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PRACTICAL TECHNIQUES FOR LANGUAGE TEACHING PDF

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Lewis Michael, Hill Jimmie. Practical Techniques: For Language Teaching. Файл формата pdf; размером 5,10 МБ. Добавлен пользователем anonymous. Foreword v Features • Critical areas o f language teaching are com prehensively addressed with a specific focus on practical techniques, strategies, and tips. of ESL/ELT. Download Practical Techniques: For Language Teaching (Langu.. .pdf · Read Online Practical Techniques: For Language Teaching (Lan pdf.


Practical Techniques For Language Teaching Pdf

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Practical Techniques for Language Teaching[1] - Free download as PDF File . pdf), Text File .txt) or read online for free. Practical techniques for language teaching. 1. Introduction to the Revised Edition This book is not theoretical. It is a collection of practical ideas. Request PDF on ResearchGate | Practical Techniques for Language Teaching / M. Lewis, J. Hill. | Fondo Centro de Lenguas - Impresos.

Introduction to the Revised Edition This book is not theoretical. The book is not based on a method or an approach. We do not believe that there is one way of teaching well. All the suggestions are based on our experience of teachers teaching. Ideas are included because we have seen that they work for a wide range of teachers in many different situations. Teaching situations are different. You may, for example, have to prepare students for a particular examination so that some time must be spent on examination techniques.

Extract 3 T: At school? Yes, yes. At a party? Never been to a party? Oh, you poor thing, laughter, At the movies? No, no. Why not? Inaudible comments and laughter. What about at a shopping center? Sports event? Not at sports event. What sports event? Baseball game. You mean watching? Watching, yeah. Or playing tennis. There is some confused discussion among the students. OK, difference of opinion there. What about at a concert?

Laughter T: Laughter, T: No as well. New people. What other, what other places can you meet? Part-time job. Excited murmuring T: Good one. Any more? Scattered Laughter S; Travel, travel, traveling. Some people meet new people at beach or, er, swimming pool. Laughter and teasing of student making this remark. Is this where you meet new people? Laughter S: Any others? What kind? Oh, like, er, environmental group or Pair work. In your country, where can you meet new people?

Your idea: A comprehensive text on language teaching m ethodology would be hundreds o f pages in length. I hope, however, that it provides a platform you can build on when you read the rest o f the chapters in this volume. Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language.

Third Edition. Boston, MA: This ed ited volum e is one of the standard w orks in the field. It covers all aspects of language tea chin g m ethodology, and m any cha pters w ould be excellent follow -up reading to the cha pters in this volum e. Nunan, D. Second Language Teaching and Learning. Richards J. Renandya eds.

Methodology in Language Teaching. Cambridge University Press. An ed ited collectio n of reprints on all a sp e cts of m ethodology, this volum e provides an overview of current ap pro ache s, issues, and pra ctice s in tea chin g English to speakers of other languages.

References Brown, H. Towards better diagnosis, treatment, and assessment. In Richards, J. Krashen, S. Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. Terrell The Natural Approach. M oulton, W. N unan, D. The Learner-Centered Curriculum. Richards, J. Platt, and H. W eber The Longman Dictionary of Applied Linguistics. Stevick, E. Memory, Meaning and Method Second Edition. Swaffar, J.

Arens, and M. M organ Teacher Classroom Practices: Redefining method as task hierarchy. Modern LanguageJournal, Goals explain top-down and bottom-up processing. What is listening? Every day we listen to many different things in many different ways. W hether it is conversation with a colleague, the T V news, or a new music C D , we listen.

In this chapter, we will explore how listening works and ways to help learners becom e m ore effective listeners. Listening is an active, purposeful process o f making sense o f what we hear. Language skills are often categorized as receptive or productive. Speaking and writing are the productive skills. That is, it requires a person to receive and understand incoming information input. For this reason, people sometimes think o f it as a passive skill. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Listening is very active. As people listen, they process not only what they hear but also connect it to other information they already know. Listening is meaning based.

W hen we listen, we are normally doing so for a purpose. Listening is often com pared to reading, the other receptive skill. W hile the two do share som e similarities, two major differences should be noted from the start.

