as a Foreign Language
A Guide for Professionals

Maria Dakowska


Projekt okładki i stron tytułowych Michał Goszko Ilustracje na okładce Glob 4 / Maciej Dłużewski, Mirosława Czerny, Artur Rodak, Andrzej Guranowski, Corel Ilustracje w książce Archiwum PWN, Leszek Baraniecki, Jacek Herok

Redaktor inicjujący Anna Kędziorek Redaktor Małgorzata Konarzewska Konsultacja językowa Aniela Korzeniowska Redaktor techniczny Maria Czekaj

Podręcznik akademicki dotowany przez Ministerstwo Edukacji Narodowej i Sportu

Copyright © by Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN SA Warszawa 2005

ISBN 83-01-14498-X

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To Betty and Douglas


INTRODUCTION Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) as strategic behaviour. The role of professional knowledge



9 Contents



11 Contents


Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) as strategic behaviour. The role of professional knowledge


his book is intended as a textbook for courses in teaching English as a foreign language within the framework of our educational system. Focus on English as a foreign language may be contrasted with teaching foreign languages in general, which has an imposingly vast literature. English as a foreign language should be distinguished from English as a second language since a second language is studied as well as learned in the community which uses it. Unlike in the case of a foreign language, learning is not confined to the classroom process, but significantly enhanced by environmental input and interaction. English has a status of a world language as well as a leading foreign language taught in Poland. It is studied for a wide variety of purposes, ranging from communicating with native speakers of British, American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand English to international communication with native speakers of other languages, such as Dutch, Spanish, or German. The book aspires to be representative of the fundamental issues, but cannot be exhaustive. Its focus is on the background and origin of our teaching strategies and activities, as well as their function, but not on textbook, curriculum and syllabus design, or standardized testing, which are vital, but specialized aspects of foreign language teaching and, more often than not, are covered in separate courses. The book looks at the evolution and refinement of our ideas about foreign language teaching and their increasing anchoring in our notions of language learning. The focus is on two complementary facets of language use, comprehension and production, divided into four language skills to highlight issues of developing control of the language code. Teaching is considered to be a form of strategic behaviour which involves diagnosing the teaching problem and selecting/designing the appropriate solution. Teaching strategies are presented as basic categories with a potential for adjustment and modification. The teacher should regard them as options to choose from in real classroom conditions according to his or her diagnosis of the current didactic situation and the learners' needs. The book's advantage is that in one volume we cover key topics in teaching English as a foreign language reflecting recent developments in the field, especially the idea of foreign language learning as verbal communication including its underlying mental



processes. Each of these topics may be treated as a point of departure for a much more detailed and extensive study. At the same time it provides a point of departure for much more specific issues, which result from these fundamental considerations to be developed in the next volume. The main emphasis is clearly on the teaching aspect of the whole process, types of activities, criteria of their grading as well as their specific functions. It is not intended as an overview of research exploring language learning, or Second Language Acquisition Research, or research methods in the field of second language acquisition. Nevertheless, every attempt is made to link teaching principles to our current understanding of language use and learning in verbal communication. The book is addressed to a qualified teacher of English as a foreign language or a teacher trainee, such as a BA or an MA student of English at a philology department, an applied linguistics institute, or a teacher training college. It is taken into account that the students take many specialized courses in linguistics and literature which constitute their degree programme. As a result, they develop extensive background knowledge in the British and American language and culture and are capable of integrating it with the field of teaching English as a foreign language. For this reason, the textbook aims to provide teaching principles with rational justifications rather than arbitrary tips or recipes. My principal goal here is to systematize techniques and strategies of teaching English and address the question of why and how they can be used in developing various areas of communicative ability in English. This is the reason why the word 'professional' is used in the title. The book is addressed to a (prospective) professional with considerable background knowledge, determined to understand reasons for his or her actions while teaching. This professional must be able to identify, diagnose and solve numerous problems and make various decisions in the classroom. Such a person will not benefit from too local or arbitrary advice. Teacher education must indeed foster the understanding of foreign language learning and teaching as well as the abilities to diagnose classroom situations, make reasonable choices, as well as adjust and evaluate. Teachers' creativity, a most precious human resource which must not be ignored, can truly blossom only on such solid professional foundations rather than as a substitute for them, as some academics and practitioners maintain. The key question is who can be considered a professional. In general terms, this is someone educated or trained with a considerable skill and experience in a given activity, especially the main activity for which one receives pay, as opposed to just a hobby or pastime. Such a person can demonstrate professionalism in the sense of high quality and standards of performance. A profession is an occupation or vocation requiring extended training and advanced study in a specialized field whereas a professional is a specialist whose predispositions have been developed by extended education and training. Foreign language teaching witnesses a paradox, however: language learning, including mother tongue and subsequent languages, can happen naturally, without any deliberate activity on the part of a 'teacher' provided certain conditions are met: the learner is fairly young, and there is unrestricted exposure and contact with the language. However, the process is hard to replicate or evoke in the educational context when the learner is slightly older and contact hours are limited. The intricate nature of foreign language learning justifies the involvement of professionals, which is to say, people who understand the working of the process to the point that they can deliber-

15 Introduction ately cultivate it in the educational setting. What should such a professional know apart from being a fluent speaker of the source and target languages of the learner, as well as a trained linguist and an expert in culture? What is the difference between a professionally trained teacher and a non-professional? Ideally, a professional is someone who can make sense of foreign language learning in the classroom, in other words, can understand the process. It is then feasible to adjust teaching procedures to the language learners, taking into account their age, needs and interests. A professional can guide and assist the learners in the process of language learning in terms of both content and strategy and provide them with feedback about their progress. A professional teacher has a clear orientation in the complex and vast domain of the target language and culture. In other words, he or she can address and cope with a genuinely complex and extensive task. A non-professional, on the other hand, does not benefit from such a map because he or she has not been educated in this domain. It is fairly easy for him or her to get lost in the complex problem space and become preoccupied with one set of activities or techniques as universal, i.e. all-purpose solutions and forget about the others, or unnecessarily discard some techniques for inadequate reasons. Error correction may be used to illustrate such a case: a teacher may discard error correction as anachronistic to be in line with the recommendations of Communicative Language Teaching, whereas it is not only anachronistic in terms of our understanding of verbal communication, but against the teacher's professional role expectations to leave errors uncorrected. This state of orientation is necessary for the professional teacher to do his job well, if not to say at all. It is also absolutely necessary for him or her to establish his professional role in the classroom, which, regardless all the other claims, is the role of the leader. The teacher is a leader in the educational process, if we understand 'the leader' as someone who has a vision for the future and a way of convincing others to work toward this goal. What a good and honest leader needs is not only the vision, but realistic and rational understanding of what it takes to accomplish it. In the case of foreign language teachers, this 'vision' is tantamount to a clear idea of what it takes to learn a foreign language in the conditions afforded by the educational institutions characteristic of our culture. The clarity and practicality of the idea is relative to the level of education and specialized training. Anyone can act as a foreign language teacher once in a while, for a while, but sustaining the long-term process of foreign language learning on a mass scale calls for professionals with solid, i.e. rational foundations in the field. Professionals have specialized knowledge of the field at their disposal, they are aware of the tradition in the field so as not to reinvent the wheel and to critically evaluate old and new ideas in their context. In other words, they have a mental map of what it takes to learn and use a foreign language in the educational context, a map which systematizes various options and strategies. As a result, they can be methodical, i.e. systematic, about their work. Both the professional and the non-professional teachers may believe in variety, but only the professional can link techniques or tasks to certain aspects of language learning and use to determine their function in the long run. Although both let themselves be guided by intuition, the professional can also deal with a host of rational questions, such as why, how, for what purpose, with what effect, under what conditions certain teaching procedures can be implemented. Whether a truly satisfactory state of professionalism can be accomplished or not is another mat-



ter, but it is certainly worth trying because teaching and learning English as a foreign language is done on a mass scale. A professional is a rationalist who knows enough about his domain to demystify it. If one can answer the 'wh' questions listed above, the magic of language learning is gone. Is this state welcome? I think it is if we want to be paid for our work in the educational system. The numerous puzzles which still remain are challenging enough and undoubtedly there is still plenty of room for employing our creativity. Three sources of information are relevant to an educated teacher: one is professional knowledge on teaching English as a foreign language, the second is the real world in which we live and communicate, and the third is our careful insight and observation of the foreign language classroom with its learners, treated both as individuals and a group. On the basis of these three sources of knowledge the teacher may start diagnosing his problems and making decisions in the foreign language classroom. This is challenging and demands creative, strategic thinking. The purpose of this textbook is to outline key elements of background knowledge on teaching English as a foreign language to be tapped as one of the three sources of information in our professional activity. The word 'guide' used in the title indicates that the book introduces some information, but cannot be a substitute for 'being there' - in the classroom - where the teacher can gradually learn about his or her educational institution, the structure of the courses being taught, the coursebooks to be used, as well as develop the idea about his or her specific group of individual learners, their personalities and needs. No guide, let alone one volume, can replace first-hand experience and the teacher's continuous education. It is clear to me, however, that the degree to which any textbook on methods and strategies of teaching English as a foreign language can be considered practical does not depend on its abundance of ready tips and directives, but on the degree to which it helps to understand the complexity of foreign language learning and teaching, i.e. make sense of it. We badly need a map of the problem, the available options, criteria for choosing them, and the strategies of adjusting teaching to the learner and his or her needs.


Where do our ideas on foreign language teaching come from?

1. Foreign language teaching in a historical perspective
The evolution in the ideas on foreign language teaching outlined below reflects: a) progress in our understanding of language, language use and learning from the commonsense to the scientific linguistic view regarding the key to language, and b) the progress of civilization, i.e. the invention of increasingly fast means of communication and transportation, which make the world 'smaller', and which justify c) the growing social demands for speakers competent in foreign languages.

1.1. The role of Latin
An important factor in the early stage of the development of foreign language teaching is the role of Latin as the lingua franca of educated Europe in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Latin was considered as an ideal model of grammar, whereas other languages were merely imperfect reflections of this ideal. Mackey (1965:141) comments on the impact of Latin as a model of ideal grammar as well as a model of language teaching:
... other peoples began to learn Latin until that language became the international language of Western Europe, the language of church and state, and for a long time the sole language of learning, the only medium of instruction in the schools. And it remained so in some European countries until modern times. The first concern with language teaching method in Europe, therefore, had to do with the teaching of Latin. During the Middle Ages Latin was the language of teaching. Methods were mostly limited to Latin grammars designed to enable clerics to speak, read and write in their second language, the language in which nearly all academic learning was done.

18 1. Foreign language teaching in a historical perspective 1.3. Reactions t< The invention of printing around 1455 helped to reproduce the Greek and Latin classics to be used as texts for teaching throughout Europe. The language in which the texts were written was several centuries older than the Latin spoken by the educated users at the time, but it was considered to be the correct form of Latin on which the grammars and teaching should be based. Grammar based on these texts grew more and more complicated and became an end in itself rather than the means to reading the classics. Although Latin became a dead language and was gradually replaced by the national languages in Europe, it retained the central position as model for foreign language grammar. Although Latin ceased to be the medium of instruction, teaching Latin grammar was regarded as beneficial mental gymnastics or a mental discipline. These advantages had their critics, such as Montaigne or Comenius, giving rise to the direct approaches to language teaching in which grammar rules were considered unnecessary.
Jan Amos Komensky, or Comenius, (1592-1670) a Czech from Moravia, who wrote and taught in various places across Europe, was the greatest educationist of the seventeenth century. Howatt (1984) considers him to be a genius, probably the only genius in the history of language teaching. Comenius was interested in general education as well as in the problems of language teaching. His works include Didactica Magna (1657, 'The Great Didactic')? Janua Linguarum Reserata Aurea (1631, 'The Golden Gate to Languages Unlocked'), inspired by Bath's Janua Linguarum ('The Gate to Languages'). The book was devoted to teaching Latin and contained eight thousand words of common use illustrated with various sentences, or even texts in Latin of increasing difficulty and translated into the vernacular. He considered language learning to be a matter of intuition, facilitated by linking words to be learned with their images which are formed through sensory experience (Titone, 1968). This idea was put to practice in Orbis Sensualium Pictus (1658, 'The World in Pictures'), where he stressed the need for the child to learn words and link their meaning to objects. His main pedagogical principle was to address all the material in language teaching to the sense of perception and learning by direct practice, such as reading, repeating, copying and imitation, rather than the rules of grammar. Although he stressed the need to order the material systematically and hierarchically from the familiar to the unknown, he believed in the necessary link between the curriculum and the inner development of the learner (Titone, 1984). Howatt (1984:43) points out: 'It is rather ironical that Comenius should be remembered for writing Latin textbooks when what he really wanted was a system of education in which the mother tongue would play a central role and foreign languages would be learned as and when they were needed for practical purposes.'

