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How Can We Do ESL Better? Pedagogical and Ethical Issues

Executive Summary

The paper is about how ESL is perceived and in what context throughout the globe. The paper starts with applying various ESL concepts to housekeeping employees, at their workplace. The increasing workplace diversity has developed a need to improve the ability of workers to communicate in English. Many small firms that once never bothered about English skills as part of their training programs are continuously on their way to seek better ways of providing help to employees. Global trends and increased competition has created a need for businesses to draw on private companies and public agencies for help in promoting English on the job.

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For international immigrants, ESL holds significance as their livelihood in the contemporary era depends on their English fluency. Also, their English skills decide what type of work or job they are eligible for. Irrespective of their qualifications, those who are exposed to better English skills are likely to serve in multinational corporations whereas those immigrants who are not good at proficiency are subject to depressed wages. Many linguistic writers believe that learning English is just like entering land of opportunities where language skills matter more than experience and qualifications.

Pedagogical and ethical concerns matter when it comes to foreign-born workers of various cultures, however incorporating pedagogy into technology gives an ease to trainers as well as learners who are at the same time immigrants, workers and students to provide a better and easy view of learning ESL. With a new conception of cultural literacies, ethics have created lesson plans for multicultural learners in which a variety of discourse forms are seen to encompass a range of features of both oral and written language. Culture-specific uses of oral language shape the way that learners take and make meaning through texts, therefore teachers must draw on learners’ oral language practices in developing their reading and writing.

Another aspect to understand cultural gaps of this emerging paradigm is to make an appropriate division on the basis of culture between oral and written language so as to question the older views that claim literacy to be unique in that it allows meaning to be represented autonomously.

Computer-based assistance and the use of simulations works better in adult language literacy where training sessions prefer individualized learning while assessing personal level of achievement for every learner. Online lesson programs have made things understandable for trainers and learners, even many learners solely rely on online mentoring language tutorials. Online collaboration has made things easier for us and language professionals all around the globe are reliant upon the second-generation web. Even many trainers have turned to discussion forums that are created for the purpose of written exchanges among class members of various cultures. It seems like ESL culture has transformed into technological culture, where learners and trainers are getting more and more each day, they decide to attain something new, something more productive that escorts them on the road to a better ESL.

How can we do ESL Better?

It is difficult for many housekeeping employees from a variety of countries to learn and cope up with the tasks of standardizing, training, and communicating and they found it even more difficult to organize their work while communicating throughout the globe (Digiulio). ESL has made it easier to communicate with other employees of different nationalities effectively. Since ESL suggests easy language courses along with computer training aids and dedicated educator-workers environment, so as to look forward towards a conventional preparation manual to begin with a theoretical background that explains and justifies the premises of the instructional approaches to be presented.

With ESL, Buddy systems and training aids communication is improved within a department where the foremost advantage is the in-house teaching classes which is less expensive as compared to the outdoor, provided the staff member who is teaching is highly motivated (Digiulio). Though this practice sometimes frustrates pre-service and in-service educators who may wish to forgo a careful study of abstract theories in favor of acquiring practical strategies for effective and expensive classroom teaching, providing its learners with a principled set of instructional tools for secondary and postsecondary learners of ESL and EFL (English as a foreign language) is the aim of making ESL towards a road of betterment.

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Selecting better ESL staff is a way to better grading and evaluation which also passes through a series of steps to meet the criteria for ESL educator. Workplace ESL training helps housekeeping employees to perform their jobs better, as the employees learn specific English that allows them to more effectively communicate with co-workers, customers, supervisors, and guests (Digiulio).

To achieve this goal, on job training sessions are conducted including practical assessments and online certification, which entails the second language composition literature practical training into various steps. Understanding of the ESL work requirement draws upon demonstrations based on research to offer a systematic framework for identifying roughly, but easily identifiable, factors that pertain to influence language proficiency, academic performance, and student predispositions toward writing processes and tasks.

Of particular relevance to ESL composition are dimensions of learners’ knowledge and prior training that may shape their current linguistic capabilities to be educated on different cultural holidays. In order to make ESL better for the learners, in-house training sessions consider those ethical systems and decisions that are often ignored in and outside classroom practice, and are sometimes relative, sometimes changing and when it comes to the accepted truths, principles, and standards, ethics must support them. When such ethics observed seriously by ESL faculties are incorporated into technology, it gives a better approach to providing ESL proficiency to international learners and migrants.