Firstly, listening usually happens in real time. That is, people listen and have to com prehend what they hear immediately. There is no time to go back and review, look up unknown words, etc. To understand how listening works and how to teach it more effectively, start by thinking about your own listening. What have you listened to today?

Write at least eight things. Try to think of different types of things you have listened to. Background to the teaching of listening Historically, learning a foreign language meant learning to read and write. Listening was virtually ignored. I walk. I draw near to the door. I draw near. I draw nearer to the door. I draw nearer. I get to the door.

I get to. I stop at the door. I stop. Still later, the direct method, often associated with Charles Berlitz, prom oted the teaching o f listening com prehension and the idea that new teaching points should be introduced orally. In the years follow ing W orld War II, the audiolingual m ethod came to dominate foreign language teaching. As in the direct method, these were presented orally, before the learner saw the written form.

Listening was seen as a major source o f comprehensible input. Language learning textbooks began including listening activities that were not simply presentation o f language to be produced. They were listening activities for input, the beginning o f the kinds o f listening tasks com m on in books today. Think of your experience studying languages. Which of the ideas do you believe in?

Principles for teaching listening 1. Expose students to different ways of processing information: To understand h ow people make sense o f the stream o f sound we all hear, it is helpful to think about how we process the input.

The distinction is based on the way learners attempt to understand what they read or hear. Top-down processing is the opposite. Imagine a brick wall. If you are standing at the bottom studying the wall brick by brick, you can easily see the details.

It is difficult, however, to get an overall view o f the wall. However, because o f distance, you will miss some details. And, o f course, the view is very different.

It is not surprising, therefore, that these learners try to process English from the bottom up. It can be difficult to experience what beginning-level learners go through.

However, a reading task can be used to understand the nature o f bottom-up processing. Try reading the follow ing from right to left. However, word. W hen you process English slowly, one w ord at a time, as you are doing now, it is easy to catch the meaning o f each individual word. Brown gives this example from a personal experience o f buying postcards at an Austrian museum: I speak no German, but walked up to the counter after having calculated that the postcards would cost sixteen schillings.

I gave the clerk a twenty-schilling note, she opened the till, looked in it, and said something in German. As a reflex, I dug in my pocket and produced a one-schilling coin and gave it to her. I just needed my life experience. Schema are abstract notions we possess based on experiences.

We need to help learners integrate the two. The following is m y own real life example o f how top-down and bottom-up processing can integrate: Visiting R om e, I was in the courtyard in front o f St. I looked at her with a puzzled expression. She asked a question again, this time simplifying it to one word: W hat happened in this short interaction was a combination o f bottom-up and top-down processing.

We were standing in front o f buildings. She was asking a question about a place.

Practical Techniques for Language Teaching

M y top-down knowledge o f what people might talk about—especially to strangers-said that she must be asking for directions. In the classroom, prelistening activities are a g ood way to make sure it happens. Before listening, learners can, for example, brainstorm vocabulary related to a topic or invent a short dialogue relevant to functions such as giving directions or shopping.

In the process, they base their information on their knowledge o f life top-down information as they generate vocabulary and sentences bottom- up data. The result is a more integrated attempt at processing. The learners are activating their previous knowledge. This use o f the combination o f top-down and bottom-up data is also called interactive processing Peterson, This is unbalanced.

We need prelistening activities to do two things: Give them enough to do that, and then let them listen. If they lock into an interpretation too early, they may miss information that contradicts it. W hat saved the estate from burning down? Although the wind was the key to what saved the estate, many learners relied on their top-dow n schema Firefighters put out fires. They incorrectly identified the firefighters as the answer. Reflection Go back to the list you wrote on page Choose one example of something you listened to.

What types of background information both top-down and bottom-up data helped you make sense of the information? Would a person just learning your language have been able to understand the things you heard?

If you had been using a recording of those listening items in a language class, what kind of prelistening task could your students have done to activate their top-down and bottom-up schema? Think about the examples of buying postcards in Austria and giving directions in Italy. Have you had a similar experience, either in a foreign language or in an unfamiliar situation in your own country?

Expose students to different types of listening. Listeners need to consider their purpose. They also need to experience listening for different reasons. A ny discussion o f listening tasks has to include a consideration o f types o f listening. We will consider tasks as well as texts. W hen discussing listening, text refers to whatever the students are listening to, often a recording. For the purpose o f this discussion, consider the follow ing text: Example 1 A: We could go for a walk.