1.2. Grammar as the key to foreign language learning. The Grammar Translation Method
Mackey makes a very important point that 'language teachers have always tended to apply language analysis to the teaching of language; in fact, some of the first descriptions of a language were made for the purpose of teaching it.' (quoted after Kelly, 1969:34). Mackey (1965) adds that from the point of view of teaching, lan-

1.2. Grammar as the key to foreign language learning


guage equals the description of language as presented in grammars and dictionaries, which is the material used in a particular teaching method. As pointed out by Richards and Rodgers (1986), the Grammar Translation Method, called the Prussian Method in the United States, is the effect of the influence of Latin on a) the way the vernacular languages were supposed to be taught; and b) the goals for which Latin was taught, i.e. literacy and understanding of the classics rather than practical goals. The Grammar Translation Method provided what was expected from an educated person: the ability to read and understand the classics, and recite the rules of grammar or proverbs. Among the proponents of this method are: Johann Seidenstrücker, Karl Plötz, H.S. Ollendorf, and Johann Meidinger. The key to learning the foreign language was the knowledge of its grammar, especially in the form of memorized rules learned by heart and accompanied by various declensions and conjugations. The Grammar Translation Method assumed a fairly good knowledge of the native grammar which was used as a point of reference. This kind of knowledge had special value: it provided mental gymnastics for the intellect. Rules, i.e. explanations about the regularities in the occurrence of language forms, were presented first and various examples followed; this form of presentation is called deductive. The main form of activity in the class was translation from the target to the native language and vice versa. The unit of the material for translation, as well as for the whole method, was the sentence. Some sentences, for example proverbs, were learned by heart. The two forms of translation, from and into the target language, were performed both orally and in writing. The learner's native language had an important role to play: it was used as the medium of instruction, first and foremost for talking about the target grammar as well as in translation activities. The teaching material contained classical texts which were to be read and subjected to grammatical analysis. Reading was emphasized, but the reading matter was neither contemporary nor communicatively useful. Accuracy was emphasized, but it referred primarily to archaic forms. Vocabulary items were presented in the form of bilingual lists to be memorized. Verbatim (word-for-word) learning had an important role to play in this method. The various proponents of 'grammaticalism' in the nineteenth century advocated the inductive approach in teaching grammar, i.e. inferring the rules from examples, which would be either texts or sentences in the target language. Literary texts of the classics turned out to be too complicated for this purpose, so, to overcome this difficulty, Seidenstrücker succeeded in writing a text based on simple sentences containing most of the grammatical features of the language (1811). This innovation was taken up by Ahn, and later by Ollendorf. As Titone (1968) points out, their method was based on constructing artificial sentences to illustrate a rule. The outcome was characteristically boring and dry material, hard to remember for being far from idiomatic and real, and, ironically, completely useless in real life. Titone (1968:28) provides the following examples quoted from


1. Foreign language teaching in a historical perspective

Sweet, which have become a laughing stock in the literature on foreign language teaching: The cat of my aunt is more treacherous than the dog of your uncle. We speak about your cousin, and your cousin Amelia is loved by her uncle and her aunt. My sons have bought the mirrors of the duke. Horses are taller than tigers. Seidenstrücker's disconnected sentences especially constructed for teaching grammar were turned into a principle by Karl Plötz (1819-1881), who was an influential figure in foreign language teaching in Europe long after his death. His method was divided into two parts: (1) rules and paradigms, and (2) sentences for translation from and into the target language. Throughout the nineteenth century, language teaching in schools followed Plötz's techniques. It was a matter of using the first language to acquire the second, rote learning of grammar rules, putting grammatical labels on words, and applying the rules by translating sentences. The Grammar Translation Method dominated foreign language teaching in the nineteenth century. Because of the activities it proposed and the emphasis on the written language, the method was appropriate for becoming skilled in grammatical analysis and reading. Needless to say, in the meantime the needs and expectations toward language learning changed rather dramatically and the method came under attack for its obsolete procedures and materials.

1.3. Reactions to the Grammar Translation Method
Alternatives which emerged in reaction to the Grammar Translation Method stressed teaching a foreign language without the mediation of explicit grammar instruction, i.e. directly from text and conversation, and the primacy of the spoken language over reading and writing. One of the representatives of this reaction was Claude Marcel (1793-1896), who sought inspiration for foreign language teaching in the way children learn their native language. He argued for the abolition of translation and grammar rules and stressed the role of meaning, making a point for the teaching of language first by comprehension of texts, listening, followed by speaking and writing. In 1867 he wrote a treatise The Study of Language Brought Back to Its True Principles, or the Art of Thinking in the Foreign Language, according to which listening and reading make up most of the instruction and formal training in grammar is avoided. Prendergast (1806-1886) also looked at children learning their native tongue to notice that they use situational clues to interpret utterances and memorize whole phrases to be used in speaking (Richards and Rodgers, 1986). By 1866, a private school for teaching languages with a natural method was opened by Henness, which was intended as an extreme reaction against the grammar translation methods of Plötz, Ahn, and Ollendorf. It was based on the recurrent idea that a foreign language is to be learned in the same way as the child learns his or her mother tongue. The method was fairly unsys-

1.3. Reactions to the Grammar-Translation Method


tematic at first, but at the turn of the twentieth century it began to follow a more definite set of principles: emphasis on the spoken language, the use of phonetic notation, presenting the meaning through pictures, gestures/dramatization and objects (realia), inductive learning of grammar, and the use of contemporary texts about everyday life and high culture of the foreign country.
The Gouin Series. François Gouin, a Frenchman, published his book on the art of foreign language teaching about 1880, in which he added a new element to foreign language instruction, namely physical activity. The book was written in French and translated into many languages to exert great influence in Germany, Great Britain, and the United States. His ideas resulted from his own frustrations and failures to learn German from grammar books, dictionaries and rules as well as inspired by observations of his son's playful activities coupled with the boy's verbal commentary on what was going on. As a result, Gouin developed his own method of foreign language teaching. The pivot of his method was the verb in a sentence. He created teaching units which were series of connected sentences built around an activity broken down into minute stages, each expressed in a sentence. In this way, the sentence reflected a logical sequence of events. Teaching consisted of saying these sentences and performing their meaning. The sentences were to be presented and explained by the teacher, with the native language used for the purpose, and later practised by the learners, first in speech then in writing. Characteristically of his method, the learners were saying the sentences while performing what they meant. What is known as the Gouin Series became standard procedure in the Direct Method. His key idea was learning through the senses, play and activity in familiar everyday situations. As pointed out by Mackey (1965), foreign language learning in this way would take 900 hours. Spoken language was stressed in that the presentation of the material, explanation and practice had to be oral first and written later. The vocabulary component related to the activities amounted to 8,000 words and was grouped around five topics: home, society, nature, science, occupations (Mackey, 1965). A sample list is quoted after Howatt (1984:163): The maid chops a log of wood The maid goes and seeks her hatchet, the maid takes a log of wood, the maid draws near to the chopping-block, the maid kneels down near the chopping block, the maid places the block of wood upright upon this block. The maid raises her hatchet, the maid brings down her hatchet, the hatchet cleaves the air, the blade strikes the wood, the blade buries itself inside the wood, the blade cleaves the wood, the two pieces fall to the ground. The maid picks up these pieces, the maid chops them again and again to the size desired, the maid stands up again, the maid carries back the hatchet to its place. In this way, the sentences in a cycle can be practised and remembered more easily because a) the material is logically linked and b) dramatization is linked to the verbal material. Key processes are association of the learning material, imitation of the sen-


1. Foreign language teaching in a historical perspective
tences modelled by the teacher, and, last but not least, memorization. The choice of activities is connected with the everyday life and interests of the students whereas the memory processes are enhanced by the meaningful connection between each element in the activity series. However, Titone (1968) notices that the subdivision of the activity into minute components was exaggerated and in conflict with the practical needs of the students. Howatt (1984) points out that the sentences are predominantly third person statements, the drawback that Gouin tried to eliminate by including some dialogues. The material he uses is focused on only one of a number of functions of language - commenting on an activity. The advantage of the series is that the steps of the activity are easy to remember because memory processes are supported by meaningful links in the material itself. But although they follow a natural plan for the activity, there are other plans to organize language, as reflected in various language genres, for example narrative, description, argumentative writing, eye-witness accounts, etc. Howatt (1984) regards the Gouin series as too limited in the principles and the choice of the material to be called a method. On a more general note, it should be pointed out that such advantages of the Gouin Series as the sensible links in the material, the association with real life activity (an episode), and the links between language and action comply with the more general laws of human learning. They are by no means limited to the verb-centred activities highlighted in the series, but apply to all the language material used in verbal communication: e.g. descriptions, instructions, road directions, cooking recipes, stories, dramatization of various emotions, etc.

1.3.1. The Reform Movement A most violent attack on the Grammar Translation Method came from a German specialist, Viëtor (1850-1918), in 1882 in a celebrated pamphlet Der Sprachunterricht muss umkehren! Ein Beitrag zur Überbürdungsfrage (Language learning must start afresh! A contribution to the question of stress and overwork in schools.). He first wrote it under the pseudonym Quosque Tandem, which, as pointed out by Howatt (1984:189), refers to the opening phrase in Cicero's address to the Senate on the Catilina conspiracy and means: How much longer is this going to go on? The pamphlet heralded the Reform Movement and was especially influential in Germany. Viëtor stressed the need to focus on the spoken language, the use of connected sentences and illustrations (gestures, pictures), to teach speaking first and reading at a later stage, as well as the need to develop the knowledge of the foreign country and its culture. Grammar was to be learned inductively. Viëtor was critical of the fact that students were overburdened with work leading to mental stress and fatigue. His solution was to eliminate written homework and to introduce songs and games to the teaching process. The key principles of the Reform Movement, according to Howatt (1984), included the primacy of speech and oral activities and the central position of a connected text used for the inductive teaching of grammar. The emphasis on the spoken language was reinforced by the role of phonetics and phoneticians such as Jespersen and Sweet. Phonetics provided foreign language teaching with scientific foundations which were hard to resist. It was essential that the learners start

1.4. The Natural and the Direct Methods


reading when their pronunciation was correct. The orthography was misleading in developing proper pronunciation and so was its use as the notation for pronunciation. As a result, phonetic transcription was introduced to teaching English and French. Oral techniques included question-and-answer activities, retelling, and summarizing to stimulate the learners to use the new material. The medium of communication in the classroom was the foreign language while the native language was reserved solely for providing the meaning of some vocabulary items. Teachers of the Reform Movement were non-native speakers of the target language. Howatt (1984:173) states: 'The Reform Movement consisted of non-native teachers who accepted the basic sense of the monolingual principle, but did not see any advantage in an extremist view.' The principle of the connected text was well accepted. The law of association was recognized by the newly emerging science of psychology, whereas the learning material consisting of absurd, disconnected sentences illustrating points of grammar was strongly criticized. To be learned, the material had to be internally connected to allow associations. Translation was discouraged for fear of undesirable associations between the native and the foreign language preventing the development of the language to be learned. The text was treated as the material for learning rules of grammar inductively, rather than the illustration of the rules already learned. Many authors suggested learning grammar after the text's presentation. The contrast between inductive and deductive learning of grammar rules should be clear by now. Induction is the reasoning operation in which we draw conclusions from the particular to the general. In the case of language learning, this means progressing from sample sentences in which certain forms appear to a generalization about forms and their context, expressed in the form of a rule (a statement about the principle governing the occurrence of the form). Deduction is a reverse process in which we start with the generalization and make inferences regarding the specific instances of the rule. In the case of learning grammar, this starts with the presentation of a grammar rule, which is subsequently illustrated with various sample sentences.

