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ESOL-RESEARCH  February 2007

ESOL-RESEARCH February 2007

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Subject:

Re: Using colloquialisms in ESOL classrooms

From:

stephen woulds <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

stephen woulds <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 16 Feb 2007 07:29:42 -0000

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I couldn't agree more. This is something I feel strongly about. Each area in the UK has its own language acquisition challenges because of differences in regional accents, dialects and contexts. But we often find a very 'pure' form of English being taught with emphasis on ESOL CC 'level descriptors' and discrete skills and grammar to the detriment of a more richer, vernacular English. 

 

Here is an example of how context and dialect inform communicative meaning. A student of mine called Ali was waiting for a bus in Leeds city-centre. He overheard two teenage girls talking about three buses at once. One of the girls turned to Ali and said, "'Ave ya got time on ya?" A perplexed Ali replied, "Sorry, I'm very busy," and walked off quickly. He understood the vocabulary, the reference to time, but he didn't understand the signified, the referential watch on his wrist and the fact that the girls were making a common complaint about the irregularity of buses. Without an awareness of context our interpretation of communication is often reduced to 'context-free semantic information as given in a dictionary,' (Levy, 1999). Ali thought he was being asked to do something for her which would require a length of his time. He had no idea why they would need three buses at once nor that they simply wanted Ali to tell them the time. The failed interaction was not helped by the fact that the Yorkshire dialect sometimes drops the definitive article the before a noun, "Have you got the time on you?" e.g. "I'm going to shop," rather than "I'm going to the shop."

 

At Leeds Thomas Danby our ESOL tutors created 21 videos in 'local' settings with 'local' vernacular English. This was put onto DVD and video and distributed to all tutors. I have found that my students enjoy learning regional English, examining how language breaks the rules, the pronunciation, the grammar, of the official language they have been taught. You can find more information about the project if you are interested in doing something similar yourself at: http://www.aclearn.net/display.cfm?resID=21714 Alternatively, video a regional soap or invite guest speakers. Some of my students watch Emmerdale, set in Yorkshire. Why not use that as a resource for teaching/learning English?
 
 
 
 

________________________________

From: ESOL-Research discussion forum on behalf of Judith Boardman
Sent: Thu 15/02/2007 21:57
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Using colloquialisms in ESOL classrooms


Being born and bred in a Bradford working class family, I have found that I 
use Yorkshire colloquialisms all the time while teaching without even 
realising it! Sometimes learners ask me what something means and I have to 
explain "It's what people in Bradford say but you probably won't hear this 
anywhere else!" I used to feel somewhat embarrassed by the fact that I may 
not always be using 'proper' English until I realised that my colloquialisms 
are the ones students will encounter in the real world every day.

Judith Boardman


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*********************************** ESOL-Research is a forum for researchers and practitioners with an interest in research into teaching and learning ESOL. ESOL-Research is managed by James Simpson at the Centre for Language Education Research, School of Education, University of Leeds. To join or leave ESOL-Research, visit http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/ESOL-RESEARCH.html A quick guide to using Jiscmail lists can be found at: http://jiscmail.ac.uk/help/using/quickuser.htm To contact the list owner, send an email to [log in to unmask]

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***********************************
ESOL-Research is a forum for researchers and practitioners with an interest in research into teaching and learning ESOL. ESOL-Research is managed by James Simpson at the Centre for Language Education Research, School of Education, University of Leeds.
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