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Лекция 5:

Overview of ESOL issues

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ONE TO ONE

One to one offers a unique teaching situation with great potential. It offers a real challenge to the teacher, but also an unrivalled opportunity. The content of a one to one teaching session is determined to a large extent by the student. The teacher becomes less of a controller or manager and needs more to respond to changes in demands imposed by the student.

It is however still an artificial situation. Two individuals who have never met and may have little in common spend a lot of time together in a confined space. It is essential that the teacher is aware of this and is able to create space for learning and not expect the student to be totally active. Silence can be difficult in any teaching, but never more so than in a one to one situation. Students need time to read through work, formulate answers etc and the teacher needs to create the necessary space for this to happen and also to take account of the learner's style. A learner will have his/her own way of recording information, prefer diagrams to lists or listening to explanations rather than reading them. The important thing is to bring the outside world into the one to one classroom and this is easily done via newspapers, magazines, the internet and so on so that the student can go away and research between lessons.

One to one teaching in a business/language school setting is often in a small, cramped room and comes with certain constraints and expectations as it is often billed as 'intensive'.

One to one in a homestay/private teaching setting is much more relaxed. The host teacher chooses the room and the student determines the pace.

It is true to say that there is ‘no escape’ in one to one teaching. It is demanding and can be very tiring, but the advantages for the student are many.

SELF-CHECK 3:1 7

Read through the following points that can be made about one to one teaching.

  1. The individual learning style, personality and level of the student can be taken into consideration.
  2. The student can set the pace.
  3. The teacher can offer a choice of time in the working day
  4. Breaks can be taken when the time suits.
  5. There are fewer time constraints on the length of tasks and lessons.
  6. Materials can be prepared/revised to suit the student.
  7. The student can supply input material.
  8. The teacher can arrange visits/trips for the student.
  9. Teaching aids can be ‘hands-on’.
  10. The teacher can constantly monitor and feedback on the progress of the student.
  11. Communication is authentic.

Now read them through again and decide how many of them can be applied to classroom teaching of between 5 and 15 students.

Now read them through a third time and for the ones you marked YES think of an example of how this might be achieved.

The individual learning style, personality and level of the student can be taken into consideration.

Classroom: YES

How? By preparing a variety of different tasks - making a poster or drawing and labelling a diagram or doing drama activities but not always the same things so the different learning styles are catered for.

Now consider the following extract:

Approaches, methods, procedures and techniques

Within the general area of methodology, people talk about approaches, methods, techniques, procedures and models, all of which go into the practice of English teaching.

Grammar-translation, Direct method and Audiolingualism

Many of the seeds which have grown into present-day methodology were sown in debates between more and less formal attitudes to language, and crucially, the place of the students' first language in the classroom. Before the nineteenth century many formal language learners were scholars who studied rules of grammar and consulted lists of foreign words in dictionaries (though, of course, countless migrants and traders picked up new languages in other ways, too). But in the nineteenth century moves were made to bring foreign-language learning into school curriculums, and so something more was needed. This gave rise to the Grammar- translation method (or rather series of methods).

Many of the seeds which have grown into present-day methodology were sown in debates between more and less formal attitudes to language, and crucially, the place of the students' first language in the classroom. Before the nineteenth century many formal language learners were scholars who studied rules of grammar and consulted lists of foreign words in dictionaries (though, of course, countless migrants and traders picked up new languages in other ways, too). But in the nineteenth century moves were made to bring foreign-language learning into school curriculums, and so something more was needed. This gave rise to the Grammar- translation method (or rather series of methods).

Many of the seeds which have grown into present-day methodology were sown in debates between more and less formal attitudes to language, and crucially, the place of the students' first language in the classroom. Before the nineteenth century many formal language learners were scholars who studied rules of grammar and consulted lists of foreign words in dictionaries (though, of course, countless migrants and traders picked up new languages in other ways, too). But in the nineteenth century moves were made to bring foreign-language learning into school curriculums, and so something more was needed. This gave rise to the Grammar- translation method (or rather series of methods).