According to Diaz-Balart, Nearly two-third of immigrants are on depressed wages and do not speak English proficiently, even most of them are subjected to very little or simply no formal education (Berta, 23 Aug 2004). Foreign-born workers often pose a problem for the trainers because they are already homesick , therefore the best way is to adopt a friendly attitude towards them by offering them their national holiday celebrations, their cultural food and if possible housing options too. Although to adopt such a friendly attitude behind mentoring foreign-born ESL learners serve as problematic, because it requires time to make them feel at home. Still applying cultural patterns in an uncertain atmosphere pose our cultural behavior towards ESL workplace settings which are headed towards adopting a better environment for studying ESL. Our main concern in this research work would be to analyze how and in what ways we can determine those standards and principles that help us make ESL better to understand.

Pedagogical and Ethical Issues of educating Foreign-born workers

Davila (2008) analyzes that ESL has emerged as an opportunity to learn English which aims to take language and education into various social, economic, and political implications particularly on a foreign national (Davila, 2008). There is a common perception which Davila has researched and it is true that a general concern among immigrant women in Canada entails their prior education and work experience is of little value to them there, which gives them less exposure to well-paying jobs. Moreover effective communication skills require language proficiency which serves as a gateway to a white-collar job and language has much to do with a person’s qualifications for a job and how he or she will be treated while on the job. This situation is depicted in the United States by a situation that those without substantial English-language proficiency are disproportionately trapped in ‘ethnic work ghettos’ where they only have access to blue-collar jobs (ibid).

Analyzing the ethical dimensions incurring at ESL foreign-born workers in an in-house environment indicates how students from a variety of cultural settings with differing expectations converge in a single ESL classroom. Here management settings hold importance in context with ethical concerns and with regard to classroom teaching and are complex and perhaps partly for this reason not sufficiently addressed in conventional educational literature or teacher education programs.

Pedagogical issues are not only pertaining to English literacy standards of international foreign-born workers, or they are not only the issues of tailoring curricula and teaching practice to meet ESL student needs (Jennings, 2001, p. 35). Strategies that are internationally suggested include constant monitoring of teaching strategies, provision of additional textual support, mixed groups, interactive learning, team assignments and limited use of examinations (ibid). Ethical issues that are usually associated with foreign-born ESL learners are critical because they pertain to business versus academic enterprise of education and accept only those students who are capable of questioning language ability with subsequent expectation to achieve a positive outcome in the form of an English degree (ibid).

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Jennings (2001) mentions, “A case study when conducted in 1999 for evaluating benefits and challenges of ESL to foreign-born workers, lecturers found that benefits included reflecting social diversity, providing different cultural viewpoints to inform class discussions, improving cultural understandings between students, and on-going lecturer review of teaching processes” (Jennings, 2001, p. 40). However the challenges were predominantly associated with the English literacy level of students from a practical standpoint.

Many theologists once believed that education has become more business-oriented with lesser emphasis on a range of pedagogical and ethical issues, therefore there rise business versus academic concerns, the suitability of western teaching styles to non-western students and appreciation of differing learning styles and tailoring of curricula to meet a variety of student needs.

Cultural contributions of ESL students in class

A well-known benefit of having ESL students in class is that the student’s presence and participation not only boost up and increase cultural understandings between the domestic students and the overseas ESL students, but it also helps in increasing understanding of other cultural systems and practices throughout the world.

Observations and research suggest that ESL learners whether they are foreign-born or native residents, generally spend a greater portion of their day in regular classrooms or workplaces. Technology plays a vital role in ESL at workplace or in classrooms because it has enabled us to look forward towards aiming at providing better solutions to learning, therefore technology has provided us what we can and should carry with us as educators, making full use of digital tools. Changes in the way we teach have been made, and technology is only going to result in faster and better results.

Multiculturalism is one of the significant areas that is often ignored in adult ESL classes, however regardless of the fact that multiculturalism is constructive or destructive in adult education, ESL in community or workplace settings, is by default multicultural when it comes to learning. Culture inclusion while carrying on with lectures, embeds multiculturalism into a class that can rely on the simple inclusion of cultural artifacts and festivals while learning. Critics claim that though these activities assist foreign students feel welcomed and valued, on the contrary they can also be perceived as pessimistic in valuing their presumption of culture as static and benign, reinforcing the notion of ESL students as outsiders.

