Engaging Boys in Learning Languages with Success

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Transcript Engaging Boys in Learning Languages with Success

Engaging Boys in Learning
Languages with Success
• Explore the problematic gender agenda in Learning
Languages programmes - discerning the evidence from
the myths.
• Investigate how to encourage boys through 'boy-friendly'
pedagogy in the Learning Languages classroom
 Review
o Boys relationship with Literacy in second language
learning contexts
o Using web 2.0 to motivate boys to speak in the Target
SWOT Analysis
In the context of your department and its goals what are the:
• Strengths
• Factors that are likely to have a positive effect on (or be an enabler to)
boys engagement and achievement in Learning Language programmes
• Weaknesses
• Factors that are likely to have a negative effect on (or be a barrier to)
boys engagement and achievement in Learning Language programmes
• Opportunities
• External Factors that are likely to have a positive effect on boys
engagement and achievement in Learning Language programmes
• Threats
• External Factors and conditions that are likely to have a negative effect on
boys engagement and achievement in Learning Language programmes
Teaching as Inquiry
Secondary Learning Languages Roll - 1 July 2012
Secondary School Statistics – 2012
PISA2009 Our 21st Century Learners at Age 15
Boys and Languages
‘The clearest indicator (i.e. the one easiest to measure) of the lack of interest
that boys show in learning a language is the low number of boys enrolled in
language programs in their final years of schooling. The under-representation of
boys in higher level classes is a sign of what comes before ... ‘
Pavy, 2005
• What is the underlying issue is that is indicated here?
• What is the evidence from the boys and their teachers?
• What other concerning trends are impacting on boys in
What is happening in languages classrooms?
‘… boys see … (languages) as different from other curriculum subjects. ‘
Pavy, 2005
• Why are boys not engaged?
• Why does this lack of engagement affect language programmes
most of all?
‘… because (language) pedagogy is so teacher-centred boys who are
underperforming tend to see the teacher as responsible for the difficulties that
they have in their learning. ‘
Jones and Jones, 2001
• What types of languages teaching and learning do boys prefer?
How do I develop a task-based
Pre task
Main task
± pressure
± planning
• Reporting /
• Reflecting
• Attention to form
± input
Erlam, R. (2010) Task-based Language Teaching in the Spanish Classroom. Presentation.
What is happening in languages classrooms?
‘… both pupils and teachers noted that boys were more likely to ‘mess about’ in
class than girls’.
Jones and Jones, 2001
• Why do boys mess around when learning languages?
Boys identify the teacher’s role as integral to their success.
‘… boys learn teachers, not subjects’.
Biddulph, 2003
What are the 5Fs Criteria?
The 5Fs Criteria
• Firm
• Controlled
• Safe to take risks
• Friendly
• Fear of judgement from teacher and/or peers
• Able to ask questions
• Fun
• Make jokes
• Enjoy a laugh
• Focused
• Learn a lot of new things, improve skills, complete tasks
• respect
• Fair
Clear boundaries
Encouraging of abilities and rewards risk-taking
Not dismissive of ideas
Believe in them
(Rowe, 2003)
A language teacher who engages with boys is one
A language teacher who engages with boys is one
• Connected with the students
• Care about them as individuals
• Take an interest in their lives
• Actively involved in their learning
• Interactive teachers
• Relaxed
• Able to joke and laugh
• Enthusiastic
• Help boys to see what is exciting about the language they are learning
and about the process of learning it.
• Striking a balance
• Between fun and control
• Need defined behavioural boundaries – clear and consistent
(Pavy, 2006)
Meaningful language learning – A boys’
• Progress indicators
• Relevance
• Purpose
• Kinaesthetic/Tactile
• Progress
• Oral
Boys do enjoy learning and learn best when
language lessons
• Are well planned and paced
• Engage their attention and keep them alert
• Are collaborative and competitive
• Keep them energetic and engaged
• Are rounded off and rewarding
(Pavy, 2005)
Teaching Strategies Handout
Evidence - PISA2009 Our 21st Century Learners at Age 15
What is PISA?
An international standardised study that assesses and compares how
well countries are preparing their 15-year-old students to meet reallife opportunities and challenges.
What does PISA assess?
