Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Principles & Strategies for English Corner Construction at Universities

Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Principles & Strategies for English Corner Construction at Universities

Article excerpt

Abstract

English corner activities have been included in the framework of second EFL classroom at many universities in China and regarded as one of the various meaningful activities in addition to teaching plans and activities required by the curriculum. English comer has the characteristics of natural environment, cooperative relationship, relaxed atmosphere, autonomous selection and large amount of practice. Based on communicative functional theory, constructivist learning theory, input hypothesis, output hypothesis, affective filter hypothesis as well as the exploration and practice experience of Hubei University for Nationalities, this paper proposed three general guiding principles and ten specific implementation strategies that were tested and verified by means of questionnaire and interview in which 356 students participated. At last five suggestions were put forward to solve the existing problems for English comer construction at universities.

Key words: English corner; Guiding principles; Implementation strategies

INTRODUCTION

It is pointed out in College English Curriculum Requirements that "the objective of college English is to develop students' ability to use English in an all-round way, especially in listening and speaking, so that in their future work and social interactions they will be able to exchange information effectively through both spoken and written channels, and at the same time they will be able to enhance their ability to study independently and improve their cultural quality so as to meet the needs of China's social development and international exchanges" (Higher Education Department of the Chinese Education Ministry, 2004). As for the development of students' comprehensive application ability, particularly listening and speaking competence, it is far from enough to depend upon the limited classroom which often fails to provide students with sufficient time and space to practice English. Hence college English learning is supposed to be extended beyond the classroom. Hu (2004) proposed that in the Chinese EFL environment, only those who are able to get the best value for simulation or creation of the favorable EFL learning conditions (i.e. the second classroom) can achieve better teaching effect.

Scholars from other countries outside China also recognized this kind of out-of-class EFL learning. For example, Bialystok (1981) stressed the importance of learning strategies outside the classroom and defined four of the EFL learning strategies, among which functional practice strategy referred to all behaviors that employed language to communicate. Huang & Naerssen (1987) investigated Chinese students and found that the participants with strong oral English competence employed the functional practice strategy more than others in their EFL out-of-class learning when talking to their classmates or native speakers of English. Pickard (1996) chose 20 Germany learners of English as participants to examine their after-class learning strategies. Result indicated that although the students practiced English outside the classroom mainly by passively listening to English broadcast and reading English newspapers, they all claimed that they would make full use of the oral practice opportunity so long as they seized it. Murray & Kojima (2006) made a case study of good English learners' out-of-class learning methods from the narrative perspective and found that it proved to be an effective way to create small-scale target language practice community in native environment. At last the authors pointed out that English learners were supposed to look for clubs and interest groups that might supply them opportunities to communicate in the target language so as to learn more effectively outside the classroom.

English comer which mainly allows EFL learners to talk and communicate with each other proves an important component of out-of-class learning (namely second classroom) and one of the effective means. …

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