When behaviourist accounts of language learning became popular in the 1920s and 1930s, the Direct method morphed, especially in the USA, into the Audiolingual method. Using the stimulus-response-reinforcement model, it attempted, through a continuous process of such positive reinforcement, to engender good habits in language learners. Audiolingualism relied heavily on drills to form these habits; substitution was built into these drills so that, in small steps, the student was constantly learning and, moreover, was shielded from the possibility of making mistakes by the design of the drill.

The following example shows a typical Audiolingual drill:

TEACHER: There's a cup on the table ... repeat.

STUDENTS: There's a cup on the table.

TEACHER: Spoon.

STUDENTS: There's a spoon on the table.

TEACHER: Book.

STUDENTS: There's a book on the table.

TEACHER: On the chair.

STUDENTS: There's a book on the chair.

Much Audiolingual teaching stayed at the sentence level, and there was little placing of language in any kind of real-life context. A premium was still placed on accuracy; indeed Audiolingual methodology does its best to banish mistakes completely. The purpose was habit-formation through constant repetition of correct utterances, encouraged and supported by positive reinforcement.

Presentation, practice and production

A variation on Audiolingualism is the procedure most often referred to (since the advent of Communicative Language Teaching) as PPP, which stands for presentation, practice and production. This grew out of structural-situational teaching whose main departure from Audiolingualism was to place the language in clear situational contexts.

In this procedure the teacher introduces a situation which contextualises the language to be taught. The language, too, is then presented. The students now practise the language using accurate reproduction techniques such as choral repetition (where the students repeat a word, phrase or sentence all together with the teacher 'conducting'), individual repetition (where individual students repeat a word, phrase or sentence at the teacher's urging), and cue-response drills (where the teacher gives a cue such as cinema, nominates a student by name or by looking or pointing, and the student makes the desired response, e.g. Would you like to come to the cinema?). Cue-response drills have similarities with the classic kind of Audiolingual drill we saw above, but because they are contextualised by the situation that has been presented, they carry more meaning than a simple substitution drill. Later, the students, using the new language, make sentences of their own, and this is referred to as production. The following elementary level example demonstrates the PPP procedure:

  • Presentation: the teacher shows the students the following picture and asks them whether the people in it are at work or on holiday to elicit the fact that they are on holiday.

    The teacher points to the teenage boy and attempts to elicit the sentence He's listening to music by saying Can anybody tell me ... Jared ... ? or asking the question What's Jared doing ... anybody? The teacher then models the sentence (He's listening to music) before isolating the grammar she wants to focus on (he's), distorting it (he's ... he is ... he is), putting it back together again (he's ... he's) and then giving the model in a natural way once more (Listen ... He's listening to music ... he's listening to music). She may accompany this demonstration of form rules by using some physical means such as bringing two hands (for he and is) together to show how the contraction works.
  • Practice: The teacher gets the students to repeat the sentence He's listening to music in chorus. She may then nominate certain students to repeat the sentence individually, and she corrects any mistakes she hears. Now she goes back and models more sentences from the picture (Usha's reading a book, Mrs Andrade is writing an email, etc.), getting choral and individual repetition where she thinks this is necessary. Now she is in a position to conduct a slightly freer kind of drill than the Audiolingual one above:

    TEACHER: Can anyone tell me? ... Usha? ... Yes, Sergio.

    STUDENT: She's reading a book.

    TEACHER: Good.

    In this cue-response drill the teacher gives the cue (Usha) before nominating a student (Sergio) who will give the response (She's reading a book). By cueing before nominating she keeps everyone alert. She will avoid nominating students in a predictable order for the same reason. Usually the teacher puts the students in pairs to practise the sentences a bit more before listening to a few examples just to check that the learning has been effective.

