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We have already seen the request function performed in two ways 'It's very hot in here', and 'Could you open the window? In deciding what language to teach when working with functions we need to bear in mind the level of difficulty, the level of transparency is the meaning clear and the level of formality. In general it seems safe to say that easy, transparent and neutral realisations of a language function are better for students at lower levels whereas difficulty, lack of transparency and extremes of formality and informality are more suitable for more advanced students.
In other words, we would teach 'Could you open the window? We can help them to see how other speakers and writers structure their discourse and thus help them to understand better. For students of English organising written discourse is extremely important and we will study this in a section on cohesion see 7.
In the chapter on receptive skills we will look at ways of training students to recognise discourse structure see It will be our responsibility to see that the students' language skills are transferred to the use of English. In other words, we may not be teaching them to read, but we are teaching them to read in English. And because they are dealing with a foreign language we will need to help them with the skills that they are already subconsciously familiar with.
We will emphasise reading for gist, for example, or listening for detailed comprehension. If we concentrate on these skills and sub-skills it will help the students to approach the foreign language with more confidence and a greater expectation of success. Of course it is possible that some students may not be proficient at all the skills in their own languages. Then our task will be twofold: to give them confidence in English and to equip them with hitherto unknown skills in either their own mother tongue or English.
At lower levels our teaching of skills will be general, becoming more refined as the students become more advanced. A lot will depend on student need and the syllabus, however see 3. We know what students need to know about the language they are learning but before we start to teach them we will have to decide which parts of this knowledge we want them to have and when. How is the language to be organised and what skills should we concentrate on?
This organisation is called a syllabus. Some syllabuses are fairly short lists of grammatical structures or functions. Some are much more detailed, containing lists not only of language, but also of topic and subject matter or activities and tasks. We need to consider these various types.
The argument was that studying grammar failed to show what people actually did with language. It was suggested that we should teach functions first and the grammar would come later. In the first place some realisations of functions are in fact little more than fixed phrases e. It may be important to learn them, but that is all you learn! In other words, some functional exponents are just single items - you cannot use them to generate more language as you can with grammatical structure see 2.
Another problem lies in how to grade functions. Which should come first? What order should the grammar be taught in for students to be able to apply it to functions? A purely functional organisation meant that notions of difficulty which had informed earlier grammatical syllabuses could not be used since the grammar used to perform one function might be more or less difficult than the grammar used to perform the other. And the teaching of functions raised many problems that grammatical teaching had not previously done.
A unit on the past simple might end with a lesson about apologising Tm sorry I'm late I missed the bus', etc. I have to do my homework. It is around grammar that functional items can hang on a syllabus. One way of organising a syllabus would be in terms of vocabulary rather than grammatical structures or functions. This would certainly have the advantage of giving students words in an organised and sequenced way, and indeed with the advent of computer-based vocabulary studies such a syllabus has become a real possibility see 9.
Vocabulary-based syllabuses obviously need to mesh in with grammatical syllabuses, but the way in which such connections could be made is not yet clearly established - although attempts have been made. Language may not be the only way to organise a syllabus. This certainly looks like a good idea especially if students are likely to be in those situations. Topic-based syllabuses take a subject or topic as their organising principle. Thus unit 1 might well deal with health, unit 2 with fashion, unit 3 with families, etc.
Such organisation allows for a wide range of language and activities. Within the topic of health, for example, students can talk about the body, illnesses, sickness and cure, healthy living, environmental dangers to health, etc. Topic-based syllabuses are certainly suitable for vocabulary material.
They may also be more useful at more advanced levels since with limited language for beginner and elementary students it is difficult to sustain a topic over a length of time. In general the danger with topic-based syllabuses is that they demand the students' continuing interest in the topic - something which we cannot take for granted.
Nevertheless they provide a way of organising the syllabus which many teachers and students find attractive precisely because they do not insist on the teaching of language for its own sake, but use it in the service of interesting subjects. Task-based syllabuses, on the other hand, take activities or tasks as the main organising principle see 4. The syllabus becomes a list of tasks, rather than language or topics, etc.
Task-based syllabuses are especially useful for skill-based courses where the students can run through a range of sub-skills in a variety of carefully sequenced tasks. For general courses however they may well be limiting in terms of language. The final shape of a syllabus may depend to a large extent on the needs of the students who are going to be taught.
The syllabus for a group of agronomists might look very different from the syllabus for a group of waiters. The level of the students will be vital too since we would expect a beginners' syllabus to be very different from one for advanced students.
The age of the students may have a lot to do with it as well - especially where the selection of themes and topics is concerned. How often do students study? What is the cultural and educational background of the students? What kind of institution are they studying in? How many of them are there likely to be in the classroom? Depending upon our students' needs we may wish to restrict the syllabus in some way.