Ethical behavior in this case is the most significant aspect of reducing such ‘foreigner’ attitude which provides ESL mentoring the confidence to present the learners with a ‘welcome’ and thus, we explore some of the obligations and responsibilities that faculty owe to learners inside the classroom. Besides incorporating culture into ESL studies, faculty must during mentoring learners with the course syllabus and at the beginning of the term, inform students of expected basic behaviors such as coming to class regularly, arriving to class on time, bringing books and supplies, being prepared for class, submitting assignments on time, and paying attention and participating in class.

CALL for Second Language Learners

Classroom-based investigation on learning ESL conducted by Ranalli (2008) suggests that simulation games can be used as a contemporary technique that supports learning materials to university-level ESL learners (Ranalli, 2008). In this context supplementary materials are provided in simulation games to meet criteria for CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) task appropriateness (ibid).

Researchers have analyzed that CALL can be utilized as a whole body of work, with no agreed agenda for research and development, with a sensitivity to local conditions, and with the flexibility of the computer, trainers have conceptualized CALL in many ways, and they have drawn their theoretical base and practical orientation from many sources. Computer-based simulations in particular can provide content for language learning that is ‘naturally rich in associations’ via cohesive, meaningful contexts with a potential of presenting scenarios in real-time and give instantaneous feedback (Ranalli, 2008). Computer simulations in response bridge the distance between students and the target-language culture and thereby provide realistic sociocultural contexts for language learning (Schwienhorst, 2002). With respect to affective barriers, computer simulations incorporating synchronous chat can also motivate learners who would be normally shy in face-to-face interaction to take part more actively (ibid).

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Simulations help in motivation to pursuing ESL coursework and serve Academic purposes, however when ESL learners showed interest in electronic student participation it was found that ESL environment in the classroom gives opportunity for the students to respond only to the teacher’s question. In an experiment, ESL students started off by responding to the tutor’s questions, but soon they did other things as well like asking questions, arguing, initiating new topics of interest, expressing opinions and commenting on each other’s messages.

Implementing e-learning components through the usage of computers and Internet have made adult literacy education much easier (Chlup & Coryell, July 2007). However there still are some difficulties that ESL learners face, for example the research themes that emerge from the relevant literature indicate the importance of a focus on access to technology and applicable technological skills and the insistence on both quality e-learning experiences and instructors (ibid).

The addressed difficulties indicate that there still are some negotiation barriers that ESL learners are reluctant to come across. These barriers act as hindrances in picking up core issues of teaching and learning ESL that are crucial for communication but that had been neglected in teaching, and that students would not have noticed if they had not had the opportunity to chat with native speakers. The findings recommended further need for language-learning-related study which presented a theoretical model of learners accepting IT as syntactic and functional complexity in ESL which can only be resolved through individualized student-centered instruction (ibid).

ESL Recommender Teacher Learning System

Hsu (2008) suggests a learning-based, online lesson program that provides every ESL learner with personalized learning plans which the learners can adapt according to their own schedules, demands, interests, and capabilities (Hsu, 2008). According to Hsu (2008) learning-based programs also apply to teachers to design appropriate teaching activities for different levels of learners so as to provide to the learners a better level of understanding in the case of large classes (ibid). To help resolve this issue and bridge the gap between grammar teaching and learning, Hsu (2008) has proposed a range of remedial teaching activities which are aimed to target low achievers (ibid).

Configuring remedial teaching, the main concern is personalized learning where ESL students’ language learning practices not only focus on how a group of ESL students jointly construct the context of their activities through interactive patterns and norms, but also it encourages low-achievement students to come forward and keep up with the learning pace with the rest of them. Research studies of remedial teaching in ESL learning addresses those students whose intelligence is normal but progresses less than normal average learners.

Unlike a lot of isolated writing and reading classroom activities, most of the ESL students are from different cultures who collaboratively get engage in communicating with each other, this way they learn writing and reading as social strategies through joint participation in a communication exchange. Using CAI technologies enables low-achievement learners to make appropriate use of technology kits (Hsu, 2008).

