Sounds in Language

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Words are made up of units of sound. English can be very distinct from other languages by the way the mouth is used to articulate a word.  A speaker of English can distinguish between a B and T in words such as ‘den’ and ‘ten’. They can also hear the vowels in words such as ‘pat’ or ‘pen’. These two previous words would be examples of using vowels in English, but English has words like ‘dead’ or ‘dared’ which include vowels sounds but not in the general sense of the vowel sound rules AEIO and U. The units of sound are now put into categories as short vowels or long vowels.

The words sounds and slices can be used to describe how a word such as ‘pat’ includes three sounds; the ‘P’ sound then ‘A’ and ‘T’. This word is then a slice of a sentence. The main factor is that a phrase with the words ‘those three oranges’ highlights where successive vowels and consonants can be heard with some with higher stresses on them.

Moreover, attention can be drawn to the use of the mouth and tongue when enunciating any word. English speakers have a distinct use of the mouth that enables them to say their vowels and consonants in words. There are sound differences even within English, but there are further differences if a native speaker wanted to learn Italian. Using an Italian word such as ‘babbo’ for daddy, the English person would say it in a normal English speaking way, but as with the Italian language, the vocal cords begin to vibrate before the mouth is opened. The crossover of languages shows the use of the same letter sounds which can be easily heard as other letters by other speakers of another language.

One final aspect of language is the movement of the lips and the posture of the tongue. Phrases like ‘three cleans’ or ‘two clues’ draw attention to the use of the lips and tongue. There is certain timing for both which is in the mouth position when carrying over from word to word or syllable to syllable.  This shows the main crux of language when talking about sound units; we are looking at the way the speaker constructs a voice utterance.

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What are ‘Instructional Objectives’ in the class?

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As any self-respecting teacher would know that in class if you do not know where your class is heading you will never get there. This is true for any teacher who enters a classroom intending to give their students an education that will further expand the students’ knowledge. This means that objectives need to be set. This means instructional objectives need to be attained. The methods and training that the teachers will implement during the class should be incorporated in reaching everyone’s goals and objectives. The teacher has to discover whether the students leaving the classroom have demonstrated their language/skills acquisition. It has to be clear in the teacher’s mind that the students will exit the class having broadened their ideas/knowledge in while being able to talk about something new.

There has to be a teaching approach that the teacher utilizes to formulate the students’ learning that enhances aptitude. One way is for the teacher to state what they would like the students to be able to do at the end of the class although the ‘in between’ phase needs to be verified. This also relates to the students who should know what their objectives are. This is by stating exactly what they should be able to achieve in the specified time. This is done by explaining the objectives to the students. Objectives need to be stated. The first step is to write an objective. The teacher must know what they want the students to be able to do. Objectives are clearly stated using action verbs like ‘define’ and ‘describe’.  Objectives look at the students showing/defining what they have learnt. The teacher will never know unless they see and hear for himself. The students’ learning is imperative and making objectives that are not achievable will not help their learning. The teacher must be clear in their head what the measurable objectives for the students are. An objective is a written statement, defining in precise terms, what the learner will be able to do at the end of the training and how well. A teacher is faced with setting out understandable objectives. A verb like ‘know’, which clearly does not allow the teacher to define the student’s capacity of knowledge, will not help achievement. So, many verbs can be open to interpretation such as ‘know, understand, and think’ clearly do not prove to the teacher that the student is in command of new expressions and terms. Verbs like ‘define and describe’ will undoubtedly illustrate to the instructor the depth of the students’ language acquisition. This means that teachers do not just have objectives per se but clear objectives that define the learning outcome. There has to be some form of accomplishment at the end of the class or term. A factor that has to be taken into account is; are the objectives achievable? It acceptable to have objectives but if they surpass what the student level is at, the objectives will not work. These have to be arranged in a format that will allow the students to learn. These objectives have to be measurable and observable.

The teacher also has to determine the domain in which objective can be classified. There are generally 3 domains cognitive, affective, and psycho-motor. Benjamin Bloom and his colleagues (1956) developed a widely accepted taxonomy for cognitive objectives. The main domain is cognitive. Bloom further classified the cognitive domain into 6 levels. The lowest level is knowledge. This is the students’ ability to recall information. The teachers can the students to state, recall, tell, and define. The next level is comprehension. The students must be able to grasp meaning, explain and restate ideas. There is also evaluation during the course of learning where the teacher has to see how far the students have developed. Of course, teaching and student’s acquisition of language is not as straightforward as would seem. Some students need that extra bit of tuition which is standard. This is where feedback comes in. The teacher has to evaluate the students. The students have to develop through the instructional process and if this does not work first time the teacher has to have a plan to reinforce the objective and set the students on the right path. The students need to improve so as not too elongated learning where it becomes tedious. This also helps the group where everyone is working together. For a group/class, task analysis is used a lot by many institutions which progressively test the students to evaluate their level of acquisition and are they achieving the objectives. Robert Mager defined three conditions of objectives. Learning objectives determine the outcomes and how they are to be assessed with the all modules having clear, defined objectives, practice exercises, and mastery tests. A good learning objective has to have three primary components of an objective:

  1. An objective always describes the important conditions (if any) under which the performance is to occur.
  2. An objective always says what a learner is expected to be able to do; the objective sometimes describes the product or the result of the doing.
  3. Wherever possible, an objective describes the criterion of acceptable performance by describing how well the learner must perform in order to be considered acceptable.

I have shown how teachers should not only look have objectives but also make those objectives quantifiable for the students. This means that the teacher will get an enhanced picture of the students learning. This, of course, means that the teacher can focus not only each lesson but the whole term to achieve certain objectives.

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