1.4. The Natural and the Direct Methods
The essence of the Direct Method can be explained with a quote from Howatt (1984:234): 'The Direct Method originated in a desire to do something that the schools of the time were not doing, and could not do, namely to teach foreign languages as practical skills for everyday purposes of social survival. Questions of educational value and 'worthwhileness' were irrelevant, what mattered was the ability to communicate effectively in ordinary ('trivial') life.' It would be impossible to make a rigorous distinction between the Natural and the Direct Method. 'Natural' comes from Nature, and it is based on the observation of the natural process through which children learn their mother tongue.


1. Foreign language teaching in a historical perspective

'Direct' comes from the absence of any mediating role of grammar, translation, or dictionary. Language learning is a natural ability of humans and can be done intuitively provided there are opportunities for interaction or conversation, in other words, to quote Howatt (1984:193): 'someone to talk to, something to talk about, and a desire to understand and make yourself understood. Interaction is at the heart of natural language acquisition, or conversation, as Lambert Saveur called it when he initiated the revival of interest that led eventually to the direct method.' Locke stated that the most appropriate and efficient way to a language is by conversation and practice rather than rules of grammar. As has been mentioned above, the source of inspiration for the Direct and Natural Methods often came from various informal observations of children playing with their mother tongue and the effortless way in which they were able to master it without explicit instruction in grammar. The use of such methods was certainly prevalent in those families, not necessarily only aristocratic, who could afford to have their children educated at home with a live-in tutor, a native speaker of the language, most often French, but also English and German. The principle of the Direct Method was learning the language in situational context, linking new words to their meaning, e.g. naming objects in the environment, stressing oral work, introducing writing to consolidate oral work, listening practice (short lectures about interesting topics), inductive learning of grammar from texts, and graded reading. One of the representatives of the Natural Method is Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827), who lived and worked in Switzerland and is still considered to be an important figure in the history of education. His 'object lessons' involved learning foreign language vocabulary items through naming the respective objects as well as commenting on them and building all kinds of sentences with them. However, Howatt (1984) points out critically that it is hard to envisage what happens in the method once the teacher runs out of objects to be used and the learners are ready for more complex material. He adds that in fact it is hard to envisage the method beyond the intermediate level. Another representative of this movement was Gottlieb Henness in Germany, who used Pestalozzis technique to teach standard German to speakers of other dialects, established his own language school and added French as a foreign language. He emigrated to the United States and met Lambert Sauveur (1826-1907), with whom he collaborated to open a school in Boston. Its programme was quite intensive: a hundred hours of intensive instruction, two hours a day, five days a week for four and a half months. In 1874, Sauveur wrote An Introduction to the Teaching of Living Languages without Grammar or Dictionary. The most important element of the method was the dialogue of the teacher with the students, naming various classroom objects, stress on oral work and written material used mainly to consolidate oral work, delayed at least by a month. He did not use the native language so the learners had to understand the material on the basis of situational clues. Error correction was not used. Sauveur realized that there was a difference between earnest questions, through which the teacher genuinely seeks information, and other questions which are asked merely

1.4. The Natural and the Direct Methods


for the sake of language practice. He stressed the role of context, for example, the need to ask questions so that one would give rise to another because this continuity would guide the learners in the process of understanding. An important figure in the commercial implementation of the Direct Method was Maximillian Berlitz (1852-1921), who opened his first language school in Providence, Rhode Island, making foreign language learning available through the Direct Method in the United States and Europe. The need for learning the spoken language was so strong at that time that his schools mushroomed in Europe and America. He also wrote textbooks and reference grammars for his method. The teachers he employed were all native speakers of the target language and under no circumstances was the student's native language allowed to be used in the classroom. The emphasis was on oral work with everyday phrases and vocabulary, on intensive practice, ample use of the question-and-answer technique and delayed introduction of grammatical explanations. The Berlitz Method was quite systematic and replicable. Berlitz himself was proud that the courses in various places were coordinated in such a way that a student leaving school in one city could continue in another. Critics of the Direct Method stressed that it was insufficiently focused on grammatical accuracy and systematicity and that it put high demands on the teachers' language proficiency and energy resources. However, the Direct Method addressed the practical needs of language learners (Richards and Rodgers, 1986). Below is a list of its characteristic features: 1. The emphasis in this method was on speaking and listening. 2. Correct pronunciation was of primary importance. 3. The main forms of activity were oral, especially dialogues and question-and answer exchanges. 4. New material was first introduced orally. 5. Vocabulary was chosen on the basis of its practicality and its meaning was demonstrated directly, with the use of objects, pictures and gestures. 6. Grammar of the target language was taught inductively in a variety of oral activities. In most general terms, the characteristic tenets of the Direct Method responsible for its name centre on using language rather than talking about it. More specifically, instead of explanation, these tenets stress interaction and focus on the learner's active involvement, as well as practice, the primacy of speech over writing, the role of the natural pace of speaking and the use of connected text. One of the specialists who recognized the limitations of the Direct Method was Henry Sweet. He postulated the need for the teaching method to have a sound and systematic linguistic basis. As a result, he saw a way to combine the Direct Method, especially its emphasis on language learning from text and conversation where language was arbitrary with the formal focus on grammar rules of the Grammar Translation Method where language was logically organized, on condition that the study of grammar be made more practical and linked to meaningful material.


1. Foreign language teaching in a historical perspective
Henry Sweet (1845-1912) was a distinguished British phonetician and polyglot, the man who taught phonetics to Europe (Howatt 1984:180), thought to have been portrayed by Shaw as Professor Higgins in Pygmalion. His most important work on foreign language teaching The Practical Study of Languages is not only an outstanding contribution to the reform in language teaching but to a balanced framework firmly based on linguistics. This book starts with the statement that all language study must be based on phonetics, which provides the basis for acquiring accurate pronunciation, and on a system of notation. Phonetics must be learned as a tool to accurate pronunciation. He stressed the role of intelligibility of cross-linguistic contrasts between sounds (now called phonemes). Literary texts were considered of lesser value to the language learner than the colloquial spoken language. Sweet believed in using texts which would be natural yet simple enough to be comprehensible as opposed to 'monstrosities' aimed at illustrating points of grammar. The content or the story line would hold the text together as a connected whole. His criteria for grading text difficulty were based on their typology as well as subject matter, starting with descriptions, then narratives and finally dialogues. As far as the learning component is concerned, he followed the principles of associationism in psychology and stressed the need of repetition and learning by heart after the material has been studied thoroughly. He opposed the Natural Method which attempted to imitate native language learning by a child because it put the learner in an underprivileged position: the adult could no longer make use of the abilities of the child yet was not allowed to use the intellectual faculties s/he had as an adult. Sweet stressed the need to control the number of vocabulary to be presented (3,000 common words would be sufficient for general purposes) he also grouped them thematically. There were five stages in his approach: 1) the mechanical stage aimed at learning good pronunciation and phonetic transcription, 2) the grammatical stage, focused on building the knowledge of grammar and basic vocabulary, 3) idiomatic stage, devoted to the lexical material, and finally 4) the literary and 5) archaic stages, devoted to literature and philology.

1.5. The Reading Method
Another method which stressed the need of learning the language from text was the Reading Method. It was supposed to provide the answer to the criticisms addressed to the Direct Method, especially its attempts to attain the impossible in the school context. The Reading Method offered a solution to problems of foreign language teaching based on the reevaluation of the teaching goals: the focus was not on oral work or oral practice but on the written language. Its primary aim was comprehension of the written text to develop the ability of rapid silent reading. The texts were based on controlled and limited vocabulary but since reading is an individual matter, the teachers introduced some speaking activities to talk about the target language and culture (Mackey, 1965). A much more modern version of the Reading Method is the Comprehension Approach, as exemplified in the volume edited by Harris Winitz The Comprehension Approach to Foreign Language Instruction, Newbury House Pubi., Rowley Mass., 1981. The features which this approach shares with the Reading Method include, first and foremost, the emphasis on language comprehension and retardation of speaking activities until the learner has been exposed to a sufficient amount of input for production to emerge

1.5. The Reading Method


naturally. The approach stresses the need for the learner to be exposed to authentic material and to really link the forms to their exact meaning. Understanding the material is the key to language learning.
Harold Palmer (1877-1947), a British applied linguist, had an enormous impact on the field of foreign language teaching, especially teaching English as a foreign language (Howatt, 1984), in that he was able to logically derive the principles of foreign language teaching from linguistics (phonetics, grammar, lexicology), psychology (the laws of memory) and pedagogy (the role of concretization in teaching) (Titone, 1984). Palmer began his career as a teacher of English as a foreign language in Belgium. He also collaborated with Daniel Jones and was offered a job as a lecturer on foreign language teaching to foreign language teachers. During that time he took a keen interest in foreign language teaching in general and developed many innovative ideas about his field which were published in The Scientific Study and Teaching of Languages, 1917. This is the book in which he, unlike Berlitz, takes a balanced view toward translation, especially as an exact device to semanticize the meaning of unknown words. Considering the complexity of language, Palmer argues for a multiple line of approach in language teaching, tapping all our capacities. Moreover, the key figure in the learning process is the learner, especially his language proficiency, abilities and incentive to learn. His general principles include: 'ears before eyes', 'reception before production', 'oral repetition before reading', 'immediate memory before prolonged memory', 'chorus work before individual work', 'drill work before free work', 'equal attention to the four skills', 'learning by heart', as well as the emphasis on concreteness of the material and the interest factor. His other publications from this period include The Oral Method of Teaching Languages and The Principles of Language Study, 1921. In the latter, he made a distinction between the spontaneous and the studiai capacities of the learner, which, in current terms, correspond to the communicative and cognitive aspects of language processes. Practical language learning is contingent both in direct contact with the language, frequent listening practice and repetition, and conversation as well as the purely theoretical work of the intellect. In 1923 he was appointed director of the Institute for Research in English Teaching in Tokyo. The Institute was an Anglo-American undertaking with the aim of organizing annual conferences as well as disseminating professional information among teachers of English in Japan. During that time he was developing and advocating the Oral Method of teaching English as a foreign language, which, unfortunately, did not suit the traditional culture of a typical Japanese classroom. At the same time, he was also keenly interested in the criteria of frequency for vocabulary selection and produced various lists of most frequently used words for teaching English as a foreign language. This interest was reflected in his publication from 1932 called The Grading and Simplifying of Literary Material. In addition to the above, he was a brilliant phonetician as testified by his 1922 publication of English Intonation. In 1924 he wrote A Grammar of Spoken English, on a strictly phonetic basis, aimed at advanced learners and teachers of English, which is considered to be the first large-scale description of standard spoken English for pedagogical purposes (Howatt, 1984). A year later, in 1925, he and his daughter Dorothée produced English Through Actions, a set of classroom materials, especially drills, which systematically linked language learning to various activities, often likened to Gouin's ideas. He returned to Britain in 1936 to collaborate with Michael West as well as to act as a British Council Adviser on matters of teaching English oversees. As pointed out by Howatt (1984), Palmer was instrumental in turning the field of foreign language teaching into a full-fledged profession, which is now called applied linguistics.


