Planning a trip sounds like an easy thing that everyone can do. The truth is that planning of a trip well is very tricky and requires full concentration and commitment. The complexity of it heightens if the trip is to a foreign country where the language spoken is different from yours. Assisting others to plan for their trip can be a nightmare especially if they are young people like students and speak a different language from that of the place they are visiting. If you are not meticulous and keen in assisting such people then the inevitable is prone to occur. You may get to the destination but maneuvering to the target place or even staying there for a period of time may be a problem. Here I focus my attention on helping students to be able to plan a trip for themselves on their own and in the process learn the culture and language of the people of that place.
My students’ task is to plan a trip to Oktoberfest in Munchen, Germany. It is an activity which emulates an existent situation hence the students are required to concentrate on sense as opposed to form. (Lee 35). I require my students to carry out a thing as they would do in reality, this makes learning a language in the class situation of great significance for students will be able to relate to the language they studied or got to a natural situation. (Doughty & Long 59). The students get the chance to use German as the intended language in a classroom situation just as they use their language in there day to day life. The important factor here is their fluency as opposed to their accuracy in that they should be able to speak the language fast and with confidence ignoring any possible grammatical mistakes they make.(Willis & Willis 85).
I chose this topic because I wanted the students to work on a cultural topic and the Oktoberfest lends itself perfectly for this task. I actually did a mini survey between my American friends and asked them what festival they are familiar with from Germany and which one they would love to visit. 18 out of 20 answered “Oktoberfest” one of them answered “Christkindl Market” and the other one mentioned “Fasching.” I thought this was a clear indication that “Oktoberfest” is a topic which has potential, plus I wanted/want to correct people’s opinions, that the only thing going on at the Oktoberfest is drinking. There are so many other things which one can do, but unfortunately those rarely seem to be mentioned.
The task structure I opt to follow to do this project is the one proposed by Jane and Davis in 2007. In order to come up with an evocative task one needs to remember six questions: (a) will the task connect with the learner’s interest? (b) Does a main emphasis exist on meaning? (c) Do you have an aim you wish to achieve? (d) Is achievement realized from the result? (e) Must the task be completed? (f) Does the task resemble real life ones.(Willis & Willis 24). According to Doughty and Long definition of task based instruction on which I base my attention, it comprises of a logical ,theoretically inspired style to all six elements of the design, implementation, and evaluation of a sincere language teaching program based on the task: (a) needs and means analysis, (b) syllabus design, (c) materials design, (d) methodology and pedagogy, (e) testing, (f) evaluation. (Doughty & Long 65).
Finally I will put into consideration the methodological principals specified by Doughty and Long. The task at hand is meant for German students in their third semester of German at the university. Despite the fact that this task is meant for students in American university, it can be applied in any country given the students there are learning German as a foreign language. In the course of the task the students will undergo lots of original materials which I will select personally. They will include literature, news articles, scholarly publications, video clips, magazines and reference materials. The students are set to get an intellect and emotional encouragement via diverse written and oral output to enhance their critical thinking capabilities. Since most the assignments are based online, access to a computer and fast internet connection are a necessity.
I have a created a wiki which will function as the homepage for this task. Updates will be posted regularly on the wiki and students will be asking to check it. In addition due-dates of the activities will also be posted here. I will create subpages in the wiki each for the different assignment of the task. The site’s progress will be under my close examination. On the wiki there will be both positive and negative feedbacks; the positive feedbacks will be visible to all but the negative feedbacks will be directed to the specific student. Technologies that the students will be exposed to include Skype, VoxOpop, Blogs etc. The students will get further assistance from tutorials which I will make available through Jing. Any emerging technologically issues will be handled immediately due to the presence of a multimedia classroom.
On completion of the task, students will center on grammar and in addition read a required textbook of short stories. Upon doing the final subtask of this assignment the students will be able to communicate orally with fluency and confidence. They should be able to answer questions appropriately, bring forth their opinion clearly and take part in debates. Since most students are often fascinated by culture they will be connected with the task since it revolves around culture. Being the major objective of language instruction my students will interact one on one with each other apart from interacting with local or assimilated German speakers.
They will also have corporate together at this task on different written assignments which will be accessed on the wiki page. The assignment is expected to be free o f errors since it will have been written jointly as a group. (Elola & Oskoz 71) In addition another benefit of group work assignment is that it allows of students’ contribution to the task. Students get the opportunity to discuss meaning and learn. (Lee 200) Students also get to practice their listening and speaking skills.
My schedule on this task- Plan a trip to Oktoberfest, runs for three weeks with the German class meeting thrice a week for an hour. The students are assigned homework and are expected to have complete specified assignments by a certain due-date. The main task comprises of five subtasks and when the students complete the task they are awarded a grade. Grading depends on the contribution of students in class discussion and assignments. This takes up 20% of the final grade of the student.
