Boosting Females Participation in The ESL Classroom

Diversify participation in Genders

In the light of the fact that communicative language teaching and student centered learning have become the pillars of modern second language pedagogy, educators must dedicate more attention to the nature of language production in the classroom. One of the many important factors that educators must consider when analyzing their students’ output is their gender. Indeed, a driving force behind a great deal of the research regarding gender as a variable for language learning is the fact that there is a perceived imbalance of female production in the second language (L2) classroom.

It is important for teachers to understand that there are some pedagogical practices that they could use to boost female production and ensure equitable students production in length and quality. The main objective of these activities is to neutralize the imbalance of gender production.

Integrate more ICT in language activities:

Various studies show that when educators experimented with technologies in the classroom, female production and participation improved. Irving’s (2007) review of Canadian literature on gender and learning found various studies under the theme of “technologies and distance learning” that highlight benefits to female learners. He mentioned in his review that through electronic discussion comprehension was enhanced in all the students and the participation was more gender equitable. Moreover, girls liked the discussion more than boys because they appreciated having time to think before responding and the absence of negative comments from males in the class.

Ways to integrate technologies mainly center on computer or online discussions where students post responses. These activities are purposeful and task-based, while they also place an emphasis on student produced responses. Students are free to respond and comment without the normal anxieties of a classroom. One low cost way to create a discussion forum is to create a private social network via Facebook groups or Google+.

Addressing gender issues head on:

Another way that teachers can address the lack of female participation is to incorporate tasks and assignments that make reference to the gender imbalance and bring attention to the issue. This gives students the ability to address the topic themselves and discover solutions. It also shakes them out of their complacency. Topics that address gender concerns should be also integrated in the curriculum. Addressing the issue head on can increase gender sensitivity and start a discussion. Moreover, it could boost the self-esteem of female learners and encourage participation.

Collaborative and task-based learning approaches do promote female production:

Collaborative and task-based learning really puts students in the driver’s seat and ensures production. In Wolfe’s (1998) study, she found that only ESL classroom that produced equitable opportunities for female and male talk was the one in which the instructor made heavy use of group tasks. This type of approaches ensures that both genders produce language in the classroom.

To conclude, langue production for a long time has been a key measure of acquisition. However, production is also an important part of the process of learning. Teaching methods have become increasingly communicative. So, language production has become a cornerstone of the classroom. With a majority of the class taken up with student talk, it is imperative that teachers ensure this time is distributed equitably between males and females.

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