1. Foreign language teaching in a historical perspective

To conclude the section on historical developments in foreign language teaching, we should acknowledge a considerable growth and diversification of ideas at this stage. The notion of grammar as the key to foreign language learning is juxtaposed by the idea that foreign language learning should be direct, i.e. it should aim to replicate the way children learn their mother tongue. The Direct and Natural Methods, outlined above, are inspired by fairly random and informal insights into the process of first language acquisition. Nevertheless, they are significant to the development of the field in that they enrich the spectrum of possibilities in language teaching with an important alternative to sentence-based and explicit grammar-oriented strategies. The Direct and Natural Methods are timeconsuming because their impact depends on the sheer quantity of the learning material and contact hours. This remains in sharp contrast with the qualitative grammar-based strategies which strive to provide the learner with the material for language learning in a condensed form. The demise of the Grammar Translation Method is certainly accelerated by the changing social demands regarding foreign language mastery. The world is shrinking. Greater possibilities of travel as well as its amazing speed by new means of transportation, such as the steam ship, the train, the automobile as opposed to the horse-drawn carriage, migration waves from Europe to the United States, the intensity of international contacts and the dynamic development of mass communication, i.e. the growth of the press and journalism, necessitate a redefinition of the goals of foreign language teaching from the formal, academic skills in grammar and translation of classical texts to the communicative abilities of direct, fluent face-to-face interaction in the foreign language. Foreign languages are introduced to schools on a regular basis, whereas the educational system becomes more and more accessible to young generations of learners. Unquestionable progress has been made in various areas of foreign language teaching; many activities which are used nowadays have been well-known and established in the foreign language classroom for quite a long time, as documented by Kelly (1969), e.g. drill, guided dialogue, dictation, free composition, letter writing, projects, drama, etc. Nevertheless, the state of the field of foreign language teaching in the first half of the 20th century is considered far from satisfactory to meet the challenges of the real world.

1.6. The current view on the role of grammar
Following a wave of studies of the relationship between language learning and grammar instruction, it is nowadays possible to formulate rather specific expectations regarding the function of grammatical rule in foreign language teaching. First of all, we must recognize the irony of the explicit presentation of the rule: the learner ends up learning what he or she has been taught, that is information about language, expressed as a sentence explaining some principle which governs the use of the given forms. Technically, this is an observation, a thought expressing a regularity in the grammatical system, but not the ability to behave communicatively

1.7. The current view on the function of translation


according to this observation. For example, if we explain to the learner that the third person singular of the verb in the simple present tense must have either the -s or -es ending, the learner will understand and learn this principle as an idea expressed in a sentence, but not as the ability to implement the principle in the act of speaking. In order to accomplish the latter, the learner must have numerous, if not endless, opportunities to practise the use of third person singular simple present sentences in meaningful contexts. Observing language to notice regularities in the use of forms as in linguistic description is a cognitive operation not to be mistaken for the act of producing an utterance in the same language as a communicative operation. Unfortunately, the two aspects used to be regarded as if they had been one and the same operation: grammar rules used to be erroneously identified with the material for producing utterances. It is now recognized that they possess their distinct specificity and that each of them taps different and specialized knowledge sources in our mind. Rules are fed by metalinguistic or metalingual knowledge which comes from reasoning, while speech production - by largely automatized procedural knowledge which comes from practice. Explicit rule presentation cannot function as a substitute for communicative language practice, but it can provide the learner with useful guidance about the forms to make communicative language practice more effective. It does not matter whether we emphasize the inductive or deductive strategy for rule presentation, as long as the illustrative material is meaningful and there are plenty of opportunities for communicative practice distributed in time. For these reasons, the explicit teaching of grammar cannot be expected to provide the learner with the key to language. The key to foreign language learning is its use in meaningful practice and interaction. Considering the communicative goals of foreign language teaching, rule presentation and learning is no longer a leading activity, the core of a teaching method. Instead, its status is reduced to one of many form-focused techniques of 'teaching grammar' and fostering accuracy with the function to intensify the benefits of communicative language practice. Additionally, there are two important conditions attached to this limited use of explicit rule presentation: 1) the learner must be cognitively ready to deal with the abstract information about language, which is to say, be at least at the developmental stage of formal operations, around the age of 12-14; and 2) the rule must be relevant to the learner, i.e. refer to utterances in the discourse of communication.

1.7. The current view on the function of translation
In the wake of its uses and abuses in the Grammar Translation Method, translation used to be given a bad press. The Grammar Translation Method relied too heavily on translating from the target to the native language turning it into a dominating activity. The results of such an emphasis were predictable: the learners became skilled in what they were engaged in doing - converting sentences or even whole texts into their native language. Understandably, such ability has little to


1. Foreign language teaching in a historical perspective

do with the practical use of language in communication to express and understand meaning. But it certainly was an effective way of rendering the meaning of the text in focus. After a period of strong objections to any use of translation in foreign language teaching, a more balanced attitude has evolved. To begin with, translation is a cover term for a variety of activities depending on the educational context. 1. It may be either a part of specialized translation training or of a general foreign language programme. 2. It may be from or into the native language. 3. It may be done by the teacher or the learner. 4. It may be used for presentation, practice, testing and error correction. Regarding the first point, translation is not only a FLT device, but a specialized full-time professional activity which requires extensive training. In the educational context of translator/interpreter training, its leading role is quite justified: translation as well as interpretation is a natural form of practice relevant to the future tasks. Other forms of training include 'shadowing' (the activity performed entirely in the target language which requires the student to repeat the message with some delay, to overcome the limitations of working memory and coordinate comprehension and production in the target language), studies of terminology, learning notation, studying technical information in various specialized domains, native language stylistics, source and target language culture, etc. In the context of foreign language teaching for general communicative purposes, the function of translation must be addressed in connection with the role of the native language in the foreign language classroom. As we recall, such approaches as the Berlitz Method ban the use of the student's native language and especially translation from the foreign language classroom. The learners must work out meanings all by themselves. At the same time, the native language of the learner cannot be used because the teacher, who must be a native speaker of the target language, does not know it. No one is denying that the majority of classroom time must be spent on the use of the target language (Wilkins, 1976). The real issue is: when and for what purpose is it justified to use translation as the last resort? As indicated above (see point 2), there is a difference between translating from and into the target language. In learning English as a foreign language by Polish students, the target language, English, is the weaker of the two and in need of practice. As the learner converts a sentence from English into Polish, the meaning of the English sentence is identified, but the speaking activity is performed in Polish. When the material of this activity is sizeable, e.g. a whole text is to be translated, the benefit for the learner in terms of target language practice is marginal. When the ideas for translation are provided in Polish, the learner must convert them into the weaker language, English, so the benefit in terms of target language practice is greater. What functions can we attribute to translation in the foreign language classroom, then? Sweet and Palmer as well as the proponents of the Comprehension Approach, who stress the absolute need for the learner to understand the language learning material, defend the value of translation into the

1.7. The current view on the function of translation


native language as a precise semanticizing device. To semanticize means 'to convey the meaning of a given unit' (Titone, 1968). When the teacher provides the translation of a term or phrase, the learner can instantly understand it, i.e. link the form to its meaning, commit the item to memory, and move on to a more demanding part of the task. In the context of teaching English as a foreign language, we resort to translation into the native language when it is hard to convey the meaning of a given word or phrase with the help of other, direct or monolingual strategies, such as using a picture or pointing to the object to visualize the meaning, presenting a definition, a paraphrase, or examples of sentences with the given item, etc. Characteristically, hard-to-explain words happen to be abstract nouns, first and foremost technical terms. Translating them into the native language by the teacher helps to avoid any ambiguity incurred by other, monolingual or direct strategies. On the other hand, asking the learner to translate an item into Polish enables the teacher to check that he or she understands the item correctly and may be quite useful in the case of so-called false friends, such as manifestation - manifestacja. In both cases of semantizing (by the teacher and by the learner) the learner's precise understanding of the material in the target language is given priority over the fact that for a minute or two the learner is deprived of the target language input and/or practice. Further uses of translation are connected with presentation, practice, testing, and feedback purposes, as contrastive as well as elicitation devices. Presenting two sentences, in English and Polish, with the same meaning may help to contrast the formal devices used in English and Polish. Such a contrast may - to some extent - raise the learner's awareness of the distinctions between Polish and English syntax and counteract interference of Polish and English. With the help of the native language elicitation the teacher may check the extent to which the learner has mastered some specific teaching point in grammar or vocabulary. Translation into the native language by the teacher is a way of providing feedback and belongs to error correction techniques: when the learner produces an utterance which the teacher thinks does not express the learner's intended meaning accurately, an instantaneous translation into Polish will help the learner to notice the mismatch and modify the utterance. However, Wilkins (1974:82) makes an important and interesting reservation about the function of translation in semanticizing the meaning of a word, which is worth quoting here:
In fact, one can question whether one can ever 'know the meaning of a word', since further experience of its use will always add something more to its meaning. This is particularly the case if we consider the polysemic nature of many lexical items. Translation tends to conceal polysemy, by encouraging reliance on one-for-one equivalences between languages. The short-term advantages of translation have to be weighed against some longer-term problems that dependence on translation may cause.

These functions of translation may vary in different circumstances and at different proficiency levels. All in all, they result from the realization that the


1. Foreign language teaching in a historical perspective

learner's native language is a resource which can be tapped under specific didactic circumstances, but, like salt, should be used with moderation. My impressionistic estimate would be not more than 2 percent of the class time.

1.8. The current view on the role of the text
Three ideas can be distinguished regarding the use of text in foreign language teaching so far: the first one refers to classical works of literature which should be studied for their own sake; familiarity with the literary texts is expected from an educated person; although archaic, the texts are natural pieces of connected discourse studied for their philological worth. The second one is the use of texts to illustrate grammar rules; in this case the texts are especially constructed to contain as many forms as possible; they do not express coherent ideas and may even be composed of individual, disconnected sentences; this use of texts is part of the view that grammar is the key to language learning. Finally, the third idea is that the text, which takes the form of a monologue or a dialogue, is the material of language learning; it consists of meaningful, connected sentences to be comprehended and remembered, and it refers to some situational context; this role of the text is characteristic of the Natural and Direct Methods. In contrast to the texts deliberately constructed for the purpose of illustrating some points of grammar, these texts have properties of natural continuous discourse: coherence, cohesion, and situational reference (see 5.4. on discourse in CLT). Grammatical forms of interest to the language teacher do not have to be condensed in them; instead, learning forms takes place when the learner is exposed to a sufficient number of these texts for the forms to recur. In such circumstances, the learner can process the material to reconstruct the grammatical system of the target language. This third idea has found many proponents nowadays (cf Newmark and Reibel, 1970). Stephen Krashen, who is a well-known figure in second language research and teaching, has formulated this point of view as the Input Hypothesis which stresses the role of meaningful text as the source of input (data) in the process of language learning as well as the condition necessary for language learning. The question remains whether or not this is a sufficient condition. The issue will be discussed at a later stage.
Topics and review questions

1. An eminent Polish linguist, professor Ludwik Zabrocki, stated in his lectures and talks for foreign language teachers that there are in fact two essential methods of foreign language teaching, the grammar method and the text method, whereas all the others can be treated as their variations to be located somewhere between the main two. Do you think that this idea is tenable? Why? Why not? 2. Henry Sweet saw a way to combine a) the Direct Method, especially its emphasis on language learning from text and conversation, where language was arbitrary, with b) the formal focus on grammar

1.8. The current view on the role of the text


rules of the Grammar Translation Method, where language was logically organized, on condition that the study of grammar be made more practical and linked to meaningful material. Can you explain this idea? Is it valid nowadays? Why? Why not? 3. Can you justify the role of phonetics in teaching English as a foreign language to Polish students? 4. What is your own view on the role of grammar in teaching English as a foreign language to Polish students? Which points from section 1.6. do you accept and which not? 5. What is your own point of view on the role of translation in teaching English to Polish learners? Can you find some specific examples when translation into Polish seems indispensable? Can you find an example of translating from Polish to English which is necessary in teaching English to Polish learners?

Further reading Howatt, A. P R., 1984. A History of English Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kelly, L. G., 1969. 25 Centuries of Language Teaching. Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House. Titone, R., 1968. Teaching Foreign Languages. A Historical Sketch. Washington: Georgetown University Press.


Mainstream and alternative methods in TEFL in the second half of the 20th century

Characteristic features of this period include: a) clear practical goals of foreign language learning, language learning for communication; b) communication understood as direct, oral, face-to-face interaction, and not just writing; c) the practical goals justified by the rapid changes in the communication and transportation systems, especially fast means of transportation such as the plane and the automobile, and d) further growth of the mass media, especially radio and television, as well as film and the press. Robert Lado (1964:3) succinctly summarizes these changes:
We are witnessing in our time the greatest changes in the history of language learning - changes that reach into every aspect of this time-honoured field of study. Formerly known by a few as a mark of education, languages are now studied by people from all walks of life. More languages are studied than ever before, and methods of learning are changing radically. The goals of the past, usually limited to contact with selected items of literature, have broadened to include spoken communication with and understanding of native speakers on the widest range of human interests.