For beginners we restrict the language in the syllabus. For science students doing post-graduate studies we may restrict the skills in the syllabus to mainly reading - although this is by no means certain. For waiters we may restrict the tasks and we may place especial emphasis on others - e. This book deals especially with general English, however, and in that context we must treat the issue of restriction with great care.
Certainly, as we have already said, language may be restricted according to level. Teaching general English classes means that syllabus designers, materials writers and teachers have a wide range of possibilities at their disposal. One area in which we would not expect to impose restrictions is the area of language skills - we would want to include work on all four skills in our syllabus, in other words.
Certainly we might exclude some genres e. What then of the competing claims of the different kinds of syllabus? Any programme of language study should have a list of language to be taught and in what order , a list of functions, a list of vocabulary, a list of themes and topics to be dealt with and the situations they are to be dealt with in and a list of tasks and activities that are to be included.
Whether you are designing the syllabus for a national education system or simply for your own class these are the issues that confront you as we shall see when we look at lesson planning in Chapter The manner in which these lists are written or not written if teachers have them 'in their heads' may vary.
The issue of which part of the syllabus is the main organising principle may not be an important one, therefore, since it is in the interrelationship of all the elements that we plan for our students' needs most adequately. One last issue needs to be dealt with in this chapter on what students need to learn and that is the issue of language variety.
Crudely, we can ask whether we should teach American or British English? The situation is very complex. We cannot say that English is one language. It is many languages, or rather there are many varieties of English used all over the world. What we can discuss is whether students should learn one particular variety or whether it matters which variety or varieties they are exposed to.
Three factors are important in this discussion. The first is the variety of English which the teacher uses. That will surely be the one which the students become most accustomed to. The second is which variety is most appropriate for the students. If they are going to study in the United States, for example, American English may be preferable to other varieties. For students at lower levels it is probably advisable to stick with one variety of English.
As students go through the intermediate area, however, they can be exposed to other accents and varieties. Indeed with the status of English as an international language it is vital that any competent user 28 3.
In this chapter we have discussed what language students need to learn. We looked at the need to teach students how to produce and recognise the sounds, stress and intonation of the language. We said that for many the goal of native-speaker pronunciation was not important or appropriate , but communicative efficiency being intelligible in the foreign language was.
We emphasised the importance of listening as a way of acquiring pronunciation. We discussed the grammar that students need to learn, noting that some grammar was necessary for lower level students while some was more stylistically appropriate to advancedJevels. We emphasised the need for students to have; language awareness and as part of this to use discovery activities. We discussed the need for students to learn the vocabulary which was appropriate for their level and we stressed the importance of learning vocabulary in context.
We discussed the basis on which syllabuses are organised and we measured the relative merits of grammar, vocabulary, functions, situations, topics and tasks as the main organising principle round which a syllabus could be designed. We concluded that the job of the syllabus designer was to combine all these elements to a greater or lesser degree depending upon the needs of the students.
Finally we discussed the many varieties of English. We said that at lower levels the teacher's variety of English might be the main one for the students whereas for more advanced students knowledge of many varieties is a definite advantage. How important is it for your students?
What is good pronunciation? What is the best way of doing it? Would the level of the students matter? What language would you make your students especially aware of when they read it? What level would the students need to be to understand it?
Choose one and say how many ways there are of performing it. Which variety would you teach a foreigner? Chapter 2 of the same book discusses the concept of intelligibility in great detail. See also J Roberts and a response to it K Johnson Both are reprinted in K Johnson K Johnson and K Morrow eds. Much of this discussion stemmed from reactions to D A Wilkins , although it must be emphasised that Wilkins never advocated a purely functional approach to language teaching.
From this overview we will draw up a language learning and teaching methodology which will be exemplified in Part B of this book. Certain theories have, however, had a profound effect upon the practice of language teaching and continue to do so despite the fact that they have often originated in studies of how people learn their first language. It is only comparatively recently that the study of second language acquisition has achieved the importance that it now has.
In an article published in ,3 two psychologists, Watson and Raynor, reported the results of experiments they had carried out with a young baby called Albert. When Albert was nine months old they discovered that the easiest way to frighten him was to make a loud noise by striking a steel bar with a hammer. At various intervals over the next three months they frightened Albert in this way while he was in the presence of various animals a rat, a rabbit, and a dog.
The result of these experiments was that after three months Albert showed fear when confronted with these animals even when the noise was not made, and even showed unease when a fur coat was put in front of him. The psychologists suggested that they would be able to cure Albert's fear but were unable to do so because he was no longer available his parents had withdrawn him from the experiment. Watson and Raynor even discussed the possibility of Albert's fear of fur coats when he reached the age of twenty!