Maybe play tennis. Look out the window. Oh, no. Even near beginners would probably understand the meaning. W hat they understand, however, depends on what they need to know and do.

This is global or gist listening. In the classroom, this often involves tasks such as identifying main ideas, noting a sequence o f events and the like. We m ove between the two. For example, many students have been subjected to long, less than exciting lectures.

They listen globally to follow what the speaker is talking about. Another critical type o f listening is inference. Learners can infer the information. Inference is different from gist and specific information listening in that it often occurs at the same time as some other types o f listening. However, it is a mistake to put off working on inference until learners are at an intermediate level or above. Indeed, it is often at the beginning level when students lack much vocabulary, grammar, and functional routines that students tend to infer the most.

Teach a variety of tasks. If learners need experience with different types o f listening texts, they also need to work with a variety o f tasks. If, for example, a beginning level learner hears a story and is asked to write a summary in English, it could well be that the learner understood the story but is not yet at the level to be able to write the summary.

Alternatively, the learner could number pictures or events in the order they occurred or identify pictures that match the text. This can lead to an overload. M y brain is full. If the task itself makes the listening even m ore com plex, the learners are simply unable to understand, remember, and do what they need to do. See Lynch, As mentioned before, half o f the time people are speaking is spent listening. At times, students need experience with production tasks. Our students need exposure to a wide range o f tasks in order for them to deal with different types o f texts and respond in different ways.

If listening work in class follows too narrow a pattern, it is easy for the learners—and the teacher-to lose interest.

Reflection Go back to the things you listed on page What types of listening were you doing? What was your task for each item? What did you need to do? How did you need to respond? Consider text, difficulty, and authenticity. In addition to the task, the text itself determines how easy or difficult something is to understand. Spoken language is very different from written language. Incom plete sentences, pauses, and overlaps are com m on. Learners need exposure to and practice with natural sounding language.

W hen learners talk about text difficulty, the first thing many mention is speed. Indeed, that can be a problem. But the solution is usually not to give them unnaturally slow, clear recordings. A m ore useful technique is to simply put pauses between phrases or sentences. As Rost , p. A n y discussion o f listening text probably needs to deal with the issue o f authentic texts.

Virtually no one would disagree that texts students work with should be realistic. H ow ever, some suggest that everything that students work with should be authentic. Day and Bamford , p. M ost o f the recordings that accom pany textbooks are made in recording studios.

A nd recordings not made in the studio are often not o f a usable quality. You could ask what is authentic and natural anyway? We have already touched on the issue o f speed. W hat is natural speed? Some people speak quickly, some m ore slowly. The average for native speakers o f English seems to be words per minute wpm , but sometimes it jum ps to wpm.

Even native speakers can get lost at that speed Rubin, W'ith children learning their first language, we simplify motherese. Brown and Menasche suggest looking at two aspects o f authenticity: They suggest this breakdown: In your experience as a language learner, what kinds of listening have you found easy?

What has made it easy? What has been difficult? What listening have you done that was authentic? What listening activities have been authentic? Does this idea apply to listening materials in a foreign language?

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What is authentic? For whom? Teach listening strategies. Learning strategies are covered elsewhere in this book. However, in considering listening, it is useful to note the items Rost , p. Effective listeners think about what they will hear. This fits into the ideas about prelistening m entioned earlier. Learners react to what they hear. T hey check on how well they have understood. Go back to your list on page Think of your own experience as a language learner.

List them. Which have been effective? So dictation is often asking students to do something in a foreign language that is unnatural and very difficult even in the first language.

Read the following and, in your mind, imagine the story. I Step 1 A road went though a forest. A woman was walking down the road. Suddenly she saw a man. He was wearing a shirt, pants, and a hat. He smiled and said something. In class, students hear the passage and imagine the story. As they listen, they fill in a cloze fill in the blanks dictation sheet. Each time they hear the bell, they write any w ord that fits the story as they imagined it.

