Welcome to The Warwick ELT!

Editorial… 

Welcome to the Fourth Issue of The Warwick ELT!

We are delighted to present the fourth issue of The Warwick ELT e-zine.

Following the same pattern of the previous issues, the March 2017 issue of ‘The Warwick ELT’, presents articles of MA students from the Applied Linguistics department who come from various cultural and linguistic backgrounds. They bring their own context and individual experiences to the foreground through their articles.

In this issue, Hanna Almontasser in her article ‘How to get young learners talking in a Turkish middle school presents ways of motivating young learners to speak by drawing on her personal experience as a teacher in an EFL context of a Turkish middle school. Henry Pickup elaborates on the status of English and Welsh as perceived by the public in his native country, through his article ‘Languages in the United Kingdom: Status, roles and public perception. Finally, Noel T. Franco Jr.  in his article ‘ English and Other Philippine Languages: Battling for Linguistic Stature in the Filipino Society?’, introduces the multilingual setting in Philippines and sheds light on the status and roles of English and other languages within the context.

For ease of access, each of the articles can be found hyperlinked below:

  1. ‘How to get young learners talking in a Turkish middle school’ by Hanna Almontasser
  2. ‘Languages in the United Kingdom: Status, roles and public perception’ by Henry Pickup
  3. English and Other Philippine Languages: Battling for Linguistic Stature in the Filipino Society?’ by Noel T. Franco Jr.

We hope that the above contributions will be an insightful source of information and inspiration for those interested in the domain of ELT and in foreign language teaching and learning in general.

Above all, we are grateful to those who have contributed to the publication of this issue and we hope to encourage more authors to contribute to our Ezine in the editions to come.

Issue editors,

Betelhem Taye Tsehayu and Georgia Dimitrakopoulou

How to get young learners talking in a

Turkish middle school

Hanna Almontasser

Abstract

Getting young learners to speak in English can be a very difficult task for language teachers, as I had experienced in my two years at a private middle school in Istanbul, where English is taught as a foreign language. Despite increasing the number of classes per week, introducing a new syllabus and materials, the Cambridge Flyers series, and hiring native teachers to focus specifically on teaching speaking, students often have a low level of language proficiency and do not achieve good grades expected by the school, in the end of year Cambridge oral exams. They have difficulty expressing themselves in full sentences using the correct language forms and pronunciation, and they often lack the vocabulary needed to get their meaning across. This article explores some of the reasons why students may struggle: lack of exposure to the L2 and other ‘World Englishes’ (Kachru et al. 2009), lack of opportunity to practise, learner anxiety, lower ability, and lack of motivation. It also provides a critical analysis of the ways in which young learners’ English speaking skills can be improved to a great extent by means of the following three principals: 1) games and competitions, 2) technology and 3) pair work.

Keywords: speaking, listening, young learners, EFL, games, technology, pair work, Turkey

Introduction

Young learners in Turkish private schools have a lack of language proficiency and opportunity to practice the language. They have difficulty expressing themselves in full sentences using the correct language forms and pronunciation, and they often lack the vocabulary needed to get their meaning across. I had encountered this issue throughout my two year teaching experience in Istanbul, where I taught two grade 5 classes (from 10 – 11 years), with an average of 15 students per class. There were many school reforms in my second year of teaching, one of which was to increase the number of grade 5 English classes from one to three lessons per week, with a native English teacher, (a total of two hours per week). These lessons were specifically devoted to teaching speaking and listening. Reading and writing classes were covered by the Turkish-English teachers. The expected outcome was that the students would be more fluent in English, with correct pronunciation and some understanding of grammar, also achieving pass grades in the Cambridge English: Young Learners Speaking tests at the end of the year. There was nevertheless a struggle in getting the students to speak fluently and independently. Many students were unsuccessful in achieving a pass at the end of year Cambridge exam. They also found it difficult to speak with unfamiliar people and to understand different accents. Feedback from students was that “the examiner spoke in a different way” to me (the teacher), and that they “couldn’t understand her English”. (They were referring here, to the examiner’s English dialect and pronunciation). Why is this and how can it be improved?

This article will explore these issues further and discuss in detail how the use of games and competitions, technology and pair work can function as possible solutions for improving the speaking skills of young learners in an EFL context.   Continue reading

Languages in the United Kingdom: Status, roles and public perception 

Henry Pickup

Abstract 

It is widely assumed that the English language enjoys a hegemonic status within the United Kingdom, mirroring its spread across the globe. However, there are increasing concerns within the country that the status of English is meeting a challenge in the form of increasing immigration. It seems there may well be a gap between public perception and reality. Language plays a crucial role in education, and whether or not a pupil or parent speaks a language can determine whether they are included or excluded. Another commonly-held fear in the United Kingdom is that the status of the English language is being undermined by language change. This is not a new phenomenon and it can be argued that language change is both impossible to prevent and potentially beneficial. The second most commonly spoken indigenous language in the United Kingdom is Welsh, which has experienced something of a renaissance in recent years. This is the case both in terms of its official status and the increasing numbers of learners. Looking forward, neither the status nor role of these languages can be seen as a foregone conclusion.

