Countdown to English. Publishing History This is a chart to show the when this publisher published books. Along the X axis is time, and on the y axis is the count of editions published. 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?
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