Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 3

Publications

3 How Children Synchronize with Their Teacher: Evidence from a Real-World Elementary School Classroom

Authors: Reiko Yamamoto

Abstract:

This paper reports on how synchrony occurs between children and their teacher, and what prevents or facilitates synchrony. The aim of the experiment conducted in this study was to precisely analyze their movements and synchrony and reveal the process of synchrony in a real-world classroom. Specifically, the experiment was conducted for around 20 minutes during an English as a foreign language (EFL) lesson. The participants were 11 fourth-grade school children and their classroom teacher in a public elementary school in Japan. Previous researchers assert that synchrony causes the state of flow in a class. For checking the level of flow, Short Flow State Scale (SFSS) was adopted. The experimental procedure had four steps: 1) The teacher read aloud the first half of an English storybook to the children. Both the teacher and the children were at their own desks. 2) The children were subjected to an SFSS check. 3) The teacher read aloud the remaining half of the storybook to the children. She made the children remove their desks before reading. 4) The children were again subjected to an SFSS check. The movements of all participants were recorded with a video camera. From the movement analysis, it was found that the children synchronized better with the teacher in Step 3 than in Step 1, and that the teacher’s movement became free and outstanding without a desk. This implies that the desk acted as a barrier between the children and the teacher. Removal of this barrier resulted in the children’s reactions becoming synchronized with those of the teacher. The SFSS results proved that the children experienced more flow without a barrier than with a barrier. Apparently, synchrony is what caused flow or social emotions in the classroom. The main conclusion is that synchrony leads to cognitive outcomes such as children’s academic performance in EFL learning.

Keywords: Movement synchrony, teacher–child relationships, English as a foreign language, EFL learning.

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2 The Effect of Realizing Emotional Synchrony with Teachers or Peers on Children’s Linguistic Proficiency: The Case Study of Uji Elementary School

Authors: Reiko Yamamoto

Abstract:

This paper reports on a joint research project in which a researcher in applied linguistics and elementary school teachers in Japan explored new ways to realize emotional synchrony in a classroom in childhood education. The primary purpose of this project was to develop a cross-curriculum of the first language (L1) and second language (L2) based on the concept of plurilingualism. This concept is common in Europe, and can-do statements are used in forming the standard of linguistic proficiency in any language; these are attributed to the action-oriented approach in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). CEFR has a basic tenet of language education: improving communicative competence. Can-do statements are classified into five categories based on the tenet: reading, writing, listening, speaking/ interaction, and speaking/ speech. The first approach of this research was to specify the linguistic proficiency of the children, who are still developing their L1. Elementary school teachers brainstormed and specified the linguistic proficiency of the children as the competency needed to synchronize with others – teachers or peers – physically and mentally. The teachers formed original can-do statements in language proficiency on the basis of the idea that emotional synchrony leads to understanding others in communication. The research objectives are to determine the effect of language education based on the newly developed curriculum and can-do statements. The participants of the experiment were 72 third-graders in Uji Elementary School, Japan. For the experiment, 17 items were developed from the can-do statements formed by the teachers and divided into the same five categories as those of CEFR. A can-do checklist consisting of the items was created. The experiment consisted of three steps: first, the students evaluated themselves using the can-do checklist at the beginning of the school year. Second, one year of instruction was given to the students in Japanese and English classes (six periods a week). Third, the students evaluated themselves using the same can-do checklist at the end of the school year. The results of statistical analysis showed an enhancement of linguistic proficiency of the students. The average results of the post-check exceeded that of the pre-check in 12 out of the 17 items. Moreover, significant differences were shown in four items, three of which belonged to the same category: speaking/ interaction. It is concluded that children can get to understand others’ minds through physical and emotional synchrony. In particular, emotional synchrony is what teachers should aim at in childhood education.

Keywords: Elementary school education, emotional synchrony, language proficiency, sympathy with others.

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1 The Effect of Cross-Curriculum of L1 and L2 on Elementary School Students’ Linguistic Proficiency: To Sympathize with Others

Authors: Reiko Yamamoto

Abstract:

This paper reports on a project to integrate Japanese (as a first language) and English (as a second language) education. This study focuses on the mutual effects of the two languages on the linguistic proficiency of elementary school students. The research team consisted of elementary school teachers and researchers at a university. The participants of the experiment were students between 3rd and 6th grades at an elementary school. The research process consisted of seven steps: 1) specifying linguistic proficiency; 2) developing the cross-curriculum of L1 and L2; 3) forming can-do statements; 4) creating a self-evaluation questionnaire; 5) executing the self-evaluation questionnaire at the beginning of the school year; 6) instructing L1 and L2 based on the curriculum; and 7) executing the self-evaluation questionnaire at the beginning of the next school year. In Step 1, the members of the research team brainstormed ways to specify elementary school students’ linguistic proficiency that can be observed in various scenes. It was revealed that the teachers evaluate their students’ linguistic proficiency on the basis of the students’ utterances, but also informed by their non-verbal communication abilities. This led to the idea that competency for understanding others’ minds through the use of physical movement or bodily senses in communication in L1 – to sympathize with others – can be transferred to that same competency in communication in L2. Based on the specification of linguistic proficiency that L1 and L2 have in common, a cross-curriculum of L1 and L2 was developed in Step 2. In Step 3, can-do statements based on the curriculum were also formed, building off of the action-oriented approach from the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) used in Europe. A self-evaluation questionnaire consisting of the main can-do statements was given to the students between 3rd grade and 6th grade at the beginning of the school year (Step 4 and Step 5), and all teachers gave L1 and L2 instruction based on the curriculum to the students for one year (Step 6). The same questionnaire was given to the students at the beginning of the next school year (Step 7). The results of statistical analysis proved the enhancement of the students’ linguistic proficiency. This verified the validity of developing the cross-curriculum of L1 and L2 and adapting it in elementary school. It was concluded that elementary school students do not distinguish between L1 and L2, and that they just try to understand others’ minds through physical movement or senses in any language.

Keywords: Cross-curriculum of L1 and L2, elementary school education, language proficiency, sympathy with others.

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