Presentation on theme: "Županijsko Stručno Vijeće Engleskog jezika za srednju školu u županiji zadarskoj 3. studenoga 2014. Dr. sc. Anna Martinović, viši predavač Sveučilište."— Presentation transcript:
Županijsko Stručno Vijeće Engleskog jezika za srednju školu u županiji zadarskoj 3. studenoga 2014. Dr. sc. Anna Martinović, viši predavač Sveučilište u Zadru Centar za strane jezike
Complexity theory aims to account for how the interacting parts of a complex system give rise to the system’s collective behavior and how such a system simultaneously interacts with its environment (Larsen-Freeman & Cameron, 2008). The emergent behavior is often non-linear, in other words, disproportionate to its causal factors. The agents or elements in a complex system change and adapt in response to feedback. They interact in structured ways, with interaction sometimes leading to self-organisation and the emergence of new behavior. They operate in a dynamic world that is rarely in equilibrium and sometime in chaos.
Complex systems Change over time – often referred to as ‘dynamic(al) systems’. Adaptation and learning occur in these systems – sometimes referred to as ‘complex adaptive systems’. They have no distinct permanent boundaries. They exist through fluctuations that feed them.
Complexity theory In brief, complexity theory “deals with the study of complex, dynamic, non-linear, self-organizing, open, emergent, sometimes chaotic, and adaptive systems” (Larsen-Freeman, 1997). According to Larsen-Freeman, complex systems can be found throughout applied linguistics: In the language used by a discourse community The interactions of learners and their teacher in a classroom Functioning of the human mind. By reconceputalizing these phenomena in terms of complexity, there is a possibility for new understandings and actions.
Complexity theory and applied linguistics Complexity theory perspective: language is not static. No need to distinguish between performance and competence. Humans ‘soft assemble’ (Thelen & Smith, 1994) their language resources in order to respond in an intentional way to the communicative pressures at hand – while they do so, patterns emerge, such as those language-using patterns that manifest in linguistic corpora. Nevertheless, performance stabilities arising from the dynamics of language use are transformed with further usage (Bybee, 2006). Since the patterns are variegated in form (Tomasello, 2000), even the very categories of language itself are negotiable and subject to change. Furthermore, the context of language use is no more pre-existing and external to the language user than are language resources.
Context is not a stable background variable outside the individual that affects linguistic choice. Complexity theory view sees the individual and context as coupled. Due to this ‘coupling,’ the context itself can change in a process of co-adaption between the individual and the environment.
Complex systems and the language classroom A complexity approach does not automatically translate into a complexity method of teaching language. Due to the complexity of language and learners, a resourceful teacher will need to use a wide range of activities and techniques that support learning. As with language, methods are dynamically adaptable in use.
A complexity approach to language classroom action 1. It’s all connected individual minds socio-political context of language learning Timescales Minute by minute classroom activities Teaching and learning lifetimes 2. Language is dynamic (even when it’s frozen) Syllabus, grammar book, test...(frozen or stabilized version of the language) As soon as language is ‘released’ into the classroom or into the minds of learners it becomes dynamic
3. Co-adaptation is a key dynamic Co-adaption = change in connected systems (change in one system produces change in the other) Language classrooms are full of people co-adapting – teachers with students, students with each other, teacher or students with learning contexts. Stabilized patterns of action, including language action, emerge from co-adaptation on various timescales.
4. Teaching is managing the dynamics of learning Exploiting the complex adaptive nature of action and language use while also ensuring that co-adaption works for the benefit of learning. Paying attention to variability around stabilized patterns may suggest how patterns of classroom action might be changed to increase the benefit of language learning. Teacher’s do not control their students’ learning; teaching does not cause learning; learners make their own paths (Larsen- Freeman, 2000, 2006) A teacher can manage and serve her or his students’ learning in a way that is consistent with their learning processess. Thus, a learning-centred approach is advocated – where the learning guides the teaching and not vice-versa.
Language Teaching Not input, but affordances (learning opportunities that learners themselves perceive – they will gravitate toward what they will notice) Teaching does not cause learning; learners make their own paths. In this way, learning another language is not about conformity to uniformity. Grammaring - “The act of playing the game has a way of changing the rules.” Iteration and Adaptation Promote noticing Provide feedback
What types of teaching activities follow from our observations on learning and teaching from a Complexity Theory perspective? Can you identify any of these features in the following activities?
Language is also about meaning making. Ask me questions about my morning. Ask me questions about what changes I have made to my appearance. Engage students Transfer Appropriate Processing use and learning are aligned
“The central question is not what learners have to do to use language naturally, but what they have to do to learn to use language naturally.” (Widdowson, 1990, 46-47)
With second language learners, it also important to promote noticing. This can be accompanied implicitly by consciousness- raising in a meaningful activity. Activity: Drawing a tree
Noticing through “input flood.” Begin by drawing a tree. In front of the tree, draw a girl. The girl is holding a flower. The flower has six petals. Behind the tree, draw a fence. Behind the fence, draw a house. The house has a chimney. The chimney has smoke coming from it
Noticing through “enhancing the input.” Begin by drawing a tree. In front of the tree, draw a girl. The girl is holding a flower. The flower has six petals. Behind the tree, draw a fence. Behind the fence, draw a house. The house has a chimney. The chimney has some smoke coming from it.
Consciousness-Raising: Inducing a generalization Begin by drawing a tree. In front of the tree, draw a girl. The girl is holding a flower. The flower has six petals. Behind the tree, draw a fence. Behind the fence, draw a house. The house has a chimney. The chimney has some smoke coming from it.
Iteration, not repetition Revisit the same territory again and again. (Arevart & Nation, 1994)
Iteration (receptive) Narrow Reading “reading several texts by ‘one author or about a single topic of interest.’” (Krashen, 2004) “…second-language students can gain multiple exposures to new language structures and words in a comprehensible context through narrow reading of books, from devouring a children’s series like the Magic Tree House to drilling down on a novelist like John Grisham’s favorite expressions and distinctive style. Krashen also advocates inclusion of narrow reading units built upon a current event addressed in news media.” ( Kinsella, April 2014, Language Magazine)
Iteration (Productive) 4, 3, 2 Role-plays Adaptation in writing
Not only iteration, but also adaptation. We should be teaching students to take their present system and mold it to a new and changing context for a present purpose. Learners transform their knowledge; they don’t merely implement knowledge in the form in which it was delivered.
Our students need to learn to adapt their behavior to an increasingly complex environment. We can help students to adapt their language resources through iterative activity under slightly different conditions. Learning is not a linear, additive process, but an iterative one.
Adaptation In other words, what is learned is not simply meaningful patterns, but the process of moulding them to fit the present context appropriately. As van Lier (2000, 246) states, ‘learning is construed as the development of increasing effective ways of dealing with the world and its meanings’.
Provide focused feedback judiciously Form—accuracy Meaning—meaningfulness Use—appropriateness
Larsen-Freeman & Cameron (2008,158): “Embodied learners soft assemble their language resources interacting with a changing environment. As they do so, their language resources change. Learning is not the taking in of linguistic forms by learners, but the constant adaptation [,creation,] and enactment of language-using patterns in the service of meaning-making in response to the affordances that emerge in a dynamic communicative situation.”
“Learning another language is a matter not only of learning conventions, but also of innovation, of creation as much or more than reproduction.” ( Larsen-Freeman & Cameron, 2008,10) References: Larsen-Freeman, D., Cameron, L. (2008). Complex Systems and Applied Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.