What characterizes this period in the development of foreign language teaching is the growing sophistication of the field. This results from the recognition of the complexity of foreign language teaching as an activity as well as the realization that its academic foundations must be refined further to deal with this very complex task. Two strong tendencies characterize the ideological climate of the field in the post-war period: a search for solid scientific basis for foreign language teaching in the more advanced disciplines of linguistics and psychology, and converting these foundations into the best and most efficient method of foreign language teaching.


2. Audiolingualism in teaching English as a foreign language

2. Audiolingualism in teaching English as a foreign language
2.1. Approach, method and technique
The trio of terms: approach, method and technique most adequately characterize the climate in foreign language teaching in the middle of the 20th century, especially the confidence in the source disciplines, linguistics and psychology which can provide foundations for foreign language teaching. In a classical article explaining the three concepts, Anthony (1964) states that approach, method and technique are related hierarchically, i.e. approach is the most general of the three, method results from the approach, and techniques - from the method. Approach is viewed as (1964:64):
... a set of correlative assumptions dealing with the nature of language and the nature of language teaching and learning. An approach is axiomatic. It describes the nature of the subject matter to be taught. It states a point of view, a philosophy, an article of faith - something which one believes but cannot necessarily prove. It is often unarguable except in terms of the effectiveness of the methods which grow out of it.

A method, which emanates from the approach, is concerned with an orderly presentation of language to students and is influenced by a number of factors, such as the relationship between the learners' mother tongue and the target language, the goals of the course, the students' age and proficiency level, as well as their cultural background. It is accompanied by an especially written textbook and other materials. The last term is technique (Anthony, 1964:66):
A technique is implementational - that which actually takes place in the classroom. It is a particular trick, stratagem, or contrivance used to accomplish an immediate objective. Techniques must be consistent with a method and therefore in harmony with an approach as well.

What the learners experience in the class as well as what the observers notice are techniques of foreign language teaching. The above explanations of the three central terms are significant because they codify the relationship of the field of foreign language teaching, including English as a foreign language, with the scientific disciplines of linguistics and psychology: they are the authoritative source disciplines to provide assumptions on the nature of language and language learning.

2.2. Sources of audiolingualism
At the level of approach, key ideas for foreign language teaching were derived from behaviourism in psychology and structuralism in linguistics.

2.2. Sources of audiolingualism 2.2.1. Influences from psychology


The leading behaviourists in the United States are J. B. Watson and B. F. Skinner. Behaviourism is not a monolithic school, but it can be characterized as the study of observable behaviour. Behaviourists rejected mentalism, i.e. preoccupation with inferred mental processes which exist but, they claimed, cannot be studied scientifically. Watson characterized behaviourist psychology as an objective, experimental branch of natural science with no interest in consciousness or use for such techniques as introspection. He thought the feasible goal of psychology was to predict and control behaviour. Watson took the extreme position that all behaviour represents learned responses to environmental stimuli and rejected the notion of innate, inherited sources of individual differences. He was convinced that in certain controlled environmental circumstances, any infant can be trained in the way he wanted. The dividing line between animal and human learning was rather slim. Many experiments were performed on laboratory animals, such as cats, pigeons, rats, and monkeys, to explore simple forms of learning which would also be informative about human learning. Following his research on cats, Edward L. Thorndike, formulated the law of effect, which states that satisfying consequences, or rewards, strengthen the behaviour and make it more likely to recur in the future whereas unsatisfying consequences weaken or eradicate it. Behaviour is analysed in terms of the stimulus-response paradigm. Stimulus is defined as some excitation of a sense organ, while response is a muscular or glandular reaction (Gleitman, 1981). Behaviourists claimed that where there is no stimulus, there is no response, the point contested later on by Chomsky. According to Thorndike, learning in laboratory animals did not involve understanding but a gradual strengthening of the stimulus-response bond, or association (Gleitman, 1981). The best-known form of behaviourism is Skinner's radical behaviourism. He was interested in the same problems as Thorndike and proposed that the most important mechanism for moulding human behaviour is the principle of reinforcement. His key term, operant (instrumental) conditioning, reflects the view of learning as making or withholding particular responses because of their consequences (Wortman, Loftus, and Marshall, 1988). Skinner's behaviourism does not appeal to inferred mental processes or structures such as storage or retrieval or memories, but, characteristically, is based on the idea that all behaviour in humans and animals is shaped by the environment, especially by such consequences as the presence or absence of reward. Food may have such an effect on a hungry rat. As a result, behaviour may be reinforced or extinguished. In the case of reinforcement, behaviours may be strengthened if they are followed by some positive events. Personality traits and emotions are also seen as learned and therefore controllable (extinguishable) behaviours.
Operant conditioning attempts to analyse the interaction between the organism and its environment into a three-term sequence or contingency. The product of a successful experimental


2. Audiolingualism in teaching English as a foreign language
analysis is the identification of the environmental events (discriminative stimuli) that determine the occurrence of the behaviour (operant) and of the environmental events (reinforcing stimuli, or reinforcers) necessary for the acquisition and maintenance of the behaviour. The behaviour whose emission is required for the occurrence of the reinforcer is called operant to emphasize that it operates on the subsequent environment to produce certain consequences (Donahoe, 1987:789, in Corsini ed.).

These behaviourist ideas have been used in: • programmed instruction, in which the material is presented sequentially and broken down into small amounts, while the learner is given immediate feedback for every response; and • behaviour modification therapy, which consists of changing the consequences of troublesome behaviour and strengthening the weak behaviour by desirable consequences. Behaviourists did not recognize any fundamental differences between verbal and non-verbal behaviour, or the need to use any special principles to account for the former. In Verbal Behaviour (1957), Skinner extended his view of learning to language acquisition, claiming that environmental reinforcement provided by adults is a driving force in native language learning by a child. Behaviourists assigned a key role in language acquisition to the mechanism of imitation, practice, and analogy, which made an impact on foreign language teaching at the formative stage of the Audiolingual Approach.

2.2.2. Influences from linguistics Structuralism views language as a system and focuses on its synchronic rather than diachronic dimension. A system is an arrangement, not a sum of its parts, so language facts should be investigated in their mutual relationships, not in isolation, because they are defined by their position in the system. Structural linguistics developed in Europe, including the Soviet Union, as well as in the United States. It was the latter school of structuralism which exerted influence on the development of methods of foreign language teaching. In reaction to the traditional approaches to grammar, which used vague subjective criteria, structural linguists were interested in solid data and objective methods of analysis. Moreover, they rejected one universal (classical) grammatical model for linguistic analysis of different languages and aimed at discovering the specificity of each language system. They focused on the description of corpora, the recorded utterances of the speakers of a given language, and investigated them at various levels of structural organization. The objective criteria and descriptive methods developed by structuralists were used to distinguish between relevant and redundant elements, distinctive features, distributions and oppositions or dichotomies in their hierarchical arrangements.

2.3. The Audiolingual Approach, Method and Techniques


In such hierarchical arrangements, phonemic units are subordinated to morphemic units, and these in turn make up phrases, clauses, and sentences. Franz Boas (1858-1942) at Columbia University explored American Indian languages which had no written tradition or history. He emphasized that each language is so unique that it calls for its own method of synchronic analysis (Handbook of American Indian Languages). Edward Sapir (1884-1939) was a student of Boas' who became well-known for his ideas on cultural relativity developed in collaboration with Benjamin L. Whorf. He was preoccupied with the influence of culture on the use of language patterns which speakers have in their minds and thus made a contribution to the development of anthropological linguistics. Leonard Bloomfield (1877-1949) of Yale University, a prominent figure in American structuralism, was significantly influenced by behaviourist psychology. Bloomfield accepted the determining role of the environment in human behaviour and the necessity to use objective criteria in its analysis. As a result, he became a leading advocate of antimentalism, which rejects psychological criteria in linguistics. One of the sources of criticism of traditional grammar was that it was based on the subjective and imprecise psychological criteria for distinguishing parts of speech. Within the accepted methodology, Bloomfield chose to concentrate his investigations on the formal aspect of language, especially the distribution of the system's units in texts, rather than to tackle meaning. Structural linguists introduced definitions of parts of speech which were based on their sentence position and used the descriptive method called immediate constituent analysis (IC analysis) to capture and diagrammatically present the most elementary syntactic units and relationship in the sentence.

2.3. The Audiolingual Approach, Method and Techniques
The Audiolingual Method emerged at the end of the 1950s (Richards and Rodgers, 1986) as an outgrowth of the revolution in foreign language teaching initiated in the United States in the 1930s and later. Its British parallel is the Oral or the Situational Method, which developed independently but in a similar direction. In the United States the contrast between the demands addressed to foreign language teaching and what the field was able to provide became especially acute when the United States entered the Second World War and needed adequately trained military personnel competent in various foreign languages, such as French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Malay and others. American linguists were instrumental in the emergence of the new teaching philosophy not only because of their innovative theories of language, but also due to their personal involvement in designing the teaching methods. Robert Lado and Charles C. Fries, for example, were called upon to produce materials and procedures for intensive training programmes in foreign languages. The Army Specialized Training Programme, sponsored by the American government, became the cradle of innovative ideas as well as their testing ground. The so-called 'Army Method' was


2. Audiolingualism in teaching English as a foreign language

based on oral practice, including guided conversation with a native informant who provided model utterances (or input, in current terms) and was supervised by a linguist. The spectacular success of this method, however, was primarily due to the generous supply of resources, first and foremost time and materials for the programme: the intensity of the classes (ten hours a day, six days a week), small groups (10 people), and pre-selected, mature, highly motivated students, rather than the effectiveness of the underlying theoretical principles.

2.3.1. Five audiolingual slogans and their influence on the method of teaching The quintessential nature of the Audiolingual Approach was expressed by Moulton in 1961 as five slogans, which soon became its classical formulation (cf Rivers, 1964, 1968): 1. Language is speech, not writing. 2. A language is a set of habits. 3. Teach the language, not about the language. 4. A language is what its native speakers say, not what someone thinks they ought to say. 5. Languages are different. Language is speech, not writing reflects: a) the structural linguistic research priorities according to which writing was considered to be merely a secondary representation of speech, b) the practical demands for speakers competent in oral communication rather than able to appreciate classical works of literature and c) the reaction to the traditional reading oriented methods of teaching. Reasons for the primacy of speech are derived both from the history of the human species (the phylogenetic argument) and the lifespan history of an individual human being (the ontogenetic argument). The former one points out that writing is a fairly late development in our civilization, whereas the latter refers to the fact that people learn writing much later than speech and mostly in the context of the educational system; it is merely a secondary form of communication unavailable to vast numbers of people or even societies. At the same time, since speech is primary and writing is only its secondary form of representation, most attention should be devoted to the development of the oral skills, which will benefit the written skills anyway. Following these arguments, the sequence of skills postulated by the audiolingualists is called the 'natural order'. It has a profound influence on audiolingual teaching, among other things on: • The order in which skills are introduced: listening, speaking, reading, writing; this order is reflected at the course and lesson level; at the lesson level, we have a recommended order of class activities connected with the presentation of the material to be learned: a typical lesson begins with the presentation of the material as listening and oral practice, then in reading and writing activities; at the course level, we have the so-called pre-reading period for beginners, when text-

