This research will focus on the overlapping relationship between two important theories, which are behaviorism and constructivism on the teaching field. The paper discusses the effective method in teaching English as a second language in foreign environment. The constructivism study which tested around 417 students in China, the final scores examine its applicability. The behaviorism study represents its influence on teaching and learning in the past thus, it is completely changed at the mean time. My teaching experience of third grade students overlapped different methods that helped in language acquisition. Academic learning requires conscious effort and much practice in composing, developing, and analyzing ideas.
English language considered the second official language in Saudi Arabia, since it is the language of science and has been used in business, governmental circles and affairs. There have been a number of negotiations on what is the proper age to learn English as a second language; hence they reached to a solution to teach English for the 4th grade. The purpose of this paper is to examine the efficacy of behaviorism and constructivism in teaching English as a second language for elementary students through studying some articles to specify the best one. As a language teacher following a constructivism will influence my teaching strategies to construct language.
There are basic theories can rely on to describe how language acquired. The behaviorist and constructivist theories are one of the lead theories, in the meantime. According to behaviorist metaphysics, people learn through motion. In the contrast, the constructivism epistemological perspective considered that knowledge constructed through our learning experience. A second language acquisition in a different environment considered a hard job on both teacher and student, while you only expose to English for one or two periods per day. The behaviorism was concerning about conditioning and learning by behavior influence. There has been different methods and theories discussed to improve the education process. Different studies and researches proved a number of methods and philosophies and the teacher role is to choose the appropriate method to fit the context.
The method of teaching and learning has been rapidly develop but through Schunk book in which he went to the background of behaviorism and constructivism. According to Schunk, the behaviorism theory was a leading one at the past, which considered a psychological one (Schunk, 1991). Behaviorist approach is to conduct careful analysis of material to be learned: break it down into its smallest component and pieces, put them in a sequence so more complex ideas are built out of simpler one. Incorporate effective reinforcement: identify positive (and possibly negative) reinforces and provide them in a systematic and timely way. Use objective measures of learning to track progress. The school system used to have certain conditioning behavior with certain reinforcement also, Skinner focused on expected responses. The chapter enhanced the importance of positive reinforcement instead of negative reinforcement and this argument will support the behaviorism. He discussed the constructivism in chapter six, which reflect the theory on teaching and learning process. This theory has been developed by two important theorist who is Piaget and Vygotsky, who have been discussing in details the cognitive and psychological sides of this theory. Constructivist claimed a paradigm or worldview posits that learning is an active, constructive process. According to him the learner is an information builder who will build his own knowledge according to the basic one he has. According to constructivism people actively construct or create their own subjective representations of objective reality and new information is linked to prior knowledge, thus mental representations are subjective. That will be discussed throughout the paper in details.
Obviously in the Second Language Classroom Reading: A Social Constructivist Approach (Lianrui Yang, 2006), was emphasizing constructivism theory and the best way in applying it to learn ESL. The students in Chinese classroom were expected to be able to read by exposing to the words of teacher. The student was a receiver rather than a participant, and then teacher started to believe that students should engage in the learning process. The key points were concerned about how to read in a constructivist way to take a strategic approach to develop effective reading. The research showed the transformation in the teaching methods from behaviorist approach into constructivist one, when they put the student as a participant in the class. It has pointed to the importance of the concept of scaffolding with what Vygotsky called (ZONE OF PROXIMAL DEVELOPMENT). The paper shed a light on the important of social learning, and drew attention to the importance to ask the right question to become independent readers. It concluded that social constructivist approach toward reading in EFL classes would provide tools, exercises that draw students' mind to think in differently and apply the language in a better way.
Furthermore, it has been approved An investigation into the factors affecting the use of language learning strategies by Persian EFL learners (Mohammad Rahimi, 2008), the effectiveness of metacognitive in teaching English. In the study there has been a data collected from 196 students to examine their understanding of the language and discover the weakness. The research points out to the importance of motivation in language learning; also it presses the importance of integrated curriculum with language acquisition. The research shed light on the different strategies such as memory, cognitive, metacognitive, emotional, social strategies. Thus, the result of the study showed the effectiveness of the metacognitive has in learning a second language. At the same time, this paper would enhance the discussion of constructivism.
