Aspects of Modern Language Teaching in Europe

By Wolf Gewehr; Georgia Catsimali et al. | Go to book overview

Part II


FOCUS ON THE CLASSROOM

In Part II of this book, ‘Focus on the Classroom’, Faber (Chapter 5) draws our attention to some imaginative ways in which literary texts can be used for teaching. She points out that works of literature, and extracts from works of literature, as authentic examples of the language being studied, are a powerful motivating force. Such texts are, moreover, to be valued as examples of how the most gifted speakers of the language use it for the most telling purposes, and thereby give students access to the cultural values which stand behind the language. She goes on to draw on her practical teaching experience by showing how literary texts can be exploited in the classroom. She also describes how a number of exercise types can be sewn together to make a coherent teaching unit in which students have opportunities to use the language productively.

Faber lays great store by students penetrating behind the text itself to explore the cultural values of the society to which it gives expression. She shows how this objective is attained by the use of exercises which focus students’ attention on cultural meanings. One of the techniques she uses and advocates requires students to move between meanings expressed sometimes in a textual form, and at other times in a visual form. In practical work such as this, the teacher’s role changes subtly to become a participant in the learning process.

We sometimes think that the teaching and learning of foreign languages is restricted to primary and secondary school classrooms. However, languages are also learned and taught in universities. University teachers also face the problems common to teachers of other educational levels. Bunn (Chapter 6) presents an interesting example of peer teaching, of collaborative learning in the classroom. He grouped students in such a way that they would benefit from each other. Bunn describes his experience with mixed-ability learners of German at the University of Coimbra/Portugal. The paper exemplifies the extent to which students can learn language within a simulated real-life context. The title of the project, ‘Living Together’, is indicative of its main

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