The imagined words go in the boxes. The student task appears in Figure 3. Som e see a dark forest. Some see it as green, old, a rainforest, etc. This, o f course, means they continue listening-this time to their partners. This could be to provide an additional listening task—letting the students listen to the same recording for a different purpose. You might want to add different tasks just for variety if your textbook overuses a small number o f task types. Examples might be names o f colors, people, places, etc.

In class, tell the students the topic o f the recording. Ask them to listen for the target items. Each time they hear one, they should raise their hands.

Play the recording. Students listen and raise their hands. In small groups or as a whole class, they brainstorm vocabulary likely to com e up on the recording. Each learner makes a list. Then they listen to the recording and circle the words they hear. In pairs or small groups, they write two or three questions about the information they think will be given.

Then they listen and see howr many o f the questions they are able to answrer. Very often these are not actually listening tasks since learners can find the answer by reading. If you are using a b ook that has such exercises, have the students try to fill in the blanks before they listen. They read the passage and make their best guesses. Then when they listen to the text, they have an actual listening task: See Nunan, Chapter 8, this volume.

Listening for gist Listening in a global way, trying to understand the main ideas, is an essential kind o f listening. L ook at Figure 4. For the first task, the students are asked to listen for the general meaning o f five conversations conversations between a doctor and a patient and conversations not between a doctor and a patient. This is an excellent follow-up task since it moves from a general understanding o f the gist to a narrower, m ore specific understanding o f what was said.

P 5SE Listen. Which are consultations between a doctor and patient, and which are general conversations? Circle the correct answer. What words gave you the hints? Often, subpoints within the conversation make g ood distracters. Students listen and identify the main idea. W hat is the order? W hen the listening text is a story, list five or six events from the story. Students listen and put the items in order.

It is often useful to tell them which item is number one to help them get started. Otherwise, the last item is obvious without listening. If pictures are available e. Listening between the lines: Consider the follow ing task: What do you think it means? Listen to the dialogue, then circle your answer. Now read the script to see if you were right. So the office is, what, on the fifth floor? That's right, fifth floor. Room Well, shall we go up?

It makes them aware o f the clues that gave them the meaning. It also provides information and an example for students who may not have gotten the correct answer. This is because inference depends as much on the text-what is being said-as it does on the task. However, as teachers, we can try to be aware o f inference and look for opportunities to work with it. The following are two places to start: H ow do the speakers feel?

H ow do you know that? W hy do you think so? Think of a listening lesson you have taught or experienced, or a time you had to listen to and understand something in another language or culture.

Identify the following: What was the task? What did the students or you need to do? Was there a prelistening task? If there was, did it integrate top-down and bottom-up processing?

If not, how could you have changed it to do so? What type of listening was it specific information, gist, inference, a combination? How could you have changed the type of listening using the same text recording , but a different task? Think about how you would teach the lesson differently. If possible, explain your new plan to a partner. If that is not possible, just imagine yourself teaching the new plan. The world of English. Describing language. Describing learners. Describing teacher.

Longman Group UK limited, Seeking a partner in pronunciation? This friendly teacher resource offers a straightforward introduction to the theory of pronunciation and to the teaching of pronunciation in English language classes. You'll find detailed analyses and teaching techniques for vowels, consonants, stress, and intonation.

Includes a photocopiable learner's If you are surprised, shocked, curious, doubtful, etc. Encourage other students to show their reactions too. Such reacting develops an important language skill —the active role of the listener in a conversation — and makes both the language and your lessons more alive for students.

Students need practice, not you There are many ways in which it is possible for the teacher to dominate the classroom linguistically in ways which are quite unnecessary. Teachers should beware of all of the following: Student and Teacher b.

Repeating themselves unnecessarily for example, when asking a question. Answering for students, without waiting long enough. Correcting too much and too quickly. Talking about something which interests them, but not necessarily their students. Talking unnecessarily about the process of the lesson see page It is not, however, sufficient for the teacher to avoid unnecessary talk. If the main classroom activity consists of the teacher asking questions which are then answered by individual students, it still means that half of all classroom language is coming from the teacher.

Even if the class consisted of no reading, pauses for thought, or other activities, but entirely of the teacher asking individual students questions which were answered immediately, the teacher would do 90 minutes talking and each individual student only three minutes. As soon as the practical difficulties are taken into account, this time is greatly reduced and a more realistic estimate of the time spent talking by each individual pupil would be perhaps a minute a week.

