Wednesday, 26 October 2011


WHat was the needs analysis basis for the AECC? Conducted when knowledge on learners was thin on the ground. And hard to reach communities were hard to reach then?? SO the policy was imposed.

Space, placement and Liminality in Adult ESOL Classes

Mike Baynham and James Simpson, Sept 2010, TESOL Quarterly

Draws on Bernsteins notion of vertical and horizontal discourse.
Draws on positioning theory.
Draws on legitimate peripheral participation.
Draws on liminality
Draws on de Certeau' s use of spaces occupied by people: institutions use strategies to define space, individuals use tactics to negotiate space

Horizontal discourse is segmented. Can be discrete. Agents can have differing vocabularies with a horizontal segment. Communicative, everyday discourse.
Vertical discourse is hierarchical, and is linked strongly t the language of progression.

Baynham and James use a mixture of sociological concepts. For that reason there is a bit of vagueness about the paper. They argue that learner trajectories can be viewed as vertical progression through the space of Skills for Life (Bernstein). But they also argue that it can be viewed as moving from the periphery to the centre. They also argue that students take up identity positions in relation to the class and to space. .

They argue that the NFQ is ironically effective as the learner's own identity positions can enable them to move vertically upwards.

Th epapaer is essentially descriptive of ways of being within the available space. It is not suggestive, nor critical of the processes or institutions that form those spaces. However, it is suggestive of the value of horizontal discourse in that it suggest it as a mechanism whereby access to measured outcomes (vertical discourse) is made possible.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Improving Immigrants Prospects through work focused Language Instruction

Improving immigrants prospects through work focused Language Instruction

Margie McHugh and A.E.Challinor

Migration Policy Institute

June 2011

Endnote tagged

Important points :

"For those with low to mid level skills, language proficiency is the ticket to better paying jobs and upward mobility"
See his referred studies. This seems reasonable. Gives a number of examples of programmes, including McDonalds, Canada's Enhanced Language Training Programme, German at Work programme, Swedish policy.

But UK provision cut - see related posts, and September 2011 ended funding for employers.

Report recommends:
Expand language instruction contextualised for workplace use
Combine language and skills training
Encourage partnerships and work with employers
Encourage work based instruction
Take into accoutn the needs of non-traditional students
Evaluate programmes: share and support effective practises

Comments on recommendations;
1. This is CBE. It has problems - is it socioeconomically deterministic? See Auerbach
2. Combine language and skills training; This is also CEB
3. encourgae partnerships - UK has withdrawn funding
4. Encourgae work based instruction - see above
Non trad students - effectiely abandoned to self financing
Evaluate programmes - this is done in the Uk via social cohesio measurements - self fulfilling prophecy, or worse linking non-connected things.

Uninvited Guests: The Influence of Teachers' Roles and Pedagogies on the Positioning of English Language Learners in the Regular Classroom

Uninvited Guests: The Influence of Teachers' Roles and Pedagogies on the Positioning of English Language Learners in the Regular Classroom

Yoon, Bogum. American Educational Research Journal45. 2 (Jun 2008): 495-522.

Logged in endnote.

Study based on positioning theory.

Important points:

1. Much research indicates that proficiency dictates participation. Participation dictates success in language learning (see Good Language Learner). However this study showed that across three classes, individual's participation varied. This is in part because of how the teachers positioned learners within the class - learners participated more when teachers engaged in culturally sensistive teaching. Teaching about America and students disengaged (see common practice abot Halloween etc etc).
2. Teacher's view that if you expose learners to English they will learn it (see Eileen and the others teachers in my study). Illustrates a need for research and teachers who know what they are doing.

Limitations: did not comparitively obsevre participation of individuals across classrooms.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Skills for life.Auerbach/Competency based ESL

Aurbach's paper 'Competency based ESOL: ONe step forward of two steps back?' is very interesting. Firstly what is interesting is when it was written 1985. And it includes a historical context the refers back to ESL from the 1900's. The basic premise is that competency based ESL courses are socially/economically deterministic - designed to maintain migrants as working/blue collar.
The resonances between Auerbach's commentary on then USA policy and current Skills for Life are striking.
To examine Auerbach's claims in more detail its necessary to assess what CBE is, whether it actually is fundamentally still the foundation of Skills for Life and then look at Skills for Life in relation to Auerbach's claims.
Auerbach claims CEB is :

Based on humanistic, communicative based language approaches.
The emphasis is on what learners can do with language rather than what they know about language.

