Aims and Content of Teaching Foreign Language at School
STUDENT: Manya Vardanyan
SUPERVISOR: Narine Gasparyan
YEREVAN – 2015
Language education. 4
Aims of Teaching Foreign Language at School 6
Practical Aims. 7
Educational Aims. 8
Cultural Aims. 9
Content of Teaching Foreign Language. 10
The Content of Teaching Pronunciation. 11
The Content of Teaching Grammar. 11
The Content of Teaching Reading. 12
Textbook Analysis. 13
The current term paper investigates the aims and content of teaching foreign language at school. The discussion of both aims and content is led separately and fully.
The first part of the paper comprises information why the teaching of foreign language at school is so important, what opportunities it offers to students. This part touches upon problems like the distinction of foreign language and second language teaching, the evolution of different methods and a reference about teaching course in Armenian schools.
In the second part (Aims of Foreign Language Teaching at School) of the term paper we study the aims and objectives of language teaching, the difference between the notions of ‘aim’ and ‘objective’ becomes clear.
There is also a discussion about the importance of teacher’s knowledge of aims and objectives of his/her lessons. This part of paper comprises the description of three types of aims (practical, educational, cultural), which promote the knowledge of the students and develop skills and habits. These three aims are interconnected and each contributes to the accomplishment and realization of the other one.
The practical aims – the acquisition of foreign language as a means of communication.
The educational aims – the development of mental abilities while learning.
The cultural aims – make students be aware of cultural peculiarities of the people whose language they learn.
The third part (Content of Foreign Language Teaching) of the term paper comprises information about the content of teaching, about the components of content. Thus, discussions are carried out about each of the components.
Then there comes an investigation on the subdivisions of content. These divisions are also studied and properly explained.
The forth part of the term paper is the analysis of the textbook (Lilit Grigoryan, English 7, Yerevan, 2014). The textbook is analyzed through its ten units, which were all studied carefully. There are references on every kind of activity.
Both advantages and drawbacks of the book are mentioned. The analysis is brought closer to the theme (aims and content of language teaching) of this investigation, i. e. an attempt is made to discuss the aims and content of the textbook.
The paper once again shows the importance of foreign language teaching. It shows a tiny fraction of teaching peculiarities. Such knowledge is essential for future teachers and this term paper could be quite instructive in this aspect.
Nowadays, increasing globalization has created a large need for people in the workforce who can communicate in multiple languages. The different spheres of life (trade, tourism, international relations, technology, media, science, etc.) require common knowledge of language. Many countries organize education policies to teach at least one foreign language at the primary and secondary school levels. Others use the second language officially, i.e. in their governments.
And, lately the English language is the one, which is being taught and learnt vastly. Language education is the teaching and learning of a foreign or second language. It is a branch of linguistics, which includes both foreign and second language teaching (learning).
A foreign language (FL) is a non-native language of a person, the one that is not used as communication language in his country as is not supposed to be official. Foreign languages are taught at schools, for basic communication with foreigners and for getting sufficient information on this or that subject.
Whereas, a second language (SL) is any language that is taught after the mother tongue, it is official in the country of the learner and necessary for survival (higher education, job).
English as a foreign language is taught in those countries where it is not considered to be official, as it is not the language of education, business, etc. As a second language English is taught in those countries where it is the major language of business, education, science and so on.
In any language teaching process, the teacher has to deal with teaching methods, which are to help her make students learn the target language, the aims of teaching which help the teacher to see his objectives and reach them with maximum effect, the content of teaching which provides the teacher with awareness what must be taught, etc.
Through the different periods in history different methodology, principles, technique, approaches have been loaded in teaching process, as a matter of fact, considerable changes took place. These changes necessitated new approaches and innovative ways of language teaching. And the latest variant of “General Education State Standard and Program of English” initiated that for 12-grade school has been has been in operation since 2007. In Armenian schools following levels of teaching are distinguished:
Elementary level: this is the lowest level, which is established for beginners. At the end of this level the learners can use the language in a simple way, ask and answer questions about themselves and their family, school, house, they can share opinions about what they like and what they don’t, etc. This level involves two years of study (4th grade).
Middle school level: this level provides a little more proficiency than the elementary one. At the end of this course the learner should be able to perform social functions as greeting, expressing sympathy; handle short conversations about holidays, sports, health; present their country, tell about traditions, customs; read newspaper articles and extracts from fiction. This level includes five years of study (9th grade).
High school level: this is the level where the learner becomes able to maintain interaction with friends, relatives and other people in various contexts, exchanging ideas on ecology, generation gap, relations, globalization, art, and so on. This level involves 3 years of high school.
Accomplishment of the 3 above mentioned levels provides the learner with necessary knowledge to continue the study of foreign language on higher levels.
Aims of Foreign Language Teaching at School
As it is mentioned above, there are lots of languages in the world, and some of them fall into the category of international languages or languages of wider communication groups, such as English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Italian and Arabic, etc. Learning and teaching a foreign language is very important nowadays. Every day more and more people take up learning a foreign language in order to have an opportunity to get education or job abroad.
The knowledge of a foreign language gives the chance to keep up with the latest news and inventions that happen so quickly in the world. In modern society language is used in two ways: orally and in written form. Oral communication implies a speaker and hearer, and written communication implies a writer and a reader.
The practical aims in teaching a foreign language are four in number: hearing, speaking, reading and writing.
Knowing the aims is the most important thing in teaching any foreign language. Aims are the first and the most important consideration in any teaching. The process of teaching is very unique and delicate as the learner develops his/her knowledge and passes through every level of professionalism.
