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Relationship between descriptors in curricula for language as subject and for language(s) in other subjects Irene Pieper, University of Hildesheim, Germany.

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Presentation on theme: "Relationship between descriptors in curricula for language as subject and for language(s) in other subjects Irene Pieper, University of Hildesheim, Germany."— Presentation transcript:

1 Relationship between descriptors in curricula for language as subject and for language(s) in other subjects Irene Pieper, University of Hildesheim, Germany Helmut Johannes Vollmer, University of Osnabrueck, Germany Strasbourg: CoE June 9, 2009, 9:20 - 9:45

2 2 Describing desired competences or „standards of achievement“ Variety of approaches towards the formulation of „descriptors“ in both LS and LIS: comprehensive vs. more specific ones (see examples below) What degree of precison in describing the desired competences or outcomes is necessary and adequate for which purpose or purposes? Both areas (LS and LIS) build on the same communicative activity modes: reading, speaking, listening, writing (though with different weights and focussing on different sub-components) Reflection on language (in LS) and/or on methods and relevance of content (in LIS) is often considered as a domain of its own The communicative activity areas relate to different discourse genres to be understood, produced and participated in. They are the major strategic level of reference for planning teaching and learning in school, in LS as much as in LIS. Underlying the discourse genres is a set of cognitive and linguistic operations, embedded in social contexts (thus also in school), which could be called discourse functions; they mix differently in different genres; they could be one entry point for analysis of basic cogn.-ling. competences across the curriculum.

3 3 Examples for comprehensive descriptions of outcomes/competences LS: Show understanding of both surface and deep meanings in response to a range of texts (including fiction, non- fiction, linear and non-linear texts, media texts) and make appropriate inferences Can use appropriate reading strategies LIS: Can express himself/herself in speaking and writing Is able to read for information, can restructure a text Understands how science works Perceive one‘s own beliefs and life faith, express it and defend it against others as legitimate and reasonable Develop intercultural understanding of people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds/contexts

4 4 Examples for more specific linguistic/communicative competences LS: Check spelling and use a dictionary Mark key terms in a text to prepare for a summary Identify symbols and metaphors in a text LIS Extract key points from a history text to produce notes (for later use) Know and develop subject-specific vocabulary Formulate, test and prove hypotheses about...

5 5 Format of curricular descriptors /standards /competence strings Pupils select data and information from different sources (e.g. print-, electronic media), assessing plausibility and relevance and process the information in a way adequate for a specific purpose, target group and situation. (Biology, Grade 9) 1.Verbal elements (operators) – marked yellow –define a capability to do sth. 2.Nominal elements –marked green– specify a subject-specific content 3.Nominal extensions – marked violet – further specify the content (optional) 4.Modal elements of the competence format – marked red – specify conditions, circumstances and degrees of mastery.

6 6 Typical operators in LS descriptors read for…(a range of purposes) - select (key points) - identify (key themes/ different passages or genres), comment on (key passages) - use (previous knowledge) - write (different types of text) - plan and structure - communicate (clearly and suitably for the context) - choose (the appropriate vocabulary, grammar, spelling, punctuation) - express (ideas and opinions) (in response to …) – take part in – reflect on – recognise that – show understanding – use (different strategies) – assess (critically)… Typical operators in LIS descriptors (across subjects) describe (125) - explain (67) – compare (44) – present (43) - assess(33) - distinguish (32) – explicate/illustrate (31) – give reasons for (29) – derive (29) – determine (19) – name/label (18) - appraise (17) – record/document (16) – construe(15) – interpret (15) – discuss (12) – evaluate (10) Typical operators in LS descriptors read for…(a range of purposes) - select (key points) - identify (key themes/ different passages or genres), comment on (key passages) - use (previous knowledge) - write (different types of text) - plan and structure - communicate (clearly and suitably for the context) - choose (the appropriate vocabulary, grammar, spelling, punctuation) - express (ideas and opinions) (in response to …) – take part in – reflect on – recognise that – show understanding – use (different strategies) – assess (critically)… Typical operators in LIS descriptors (across subjects) describe (125) - explain (67) – compare (44) – present (43) - assess(33) - distinguish (32) – explicate/illustrate (31) – give reasons for (29) – derive (29) – determine (19) – name/label (18) - appraise (17) – record/document (16) – construe(15) – interpret (15) – discuss (12) – evaluate (10)