On the other hand, the research of A Comparison of Two Theories of Learning--Behaviorism and Constructivism as applied to Face-to-Face and Online Learning (Dr. Mary Anne Weegar, 2012), which pointed to the Skinnerian behavior theory in learning. Behavior is predicted and controlled according to Watson, who considered the inventor of this science. The role of instructional technology has been clear in teaching, learning and students' understanding. The paper discussed the comparison between behaviorism and constructivism in different aspects. The behaviorist believed that all students can learn the same information given in appropriate environment with the right stimulus and emphasized on the importance of the external world. Hence the constructivist approach pointed that students would build their knowledge by engaging in active tasks and learns from their own experiences. The paper concluded that constructivism and behaviorism contrast in different aspects such as the teacher role, curriculum distribution, strategies. In summary, both behaviorism and constructivism practices involved in the growth of educational technology.
Likewise, the research of The Effect of Questions and Test-Like Events on Achievements and On-Task Behavior in Classroom Concept Learning Presentation (Mckenzie) focused on an experience of choosing fifty-one students and divided them into two groups. The paper was concerned about question controlled and addresses each individual at a time. The students were exposed to oral questions as stimuli in order to condition their learning. The paper concentrated on test-like environment more than ordinary classroom, were verbal question play a certain behavior, which allow the teacher to monitor the students' achievement. The core of this study is to enhance the learning process by applying the behaviorist approach. The research has two hypotheses which is that students would be exposed to test-like events would have off-task behavior than the students who would be called individually and students who will respond to frequent test like events would score higher achievement. In the study pupils were randomly chose and it stated that test-like events would be after relevant information and observed to engage in less off-task behavior during the treatment period. The study shows that oral question functional as nominal stimuli and confirmed that test-like events can enhance learning. In addition, it would improve that behaviorism would be applicable in condition test-like events.
Behaviorism considered an old psychological theory goes back to 1880, and had been started at laboratory which examines behaviors. Then, Watson in 1913 was responsible for the movement towards behaviorism and away from functionalism. This publication was a study of the relationship between organisms and their environment (Overskeid, 2008). In addition, Skinner came up to use Watson findings, and apply them on human's behavior, he tried to condition the human behavior by reinforcing the positive stimulus in order to have the required responses. Skinner expressed no interest in understanding how the human mind functioned. He was a behaviorist in the strictest sense as was John Watson. Both Skinner and Watson were only concerned with how behavior is affected by external forces (Dr. Mary Anne Weegar, 2012).
The behaviorist theory relies mostly on generalization, reinforcement, repetition, rewarding and conditioning. Imitation plays a great role in behaviorist classroom, specifically through verbal learning. There has been a movement against behaviorism especially at the ends of 1960, when Noam Chomsky, who is linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician, proved the inefficiency of Skinners Grammatical theory, which led to the ends of behaviorism. The beams of behaviorism still affect the education process even if it is not directly.
The child developed knowledge is an important to build ones character is by providing him with the right education. B. F. Skinner pointed to that learning due to the change of reinforcement, responses, and stimulus. According to Schunk's behaviorism chapter, in which he discusses Behaviorism is a worldview that operates on a principle of "stimulus-response." (Schunk, 1991). All behavior has been caused by external stimuli (operant conditioning). All behavior can be explained without the need to consider internal mental states or consciousness. In addition, behaviorism is kind of related to John Locke theory which is that the mind is blank slate. The behaviorists believed that throughout the repetition the individual learn and store information and B.F. Skinner believed that grammar is learned throughout repetition not in constructed in the human mind.
In the past, the teaching was applying the method of repetition reinforcement and instructional drills. Thus, B. F. Skinner prefers the positive reinforcement. The role of the behaviorist teacher is fixed, and the teacher takes the body of knowledge and puts piece by piece in the mind of the child. Thus in the mean time, behaviorism has becomes to its end when Noam Chomsky criticize the effectiveness of it on paper he wrote.
