My Pedagogical Creed for the Language Classroom
Where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18)
Article One: What Language Education Is
I believe language education is for the transformation of the student. Effective language learning takes place within a problem-posing perspective. "In problem-posing education, people develop their power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves; they come to see the world not as a static reality, but as a reality in process, in transformation" (Freire, 2003, p. 83).
I believe this begins with the educator’s willingness to give his/her students ample opportunity to engage in critical thinking. “His efforts must be imbued with a profound trust in people and their creative power. To achieve this, they must be partners of the students in their relations with them” (p. 83). Within this perspective, language education must strive towards genuine dialogue between students and educators.
I believe that language education is about the vision of the student. “Such a
transformation of classroom practice has to begin with the teachers, because they are the people in the best position to shape classroom life” (Dornyei, 2014, p. 3). Teachers can be the transformational leaders and the engine for this drive is the teacher’s vision for change and improvement.
Article Two: The Language Educator
I believe the language educator should lower him or herself in order to teach well.
I believe the language educator can lower him or herself through joining a language classroom. In that classroom, he or she will experience what it is like to be a student who does not have all the answers.
I believe the language educator should understand the dignity of his/her calling. He/she is able to speak for what is right and wrong in society but recognize that it does not have to be pointed out.
I believe the language educator should be concerned about vision in the classroom. He/she can understand students current identity concerns, provide regular intervals of future tastes, use guided imagery and narratives, and ensure students are exposed to role models (Dornyei, 2014, p. 37).
Article Three: The Course Material in the English Language Classroom
I believe the selection of course material is of utmost importance in the language classroom. Eisner spoke of the strengths and limitations of task and materials. Getting smart, in this context, means coming to know the potential of the materials in relation to the aims of a project or problem; and since each material possesses unique qualities, each material requires the development of distinctive sensibilities and technical skills (2002, p. 72).
I believe the selection of course material should provide richness. “In order for students and teachers to transform and be transformed, a curriculum needs to have the ‘right amount’ of indeterminacy, anomaly, inefficiency, chaos, disequilibrium, dissipation, lived experience” (Doll, 1993, p. 176).
I believe the selection of course material should provide repetition and recursion. Repetition will improve the student’s ability to perform. Recursion will improve the student’s ability to think (p. 178). Both are necessary for the language classroom.
I believe the selection of course material should provide a relational, pedagogical framework in a cultural way (p. 179). This will provide relational perspective within the Korean English language classroom. There are many different perspectives of what is right and wrong and they need to be discussed.
I believe the selection of course material should provide rigor. Rigor is the exploration of the learning experience looking for new combinations and patterns in order to develop the ideas and concepts (p. 183).
I believe that once course material has been selected the educator and the student can pursue surprise. “To pursue surprise requites the willingness to take risks, for while surprise itself may emerge, its pursuit is a choice” (Eisner, 2002, p. 79). The language educator can ask questions and the student can respond.
I believe that once course material is selected the language educator is able to go backwards and make sure the first assignment will tell who each student is through an informed opinion (Dornyei, 2014, p. 44).
I believe students need vision on how to “taste the future in order to desire it’ (Dornyei, p. 46). The language educator could invite successful language speakers to the classroom, participate in language encounters, or organize study abroad and field visits. These would be done with the intention of showing students what is out there and it will show what how students are best able to see themselves in the future.
I believe students will need their vision strengthened. Collectively, the group could be given a motivational speech where they are to describe themselves, their past, their present, and their future. The first section is about themselves as Korea university students. The past usually is a golden age where students did great deeds, like a legendary hero or heroine. The present is troubled. It is a critical moment where a fateful choice is made. The future is a dreamlike vision. There is hope and greatness and it is often related to the past. This will give a student a taste of language learning as vision that is within the student’s reach.
I believe students who are positive will react to the above with clarity and vision.
I believe students who are negative will require more to engage them fully. They need to be shown how to turn their negative thinking into something positive. In other words, like optimists, who formulate their possible selves on the basis of positive experiences, pessimists are inclined to use negative experiences as the foundation for extrapolating possible selves formations; this may lead to no possible self – or even a feared self – and certainly no forward pointing action (Dornyei, 2014, p. 93). One possible action for this is to draw a ‘Possible Selves Tree’ where they were come up with dangerous conditions of the tree. Termites, poison in the soil, lightening, etc. These are discussed with the language educator. Bringing worries like this to the surface could a first step towards finding a solution to the blocks or towards deciding on some course of modification in order to make it more realistic.
I believer that language learning is a process rather than an outcome. Language educators and students will always be somewhere on this path and will meet together.
Article Four: Methods for Language Teaching
I believe that what the educator says and does can help or hinder the student’s ability to learn. While there are moments when the educator should step in and direct students, it is better for educators to foster independence through scaffolding (Eisner, 2002, pp. 73-74). Scaffolding will provide the students with what they need and will lower the difference between educator and student.
I believe that the educator is responsible to provide English language learners with tasks within Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. “The zone is the space within which tasks need to be set to be, on the one hand, challenging and, on the other, capable of being successfully negotiated by the child with a helper, peer or adults” (Eisner, p. 73).
Article Five: Social Progress in the English Language Classroom
I believe that as students learn they will change. We have the privilege of being a part of this in the language classroom. “The aim of the educational process inside schools is not finish something, but to start something. It is not cover the curriculum, but to uncover it. What one starts is an interest that sufficiently powerful to motivate students to pursue that interest outside
school” (Eisner, 2002, p. 90-91).
I believe that problem-posing education will affirm them as people. “Problem-posing education affirms men and women as beings in the process of becoming – as unfinished, uncompleted beings in and with a likewise unfinished reality” (Freire, 2003, p. 84). Language learning is about transformation.