The ethics of this experiment are, of course, highly questionable, but Albert's experiences are an early example of the idea of conditioning. Watson and Raynor had managed to condition Albert to be afraid of the rat, rabbit, dog and fur coat where before he had a neutral emotional reaction to them. If the rat's behaviour is reinforced a sufficient number of times it will always press the bar when the light comes on.
Reinforcement in this example took the form of a reward and was therefore positive. But you could also train the rat not to do something by giving him negative reinforcement, maybe in the form of a small electric shock. In a book called Verbal Behaviour,4 the psychologist Skinner applied this theory of conditioning to the way humans acquire their first language. Language, he suggested, is a form of behaviour in much the same way as the rat pressing the bar exhibits a form of behaviour.
It is because we are concerned with a form of behaviour that this theory is called behaviourism. The same model of stimulus-response-reinforcement, he argued, accounts for how a human baby learns a language. An internal stimulus such as hunger prompts crying as a response, and this crying is reinforced by the milk that is subsequently made available to the baby. Our performance as language learners is largely the result of such positive or negative reinforcement.
Behaviourism, which was after all a psychological theory, was adopted for some time by language teaching methodologists, particularly in America, and the result was the audio-lingual method still used in many parts of the world. Of course the approach wasn't exclusively devoted to repetition, but the stimulus-response-reinforcement model formed the basis of the methodology.
Mistakes were immediately criticised, and correct utterances were immediately praised. It should be said that audio-lingualism was thought to be highly successful in some contexts - particularly the foreign-language training of military personnel. The term cognitivism sometimes referred to as mentalism refers to a group of psychological theories which draw heavily on the work in linguistics of Noam Chomsky see 2. In Chomsky published a strong attack on Skinner's Verbal Behaviour which became justifiably famous.
We can appreciate the rejection of the behaviourist view by the asking of questions: if all language is learnt behaviour, how is it that young children can say things that they have never said before? How is it possible that adults all through their lives say things they have never said before? How is it possible that a new sentence in the mouth of a four-year-old is the result of conditioning?
On the contrary, it is an intricate rule-based system and a large part of language acquisition is the learning of the system. There are a finite number of grammatical rules in the system and with a knowledge of these an infinite number of sentences can be performed in the language see 2.
We looked at a simple example of what the concept of competence and performance involved in 2. Language teaching has never adopted a methodology based on Chomsky's work or strictly upon cognitivist theories in general. Chomsky's theorising was never directed at adult language learning and he has repeatedly made this clear. But the idea that language is not a set of habits - that what matters is for learners to internalise a rule and that this will allow for creative performance - has informed many teaching techniques and methodologies.
Thus students are often encouraged to use rules to create sentences of their own. We could summarise this as: show them the underlying structure and then let them have a go on their own. Creating new sentences is the objective. More recent investigations of how people become language users have centred on the distinction between acquisition and learning.
In particular Stephen Krashen8 characterised the former as a subconscious process which results in the knowledge of a language whereas the latter results only in 'knowing about' the language. Acquiring a language is more successful and longer lasting than learning. The suggestion Krashen made is that second or foreign language learning needs to be more like the child's acquisition of its native language. But how do children become competent users of their language? Although there may be some limits on the language that they hear see below , they are never consciously 'taught it', nor do they consciously set out to learn it.
Instead they hear and experience a considerable amount of the language in situations where they are involved in communicating with an adult - usually a parent. Their gradual ability to use language is the result of many subconscious processes. They have not consciously set out to learn a language; it happens as a result of the input they receive and the experiences which accompany this input. Krashen saw successful acquisition as being very bound up with the nature of the language input which the students receive.
This input should contain language that the students already 'know' as well as language that they have not previously seen: i. Krashen called the use of such language to students trough tuning and compared it to the way adults talk to children. They do not simplify their language in any precise way, however, using only certain structures; rather they get the level of their language more or less right for the child's level of understanding: there are similarities in the way people talk to 'foreigners'.
Perhaps if language students constantly receive input that is roughly-tuned - that is, slightly above their level - they will acquire those items of language that they did not previously know without making a conscious effort to do so. The suggestion made by Krashen, then, is that students can acquire language on their own provided that they get a great deal of comprehensible input that is roughly-tuned in the way we have described. This is in marked contrast to conscious learning where students receive finely-tuned input - that is language chosen to be precisely at their level.
This finely-tuned input is then made the object of conscious learning. In other words, whereas language which is acquired is part of the language store we use when we want to communicate, the only use for consciously learned language is to check that acquired language just as we are about to use it. Consciously learned language, in other words, is only available in highly restricted circumstances, as a monitor. Learning does not directly help acquisition.
