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Teaching Advanced Language Skills through Global Debate

Teaching Advanced Language Skills through Global Debate: Theory and Practice

Tony Brown
Jennifer Bown
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 105
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  • Book Info
    Teaching Advanced Language Skills through Global Debate
    Book Description:

    Using debate to develop advanced competency in a second language is a method that is finding increased interest among instructors and students alike, whether in synchronous online teaching or the individual classroom. Through debate, students learn how to make hypotheses, support their conclusions with evidence, and deploy the rhetoric of persuasion in the target language. Though this method provides an exciting pedagogy for moving students from the advanced to the superior level, there is a paucity of materials available for instructors who wish to plan a curriculum focused on debate.Teaching Advanced Language Skills through Global Debate: Theory and Practiceprovides teachers with both the theoretical underpinnings for using debate in the foreign language classroom as well as practical advice for developing reading, listening, writing, and speaking skills through debate. It discusses task-based language learning and helps instructors design debate-related tasks for the classroom.Teaching Advanced Language Skills through Global Debatewill be useful for any instructor working at the advanced level, and particularly for those training future language instructors. One of the new digital short publications available through Georgetown University Press, it is an ideal complement to the press's new titles on mastering languages through global debate.

    eISBN: 978-1-62616-144-3
    Subjects: Linguistics, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-3)

    For centuries, debate has played a prominent role in universities throughout Western Europe and the United States. In addition to educating students about significant social and political issues, debate fosters critical thinking and analytical skills as well as respect for opposing opinions and an increased capacity to relate to others. In a debate, every claim is subject to questioning, thus creating an environment rich in rhetorical strategies and complex linguistic constructions.

    Because of its public nature, debate also demands a sophisticated level of public speaking ability that extends beyond mere narration and description to persuasion and support of a hypothesis...

  4. 1 Overview of Proficiency Guidelines
    (pp. 4-10)

    The year 2012 marked thirty years since the initial development of the ACTFL provisional proficiency guidelines for speaking (as part of the ACTFL Language Proficiency Projects in 1982).² The introduction of the guidelines sparked a proficiency movement in foreign language instruction as instructors became more concerned about what learners could do with the language rather than with what theyknewabout the language. Nevertheless, in 1998 Erwin Tschirner and L. Kathy Heilenman published the results of their examination of key studies of correlation between length of postsecondary language study and oral proficiency interview (OPI) ratings. Their meta-analysis revealed a mean...

  5. 2 Task-Based Language Learning
    (pp. 11-15)

    Simply put, a task is “an activity conducted in the foreign language that results in a product with a measurable result such that students can determine for themselves whether or not they have adequately completed the assignment” (Leaver and Kaplan 2004, 47). From an outcomes perspective, a task reflects an activity that requires learners “to arrive at an outcome from given information through some processes of thought” and that allows teachers “to control and regulate that process” (Prabhu 1987, 2). Additionally, some tasks involve goal-oriented activities aimed at accomplishing a concrete outcome, such as doing a puzzle or playing a...

  6. 3 Teaching Reading
    (pp. 16-34)

    We start with reading because reading plays a fundamental role in preparing learners for their tasks; in order to effectively complete the tasks, learners must become familiar with the topic and the issues related to it and must learn the requisite vocabulary.

    Choose texts based on the ACTFL proficiency guidelines (ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012). The guidelines both indicate what readers must be able to do and describe the kinds of texts that readers should be able to handle. For purposes of a course on debate, select editorials on controversial topics that may require the learner to make inferences.

    Reading plays...

  7. 4 Teaching Listening
    (pp. 35-40)

    As with reading, consult the ACTFL proficiency guidelines for listening at the Advanced and Superior levels (ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012).

    Listening can be either interactive or interpretive. Interactive listening occurs in conversations when there are opportunities to ask questions and clarify the meaning of the speaker. The listener and speaker work together to negotiate meaning. The listener actively collaborates using both nonverbal (e.g., nodding, furrowing the brow) and verbal signals (e.g., asking questions or commenting on what was said). Conversely, interpretive listening involves interpretation of meaning in a spoken text where the listener has no opportunity to negotiate or clarify...

  8. 5 Teaching Writing
    (pp. 41-60)

    ACTFL’s descriptors of Advanced- and Superior-level writing can provide suggestions for the types of tasks you might assign (ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012).

    Writing is an essential component of language proficiency, and it plays an important role in courses on debate. Writing allows learners to express their views on meaningful topics. Moreover, the task of writing a persuasive essay requires a sophisticated level of discourse indicative of the Advanced and Superior levels.

    As with L1 writers, students of foreign languages often demonstrate higher oral than written proficiency during the first few years of language instruction. For many, written production never goes...

  9. 6 Teaching Speaking
    (pp. 61-77)

    For a detailed description of the ACTFL speaking proficiency guidelines, refer to “Overview of Proficiency Guidelines” in this volume, or review ACTFL’s descriptors of Advanced- and Superior-level speaking (ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012).

    In discussing the function of rhetoric, Edward Inch and Barbara Warnick (2005, 114) assert that “the rhetorical function of language aims to direct or influence thoughts and behavior. It is persuasive.” Additional research, including that conducted by J. Massie (2005) and Ulla Connor (1987), identifies the task of argumentation and debate as a valuable strategy in improving L2 oral and written proficiency, especially at the Advanced and Superior...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 78-80)

    When considering whether to implement such a methodology, carefully consider your audience. For example, with regard to oral proficiency, findings from pre- and post-OPI testing suggest that students at the Advanced level and higher benefit more from a debate-oriented approach than those at lower levels; however, findings with regard to written proficiency suggest that one’s beginning proficiency level factors less in determining gain than scaffolded learning in the form of methodical revisions to writing assignments.14

    Instructor and student input has played an integral role in the development of this pedagogical approach. In addition to soliciting student evaluations at the conclusion...

  11. Appendix A: Sample Graphic Organizers
    (pp. 82-83)
  12. Appendix B: Rubric for Writing and Speaking
    (pp. 84-84)
  13. Appendix C: Speaker Points Scoring Guide
    (pp. 85-86)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 87-88)
  15. References
    (pp. 89-94)
  16. About the Authors
    (pp. 95-95)