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Waters - Thinking and Language Learning

'Waters - Thinking and Language Learning'
Thinking and Language Learning Alan Waters Lancaster University, UK (a.waters@lancaster.ac.uk) A presentation at the 18A presentation at the 18th th NAFLE Conference, NAFLE Conference, Beijing, China, July 2013 Beijing, China, July 2013 ‘Learning without thought is labour lost’ Confucius Thinking and learning ?Why thinking? ?vital part of language learning (Skehan 1998) ?major overall educational goal (Nunan 1999, Part I) ?motivation (cf. Ur 2103) ?Getting EFL learners to think therefore very important ?BUT: ?What do we mean by thinking? ?What kind of activities involve what kinds of thinking? ?How can thinking be done by learners at the lower language levels? 2 What is thinking? ?Definition: the kinds of mental operations used by learners in the learning process ?Many possible conceptual frameworks (cf. Ur 2013), e.g: ?‘Critical’ vs. ‘creative’ ?‘Convergent’ vs. ‘divergent’ ?‘LOTS’ vs. ‘HOTS’ ?Bloom 1956 - Sanders 1966 (cf. Adams-Smith 1981; Kratwohl 2002) ?Also see Waters 2006 3 Levels of thinking (Sanders 1966) LevelLevelActivityActivity 1MemoryMemory (recognizing/ remembering) ?Understanding a vocabulary or grammar rule explanation, doing a ‘mechanical’ drill, using prior knowledge when reading/listening to a comprehension passage, etc. - e.g., ‘Correct these instructions for making a paper model of a boat’ 2TranslationTranslation (reformulatin g information) ?Doing substitution tables, information transfer activities, etc. – e.g., ‘Use the corrected instructions to make the model of the boat’ 3InterpretatioInterpretatio n n (identifying relationships ) ?Discovering logical connections in ‘non- linguistic’ content, working out the meaning of unknown words, grammatical rules, etc. – e.g., ‘Look at the form of the verbs (the imperative) in the instructions (e.g., “Fold the paper in half”) and then complete this sentence: To make the imperative, we use the [infinitive/’to’ form] without [to].’ 4 Levels of thinking (contd.) LevelLevelActivityActivity 4ApplicationApplication (guided use of new knowledge) ?‘Use the drawings you have been given to produce a set of instructions for making a paper aeroplane’ 5AnalysisAnalysis (freer application of new knowledge) ?‘Think of a paper model you know how to construct and produce instructions for making it’ 6SynthesisSynthesis (creative application of new knowledge) ?‘Think about how you could construct a new paper model (e.g., of the Beijing National Olympic Stadium), and produce instructions for making it’ 7EvaluationEvaluation (meeting criteria for the application of new knowledge) ?‘Think about how you could construct a new paper model (e.g., of the Beijing National Olympic Stadium) in the simplest way, and produce instructions for making it’ 5 Levels of thinking (contd.) ?Learning involves two overall levelstwo overall levels of thinking (see, e.g., Bruner 1973; Johnson 2008: 101-2; Gagné 1975): ?Also, thinking is hierarchical: ‘[The] categories are sequential and cumulative. In other words, each categ
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