in the same way without discriminations”, taking no particular consideration of their different interests and capacities. The Chinese educational system emphasizes materials and memorization, and stresses the ability to memorize and understand technology. So in the area of  basic skills, that really helps when the students are working in various technological fields. They are good at passing examinations, they are equipped with sound and solid ABC knowledge, but they are short of imagination, flexibility and creativity. So I think the teachers role is guiding the students to do better in the process of learning, and the other is developing in their interests and eagerness in study. In my course, I often let students do more practise according to his /her indivisualities, interests, capacities, their ambitions and life styles. This is what weve worked for all our lives, try to reach for the highest goal we can.

Based on the disadvantages of traditional, first of all, the article tries to analyze them from the aspects in teaching: methodology material objective and on radical tendencies in English teaching in China.This article aims at approving the possibility of achieving pragmatic equivalence between learning language and thinking in target language,too. This possibility is revealed step by step through teaching thinking , this thesis is also designed to concentrate on translators’ attention to pragmatic equivalence in translating and to stimulate further studies on it.

But what can teaching thinking do with teaching of language? There are two possibilities. Firstly, teaching is the means and teaching thinking is the end; we teach the students English and use it as a tool for thinking. Secondly, teaching is the end and teaching thinking is the means; we teach  through teaching thinking. Of course, one of these two viewpoints are not antagonistic to the other; its only a question of different emphasis. It is easy to understand that those students who have learned English well can use the language to think. But, eaching thinking so that the students will learn English well calls for some explanation. English language teachers are faced with two problems:  How to make the students understand? And, if they have understood, how to make them remember? Research in cognitive psychology may have suggestions for these questions...Language is as the dress of thought and as a social activity.Learner factors include aptitude, motivation,personality and congnitive style,etc.

What, then, should the teacher do to help his students understand? The proverb "practice makes perfect" (and Chinese proverbs expressing the same ideas) have been followed religiously by most teachers. Whatever has been taught is followed by practice, practice, and more practice. This is not totally wrong except that the students get tired of practice very soon. When this happens, the students think that English is a dull subject and lose interest. What is worse is that they think English language teachers are out-dated. There is a need to avoid repetitive practice and use more stimulating activities that involve student thinking.

Thinking is the most effective way to practise, because during thinking the students will process the learning tasks again and again. They will also relate what they have to learn and remember with what they have already learnt, through such mental processes as association, combination, classification, contrast, and differentiation. These mental activities will establish in their minds relation among words and concepts --- semantic networks--- and thus strengthening the bonds between language and concepts.

As a matter of fact, early experiments of verbal learning show that nonsense-syllables that have more associations are remembered better. Thinking will make learning more meaningful by relating the new to the old and the unknown to the known.

In other words, get the students to use what they have to learn to think, they will unheedingly learn and remember.This is more effective than rote-learning...Example:follow the communicative approch rules,using language appropriately in different kinds of tasks,eg,to solve puzzles,to get information,and using language for social interaction with other people.In all,according to five rules:

1An emphasis on learning to communication through interaction in the target language;

2The introduction of authentic texts into the learning situation;

3The provision of opportunities for learners to focus,not only on language but also on the lrarning process itself;

4An enhancement of the learner’s own personal experiences as im-portant contribiting elements to classroom learning;

5An attempt to link classroom language leaning with language ac-tivation outside the clssroom.

The most obvious characteristics of the Communicative Approach is that almost everything that is done with a communicative intent. Students use the language a great deal through communicative activities such as games, role plays, and problem-solving tasks. In this process,the focus is on meaning, rather than on language form.The teacher would correct for content She has to take advantage of all situations in which real communication occurs naturally. She should be more concerned with creating many more suitable situations in which students can practise their communicative skills.

A Communicative Approach teacher is concerned with the learners themselves, their feelings and ideas. For learners who are studying in a non_English-_speaking setting, it is very important to experience real communicative situations in which they learn to express their own views and attitudes, and in which they are taken seriously as people.Meaningful activities on a personal level improve performance and generate interest.And talking about something which affects them personally is eminently motivating for students.