The main task which is for students to plan a trip to the Oktoberfest has a couple of subtasks as follows:
The purpose of the warm-up activity which is a class activity is to arouse the students’ interest on the topic. I found this educating activity highly recommended on the Goethe Institute’s website. It was created using HopPotato software A recap of the activity is that: the students get to look at some pictures I took from the Oktoberfest festivities last year then ask and/or answer questions about the pictures in general, the Oktoberfest and the culture in a class discussion. The pictures themselves carry a lot of information on the Oktoberfest. After gaining some background knowledge on the Oktoberfest they are required to read the each of the five descriptions of the Oktoberfest and try to much it up correctly with the nine pictures I gave them. This is a bit tricky hence requires them to be utterly attentive it also gives their brain a jumpstart.
My assumption is that all the students have an idea of the Oktoberfest activities in Germany so the objective here is to instill some background knowledge so as to assist faster understanding. thus they are engaged in the vocabulary acquisition in this activity during this task. (Lee & Van Patten 41).
This will involve activities carried out at home as homework. Students will get directions on how to access Wiki and how to edit its pages. As an additional study material I have included several useful links on the Oktoberfest culture on the subpage “Informationen zum Oktoberfest”. Also on this subpage are videos, podcasts, and German-German web-based dictionary.They are: -videos from youtube.com and vimeo.com
- iTunes podcasts & podcasts created by me about our topic
- German websites talking about the Oktoberfest (all linked to my diigo.com account)
- German- German web-based dictionary.
It is a requirement of this activity for each student to check at least six different things from the subpage and links provided according to their likes and interests. When they are done with this they are required to utilize the Discussion Board feature of the Wiki to write at least three different foods people eat at the Oktoberfest. They can also include any additional information they have learnt like the different beer tents, the origin of Oktoberfest, the traditional Oktoberfest clothing among other things. A Point to note is that the students will need to record a list of new words they have come across don’t know on the Wiki’s subpage called vokabeln. They will make use of the German-German web-based dictionary to come up with a vocabulary Wiki and expand their vocabulary in the process. Individual contribution is a must and if by chance they happen to know all the words from the websites then they should provide synonyms to the words their friends don’t know. They cannot use German-English translations though.
Having learnt new vocabulary and written their wow-information on the Oktoberfest, the students engage in activities to make use of the words learnt. This includes: matching pictures to words, fill in the blanks, crossword puzzles and answering multiple choice questions. (Horst et al on contextualized word learning)
This subtask was designed taking into consideration Pavios concept of dual coding which includes pictures. Pictures will come in as a handy tool in assisting the students to grasp the meaning of different words which will go a long way in shading more light in the interrelationship between language, cognition, and culture.
This comprises of several activities done in class since having successfully completed activity #1 then the students will be ready for class. Here the students through a class discussion evaluate what they got from the websites, videos and podcasts. It is a joint activity done in small groups of not exceeding three students. They are required to write in bullet forms using marker pens on Manila paper (I will provide both the pen and paper) anything they can remember. After this I will engage them in a discussion about their findings as a class now on what they found fascinating and what they think should be included on their trip to München. The above activity is done entirely in German and participation of all students is required since it is through such activities that they get grades to be used to determine 20% of their overall grades. Discussion of meaning can be fully achieved in this activity.
This activity should give me an insight on the student’s different interests which I will use to divide them in groups. The criteria will be t pair up students with similar interests into six groups each relating to their area of interest which includes: (a) history, (b) tradition, (c) beer, (d) clothing, (e) activities, (f) food.
All the fun starts here as students work jointly on the assignment. The activities here will be more interesting in that the students will incorporate two new technologies to enrich their oral alliance skills. The students get to carry out research on the Oktoberfest to in accordance to their field of interest. They will get wow-activities and lastly they will get a chance to try and convince their mates that their interest is commendable for inclusion in the main task.
In accordance to Elola & Oskoz’s theory that stipulates that collaborative writing fosters opportunities for interactive and meaningful practices in mind this activity is expected to be a success. As at now the students will have been divided according to their interest group and hence the assignments will be taken as fun. The first assignment will be for the students to exchange contact information and begin making the initial arrangements for their trip to the Oktoberfest. VoxOpop and Skype accounts are a necessity for the students in order to access tutorials for mastering the software.
The need to begin their research with their group topic and their trip should cover the group’s interest. Since some work will be done at school and some at home I’m trusting the students will be corporate via Skype- chat or video chat. The students must include me in their VoxOpop group in order to allow me to easily follow their progress. The subpages of the Wiki also allow me to monitor them and provide a feedback or address certain issues like lack of clarity on a certain culture of the Oktoberfest. Students will be required to open up and make their interests be known to their group members. They are required to convince their fellow members that their addition to the initial plan is necessary. Through this negotiation of meaning as a team will be achieved.( Chapelle 1998 & Frank et al)
Here students come back to class and we hold a discussion regarding their development as a group. Any unattended technology issues are solved here and the students get introduced to the real task at hand; planning the trip to Oktoberfest. When through they have to present their ideal plan in form of a mini-presentation including what they want to do while in München.