However much the teacher may be anxious about it, it is essential that techniques are introduced into the classroom to increase the amount of student talking time. One word of warning is, perhaps, necessary, There is more and more evidence that good listeningpractices have a more important part to play in good language teaching than has sometimes been recognised. A practice, for example, in which students are given two or three questions and then listen to the teacher talking about something can undoubtedly be very useful.

Teachers should, nonetheless, be conscious of the amount of unnecessarytalking they do. Many students find it difficult to understand conceptual distinctions which do not occur in their own language, and the memory load is high.

There is no point in pretending that these difficulties do not exist. As all teachers know, students, particularly in school, do need to be reminded from time to time that there is no short cut to success. Student and Teacher Here are some examples: English is a very difficult language. English isfull ofirregularities — there are no real rules.

Prepositions are completely illogical. Most teachers will admit to having made these, or similar, remarks. They are obviously unhelpful. It is difficult to think of an occasion when it could be helpful to tell students that what they are struggling to understand is in fact really incomprehensible! Teachers need to be realistic about difficulties —it can be helpful, for example, to tell students before they listen to a tape that the voice has a strong accent.

Ifstudents are doing a listening-for-gist exercise with a lot of language they may not understand, they need to be told of this difficulty in advance. Every teacher knows that what works one day with one class, does not necessarily work with a different class, or even on a different day with the same class. A textbook which is appropriate to one situation, is often not suitable for another. One statement which is generally true can, however, be made —if the teacher always does the same things in the same way, the students will be bored!

Each unit of most basic course books is laid out in a similar way. The introduction to the course book, however, usually points out that this is to provide a convenient framework for the teacher, not so that each unit is taught in the same order, using the same method, day after day.

There are many opportunities for variety: Use different ways of reading texts: Vary who performs the task —you or the students. It is not, for example, necessary for you always to ask the comprehension questions about a text — the students can ask each other questions. Introduce alternative activities from time to time — games, pair work, group work, problem solving, project work, etc. Change the seating plan for different activities and, for example, vary where individual students are sitting for pair work so that on different days they are working with different partners.

Student and Teacher A word of warning is necessary. Students like to feel secure in the classroom and they want to know what is going on. Students will be disconcerted ifyou chop and change in a random fashion. The principle is to have a constant framework within which there is a variety ofpace and a variety ofactivity. Teachers never complain that they have too much time on a course. The complaint is always in the other direction —IfI had more time I could do In every case selections have to be made of the language to be presented, the skills to be learned, etc.

On a day-to-day basis teachers need to keep selection in mind. The main criterion is Will what I am going to say help these particular students? Because you know it, it does not mean the students need to know it. There are two different problems —firsdy the students may not need to know at that time, secondly they may not need to know at all. A more serious problem is that much of what language teachers have themselves learned is not relevant in the state school classroom.

There are, as mentioned above, about verbs in English with irregular past tense forms. Probably about of these are in common use. It is helpful for students to learn these words in groups which are phonetically similar: Unfortunately it is then tempting for the teacher to present complete groups but while the student may need to know speak — spoke — spoken, there is less need for weave — wove — woven. The majority of school students, who will not go to university to study English, will never need about half of the verbs with irregular past forms cleave — clove —cloven.

Here is a clear case where teachers must select. They can also be very dull and boring. The principle, as with each of the sections of this chapter, is that good teaching is not about showing students what you know, but about helping them to improve theirknowledge, skills and performance. Activities and relationships in the classroom change Techniques for teaching specific language skills and handling particular lesson activities will be dealt with later in the book.

Before looking at these This can be done providing the reader bears in mind that it does not mean that all language teaching should always follow this method. It provides a general framework which systema- tises the common-sense approach. If language learning is to be a natural and relatively relaxed process the general sequence will almost inevitably be: Students meet new language in informal natural presentation. Teacher presents the language formally. Students use the language in formal, controlled practice.

Students use the language informally. The teacher uses structures or phrases which are intelligible in context before they are formally presented. This means that when the language is presented for active use by the student it is not completely unfamiliar. Students frequently acquire passively language which is later to be acquired actively. The teacher draws specific attention to a particular language feature in a formal presentation.