2.3. The Audiolingual Approach, Method and Techniques


books are withheld from the students for about 4 to 6 weeks to allow good pronunciation habits to be formed and to prevent any interference from the written language (in the case of English, its especially intricate spelling system); also at the course level, we have what is called the retardation of reading and writing until solid mastery of the material in speaking is established, which in fact means deemphasis of reading and writing; the underlying principle is that once the learner has learned the material orally, it will be available in the written skills; however, transfer of practice from the oral to the written skills does take place unconditionally; finally, there is a characteristic strategy for a reading lesson once reading is introduced: a typical reading lesson is organized to incorporate as much listening and speaking as possible: the text is treated as an opportunity to consolidate grammatical material which has been practised orally; the text is first introduced as oral summary with some explanations by the teacher and followed by his/her comprehension questions; reading aloud is an important part of the reading lesson. • The status of pronunciation; great care is attached to the development of accurate, possibly native-like pronunciation, through exercises with native pronunciation models for imitation and articulatory instructions, as well as practice in discrimination between the target language phonemes, such as i:/ı in bean/bin in English, or native and target language phonemes, such as kot in Polish and caught in English, stressed and unstressed syllables in a word, drills in rhythm at the level of clauses and sentences focusing on the pronunciation of strong and week forms, and on intonation patterns. Language is a set of habits reflects behaviourist preoccupations with the almost reflex-like aspects of human behaviour as well as the ease with which native speakers use their language. A habit can be explained as an act which is performed repeatedly and does not require effort or reflection. This is precisely the aspect of language use by competent speakers which is admired by the audiolingualists and recommended as the route to language learning. In conjunction with the structural linguistic interest in patterns of speech, this leads to an idea that to know a language means to have routinized a sufficient (vast but finite) number of sentence patters. This view produces a potent effect in foreign language teaching: habits are mastered through overlearning, imitation, chorus repetition, pattern drill or pattern practice of all sorts, and mimicry and memorization. These activities are expected to develop fluency in speaking. Hestitation or reflection are counterproductive and should be avoided. Overlearning refers to practice continued beyond the point of mastery and implies numerous repetitions. Bloomfield (1942:12) states that 'language learning is overlearning: anything else is of no use.' Imitation, which is a synonym of mimicry in this case, is an activity which requires the learner to replicate or 'echo' the stimulus in exactly the same way in which it is presented, i.e. without any modifications. Chorus repetition enables learners to practise some new material within the security of the group; an uncertain advantage of this form of repetition is that while the learners practise simultaneously, the teacher has no way of monitoring them individually. The essence of


2. Audiolingualism in teaching English as a foreign language

pattern drill, or pattern practice, is imitation with a degree of modification in the source sentence on the part of the learner; it can be conducted as individual as well as chorus activity. The teacher explains or demonstrates what is to be done and provides the source material. A designated learner or the whole group produces the required material according to the instructions. Modifications expected of the student may range from minor and unchallenging to quite considerable and demanding (e.g. completion, substitution, transformation, consolidation). What is significant, however, is that the source material usually takes the form of isolated sentences, all of which contain a given point in grammar. Audiolingual memorization is necessary for mastering the stock of patterns, expressions, and phrases which are the building blocks of fluent speech. It is conceived of as verbatim learning, which is to say, learning by heart, word for word, or even rote learning, which means 'verbatim' as well as 'without understanding'. It is not uncommon in this method to practise and memorize language material without understanding what it means. Memorization is recommended for learning dialogues, for example situational dialogues and/or conversational routines. Teach the language, not about the language is yet another statement in reaction to the traditional approaches, which aimed at providing explicit rules about the grammatical system rather than the opportunity to master the system directly, through language use. This tenet stresses that the Audiolingual Approach to teaching grammar is practice-oriented and inductive rather than deductive. Occasionally, grammatical explanations in the native or target language are provided before practice sessions. However, they are used interchangeably with the inductive strategy for teaching grammar, which makes use of special sentences presented for inferring the grammatical rule with some or no help from the teacher. The most important part of the lesson, however, is pattern practice or pattern drill. Studies devoted to empirical research on the superiority of the deductive or the inductive strategy did not provide conclusive evidence (Seliger, 1975). Language is what its native speakers sav, not what someone thinks thev ought to say is an objection to the normative aspect of the traditional grammar approaches and their rigid standards of grammatical accuracy. Traditional grammarians had no interest in registering the colloquial spoken language. They were preoccupied with promoting full, even old-fashioned forms characteristic of the formal written style. For one thing, what the structural linguists had in mind as the goal of linguistic study was language description, not prescription which is part and parcel of the normative goal. Secondly, when accepted in the audiolingual teaching, this dictum called for teaching materials which presented the informal spoken language with its colloquial expressions and informal abbreviated forms as a separate variety of the target language rather than a version of the written language, only 'spoken out'. Strengthened by the statement that language is speech, not writing, this idea helped to recognize the need to diversify texts for practising the spoken and the written language. Languages are different is the creed of the structural linguists who reject a universal model of Latin grammar and look for specificity and uniqueness in

2.3. The Audiolingual Approach, Method and Techniques


various language systems. It must be added that there is an interesting linguistic development at that time in Europe as well as the United States in the form of contrastive studies, which are expected to provide relevant material to the field of foreign language teaching. Fries (1945) emphasizes that the linguist's task is to identify the areas where the target language differs from the native language because they will present special difficulties to the student. These areas must be emphasized in the materials and treated with special care to guide the learner in the process of language learning. He says (1945:5):
...the modern scientific study of language has within the last twenty years developed special techniques of descriptive analysis by which a trained linguist can efficiently and accurately arrive at the fundamentally significant matters of structure and sound system amid the bewildering mass of details which constitute the actual rumble of speech. If an adult is to gain a satisfactory proficiency in a foreign language most quickly and easily he must have satisfactory materials upon which to work - i.e. he must have the really important items of the language selected and arranged in a properly related sequence with special emphasis upon the chief trouble spots... The techniques of scientific descriptive analysis, on the other hand, can provide a thorough and consistent check of the language material itself and thus furnish the basis for the selection of the most efficient materials to guide the efforts of the learner... It is enough here to insist that only with sound materials based upon an adequate analysis of both the language to be studied and the native language of the student /or with continued guidance of a trained linguist/ can an adult make the maximum progress toward the satisfactory mastery of a foreign language.

The Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis in its strong form (Wardhaugh, 1974) states that a comparison of the two languages in contact enables researchers to identify their differences, which are equivalent to the areas of difficulty; this is tantamount to predicting errors which will be made by the learner in the process of learning. A representative statement of the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis in its strong form comes from Lado's Linguistics Across Cultures', where he says (1957:vii): 'The plan of the book rests on the assumption that we can predict and describe the patterns that will cause difficulty in learning, and these that will not cause difficulty, by comparing systematically the language and culture to be learned with the native language and culture of the student.' The weak form of this hypothesis states that contrastive studies can help in explaining and systematizing the actual errors made by the learners in the process of acquiring the language. It is interesting to note that the strong form of the hypothesis did not find sufficient support in the language data.

2.3.2. Further characteristic features of the Audiolingual Method The term 'method' is less general than the approach and, essentially, it implements the assumptions of the approach at the level of the process of foreign language teaching. A process involves a series of changes which span the initial and the target


2. Audiolingualism in teaching English as a foreign language

behaviour. A method is a conception of how to take the learner from the initial to the target state. Several features characterize audiolingualism at this level: 1. Criteria for the syllabus. The most important consideration is how the learning process is understood to advance. The Audiolingual Method is based on the structural syllabus which reflects the view that the learner's progress is a matter of mastering the subsequent points in grammar in their linear arrangement. In contrast to the traditional approaches (for example, the Grammar Translation Approach), these criteria are improved because they are derived from structural linguistic description, which is free from the flaws of traditional grammar. The initial tendency on the part of audiolingualists to camouflage grammar in inductive teaching and avoid the use of the native language are later replaced by its more overt treatment, such as grammatical explanations in the native language. The unit of the material to be taught is carved out and labelled with the help of structural criteria (the simple present tense, modal verbs, the passive voice, etc.). Although isolated sentences are still present in drills and pattern practice, more emphasis is put on the context in which grammatical forms are used. 2. The view of the learner. The learner is treated as a plastic globe to be moulded by the teacher, which means that the success of the process of teaching is primarily in the teacher's hands. If he or she is able to orchestrate the activities properly and conduct them at a brisk pace, the effects in the form of the desired target behaviour should emerge. The Audiolingual Method is teacher-dominated, as reflected in classroom activities, it is guided by, and centred on, the teacher. The learner is expected to be 'active', but this involvement is synonymous with mechanical behaviour. 3. The view of learning. As has been pointed out above, learning is viewed as a mechanical rather than mental process (Chastain, 1976). The best route to fluent language use, i.e. habit formation and association, is the learner's observable activity: imitation, repetition, drill, chorus work, pronunciation practice, dialogue recitation, etc. When the learners are silent during the class, nothing worthwhile seems to happen in the learning process; practice is the key to language learning. Learning is understood as a uniform process which is not in any serious way influenced by the individual; instead, learning is largely determined by teaching. However, later developments in the field of foreign language teaching undermine this conviction and lead to the question: does language teaching indeed cause language learning? 4. The treatment of grammar. Grammar is the core of the language learning process, it underlies the structure of the material to be learned, even though it is gradually contextualized and practised in communicative activities. As has been said, lessons in the Audiolingual Method are centred on the selected points of grammar, which is also reflected in the list of contents of various audiolingual textbooks. To take the first conditional as an example, it is first introduced in a pattern practice unit, both written and recorded for listening, then it is contextualized in a dialogue, and finally consolidated in a text. The

2.3. The Audiolingual Approach, Method and Techniques


learners practise various examples in less and less controlled exercises to reach the stage of communicative activities. At the same time, grammatical information is not presented explicitly in the form of rules. As Chastain (1976:110) clarifies, 'The new linguistic approach recognizes that the first-language learner is not aware of the rules he is applying. Therefore, the second language should be practised, not studied. The learner should learn by analogy, i.e. by recognition of identical elements in recurring patterns, not by analysis of grammar per se.' As has been mentioned, however, the treatment of grammar and the native language evolves during the time of the implementation of this method. 5. The treatment of error. The Audiolingual Method is said to be characterized by a pathological fear of errors which result from interference and lead to incorrect habits. Errors can be prevented when the material is presented in small steps to avoid too much difficulty. The learner is expected to proceed through a series of practice sessions in carefully controlled steps, so that errors have no chance to appear. The cost of this strategy of error avoidance is that the activities resulting from the rigid criteria of simplicity are rather uninteresting. Valdman (1971:171) comments: in the audiolingual approach emphasis is placed on accuracy and well-formedness, with the acceptance of the risk that, in early stages of instruction, at least, students will manipulate utterances relatively devoid of content.' 6. Classroom work format. Most of the audiolingual teaching is teacher-fronted: the learners are seated as an audience and have no eye-contact among themselves; they all face the teacher who has the central position in the class. This arrangement is also referred to as lock-step instruction and it seems natural in a teacher-dominated method. Activities range from individual to whole group (chorus) practice. Some memorized dialogues are presented by pairs of students in front of the rest of the students. Individual question and answer exchanges between the teacher and the learners are used frequently while working on the reading passage and checking homework. 2.3.3. Characteristic techniques A selection:

The reported speech Instruction provided by the teacher: 'Change the following sentences to indirect statements beginning with the word He said that...'. For example: I am hungry. He said he was hungry. They are smart. He said they were smart. Now you try it: T. I am hungry. Ls


2. Audiolingualism in teaching English as a foreign language

T. He said that he was hungry. Ls. He said that he was hungry. T. They are smart. Ls T. He said they were smart. Ls. He said they were smart. T. You're clever. Ls T. He said I was clever. Ls. He said I was clever, etc. Source: Francine Stieglitz, Progressive Audio-lingual Drills in English. New York: Simon and Schuster 1970, page 119.

Drills may follow various modifications, such as expansion, replacement, completion, transformation, rejoinder, substitution, etc.

Mrs Wilson: I'd like you to do some shopping for me, Susan. Susan: All right, Mother, I will. Mrs Wilson: I'd like you to buy some coffee. Susan: All right, Mother, I will.