As a response to instructive approaches such as behaviorism and automatic instruction, constructivism states that learning is an active process of constructing knowledge rather than acquiring it. Knowledge is constructed based on individual living experiences and hypotheses of the environment.
In the article of Second Language Classroom Reading: A Social Constructivist Approach, you will find the transformation of the educational method in the classroom which has been moved from behaviorism to constructivism. The introduction of the article has discussed this transition, thus it highlighted the social constructivism in which learners are active constructor at their learning environment. The article discussed learning English in a different environment such as Chinese learners. Vygotsky, the father of social constructivism, claimed that learning occurs through dialogue (Vygotsky, 1978). The importance of reading to language teachers and the role of constructivist teacher is to assist the students during their learning process. The role of teacher is to build independent readers inside their students and enable them to ask themselves the questions. The students should interpret the text into their own meaning without the help of the teacher.
According to the constructivist, the learning is an active process and as knowledge would be constructed more and more. Learning is kind of personal interpretation toward thing around us. Frankly, constructivism is emphasizing the problem solving and other things. Social learning means that you have to share knowledge and construct learning with group. The teacher would deal with the students in the classroom and there he/she will discuss the objectives and goals with the students. In addition, the teacher role is to moderate the knowledge. Environment is playing a great role in the constructivist class, and the students should expose to things that help them learn.
The epistemological concept of constructivism is that the person constructs understanding through different learning principles. In addition the metaphysics notion of constructivism that the body of knowledge isn't fixed, thus it is dynamic changing. Constructivism comes from a cognitive and rationalism paradigm. The teacher plays a subjective role, it rely on what he represents.
The students, according to the constructivist class, are playing a great role, in which they will be the knowledge learner, seeker, creator, and team member. The instructor would be presented as a facilitator of the knowledge, coach, and he should always motivate them. Cognition is based on mind constructivism; the mind is providing ideas and constructs it in several ways.
As a part of constructivism, the cognitive Schemata, has its effect on the learner ability to construct knowledge and interpret information and data. It is a mental process, where information takes place in the mind. The use of brain schemata is to assess our previous knowledge, and construct knowledge depending on the ideas we get from the environment. The brain is hard wired and the mind has a memory capacity and it has an internal structure that makes it perform in certain way.
"â€¦We must immediately expand our vision beyond standard educational institutions. In our cultures of today - and of tomorrow - parents, peers, and media play roles at least as significant as do authorized teachers and formal schoolsâ€¦if any cliché of recent years ring true, it is the acknowledgment that learning must be lifelong." - Howard Gardner
Applying multiple intelligences method has direct different type of students as a sub-part of constructivism. Multiple intelligence has been noticed by Howard Gardener, who made an impact on on valuing all kind of intelligences. Constructivism and multiple intelligences are two sides for one coin, there is a kind of correlation between them in teaching and learning process. Gardner has written several books about the different kinds of intelligences to address both teachers, students, peers, etc.. to develop a better teaching and learning method.
According to Schunk book (Schunk, 1991), Vygotsky has shed a light on social constructivism of child learning. There is no simple definition of constructivism, thus Schunk points out that learning in a constructivism setting isn't allow the students to do whatever they wants. In rather the constructivist environment should create rich experiences to encourage students to learn. People actively construct or create their own subjective representations of objective reality. New information is linked to prior knowledge, thus mental representations are subjective. The chapter clarified that knowledge isn't something wait to be discover rather that knowledge comes from inside.
Vygotsky was interested social constructivist of childhood learning. Furthermore, he rejected assumption on cognition and shed a light on social concept. He describe the ZPD ( The Zone of Proximal Development ) as the distance between the actual development level as determine by the independent problem solving under adult guidance or collaboration by person interaction.