It is the teacher-to-teacher T-T phase. The teacher questions the class as a whole and invites either a choral response, or a response from a volunteer within the group to indicate understanding, etc. This is the teacher-to-class T-C phase. The teacher questions chosen individuals. This is teacher-to-student T-S phase. On occasion the roles are reversed and students question the teacher S-T. The students work with each other asking and replying to each other in more or less controlled pair work.

In general the lesson develops from strictly controlled pair work, where each individual question and answer is predictable, to less controlled pair work where individual students have a wider range.

This is the student-to-student S-S phase. In both cases this phase is characterised by the fact that the teacher is not directly dominating the activity. The emphasis is either on work in small groups, or on the whole group working without direct teacher involvement. It is the group work phase. In general two principles dominate this basic method — there is a development from controlled to free production, and there is a development from teacher-dominated to student-dominated activity.

Student and Teacher The method may be summarised briefly as follows: Informal use —T. The teacher sets a pattern and replies —T-T. The teacher questions the class and invites them to respond —T-C. The teacher questions individual students —T-S. Students work in pairs —S-S. Group work.

Any activity involving 30 people could never be as simple or as linear in its development as the above method suggests. The method does, however, provide a fundamental pattern which will frequently be broken as individual decisions are made but which none-the-less represents an appropriate model for the general development of any class. If it is to be dynamic in this sense, it is essential that teachers are aware that their relationship with the class is constantly changing.

If the teacher always assumes a central, dominant role many of the activities essential to good language teaching will be automatically excluded. Students need to learn how to learn Many students studying a foreign language have very strange ideas of what will help them to improve. Most teachers have met students who think that by filling vocabulary books they will be able to speak better English; many students presented with a text will actually want to go through word-by-word and will not see the point of, for example, reading for gist, or scanning for particular information.

One of the tasks of the language teacher is to help the student to study more efficiently and more enjoyably. The more students understand about the process of learning the foreign language, the more they will be able to take responsibility for their own learning.

Useful andfun is better than either alone Some language learning is not particularly enjoyable. The other side of the story is equally true. Students are unlikely to be very successful at learning anything unless they enjoy the process. It is very clear that you cannot speak a foreign language well just by learning long lists of words, repeating mechanically after a tape recorder and so on.

Good teachers try to ensure that as many activities as possible are both. Instead of a vocabulary test, why not play a vocabulary game; if students need to do written grammar practices, why not make some of the examples amusing.

Student and Teacher Below is a logical puzzle. The activity, however, also has a very serious purpose. It provides practice of negative forms. It has a serious, and carefully defined, structural purpose — but is still a puzzle, and still fun.

If the task itself is worth doing, and the students are actively involved, the activity is likely to fulfil a criterion which teachers should constantly keep in mind —it contains two questions compressed into one —Is this usefim?

They all travelled in different ways. Who went to each place? How did each travel? The person who went to Copenhagen went by plane. It was not David. Susan went by boat. The person who went to London cycled. Jane went to Rome.

Mike went by car. Fill in this table to help you. Mark a if you know something is true. Mark a X if you know something is nottrue. Student and Teacher Weall learn best when we are relaxed There is a big difference between learning your own language in the most natural way possible — in your pram or cot making no apparent effort, and the effort and concentration usually demanded in schools.

If you feel pressurised, or tense, even if you perform at that moment, you will probably forget. This is not to deny the value of concentration — but it does mean that teachers should always try to generate a relaxed atmosphere, inviting rather than demanding, a response. Students can be silent, but still involved Young and not so young! In an effort to counteract this, training courses encourage them to reduce teacher talking time and increase student talking time.

This advice is true — as far as it goes. But that is very different from saying that all students should be encouraged to speak, or that the student who is not talking is not participating. If you went to study any subject except a language, you would assume that you would spend most of your time listening — with no suggestion that this would be boring, or that you would not be involved.

Students need plenty of opportunities to speak in language lessons, but teachers must avoid pressurising students into speaking — particularly if the students are adults.

Some people naturally volunteer their views and ideas freely; others are more reflective personalities. This can be frustrating for the teacher, but it is important to realise that you are there to adapt to and help the students — not to impose your demands on them — creating stress and reducing learning— and certainly not in an effort to change their personalities.