There has been an agreement that rather than pure rote learning or de-contextualised practice, language has to be acquired as a result of some deeper experience11 than the concentration on a grammar point. In the s the British applied linguist Allwright12 conducted an experiment which challenged traditional notions of language teaching. He theorised that Instead students are simply asked to perform communicative activities in which they have to use the foreign language.
The more they do this the better they become at using the language. Allwright's experiment took place at the University of Essex where a number of foreign students were about to take postgraduate courses where the language used would, of course, be English. They were given activities which forced them to use English, but at no time did their teachers help them with the language or tell them anything about English grammar, etc.
They refused to correct errors, too. Thus the students played communication games see 8. The students were all at roughly intermediate level before they arrived at the University of Essex, and the results were, apparently, extremely satisfactory. In in Bangalore, Southern India, N S Prabhu originated a long-running project which used task-based learning in a very different context. Like Allwright he theorised that students were just as likely to learn structures if they were thinking of something else as they were if they were only concentrating on the structures themselves.
In other words Prabhu suggested that if the emphasis in class was on meaning, the language would be learnt incidentally. The way this was to come about was through a series of tasks which had a problem-solving element: in solving the problems the students naturally came into contact with language, but this contact happened because the students were actively involved in reaching solutions to tasks. Prabhu called the tasks which he and his colleagues prepared a procedural syllabus.
Unlike other syllabuses, for example those based on lists of structures or functions, the Bangalore Project's syllabuses comprised a list of tasks which consisted of things like finding your way on maps, interpreting timetables or answering questions about dialogues in which the students have to solve problems.
Next the teacher handed out another timetable and after asking a few more questions left the students to do the task individually. The Bangalore Project is important not just because its originator had the courage to put his theories into large-scale practice, but also because it is based on quite radical theories of language learning. Like Krashen, Prabhu believes in the importance of the development of comprehension before production Prabhu and like Allwright he sees meaning and tasks as the focus where language learning can take care of itself.
Another perspective which has gained increasing prominence in language teaching is that of the student as a 'whole person'. In other words, language teaching is not just about teaching language, it is also about helping students to develop themselves as people. These beliefs have led to a number of teaching methodologies and techniques which have stressed the humanistic aspects of learning.
In such methodologies the experience of the student is what counts and the development of their personality and the encouragement of positjve feelings are seen to be as important as their learning of a language. Other writers have used similar student- centred activities where the topic is frequently the students themselves, their lives and their relationships to practise grammar or vocabulary.
Community Language Learning, based on the educational movement of counselling learning,19 attempts to give students only the language they need. Ideally students sit in a circle outside of which is a 'knower' who will help them with the language they want to use.
When they have decided what they want to say they do it in their language and the knower translates it for them so that they can then use the target language instead. In this way students acquire the language they want to acquire. In a variation of the procedure students say what they want to into a tape-recorder, only speaking when they feel the urge.
The tape is transcribed by the teacher who can then offer personal feedback. This frequently means comfortable furniture and baroque music. In this setting students are given new names and listen to extended dialogues. The contention is that the general ease, of the situation, the adoption of a new identity and the dependence on listening to the dialogues will help the students to acquire the language.
The teacher will not criticise or praise but simply keeps indicating that the student should try again until success is achieved. Teachers can deploy Cuisenaire rods little rods of different lengths and colours which can be used to signify grammatical units, stressed and non-stressed parts of words, and even whole stories. In TPR as it is known the teacher gives students instructions.
The students don't have to speak, they simply have to carry out the teacher's commands. When they are ready for it they can give commands to other students. The students thus learn language through actions, through a physical response rather than through drills. Despite the controlling role of the teacher in many of these methodologies see Certainly Community Language Learning and Suggestopaedia concentrate heavily on the students and their state of mind, seeing in their wants and their relaxation the key to successful learning.
TPR allows a pre-speaking phase where students are not forced to speak until they feel confident to do so. The Silent Way forces students to rely heavily on their own resources even when under the teacher's direction. Focus on the student has also led to the development of learner training and self-directed learning programmes. Ideally, therefore, a language programme would be a mixture of classwork and self-study or self-directed learning. Giblin and Spalding26 describe a course where their aim was to encourage self-directed learning.
Coupled with this were exercises and advice on how to approach learning tasks such as reading, writing reports, etc. Lastly the students were encouraged to keep a diary of their experiences see 8. The main thrust of such work is to encourage students to take charge of their own learning we cannot teach students everything so we have to train them to teach themselves.
See 8. What conclusions can we draw from this discussion of various theories and techniques for foreign language learning? Is the idea of conscious learning absurd or, if there is some merit in it, should it be based solely on the students' cognitive abilities and exclude all conditioning? Is a programme based exclusively on acquisition theory necessarily the most effective way of teaching?