As an investigation into the factors affecting the use of language learning strategies by Persian EFL learners, has reached to the finding that the strategy used has intricate with the different changeable of students learning ability. The result of the research shows that context of the language learning plays important role in understanding the language. For example, certain aspects of learners' strategic behavior such as their perceived use of metacognitive and social strategies appear to have been influenced by the teaching approach adopted in the Iranian EFL classrooms (Mohammad Rahimi, 2008).
In this Table: ANOVA results for effect of sensing vs. intuitive learning style on
cognitive, metacognitive and social strategies use (N = 196) (Mohammad Rahimi, 2008). Also, shows that the use of different learning strategies will help the learner of second language to understand and build their own knowledge. They have different method in data collection from surveys, questioners, and examination paper. The result of the research showed that the importance to expose to English in early age and daily pace in order to be more sufficient in language acquisition.
According to Rahimi's research, this pointed to the effect of the years of learning English. In teaching English as second language, there are different variables such as gender, motivation, environment, teaching styles and methods. In relation to the Iranian context their primary schools divided into five years and in Saudi primary divided into six years and the English started from the 4th grade. The relation between his work and my teaching experience is the importance of cognitive approach and the importance of teaching a seond language in early age. In addition, I have to put in mind the students feelings in dealing with another language that isn't practiced in a daily paces and the different levels in acquiring it. In which has been discussed in Rahimis research (Mohammad Rahimi, 2008) that importance of affective strategies that would help them deal with their feelings and emotions.
Throughout my teaching years, especially teaching 3rd grade Arabic students and teach them a second language such as English, I need to provide them with the best methodology to acquire the knowledge. Constructivism has its affect in building the knowledge, especially that students have been exposed to English for only ninety minutes per day. Through these minutes they have to do different tasks, starting from listening, reading, writing, to speaking. In the past, teaching was colored with behaviorism in it approach, in which the teacher has to give them the information step by step and they have to follow the teacher rules. I have taught two classes of 3rd grade about fifty students, all of the Saudi and spend around one and half an hour per day. The different approaches of behaviorism and constructivism have been practiced in my classes. In spite of the relation between behaviorism through teacher direct instruction and constructivism through student active engagement, I have applied them in my class.
In addition, I would like to keep working to help my students think more independently and reflectively about their writing, I found that student-centered activities increased student engagement and achievement in literacy learning. Especially that I taught 3rd grade students their ages about nine years old. I taught two section and each one had 25 students. I applied different strategies in order to achieve the learning goals; hence the students were more engaged in the constructivist environment and especially in social constructivist one. In other hand, the behaviorist approach existed in the reinforcement if they scored high academic achievement, they would get a prize or long times spend in recess. The school policy was encouraging the constructivist strategies in dealing with the cognitive part.
Number of students
Number of sections
Number of hours per week
According to the table, constructivist approach enhanced the learning process by engaging the students in learning. In the constructivist class students can use their intelligence and build the words according to the phoneme sound they have learned. The students have a great role in my class, they don't just repeat what I say, in the contrary they build their own words and throughout the conversation with their peers and me, they build new words and explore new knowledge to construct. The students took responsibility and become excited in their learning environment.
The responsiveness the students of learning a second language in behaviorist and constructivist classroom. The students in the behaviorist class room would feel little bit jammed into a stereo type situation where the teacher steer the wheel and they have to follow without interruption. It is totally different from the constructivist classroom in which they have the total freedom to lead their own mind where ever they want. The teacher's role here is more about how they deliver the knowledge and how the students construct the knowledge.
In the conclusion, the constructivism approach offer tools and methods for teachers and students in EFL classes to achieve their goals. The transition in the teaching method from behaviorism when it proved its failure in teaching English as a second language As a teacher I believe that students are the only ones who do the actual learning. The improvement of teaching second language with constructivism method has been noticed all over the years. I think that the teacher job is to be facilitators to knowledge which will be grown and burst into her/his own students. There has been a transition through the past ten years, especially in teaching English as a second language for elementary students from a practical teaching methods rely most of it on behaviorism into creative constructivism methods with new development ways and strategies. Hopefully, the enthusiasm and confidence that my students gained throughout the third grade will carry over into the rest of their lives.