  • Production: the end point of the PPP cycle is production, what some trainers have called 'immediate creativity'. Here the students are asked to use the new language (in this case the present continuous) in sentences of their own. For example, the teacher may get the students to think about what their friends and family are doing at this moment. They must now come up with sentences such as My mother's working at the hospital, I think, My brother's lying on the beach. I'm sure. He's on holiday, etc.
PPP and alternatives to PPP

The PPP procedure, which was offered to teacher trainees as a significant teaching procedure from the middle of the 1960s onwards (though not then referred to as PPP), came under a sustained attack in the 1990s. It was, critics argued, clearly teacher-centred (at least in the kind of procedure which we have demonstrated above), and therefore sits uneasily in a more humanistic and learner-centred framework. It also seems to assume that students learn 'in straight lines' - that is, starting from no knowledge, through highly restricted sentence-based utterances and on to immediate production. Yet human learning probably isn't like that; it's more random, more convoluted. And, by breaking language down into small pieces to learn, it may be cheating the students of a language which, in Tessa Woodward's phrase, is full of 'interlocking variables and systems' (Woodward 1993: 3). Michael Lewis suggested that PPP was inadequate because it reflected neither the nature of language nor the nature of learning (Lewis 1993: 190), and Jim Scrivener even wrote that it was 'fundamentally disabling, not enabling' (Scrivener 1994a: 15).

A different trilogy of teaching sequence elements is ESA: Engage, Study and Activate (Harmer 2007: Chapter 4).

E stands for engage. Arousal and affect are important for successful learning. The point is that unless students are emotionally engaged with what is going on, their learning will be less effective.

S stands for study and describes any teaching and learning element where the focus is on how something is constructed, whether it is relative clauses, specific intonation patterns, the construction of a paragraph or text, the way a lexical phrase is made and used, or the collocation of a particular word. Crucially, in this model, study may be part of a 'focus on forms' syllabus, or may grow out of a communicative task where the students' attention to form is drawn to it either by the teacher or through their own noticing activities.

A stands for activate and this means any stage at which students are encouraged to use all and/or any of the language they know. Communicative tasks, for example, are designed to activate the students' language knowledge. But students also activate their language knowledge when they read for pleasure or for general interest. Indeed any meaning-focused activity where the language is not restricted provokes students into language activation.

ESA allows for three basic lesson procedures. In the first, 'Straight arrows', the sequence is ESA, much like PPP. The teacher engages students by presenting a picture or a situation, or by drawing them in by some other means. At the study stage of the procedure, the meaning and form of the language are explained. The teacher then models the language and the students repeat and practise it. Finally, they activate the new language by using it in sentences of their own.

A 'Boomerang' procedure, on the other hand, follows a more task-based or deep-end approach. Here the order is EAS; the teacher gets the students engaged before asking them to do something like a written task, a communication game or a role-play. Based on what happens there, the students will then, after the activity has finished, study some aspect of language which they lacked or which they used incorrectly.

'Patchwork' lessons, which are different from the previous two procedures, may follow a variety of sequences. For example, engaged students are encouraged to activate their knowledge before studying one and then another language element, and then returning to more activating tasks, after which the teacher re-engages them before doing some more study, etc. What the Engage/Study/Activate trilogy has tried to capture is the fact that PPP is just a tool used by teachers for one of their many possible purposes'. In other words, PPP is extremely useful in a focus-on-forms lesson, especially at lower levels, but is irrelevant in a skills lesson, where focus-on-form may occur as a result of something students hear or read. It is useful, perhaps, in teaching grammar points such as the use of can and can't, but has little place when students are analysing their own language use after doing a communicative task. Nevertheless, a look at modern coursebooks shows that PPP is alive and well, but in a context of a wide range of other techniques and procedures. And while it is true that PPP is still used in one form or another all over the world, it is also the case that students are exposed to many other techniques and procedures. PPP is a kind of ESA, as we saw, but there are many other lesson sequences, too, such the Boomerang and Patchwork sequences mentioned above.

Four methods

Four methods, developed in the 1970s and 1980s, are often considered together. While, individually, they are rarely used exclusively in 'mainstream' teaching, in different ways their influence is still felt today.

In the classic form of Community Language Learning, a 'knower' stands outside a circle of students and helps the students say what they want to say by translating, suggesting or amending the students' utterances. The students' utterances may then be recorded so that they can be analysed at a later date. Students, with the teacher's help, reflect on how they felt about the activities.

