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The Learning Theories Implicit in the Way the Units Are

Presented and Developed


The learning theories implicit in the way the units are presented and
developed
Learning theories place the emphasis on nurturing the individual and
the ability of teachers to facilitate the learning that people do.
Educational and learning theories have been in existence since at least
the 16th Century when John Comenius (1592 1670) (sometimes
known as Komensky) developed his ideas about education being not
just for children but lifelong. He was also one of the first educators to
encourage the education of women, (Pound, 2005).
Theories serve as bridges between research and educational practices
and as tools to organize and translate research findings into
recommendations for educational practice.
Behaviorism
Behavioral theories stress the role of the environment-specifically , how
stimuli are arranged and presented and how responses are reinforced
.these theories assign less importance to learner differences than do
cognitive theories .Within the overall theory of behaviourism are a
number of sub-groups two of which are Connectivism and Conditioning
.
Edward Thorndike (1874 1949) was one of the main advocates of
Connectivism. Through his research he came to the view that how
humans and animals behave is all about stimulus and
response.Thorndike believed that learning occurred through trial and
error. This led him to the view that there are two laws that relate to
learning. These are the laws of Exercise and Effect, (Schunk, 2004).
Skinner termed his view of behaviourism Operant Conditioning. His
view was that an animal or human being, operated upon through
conditioning would also emit responses, (Tip Theories, 11.10.2007).

As with Thorndike, he took the view that the stimuli could be negative,
pain or criticism for example, or positive, as in praise or reward, (B.F.
Skinner Foundation 2007). This is the basic difference between the
view that Skinner held and that of other behaviourists, such as
Thorndike.
Kohns argument though is that we are not animals that merely react to
stimuli. We have choice and it is this choice that makes us different to
the animals.
Cognitive learning
Cognitive psychologists believe that through the use of modelling and
artificial intelligence it is possible to both predict and explain human
behaviour. In contrast to the behaviourist the cognitivist believes that
learning cannot be identified just from a change in behaviour. Learning
occurs whether or not there is a change in behaviour.
The behaviourist would argue that any learning creates a change in
behaviour whilst the cognitivist would argue that the learning still
occurs even if it does not create a change in behaviour at that point.
Cognitive learning provides the framework for learners to arrive at
concepts for themselves through their won insights based on what they
know and understand at the time, rather than handing those concepts
to them.
Jean Piaget (1896 1980) from his observations of children argued
that there are four different stages of cognitive development and that
they relate to a period in each persons life.
As the child grows it enters the concrete operational stage and
becomes logical and egocentricity reduces so they are able to reverse
their mental actions. Finally the formal operational stage begins. They
are able to link abstract concepts together. Piaget argued that for the
vast majority of the population this is a step too far and that most
people fail to reach this point.
Humanistc learning

It is as both Rogers and Maslow stated about the need for the
individual to self-actualise, (Jarvis, 2006).
Maslow identified 5 key points that an individual needs to achieve to be
able to be a self-actualising organism, (Schunk, 2004).]
As can be seen this theory is about the whole person and not just the
learning at that time. Rogers believed that it was about developing and
maintaining that whole person and not just a part of it, (Jarvis, 2006).
The humanist theory is a holistic theory of education, using the
experiences of that individual to enable them to learn. It involves using
the affective as well as the cognitive processes. In other words as well
as understanding they are feeling, (Educational Psychology
Interactive). It is about using the emotions as well as mental and
physical aspects of learning.

Authentic materials

The notion of authenticity has been much discussed. Marrows definition will serve
us well. He relates it to a stretch of real language, produced by a real speaker or
writer for a real audience and designed to carry a real message of some
sort.(1977:13) Harmer (1983:146) says that authentic texts (either written or
spoken) are those which are designed for native speakers: They are real text
designed not for language students, but for the speakers of the language in
question. Nunan (1989:54) thinks that a rule of thumb for authenticity here is any
material which has not been specifically produced for the purposes of language
teaching.
Based on these definitions, we can find the real meaning of authentic materials:
they are real language; produced for the native speakers; designed without the
teaching purposes. In this sense, there are a large amount of authentic materials in
our life such as newspaper and magazine articles, TV and radio broadcast, daily
conversations, meetings, documents, speech, and films. One of the most useful is
the Internet. Whereas newspapers and other materials date very quickly, the
Internet is continuously updated, more visually stimulating as well as interactive.
If we want to introduce authentic materials in language teaching, we need to
classify them first, because some of them are suitable for the teaching of reading
and some are effective when prepared for the teaching of listening and speaking.

According to Gebhard (1996), authentic materials can be classified into three


categories.
1. Authentic Listening-Viewing Materials: TV commercials, quiz shows, cartoons,
news clips, comedy shows, movies, soap operas, professionally audio-taped short
stories and novels, radio ads, songs, documentaries, and sales pitches.
2. Authentic Visual Materials: slides, photographs, paintings, children artwork, stickfigure drawings, wordless street signs, silhouettes, pictures from magazine, ink
blots, postcard pictures, wordless picture books, stamps, and X-rays.
3. Authentic Printed Materials: newspaper articles, movie advertisements, astrology
columns, sports reports, obituary columns, advice columns, lyrics to songs,
restaurant menus, street signs, cereal boxes, candy wrappers, tourist information
brochures, university catalogs, telephone books, maps, TV guides, comic books,
greeting cards, grocery coupons, pins with messages, and bus schedules.

Here, we mainly focus on the authentic listening materials. In literature, phrases


like real speech the spontaneous speech live or natural language genuine
instanced of language use natural conversation what people say in real life
what native speakers say when talking to each other have been used to define
authentic listening material. The present author thinks the suitable definition should
be that authentic listening materials is unscripted, natural and spontaneous spoken
language materials, such as interviews, lectures, dialogues, discussions, and
conversations etc.