Three key areas of knowledge and skills
• reading literacy
• mathematical literacy
• scientific literacy
Focus is on one of these literacy areas each time PISA is administered
in 2009 was reading. ‘Literacy’ is used to emphasise that the
assessment is not restricted to student mastery of content of a
specific school curriculum.
Focus is on assessing students’ ability to apply their knowledge and
skills, and their ability to make decisions in real-life situations as they
near the end of their compulsory schooling.
Literacy – Pisa2009
• NZ’s 15-year-old girls achieved an average of 544 score points, 46
points greater than their male counterparts on the reading
literacy scale.
• NZ boys’ average score on the three reading literacy aspects was
significantly lower than that of their female counterparts
• NZ girls score on the reflect and evaluate scale was 51 score points
greater than boys
• Girls performed strongly on the access and retrieve scale with a gender
difference of 49 score points
• On the integrate and interpret scale more than 40 score points separated
NZ’s boys (497) and girls (530)
• NZ girls outperformed boys in non-continuous and continuous
texts with a gender difference of well over half a proficiency level
Literacy, Language Learning and Boys
‘Gendered cultured beliefs can also present barriers to learning. For example,
there is increasing evidence that for many boys, reading is perceived as a ‘girl’, or
feminine thing to do (Alton-Lee & Pratt, 1999). The challenge for teachers is to
develop a learning culture where literate masculinity is valued.’
Alton-Lee, 2003
‘What might contribute to the perception that foreign languages are ‘feminine’
however, is the notion that girls are better at languages than boys.’
Whitehead, 1996
‘The trickiness apparently stems from the ‘weird’ words that students have to try
to memorise, spell, and pronounce - three tasks which … are potential stumbling
blocks for boys.’
Court, 2001
Literacy, Language Learning and Boys
• Writing is a major area of deficiency for boys it is important that
boys should communicate before writing something - usea
variety of techniques and models. When boys talk through things
before writing, their writing fluency and volume is dramatically
• All writing for boys up to the end of their compulsory school
years should be done within teacher-prepared templates or
scaffolds. Eventually boys will intrinsically expand their writing as
they enter the post-compulsory schooling years.
• Use colour rather than black and white at the front of a
classroom in terms of whiteboard – it is more relevant and
effective in getting boys to watch the front and retain
information provided.
• Boys should be encouraged to expand their answers more in oral
and written form, when answering questions.
Literacy, Language Learning and Boys
Instructional and Assessment Strategies
Use a wide range of reading materials
Differentiate instruction and assessment
Recognise the power of talk/oral language
Mobilise the power of social and group activities/interaction
Use the power of technology
Listen to what boys want and negotiate/provide choice
Use lots of tactile/kinesthetic responses to learning
Use modelling, exemplars and role models
Scaffold and use writing skeletons
Use single-sex groupings
Use more precise teaching strategies
Foster metacognition through direct teaching of strategies
before, during, after reading and writing
Literacy, Language Learning and Boys
We need to think about the fact that language learning is more
than a cognitive challenge. It's a complex social practice that
engages the identities of learners. For boys, it seems that this
requires particular support and a new kind of imagination.
ICT, Language Learning and Boys
• ICT successfully motivates boys into writing by making the
process more engaging, offering them a greater degree of
independence, and by appealing to every boy’s interest in hightech. ICT motivates by “removing the fear of making errors”.
• Speaking in the target language is often defined, both by
students and teachers, as the principal objective of learning MFL
(Jones 2002; Hill 2002). However this aim is hindered by socioaffective factors outlined above, resulting in most boys being
reticent and unforthcoming when asked to speak in the target
language due, mostly, to lack of motivation and self-confidence.
• Krashen (1981) affirms that it is the attitude of the learner that is
fundamental to the learning of a second language and is a much
better predictor of success than aptitude.
• ICT engages the learner and provides them with the autonomy
that is required to improve motivation and instil greater selfconfidence (Leach 2002).
ICT, Language Learning and Boys
• Web 2.0 is a collection of online applications and websites often
at no cost to the user.
• Sharing and collaboration are the main characteristic of the
whole Web 2.0 phenomenon.
• The key advantage of using Web 2.0 tools is their online aspect they simply run through a web-browser in any computer
connected to the internet: just point and click.
• Web 2.0 tools are generally designed to be intuitive and easy to
use without previous experience.
• Boys find Web 2.0 tools attractive and fun to use and they
provide the ideal medium through which to attempt to increase
their willingness to speak in the target language.