Suggestopaedia was developed by Georgi Lozanov and is concerned above all with the physical environment in which the learning takes place. Students need to be comfortable and relaxed so that their affective filter is lowered. Students take on different names and exist in a child-parent relationship with the teacher (Lozanov calls this 'infantilisation'). Traumatic topics are avoided, and at one stage of a three-part procedure, the teacher reads a previously-studied dialogue to the accompaniment of music (preferably Baroque). During this phase there are also 'several minutes of solemn silence' (Lozanov 1978: 272) and the students leave the room silently.

A typical Total Physical Response (TPR) lesson might involve the teacher telling students to 'pick up the triangle from the table and give it to me' or 'walk quickly to the door and hit it' (Asher 1977: 54-56). When the students can all respond to commands correctly, one of them can then start giving instructions to other classmates. James Asher believed that since children learn a lot of their language from commands directed at them, second-language learners can benefit from this, too. Crucially, in TPR students don't have to give instructions themselves until they are ready.

One of the most notable features of the Silent Way is the behaviour of the teacher who, rather than entering into conversation with the students, says as little as possible. This is because the founder of the method, Caleb Gattegno, believed that learning is best facilitated if the learner discovers and creates language rather than just remembering and repeating what has been taught. The learner should be in the driving seat, in other words, not the teacher.

In the Silent Way, the teacher frequently points to different sounds on a phonemic chart, modelling them before indicating that students should say the sounds. The teacher is then silent, indicating only by gesture or action when individual students should speak (they keep trying to work out whether they are saying the sound correctly) and then showing when sounds and words are said correctly by moving on to the next item. Because of the teacher's silent non-involvement, it is up to the students - under the controlling but indirect influence of the teacher - to solve problems and learn the language. Typically, the Silent Way also gets students to use Cuisenaire rods (wooden blocks of different colours and sizes) to solve communication problems.

To some, the Silent Way has seemed somewhat inhuman, with the teacher's silence acting as a barrier rather than an incentive. But to others, the reliance students are forced to place upon themselves and upon each other is exciting and liberating. It is students who should take responsibility for their learning; it is the teacher's job to organise this.

Some of the procedures employed in these four methods may strike us as being (or having been) outside the mainstream of classroom practice, or even somewhat eccentric. Nevertheless, in their own ways, they contain truths about successful language learning. Community Language Learning, for example, reminds us that teachers are in classrooms to facilitate learning and to help students with what they want to say. Suggestopaedia's insistence on lowering the affective filter reminds us how important affect is in language learning. Nor is there any doubt about the appropriacy of getting students to move around in lessons, as in TPR. For students with a more kinaesthetic inclination, this will be especially useful. Finally, getting students to think about what they are learning and to rely on themselves matches our concern for cognitive depth, where close attention to language by individual students has a beneficial effect on the learning process.

Communicative Language Teaching (CLT)

The real problem when attempting to define CLT (or the Communicative approach as it was originally called) is that it means different things to different people. Or perhaps it is like an extended family of different approaches, and ' ... as is the case with most families, not all members live harmoniously together all of the time. There are squabbles and disagreements, if not outright wars, from time to time. However, no one is willing to assert that they do not belong to the family' (Nunan 2004: 7).

One of the things that CLT embraces within its family is the concept of how language is used. Instead of concentrating solely on grammar, pioneers such as David Wilkins in the 1970s looked at what notions language expressed and what communicative functions people performed with language (Wilkins 1976). The concern was with spoken functions as much as with written grammar, and notions of when and how it was appropriate to say certain things were of primary importance. Thus communicative language teachers taught people to invite and apologise, to agree and disagree, alongside making sure they could use the past perfect or the second conditional.

A major strand of CLT centres around the essential belief that if students are involved in meaning-focused communicative tasks, then 'language learning will take care of itself', and that plentiful exposure to language in use and plenty of opportunities to use it are vitally important for a student's development of knowledge and skill. Activities in CLT typically involve students in real or realistic communication, where the successful achievement of the communicative task they are performing is at least as important as the accuracy of their language use. Thus role-play and simulation have become very popular in CLT. For example, students might simulate a television programme or a scene at an airport - or they might put together the simulated front page of a newspaper. In other communicative activities, students have to solve a puzzle and can only do so by sharing information. Sometimes they have to write a poem or construct a story together.

