Integration is a major theme in many of the articles in this issue. For many ESL teachers, a main aim is to help students whose first language is not English to integrate in classrooms and communities where English is spoken. For other teachers, integration means an approach to teaching that ensures that their students learn all the skills necessary to becoming well-rounded English speakers and, often, that they dovetail a variety of techniques, technology and tools to do this.
In our main feature, Roger Hunt and Marianne Pickles integrate listening and writing in a transcription procedure to help their students become better listeners. Their technique proves popular with the students – and effective in helping them decode natural speech. Marianne’s flexible approach to how and where her students do their transcriptions also goes a long way towards getting them on board and encouraging them to give the technique a try.
Robin Walker recommends taking features of the students’ L1 pronunciation and integrating them into their pronunciation of troublesome English words in order to make it easier to say them correctly. He proposes that if the students can produce a particular sound in their own language, it must be possible for them to reproduce that sound in an English word – we just have to locate those sounds within the L1 and draw them to the students’ attention. Teachers sometime disagree on the extent to which the learners’ L1 can and should be used in the classroom. This would seem a very worthwhile way of integrating the two languages, giving validity to the learners’ mother tongue, but also using it as a means to help them master the pronunciation of English.
Simon Mumford integrates the teaching of various seemingly unconnected structures and concepts, and uses what initially might seem strange bedfellows to produce innovative learning activities. Have you ever thought of combining the teaching of plural and possessive s with teaching definite and indefinite relative clauses? If not, why not give it a try?
Adrian Tennant sees a rigid adherence to linear teaching procedures as a hindrance to learning, which seems to be an altogether messier and more organic process. He would prefer to see a more integrated approach, where function and use are preferred over form and system. However, he concedes that even trying to write an article in an organic, ‘untidy’ way proves difficult as his natural inclination as a teacher drives him back to an organised and linear approach!
Maria Kazakou addresses another form of integration in her article on using worksheets supplied by the Disabled Access Friendly Campaign (one of the winners of this year’s ELTON awards). Building on her own friendships with disabled schoolmates, she now raises awareness of disability issues with her students and inspires them to recognise that disabled people are ‘just like you, just like me’.
This issue will coincide with a return to work for many teachers who have just enjoyed a summer holiday. I hope that you are all returning to work refreshed, and that you will find something in the magazine to inspire you.