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Unknown Language Log Essay

Lesson 1

(1) Apparent lesson objectives (functions, structures, lexis and pronunciation)

Lesson one consisted of an introduction to the new language, we were taught how to greet others and introduce ourselves, how to give personal information (though it was only regarding our nationality), the alphabet was introduced to us in order to explain further vocabulary, and along with it the pronunciation of the letters, and words which had two of the same vowels together and made a longer sound, so we realized that Finnish is a phonetic language, that is the opposite of English which is not. Moreover, we learned a few subject pronouns such as ’’he, she(which do not have separate pronouns, they are the same word), you and I’’, the present of the verb ’’to be (olen)’’, some well-rounded basic vocabulary in order to explain how a word can change its meaning by having two of the same letters together (’’mato’’ means worm, while ’’matto’’ means carpet), and possessive adjectives (only ’’My’’). There were many exponents used to teach us the functions previously said, introducing yourself/greeting (’’Mikä sinun nimesi on?/What’s your name?’’, ’’Minä olen Ricardo/My name is Ricardo’’, ’’Mitä kuuluu?/How are you?’’, ’’Kiitos, hyvää!/Fine, thanks!’’), personal information (’’Mistä olet kotoisin?/Where are you from?’’, ’’Minä olen uruguaylainen/I am Uruguayan’’).

(2) Lesson structure (stages, presentation, practice, etc.)

The main structure of the lesson consisted of an introduction to the language and the country, along with some cultural background, the teacher introduced herself and talked (always in Finnish) about Finland, and where she was born and lived. Then she taught us how to introduce ourselves and how to ask someone their name (a basic small talk including “How are you?”), and introduced the subject pronoun ’’I’’, she acted as a model saying what her name was and then asking another student his name, then we did a chain drill where we all had to introduce ourselves to the classmate next to us, we repeated a few times (repetition drills) and then moved forward to the alphabet, consonants and vowels.

She taught us basic vocabulary and the pronunciation when there are two of the same letters together in a word, which makes the sound longer or more plosive (depending if it is a vowel or a consonant), we did repetition drills after modeling of some words. Afterwards, we learned the possessive adjective ’’my’’, how to offer something to someone, and to give thanks, then again as practice we did chain and repetition drills offering a book to the classmate next to us and thanking for it. To end the first lesson we learned more subject pronouns such as ’’he, she and you’’ and how to say where we are from, and practised it with repetition drills.

The structure itself was presentation and controlled practice consisting of drilling on each new language form. Although she checked if we understood the lesson by asking individually, the main goal was not achieved since most of the practice was repetition drills. We did no production since we were total beginners.

(3) What kind of aids and handouts does the teacher use?

When she gave the introduction to the country she used a map of Finland along with a flag, the whiteboard was her main aid to teach vocabulary, as she made drawings of the new vocabulary in order to not to translate. She used gestures all the time to give instructions or explain concepts, though when they were more abstract it was harder to understand. She pointed the person she was referring to, whether it was her or one of us, put her hands together when she wanted us to do an activity in groups (like introducing to each other).

When she tried to convey by gestures the fact that Spanish and Finnish are more similar as languages alternately to English and Finnish, she separated her hands when referring to English, while putting them together when referring to Spanish (This was confusing, since I actually thought that English people did not get well with Finnish people, and Spanish people did), when she taught us new vocabulary, for example animals, she did the gestures of some of them(like a cat, or a dog).

(4) Personal response to lesson (progress, difficulties, ambiguities, interest, etc.)

At first it was confusing as I did not know anything about Finland or Finnish, but through gestures and the aids such as the map or the drawings it became clear, although sometimes I could not understand the instructions and I had to watch what my classmates did in order to know what to do, since it was all drilling it was not so complicated. Regarding to interest, the teacher was very enthusiastic and had a nice attitude though doing drilling all the time was not really motivating. As she did not use L1 in the class, sometimes it was hard for me to follow the pace of the class and had to watch what my classmates were doing to continue.

(5) Observed response of group – Please comment

I realized that most of them had the same difficulties as me, the lesson was confusing at first, it got clearer after some time, and at certain points we could not follow the pace of the class. Although not all of them were like that, there were others who could keep the rhythm of it (Since we are not all the same when we talk about learning, we all have our ways and speed to learn). I did not find any of them motivated with the lesson, I believe there was too much drilling which does not encourage one to study or be interested.

Lesson 2

(1) Apparent lesson objectives (functions, structures, lexis and pronunciation)

Regarding lexis and pronunciation, we learned more basic vocabulary (the name of some of objects like hat, cat, orange, apple, dress, and the colours of them) and how to pronounce them, the functions where how to ask what object is it and its colour(’’Mikä se on?/What is it?’’, ’’Mikä väri?/What colour is it?’’, ’’Omena on punainen/Apple is red’’). (We did not learn any specific type of vocabulary apart from the colours, there were mostly random objects and animals)

(2) Listen carefully to the Teacher’s instructions. How does she give instructions? (Language used, gestures, visual support, concept-checking, etc.)