In order for these activities to be truly communicative, it was suggested from the very beginning, students should have a desire to communicate something. They should have a purpose for communicating (e.g. to make a point, to buy an airline ticket or to write a letter to a newspaper). They should be focused on the content of what they are saying or writing rather than on a particular language form. They should use a variety of language rather than just one language structure. The teacher will not intervene to stop the activity; and the materials he or she relies on will not dictate what specific language forms the students use either. In other words, such activities should attempt to replicate real communication. All this is seen as being in marked contrast to the kind of teaching and learning we saw above. They are at opposite ends of a 'communication continuum' as shown in Figure 5.

The communicatin cintinuum

Рис. 5.5. The communicatin cintinuum

Not all activities in CLT occur at either extreme of the continuum, however. Some may be further towards the communicative end, whereas some may be more non-communicative. An activity in which students have to go round the class asking questions with a communicative purpose, but using certain prescribed structures (e.g. Have you ever done a bungee jump? Have you ever climbed a mountain? Have you ever been white-water rafting?) may be edging towards the non-communicative end of the continuum, whereas another, where students have to interview each other about a holiday they went on, might be nearer the communicative end.

A key to the enhancement of communicative purpose and the desire to communicate is the information gap. A traditional classroom exchange in which one student asks Where's the library? and another student answers It's on Green Street, opposite the bank when they can both see it and both know the answer, is not much like real communication. If, however, the first student has a map which does not have the library shown on it, while the other student has a different map with library written on the correct building - but which the first student cannot see - then there is a gap between the knowledge which the two participants have. In order for the first student to locate the library on their map, that information gap needs to be closed.

CLT, therefore, with its different strands of what to teach (utterances as well as sentences, functions as well as grammar) and how to teach it (meaning-focused communicative tasks as well as more traditional study techniques), has become a generalised 'umbrella' term to describe learning sequences which aim to improve the students' ability to communicate. This is in stark contrast to teaching which is aimed more at learning bits of language just because they exist - without focusing on their use in communication.

However, CLT has come under attack for being prejudiced in favour of native-speaker teachers by demanding a relatively uncontrolled range of language use on the part of the student, and thus expecting the teacher to be able to respond to any and every language problem which may come up (Medgyes 1992). In promoting a methodology which is based around group and pairwork, with teacher intervention kept to a minimum during, say, a role-play, CLT may also offend against educational traditions which rely on a more teacher-centred approach. CLT has sometimes been seen as having eroded the explicit teaching of grammar with a consequent loss among students of accuracy in the pursuit of fluency. Perhaps there is a danger in 'a general over-emphasis on performance at the expense of progress' (Wicksteed 1998:3). Finally, some commentators suggest that many so-called communicative activities are no more or less real than traditional exercises. Getting people to write a letter, buy an airline ticket, find out train times, or go and look something up (see Allwright's study on page 52), is just as contrived as many more traditional exercises, and does not, in fact, arise from any genuine communicative purpose.

Despite these reservations, however, the Communicative approach has left an indelible mark on teaching and learning, resulting in the use of communicative activities in classrooms all over the world.

Task-based learning (TBL)

Task-based learning (sometimes referred to as Task-based instruction, or TBI) makes the performance of meaningful tasks central to the learning process. It is informed by a belief that if students are focused on the completion of a task, they are just as likely to learn language as they are if they are focusing on language forms. Instead of a language structure or function to be learnt, students are presented with a task they have to perform or a problem they have to solve. For example, in an early example of TBL, after a class performs some pre-task activities which involve questions and vocabulary checking (e.g. What is this? It's a timetable. What does 'arrival' mean?), they ask and answer questions to solve a problem, such as finding train¬timetable information, e.g. When does the Brindavan express leave Madras/arrive in Bangalore? (Prahbu 1987: 32). Although the present simple may frequently be used in such an activity, the focus of the lesson is the task, not the structure.


In the Pre-task stage, the teacher explores the topic with the class and may highlight useful words and phrases, helping students to understand the task instructions. The students may hear a recording of other people doing the same task. During the Task cycle stage, the students perform the task in pairs or small groups while the teacher monitors from a distance. The students then plan how they will tell the rest of the class what they did and how it went, and they then report on the task either orally or in writing, and/or compare notes on what has happened. In the Language focus stage, the students examine and discuss specific features of any listening or reading text which they have looked at for the task and/or the teacher may conduct some form of practice of specific language features which the task has provoked.