7 7 Passe-partout or (umbrella) terms e.g. master, apply, use do not reveal anything concerning expected cognitive and/or language performance terms referring to knowledge / awareness only e.g. knowfocus on declarative knowledge, do not specify in which way this knowledge is gained, applied or communicated terms referring to general cognitive processes e.g. discover, examine, analyse focus on procedural knowledge, but do not specify methods to gain knowledge, nor do they reveal the nature of required verbal performance (e.g. understand factual prose) terms referring to non-verbal activities e.g. draw, construct, calculate expected performance is not primarily determined by verbal components, it does not imply linguistic, but rather (isolated) semiotic competence terms (broadly) specifying verbal activity e.g. say, speak, read, interact over... no information given concerning nature of discourse, but at least the communicative mode is specified terms (broadly) specifying verbal AND cognitive activity at the same time e.g. describe, explain, name/ label these operators indicate a specific cognitive operation as well as a verbal performance to relate to it with characteristic linguistic features, hence called “discourse function” THE TYPES OF VERBAL OPERATORS IN MODERN CURRICULA DIFFER IN QUALITY

8 8 Possible list of discourse functions Discourse functions describe and specify fundamental cognitive actions/ activities and their linguistic realisation/expression/counterparts NAMING DESCRIBING NARRATING EXPLAINING ARGUING EVALUATING NEGOTIATING Plus(?): EXPLORING/DISCOVERING, COMPREHENDING, REFLECTING (Problem: these are partly or largely not observable in verbal behaviour) Discourse genres use these macro functions and the many micro functions below them (like contrast, define, hypothesise, infer, interpret ect.) for comprehension, production and interaction processes selectively Some discourse genres rely dominantly on 1 or 2 DF, but never exclusively WE SUGGEST THE FOLLOWING LINK: Linguistic activities in LS could be related to language demands in LIS largely via discourse genres and discourse functions: this would catch the cognitive challenges in both!

9 9 MACRO AND MICRO-FUNCTIONS RELATED NAMEEXPLARGUNARRDESCEVAL NEGO NON- COGN Abstract 2 Analyze Assess Balance 4 changing perspectives 12 Check 8 Classify Communicate 1 Compare 22 Comprise 1 Conclude 3 construct coherence 14 Contrast 1353 Criticize 3 Define 249 Describe 2 Dis-/agree 4 Document 11 Estimate 1 Experiment 2 give reasons 5222 hypothesize 122 identify 19 inference 21 Interpret 621 judge 130 label 121 model 1 name 861 Persuade 1 Plan 11 take up a position 214 predict 11 Macro- and Micro-Functions related to one another

10 10 READING LS: Show understanding of both surface and deep meanings in response to a range of texts (including fiction, non-fiction, linear and non-linear texts, media texts) and make appropriate inferences LIS: 1. Recall, analyse, interpret, apply and question scientific information or ideas 2. restructure information for a particular purpose, e.g. extract key points from a science text to produce notes; convert information found on the web into an information leaflet (for use in a doctor’s surgery or in his/her office for patients) Possible operations: to recall, identify, extractDISCOURSE FUNCTION: Naming, Narrating to presentDISCOURSE FUNCTION: Describing, Evaluating to summariseDISCOURSE FUNCTION: Describing to relate, to interpretDISCOURSE FUNCTION: Explaining to review, questionDISCOURSE FUNCTION: Evaluating? …(either orally or in writing) Themes? Domain specific knowledge? TASKS: Interpret a diagram on the demographical development of.. OR Identify topic-related and relevant pieces of information (from one or two different sources ↔ Read one of the children‘s book and present it to the class

11 11 SPEAKING (and Listening) LS: Speak and listen in a wide range of contexts, including formal situations, where students can adapt their approach to engage an audience LIS: Describe, illustrate and explain chemical facts (like types of substances + reactions) Possible operations: to describe, illustrateDISCOURSE FUNCTION: Describing, Explaining to explainDISCOURSE FUNCTION: Explaining to argue DISCOURSE FUNCTION: Arguing to commentDISCOURSE FUNCTION: Evaluating to discussDISCOURSE FUNCTION: Negotiating … Themes? Domain specific knowledge? TASKS: „Mobile phones should be allowed in class. Try to persuade your headmaster.“ ↔ „Explain the importance of the tropical rain forest“ OR „Describe forms and functions of storage and transmission of genetic information“

12 12 WRITING LS: write different types of texts (including stories, letters and factual prose) to convey meaning appropriately for the context and purpose LIS: Being able to express oneself in writing OR Write reports (under guidance/autonomously/as a longer piece of work in appropriate terms) Possible operations: to narrateDISCOURSE FUNCTION: describing, narrating to reportDISCOURSE FUNCTION: describing, explaining… to describeDISCOURSE FUNCTION: describing to commentDISCOURSE FUNCTION: evaluating … Themes? Domain specific knowledge? TASKS: Describe the way from school to the local museum ↔ Describe an experiment in physics OR Describe and evaluate the effects of human interference into an ecological system

