2 Language-teaching Method A coherent set of teaching procedures and behaviours based on a theory of what language is and how it is learnta non-pc term: nowadays people prefer to use the broader term ‘approach’ or vaguer ‘model’. I have chosen to use ‘methodology’, as defined here.
4 Grammar-translation method Procedures: Grammatical rules and exercises Vocabulary lists Reading passages, studied and translated Very little speaking Lessons normally conducted in L1 Grammatical syllabus Emphasis on accuracy Underlying approach: Language is grammar and vocabulary; learning it implies learning and memorizing information about these aspects.
5 Direct MethodProcedures Only English used A lot of teacher-student dialogues Later, systematic teaching of grammar and vocabulary Mainly speaking Both communication and accuracy stressed A grammatical syllabus. Underlying rationale English is a system of communication, best learnt through English-only interaction. It is important to learn to speak it correctly.
6 Audio-lingual methodProcedures: Mimicry, memorization, repetition Mainly speaking No grammar explanations Very little vocabulary teaching A grammatical syllabus Emphasis on accuracy Underlying rationale: Language is speech, not writing Language is a set of habits Teach the language, not about the language
7 Task-based language teaching (TBLT) Procedures Mainly communicative tasks No pre-set grammatical or lexical syllabus Communicative fluency rather than accuracy Student-centred, teacher as facilitator Occasional reactive ‘focus on form’ Underlying rationale Language is primarily a system of communication. A second language is learnt similarly to a first: through using it to interact with others.
8 To summarize Grammar- translation Direct Audio- lingual TBLT Emphasis on accuracyEmphasis on fluencyGrammatical syllabusCommunicative activitiesUse of L1Oral skillsWritten skills?()
9 But in fact… Baby and bathwater syndrome These represent theoretical models: rarely if ever in fact taught in their ‘pure’ formsBut useful in providing a picture of different trends and orientations in the history of ELTVery often developed as ‘reactions against’ Baby and bathwater syndrome
10 A post-method era?1. Opposition in principle to the concept of ‘method’ as a basis for English teaching:Pennycook: The concept of method, interested knowledge, and the politics of language teaching (1989)Prabhu: There is no best method (I990)Kumaravadivelu: The post-method condition (1994); Towards a postmethod pedagogy (2001); Understanding Language Teaching: from Method to Postmethod (2006).Pishghadam & Mirzaee: English language teaching in postmodern era (2008)
11 A post-method era? (cont.) 2. Some evidence that method is not the critical variable in successful teachingClarke et al: Creating coherence: High achieving classrooms for minority students (1996)
12 And yet… Methods are alive and kicking! Bell: Method and post-method: Are they really so incompatible? (2003)Task-based learning – clearly a ‘method’ – continues to be promoted.Why?
13 Some possible reasons: Assumption that teachers need to be told how to teachPolitical / power issues: maintaining the dominance of universities and ministriesAssumption that practice must grow out of theoryCurrent ideology and political correctnessA clear basis for teacher-training programsacceptability of the task-based model: empowerment of the learner, pluralism, postmodernist rejection of pre-set standards and syllabuses?
15 Dominant method: TBLT ‘An emerging orthodoxy’ (Carless, 2009: 66) Promoted in teacher-preparation courses, conferences, the literatureEllis: Task-based Language Learning and Teaching (2003)Leaver & Willis: Task-Based Instruction In Foreign Language Education: Practices and Programs (2004)Nunan: Task-based Language Teaching (2004)Robinson: Task-based language learning: A review of issues (2011)Skehan: Task-based instruction (2003)40,000 hits
16 Some characteristics: EncouragedCommunicative tasksGroup and pair workExtensive readingReactive focus on formStudent autonomyDiscouraged:Grammatical syllabusGrammar and vocabulary exercisesUse of L1Learning by heartTeacher-dominated classroom process
17 DiscussionHow far does this overview of task-based instruction correspond with: a) The general direction of methodology courses in teacher training programs in this country? b) Actual practice, as demonstrated by teachers observed in classrooms in this country?
18 Objections to task-based instruction It doesn’t work so well in the Asian context (Carless, 2007; Littlewood, 2007).Interactive communicative tasks produce minimal language (Seedhouse, 1999)Opposition on practical and theoretical grounds (Swan, 2005)Most teachers, if asked, say they teach an ‘eclectic’ method (Bell, 2007)My own experience
19 Response of the theorists: a ‘weak’ task-based teaching model Ellis (2009): ‘…it is argued that task-based teaching need not be seen as an alternative to more traditional, form-focused approaches but can be used alongside them’ (p.221) But then task-based procedures become only one component Is it still a ‘task-based approach’? If not, what is it?