She never spoke in L1, the instructions were always given in Finnish, but as learners, gestures were crucial, and she used them constantly. She also modelled what we had to do, so instructions were short and clear. She did concept-checking by drilling, she asked us to say what the image on a book she had was, along with its colour, and repeat.

(3) If working in pairs or groups. Do you think the activity was successful? Explain why/why not. What did you learn from it?

We did an activity which was based on vocabulary, we had to match the words with the images, I think the activity was successful for many reasons, since it was a kind of game, the activity was motivating and interesting, and the fact that it was a group activity made it even better, not only regarding motivation, but also helping each other, when one of us did not know a word, probably there was another who did, and therefore the activity was successful in my opinion. What I have learned is that making a group activity for the class is a good idea to make a change and not to do always the same (in this case drilling all the time as in the previous lesson), is motivating and therefore language acquisition is better.

(4) Share your thoughts on the activities with your classmates and comment on theirs.

We all agreed that there was too much drilling, the teacher could have done more practical things instead of making us repeat all the time which at some point became boring. The group activity we made was good to make a change from all the drilling along with the activity we did in which we had to colour some drawings. But again, after colouring we did more drilling and repeated the colours several times. For me instructions were clear although not all of them believe the same, sometimes they found them confusing.

(5) As a student, which activities in the lesson do you consider were the most valuable? Why were they valuable?

As a student I believe that the most valuable activities were the one of colouring the circles and the group activity. The reason is because after doing so much drilling, I got really bored, and doing these 2 activities were a kind of ’’break’’ from it, but not only because they were motivating, I also think that both of them helped to lower the affective filter of the class, and by doing so, improving language acquisition.

Lesson 3

(1) Apparent lesson objectives (functions, structures, lexis and pronunciation)

The functions were how to ask and give information (asking what language do you speak, and where are you from), more subject pronouns were introduced (We, they, you [plural]), the numbers (and how to say them), we did concept checking of the previous class and corrected homework. The main structure was mostly a presentation or modeling of the task, and controlled practice with drilling. Exponents: ’’Mitä sinä puhut?/What language do you speak?’’, ’’Minä puhun suomea/I speak Finnish’’, ’’Missa asut?/Where do you live?’’, ’’Minä asun Montevideossa/I live in montevideo’’.

(2) How does the teacher respond to and manage error correction? (Self- correction, peer-correction, etc.)

Whenever someone made a mistake during the drilling activities(for example repetition drills), the teacher would repeat again with the correct pronunciation, and in other exercises(writing down numbers in letters) when it was not correct, she made a facial expression to indicate there was a problem and allowed self-correction.

(3) Is there any revision of previous lessons? How is it done?

Yes, when the class started we corrected homework which was to colour the drawings of some objects (the new vocabulary we learned the previous class), and write which colour it had. Then we checked the colours again on the book she had and did some drilling. As she connected previous topics with new ones it was useful for us, for example the vocabulary and the colours, she mixed both in one task, the same with numbers, when we had to count how many apples there were, or how many cars.

(4) What techniques and aids does the teacher use to present the new aims?

She repeated and re-phrased old language in order to associate it with new one to acquire meaning. Visual aids were also used, which helped us convey meaning, she used a book with the colours and objects, used the whiteboard to draw, or gave us handouts with drawings on them. She talked slowly when giving instructions or explaining something, always keeping eye contact, this made it easier to understand. Gestures were also heavily used, which was necessary to convey necessary meaning since we were total beginners. The use of drills was also used most of the times, mostly repetition drills.

(5) Is there a focus on form, meaning or both?

Since we were beginners, the teacher focused mainly on meaning, rather than on the form. She did not explain the tenses or rules of the language, but instead made sure that we understood the meaning of what she was teaching. We had plenty of communicative activities and drilling, so meaning was emphasized, also we learned a lot of vocabulary. We were thought the new vocabulary with functions (describing an object, counting objects) such as, ’’This apple is red’’, ’’What colour is this dress?’’, ’’There are three cars’’, ’’How many cars are there?’’.

Lesson 4

(1) Apparent lesson objectives (functions, structures, lexis and pronunciation)

New vocabulary was introduced to us, related to the seasons. She made a connection between the seasons and colours (’’Kësa on vihrea ja keltainen/Summer is green and yellow’’), also with vocabulary we saw on previous classes. We learned family vocabulary and how to ask someone’s relatives names (’’Mika sinun isän nimi on?/What is your father’s name?’’, ’’ Minun isän nimi on martti/My father’s name is Martti’’).

(2) Pace is crucial in keeping students alert, motivated, engaged and “on course”. What comment would you make on the pace of the lesson observed? What factors are relevant here?