Many students may genuinely enjoy listening to you, or to other students and, if they are relaxed, the language that they are hearing can be of real benefit to them.

Lewis Michael, Hill Jimmie. Practical Techniques: For Language Teaching

Chapter2 BasicPrinciples 2 — LanguageandLanguage Learning Mark each ofthese statements before and after you read the chapter. Howyou say something is sometimes as important as whatyou say. The difficulty ofa text depends mostly on the vocabulary it contains.

Natural conversation is too difficultfor elementary students. Usually students should hear something before they say it or see it. Students should not use their mother tongue in the lessons. Repetition is an important part of language learning. Teachers should use only English in the classroom.

Structural mistakes should always be corrected. Basic Principles 2 Language and Language Learning 1. Language teaching is teaching language A language is many things — it is a system, a code, a set of conventions, a means of communication, to mention only a few. Teachers of any subject must have a clear idea of the subject they are teaching —not only the facts of the subject, but also an overall view ofthe nature of the subject.

This is as true for the language teacher as for any other teacher. We have already expressed the view that learning is more important than teaching. It should also reflect the nature of the subject. Language is a complex phenomenon; it can be viewed as many different things.

Good language teaching will reflect a variety of aspects of language. Language is a system Certain items in a language acquire meaning only by relation to other items in the language — words such as I, with, which. These aspects of language as a system need to be understood and internalised. They cannot simply be learned by heart if learners are ever going to be able to use the target language in an original way.

The teacher who understands language as a system will see the necessity for activities which lead to understanding. Language is a habit Many pieces of language are learned in quite large wholes A Hello, how are you?

B Fine thanks. A nd you? Here the emphasis is not on understanding, but on the ability to respond automatically. The teacher who sees language as habit will see the necessity for repetition and intensive oral practice.

Language is a set ofconventions The positive response referred to above Fine thanks. And you? Social conventions vary from country to country. Using the social conventions of one coutnry in another may lead to embarrassment, confusion or misunderstanding. This view seems obvious but the activities of the traditional language classroom ignored this aspect of language. Students frequently read texts in order Ito answer questions about the text. If such activities were communicative in any way, they communicated not the content of the text, but the fact that the student had, or had not, mastered the language of the text.

It is possible for students to study material of real interest to them, and to communicate real ideas of their own through the medium of the language they are learning. Teachers who recognise language as communication will see the necessity for genuinely interesting texts, individualised teaching, pair work, free practices, listening practices and many other classroom activities. A word of warning is, however, necessary. Communicative language teaching has sometimes been misunderstood and teachers have thought that, for example, anypair work is communicative.

This is not the case. It is not the activity, but the task and the purpose for which the language is used, which make the activity authentically communicative. Language is a means to an end This is an extension of the idea of language as communication.

Language is not used for its own sake; it is used for a purpose —to convey information, emotion or attitude; to help the memory in note taking; to entertain and instruct in a play; to explore feelings and understanding in poetry. The list of uses is almost endless but the important point for the language teacher is that language is used for a purpose. At this point the nature of language connects to some of the important ideas in the previous chapter.

This seems obvious, but has very radical implications for much language teaching. Many students on a traditional course found that they knew a lot of structures but that they could not, for example, express irritation or other emotions in the language they had learned.

Most elementary students of a foreign language will be reasonably good at conveying information but almost completely hopeless at conveying any sort of emotion.

Perhaps some small syllabus changes could help students in this area. The teacher who recognises language as a means to an end will see the necessity for looking at whyparticular pieces of language are useful and, having seen their purpose, will then be able to see their usefulness or otherwise for students.

Their popularity rests on regular rhythms and rhymes. In other words, they are often excellent examples of the sound and stress system of the language. Language is a natural activity People who study language sometimes talk about language-like behaviour. The term refers to the language often found in older textbooks or heard in too many classrooms; A Is Peter shorter or taller than Alan? B Alan is shorter than Peter. A Ah, so Alan is not as tall as Peter.

The words are English; the structures are English but, somehow, we do not believe that two real people would ever talk to each other like that.

In the same way textbooks contain texts which contain twelve uses of the present continuous and no other tense form. They are not language, they are lan- guage-like behaviour. Now can you say it in a whole sentence please?

