Organization for Engagement: Train Tracks for Heterogeneous, Oversized, Under-Resourced EFL Classes

| May 1, 2009
Title
Organization for Engagement: Train Tracks for Heterogeneous, Oversized, Under-Resourced EFL Classes

Keywords: Group work, ZPD, Sociocultural, Methodology, Artifacts, Mediation, Material Design

Authors
Adrian Smith and Shelley Price-Jones
Kyung Hee University, Korea

Bio Data
Adrian M. Smith has an M.Ed. in TESOL from the University of South Australia. He has taught in Korea since 2001 and is actively involved in the area of sociocultural theory, and EFL curriculum development.

K. Shelley Price-Jones holds an M.A. from Queen’s University, Canada. She has over eleven years teaching experience in Korean universities and has developed a range of highly successful teaching methods for EFL classes, specializing in activity designs for ZPD classrooms. Both authors are accredited high school teachers, currently developing a new sociocultural teaching system at Kyung Hee University, Seoul campus, in the Department of General Education.

Abstract
In acknowledging the recently expressed need of some EFL teachers by Zappa-Hollman (2007), for more effective teaching methodologies and better materials for large classes, at all grade levels with mixed language level abilities, this paper offers teachers a quick, inexpensive, and highly effective speaking-interaction method, called Train Tracks. It has been tested in a Korean university setting. The method and material design are based on a sociocultural approach and Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). This classroom-speaking set-up can be used in different kinds of spaces and with different class types; moreover, it readily becomes a student-interaction platform around which you can build further lessons. Teacher created artifacts are used by students to help generate language, and these in turn can meta-morph into student-generated artifacts. We have adapted and operationalized a number of the key points of the sociocultural and Ecological approaches and will show what can be done with them in classroom situations, then use these theories to explain what we have experienced first-hand. The technique and materials (Artifacts) can be used on their own, or as part of a total curriculum and assessment approach. Train Tracks are also effective for organizing many students quickly, and can be easily adapted to difficult classroom spaces, and time constraints. Follow-up class and assessment possibilities will also be covered.

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See pages: 26-35

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Category: Teaching Articles, Volume 36