How much, in fact, does teaching get in the way of learning? There can be no doubt of the value of comprehensible input: the fact that students are hearing or reading language that they more or less understand must help them to acquire that language. If they are exposed to language enough they will almost certainly be able to use some or all of it themselves. It may be that one of the teacher's main functions when talking informally to the class is to provide just that kind of comprehensible input.
It also seems unexceptional to suggest that we should try to involve students' personalities through the use of humanistic exercises and a genuine exchange of ideas although it is worth pointing out that all teachers are in a sense 'humanistic' and there may be dangers in taking quasi-psychoanalytic techniques too far.
Finally, if we can get students to really concentrate on their own learning strategies and if we can persuade them to take charge of their own learning as far as possible, so much the better. Krashen, for example, suggests that comprehensible input means that language is acquired and is therefore available for use in other words the student can produce the language spontaneously whereas consciously studied language is only learnt and is therefore much more difficult to produce spontaneously.
Acquired language is somehow 'better' than learnt language because you would have to concentrate to produce the latter, thus interrupting the flow of language production. If two people are exposed to the same roughly-tuned input how will we know whether one makes conscious attempts to learn it or not? It is almost impossible, in other words, to test this hypothesis since to do so we would have to be able to see into the minds of all the people who had been exposed to the same input and recorc their thought processes!
Neither does it make sense that learnt language cannot become part of the acquired language store, as Krashen seems to suggest. It is clear that language that has been learnt does 'sink in' at some stage: maybe students will not be able to produce it immediately in spontaneous conversation, but it will eventually come out, given time.
Learnt language which is practised does seem to become part of the acquired store30 even though it may be the case that only certain grammatical features are susceptible to such treatment. Another problem about acquisition is that it takes a long time. In fact, time is a crucial issue. A key question for us must be whether we use our time well. Is our teaching 'cost-effective'?
It is almost certainly the case that the conscious learning of certain items does speed the process up, even if its main function is to raise the student's grammatical awareness. Not only that but many of our students want and expect this type of learning: we would need to be very sure we were right before we told them that it was in some way bad for them.
Time is not the only crucial issue here. We must also look at the conditions under which language learning takes place and who the students are. Allwright's students at Essex, for example, were all intermediate befon they started his course. Since they were all going on to study at postgraduate level in the UK we can safely assume that they were fairly intelligent and also highly motivated.
And on top of these facts we must remember that they were studying in Great Britain where they had regular access to English-speaking people and other resources. Other methodologies make considerable demands, too, on time, conditions and resources. For example, Suggestopaedia needs small groups and comfortable rooms, but most teachers handle large classes in uncomfortable surroundings. Transcribing the students' tape-recorded English after a Community Language Learning class is not such a good idea with a class of thirty students.
And while it may be possible to train students to take charge of their own learning over a period of weeks in a well-equipped school in the UK, with small classes fifteen students and with the students attending classes for a minimum of six hours a day, it will be more difficult in other less convenient locations and conditions. It is precisely because of the limitations that many teachers have to fact that the Bangalore Project which we mentioned in 4.
And yet three worries about this position emerge: in the first place many of Prabhu's tasks give rise to very concentrated examples of particular grammar patterns and structures as our example in 4. This often looks very much like the conscious learning the project aims to replace. Secondly, Prabhu does not encourage groupwork, citing the conditions which his teachers work in and the size of classes etc.
As Johnson writes in his article on the study: It is It certainly seems that the use of tasks and the provision of a lot of comprehensible input will help our students in a lot of ways. The former will allow students to activate their knowledge and the latter will help to provide them with a rich language store. But it is also true that especially adults will gain great benefit from clearly explained language work which they can then use to 'create' new sentences: as they find that they are getting the language right they can internalise it correctly so that it gradually becomes part of their acquired store.
And the concentration on particular items of language in various practice contexts can help that internalisation process whilst at the same time giving many students a strong feeling of security, especially at beginner and elementary levels.
At the same time we will be looking to see how we can incorporate the language learning into the performance of motivating tasks and how we can begin to train students to become good learners. And the content of our language classes can be designed in a way that does not exclude the kind of humanistic approach and techniques that we talked about in 4.
The major difference between what we are suggesting here and less recent approaches to language teaching is that we will place much more importance on roughly-tuned input and communicative tasks and activities than some other methodologies have tended to do. Conscious learning is thus seen as only one part of the methodological approach which also encourages language acquisition through a large amount of input and a significant emphasis on the use of language in communicative tasks and activities.
