Learning as Changing Participation: Discourse Roles in ESL Writing Conferences - Article Example

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This article by the authors explores the attainment of an uncommon conversational practice by an adult Vietnamese learner of English. A unique method of learning is followed in weekly English as a Second Language (ESL) writing conferences between the instructor and the student. …
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Learning as Changing Participation: Discourse Roles in ESL Writing Conferences
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"Learning as Changing Participation: Discourse Roles in ESL Writing Conferences"

On reading this article, I am inclined to think that research has been done with a different perspective on the practical application of the principle of study-buddy approach. Instead of two friends/students getting engaged in their language learning and writing issues, under the model discussed by the authors, one of them is a teacher. The teacher is obviously expected to have more knowledge about the advantages and pitfalls of this unfamiliar discursive practice, as over a period, he will have the benefit of exposure to interaction with many students. He is thus in an advantageous position to learn more from individual experiences of many students, and those experiences are bound to be different. The instructor’s position is enviable as he learns more from the students and gets the input from them on an ongoing basis, which in turn he can utilize to improve the knowledge of successive students. This research and the implementation of the model articulated by the authors are important for another reason. In the study-buddy approach, the status of the two learners participating in the program is equal. A care-free and casual approach to study is possible and that will affect the performance and the results. But the acquisition of the unfamiliar discursive practice by the adult and the presence of the instructor give the competitive edge to the study and the adult student will respond with more urgency and attention, as he is participating in a time-bound program, and his performance will be watched and evaluated every week. Moreover, though learning and writing are like the alternative beats of the same heart, acquiring the writing skill gives more confidence to the ESL students. With passing of the each session, the participation of the student becomes deep, and his confidence level increases as he crosses each ‘hurdle’. One of the important aspects of research finding is that the participation of both instructor and student changes and shows mutual co-construction of their respective roles. The sequence of eight tasks which are the hallmark of the revision talk is a confidence building measure of the student and it also enables the student to become a self-starter. The greatest tribute a student can pay to the teacher is to dispense with the teacher and carryout the tasks with own skill and initiative. That objective has been achieved though this model, as it is observed that the students are able to perform seven of the eight prescribed tasks by mastering the interactional architecture. The student develops from peripheral to fuller participation. When the participants talk also with their gestures and body movements take it that they are in the process of getting molded into speakers and the next stage is the development of oratorical skills. Excerpts i) Developing expertise in a new practice is Read More
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