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The Challenge of Learning Englishes for Refugee Professionals

Dr. Gabriel John Roberts

Email: gjroberts@cardiffmet.ac.uk

 

 

This week the BBC ran this article  on a subject that is very close to my heart: the language training of refugee healthcare professionals.

The article covers the variety of English that refugee doctors have to learn. This includes not only formal academic English for the IELTS exam and medical English for their profession, but also dialectical English in locales where they will be working.

This presents an enormous challenge for refugee doctors and learning to cope with the flexibility of language in three discrete registers can take up valuable time that arguably could be better spent keeping up with developments in their specialist area.

There is no magic wand here, but if we consider the adjustment to different styles of English that is required, an adjustment which is necessary because other L1 English speaking patients are not asked to make, then we must again recognise the Sysephean task that refugee doctors are confronted with.

Training refugee costs 1/10 of the cost of training doctors in the U.K. yet we confront them with barriers such as an English test on unconnected global topics with ever increasing requirements for doctors and other healthcare professionals, followed by two Professional Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) tests. Perhaps a combined test of language and professional knowledge with combined training would support refugee doctors, the NHS and patients more efficiently and effectively.

 

Photograph:

Song (2010) Op-Ed.Song.Slang.3 Whitman Wire.

 

Further reading:

Difficulty of NHS language test ‘worsens nurse crisis’, say recruiters.

Refugee doctors set to fill NHS staff shortages.

The refugee doctors learning to speak Glaswegian. 

 

About the author Dr. Gabriel John Roberts:

Dr. Gabriel John Roberts is the Subject Leader for the Cardiff Metropolitan University BA English Language Teaching (Joint Hons) Programmes and a lecturer in ESP on the MA TESOL Programme. His research is on language assessment, with a focus on Refugee Doctors attempting to pass the IELTS test.

 

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Music, Composition and Learning:

Memory, Abstract Thinking and Creativity

Redes Música

Antonio Cortés Villena

Email: redesmusicatv@gmail.com

 

Hola, soy Antonio Cortés, creador y fundador de Redes Música.

Redes Música es un proyecto dedicado a la enseñanza y promoción de la música en el ámbito de las clases extraescolares y la formación musical no formal.

Aprender música a través de un instrumento es uno de los actos más gratificantes y enriquecedores. Es instruirse para realizar la experiencia única de expresarse por un medio ajeno a las palabras.

Los instrumentos que utilizo principalmente son la guitarra y el ukelele. La guitarra por su popularidad y el ukelele por su puesta de moda en los últimos tiempos además de su facilidad para tocar, economía para los padres y sencillez para los niños. Pronto incorporaré al proyecto nuevos instrumentos para hacer música como son la batería y el bajo, y  a personas que entiendan y compartan la idea del proyecto.

Tecnologías como los nuevos programas de edición de partituras con lenguaje midi, canales nuevos de difusión como es YouTube, además de las redes sociales, imprimen un aire nuevo y moderno en la manera de aprender música. Hoy en día debido al gran avance tecnológico que hace tener miles de herramientas de edición musical y el fácil acceso al conocimiento de los distintos estilos musicales, considero  importantísimo aprender a través de la composición, porque es una de las mejores maneras de entender y  de saber cómo funciona la música.

La finalidad de Redes Música es aprender música y además, utilizar la música en un entorno actual, acorde con los tiempos que corren, y como medio para favorecer el desarrollo de multitud de capacidades entre las que cabe destacar la concentración, la memoria, la psicomotricidad, el pensamiento abstracto y, por supuesto, las capacidades propiamente artísticas: creatividad y sensibilidad.

Un saludo a tod@s.

Antonio.

 

Antonio Cortés Villena

Músico, Compositor y Profesor de Guitarra.

 

 

 

Email: redesmusicatv@gmail.com

Canal YouTube Redes Música  Facebook – Redes Música

 

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Learning Language through the Body: Lessons from the Martial Arts

George Jennings

Cardiff School of Sport

Cardiff Metropolitan University

Email: gbjennings@cardiffmet.ac.uk

Language learning and martial arts practise might sound like an unusual or even a bizarre combination, but in practical reality, they often operate in unison. Even with forms of combat that have their origins in English-speaking countries, such as mixed martial arts (MMA) developed in the United States, people learn movements to words and expand their lexicon through sometimes daunting and more often than not (initially) painful techniques.

There is something about the combination of feelings, conscious effort (willpower), movement and memory that made me put pen to paper. When my colleague, Cristina, very kindly invited me to write an educational article for Entropy Publishing – spanishlanguagebites – I pondered on various options from my time as an English as a foreign language teacher in Mexico, and thought of a theme that might connect to my research in physical culture. The topic of language learning through movement sprung to my attention, and it is with joy that I share these early insights with readers – students, teachers, education providers, publishers and policy makers alike – in hope that it might stimulate a new way of looking at modern (and even ancient) languages from an old expression of humanity: the martial arts.