Another characteristis of the teaching/learning process of the Communi_ cative Approach  is the use of authentic materials. The Communicative Approach teacher often uses texts which are taken from newspapers, magazines,etc.and recordings of matural speech taken from ordinary radio or TV programmes.The philosophy behind this is that the students should be exposed to real language use in the classroom since they are to use the language for communication when they leave the classroom.Another idea is that students can see the usefulness of the target language and this provides them with a purpose of learning.It is considerd desirable to give students an opportunity to experience real language use and to develop strategies for understanding as it is actually used by native speakers.For example we skim an article in order to get the general idea;we scan a book to find the specific information we want;we infer the real meaning of the writer by looking for. task-based and realia are labled in it.

And The EnglishFour_in_OneTeaching Approach aims at knowledge_based, learning_centred, quality_oriented, faculty_aimed. Psychological studies show that bilingual children are more resourceful and complex intellectually when compared with their monolingual peers. Moreover, when bilingual children could not solve an IQ test question, they switched to the other language and solved it. This could well be what Aristotle had in mind, as bilingual children have two views instead of one. Therefore, teaching English language well is to equip children with another thinking tool…

For instance, we are familiar with kinship terms. What in English calls "uncle" needs three different terms in Chinese (su, bo, jiu) to differentiate between paternal and maternal uncles and, in the former case, senior or junier, too. Likewise, "aunt" in English takes four different terms in Chinese (gu, yi, shen, jin). Again, "cousin" in English does not take into account lineage, seniority, sex. Perhaps, in the Western world, such fine differentiation serves little practical purposes and hence are not necessary…

How to increase students’ cultural awareness becomes more and more important in teaching English. Because language is closely related to culture. Language expresses and embodies cultural reality. If we are in different countries, we must know their cultures, thus, we can use the language freely. On the other hand, language, as a product of culture, helps perpetuate the culture, and the changes in language uses reflect the culture changes in return. Here are some methods of English teaching. So we first, pay attention to the social environment in which language is used. Second, pay attention to the social meaning of words. Third, create situational activities in class. Fourth, introduce reading materials to students. Fifth, use modern technological means.

Refined concepts require words to express the nuances, words are thence created. When the students learn more refined concepts, they think more subtly. In a bilingual environment, cross-language references makes the students thinking more sophisticated. The teachers need to teach language well and consciously develop in the students the ability and habit of thinking. It is the teachers responsibility to realise the ideal of "thinking schools". Even within one language, teachers can train their students to think. The careful choice of words is a good practice of thinking. When properly guided by the teachers,the students will become sensitive to the subtle nuances of a language and thus become more careful thinkers.

Elaborating language materials is another useful thinking activity. The students can be guided to make a simple sentence more interesting and refinded by expanding it with adjectives and adverbs. This is not only a practice of using the language but also an exercise in thinking. Contrasting and grouping words also make the students think in a systematic way. When we meet the textborks/courtebooks, we must know how to deal with it. The coursebooks should attempt at encouraging students to perform various tasks at various stages in order to enable them to work with initative and to be adept in active and logical thinking. So the language is succinct and exemplary, a great variety of subjects must be covered. The textbooks are not only informative and stimulating in content,but also rhetorically and aesthetically appealing.The students will hopefully benefit from various writing styles and techniques ecountered herein.Of course,numerous language exercies of different kinds are devised so that students may consolidate and expand their language knowledge and further improve their language skills.

As for method,The ASSRF Method was proposed by Zhang Jianzhong,a professor in East China Normal University ASSRF is the short form for ‘affective (factors),situation structure,rule and function’, the Five factors which are considered crucial components in foreing language reaching.Affective Factors directly influence language teaching and learning,there-fore,need to be taken seriously.Afavourable environment for language learning can be created if there is a friendly and cooperative relationahip between the teacher and the students.Situation defines the meaning of language use.Structures,rules and functions of language should all be taken care of in teaching because all are important dimensions of lan-guage.Neglecting any one of them,the teacher would present before the students a false or incomplete picture of language,  which would affect appropriate and effective language use.While the teachers are the facilitators of their students’ learning. As follow:

1.     Teacher preparation programmes must move beyond a “training” perspective to an “education” perspective-one which recognizes thai successful teaching involves higher-level cognitive processes that can not be taught directly.