One of the examples that Jane Willis gives of such a procedure concerns a woman's phobia about spiders (Willis 1996: 161-164). The woman lived with her husband but could never be left alone because of her fear of spiders. Part of the procedure (which I have shortened and slightly amended) goes like this:

Pre-task: The teacher explains the woman's situation and asks students, in pairs, to brainstorm three consecutive steps they might take to help cure the woman of her phobia.
Task: Pairs list possible ways to help the woman get over her phobia. Planning: Pairs rehearse how to explain the steps they recommend, and justify the order they

Report and reading: The pairs tell the class their proposals and justify them. The class listen and count how many ideas they come up with.

The teacher lets the class decide and vote on which three steps might be similar to those in a newspaper report about the phobic woman's dilemma. She writes these on the board.

The teacher gives out the text. She asks students to read to see whether their three steps were in the report. Finally, she asks which pair had the most steps that were similar.

Language focus: The teacher helps students with any mistakes she heard during the task. She then directs students back to the article and they analyse it for topic vocabulary, time expressions, syntax elements, etc.

Another kind of task might be to ask students to give a short presentation on the life of a famous historical figure of their choice. We could start by getting them to look at some examples of brief biographies (on the Internet, for example) before discussing what is in such biographies and how we might change the sequence of the information if we were going to tell people about our figure. In pairs or groups, students now choose a figure and plan their presentation. They might consult language books or ask us to help them with grammar and vocabulary. They then give their presentations and subsequently we and they analyse what they have said and work with language items that need attention. When all that is over, we might get them to re-plan and re-deliver their presentations in order to take advantage of what they learnt from the feedback on their first attempts.

David Nunan's task sequence is somewhat different (Nunan 2004: Chapter 2). He starts with

the same kind of pre-task to build the students' schema, but he then gives students controlled language practice for the vocabulary they might need for their task. They then listen to native speakers performing a similar task and analyse the language that was used. Finally, after some free practice of language, they reach the pedagogical task where they discuss issues and make a decision. This is not at all like 'PPP upside down' since language focus activities lead towards a task rather than occurring as a result of it. This, Nunan suggests, is because 'learners should be encouraged to move from reproductive to creative language use' (2004: 37).

There is some confusion, then, about what Task-based learning means. In one view, tasks are the building blocks of a language course. Students perform the tasks and focus on language form as they do the tasks, or as a result of having done them. In another version, however, tasks are still the building blocks of the course, but we will provide students with the language to do them before they set out to perform these tasks. It is the first of these two approaches to TBL that is essentially based on the belief that 'get performance right and competence will, with some prompting, take care of itself’(Widdowson 2003: 18).

Dave and Jane Willis are quite clear that despite different approaches to TBL (see above), its advocates 'have rejected a reliance on presentation methodology' and that further 'the basis for language development is the learner's attempt to deploy language for meaning' (Willis and Willis 2003: 2).

Critics of TBL have raised a number of concerns about its overall applicability. William Littlewood, for example, has difficulty, as we have done above, in pinning down exactly what it means and so wishes to abandon the term altogether (Littlewood 2004a). Paul Seedhouse suggests that while it may be highly appropriate to base some learning on tasks, it would be 'unsound' to make tasks 'the basis for an entire pedagogical methodology' (Seedhouse 1999: 155). He points out that the kind of interaction which typical tasks promote leads to the use of specific 'task-solving' linguistic forms. These fail to include the kind of language we might expect from discussion, debate or social interactions of other kinds. Guy Cook thinks that there is more to language learning than just 'work' language; it is one of his main arguments for the inclusion of language play. Michael Swan worries that 'while TBI may successfully develop learners' command of what is known, it is considerably less effective for the systematic teaching of new language' (2005b: 376). He also worries about how appropriate tasks are in a situation where teachers have little time, and this point is taken up by Penny Ur. Working in a state school with only three or four English lessons a week, she has to 'make sure they learn the most common and useful words and chunks as fast as possible. We don't have time to wait until such items are encountered in communicative tasks' (2006). However, as someone who wrote a book on 'task-centred discussions' (Ur 1981), she does not argue that there is no place for communicative tasks, but rather that they are a 'necessary added component of a structured, language-based syllabus and methodology' (2006: 3).