This inclusive term, ‘martial arts,’ is an umbrella term for an array of styles and systems from around the world and from periods across history. With the rich culture and the philosophical concepts that shape these arts come the languages of ethnic groups that founded them and nation-states where they are under centralised control. Japanese words of respect and reverence are expressed in the Budo arts of Japanese Aikido, Judo and Kendo, Cantonese technical terms abound in the Southern Chinese martial art of Wing Chun Kung Fu, and there are numerous other examples from the prescribed vocabulary of martial systems from across the globe. Through studying, repeating and embodying these words, we start to understand technique, but also their underlying principles. Yet not all martial arts are Asian: Fighting systems from all around the globe can act as gateways to foreign tongues, and with them, their ways of thinking, acting and being.

An example of this eclectic way of combined academic and embodied learning is the recently invented martial art of Xilam (see www.xilam.org), which is inspired by pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican warriors and is also rooted in Aztec philosophy. Developed and taught in Mexico by a Mexican woman, Marisela Ugalde, and her team of instructors, it is disseminated primarily in the Spanish language, but also shared terms in the indigenous languages – not dialects, as they are often regarded – of Nahuatl, Mayan and Zapotec. This is because the art is designed to educate modern Mexicans about their pre-Columbian heritage in a more dynamic and physical way than they may have experienced through the relatively passive book reading and en masse visits to museums in which artefacts and documents are displayed through protected glass cabinets – intangible and unreachable items for direct, sensuous learning.

One way to reinforce language learning is through a combination of forms of sensuous learning via collective and individual efforts of oral mantra and physical movement – something common in many martial arts pedagogical strategies, in which students call out the names of techniques in the native language of the art (I still recall the ‘men’ and ‘do’ strikes to the head and waist in the Japanese sword art of Kendo). With the fierce yet composed intent, one’s memory is forged around a single syllable. Invariably, we tend to remember the numbers in another language far more easily than other vocabulary and expressions. Why is this? Perhaps the tactile and mobile nature of counting using our fingers combined with just how often we use numbers in day-to-day life and count in order within classes. There is thus a logic of ease and nature with remembering numbers. Several years after my initial ethnographic study of Xilam in 2011, I can still both recall and, quite instantly, call out, the first twenty numbers in Nahuatl: “Ce, ome, yeye, nahui, machuilli, chicuacen, chicome, chicyeye, chicnahui, matlactli…” thanks to hours of shouting out these figures while pumping out repetitions of techniques in a low, gruelling stance or whilst wincing in pain during a warm-up full of exercises for all joints of the body from the fingers to the ankles – twenty repetitions for each part, repeated for every single person lined up in the studio. I remember the first five numbers in Mayan (hun, ka ox, kan, ho…), as we were only given a list of some of the basic numbers and the seven animals, which form the structure of the system, in Zapotec, such as venda (snake), the foundational level, and migu (monkey), an intermediate stage.

The case of Xilam illustrates a connection between documents provided by the teacher for personal learning within the more informal pedagogy (printed lists of vocabulary to take away as homework) and ways to embody this as a collective group within the formal pedagogy (through movement and mantra, often combined). By reading, writing and note taking followed by verbally repeating and physically expressing these words – and combinations of this sequence – we can truly remember words for years to come, as they have become part of us: Not just in our heads, but in the very fabric of our being.

Of course, the importance of linguistics in the formal curriculum and informal practice at home or with training partners differs from teacher to teacher and from school to school, but the central idea of grasping the basis or essence of another language could be achieved by using one’s whole self and different senses: To learn in silence, by writing and even in movement. Language teachers and students alike could make the “ce, ome, yeye” mantra a call of “ein, zwei, drei” or “un, deux, trois” in physical exercises of their own accord – something meaningful that unites thought, emotion and action, be them in the guise of press-ups, Yoga asanas or Zumba movements. Little by little, we might be able to acquire our new language, quite literally, one step at a time.

Author bio

Dr. George Jennings is a lecturer in sport sociology / physical culture at Cardiff Metropolitan University. His research is focused on martial arts cultures and pedagogy from a qualitative approach. George is the cofounder of the recently created Documents Research Network (DRN) with Aimee Grant and Maria Pournara of Cardiff University. He is becoming increasingly interested in the development of a critical martial arts pedagogy tied to lifelong learning and wellbeing. George was an English teacher and translator in Mexico City prior to his return to full-time academia. He is also the founder of Research English Services, an emerging, bespoke service to support non-native speakers of English working on research presentations and publications.

