Didactic Potential Of Discussion Technique In Teaching Foreign Language For Pedagogics Students

Abstract

The relevance of studying this problem is due to the demand for professionals with foreign language fluency in both national and foreign labour markets. Second-language skills for professional interaction are essential for building up competitive specialist’s professiogram. Thus, the role of Foreign Language as a course at the teacher training departments of universities has been increasing constantly. Language proficiency enables students of Pedagogics to understand and work effectively with the authentic sources of professional information, to express their own thoughts and ideas, demonstrate terminology proficiency in interpersonal and professional communication. In this context, this article aims to identify the didactic potential of discussion technique in teaching English to students of Pedagogics. The leading research method was the survey, conducted among 17 English language teachers of the university, and it highlighted a certain relationship between the frequency of discussion technique used and improving cognitive abilities of the student body, increasing their motivation, stimulating their speed of thought and open-mindedness. The paper sets out the strategies for organizing and conducting effective discussions such as active listening (listening comprehension), analytical thinking, priority of public speaking skills, constant collaboration and mutual criticism, and the complexity of the problems and topics discussed during the course. The authors identified the conditions under which discussion techniques are most effective and also established the aspects of discussion technique in teaching English to students of Pedagogics such as content-related, procedural and monitoring.

Keywords: Discussion techniquelanguage proficiencycommunicative competencecross-cultural communicationstudents of Pedagogics

Introduction

Foreign language training priorities (academic context)

The improvement of language training of students in recent years has become a priority in education. The knowledge of foreign languages for professional communication is an integral component of competitive specialist professiogram. In this connection the role of discipline “Foreign Language” in the pedagogical departments of universities is constantly increasing. According to the Russian educational standards of the third generation the objectives of foreign language teaching in the sphere of pedagogics is the foreign language practice in interpersonal communication and professional activities, possession of the skills of arguments, participation in discussion. So it is worth mentioning that all these aspects lead to shaping the communicative competence. In this regard, there is an urgent need to identify the most effective learning forms and methods to achieve the goal – to form a solid communicative competence.

Among the most important competences that graduates need is the communicative competence - the one that is the focus of the teachers (Valeev et al., 2015; Sungatullina et al., 2016), and it involves the ability of free cross-cultural communication and participation in discussions in all spheres of human activity, in compliance with the social norms of verbal behavior. Foreign language competence will enable the future teachers to understand and work with authentic sources of professional information  which will develop their potential to design and select an original set of exercises aimed at training speaking, reading, writing, listening and translating skills (competence in teaching methods), as well as unique skills to conduct research particularly in international comparative studies, to express their own thoughts and ideas , exploit professional terminology in interpersonal and professional communication, participate  in dialogues and debates, express and defend their point of view, give presentations and do reports to have public speech skills.

When learning vocationally oriented foreign language, based on interdisciplinary connections, one of the effective forms of teaching foreign language to students is their inclusion in active communication, which involves the co-curricular activities. To organize the said activities, special modes of study are necessary to simulate learning environments close to real practice, encourage students in active thinking and practice based on the material studied, develop communication skills, improve personal (emotional) contacts among the students, nourish such intellectual skills as analysis, synthesis, goal setting, and problem solving. In connection with the above, we focused on one of the important aspects of professional communication – dialogue speech, in particular, discussions. It involves free communication on professional issues, proper use of terminology, expression of personal opinion and the reinforcement of one’s arguments, the use of the relevant conversational clichés, the ability to compile and summarize the discussion.

Brookfield and PreskillPreskill, 2012Preskill, 2012We can’t but agree with Barbara Gross Davis who writes: “Class discussion provides students with opportunities to acquire knowledge and insight through the face-to-face exchange of information, ideas, and opinions. Initiating and sustaining a lively, productive discussion are among the most challenging of activities for an instructor” (Gross Davis, 1993).

Cazden (2001) believes that discussion is a basic principle of learning. She identified and analyzed four intellectual roles students try on while working in small groups: spontaneous helping, assigned teaching or tutoring, reciprocal critique, and collaborative problem-solving(Cazden, 2001).

The discussion-based approaches required changes on many levels: in the structure of moment-to-moment interactions among students and their teachers; in the ways that activities were orchestrated to support students’ developing understandings; and (to the extent that we could measure it) in the overall shape of the curriculum. All of these changes reflect an underlying emphasis on providing students with needed knowledge and strategies in the course of an active exploration of new ideas and experiences through challenging reading, writing, and discussion (Applebee et al., 2003; Mayher, 1990; Beck, 1997).

Nevertheless, Zhu and Baylen employed the case study method to effective learning. While working with the cases students formed a learning community by engaging in activities such as getting to know each other, setting up individual and group learning objectives, discussing, comparing and contrasting, analysing the information presented in the cases, sharing online resources and synthesizing the principles of instructional design. The cases offered a common ground for discussion and allowed for self-regulated learning and sharing of individual’s perspectives. Zhu and Baylen stressed that the discussion provided students with opportunities to defend their own positions and negotiate a common understanding of the basic concepts and principles (Zhu & Baylen, 2005).

An interesting point of view is expressed by Warren Lee, who warns about the origin of various unusual situations - hot moments - during the organization of debates. Hot moments can occur during the discussion of issues people feel deeply about, or as a result of classroom dynamics in any field. The challenges of dealing with hot moments are 1) to manage ourselves so as to make them useful and 2) to find the teaching opportunities to help students learn in and from the moment (Warren & Center, 2006).

