Keynote Address - Taiwan 2010 - NCHUE

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Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change: Reflections on foreign/second language-teaching and learning in the 21st century : 

1 Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change: Reflections on foreign/second language-teaching and learning in the 21st century Andrew Lian Chair – Department of Foreign Languages Western Illinois University USA –

Why did I choose this title? : 

2 Why did I choose this title? Because I have a double interest: models of language-teaching and learning: e.g. rhizomatic systems based on a postmodern view of meaning construction AND implementation of university foreign language learning – a bit of history

So let’s begin… : 

3 So let’s begin… with three statements about language teaching and learning which I believe are not particularly controversial – and that we can all agree on – but… while we may agree with the statements you may not agree with me on some details or comments that I will make as we go along.

Statement #1 : 

4 Statement #1 Operating in a language is essentially about meaning and interaction. It is about how we make sense of the signals of others (not always linguistic signals) and how others make sense of the signals we produce.

This means that : 

5 This means that We need to be in some kind of harmony with the group within which we wish to operate. Foreign-language learners are often not in appropriate harmony with the target group. A task of teaching should be to create conditions enabling students to reach harmony with the target group. Look...

What we have witnessed here : 

6 What we have witnessed here is a wonderful example of a self-adjusting environment: which is something I have always wanted to create

where : 

7 where each element (some elements are learners, and others are representatives of the native speaking community) acts on every other element through the conditions set up and all learn to operate together in harmony and synchrony (i.e. they communicate effectively – or the language learners have adapted to the target community)

Statement #2 : 

8 Statement #2 We are all physiological beings This has important consequences What are some of them?

Statement #3 : 

9 Statement #3 Language usage occurs essentially within social groups Linguistic groups are also social groups Social groups necessarily share some social practices: let’s call it a culture The group writes itself on us – almost literally

So… : 

10 So… meaning/understanding is closely related to the body (including rhythms) and in turn the body is closely related to culture and cultural events.

Now… : 

11 Now… Here are four independently-constructed but related quotes

Significantly… : 

12 Significantly… they do not come from SLA or language-teaching but from Authors and thinkers and all are about meaning and share similar intellectual positions

Quote #1 : 

13 Quote #1 When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change (attributed to Max Planck).

Quote #1 – cont (1) : 

14 Quote #1 – cont (1) In George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion (on which the musical My Fair Lady was based), Professor Henry Higgins insists that he can take a Cockney flower seller, Eliza Doolittle, and, with some intensive training, pass her off as a duchess. He succeeds. Eliza sums up the experience from her perspective in the following remark to Higgins' friend Colonel Pickering:

Quote #1 – cont (2) : 

15 Quote #1 – cont (2) You see, really and truly, apart from the things anyone can pick up (the dressing and the proper way of speaking and so on), the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she's treated. I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he always treats me as a flower girl, and always will, but I know I can be a lady to you because you always treat me as a lady, and always will.

Quote #2 : 

16 Quote #2 We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are (because it is the “I” behind the “eye” that does the seeing) (Anaïs Nin)

Quote #3 : 

17 Quote #3 The universe is made up of stories, not atoms (Muriel Rukeyser)

Quote #4 : 

18 Quote #4 In order to really understand anything you must understand it in different ways (adapted from Minsky, 1981).

Consequently, in this perspective : 

19 Consequently, in this perspective Meaning is never found but constructed internally by each individual according to personal logical and representational systems which are the product of the individual’s past in interaction with the conditions applying at the moment of meaning-making.

Paradoxically : 

20 Paradoxically our internal logical and representational systems both Enable us to make sense of the world and act (e.g. so we can communicate) And Can also Limit our understandings of that world i.e. potentially disable us from knowing beyond what we know.

So… : 

21 So… Everything leads us to the conclusion that it is important to collaborate to cross boundaries and to lower barriers.

To summarize – Five elements(??) : 

22 To summarize – Five elements(??) Culture is ever-present, contextualizing, and hard to pin down – it is necessary for meaning-making – access and constructive exposure to real culture, with support, is important Meaning-making is central to learning, knowledge-construction and human interaction – comprehension is based on personal history: individual

Five (??) elements : 

23 Five (??) elements Learners are biological beings – perception, physical issues matter As meaning is historically-based, learners require support adapted to their histories, with individualized feedback (technology?) And an appropriate operational space: ideally it will reveal their needs while creating a sense of history (not discussed so far) – macrosimulation

Technology support and distribution : 

24 Technology support and distribution

PD workshop for Mandarin : 

PD workshop for Mandarin and

Develop Critical Thinking : 

Develop Critical Thinking

Online Multimedia Database : 

Online Multimedia Database controls/pretty_ok_search.php

Dialog Generator : 

Dialog Generator

Listening Comprehension : 

Listening Comprehension

Lesson-Generator : 


Multimodal Corpora : 

Multimodal Corpora

Proyecto Scherazade : 

Proyecto Scherazade

Asia : 

33 Asia with its special conditions and distinctive cultures may enable real progress to be made in everybody’s understandings of how language teaching and learning should be conducted and produce real intellectual challenges to mainstream dominant theories of language teaching/learning

For that to happen : 

34 For that to happen it is critically important for research in Asian contexts to become more visible (it tends to be less visible than it should) to be distributed not only in English but in the languages of the region (perhaps translated into English as well) and to value itself more

Prediction #1 : 

Prediction #1 There will be much more theoretical integration with a growing emphasis on professional and research collaboration leading to the development of more interesting teaching and learning systems and also more harmonious relationships within the language-learning community on campus.

Prediction #2 : 

Prediction #2 The teaching of culture will focus significantly more on understanding practices and moods: the sorts of things that are hard to define in words but which are nonetheless clearly manifested and entrenched in society, e.g. what makes people laugh? or even… how do people stand? The study of literature will continue within the context of cultural studies. It will not disappear.

Prediction #3 : 

Prediction #3 Language-teaching and learning will be more applied/practical, more individualised and more responsive to individual needs e.g. construct your own book or construct your own lesson or solve your real-life problems.

Prediction #4 : 

Prediction #4 Learning will become even more collaborative than it is now through the use of do-it-yourself social networks such as, macrosimulations and study abroad programs.

Prediction #5 : 

Prediction #5 The above will be supported by increasingly sophisticated technology-based resources and a technology-based infrastructure – perhaps accompanied by or accompanying new ways of teaching and learning languages due to intellectual changes in our profession (because of technology?).

Prediction #6 : 

Prediction #6 Asia (in general and Taiwan in particular) has a special role to play.

Prediction #7 : 

Prediction #7 And, if one accepts in good faith, the truth of what I have been saying, then there ought to be a bringing together of all the foreign language-teaching forces, a reduction of rivalry and ultimately

Prediction #7b : 

Prediction #7b the creation of administrative structures, perhaps a school or centre or macro-department, to support this newly-found mutual support and to enable us to indulge more successfully in the things that matter to us – but which all involve the concept of foreign language learning

Of course… : 

Of course… this is in the best of all possible worlds which I, for one, actually believe in.

Slide 44: 

Thank you very much!!

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