Hence the teacher should know exactly what his/her pupils are expected to achieve in studying his/her subject, what results he can expect from the pupils at the end of the course, at the end of the year, term, month, weak or simply each particular lesson. In other words he should know the aims and objectives of foreign language teaching at schools.
The terms ‘aims’ and ‘objectives’ should be distinguished clearly. The term ‘aim’ is mainly used to name the long-term goals (such as reasons for teaching a second language), and ‘objectives’ are used only for short-term goals (such as goal of a certain lesson).
There are three aims that should be achieved in foreign language teaching:
1. Practical aims – the acquisition of foreign language as a means of communication. Practical aims include habits and skills which pupils acquire in using a foreign language.
Habit is an automatic response of the brain, acquired normally as a result of repetition and learning.
Skill is a combination of useful habits serving for concrete purpose and requiring application of certain knowledge.
2. Educational aims – they develop pupils’ mental abilities and intelligence in the process of learning the foreign language. Teacher develops the pupils’’ voluntary and involuntary memory, his imaginative abilities and will power.
3. Cultural aims – while learning a foreign language, pupils get acquainted with the life, customs and traditions of the people whose language they study through visual and reading material; with the countries where the target language is spoken.
These three aims are interconnected and each contributes to the accomplishment and realization of the other one.
2.1 Practical aims
As subject, the foreign language differs from other subjects which are taught at schools nowadays. For instance, the teaching of history is connected with learning the historical laws and facts which pupils must learn and the teaching of the mother tongue leads to the mastery of the language as a system, (mother tongue is used for communication) so as pupils can employ it more effectively in oral and written speech.
It is especially important for pupils to use the foreign language as a means of communication or for receiving and conveying information they need, in a word to use the target language on the same purposes as the native language. In this connection it is appropriate to quote G. Perren: “Whatever a new language is being taught as a curricular extra … or as an essential medium for education it will be learned by the young child only if it obviously makes possible some purposeful activity other than language learning. If it does not do this, attempts to teach it may be largely a waste of time.” (Perren G. New Languages and Younger Children. – “English Language Teaching” 1972, No.3, p. 238.)
It is common knowledge that language is used in two ways: directly or orally, and indirectly or in written form. Thus we distinguish oral language and written language. Direct communication requires a speaker and a hearer, indirect communication requires a writer and a reader. The practical aims in teaching a foreign language are four in number: hearing, speaking, reading and writing.
The nature of language is important too, as learning a living language implies using the language of sounds, which is speaking. It is not much the ability to speak but rather the oral treatment, the language of sounds, not the graphic signs should serve as a basic means of teaching.
The length of the course, the frequency of the lessons, the size of groups should also be taken into consideration in adopting practical aims. The amount of time for language learning is one of the most decisive factors in mastering and maintaining language proficiency since learners need practice. The more time is available for pupils' practice in the target language, the better results can be achieved.
In teaching of a foreign language all forms of work and methods should be in close interrelation or else it will be impossible to master the language. However, special attention should be paid mainly to developing of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. Besides the size of groups should not be too large, usually large groups are divided into two groups. The three major aims that should be reached are reading, speaking and writing which is restricted to teaching the ability to compose simple letters.
The first eight years of school are aimed to the development of speech proficiency, and at the end of this curriculum pupils should be able:
· to give short talks and carry on conversations upon different topics that are included in the program.
· to read without a dictionary texts that contain 4-6 unknown words, the meaning of which should be clear from the context or due to familiar word-building elements.
The syllabus for the twelve-year school requires that school-leavers should be able:
· to read and understand foreign texts with or without dictionary
· to understand oral language and speak about the topics that are required by the syllabus
· to write letters.
While teaching a foreign language all types of work must be in close interrelation, the aim of which is to make possible the mastery of a foreign language. As it is mentioned above great attention should be paid to practice in hearing, speaking and reading.
The achievement of practical aims in foreign language teaching makes possible the achievement of educational and cultural aims.
Learning a foreign language is of great educational value. Through a new language we gain an insight into the way in which words express thoughts, and so achieve greater clarity and precision in our own communications. Even at the most elementary level learning a foreign language teaches the cognizance of meaning, furnishes a term of comparison that gives us an insight into the quality of language. When learning a foreign language the pupil understands better how the language functions and this brings him greater awareness of the functioning of his own language.
Language is connected with thinking, through foreign language teaching the teacher has a good opportunity to develop the learner’s intellect, his voluntary and involuntary memory, his imaginative abilities and will power. Naturally, in learning a new language the learner has to memorize words, idioms, grammatical structures and keep all these in long-term memory, always ready to use whenever he needs them. Another important factor in language teaching is the learner’s imagination, the lack of real communication forces the teacher to create imaginary situations where the learner has to put himself and shoe his language behavior accordingly.
Teaching a foreign language contributes to the linguistic education of the pupil, the latter extends the knowledge of phonic, graphic, structural, and semantic aspects of languages it is through contrastive analysis of language phenomena.
Learning a foreign language gives the learner the opportunity to get acquainted with the life, customs and traditions of the people whose mother tongue is being studied through the different visual or reading materials (movies, cards with views of towns, etc.). Foreign language promotes learner’s general educational and cultural growth by enriching their knowledge about foreign countries, and acquainting them with the traditions of the people whose language they study. Through learning a second language the learner gains a deeper insight into the nature and functioning of language as a social phenomenon.
The relationship between language and culture is dynamic. Language is an important part of culture. It is the main way which transmits cultural beliefs, values and norms. Language is influenced by culture. Language is one of the most important carriers of culture and reflects the latter.
In conclusion it is proper to say that practical, educational and cultural aims are intimately related and form an inseparable unity. As a matter of fact the leading role is carried with practical aims, for the others can only be achieved through the practical command of the foreign language.