This can be translated as You have answered correctly using language,now please do it again using language-like behaviour! Language is a complex phenomenon; language teaching should reflect the different aspects of language. This should be quite enough to keep most students and teachers busy with their language lessons. Unfortunately, there are some things which language is not, and these should not interfere with language lessons. English is not England. For students who visit Britain, it can be interesting to know something about the country but it is equally important to remember that many students read English who will never visit Britain.

For some students it may make sense to do an exercise which uses a map of London; for other students it may make more sense to use a map of their own home city. There is a temptation for many teachers —either native British teachers or teachers who have visited Britain, to think that what they know about Britain should form part of their English lessons.

While all lessons are improved by the personal touch,teachers should remember they are primarily teaching language, not culture. English is not a syllabus School systems either have an explicit syllabus, often structurally arranged, or a syllabus which is defined by an examination system. There are exams, which are important for students, and teachers clearly need to take account of the exam requirements. Language teaching is about selection, and the criterion I say itis a very poor one.

Non-native teachers have a similar problem —they have a tendency to believe that because they know something, their students also need to know it. In British English that's called a tube. All of that is true, but do students need to know it? Perhaps most teachers should remind themselves once a week that whatever English is, it is not an opportunity for them to show off what they know in the classroom. English is not an aesthetic experience Many non-native language teachers have studied English extensively and have achieved a very high standard themselves.

They may have taken real pleasure in studying Shakespeare, Dickens, or modem poetry. For the majority of their students, however, such an idea of English is very far away. Students may be studying English in order to read economics or chemistry; they may be studying it for practical reasons to do with improving their job prospects, or they may be studying it simply becuase they have to.

This is simply another way of the teacher showing off. As far as possible everything which happens in the classroom should be influenced by two decisive criteria: Is this going to help these students to achieve their objectives? Does this activity reflect the nature oflanguage? Language is a means to an end; language teaching is, therefore, a means to a means to an end.

Language and Language Teaching 2. Languages are different Languages are different in the obvious sense that a certain object is referred to as a table in English, ett bord m Swedish, and ein tisch in German, but also often more fundamentally in the way they systematise reality.

The difference may occur in any feature of the language. Many European languages possess two or more words which are the equivalent of the single English word you. I think so. Here are some more unusual examples: In Chinese intonation can change the actual meaning of a word — MA said on a level pitch means mother;but with a rise of pitch means horse. Finnish does not use prepositions, but its nouns have an enormous number of different forms cases.

Russian does not possess articles. Pronouns are frequently omitted in spoken Italian where they would be necessary in English. French adjectives agree with nouns while English adjectives do not change their form. The list is almost endless. In general, students tend to assume that the language they are learning behaves similarly to their own native language.

This assumption will result in them making interference mistakes —carrying over the patterns oftheir own language inappropriately to the language they are learning. Teachers need, over a period of time and in different ways, to persuade students that languages are different and that they must not be surprised by differences.

When obvious differences occur, attention should be drawn to them in the teaching. More generally, however, students should be discouraged from word-for-word translation and encouraged to understand, and to feel that learning a foreign language is learning to see the world through new eyes. Language is what, how andwhy Although most course books are arranged structurally, knowing a language is much more than knowing the structures.

Good teaching needs to take account of all three. In the spoken language stress and intonation are part of the grammar of the language and often contribute as much as structure to meaning: A Is there anything else we need?

A Milk and sugar? B Milk and sugar. B Please. Structures are frequently not equivalent from language to language. English, for example, frequently indicates doubt by a rising intonation at the end of a verb phrase; this is not true in many other languages.

Similarly, English possesses a word which marks the difference between a normal and an abrupt request —please—while a language as close to English as Swedish does not possess this; conversely many European languages A course which concentrates too much on structure will leave students with an unbalanced knowledge ofEnglish.

Although individual practices frequently concentrate on one or other of these, the teacher should constantly have all three in mind and be prepared to add comments to preserve a balance. With the exception of students who are learning a language while visiting the country where it is spoken, however, most students will be exposed to the language in some sort of step-by-step approach. If the syllabus is designed with reference only to structure this approach creates no problem.

Unfortunately, we have already seen that language is much more than structure, so any syllabus based only on structure will have serious defects.

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