Helping Language Learners Build Knowledge

Professor Roger Palmer of Konan University discusses ways to help learners build knowledge as they learn second or foreign languages, enabling them to join the target language community.

This talk will focus on ways to help learners build knowledge as they learn second or foreign languages, enabling them to join the target language community. In a country like Japan, where learners, teachers and the society of which they form a part share the same first language, other languages may be squeezed out even when there is a desire to learn them. Despite time, effort and good intentions, neither Willingness to Communicate (MacIntyre, Clément, Dörnyei & Noels,1998), nor skills training, nor Communicative Language Teaching has provided a viable way forward for those who wish to or need to learn other languages.

A solution put forward by Byrnes (2006) is to draw on lessons from Sociocultural Theory and Systemic Functional Linguistics, using functional descriptions of language in context to assist language learners. Drawing lessons from Byrnes (2006), three main areas are attended to. The first examines the need for a commitment to teaching language learners up to their potential, whether intermediate or advanced, in the target language. The second explores ways to help L2 learners understand meaning in the texts that they read and those they construct. Acceptance in a social or cultural group requires being able to analyse and break down a variety of texts and understand how they work.The third is the use of technology in language education. Technology represents one part of the solution, and it will be argued that technology should be embraced in the digital age just as it was embraced when it meant the printing press, or the pencil.

It follows that efforts be directed more towards the building of knowledge, by such means as integrating content and language instruction.

Professor Roger Palmer

Roger Palmer is associate professor at the Hirao School of Management, part of Konan University in Japan, where he serves as Co-director of Language Programmes. He has presented widely in Asia, notably as Plenary Speaker at ILANNS 2014 in Malaysia, Keynote Speaker at the UiTM Blended Learning Colloquium in 2013, Featured Speaker at MELTA in 2012, Featured Speaker at the Asian Conference on Technology in the Classroom 2011 and Plenary Speaker at TEFLIN Indonesia in 2010. From 2011 to 2013, he led a team investigating genre-based L2 writing and technology, working with fellow researchers in Japan and Indonesia. Roger has co-authored over a dozen textbooks for EFL/ESL learners of English, including iZone, Pearson Asia’s four-level print-digital course. He was the Site Chair for JALTCALL 2012, the Conference Chair for Peace as a Global Language in 2011 and serves as Membership Chair for Teachers Helping Teachers (THT), part of The Japan Association For Language Teaching, as well as THT delegate leader to Kyrgyzstan. His research interests include content-based instruction, genre-based pedagogy, ICT and multimodality.

Professor Roger Palmer was a Featured Speaker at The Asian Conference on Language Learning 2014 (ACLL2014) in Osaka, Japan.

Posted by IAFOR