Whether acquisition or conscious learning is taking place there will be stages at which the student is receiving language - language is in some way being 'put into' the students though they will decide whether or not they want to receive it. But exposing students to language input is not enough: we also need to provide opportunities for them to activate this knowledge, for it is only when students are producing language that they can select from the input they have received.
This production of language, or language output, can be divided into two distinct sub-categories. In the first, practice, students are asked to use new items of language in different contexts. Activities are designed which promote the use of specific language or tasks. The aim is to give students a chance to rehearse language structures and functions so that they may focus on items that they wish to internalise more completely than before, whilst at the same time being engaged in meaningful and motivating activities.
Practice output marks some kind of a half-way stage between input and communicative output. We will look at practice in Chapter 7. Communicative output, on the other hand, refers to activities in which students use language as a vehicle for communication because their main purpose is to complete some kind of communicative task. Because the task in a communicative activity is of paramount importance the language used to perform it takes, as it were, second place.
It becomes an instrument of communication rather than being an end in itself. The teacher is a major source of roughly tuned input, and so are the reading and listening texts which we provide for our students. Finely-tuned input, on the other hand, is language which has been very precisely selected to be at exactly the students' level. For our purposes finely-tuned input can be taken to mean that language which we select for conscious learning and teaching see Chapter 6.
We will look at the introduction of new language in Chapter 6. During the presentation stage teachers tend to act as controllers, both selecting the language the students are to use and asking for the accurate reproduction of new language items. They will want to correct the mistakes they hear and see at this stage fairly rigorously - in marked contrast to the kind of correction that is generally offered in practice and communicative activities. J Figure 6 Input and output The dotted lines show how output - and the learner's and teacher's reaction to it - may feed back into input.
Even during a communicative activity a student's output and the degree of success that output achieves may provide valuable information about that language which is then internalised. Teacher correction during a practice activity may give the student more input information about the language in question. Our methodological approach in 4. We can now sum up a methodological approach to the learning of languages which takes account of categories of input and output.
Because of the focus on communicative activities and the concentration on language as a means of communication such an approach has been called the communicative approach. At various stages writers have also included the teaching of language functions see 3.
The importance of stages where there is an emphasis on problem-solving tasks and the students' own personalities and responsibility for their own learning has to go together with more formal language work-, and that is where the status of a 'communicative' approach is called into question. An approach that includes controlled language work which is not at all communicative see 5.
And after all, most language teaching is designed to teach students to communicate, however the learning is organised. Rather than worry about these apparent contradictions, it is perhaps better to see the methodology in terms of the activities which we involve students in and to assemble a balanced programme of such activities.
A balanced activities approach sees the job of the teacher as that of ensuring that students get a variety of activities which foster acquisition and which foster learning. The programme will be planned on the basis of achieving a balance between the different categories of input and output where roughly-tuned input and communicative activities will tend to predominate over but not by any means exclude controlled language presentation and practice output.
It is on this basis that we will effect part of our balance. A balanced activities approach has a more human aspect, however, which is bound up with the concerns of intrinsic motivation see 1. By presenting students with a variety of activities we can ensure their continuing interest and involvement in the language programme.
A programme that presents a variety of activities, on the other hand, is far more likely to continually engage the students' interest. The concern with a balanced activities approach will be reflected when we discuss planning in Chapter A final, but important, component of the balanced activities approach is the teacher's willingness to be both adaptable and flexible. Adaptability refers to the teacher's ability to adapt the programme and the balance on the basis of the different groups that are being taught.
We talked at length in 1. Flexibility, on the other hand, refers to the behaviour of teachers in class and their ability to be sensitive to the changing needs of the group as the lesson progresses. In simple terms it means that decisions taken before the lesson about what is going to happen are not in some way sacred. Good teachers must be prepared to adapt and alter their plans if this proves necessary.
In this chapter we have studied some theories of language learning and some approaches to language teaching in order to come to conclusions about a methodological approach to the subject. We have not been exhaustive by any means, but we have discussed those issues which have most closely influenced the methodology in Parts B and C of this book. We studied more recent methodological implications of approaches that stress the need for acquisition rather than conscious learning and communicative activities in the classroom.
We discussed approaches that depended on task-based learning and humanistic techniques. We' looked at the students' ability to take charge of their own learning. The suggestion was that the involvement of the students through task-based activities and the acquisition of language through comprehensible input would be more effective than the conscious learning of language items.
We concluded that while students need a lot of input which is roughly-tuned, and while there must be an emphasis on communicative activities which improve the students' ability to communicate, there is also a place for controlled presentation of finely-tuned input and semi-controlled language practice. Finally we advocated a balanced activities approach which sees the methodology as being a balance between the components of input and output.
