Community Language Learning (CLL) JUAN MONTERO MAY, 2012
Community Language Learning Arose in the flurry of methodological experimentation in the 1970’s, forms part of the Humanistic Approach to language learning. Emphasisesd the learners’ responsibility for their own learning. The founder figure was Charles Curran, an American Jesuit priest. Primarily designed for monolingual Conversation classes where the teacher-counsellor would be able to speak the learners' L1.
Stage 1- Reflection Students sit in a circle around a tape recorder to create a community atmosphere. The students think in silence about what they'd like to talk about, while I remain outside the circle. To avoid a lack of ideas students can brainstorm their ideas on the board before recording.
Stage 2 - Recorded conversation Once they have chosen a subject the students say in their L1 what they'd like to talk about and the teacher discreetly come up behind them and translate the language chunks into L2. With higher levels if the students feel comfortable enough they can say some of it directly in English and I give the full English sentence. When they feel ready to speak the students take the microphone and record their sentence. It's best if you can use a microphone as the sound quality is better and it's easier to pick up and put down. Here they're working on pace and fluency. They immediately stop recording and then wait until another student wants to respond. This continues until a whole conversation has been recorded.
Stage 3 - Discussion Next the students discuss how they think the conversation went. They can discuss how they felt about talking to a microphone and whether they felt more comfortable speaking aloud than they might do normally. This part is not recorded.
Stage 4 - Transcription Next they listen to the tape and transcribe their conversation. The teacher only intervene when they ask for help. The first few times you try this with a class they might try and rely on you a lot but aim to distance yourself from the whole process in terms of leading and push them to do it themselves.
Stage 5 - Language analysis Get students to analyze the language the same lesson or sometimes in the next lesson. This involves looking at the form of tenses and vocabulary used and why certain ones were chosen, but it will depend on the language produced by the students. In this way they are totally involved in the analysis process. The language is completely personalized and with higher levels they can themselves decide what parts of their conversation they would like to analyze, whether it be tenses, lexis or discourse. With lower levels you can guide the analysis by choosing the most common problems you noted in the recording stages or by using the final transcription.
Pros Learners appreciate the autonomy CLL offers them and thrive on analyzing their own conversations. CLL works especially well with lower levels who are struggling to produce spoken English. The class often becomes a real community, not just when using CLL but all of the time. Students become much more aware of their peers, their strengths and weaknesses and want to work as a team.
Cons In the beginning some learners find it difficult to speak on tape while others might find that the conversation lacks spontaneity. We as teachers can find it strange to give our students so much freedom and tend to intervene too much. In your efforts to let your students become independent learners you can neglect their need for guidance.
Theoretical Background (1) 1. Challenge of Audio-Lingual Method: Students are unable to transfer habits formed in the classroom to communicate outside of it. 2. Noam Chomsky: Language must not be considered a product of habit formation, but rule formation. Language acquisition must be a procedure of people using their own thinking process, or cognition, to discover the rules of the language they are acquiring.
Theoretical Background (2) Cognitive Approach 認知教學法 Rather than responding to stimuli, students are: Responsible for their learning. Engaged in formulating hypotheses to discover the rules of target language (grammar).
Basic Premises for SW The teacher should be silent as much as possible and the learners should be encouraged to produce language as much as possible. The learners work with resources and nothing else, as they are solely responsible for what they learn. “Teaching should be subordinated to learning.” Silence makes students to concentrate on what is to be learned.
Learning Hypotheses Learning is facilitated if the learner discovers or creates rather than remembers and repeats what is to be learned. Learning is facilitated by accompanying (mediating) physical objects. Learning is facilitated by problem solving involving the material to be learned.
A successful learning involves commitment of the self to language acquisition through the use of silent awareness and then active trial. Silent Way learners acquire “inner criteria”. The Silent Way student is expected to become independent, autonomous and responsible. Learning Hypotheses
Teaching Gattegno: “The teacher works with the students; the students work on the language.” In a period of class, teacher should not talk more than 10%. Have Students talk. Students should use language for self-expression. Students develop their inner criteria for correctness.
Teaching Only the learners can do the learning. Students is to make use of what they know. Learning is Ss’ personal responsibility. Teacher should respect the autonomy of the learners in language. Teaching involves only one structure at a time.
Teaching With minimal spoken cues, Students are guided to produce the structure. Students practice without repetition/drills. Students gain autonomy in the language by exploring it. The teacher sets up situation to ‘force awareness’ through the use of nonverbal gestures and the tools which are available.
Pros Learning through problem solving looks attractive especially because it fosters: Creativity, Discovery, Increase in intelligent potency and long term memory. The indirect role of the teacher highlights the importance and the centrality of the learner who is responsible in figuring out and testing the hypotheses about how language works. In other words teaching is subordinated to learning
Cons The Silent Way is often criticised of being a harsh method. The learner works in isolation and communication is lacking badly in a Silent Way classroom. With minmum help on the part of the teacher, the Silent Way method may put the learning itself at stake. The material ( the rods and the charts) used in this method will certainly fail to introduce all aspects of language. Other materials will have to be introduced
References Richards, J. C. and T. S. Rodgers. 2001. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.