Recommended reading: 

Aztec Philosophy: Understanding a World in Motion by James Maffie

Kendo: Culture of the Sword by Alexander C. Bennett

Mexican Female Warrior: The Case of Marisela Ugalde, the Founder of Xilam by Dr George Jennings

The Origins of Xilamhttps://www.xilam.org/english

           

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Education Articles in Spanish

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Multiple Intelligences – The Importance of Music in Learning

Inteligencias Múltiples – La Importancia de la Música en el Aprendizaje

Inmaculada Sancha and Antonio Cortés Villena

isancha@spanishlanguagebites.com

Vivimos en un mundo en constante proceso de cambio, todo tiene una durabilidad efímera y caduca y en esta vorágine sin sentido está inmersa ahora mismo también la educación.

Los modelos tradicionales, obsoletos, no nos dan las herramientas necesarias para afrontar de una manera sana y óptima este ritmo de vida tan frenético.

El desarrollo del alumno se debe de basar en el conocimiento de varias áreas, siendo el objetivo fundamental el aportar al alumnado un conjunto lo suficientemente amplio de modelos de trabajo que les permita estimular las distintas Inteligencias Múltiples preparándoles así para la vida con una nueva forma de aprender.

“La inteligencia es la capacidad de solucionar problemas o elaborar bienes valiosos.”

La Teoría de las Inteligencias Múltiples de Gardner ya advirtió que la inteligencia académica (el expediente académico) no es un factor decisivo para conocer la inteligencia de una persona. De este modo definió las 8 inteligencias:

Por todo esto hay personas que, a pesar de obtener excelentes calificaciones académicas, presentan problemas importantes para relacionarse con otras personas o para manejar otras facetas de su vida. Gardner y sus colaboradores podrían afirmar que Stephen Hawking no posee una mayor inteligencia que Freddie Mercury o Leo Messi, sino que cada uno de ellos ha desarrollado un tipo de inteligencia diferente.

Hasta ahora la escuela, ha pensado que la lengua, las matemáticas y las ciencias eran, lo más importante para el desarrollo intelectual de los alumnos, relegando la música a un segundo plano dentro del currículo escolar.

La teoría de las inteligencias múltiples, demuestra que la música puede ser y es una de las herramientas más importantes para desarrollar habilidades referidas a la creatividad y desarrollo emocional del alumno estimulando la  percepción, producción y composición musical.

Por estos motivos el profesorado debe de  trabajar la inteligencia musical de sus alumnos para que desarrollen su creatividad, habilidad o herramienta tan necesaria para afrontar el futuro.

Inmaculada Sancha Serrano

Profesora de Historia y Bibliotecaria del Colegio Nobelis.

isancha@spanishlanguagebites.com

Antonio Cortés Villena

Músico, Compositor y Profesor de Guitarra.

Canal Redes Música 

Facebook – Redes Música

Recommended reading: Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice by Howard E. Gardner

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Reflections on Self-Reflection

Pierre Gaite

Reflections on Self-Reflection

Self-reflection 

“Meditation or serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motives.”

– Oxford Dictionary (2016)

In a range of education contexts, including language teaching, reflection on one’s practice is considered an important part of professional development – from CELTAs to PGCEs, self-reflection forms an integral part of teaching qualifications. It is perhaps surprising, then, that more attention is not paid to encouraging student reflection in the language classroom, as it is a well-recognised tool for self-understanding and improvement.

Students and trained educators alike can be remarkably taken aback by the simple question “What have you just learnt?”  This is because learning is often a semi-subconscious process; we naturally incline towards focusing on the content itself rather than how or the very fact that we are learning it.Reflections on Self-Reflection Asking a person “What have you just learnt?” is to ask them to suddenly shift their mental gaze inwards, to draw a connecting line between the subject of study and the human being studying it. For many this process does not come naturally, yet it is a skill of immense value: consciously recognising our learning means gaining a greater control over it, combining our knowledge with the realisation of what we know in order to solidify our understanding.

Students who are regularly made to engage in this practice tend to make larger strides in their learningReflections on self-reflection journey, and on surer feet. Routinely taking even five or ten minutes at the end of class to refocus students’ minds in this way can be enough to enhance the value of a lesson.
The number of activities used for these lesson ‘plenaries’ are legion, but it can be as simple as merely asking students “What have we learnt today?”, “How have we learnt it?” and “Why is this important?” In doing so we can not only demonstrate the success of a lesson, but also raise students’ awareness of the value of careful introspection.

Pierre Gaite

Education professional

Email: pierregaite@spanishlanguagebites.com

Recommended reading: Reflective Writing by K. Williams , M. Woolliams  and J. Spiro 

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