Hedgehog or Fox: An Interview with David Kellogg

by Lee Kit Mun
Centre for English Language Communication
National University of Singapore

‘The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.’

– Archilochus (7th century BCE)

“I actually think I’m a hedgehog who looks like a fox.” This is how David Kellogg described himself, drawing from the analogy made by British philosopher Isaiah Berlin in his essay, The Hedgehog and the Fox. Berlin (1953) classifies writers and thinkers into two main types:  hedgehogs, who relate everything to a central vision, “a single, universal, organising principle in terms of which alone all that they are and say has significance”, and foxes, whose ideas and pursuits are varied and even contradictory, without any single organising principle.


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Readers Theatre: Improving Oral Proficiency in a Japanese University EFL Course

by Patrick Ng
University of Niigata Prefecture, Japan

Esther Boucher-Yip
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, United States of America

Abstract
Improving oral proficiency in the EFL classroom is usually a major goal for most EFL instructors. One effective approach in teaching oral skills is the use of drama called Readers Theatre (RT). It is a presentational performance based on principles and techniques of oral interpretation which seeks to entertain, instruct and persuade (Adams, 2003). The ‘actors’ first read a story and then transform it into a script involving several characters. To portray a character, readers strive for voice flexibility, good articulation, proper pronunciation and projection. In this action research study, we explore the use of RT activities in improving oral skills in one EFL course in a Japanese classroom. Our objective is to examine students’ observations of their own language learning experiences through RT. We first provide a literature review on the pedagogical values of drama in developing oral competence. We then describe the implementation of the RT activity, followed by an explanation of the data collection and analysis. We also report Japanese EFL students’ observations of their own language learning experiences through RT. We then discuss the nature of the relationship between the use of drama techniques, particularly the use of RT, and oral proficiency in the Japanese EFL educational context. Our observations suggest that using RT in the language classroom is generally a rewarding learning experience for EFL students and teachers. We therefore recommend RT as an effective technique in helping students in the process of improving their oral proficiency.


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Into the Net: An Interview with Viswa Sadasivan

by Radhika Jaidev
Centre for English Language Communication
National University of Singapore

“Strategic Communication is striking the ball into the net!”

“Erm…I beg your pardon?”

“Imagine a hockey forward who is able to dribble the ball all the way past the ‘D’ line, fending off all opposition, but is never able to strike the ball into the net.”

This is the analogy that Viswa, Nominated Member of Parliament (Singapore) and master trainer, used as he described “very highly qualified people who are holding key positions in the private and public sector” but who “have a distinct problem putting their point across in a manner that’s cogent and with a certain logic, focus and clarity.”


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A Modern Chinese Intellectual: An Interview With Wang Haixiao

by Lee Gek Ling
Centre for English Language Communication
National University of Singapore

“If you want many hits, you have to have tricks.”

 I had to meet Professor Wang the minute I read his biographical detail in the CELC Symposium Programme. He is currently Professor of English and Chair of the Department of Applied Foreign Language Studies, Nanjing University.  He is also in charge of the committee that advises the Ministry of Education in China on the teaching methods for foreign languages. He has been influential in the changing how English is taught in China and has published widely in syllabus design for college English.


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Using Blogs to Practice Grammar Editing Skills

by Christopher Harwood
Centre for English Language Communication
National University of Singapore

Abstract
This paper reports on the pedagogic reasons for using blogs as a learning aid and how blogging was integrated into a curriculum at the National University of Singapore to support the learning of grammar editing skills of music students. To begin, the idea that blogging encourages learner autonomy by facilitating the practice and negotiation of meaning of ‘comprehensible output’ (Swain, 1995) is discussed. Next, the integration of blogging into the curriculum is considered and rationale given for the various pedagogic and administrative decisions that were made. Finally, the positive findings from a student attitudinal survey about blogging are discussed and a brief document analysis of the students’ blog posts in the course is given.


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Creative Ways of Teaching Research Paper Writing

by Alejandro S. Bernardo
University of Santo Tomas,
Philippines

Abstract
Research paper writing remains an uninteresting and unexciting activity for many university students. They may not have realized its indispensable value in their respective disciplines and target workplaces. Hence, teachers must provide more enticing and more motivating classroom-based writing tasks to spur students’ interest in producing varied academic texts. It is in this light that this paper proposes a number of “fun tasks” that teachers may use as their pre-writing tasks, lesson springboards or enrichment exercises when they teach the rudiments of academic writing or research paper production. The use of these “fun tasks” is based on the premise that cultivating students’ interest in research largely depends on the creativity of the teachers and the appeal of classroom activities and that learning could better take place when students are motivated and when they enjoy the learning process at the same time.


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Empowering Students to Self-Learn

by Peggie Chan
Centre for English Language Communication
National University of Singapore

Abstract
This article describes two approaches to learning and teaching used in the module “Evaluating Academic Arguments.”   Both approaches address how learners independently process information on topics discussed in the module and then work with that information.  In one approach, learners study logical fallacies and then peer teach aspects of that. In the other, learners are given input to explore related to a position paper, which they need to work with and eventually write. In both approaches, the emphasis is on learners making their own discoveries about a pertinent topic as opposed to being explicitly taught.


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A Systematic Approach to Teaching Critical Thinking through Debate

by David Rear
Shibaura Institute of Technology, Japan

Abstract
The development of critical thinking (CT) skills has become a key goal for educators in first and second language contexts. Teachers in EFL contexts, however, are often constrained by the linguistic skills of their students. This paper outlines a systematic approach towards developing the critical thinking skills of students with relatively low linguistic abilities. It will report on a program designed by the author at a university in Japan, which used a taxonomy of skills drawn up by Facione (1990) to create a course based around debates of social issues. It took students through a six-stage process, showing them how to clarify the nature of a problem, gather and organize appropriate data, evaluate the worth of that data, analyze the data to draw conclusions, express those conclusions clearly in the form of a debate, and finally appraise their performance for future improvement.


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Giving Learners a Voice in Correction and Feedback

by Peter Watkins
University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom

Abstract
This paper reports on one attempt to give learners a greater degree of control of the correction and feedback they receive on their own language production. It begins by establishing the usefulness of correction but argues that a broader conceptualisation of feedback on learner production is required. This conceptualisation moves the teacher’s role away from being judgmental and towards being supportive and collaborative and from this more equal relationship between learner and teacher comes a greater voice for learners in shaping the feedback they receive. A simple, small-scale experiment is described and the results suggest that it may be possible to train learners to be able to ask questions about their own and other’s output and in so doing, shape the feedback they receive.


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Insertions, Interruptions: Strategies in Challenging Stereotypes in the Classroom

by T. Ruanni F. Tupas
Centre for English Language Communication
National University of Singapore

Abstract
This paper proposes practical ways to confront stereotypes in the English language classroom. While the current trend in English language teaching is to recognize the central role of culture in the classroom, the dangers of doing so are real because the approaches so far have tended to homogenize groups of people and to focus only on national cultures. The strategies used here – (1) insert diversity into participants’ background, (2) avoid pronoun references to gender, (3) and diversify patterns of communication of each participant – do not require much work but have great potential in promoting a more genuine intercultural conversation in the English language classroom.


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