Doing drilling activities certainly distorted the pace of the class as it became demotivating; the teacher also connected seasons with colours, which I believe was rather confusing instead of helpful. As she introduced new concepts to the class, she skipped others and left the students wondering some concepts, for example when the concept of the sun was thaught, she could have taught the moon. Moreover, when we made groups to play a game which was a kind of lottery with the seasons, it was quite boring, as it was too childish and easy for us. At some point I got bored of the constant drilling, or confused because of the connection the teacher was trying to make between seasons and colours. The most relevant factor is motivation, the pace of the class has to change in order not to bore students, a monotonous lesson is not good for language acquisition, and as it became confusing sometimes it became hard for us to follow the pace of the class.

(3) Observing group. What external signs did they give of keeping up with the pace? (Or not)

We managed to follow the pace of the class but at some points, some of us could not do it, as she taught too much vocabulary, and made relations between them that were rather confusing (Making relationships between the colours and the seasons, made the lesson confusing). This was evident since when one of us was asked to carry on a task, we would not do anything and say we did not understood what she was asking us to do, facial expressions from my classmates also showed me that they were having difficulties. When following the pace was possible, it would be shown with concept checking or following the tasks instructions successfully.

(4) Study the teacher’s physical position and movement in the class. Do you think these are planned and have a special purpose? Please give examples supporting your views.

She did not stand on one side of the class or sit behind the desk, she would move through the whole classroom, which has the purpose of lowering the affective filter, and to motivate, also provides the idea that the teacher is the one in control of the class. She also moved when doing concept checking, when we had to do a task on our own or in groups she came to correct us instead of doing it with the whole class. The purpose of moving through the class is because of conditioning the environment, if the teacher sits all the class, students will become demotivating, the class becomes monotonous, by moving she gets our attention and makes us to be interested.

(5) Points of contrast between English and L2

Finnish is a phonetic language, while English is not, pronunciation problems could happen for Finnish native speakers trying to learn English as they may find trouble discriminating the short and long vowel sounds such as sit-seat and pip-peep. In Finnish the verbs show tense by the addition of suffixes while English uses auxiliary verbs (’’Puhun [I am talking about/Puhuin [I was talking about]). The subject pronouns have no gender like in English (he and she are the same word in Finnish). Although Finnish and English words share the same letters, there are no cognates since the languages are from distinct language families. Also, many words which are uncountable in English such as furniture or people, can be counted in Finnish.

Lesson 5

(1) Apparent lesson objectives (functions, structures, lexis and pronunciation)

Lesson 5 was mainly concept checking and cultural approach to Finland. We corrected homework from the previous class and learned new vocabulary. We were taught how to say the plural of objects by adding a letter ’’A’’ at the end of it (’’Kissa/Cat’’, ’’Kissaa/Cats’’)

(2) Was there a point in the lesson or a lesson in particular in which you felt that certain “cultural factors” affected either the teaching or your learning? Please explain and comment.

The fact that she brought magazines, pictures, and other pieces of art related to Finland made the class more interesting and motivating, therefore it helped language acquisition, but since we were not learning any specific form or language rule it was not so successful (in the 5th lesson), as for the other lessons it made them more interesting as it had an influence on us, curiosity about the country motivated us and helped us on language acquisition and motivation. The video showed lots of aspects from Finland, being a video about something we did not know could be motivating, although we did not have a task and since it was all in Finnish it became rather ’’boring’’.

(3) Is the teacher always providing information in the class? Have you noticed (s)he serves other roles? If you have, which are these?

The teacher had many roles inside the class; she acted as a planner, as she planned the lessons and materials. The teacher had the role of a resourcer, providing students with information and tasks, as well as checking and clarifying language. She also acted as a language resource, by helping, modeling and answering language questions. She was also a facilitator, since she checked and clarified language, also a monitor, by checking and observing while we were doing the tasks provided.

(4) Checking of learning. Can you identify if this took place? If you can, when did it happen and how did the teacher do it?

When we corrected homework, which was an exercise based on numbers, she checked if we did right, but apart from that she started writing random numbers on the whiteboard so we would say which number it is, and therefore know if we learned the rule of how numbers are formed. No checking of learning was made furthermore, since we made no production because we were complete beginners.

Conclusion as a learner:

As a learner, I believe there was too much vocabulary, plenty of drilling activities that made the lesson demotivating, and really confusing at some points. I experienced a lack of motivation during the lessons, as they were monotonous, always doing drills and learning more vocabulary.

Conclusion as a teacher:

The classes could have been better prepared, so that they were not so monotonous, contexts were not used during any lesson which does not help students, and does not convey meaning, the activities were not purposeful (They did not show students the purpose of the language acquired). The aids used were adequate, gestures, realia, and pictures were helpful since they made the students more interested and helped them to follow the pace of the class. All in all, more variety of activities could have been used, as for the aids they were successful.


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