Oral I. A: What do you want me to do? B: I want you to help me with my maths. a) Make questions and answers according to the above model; use the following cues to replace the expressions in italics : ring X send a parcel to X talk to X pack my (you, X's) suitcase b) Do the same exercise changing 'you' to 'X' in the questions and T, 'me', to (he (she) \ 'him (her)' in the answers: Written I. Write what Mrs Wilson said to different persons named in the exercise. Example: Mrs Wilson: I'd like you to do some shopping for me, Susan. 1. Mrs Wilson: , John. 2. Mrs Wilson: , Robert. 3. Mrs Wilson: ., Peter. 4. etc II. Ask questions and answer them as in the example: Mrs Wilson: You must collect Robert's jacket from the cleaner's, Susan. What does Mrs Wilson want Susan to do? She wants her to collect Robert's jacket from the cleaner's. 1. Susan: You must back me up at the meeting of the Editorial Committee, Betty. 2. Paul's mother: You must drop some of your clubs, Paul. 3. Mrs Groom: You must help me with the housework, Betty. 4. etc. III. Rewrite the following as in the example : Mrs Wilson: Robert will probably be late for lunch. Mrs Wilson expects Robert to be late for lunch. 1. Mrs Wilson: Aunt Helen will probably give up her job soon.

2.4. A critical look at the Audiolingual Approach, Method and Techniques


2. Peter: Mike will probably come to see me tonight. 3. Miss Gibbs: Susan will probably say something in the discussion. 4. etc. Source: A selection from an audiolingual textbook, Janina Smólska, Anna Zawadzka, We learn English. Warszawa: WSiP, Kl. III lic. og. unit three: selection

2.4. A critical look at the Audiolingual Approach, Method and Techniques
Audiolingualism is an elaborate system of ideas and practical suggestions based on linguistics and psychology which extends our understanding of the process of foreign language teaching. It is clear that both the theoretical foundations and the evaluation of the effectiveness of the teaching method are becoming more technical and elaborate. The best known empirical investigation of the effectiveness of the Audiolingual Approach in comparison to the traditional Grammar Translation Method was conducted by a research team of a foreign language specialist, George A. C. Scherer, and a psychologist, Michael Wertheimer, from the University of Colorado (1964). It was a long-term study of teaching German at college level to 300 students randomly assigned to two groups: one taught according to the audiolingual principles (reading was delayed for twelve weeks) and the other - according to the Grammar Translation Method. At the end of the first year, the audiolingual group showed significantly superior performance on listening and speaking, whereas the 'traditional' group had some advantage in reading and writing. During the next year both groups had the same type of instruction and at the end of this period the audiolingual group still demonstrated some advantage in speaking ability over the grammar translation group, whereas the 'traditional' group was ahead in reading and writing. However, the differences between the groups were so small, and, in fact, primarily in the areas emphasized by each of the method, that it was impossible to claim superiority of one over the other. At the same time, the implementation of audiolingualism provides feedback on the validity of its various principles and strategies: 1. Audiolingualism sets a communicative goal of foreign language teaching, but it is based on the idea that this goal can be reached in a rigidly controlled manner; the process of language learning can be broken down into measurable steps, which can take the learner to the target. Nowadays, this idea does not seem to be convincing. Language learning cannot be reduced to learning a certain number of sentence patterns and vocabulary items, no matter how thoroughly we practise them. Instead, the amount of information to be learned seems so vast and unpredictable that time appears to be an important factor. The more time at our disposal, the more promising the results. 2. It is also very doubtful that we can learn the required habits by participating in drills in which the material is neither meaningful nor understood. Carroll (1966:105) comments: 'The more meaningful the material to be learned, the greater the facility in learning and retention. The audiolingual habit theory


2. Audiolingualism in teaching English as a foreign language

tends to play down meaningfulness in favour of producing automaticity.' The role of meaning has been discussed and researched extensively by David Ausubel, (see 3. on the Cognitive Code Learning Theory). 3. The route of learning and the goal of learning are not the same thing and should not be confused. The fact that native speakers use language fluently and almost subconsciously is in no way an indication that this ability has been attained without effort and thinking at the beginning of the learning process. 4. The learner's contribution to the learning process in audiolingualism is fairly limited: the implied view of the learner is that of a container that must be filled by the teacher. Admittedly, the teacher not only provides the learner with information but also with opportunities of practice to develop the requisite habits, but they are visualized as a finite repertoire of behaviours. Chomsky was very successful in trashing this view of language use (see 3. on the Cognitive Code Learning Theory). 5. The 'natural order' of skills is no longer retained. It would be hard to accept the view that language is speech, not writing. Language is a mental faculty which cannot be reduced to being used through only one modality. Auditory and visual modalities have equal status in accessing this mental faculty. At the same time, it has been realized that each skill has a distinct specificity which must be cultivated in special (authentic) tasks. As Oiler (1972) pointed out, the overlap of test results on various skills is 80 percent. The arguments supporting the natural order used by audiolingualists are valid only for the phylogenetic and ontogenetic contexts from which they originate. They cannot be extended to foreign language learners of various age groups in our literate culture in which writing has specific communicative and educational functions. These functions should be exploited for the benefit of the learner. The pre-reading period may be insufficient to counteract the interference from writing in the long run; the source of interference may be the native language pronunciation as much as target language spelling; exclusively auditory learning may be an awkward way to learn for the eye-oriented students who like to see the material as well as listen to it; writing is helpful as note-taking (i.e. used in the function of 'external memory', a purely mnemonic device) so it should not be eliminated; the order of presentation from the oral to the written skills may lead to boredom and predictability, as well as unnatural activities; oral introduction (a summary) to reading is not only artificial but also in conflict with the need to stimulate the learner's curiosity about the content of the reading passage. 6. On a more general note, it is no longer so obvious as in the audiolingual times that various assumptions on the nature of language and language learning derived from linguistics and psychology, presented as five slogans, can be used as building blocks of a teaching method, let alone the most effective one. It seems that the field of foreign language teaching has become the testing ground for this idea with the effect that there is a decrease in confidence in the role of the source disciplines as providers of wisdom on foreign language teaching. Moreover, there is a growing skepticism as to the feasibility of discovering

2.5. The current view on drill, imitation, and repetition


a universal and effective method as such. It is acknowledged that the field of foreign language teaching has a specificity of its own and that the relationship between teaching and learning is in fact much more complex that that envisaged by the audiolingualists.

2.5. The current view on drill, imitation, and repetition
I deliberately refrain from discussing the role of practice which was an integral part of the audiolingual teaching strategies mentioned in one breath with drills, imitation, and pattern practice (cf Jakobovits, 1971), because practice is a broad term and may cover activities which have nothing to do with audiolingualism. Drills, imitation, and repetition are overlapping terms which refer to typical audiolingual exercises, but I will try to explain what each may be taken to mean in teaching English as a foreign language. A drill seems to be an imitative activity aimed at fast practice; imitation is an act of copying some source material, e.g. a dialogue, and repetition is a recursive activity which involves doing the task (of whatever nature) more than once. A typical audiolingual exercise combines elements of drill, imitation, and repetition: the brisk pace of the activity, limited amount of the learner's contribution, and repetition to the point of overlearning. Drills no longer enjoy the popularity in the foreign language classroom as they used to in the audiolingual era. The problem with the use of drill seems to be the unrealistic expectations connected with it on the one hand, and the position of drill vis-à-vis other components of communicative practice. As for the first point, audiolingualists treated drill as a manipulative activity helpful in establishing the desired language habits, tantamount to the mastery of the grammatical system. The material was of sentence-length, not discourse, with little context for the forms to be learned, i.e. not meaningful and often insufficiently understood by the learner. The purpose of drill was to help the learner to acquire grammar to the point of being able to use it automatically, i.e. fast. The speed of practice was essential for the success of learning. This function of drill is infeasible from our present point of view because the material which is meaningless and insufficiently understood cannot be remembered, not to mention automatized. The next point is that fluent language use cannot be mastered merely by echoing, manipulating, or otherwise inculcating ready sentences produced by someone else. We must produce them ourselves, from scratch. In a drill exercise the learner tries to process this ready material in his or her working memory only to the extent to which it is necessary to reproduce it immediately, whereas in speaking the language user performs many demanding decisions and operations to construct an utterance: he or she chooses the idea to be expressed, the style in which it is to be expressed, selects a sentence plan to convert the thought into an utterance, inserts the lexical material and adjusts elements to fit the whole. Speaking is a complex skill which is not to be confused with habit and which cannot be attained through drill. What makes a skill difficult is not performing


2. Audiolingualism in teaching English as a foreign language

its single component but the integration of all of the components in fractions of seconds. Fluent speakers perform all these operations with ease, but their skill is the effect of practice and expertise, accomplished by painstaking attempts, filled with hesitations and effort. The benefits of drill sessions, on the other hand, materialize as improved pronunciation at best, but they cannot accelerate the development of the speaking skill. Drill may be recommended as a form of rhythm and pronunciation practice which helps the learner to consolidate the articulatory operations involved in producing phonemes at the level of clauses. This is qualitatively different from using drill to master the grammatical system of the target language. As for the second point, regarding the position of drill versus other components of a communicative activity, it is not at all clear that the former should be the first element, i.e. that it should come before communicative language use. Oiler argues (1973:42):
It was apparently because of the assumption of language as a self-contained system that Nelson Brooks (1964) and Rand Morton (I960, 1966) argued that manipulative skills should be acquired through pattern drills which in themselves were not related to communicative activity. Morton went so far as to insist that the acquisition of manipulative skills had to precede expressive use. That is to say that syntactic and phonological structures are best acquired by drill apart from their instrumental use. In an experiment designed to test the relative effectiveness of presenting structures apart from communicative activity and within active communication, Oiler and Obrecht (1968) showed that exactly the reverse is true. The mechanical manipulation of structures is best learned in the context of communication [emphasis - M.D.].

Imitation is interpreted by the audiolingualists as an activity in which the learner faithfully echoes the material presented by the teacher or the tape. The focus in such activities is on mastering sentence patterns. The material consists of lists of sentences highlighting the forms of interest in a given lesson. Imitation was considered to be such an important element in the process of native language learning that behaviourists assigned it the status of the mechanism of language learning. The subsequent developments in the field of linguistics and psychology as well as foreign language teaching seriously undermined this role of imitation (see 3. on the Cognitive Code Learning Theory) producing counterevidence from child language and alternative explanations of language learning. Ervin (1964), for example, studied the role of imitation in the development of child language and estimated that only ten percent of adult imitations are grammatically progressive in that they contain a new form, which convinced her that syntactical development cannot rest on imitation. A child does not mimic a grammatical form that he or she does not know. She states (1964:172): 'We cannot look to overt imitation as a source of the rapid progress children make in grammatical skill in these early years.' The reactions of specialists in the field of language teaching were also quite harsh as regards the use of imitation in the classroom. Teachers became preoccupied with fostering creativity in learning foreign language syntax

2.5. The current view on drills, imitation, and repetition


so the significance of imitation in the process of foreign language teaching was drastically reduced. It is not my intention to defend the role of imitation in foreign language teaching as a mechanism of learning the syntax, but to justify its function as an activity. Imitation may not be the mechanism responsible for language acquisition, but it certainly has a very important role to play in human development and in maintaining social cohesion which relies on shared forms of behaviour. It is significant that in social psychology imitation is assigned an important role in the process of acculturation of young generations. Children spontaneously imitate adult behaviour to learn new roles. Sociologists even speak of the human instinct to imitate (Allport, 1985). Imitation may be intentional or unintentional, immediate or deferred (Rebok, 1987; Wyrwicka, 2001). If we look at imitation as expressing human propensity for mastering new behaviours, e.g. connected with social roles, by mirroring the behaviour of others, we can justify it as a tool of expanding social competence of the young in the process of socialization. It seems, therefore, that imitation may be accepted as a legitimate part of the foreign language experience, even in the foreign language classroom, on condition that its content is socially and behaviourally meaningful and has some relevance and adaptive value for the student. Repetition is a kind of imitation, which may occur in two varieties: a) as imitation of one's own utterance, or b) as imitation of the material provided externally. Self-imitation, or saying one's own utterance again aloud or silently, is very common both in infancy and later in life, during deliberate study, when it serves as rehearsal. Rehearsal is a mechanical strategy for repeating the material to be learned as input to working memory, which strengthens its trace in our long-term memory. Repetition may also serve the purpose of consolidating either the motor aspect of behaviour being practised or the information contents committed to memory. It is necessary in a wide array of skill-demanding activities. Its role in foreign language learning may be defended on the grounds that only rote repetition is useless and hard to turn into a lasting memory trace, whereas the repetition of meaningful material, especially the material which the learner himself or herself has generated, is essential in developing fluency and accuracy. Repetition can be found not only in drill routines of audiolingualism, but as spontaneous activities undertaken by children before bedtime, as Weir (1962) found out. Before falling asleep, her subject rehearsed sentences which looked almost like pattern practice. However, her subject was voluntarily involved in a self-assigned task of repetition, as if to practise various patterns: What colour blanket What colour mop What colour glass There is the light Where is the light Repetition in the sense of rehearsing meaningful (communicative) material produced by the learner can be accepted as an important part of non-trivial tasks.


