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Dr Linh Phung Shared a Text-Based Approach and its Relevance to Reading and Language Development

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

Summary

Dr. Linh Phung contributed to the successful TESOL Forum on reading and language learning, commemorating the 30th anniversary of teacher education at the Higher Normal School of Navojoa in Sonora, Mexico. The panel consisting of Dr. Stephen Krashen, a renowned scholar in second language acquisition, Pilar Capaul, a young teacher from Argentina, and Dr. Linh Phung, an expert in tasked-based language teaching and educational technology emphasized the transformative power of reading for pleasure and engaging content in language development. Dr. Phung presented her approach to creating activities and tasks based on engaging texts, following the Text-based Approach to Materials Development by Brian Tomlinson. She highlighted the significance of using engaging texts and integrating student writings as valuable resources. Leveraging her expertise in both text-based and task-based methodologies, she has developed her own teaching materials and published language learning resources, including the Eduling Speak app. Dr. Linh Phung hoped that the ideas shared in the forum had sparked innovative insights for pre-service teachers, enabling them to find creative solutions in their educational contexts. She was delighted to receive positive feedback from attendees, expressing their appreciation and key takeaways from the forum.


Reflection

It was my pleasure to participate in the TESOL Forum on reading and language learning to celebrate to celebrate the 30th anniversary of teacher education at the Higher Normal School of Navojoa in Sonora, Mexico as an English Language Specialist. This was my first project as an English Language Specialist with the U.S. Department of State. I’m grateful for this opportunity to present and exchange ideas.

With 90+ participants joining via Zoom, along with large groups of students tuning in from their classrooms, it was a resounding success. It was an honor to present alongside Dr. Stephen Krashen and Pilar Capaul. We shared the transformational power of reading for pleasure, reading for interesting content, and using texts as valuable source of language development. The recording of the Facebook Live can be found here.

Pilar’s key point was to avoid testing students’ comprehension as a means to teach reading. She also provided effective strategies to build students’ background knowledge, helping them read, predict, and compare what they know and learn.

Dr. Stephen Krashen emphasized the importance of self-selected reading for pleasure. It not only enhances language and literacy skills but also broadens one’s knowledge and empathy. Access to books through the school, classroom, and community library is vital.

My approach involves creating engaging activities based on texts, using a well-documented Text-based Approach to Materials Development by Brian Tomlinson. The starting point of this approach is a text that has the potential to engage learners cognitively and affectively. Based on this text, teachers can develop activities and tasks that help learners to be mentally ready to engage with the text, allow them to experience it in the same way that they experience engaging readings in their first language, and provide them opportunities to respond to the text personally and meaningfully instead of checking their comprehension. The language analysis and discovery stage can come later.

If you’re interested in this approach, I shared some content as a Teachers’ Corner Expert with the American English for Educators Facebook page here. Here’s an example of how the approach can be applied to the I Have a Dream speech.

With the text-based approach, one question arises as to how to find engaging texts. One idea is whenever teachers read something interesting, they should save the text in their personal library for later use. Engaging texts have to be those the teacher finds interesting first. Another source of potentially engaging texts is students’ writings. In my case, I help students write and publish their writings. Throughout the years, I’ve published many student writings that I later use as texts in various courses that I teach. With knowledge and experience in both the text-based and task-based approaches, I have been empowered to create my own materials for my classes and publish language learning books myself. Regarding the task-based approach, I’ve created an app called Eduling Speak with 1000+ tasks that students can complete in pairs or individually. My students’ writings are also featured there. I hope you’ll check it out and encourage your students to try it. I welcome more connections on LinkedIn. Interestingly, these ideas have sparked some really engaging conversations among colleagues on LinkedIn.

I’d like to also share a few very interesting and moving stories written by my students. Just One Day by Habib Sorosh, a visiting scholar from Afghanistan: Just One Day (eduling.org) Stranger is Not Danger by Najd Alagl, a student from Saudi Arabia: Stranger is Not Danger (eduling.org) Birthday by Samantha Tran, a student from California: Birthday (eduling.org)

💡 I hope these ideas have sparked new insights for pre-service teachers and helped them to think expansively and creatively to find solutions to problems in their context.

I’m also happy to learn about some student responses below.

“I loved the forum. It was very interesting to hear all the people talk and share their knowledge with us, I think we all took something from that conference to take to our classes and with our students.” -Darey 5th Semester

“I learned the fact that I have to share interesting readings with my students because any boring reading means a waste of time.” -Gabriel 3rd semester

“In my future class, if I have the students read a text, I can use different strategies to get their attention and hook them, such as seeing interesting topics and making the students reflect on why reading benefits us so much, we can ask ourselves questions and based on or What we read we answer in our heads to make reading more interesting and try to guess what it is about.” -Jorge

“During the forum, I learned from Pilar that as teachers we can guide students to find a purpose in reading. Also, in the classroom we can connect reading with previous experiences.” -Lesly

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