2.     Teachers and student teachers need to adopt a research orienta-tion to their own classrooms and their own teaching.

3.     Language programmes should reflect an emphasis on inquiey-based and discovery-orinted approaches to learning and teaching.

4.     Teacher preparation programmes should include experiences that require student teachers to generate theories and hypotheses,and to reflect critically on teaching through gathering data about teaching and learning.

5.     There wull inevitably be less dependence on linguistics and language theory as a source discipline for teaching and teacher educa-tion,and more of an attempt to integrate sound, educationally based approachrs.

In short,the field of second lannguage and foreign language teacging requires a comprehensive view of how successful learning and teaching is planned for and accomplished in educational settings.Rather than methods determining the curriculum,the school and the classroom should be seen as the context in which planning,development and support activities take place.”

Learning after thinking is more effective when the learners are actively involved in the learning and thinking process. As we all known, language is an instrument used in the communication of thought. It is closely related to thinking and is influnced and shaoed by thought. Traditionally speaking, the students will have to learn (remember) before thinking. Teachers teach their students to learn and remember before teaching them thinking. This sequence is questionable. If thinking helps learning, then thinking becomes a means to effective learning and remembering. This implies that the teachers will need to guide students in thinking as often as possible so that they will learn better and learn English well. At last, without the best but the best choice.




1、《外语教学法》舒白梅、陈佑林主编  高等教育出版社出版

2、《普通心理学》彭聃玲主编          北京师范大学出版社出版

3、《教育心理学》邵瑞珍主编          上海教育出版社出版

4、《语言学教程》胡壮磷 刘润清 李延福主编 北京大学出版社出版                  








俗语说,拳不离手,经不离口熟能生巧几乎成了英文老师在教学时遵奉的金科玉律,不论教的是什么,都要学生多多练习。这原则英没有不对,只是单调的重复练习太多了,学生感到厌倦,不但觉得英文课没趣味,更糟的是认为老师落伍,提不起学习的兴趣。因此,单调的重复练习必须尽量减少,必要的练习,方式力求多样而且力求能刺激学生去思考。思考是最有效的练习,因为在思考中,学生所要记忆的材料被三番五次地运用和处理process),而且和别的有关无关的材料联想、结合、归类、对比、分化。这类思考过程在学生脑中产生字与字之间,词与词之间,和概念与概念之间的语义网络(semantic network),充实字词和概念的语义,能加强记忆。实际上,早年的实验已经指出,有较多联想的无义字缀(nonsense syllables)比较容易学会。思考正是把在学生心目中没有意义的材料变成有意义(能多联想)的材料的有效途径。换句话说,让学生多多运用教材进行思考,让他们在不知不觉中把教材记住,而不是一味要学生强记死背,教学效果更能提高。早年与近年的语言心理研究都显示,学双语的儿童,思想结构比只学单语的儿童复杂。不但这样,当双语的儿童用一种语言不能解答问题时,他能用另一种语言去解答。用阿里斯多德的话来说,掌握双语的儿童比只会单语的儿童多一个窗,对事情有多一种看法。因此,老师把华中教好,也就是给学生多一种思考的工具。……以我们熟悉的语言来说,亲属关系是个例子,英语的uncle不分叔伯舅,aunt不分姑姨婶妗。还有,cousin不分堂表,男女,长幼。也许在西方世界里,这么精细的划分没有实际效应,因此不必多事。但是在讲求长幼有序,男女有别,内外有界的华人世界里,细分有需要。……概念要精细,需要用文字来代表不同的概念,文字也因而产生。学生学了这样的文字,思想也就跟着复杂起来。总而言之,在双语的学习环境里,跨语言的比较能加强学生的思考能力,使思考更加精细精密。这方面,老师如果把语文教得好,而且刻意去培养学生的思考能力和习惯,对学生的影响可能很大,而在重思考的学校这个愿望下,也可说是责无旁贷。即使是在一语言本身,老师也能够训练学生的思考,文字的推敲是一种很好的思考练习。学生在老师的引导下,可以对文字的细腻处产生敏锐的感觉,也就是思考的精细化。文字的加工是另一种思考训练。老师指导学生把简单的语句,用形容词和助词等加以扩大,不但提供了应用的机会,也促进学生的创意思考。文字的对比和归类提供学生复习巩固的机会,也使学生的思考系统化。传统观念中,要思考必须先记忆。因此,老师通常先设法使学生能记忆,然后教导学生思考。这个假设和程序有商榷的必要。如果思考能帮助记忆,那么,思考变成为加强记忆的手段。这意味老师如果在课堂上多多引导学生思考,也就能加强对教材的记忆,提高学生的英文成绩。

