Language Learning Outside Classroom

Jamie (Xuan Zhao)

Recently I read about a study about how people learn a second language outside classroom; it is quite inspiring and really made me think about what contributes to our learning outcomes beyond classroom in learning a second language.

The study is entitled “From milk cartons to english roomates: context and agency in L2 learning beyond the classroom” (P. Kalaja et al., 2011), aiming to “examine the relationship between agency and contexts for learning, in the hope to show how the students’ capacity to act was, mediated by the tools and resources of the context” (P. Kalaja et al., 2011). Agency here means the “socioculturally mediated capacity to act”, defined by Ahearn (2001). They gave questionnaires to Finnish college students, whose first language is Finnish, asking about their experience in learning both English and Swedish as their second languages.

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Bonjour, Hi! This is so wonderfully Montreal!

Xiaoke Sun

“Language shapes a city” (de la Hosseraye, 2015). While walking around,
Montrealers never feel too surprised to hear the bilingual greeting. I suppose “Bonjour, hi” is the most appropriate expression to depict the uniqueness of this city — of being fairly bilingual. According to Statistics Canada in 2011, the greater Montreal area has nearly 2 million bilingual people. Young Montrealers have a rate of bilingualism as high as 80% (de la Hosseraye ,2015). Beyond the obvious cultural richness that bilingualism brings to this city, it also creates an advantageous environment for learners to acquire French/English as a new language.

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Language anxiety and some possible solutions

Sihong Chen  ( blog post 1)

Last week, Alison mentioned “language anxiety”, which makes me think a lot about my language learning journey and how language anxiety influences my language learning.

From my experience, I think language anxiety has both positive and negative effects on my language learning. However, it is lucky that I always turn the negative into a positive.

I want to highlight two periods of time in my language learning journey and both of them are about English language learning, though in different places.

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How can I help my students break down the barriers of their anxiety to enable them to learn their second language?

Miss Education says:

I really enjoyed last week’s presentation on language and place, particularly the activity we discussed in groups at the end of class. The whole concept of anxiety and (second or foreign) language learning really interests me and so, I decided to do a little research in regards to this. There is one article in particular that I read and feel is worth sharing because it made me realise how important it is to take the time to address anxiety issues in order to break down the barriers that some of our students put up because of this.

Ariza (2002) writes a very touching story about the struggles she faced when having to teach “a group of terrified children, angry at the prospect of being forced to learn [a foreign language]” (p.719). Her students were American boys that were relocated to Puerto Rico due to several factors mainly linked to family issues. All of her students had very solid “affective filters” (Krashen, 1983; as cited in Ariza (2002) p. 719) which got in the way of them processing the foreign language. So, she turned to CLL (Community Language Learning) to potentially reduce the effects of these filters and get her students learning. She explains that her approach as a “counselor” (instead of teacher) was a key solution to the problem that she, but more importantly her students, was facing.

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Social and cultural factors effects on language learning

Faten Alzaid

Hello everyone. It is nice to share ideas in this blog area. Hence, I would like to share with you and write my first comment.

I am originally from Saudi Arabia. I speak three languages; Arabic, English and a little bit of French. Arabic is my first language and most of my educational life was in Arabic too. Being immerse with Arabic all the time, I always have a desire to teach a new and different language than Arabic. Hence, I decided to specialized in the English language teaching field in my bachelor degree. Since then, English became my favorite and second language. Honestly, I have never been fluent in English and satisfied until I arrived to Montreal four years ago and started learning English language from the zero again. The reason behind that was due to the fact that when I was at my hometown, I was not able to match the language with its cultural content and applied it out side the classroom. I also never practiced speaking in English out side academic contexts due to two reasons; 1) I was not confidant of my language ability at that time 2) there were not enough daily contexts to practice in real life, out side the classroom.

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Why are we not good at English?

Liting Liu

When Alison brought up the language loyalty concept in class, I finally found the appropriate word to explain the reason why I cannot help blurting out Chinese to foreigners. I joined a workshop this Tuesday, sitting next to a foreign girl. While I was replying a message on the phone, she accidentally knocked my bottle down and then said sorry. Without a second thought, I responded “Mei Shi” (No problem in Chinese.) The confusion on her face reminded me that I was speaking Chinese to a foreigner. The same situation also happened in my workplace once. There was a somewhat urgent thing I need to report to my manager who is Irish. I went downstairs hurriedly and started describing the thing in Chinese. Not until he called me Veronica that I realized whom I was talking to. Luckily, such phenomenon doesn’t happen a lot. However, the subconscious inclination to speak Chinese rather than English used to be something I asked my students to resist within our immersion classroom. Interestingly, outside of the classroom it happens to me as well especially when my mind is occupied with something else so that no extra attention could be allocated to language processing. Maybe we are all too “loyal” to our mother tongue deep down. We feel like using L1 could express our emotion more accurately with ease. Therefore, L1 is always a prioritized option in our language production.

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Positives​ and negatives of language learning

Sophia G

Language is a tricky thing. On one hand, it is given to us freely; on the other, we really have no choice in the language that we are given. Some of us are even gifted with multilingual families and learn many languages, others are gifted a small snapshot of one language.

Language and the composition of a person’s languages can largely impact their whole life. When asked to look at the positives and negatives of my language learning and my language composition, it came out strangely negative. I found this quite sad. First, let’s start out by explaining my language composition.

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You are what you speak

Emmanouela Tisizi

Not a day goes by without somehow reflecting on my past choices, many of which have undoubtedly been the wrong ones. When it comes, however, to the study choices I have made, I feel privileged. My academic journey began at the University of Athens, where I embarked on my BA in Greek Philology. Soon enough two master’s degrees in Modern Languages (Oxford University) and Education Language (University of Edinburgh) followed, after realizing that delving into languages fascinated me.

Greek is my first language, so obviously it is the one I use the most while I am at home. Since I was born and raised in Greece’s capital, Athens, I was taught the dominant Greek dialect, the one most Greeks use. Or, at least that’s what I thought until I started observing people and the various ways in which they made use of their language, when the context of each conversation changed.

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