Both for pedagogical reasons and for our students' continuing interest in the language programme this balance is the essential ingredient of the methodology. Discussion 1 If you were learning a foreign language would you expect the teacher to involve you in conscious learning? If so, why? Do you roughly-tune your input when you are speaking to any other type of person?
How much communicative output was there in the classroom? Exercises 1 Make a list of activities which you think could be used for communication output in the classroom. Decide if the input is roughly- or finely-tuned, and say whether the output activities are for practice or communication. What language would such a task be most likely to provoke?
References 1 I am especially grateful to Richard Rossner for his comments on an earlier draft of this re-written chapter. I am grateful to Arthur Hughes for drawing this research to my attention. R Ellis Chapter 10 sets Krashen's work in the general context of other second language acquisition studies. HE Stevick offers a version of the concept of deep experience. For a detailed account of the reasoning behind the work and the project itself see N S Prabhu See, for example, D Atkinson E Stevick Part 3 is also very useful.
A usefully short account is R Ellis In other articles see, for example, S Krashen he prefers to refer to comprehensible input i. One the factors necessary for successful comprehensible input is that students should feel free from anxiety and this is of primary importance in the natural approach see S Krashen and T Terell The natural approach places heavy emphasis on a pre-speaking phase where students receive roughly-tuned input and react to it, but are not forced into immediate production see also reference 25 for TPR.
The communicative approach is not without controversy, however. The most notable clash was between M Swan and H Widdowson The three articles are reprinted in R Rossner and R Bolitho We will emphasise the importance of integrating skills and we will also discuss the differences and similarities in learning to speak and write.
The main aim of this chapter is to preface Chapters which deal with specific techniques for the major stages of learning the productive skills. But there are certain generalisations that we can make about the majority of communicative events and these will have particular relevance for the learning and teaching of languages. When two people are engaged in talking to each other we can be fairly sure that they are doing so for good reasons. What are these reasons? Speaking may, of course, be forced upon them, but we can still say that they feel the need to speak, otherwise they would keep silent.
Speakers say things because they want something to happen as a result of what they say. They may decide to be rude or to flatter, to agree or complain. In each of these cases they are interested in achieving this communicative purpose - what is important is the message they wish to convey and the effect they want it to have. Speakers have an infinite capacity to create new sentences especially if they are native speakers - see 2.
In order to achieve this communicative purpose they will select from the 'store' of language they possess the language they think is appropriate for this purpose. These three generalisations apply equally to someone having a private conversation and to the politician giving a speech to thousands. They apply to the schoolteacher and the radio announcer, the judge and the shop assistant. It is important, too, to realise that these generalisations do not only apply to the spoken word: they characterise written communication as well, and although a difference may be that the writer is not in immediate contact with the reader whereas in a conversation two or more people are together , the same also applies to the example of the radio announcer, and, to some extent, the academic giving a lecture in a packed hall although there is of course much greater contact here.
Assuming an effective piece of communication, we can also make some generalisations about a listener or reader of language. By effective communication we mean that there is a desire for the communication to be effective both from the point of view of the speaker and the listener.
Once again 'want' is used in a general way. But in order for someone to understand what they are listening to or reading they must have some desire to do so. In general people listen to language because they want to find out what the speaker is trying to say - in other words what ideas they are conveying, and what effect they wish the communication to have.
Although the listener may have a good idea of what the speaker is going to say next, in general terms, he or she has to be prepared to process a great variety of grammar and vocabulary to understand exactly what is being said. Once again these comments apply generally to all listeners, and are equally true of readers.
This is the case even where a novelist writes a manuscript, for here the writer assumes that there will be a reader one day and that that reader will be performing a communicative act when reading the book. In conversation and, for example, the exchange of letters, the speaker or writer quickly becomes a listener or reader as the communication progresses.
We will discuss this further in 5. We have said that speakers normally have a communicative purpose and that listeners are interested in discovering what that purpose is. However, even if listeners have some idea about the purpose, they must listen in order to be sure. They cannot be sure, in other words, what it is before they hear what the speaker says. We can illustrate this with a simple example.
Consider the following example in which a man A speaks to a woman B at a bus stop: A: Excuse me. B: Yes? A: Do you have a watch? B: Yes A: I wonder if you could tell me what the time is? B: Certainly A: Thank you. B: Don't mention it. The man who starts the conversation may have many reasons for speaking: he may want to get into conversation with the woman because he thinks she looks interesting, and the question about the time may simply be a pretext for this.
On the other hand he may genuinely want to know the time. In both cases there exists an information gap between what A and B know. In other words there is a gap between the two in the information they possess, and the conversation helps to close that gap so that now both speakers have the same information. But even if this were not the real purpose of the conversation there is still a gap between the speakers where B does not know what A's purpose is before he speaks.