Key words: English, Welsh, status, roles, attitudes

Introduction

A great number of words have been written on the growth of importance of the English language in countries across the world. This is with good reason, as there are estimated to be one and a half billion learners of the language worldwide, a total that is greater than the combined number of people learning the next six most common foreign languages to study. (Ulrich Ammon, University of Dusseldorf, Population Reference Bureau as cited in The Washington Post, 2015). However, this article will focus on language within the United Kingdom, specifically the usage and position of English and Welsh, and the way that people see them. These are the two most widely spoken ‘indigenous’ languages in the United Kingdom, and thus seemed natural choices for discussion. There are a multitude of aspects that could be considered in relation to the topic, and it would be difficult to address them all comprehensively. For this reason, I have chosen to pay particular attention to the area of education, a topic about which there is much to discuss.

 

Increasing immigration and the English language

According to Ethnologue (Lewis, 2009), the English language is spoken as a first language by an overwhelming majority of the population of the United Kingdom, with the figure being listed at 56,600,000 people at the date of the last census in 2011. Despite this seemingly invincible position of strength, there are fears among certain sections of society relating to the growth in the local population of speakers of other languages. In recent years, there have been a plethora of articles in the British press decrying the number of first languages spoken by students in British schools, with one columnist in The Daily Express even pointing to a school in Peterborough, at which none of the children had English as a first language, as a symbol for all of Britain’s ills (Hill, 2013). It is certainly the case that the number of people living in the UK born overseas has increased substantially in the last decade, from 5.3 million to 8.6 million people, or from 8.9% to 13.3% of the wider population, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (2016, p.5-7). This will undoubtedly be reflected in the growth in the number of first languages spoken within Britain’s classrooms. Whether or not this has a positive or negative effect on the level of schooling, or upon the status of the English language within the classroom is unclear. However, it seems likely that public perceptions have been, and will continue to be, affected by the media coverage given to this topic.  Continue reading

English and Other Philippine Languages: Battling for Linguistic Stature in the Filipino Society?

 Noel T. Franco Jr.

Abstract

This paper attempts to describe the status of English (and other languages) in the Philippines. It discusses some legal and socio-cultural factors that may have brought English to being considered an important language in the country. Moreover, it also highlights the proliferation and relevance of Filipino and other languages in the Philippines. The paper concludes by citing the strong hold of English in the Filipino society.

Key words: English, role, status, languages, Philippines, Filipino

 

Introduction

English plays a very important role in the Philippines. Historically and culturally, English seems to have overtaken Filipino and other native languages in several areas and aspects of the Philippine society. Though Filipino is the national language in the country, the use of English has a legal ground to be used as a medium in different forms of communication and even in the country’s educational system (The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Article XIV, Sections 6-8). In fact, the Constitution itself is promulgated in both Filipino and English.

This paper attempts to discuss how English seemingly competes against Filipino and other Philippine languages by looking at some historical events and individuals’ notions that led to these languages’ present statuses and roles in the country.

 

The Spread of English 

The possible first contact of the Filipinos with English can be traced back during the American colonization which began in 1989 when English started to be one of the official (if not the only official) languages of the Philippines at that time. Among other reasons, the use of English during the American occupation was likely caused by the Filipinos’ linguistic diversity; thus, needing for one common, united language. This, alongside other political and socio-cultural events during that time, paved way for the inclusion of teaching of English in the country’s school curriculum (Stevens, 1999).

Even during a few years of Japanese occupation which started in 1941, English was still being used as the official language and favoured by Filipinos (Stevens, 1999; Vizconde, 2006). It was not until 1946, when the Philippines became independent from the United States that one of the native languages called Tagalog, was considered as the official language of the country (Stevens, 1999).

Tagalog was technically known as Pilipino through an executive order of the Department of Education in 1959 and later on became Filipino in 1971 through a constitutional convention (Cruz, 1991). The term Filipino, as Cruz (1991) describes it, is “a future, [Utopina] [sic] Utopian conglomeration of most, if not all, Philippine languages” (p.19).

Approximately from the time the Americans came to the Philippines until before the start of Marcos regime in the 1970’s, there had been a gradual rise in the use of English in several domains of the society. However, when Marcos became the president, there had been an increase in the promotion of English in economic activities and education (Rappa & Wee, 2006 as cited in Dawe, 2014). Continue reading