Papers & Workshops



The Importance of Indigenous Reference Points in Teaching English as a Second Language: A Learner-Centered Interpretation


Minah Harun

Lecturer, School of Languages and Scientific Thinking, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Malaysia

This paper discusses the importance of indigenous reference points in the teaching of English as a second language (TESL) based on case studies in Malaysian contexts. The first part of the paper directs attention to the importance of making the right choice of materials for specific instructional purposes in TESL. Five key variables in language learning are discussed based on Freirean ideas on interactive learning. The discussion highlights the importance of materials in determining the effectiveness of classroom teaching and learning. The second part reports the findings of four case studies involving both texts and authentic materials used by nonnative speakers of English. Results from these studies suggest that ideas on the choice of appropriate teaching materials can be readily sourced through systematic consultation with the learners. The findings point to general consensus among both students and teachers that indigenously framed teaching materials have wider appeal among the two parties hence help to facilitate spontaneous acquisition of the target language. This brings forth a number of implications which support the belief among Freirean advocates that the most effective approach to language teaching is one that draws on the cultural milieu of the learners. Paper concludes with a brief critique of the familiar Malaysian approach to TESL followed by some recommendations on indigenously appropriate pedagogy for learners in the country.
  Presentation Format: 45 min. paper

RMIT, Melbourne, Australia

5-9 July 2000