I believe that the student will be yearning to get down to planning their trip. The students will have access to links, which I will post on the Wiki’s homepage, to different websites which they can use to book a plane ticket, book a hotel room or even find their way around München. Students will have to carry out research on German websites and undergo every step involved in booking a flight to the point of paying for the ticket. They are required to carry out a thorough research of all the means of travel available while keeping in mind their budget limit. Next the students need to learn how to book a hotel; the available options are to either email the hotel from the email address given in the website or call the hotel. In the latter option, the students will need to learn how to make international calls of which I will simply demonstrate. All the groups will be required to document all their progress using screenshots which they will include in their Wiki’s subpages.
Finally students should be able to find directions from the airport or train station to their hotel. For this they will be encouraged to employ the use of Google maps. Students who don’t want to use Google maps will be allowed to make their own bearing in mind the possibility of getting confused or getting lost in Germany. This assignment has a will take one week and in addition the students will have to get ready for their last presentation and last subtask of the entire task. On this part of the task I put into play Kessler’s theory which stipulates that students working together jointly interact nicely and give consideration to form.
The most important part is where they will present their plan for a trip to Oktoberfest to the class in 5 to 8 minute presentation. Once through they will answer questions from me and their fellow students. The students will get an opportunity to showcase their oral performance and accuracy in their research hence putting Tavakolo & Fosters’ theory which talks about oral performance accuracy and complexity into play here. All presentations are bound to be unique and interesting since the class will have been working according to their fields of interest. Empowering students to plan a trip on their own for their own benefit is guaranteed to boost their enthusiasm and hence they will do a pleasing job on this task.
Grammar to wrap it all up
On this task my emphasis is on grammar particularly modal verbs and their use. The reason being these verbs are will be used repeatedly by the students during the assignment. From the Klett website’s HopPotato activities is where mine are based. These include learning of vocabularies, text comprehension and lastly grammar. I recommend four exercises that deal with modal verbs and picture description, found on this website, for they are of great help to students. The first activity comprises of three dialogues and three pictures. The activity is to much the dialogue to the correct picture. A noticeable number of modal verbs have been used in the 4 to 5 lines picture description.
The second activity presents to the students a brief 9 lines text, full of modal verbs, about the Oktoberfest. It is the same with activity three and four the difference being that in three and four a short text comprising of modal verbs is presented with fill in blanks. Last but not least activity five is about answering questions with reference to the Oktoberfest reading whereby output of the modal verbs is the major emphasis. This grammar after task activity will only take on class hour and will be a perfect lead into the reading Oktoberfest by Theo and Felix, which is a short story about the Oktoberfest.
I trust my students will gain a lot from the task based instruction and the task assigned by me, for this will enable them to carry out anything they want. This is because it is student centered and gives the opportunity for a realistic opportunity. Another benefit of the task based instruction is that it gives room for practice and linguistic progress. Despite having presented language in the task activity (warm up) the students have the freedom of choosing whatever grammar constructs they prefer. This prevents them from being restricted to the intended language and therefore allows them to use any language together with the one they are learning.(Harmer 79-80).
Students practiced their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. They were exposed to authentic German text and music as well as different German language- websites. The students will be exposed to lots of German content like text, music and websites and will be able to improve their reading, writing, listening and speaking abilities. Through working on assignment jointly they are also able to realize the benefit of collaboration because they get to harmonize their different point views .In addition the fast learners get the opportunity of showing team work by helping their slower mates to comprehend.
Last but not least I used the 10 methodological principles specified by Doughty & Long to guide me through the development of this task they include:
- MP2- Promote Learning by Doing: The basic, time-tested idea is that practical hands-on experience with real-world tasks brings abstract concepts and theories to life and makes them more understandable.
- MP3- Elaborate Input: Elaboration is the term given to the multiple ways native speakers modify discourse (i.e., in language use for non-native speakers) to make meaning comprehensible (foreigner talk).
- MP4- Provide Rich Input: Rich input, in sum, is not just a matter of linguistic complexity, but it includes quality, quantity, variety, genuineness, and relevance of the language that a learner is exposed to.
- MP5- Encourage Inductive ("Chunk") Learning: If adult foreign language learners are to sound like natives, they need to be exposed to realistic (genuine or elaborated) samples of target language and helped to incorporate, store and retrieve whole chunks of that input as whole chunks.
- MP6- Focus on Form: Comprehensible L2 input is necessary, but not sufficient. A focus on meaning can be improved upon by periodic attention to language as object. Therefore, learners' attention is briefly shifted to linguistic code features, in context, to induce "noticing".
- MP9- Promote Co-Operative/Collaborative Learning: Research in general education has documented the positive effects of co-operative, collaborative group work on attainment. Research on cooperative learning and small group work in second language learning provides similar findings. It is true to say that if these methodologies are properly followed in preparation of a task at hand then the result are bound to be pleasing and as expected.