13 13 Writing as Learning LS: Use writing as a means of thinking and learning, new discoveries + precision LIS: Analyse interactions with the help of graphs, tables and models OR Apply idealised representations, schemata, diagrams and symbolic language to complex biological/chemical/physical issues Possible operations: key function: learning / re-structuring of knowledge take notesDISCOURSE FUNCTION: Naming, RelateDISCOURSE FUNCTION: Describing, Explaining EditingDISCOURSE FUNCTION: Discover, Reflect HypothesiseDISCOURSE FUNCTION: Explaining doing a mindmapDISCOURSE FUNCTION: …MEDIATE (between diff. represent. of meaning) … Themes? Domain specific knowledge? TASKS: Write down OR make a drawing how you see things related ↔ Reflect about the correctness, completeness and usefulness of textual and graphical information

14 14 Interaction/Negotiation LS: Exchange, work in pairs, convince, argue for+against, adapt to... present information appropriately/in your own words in a range of formats (poster, powerpoint, formal presentation, discussion), LIS: Develop an argument and draw conclusions (using scientific, technical and mathematical language/symbols) Understand and consider counter-arguments and react to them appropriately, reflect objections self-critically, support/defend position(s)/viewpoint(s) BOTH: Taking a particular role in a discussion/simulation Communicate and argue in different social forms Argue correctly and logically in subject-specific trms Possible Competences/DISCOURSE FUNCTIONS? ALL DISCOURSE FUNCTIONS PLUS TEAM COMPETENCE/Flexibility PLEASE COMPLETE YOURSELF AND …/DISCUSS

15 15 SUMMARY: Relationship between linguistic goals/ requirements in Language as Subject (LS) and for Language(s) in other Subjects (LIS) 1. The areas of linguistic and communicative activities are the same in LS and in LIS, namely Reading (comprehension), Listening (comprehension), Speaking (connected speech), Speaking/Listening (interactive participation + negotiation), Writing, and possibly Mediating (“Translating” from everyday life/language to the level of school subjects/language +vice versa). All realise in discourse genres. 2. LS introduces to and reflects upon a large variety of genres. In comparison, in LIS the discourse genres are more specific and limited than in LS. LIS normally takes those discourse types needed “for granted” and does not want to experiment with them (except maybe from the point of view of topic-based clarity and communicative effect, e.g. in argumentations). 3. LS is less structured in terms of a system of mental and/or related linguistic operations (discourse functions), but in LIS the choice of verbal operators is also somewhat unsystematic and not clearly related to any system of cognition and/or language functions.

16 16 4. In LIS the content is central, realised through mental and linguistic action, in LS it is the language form or language itself. However, LS has its own area of domain-specific discourse when it comes to dealing with language and literature, reflection on literature and literary analysis. 5. LIS is less interested in varieties of discourse/linguistic form, as long as the genres used (and offered by LS) are valid, practical and based on accepted conventions. A reflection on these varieties is even more unlikely within LIS. BUT: LIS should contribute to the development of language sensitivity by reflecting the language used in relation to the content/meaning expressed + improve it (e.g. through processes of editing). 6. LIS is dependent on the definition, modelling and basic practices of specific genres within LS. But LIS has to check them as modules, develop them further and/or specify them for its own purposes and establish horizontal links by interacting with other subjects (including LS) over these genres+underlying discourse.

17 17 7. Both LS and LIS know a broad repertoire of descriptors of language competencies needed, more general and also more specific ones; sometimes they are too narrowly broken down (danger of technicality). We have to discuss which is useful for what and why. All of these approaches for describing competencies (from global via sub- components to concrete performance indicators) have their own right. 8. There seems to be a definite lack in using writing/written discourse within LIS, especially in its epistemological function (“Writing for thinking and learning”). The written mode cannot be overestimated: it helps clarify thoughts and ways of expressing them appropriately. 9. LS introduces to and reflects upon the use of strategies for text comprehension/ reception and text production. Critical reflection within LIS normally limits itself to issues of content, methods or social relevance: This is not enough, language-sensitive subject learning and teaching has to include looking at what the language contributes to MEANING production, how it supports or veils clarity or fuzziness. 10. Subject teachers are no language teachers nor do they have to strive for it, but they have to become language-sensitive in their teaching.

18 18 Perspectives Focus so far: How are LS and LIS actually linked? One possibility offered: by common genres + discourse functions! We partly reflected on: How could or should they be linked? based on values like the right of every student to make use of and profit sustainably from the curriculum? This will require co- operation among teachers across subjects and a holistic, whole-school language learning and teaching policy! What we did NOT address here is the issue: How can these links indeed be established and materialised in practical terms, in the curricula and the institutional realities of school? What are the obstacles and how can we remove them in the interest of the learners, and not only the disadvantaged ones?


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