Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Recognition-Based Physical Response to Facilitate EFL Learning

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Recognition-Based Physical Response to Facilitate EFL Learning

Article excerpt

Introduction

The importance of English proficiency grows in the trend of globalization. Learning EFL (English as a foreign language) in Asia Pacific, however, particularly in Taiwan, is still mostly for the purposes of enrolling in higher education institutions; thus, the examinations pay the most attention to reading, spelling, grammar and writing skills while usually neglecting daily life communication like speaking and listening. The development of long-term retention is necessary in order for EFL learners to be able to retrieve their knowledge of the English language to communicate with others or apply to daily life, although the ability to retain knowledge decreases over time (Ebbinghaus, 1885). EFL learners in Taiwan learn English beginning in elementary school and continuing to college without the benefit of having a supportive context for the language. Because the schools use traditional teaching methods, EFL learners still view English as necessary only for the purposes of examination rather than as an important communication skill or ability that relates to their daily lives or careers. This phenomenon violates the theory of situated learning, proposed by Suchman (1987), which emphasizes that learning occurs in a cultural, practical and meaningful context; knowledge cannot be separated from its context. For this reason, it is important to design and provide English activities for EFL learners to use that involve life-related contexts (e.g., conversation, presentation, or question-and-answer).

In recent years, a variety of teaching methods and technology to promote EFL learning has been widely discussed. For example, research supports the theory that physical movement can enhance the process of learning because involving learners' interaction by gesture has a positive effect on increasing learners' attention. Bruner (1996) proposed the theory of systems of representation, which states that the first stage of the learning cognition process is to enact learners to do what they learn, that is, to involve an active representation. Helping learners make physical motions in order to understand what they learned and interact with their surrounding environment improves learning by applying knowledge to related situations. Similarly, Gardner (1989)'s theory of multiple intelligences suggests a connection between learning activities and kinesthetic intelligence, that is, students learn and solve problems using physical motion. One of the most well-known teaching methods connected with interaction between limbs is total physical response (TPR), which is useful for language learning as proposed by James Asher (1966). Using body motion or behavior to illustrate listening and understanding is one of the key concepts in TPR. Asher proposed that learners respond to auditory stimulus with body motion (e.g., nodding, shaking hands, and waving) not only to demonstrate their ability to listen well but also to help internalize what they learned deeply in order to improve and sustain the effect of their learning. Moreover, experts of brain science have great esteem for TPR. Body motion as a medium for learning can help to create a strong association between body motion and language, which improves their auditory learning skills.

Psychological factors play an important role in language learning as well. Krashen (1981) proposed the affective filter hypothesis, which posits that a good language learning environment must allow learners to be confident and relaxed and to try and fail without pressure and anxiety. Pressure and fear of failure seriously impede language learning. So TPR allows language learners at the beginning of their study to present the meaning of what they hear by using their bodies rather than requiring them to speak. In recent years, the application of the cognition learning style to language learning has gradually been noticed. Dunn (1983) classified four cognition learning styles: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile (VAKT). …

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