Overcoming resistance to innovation: Suggestions for encouraging change in language teaching

Albert Weideman

Abstract


As in many other countries, communicative language teaching (CLT) became the orthodoxy in second language teaching in many sub-Saharan African education systems in the last two decades of the previous century. There is enough evidence, however, to indicate that it has not been adopted by a critical mass of language teachers in their day-to-day classroom practice, as distinct from their professed adherence to its main tenets. There may be many reasons for this resistance. Markee’s (1993) discussion of these indeed picks up a number of points that may be worth following up. This paper looks at three instructional tools that may assist teachers in overcoming resistance and adopting a communicative approach. The first is an instrument developed by Shaalukeni (2000) for use in her own work as an advisory teacher in northern Namibia. The paper discusses the employment of this instrument in her action research study into stimulating the use of pair work tasks in English second language classes. The second and third instruments help teachers to articulate their beliefs about language learning, as well as to examine whether these beliefs are in harmony with what we know about language learning, and aligned with what the teachers themselves profess. Such strategies are not sufficient to bring about change, but they may be the beginning of overcoming resistance to what is new.

 

Gedurende die laaste twee dekades van die twintigste eeu het kommunikatiewe taalonderrig, soos elders ook die geval is, tweedetaalonderrig in talle onderwyssisteme van Afrika-lande suid van die Sahara oorheers. Daar is egter meer as genoeg bewyse dat ’n kritieke massa onderwysers hierdie aanpak nog nie in hul daaglikse onderwyspraktyk geïmplimenteer het nie, alhoewel hierdie onderwysers tog te kenne gee dat hulle die aanpak oor die algemeen professioneel aanvaarbaar vind. Daar kan seker vele redes aangevoer word vir hierdie weerstand. Markee (1993) se uiteensetting van moontlike redes bevat talle punte wat die moeite werd is om oor na te dink. Hierdie artikel kyk na drie instrumente wat ’n mens sou kon gebruik om onderwysers te help om weerstand teen ’n kommunikatiewe aanpak te bowe te kom. Die eerste van die drie is deur Shaalukeni (2000) ontwikkel, vir gebruik in haar eie werk as vakadviseur in die noorde van Namibië. Die aanwending van hierdie instrument in haar aksienavorsing-ondersoek, wat daarop gemik was om leerders in Engels as tweedetaalklasse in pare te laat werk, word bespreek. Die tweede en derde instrumente wat ter sprake is, maak dit vir onderwysers moontlik om hul oortuigings oor die aanleer van taal te verwoord, asook om hulleself af te vra in watter mate hierdie oortuigings met ons kennis oor taalonderrig ooreenstem. Hierdie strategieë is weliswaar nie voldoende om verandering te waarborg nie, maar kan tog die begin wees van ’n poging om weerstand teen nuwe taalonderrigmetodes te bowe te kom.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5785/18-1-7

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ISSN 2224-0012 (online); ISSN 0259-2312 (print)

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