The Free Stage. Aspect 6: the meaningfulness of the activity.

The Free Stage. Aspect 6: the meaningfulness of the activity.

At the TEFL Centre, we are keen to train our new fledgling TEFL teachers to be aware that in fluency practice activities, the actual task must be meaningful. The reason for this is based on several assumptions:

1)      If the language being practised is used in a context which the student is familiar with, and is therefore meaningful because the students recognise that the activity is simulating a real task that they actually have to deal with in their day-to-day lives, then the student will be aware of its usefulness and application. This in turn reinforces the learning experience and enhances memory retention due to its relevance. The student will think ‘Next time I’m in this situation, I will be able to deal with it in English thanks to the exercise I’m doing now.

2)      As discussed in earlier articles, if a task leads to some kind of conclusion, result or discovery, then the student will be aided in the assimilation of the language involved in achieving the task because the conclusion, result or discovery is in itself memorable.

3)      Motivation is an important aspect of the TEFL teacher’s ability to aid learning. By making a task meaningful, increased motivation is an inevitable consequence. Imagine being given a task of digging a hole and then filling it in again compared to digging a hole in order to create the foundations of a house. Building a house is in intrinsically motivating task. Digging holes and filling them in again is not. So when we give our students free stage tasks, they should be designed to end in a satisfying achievement (conclusion, result or discovery) rather than just a ‘talk about something because the teacher has asked us to’ activity.

4)      When a task is meaningful, the student does not simply and robotically produce language according to the prompts created by the activity (which can be the case in some drilling exercises). Rather the student has to genuinely give and receive information which requires the personality of the student to become part of the task. They will maybe have to express attitudes and preferences and this reinforces learning because the language becomes associated with the learners own identity. If a student is talking disinterestedly about something which is not meaningful to them, the learning efficiency will be diminished.

 

Tags: tefl course, tefl teacher, free stage, meaningfulness
Posted on August 28th, 2017

 

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