Critics of TBL have raised a number of concerns about its overall applicability. William Littlewood, for example, has difficulty, as we have done above, in pinning down exactly what it means and so wishes to abandon the term altogether (Littlewood 2004a). Paul Seedhouse suggests that while it may be highly appropriate to base some learning on tasks, it would be 'unsound' to make tasks 'the basis for an entire pedagogical methodology' (Seedhouse 1999: 155). He points out that the kind of interaction which typical tasks promote leads to the use of specific 'task-solving' linguistic forms. These fail to include the kind of language we might expect from discussion, debate or social interactions of other kinds. Guy Cook thinks that there is more to language learning than just 'work' language; it is one of his main arguments for the inclusion of language play. Michael Swan worries that 'while TBI may successfully develop learners' command of what is known, it is considerably less effective for the systematic teaching of new language' (2005b: 376). He also worries about how appropriate tasks are in a situation where teachers have little time, and this point is taken up by Penny Ur. Working in a state school with only three or four English lessons a week, she has to 'make sure they learn the most common and useful words and chunks as fast as possible. We don't have time to wait until such items are encountered in communicative tasks' (2006). However, as someone who wrote a book on 'task-centred discussions' (Ur 1981), she does not argue that there is no place for communicative tasks, but rather that they are a 'necessary added component of a structured, language-based syllabus and methodology' (2006: 3).

Perhaps Task-based learning, like Communicative Language Teaching before it, is really a family of slightly argumentative members who, despite their differences, really want to stay together. In its pure form (that a curriculum should be based on tasks, and that learning should emerge from the tasks rather than preceding them), it accurately reflects an approach to learning exemplified by proponents of focus-on-form, rather than those who base their curriculum on teaching a sequence of pre-selected forms. But the claims made for it, while extremely attractive, sometimes seem more like hypotheses than fact. In the end, it is indubitably the case that having students perform meaning-related tasks is good for language processing and for giving them opportunities for trying out language (and getting feedback on their language use), but whether a programme based exclusively on such tasks is appropriate is open to question.

The lexical approach

The Lexical approach, discussed by Dave Willis (Willis 1990) and popularised by Michael Lewis (1993,1997), is based on the assertion that 'language consists not of traditional grammar and vocabulary but often of multi-word prefabricated chunks' (Lewis 1997:3). These are the 'lexical phrases', 'lexical chunks' and other word combinations that we discussed earlier, i.e. the collocations, idioms, fixed and semi-fixed phrases which form such an important part of the language. Adult language users have literally thousands of these chunks at their disposal, such as How are you?, See you later, You must be joking, I'll give it my best shot, changing the subject slightly ... , might as well, ... if it'll help. Lewis proposes that fluency is the result of acquisition of a large store of these fixed and semi-fixed pre-fabricated items which are 'available as the foundation for any linguistic novelty or creativity' (1997:15).

This highlighting of an area of language that was, perhaps, previously undervalued, has played a valuable role in provoking debate about what students should study. A Lexical approach would steer us away from an over-concentration on syntax and tense usage (with vocabulary slotted into these grammar patterns) towards the teaching of phrases which show words in combination, and which are generative in a different way from traditional grammar substitution tables. Thus, instead of teaching will for the future, we might instead have students focus on its use in a series of 'archetypical utterances' (Lewis 1993:97), such as I'll give you a ring, I'll be in touch, I'll see what I can do, I'll be back in a minute, etc.

In the area of methodology, Lewis's account of a Lexical approach is fairly straightforward.