而事实上,有些理论和教材无论在教学内容、手段、或者目标上都存在着不同程度的偏激现象。如:片面提倡全英语上课,教学内容偏差,教学手段乃至教学体系的偏差,只重异国文化忽略本土文化。所以我信老师在选择教材时要看教材在教学的不同环节是否以启发学生进行不同的思维活动,使学生不仅级独立学习,而且能进行简单的逻辑思维,善于独立思考。同时,选材应注意范围及体裁的多样性,使学生既能扩大知识面,也能习得优美的语言。还要注意课本的配套练习,可以巩固和扩大学生的语言知识和练习语言基本功。由于哑巴英语现象的出现,重视培养学生的英语实践能力的呼声不断增强,随着人们对强调书面练习和语法解释的传统教学法抨击不断加剧,二十世纪70年代初产生了交际教学法(THE COMMUNICATIVE APPROACH)。近年来,国内英语教学的重心已经转向学生交际能力的培养。然而,重心的转移是否就能真正地使学生的交际能力提高呢?事实并非如此。如:忽视了包括语法、写作在内的英语知识的传授。曾经有一段时间,人们不再重视语法。有的学校甚至取消了语法课。但是,最终,他们发现,对于外语学习者来说,缺乏语法的训练会妨碍他们的语言交际。因为,中国学生之所以无法流利地讲英语,其中很重要的一个原因就是没有语言环境。在这种情况下,对于英语语法的了解就是英语学习者组织合乎逻辑的、正确的句子的第一步,同时,听说能力的提高在很大程度上与读写能力和水平是相关的。心理语言学家指出,语言学习者在学习过程中,首先需要大量的信息,这些信息输入并通过学习者内部的语言系统进行消化和吸收,而转成某种程度的外部语言。语法的学习首先是需要通过教师讲解,由学生消化后才能在交际中发挥出来。没有语法的帮助,英语学习者的阅读能力会受限制,会话能力也难以一下子提高。因此,学生如果要真正地提高其听说能力,除口语、听力能力训练外,还需掌握基本语法知识及大量的阅读和写作的进一步锻造。其次:过分强调以学生为中心。交际法的基本原则是以学生为中心,教师则是组织者,他的主要任务是为学生创造适于交际的教学氛围。许多教师认为,要培养学生的交际能力就要让学生有时间多练习。因此把课堂的时间都交给了学生,而忽略了教师作为组织者的引导特点。作为学生,课前需要预习,课后需要积极地总结及复习,才能学有所成。这样,学生的学习主动性是占主导地位的。而中国传统文化要求人们谦虚做人。所以实际情况是,在一堂课中积极参与讨论与交流的往往是那些口语较好而又较为外向的学生。这类学生只占少数。大多数被动学习型的学生则盼望老师传授他们知识,课上往往因此出现一片尴尬的沉默,使得以学生为主的教学往往流于形式。实际上,以学生为中心的教学方式强调的就是这一环节。如果教师不学生什么呢?也就是说,如果过分强调学生自主性的学习,而忽略了知识性的传授,教学中的两个环节就失去了平衡。不但学生学不到知识,更谈不上促进思考能力的培养了,培养学生交际能力的教学目标也成了一句空话。这就远离了教学的宗旨。最后想说的是,目前很流行的多媒体及其他现代教学手段,教师不要为了使用现代教学手段而忽略了英语课堂的本质。以上的几点,希望同行多指正以共勉。)http://www.chinavalue.net

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