20 So what’s going on?1. Recent writing on methodology, conferences: a strong task-based approach? A compromise? 2. Teacher courses, national syllabuses – largely TBLT-oriented 3. Teachers in the field – largely ‘eclectic’ (tending towards the traditional) 4. Coursebook writers and publishers – tending towards TBLT, but with ‘traditional’ componentstraditional: explanation + practice
22 What is the alternative? A language pedagogy that is principled and localized, determined by the teacher(s), informed by reflection on experience and other professional knowledge sources(What is in fact happening in most places: but I suggest rationalizing and legitimizing it)
23 A language pedagogy that is principled and localized, determined by the teacher(s), informed by reflection on experience and other professional knowledge sourcesA pedagogy, not a method because: 1. An unlimited number of possible classroom procedures 2. Not limited to one ‘correct’ view of what language is and how language is learnt. 3. Takes into account pedagogical aspects that ‘methods’ tend to ignore: student motivation, classroom management, large and/or heterogeneous classes, classroom climate, lesson planning, homework
24 A language pedagogy that is principled and localized, determined by the teacher(s), informed by reflection on experience and other professional knowledge sourcesThe main principle is the optimalization of learning: the teacher will choose those procedures that in his/her view lead to the best learning by students. Other principles: educational values; the creation of a positive classroom climate and student motivation; the maintenance of caring relationships …But not because it’s ‘correct’. Swan’s article ‘legislation by hypothesis’
25 A language pedagogy that is principled and localized, determined by the teacher(s), informed by reflection on experience and other professional knowledge sourcesMany decisions on principles and procedures will be based on local considerations:the local student population;the teacher’s own personality and preferences;the goals of the course;the local culture;upcoming exams …
26 A language pedagogy that is principled and localized, determined by the teacher(s), informed by reflection on experience and other professional knowledge sourcesThe teacher, or group of teachers in a school, decide on their pedagogy and choose material The teacher’s sense of plausibility (Prabhu, 1990)Not the State or the academics
27 A language pedagogy that is principled and localized, determined by the teacher(s), informed by reflection on experience and other professional knowledge sourcesThe primary source of the teacher’s ‘sense of plausibility’ is reflection on experience.Other professional knowledge sources include:Sharing with colleaguesFeedback from studentsThe professional literature (research, theory, teachers’ websites and blogs, books on language pedagogy, practical handbooks)Courses, conferencesi.e. don’t tell me how to teach: I want to look at the research, read, attend conferences, talk to colleagues and students and decide for myself.
28 Anything goes?Potentially any teaching procedure may be part of an individual teacher’s pedagogy… …Provided he/she can justify it, based on the principles and considerations listed previously.
29 The functions of the teacher trainer Not to tell the teacher to use a specific method, But to provide: 1. Evidence-based information about how learning and teaching languages 2. A range of practical teaching ideas 3. Opportunities to reflect and discuss 4. Personal recommendations
31 My own teaching includes Communicative discussion tasksGrammar exercisesUse of L1 to teach new vocabularyGame-like activities
32 Communicative discussion tasks How many (non-obvious) things can you find in common with your partner, that you didn’t know before? Design a profile of the kind of teacher you would like to teach your child English. Divide the characteristics into necessary, desirable, unnecessary.
33 Because…They help students learn to be fluent speakers Give them opportunities to practise language they know Are interesting and fun Help to strengthen group relationships
34 Grammar exercises Practise the modals: insert the appropriate forms. I’m sorry, but I must leave early (have to).When I was young, I played with dolls (used to).We should try to stay calm (ought to).Teachers must prepare lessons. (have to).Teenagers should be in bed by 11 o’clock (be supposed to).After he left, we could speak more easily (be able to).
35 Grammar exercises Practise the modals: insert the appropriate forms. I’m sorry, but I must … (have to).When I was young, I … (used to).We should … (ought to).Teachers must … (have to).Teenagers should … (be supposed to).After he left, we could … (be able to).
36 Because…They improve grammatical accuracy Give students opportunities to use the grammar in different mini-contexts (the more meaningful and interesting the better)
37 L1 for presenting new items to a class onlythinkveryyoungbiga mangoa thingan applea computer
38 Because…The easiest, quickest and often most accurate as a ‘way in’ to vocabulary meanings.Reflects students’ intuitive strategiesSaves time for use of the item in English contextsAcknowledges and respects the students’ L1Research support for use of L1 in vocabulary teaching (Laufer, 2008)
39 Game-like procedures Procedures that are games, but lead to learning Guessing games (question forms)Brainstorms with a time-limit (oral fluency)How many things can you think of to say about this picture in one minute?
40 First time: say some sentences with ‘there is’ or ‘there are’ Second picture: get up to 10 sentencesBack to this picture – you have one minute to say as many as you can.
42 Because …Game-like activities are fun and motivating Increase attention and participation Contribute to a positive classroom climate Prevent discipline problems Encourage playful use of language (Bell, 2012)
43 To summarizeWe can – and should – learn from the various methods, from professional and research literature, from colleagues and students, from conferences… But the bottom line: It is the teacher’s own decision how to teach, based primarily on the answer to the question: What will get my students to learn English well?and not: what methodology am I expected to use?
44 P.S. Isn’t this what is happening anyway? To some extent. But an underlying uneasiness due to: Dissonance between the ‘official’ method and the reality of the classroom.sometimes swept under the carpet. feelings of guilt, discomfort, even conflicts: e.g. an trainer ‘failing’ a candidate because she used L1
45 This dissonance should be faced and resolved by releasing teachers from the pressure to use TBLT;increasing their awareness of the research and current issues through pre- and in-service teacher development courses;and sanctioning their right to teach the way they believe is best for their students’ learning.