TEFL Glen New York



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This is how our TEFL graduates feel they have gained from their course, and how they plan to put into action what they learned:

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Within the vibrant and diverse region of Southeast Asia, Singapore is a microcosm of multiculturalism and multilingualism. Communication challenges exist amongst citizens and foreign-born residents alike, who make up more than 35% of the population. english is one of Singapore's four national languages and is encouraged as the common language. Additionally, the use of Standard english is actively promoted by the government and other groups. Museums in Singapore are tourist attractions, educational and cultural institutions, which aid in developing a shared history and sense of pride as well as educating visitors about the nation's history, arts and heritage. In this project, we are challenging the traditional guided tour by emphasizing museum-audience relationships- active audiences, constructivist and interpretist learning theories. The uses of technology in the museum setting allow “learner controlled learning”. The permanent collections offer artifacts that resonate with visitors. International special exhibitions expand on the discussions and interactions. Through this project's specially designed museum learning experiences, english students build and practice their language proficiency while learning about the arts and cultures of Singapore. The Singapore government, through well-funded and pervasive policies and campaigns, exhorts all its citizens to “Speak Good english”, the details of which are determined by the “Speak Good english Movement” referred to as SGEM. “Impress, Inspire and Intoxicate” is the 2010 theme for the Speak Good english Movement whose two objectives are: ensuring Singaporeans recognize the importance of speaking standardized english and encouraging Singaporeans to speak Standard english. The British left a legacy of institutions of education like museums throughout their colonial empire, including Singapore. After many years serving primarily as tourist attractions, museums in Singapore are being recognized by the government as cultural institutions that can have significant local impact, particularly in the function of “nation building”, developing a shared history and sense of pride. Through the present campaign, “I Love Museums” the Singapore National Heritage Board “champions the development and promotion of a vibrant cultural and heritage sector in Singapore, making heritage enriching, relevant and accessible to all through staging innovative programs and forging collaborative partnerships.” The museum provides a more informal “shared experience”, quite different from the teacher-student classroom environment, allowing both teacher and student to discover. Even the best-equipped classroom pales in comparison to the richness of the artifacts, innovative technology displays, information panels and maps in museums like the Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore. The setting invites creativity, choices, flexibility and variety. Museums are generally accessible to public transportation, have relatively low admission fees, especially for students, and written materials are often available on the institution website for pre and post visit activities and discussion. These institutions also provide prepared teaching materials for instructors that can be modified and adapted to meet the needs of an english as a Second Language (esl) lesson plan at different language skill levels. Most institutions have art activity rooms available and public meeting spaces inside and outside which are useful for pre and post discussions and activities. As a government supported and supervised institution, the museum can be assumed to provide the appropriate standards of english in the written materials, both in the handouts it makes available and the descriptive text panels it displays in the exhibits themselves. The museum serves as a benchmark for teachers and visitors alike for determining the level of english competency for which Singaporeans should strive. ANALYSIS Our teaching experience in the Singapore River Gallery of the Asian Civilizations Museum demonstrated that the museum setting was generally a successful environment for creative, active language learning. Participants were enthusiastic and interested. The museums was interested in growing their attendance figures and helpful in this project. The choice of the Singapore River Gallery worked particularly well for the Singaporean students who were familiar with general background of Singapore history but not with some of the particular details about the river itself. It was clear that the evolution of the river mirrored the evolution of the country itself, a source of pride for the students and interest for the ex-patriot participants. There are certain problems that we had anticipated when having students “perform” in a more public setting outside a classroom. Many will be more shy and reserved in this setting than in the privacy of a space with the group alone, though the particular gallery we chose with this in mind is most often completely empty. Timing, planning, arriving, and getting started are all more complex when the site is unknown or unfamiliar, though the staggered arrival has the advantage of individual attention to the early arrivers! The print-out web pages can be used as part of the “warm-up” experience as the group assembles. As with many experiences, there is never enough TIME and the museum setting has many enticing distractions. The advantage here is that even the distractions from the planned vocabulary exercises have the advantage of new experiences. More vocabulary words were available than we had time to discuss but these formed the basis of future visits. CONCLUSIONS The museum experience does, indeed, have potential to “Impress, Inspire and Intoxicate”, especially given the high priority placed on this type of more interactive learning by the Singapore government both in regard to learning Standard english and learning about the shared history of the young nation itself. Groups must be very small. A full school class will not have a successful experience. Planning must be thorough, the vocabulary and concept goals visible, but most of all, both the teachers and the students must be flexible and willing to break away from comfortable classroom habits. Both groups, Singapore students and groups of ex-patriots who wanted to improve their english language skills benefited from the combination of the museum and language learning exercise. BIBLIOGRAPHY Bruthiaux, Paul (2010) The Speak Good english Movement: A web-user's perspective. In english in Singapore: Modernity and Management. Edited by Lisa Lilm, Anne Pakir, and Lionel Wee. hong kong: hong kong University Press Can-Seng, Ooi (2010) Histories, Tourism and Museums: Remaking Singapore. In Heritage Tourism in Southeast Asia. Edited by Michael Hitchcock, Victor T. King and Michael Parnwell. Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Lim, Lisa, Anne Pakir, and Lionel Wee (2010) english in Singapore: Policies and Prospects. In english in Singapore: Modernity and Management. Edited by Lisa Lilm, Anne Pakir, and Lionel Wee. hong kong: hong kong University Press Siemans, George (2010) Connectivist Learning Theory http://www.connectivism.ca/ Singapore Flag and National Anthem Rules app.www.sg/.../Singapore_Arms_And_Flag_And_National_Anthem_Rules.pdf http://www.goodenglish.org.sg/ Speak Good english Movement website http://www.museums.com.sg/es09/index.html I Love Museums Singapore website http://www.singaporeexpats.com/about-singapore/culture-and-language.htm discussion of language in Singapore

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