Auerbahc identified several features of CBE:

1. A focus on successful functioning in society: The goal is to enable
students to become autonomous individuals capable of coping
with the demands of the world.
2. A focus on life skills: Rather than teaching language in isolation,
CBAE/ESL teaches language as a function of communication
about concrete tasks. Students are taught just those language
forms/skills required by the situations in which they will
function. These forms are determined by "empirical assessment
of language required" (Findley & Nathan, 1980, p. 224).

3. Task- or performance-centered orientation: What counts is what
students can do as a result of instruction. The emphasis is on
overt behaviors rather than on knowledge or the ability to talk
about language and skills.
4. Modularized instruction: "Language learning is broken down
into manageable and immediately meaningful chunks" (Center
for Applied Linguistics, 1983, p. 2). Objectives are broken into
narrowly focused subobjectives so that both teachers and
students can get a clear sense of progress.
5. Outcomes which are made explicit a priori: Outcomes are public
knowledge, known and agreed upon by both learner and
teacher. They are specified in terms of behavioral objectives so
that students know exactly what behaviors are expected of them.
6. Continuous and ongoing assessment: Students are pretested to
determine what skills they lack and posttested after instruction in
that skill. If they do not achieve the desired level of mastery, they
continue to work on the objective and are retested. Program
evaluation is based on test results and, as such, is considered
objectively quantifiable.
7. Demonstrated mastery-of performance objectives: Rather than
the traditional paper-and-pencil tests, assessment is based on the
ability to demonstrate prespecified behaviors.
8. Individualized, student-centered instruction: In content, level,
and pace, objectives are defined in terms of individual needs;
prior learning and achievement are taken into account in
developing curricula. Instruction is not time based; students
progress at their own rates and concentrate on just those areas in
which they lack competence.

Auerbach's critiques:
1. Curriculum as fact versus curriculum as practise: co-construction of knowledge. essentially critical thinking - the question arises why economic migrants and asylum seekers arent encouraged to engage in critical thinking and university students are. This is a two tier system. The question does arise of basic ability to communicate, but in a plurilingual society that communication should be a two way street, not a transmission of one set of norms imposed on another. Need to justify plurilingualism as a philosophical position??? Need to get round the problem of basic communication. re-read Auerbach and ask if the curriculum is efficient in languge teaching.

See Competency based paper on desk top

Functional Language Objectives in a Competency Based ESL Curriculum
Author(s): Charles A. Findley and Lynn A. Nathan
Source: TESOL Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 2 (Jun., 1980), pp. 221-231

Observation about the status of ESOL within Skills for Life

Auerbach criticism that Skills for Life only prepares people for menial work. (Auerbach, E.R> (1986) 'Competency based ESL: One Step Forward or Two steps Back?' TESOL Quarterly 20, 411 - 427.

Also note a possible new observation : Learning a second language is not a 'basic' skill - transfering from Arabic to Roman language for example is significantly harder than learning to add up?? Cognitive comparison - cognitive load theory???

see AECC embedding empolyability skills

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Adult ESOL in England Policy Practice and research

Simpson, J. (2007) “Adult ESOL in England: Policy, Practice and Research” in: N. Faux (Ed.) Low-educated Second Language and Literacy Acquisition: Research, policy and practice. Richmond, VA: Commonwealth University of Virginia.

Superdiversity (Vertovec 2006)[2007] ‘Migrant transnationalism and modes of transformation,’ in Rethinking Migration: New Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives, A. Portes and J. DeWind (eds), Oxford: Berg [in press]

Historically ESOL neglected - ad hoc teaching.
Then Moser (A Fresh Start).
Development of AECC a good thing - students do progress in ESOL classes ( get stats on this from ESOL effective practice project).

But bureaucratisation leads to conflicts : obligation to produce 'measurable outcomes' at odds with non-linear progress of most students.
ILP ineffective.
Drive to increase private sector involvement.