EuroCALL 2002, Aug. 14-17

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Challenging ESL Teachers to Move Beyond Methods
Firsthand Report on H. Douglas Brown's Recent Workshop

James MischlerJim Mischler has been an ESL/EFL instructor for more than 12 years to adult learners in a variety of settings, including Japan. He has served on the faculty of the American English Institute, University of Oregon, USA, since 1999. He is a member of TESOL and Oregon TESOL. Mr. Mischler participated in H. Douglas Brown's recent workshop on Strategies-Based Instruction and contributed this report for the ESL MiniConference Online.

The Event
H. Douglas Brown of San Francisco State University led a one day workshop entitled "Empower Your Students with Strategies-Based Instruction." He appeared at the annual Oregon TESOL Spring Workshop, held at the University of Oregon on April 27, 2002.

What is language teaching?
Dr. Brown began by discussing the relationship between the history of English language teaching in the U.S. and current pedagogy. He believes that, as a field, ESL should get beyond the idea of marking historical time periods with particular teaching methods. He stated that "teaching is not about bringing a 'suitcase of techniques' that work for all learners." Instead, teaching is "an 'approach' where the teacher has experience and knowledge in how language works and is learned." Dr. Brown said that this latter method is the philosophy behind Strategies-Based Instruction (SBI).

A language teaching paradigm
Next, Dr. Brown presented his view of the language teaching process and the core components of SBI. Using a graphic, he discussed the three main tasks for the teacher. They are 1) Assessment, 2) Diagnosis, and 3) Treatment. Assessment is the task of determining the current skills and future needs of both the student and the teacher. Diagnosis determines the underlying causes of the needs, and Treatment is the task of developing strategies to meet those needs. These three tasks are accomplished in the order shown above, and co-exist in a continual loop. A handout was used to explain the basics concepts in SBI.

SBI in the classroom
Finally, the workshop participants engaged in several activities to explore the uses of SBI in language teaching. Small groups created activities that would allow students to use their language learning style(s) to study and practice English. Dr. Brown led a discussion of these ideas concerning their uses of SBI principles and practical issues of implementation in the ESL classroom.

Overall, the workshop was an excellent introduction to SBI, its place in current ESL pedagogy, and methods for implementing it in the classroom. Dr. Brown's thought-provoking presentation led to very interesting discussions and ideas among the participants.

Report by James J. Mischler
American English Institute
University of Oregon

2002 ESL MiniConference Online

Strategies for Success: A Practical Guide to Learning English (Longman, 2001, by H. Douglas Brown)
Second Language Learning Strategies / Annotated Bibliography (CARLA, University of Minnesota)