Homogeneous and same ability grouping is another way to put students at the same achievement and instruction level (ibid). Along with the use of CAI technology, same ability grouping also enables instructors to create a distinctly unique social context in which same level of participants are actively employing reading and writing strategies required for participation in the exchange. However it is the responsibility on part of the instructor to infer the underlying point of a string of different messages they receive in order to formulate messages relevant to that point. What the instructor must keep in mind is that inferring the point of a conversation is a social process that involves more than simply inferring the gist of messages and also requires the ability to ‘read’ the social situation.

Many instructors have expressed their concern that do not recommend technology for ESL learners, because some learners reject technology in instruction as they find it uncomfortable to comply and fit the traditional model of instruction. On the contrary, it can be said that instead of technology being a cultural barrier, it can help non-native speakers improve their English literacy skills, particularly when used in mixed language groups so that English must be spoken in order to communicate about the lesson presented by technology.

Absence of a strong strategic plan later escorts the instructors towards difficulty in widespread adoption and use of technology in instruction. If we pressurize faculty to implement technology in their courses, institutions must provide a supportive environment that enables them to do so successfully. One of the important findings of the benchmarking study on ESL faculty development was that institutions with the strongest programs to support faculty use of technology also had an overall campus culture pervaded by technology. This culture was typically supported by a range of strategies, which included strategic plan encompassing the use of technology for teaching, extensive investment in technology infrastructure, support from senior leadership for the use of technology in teaching, support for junior faculty members in terms of technical support and training and support for students through computer access and Internet accounts.

Configuring trainers’ planning in ESL students’ language learning practices focus on how a group of ESL students jointly construct the context of their activities through interactive patterns and norms, and how they configure it to be affordable to workout the computer-mediated environment which mediate their learning experiences. Relevant studies in the literature suggest that environmental perspectives of language learning explain contextual liquidity in relation to learners’ agency in their learning, for example an ethnographic study might tell us that how members of an ESL class construct a community of social practices. Research studies of computer-mediated communication usage in ESL learning address overall aspects of diverse language learning in context with language teaching, teaching through technologies, linguistic features, pedagogy, curriculum, social materials, and social discourses.

Final Thoughts

From language learning to fluency, there is a need to acknowledge that examining the nature of activity in language teaching and learning is not enough, we must also know the cognition of how various tools are used in language classrooms so as to get a clear picture of the situation that elucidates between what teachers know and what their students learn and do not learn. Internet in this aspect is a coercive tool that has transformed the reason that classrooms are predicated on this connection, the assumed nexus between what teachers know and do and what, through their teaching, their students come to know and are able to do is arguably the most fundamental relationship in education.

There is a need to relate this relationship beyond the prevalent notions of causality that dominate thinking and rhetoric about this connection to reframe it as a relationship of influence between teacher learning and student learning. This relationship can be conceptualized in a better way by analyzing in a close manner how teachers’ professional learning can alter the nature of activity in language classrooms through the tools that are used to create and mediate that activity, and thus, we can probe the relationship between what teachers know and what, through their teaching, their students come to know and are able to do.

References

Berta Dina, (2004) ‘Confabs: ESL training dearth hurts industry HR goals’, Nation’s Restaurant News.

Chlup T. Dominique & Coryell E. Joellen, (2007) ‘Implementing E-Learning Components with Adult English Language Learners: Vital factors and lessons learned’, Computer Assisted Language Learning, Vol. 20: 3, pp. 263-278, Routledge.

Davila, Liv Thorstensson, (2008), Language and Opportunity in the “Land of Opportunity” Latina Immigrants’ Reflections on Language Learning and Professional Mobility, Journal of Hispanic Higher Education Volume 7: 4.

Digiulio M. Laura, ‘Training Foreign-Born workers at your facility. Hsu, Mei-Hua, ‘Proposing an ESL recommender teaching and learning system’, Science Direct: Expert Systems with Applications 34 (2008) 2102–2110.

Jennings R. Gayle, (2001) ‘Do I or Don’t I teach them?’ Benefits and Challenges as well as Pedagogical and Ethical Issues of Educating Tourism Students in English when English is Not their first Language. Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism, Vol. 1(4).

Ranalli Jim, (2008) ‘Learning English with The Sims: exploiting authentic computer simulation games for L2 learning’, Computer Assisted Language Learning Vol. 21, No. 5, p. 441–455, Routledge.

Schwienhorst, K. (2002). ‘Why virtual, why environments? Implementing virtual reality concepts in computer-assisted language learning’. Simulation & Gaming, 33(2), 196–209.

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