Thus summarizing the above points of view on the discussion as a teaching method, we want to focus on the following :

to acquire knowledge and insight through the face-to-face exchange of information, ideas, and opinions and develop skills in evaluating the evidence for their own and others' positions; promotes collaborative problem-solving; it improves students’ active listening, analytical thinking, and public speaking skills; encourages intellectual collaboration and reciprocal critique.

Problem Statement

  • compliance with the specifics of teaching a foreign language in the process of communication and the principles of a communicative approach to teaching foreign language in university;

  • priority of the participants’ exchange of opinions, which implies their personal interest in the subject matter of the conversation and in achieving the communicative goal, thus prompting a motivated statement;

  • relevance to the students’ age, to their emotional-sensory development;

  • the implementation of interdisciplinary links while studying at the university and applied importance for students of non-linguistic universities;

  • a positive post-effect in the form of search or cognitive activity due to the emotional push received during the discussion.

Research Questions

The process of language learning must reflect an underlying emphasis on providing students with needed knowledge and strategies in the course of an active exploration of new ideas and experiences, that’s why instructors must assign students interesting and meaningful tasks to facilitate their understanding and application of learning materials. Discussion helps students to form a learning community by being engaged in activities such as getting to know each other, setting up individual and group learning objectives, comparing and contrasting, analyzing the information presented in the cases, sharing online resources and synthesizing the principles of instructional design. The didactic potential of the discussion forms of work, the strategic approaches to their organization and implementation in the pedagogical university, the conditions for ensuring the effectiveness of the discussion in the lessons of a foreign language: these are the problems that we are trying to consider in our study.

Purpose of the Study

This article aims to identify the didactic potential of discussion technique in teaching English to students of Pedagogics. In this regard, the priority was to set out the strategies for organizing and conducting effective discussions, as well as to identify the conditions under which the discussion techniques are most effective.

Research Methods

Findings

The results of the summative stage of the experiment are shown in Table 01 .

It provides the data on two types of oral activity: speaking and listening (the dominant types of oral activity in the discussion forms of work).

Table 1 -
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We kept to the fact that the debate is a method of teaching which is characterized by multidimensionality: it may be universal in nature that manifests itself in the possibility of its use both in teaching of special disciplines and in practice of foreign language learning; it may be of long-range nature which is reflected in the development stages of students learning continuity, thus fitting into the context of developing problem-based learning and promoting internal language potential of each group member and the formation of process thinking; then it may have constructive nature that declares itself in independent providing (under the supervision of a competent teacher) the evidence by the student, justifying the principles and approaches, using his/her personal experience.

: active listening (listening comprehension), analytical thinking, priority of public speaking skills, constant collaboration and mutual criticism, and the complexity of the problems and topics discussed during the course.

Also, we managed to identify the conditions under which discussion techniques are most effective: friendly and open interaction, the participants’ willingness to listen to and hear other positions and points of view, adequate information on the problem, opportunities to speak, detailed, correct reasoning of one’s position, opportunities to ask questions. Here, it is necessary to emphasize the role of the teacher in organizing this kind of work.

  • content: 1) it is professionally oriented, based on interdisciplinary links; the latter we subdivide into a) actual - these are the connections between different subjects on the basis of scientific data, examples, arguments; b) conceptual - intersubject communications at the level of professional terms common to related subjects, concepts and ideas based on inter-subject links. 2) auxiliary-accompanying - verbal clichés which are typical of discussions and debates, proverbs, sayings, aphorisms, the scope of the training material, evaluation of the student’s presentation. 3) accompanying 4) preemptive.

  • procedural - 1) stage-by-stage training - the first stage - question-answer work; the second stage - drilling monologue utterances; the third stage - drilling dialogical statements; 2) rehearsal training – transition from mini-discussions to professionally-oriented discussions - to help students to formulate their own opinions using terminology, to clearly express their own point of view, to hear the opinion of opponents. 3) the transition to professionally-oriented discussions based on informative peculiarity - designate the purpose of the discussion; develop a plan for its implementation; correctly and logically think through questions; monitor the process; formulate and authorize the completion of the discussion. The culmination of such kind of a discussion should be coming to a mutual agreement. Discussion is accompanied by teacher’s corrective questions to comprehend, clarify, analyze, generalize and evaluate.

  • supervising - the regular evaluation of the discussion is based on its results, the evaluation is given both by two “experts”, chosen constantly from among the students, which helps them to see and assess themselves “as others see” and by the teacher. The final evaluation is a consideration of the “pluses” and “minuses” of the discussion held by all participants of the process.

02

Table 2 -
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Conclusion

The analysis of literary sources on the use of interactive methods in the process of teaching a foreign language, as well as the observation and analysis of classes using interactive methods of teaching a foreign language enabled us to conclude that the method of discussion, having a considerable didactic potential in stimulating students’ oral activity, is one of the important means to intensify the educational process in the university. The shaping of students’ speech activity, in turn, aims to prepare them for the profession, to improve speaking skills of students of pedagogical universities.

Acknowledgments

The work is performed according to the Russian Government Program of Competitive Growth of Kazan Federal University.

References

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Publication Date

31 August 2017

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Future Academy

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29

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Teacher, teacher training, teaching skills, teaching techniques

Cite this article as:

Galishnikova, E. M., Baklashova, T. A., & Khafizova, L. V. (2017). Didactic Potential Of Discussion Technique In Teaching Foreign Language For Pedagogics Students. In & R. Valeeva (Ed.), Teacher Education - IFTE 2017, vol 29. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 206-214). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2017.08.02.25