Typical activities include asking students to add intensifiers to semi-fixed expressions, e.g. It's obvious something's gone wrong (quite) (Lewis 1997: 96), and getting students, once they have read a text, to underline all the nouns they can find and then to underline any verbs that collocate with those nouns (1997:109). Word-order exercises can be adapted to focus on particular phrase components, as in this example for expressions with get:

Elsewhere, however, Lewis suggests that exposure to enough suitable input, not formal teaching, is the 'key to increasing the learner's lexicon; and that 'most vocabulary is acquired, not taught' (1997: 197). Suggesting that language should be taught in such a Lexical approach is not without problems, however. In the first place, no one has yet explained how the learning of fixed and semi-fixed phrases can be incorporated into the understanding of a language system. Indeed, it can be argued that learning the system is a vital pre-requisite of the ability to string phrases together into a coherent whole. Otherwise we are left with the danger of having to learn an endless succession of phrase-book utterances - 'all chunks but no pineapple' (Thornbury 1998:12).

Another problem is determining the way in which we might order such phrases for teaching and learning purposes or, if we believe that exposure to enough suitable input is the key, deciding what kind of input that should be. Finally, we need to ask in what way a Lexical approach differs from other accounts of language teaching since there are as yet no sets of procedures to exemplify such an approach to language learning.

Another problem is determining the way in which we might order such phrases for teaching and learning purposes or, if we believe that exposure to enough suitable input is the key, deciding what kind of input that should be. Finally, we need to ask in what way a Lexical approach differs from other accounts of language teaching since there are as yet no sets of procedures to exemplify such an approach to language learning.

What Methodology?

The fact is that many of the approaches and teaching methods we have discussed in this chapter are based on a very western idea of what constitutes 'good' learning. For example, we have expected active participation in class, and we have encouraged adventurous students who are prepared to have a go even when they are not completely sure of the language they are trying to use. We sometimes ask students to talk about themselves and their lives in a potentially revealing way. We tell students that they should take charge of their learning, that the teacher is a helper and guide rather than the source of knowledge and authority. Yet all of these tenets may well fly in the face of educational traditions from different cultures. Thus British and American teachers working in other countries sometimes complain that their students have 'nothing to say', when in fact it is not an issue of the students' intelligence, knowledge or creativity which makes them reluctant to communicate in a British or American way, but their educational culture.

However, we are not suggesting for one minute that it is necessarily the case that ideas with an ideological origin in English-speaking TESOL are by their very nature inappropriate. On the contrary, many of them are sound and have a proven usefulness. However, what we are saying is that if teachers (native or non-native speakers) grounded in English-speaking western TESOL assume a methodological superiority (and as a result perceive other kinds of learning as inherently inferior), they will be doing their students and themselves a potential disservice.

When teachers from one culture (e.g. Britain, the USA, Australia) teach students from another (e.g. Cambodia, Argentina, Saudi Arabia), it is often easy to see where cultural and educational differences reside. However, as we have suggested, it is the methodological culture that matters here, not the background of the teachers themselves. In 1998 an Argentinian teacher, Pablo Toledo, posted a message on an Internet discussion list for teachers from South America which he called 'Howl' after the celebrated poem by the American Allan Ginsberg (republished in Toledo 2001). In his posting, he lamented the fact that teachers who try affective learning and humanistic teaching, who try drama and role-play and other communicative techniques, fall flat on their faces in secondary classes where the students are not interested and merely wish to get good grades. He argues passionately for a new kind of methodology to suit that kind of reality since the ideas developed in 'comfy little schools with highly motivated students' just aren't right for less 'privileged' contexts. 'Not: he writes, 'because there is something wrong with the ideas, but they just were not made for our teaching reality, and do not deal with our problems.'

All we are saying here is that applying a particular methodology thoughtlessly to any and every learning context we come into contact with may not always be appropriate. What we need to ask ourselves, therefore, is how to decide what is appropriate, and how to apply the methodological beliefs that guide our teaching practice.

Adapted from The Practice of English Language Teaching, Jeremy Harmer 2007, Longman.

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Вадим Бондарь
Вадим Бондарь
Как найти и выбрать тьютора?
Ирина Суханова
Ирина Суханова
здравствуйте! я прохожу курс учитель англ. языка. я отправила тест №1, как долго его будут проверять.
Павел Плахотник
Павел Плахотник
Украина, Днепропетровск
Анатолий Федоров
Анатолий Федоров
Россия, Москва, Московский государственный университет им. М. В. Ломоносова, 1989