In the classroom we will want to create the same kind of information gap if we are to encourage real communication. Many of the activities in Chapters 7 and 8 will be designed so that there is an information gap between the participants, thus ensuring lifelike communication to some extent. Having discussed the nature of communication we can now suggest characteristics that are necessary for input and output stages.
Where students are working on an output stage with an emphasis on communication we can use our generalisations about the nature of communication to come to a number of conclusions. Whatever activity the students are involved in, if it is to be genuinely communicative and if it is really promoting language use, the students should have a desire to communicate see points 1 and 4 in 5. If they do not want to be involved in communication then that communication will probably not be effective.
The students should have some kind of communicative purpose see points 2 and 5 in 5. If students do have a purpose of this kind then their attention should be centred on the content of what is being said or written and not the language form that is being used. The students, however, will have to deal with a variety of language either receptively or productively rather than just one grammatical construction, for example.
While the students are engaged in the communicative activity the teacher should not intervene. By 'intervene' we mean telling students that they are making mistakes, insisting on accuracy and asking for repetition, etc. This would undermine the communicative purpose of the activity. The teacher may of course be involved in the activity as a participant, and will also be watching and listening very carefully in order to be able to conduct feedback. To these five characteristics of genuinely communicative activities we can add a sixth; no materials control see Figure 8 on page Often students work with materials which force the use of certain language, or at least restrict the students' choice of what to say and how to say it we will see examples of this in Chapter 7.
But by restricting the students' options the materials are denying the language variety characteristic which we have said is important for genuine communication. The six characteristics for communicative activities can be seen as forming one end of a continuum of classroom activity in language teaching, and they can be matched by opposite points at the other end of the continuum.
Thus for non-communicative activities there will be no desire to communicate on the part of the students and they will have no communicative purpose. In other words, where students are involved in a drill or in repetition, they will be motivated not by a desire to reach a communicative objective, but by the need to reach the objective of accuracy.
The emphasis is on the form of the language, not its content. Often only one language item will be the focus of attention and the teacher will often intervene to correct mistakes, nominate students, and generally ensure accuracy. A lot of language presentation techniques see Chapter 6 have these characteristics.
As we shall see in 5. Based on the continuum in 5. The introduction of new language is frequently an activity that falls at the 'non-communicative' end of our continuum. Often, here, the teacher will work with controlled techniques, asking students to repeat and perform in drills though the use of 'discovery techniques' - see 6.
At the same time we will insist on accuracy, correcting where students make mistakes. Although these introduction stages often called presentation should be kept short, and the drilling abandoned as soon as possible, they are nevertheless important in helping the students to assimilate facts about new language and in enabling them to produce the new language for the first time.
We will concentrate on the introduction of new language in Chapter 6. Practice activities are those which fall somewhere between the two extremes of our continuum. While students performing them may have a communicative purpose, and while they may be working in pairs, there may also be a lack of language variety, and the materials may determine what the students do or say.
During practice stages the teacher may intervene slightly to help guide and to point out inaccuracy see the concept of gentle correction in 6. Communicative activities are those which exhibit the characteristics at the communicative end of our continuum. Such activities are vital in a language classroom since here the students can do their best to use the language as individuals, arriving at a degree of language autonomy. We will look at activities of this kind in Chapter 8. A point can be made here about the use of the students' own language rather than English during practice and communicative activities.
Particularly where students working in pairs and groups share the same native language there is a tendency for them to revert to that language when they find a task hard. To some extent it will be their responsibility to make sure this does not happen, and the teacher will have to explain the importance of the activities and the use of English to the students see There is a clear relationship between the introduction and practice stages whereas the relationship between communicative activities and the introduction and practice stages is not so clear.
If teachers introduce new language they will often want to practise it in a controlled way. After an introduction stage, therefore, they may use one of the practice techniques we will look at in Chapter 7 to give the students a chance to use the new language in a controlled environment. By the nature of communicative activities, they are not tied to the other stages since they are designed to elicit all and any language from the students. Two points can be made, though.
Firstly, teachers listening to a communicative activity may notice that a majority of students find it difficult to use the same language. By noting this fact the teacher is in a position to design a subsequent class in which the language the students could not use is focused on. Sometimes, of course, the teacher may have been working on a certain area of language which will be useful for a future communicative activity. Thus if students have been looking at ways of inviting, for example, they will then be able to use that knowledge in a communicative activity that asks them to write each other letters of invitation.
It will of course be the case that while not all presentation activities fall exclusively at the 'non-communicative' end of the continuum, neither will all the activities in Chapter 8 have exactly the characteristics of communicative activities, although in general they will be followed. It is probably true that at the very early stages of language learning there is more introduction of new language and practice than there are communicative activities.
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