3. The Cognitive Code Learning Theory

With each repetition round there should be some gains, either in fluency or accuracy, in the strength of the memory trace, or all of the above. It is nothing else but a way of preparing for performance by trying things out. To sum up, repetition is not a way to master syntax but it certainly helps to consolidate the material if used in non-trivial tasks and to strengthen the memory trace of the material being learned.
Topics and review questions

1. Arrange a drill session of about 10-12 sentences to be conducted by one of the students. Read the sentence to be repeated clearly and give the learners a sign to repeat. If they do not coordinate their chorus, do the same sentence again. The pace of this activity should be rather brisk. What are your impressions from participating in it (as a student, and as a teacher)? What have you learned? What can you remember? What is the plan/sequence of the material that you have practised? What would have to be changed for you to remember the material better? 2. Would you as a beginner like to be taught a foreign language with the pre-reading period in the beginning of the course? Why? Why not? What problems can be prevented by the implementation of such an introduction to the course in a foreign language and which ones cannot? 3. What weaknesses do you see in practising language material which is predominantly of sentence length, not longer? 4. Do you as a learner of English ever learn materials almost by heart (verbatim)? Now or in the past? What kind, if at all? If not, why not? 5. Do you agree with the view that the Audiolingual Method is more appropriate for children than adults? Is it appropriate for children at all?

Further reading Chastain, K., 1971. The Development of Modern Language Skills. Theory to Practice. Philadelphia: CCD. Chastain, K., 1976. Developing Second Language Skills: Theory to Practice. USA: Rand McNally Publishing Company. Komorowska, H., 1975. Nauczanie gramatyki języka obcego a interferencja. Warszawa: WSiP Richards, J. C., and T. S. Rodgers, 1986. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rivers, W. M., 1964. The Psychologist and the Foreign Language Teacher. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Rivers, W. M., 1968. Teaching Foreign Language Skills. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

3. The Cognitive Code Learning Theory
In the discussion to follow, I use the term: the Cognitive Code Learning Theory to referto the underlying psychological and linguistic foundations. The method emanating from these foundations is referred to as the Cognitive Method. The cogni-

3.1. Influences from psychology


tive revolution in foreign language teaching was probably more pronounced as an academic debate than as practice in classroom teaching. The Audiolingual Method was a leading approach in teaching practice for almost two decades, which would not be true about the Cognitive Method. Nevertheless, the latter remains a significant phase in the development of the field. The main impulse for the ideology of language and language learning came from the ferment in the source disciplines heralding generative linguistics and cognitive psychology. At the same time, classroom feedback on the limited effectiveness of the Audiolingual Method was instrumental in paving the way for the new approach.

3.1. Influences from psychology
The 1960s are the formative decade of a new school in psychology, called cognitive, which is a reaction to behaviourism and a continuation of Gestalt psychology of the 1930s and 1940s. Gestalt psychology was based on the key tenet that our perception is not passive, but highly constructive. To substantiate this claim, Gestalt psychologists formulated several laws of perception. The cognitive school has gained such a following that it is considered a dominating research paradigm in psychology nowadays. The term 'cognition' is defined as 'the activity of knowing: the acquisition, organization, and use of knowledge ... Theories of cognition are psychological theories.' (Neisser, 1967:1). According to Manis (1971), cognitive processes refer to man's deliberate, planned intellectual processes which guide behaviour and embrace learning, reasoning, symbolic processes including language, problem solving, and individual strategies. This is to say that human cognition is goal-oriented. Cognitive theories are mentalistic because they locate the cognitive processes in the human mind. The most prominent representative of cognitive psychology, if not its founding father, is David Ausubel, the Canadian scholar specializing in educational psychology. Ausubel developed a theory of meaningful learning, which had an impact on foreign language teaching. In Poland, Ausubel's ideas were discovered and propagated by Waldemar Marton, first and foremost in his book Dydaktyka języka obcego w szkole średniej. Podejście kognitywne. Ausubel, as well as other cognitivists, was quite critical of the behaviourist view of the goals of psychology and disagreed with their understanding of science. Cognitive psychologists focus their attention on the learning organism and its interaction with the environment, i.e. the organism's influences on the environment and the way in which it in turn is influenced by it. They postulate the central position of mental representation of knowledge acquired from the environment and generated internally by reasoning processes. The learner is a subject capable of initiating action, whereas learning is seen as a highly constructive process. Language is regarded as unique because it operates on the representational learning of symbols characteristic only of human beings. The motto of Ausubel's Educational psychology. A Cognitive View is (1968: vi):


3. The Cognitive Code Learning Theory
If I had to reduce all educational psychology to just one principle, I would say this: The most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows. Ascertain this and teach him accordingly.

Ausubel (1968) begins his outline of the theory of meaningful learning with the concept of cognitive structure, which refers to the hierarchical organization of our mental representations. It consists of knowledge domains organized according to their levels of generality and criterial attributes and is used to store new information in the form of concepts and propositions. The key to success in learning is the learner's ability to link the new information to the relevant position in the cognitive structure. Ausubel distinguishes between reception and discovery learning. During reception learning the information to be learned is presented in a complete form, whereas discovery learning requires the learner to generate/compute the missing information before he or she can incorporate it in memory. The next important set of terms is rote and meaningful learning. While learning in a rote manner, the learner commits the material to memory verbatim, trying to store it mechanically, without perceiving any logical links or extracting the ideas independently of their verbal expression. It is another matter that some materials may be potentially meaningful, but are learned verbatim; others may not even be potentially meaningful, such as an arbitrary list of disconnected words, for example. Meaningful learning, on the other hand, delves beyond the surface to fulfil three conditions: 1. The meaningful learning set. The learner must be predisposed to learn in a meaningful way, which is to say, seek the logical links and organization in the material to be learned; the learner who has no confidence in this type of learning, or, for reasons of anxiety, prefers to resort to the mechanical verbatim strategy, may turn a potentially meaningful learning task into a rote one. 2. Potentially meaningful learning material. The learning material must contain some sensible ideas and it must be organized logically, for example, according to some criteria, so that the learning task can be related in a substantive (non-verbatim, non-arbitrary) way to the learner's present knowledge represented in his or her cognitive structure. 3. The logical meaning must become psychological. The learner must perceive the logical meaning in the text and incorporate it in a substantive way to his or her knowledge store so that the objective meaning is converted into psychological meaning, as subjectively experienced by the learner. The advantages of meaningful learning are considerable: the material is stored longer, it is better retrievable and available for use in subsequent learning tasks. Moreover, each meaningful-learning episode enhances the development of the learner's cognitive structure and his or her skills in the acquisition of knowledge. Another classical figure in cognitive psychology is Jemore S. Bruner, whose main works include The Process of Education and Beyond the Information Given. Together with George Miller, he founded the Center for Cognitive Studies at Har-

3.2. Influences from linguistics


vard University with the purpose of interdisciplinary research of higher mental processes. His interests focus on the process of education, especially the role of culture in stimulating the cognitive growth of an individual and the role of schooling in promoting the learner's intellectual skills. His motto echoes that of Ausubel's: 'Teaching should start where the learner is.' Like other cognitivists, he recognizes the constructive nature of cognitive processes, such as inferencing and categorizing, i.e. placing an object in a set to give it identity, as well as the importance of schemata which integrate and organize past experience and guide individuals in processing new and reconstructing previous materials.

3.2. Influences from linguistics
The beginnings of Transformational Generative Grammar (TGG). The most outstanding figure in linguistics responsible for the criticism of structuralism and forging the new programme for linguistic research was Noam Chomsky, an American scholar from MIT in Boston, who - quite early in his career, in 1959 - produced a celebrated review of Skinner's Verbal Behaviour. In this article, Chomsky is critical of the fact that Skinner applies methods of researching non-human behaviour to human behaviour without serious modifications. He does not accept the fact that the decisive role is assigned to external, environmental factors and not the activity of the human subject. He is of the opinion that the child constructs his own grammar of a very abstract character, a considerable achievement in a relatively short time, which enables it to produce novel sentences. The acquisition of grammar is not only fast, but also uniform among children and takes place through hypothesis testing. Despite Chomsky's own words of skepticism regarding the applicative potential of his theory in the field of language teaching, his early works in linguistics, Syntactic Structures and Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, shattered the notions of language, language learning and teaching. One unquestionable line of influence of Chomsky's ideas was the emphasis on syntax as the most productive subsystem of language, with many regularities which could be expressed as rules. The following quote from Ronald Wardhaugh (1971:12) illustrates the way in which Chomsky's ideas were read in the field of foreign language teaching:
Generative-transformational theory stresses the creative, rule-governed nature of the linguistic knowledge of a native speaker and attempts to set up criteria by which various models of this knowledge may be evaluated. These models have been called competence models in that they are concerned with ideal linguistic behaviour in an ideal setting. They are not concerned with performance, that is, with actual linguistic behaviour, nor are they concerned with psychological processes. Linguistic competence is said to underlie linguistic performance and to explain part of that performance: grammars themselves are not to be taken as performance models. These notions of competence and performance are discussed by Chomsky in Language and Mind (New York: Harcourt Brace & World, 1968).


3. The Cognitive Code Learning Theory

The structural description of the content is sometimes called deep structure and that of the substance surface structure. Deep structure is an abstract representation of the underlying patternings and is converted into surface structure by the processes of transformations. Nevertheless, a generative grammar is not a model for a user of the language, either a speaker or listener, but a formal description. Chomsky is a rationalist and he assigns an important role to innate knowledge. According to him, humans have a built-in propensity for language learning. According to this view, the knowledge necessary for language acquisition cannot be gained from the environment; language acquisition depends on innate endowment which is constituted by the knowledge of language universals. Chomsky is also a universalist in the sense that he recognizes important similarities in the organization of various languages. He considers linguistics to be a branch of cognitive psychology and accepts mentalism as well as reference to intuitions of native speakers as a source of data in linguistic research. His most important statements which had an impact on language teaching were that language use is stimulus-free and innovative. It is not a matter of habit formation but of making infinite use of finite means. This creative potential is demonstrated in the ability of speakers to produce sentences they have never heard before. The impact of Chomsky's views was quite strong in foreign language teaching circles. On a more philosophical level of foreign language teaching, they polarized the conceptions on language learning into a) the empiricist view which originates from behaviourism on the one hand, and b) the rationalist view advocated by Chomsky and his followers on the other. The main criterion which distinguishes these two schools of thought in philosophy is the question regarding the origin of our knowledge. The empiricists side with the view that our mind is a blank slate and that our knowledge is primarily derived from our sensory experience, i.e. it comes from the environment. Rationalists, on the other hand, believe that the primary source of knowledge is our reason, i.e. our mind equipped with innate knowledge which enables us to acquire the language in our environment. 'Man is born with the ability to think and to learn a specialized cognitive code called human language. Man is equipped with a highly organized brain that permits certain kinds of mental activity which are impossible for other animals - among other things he is the only animal that can learn human language (and virtually all human beings learn at least one language)', says Diller (1978:7). In sum, human language is regarded as species-specific and requires special principles to be evoked in its description and explanation. Many, though by no means all teaching specialists (cf Oiler, 1973), were convinced that the new school in linguistics must lead to new teaching ideology and techniques. They discovered, however, that some of the linguistic influences were not so revolutionary, that they were in fact 'old wine in new bottles', for example transformation exercises. The resulting Cognitive Code Learning Theory was even named a modernized Grammar Translation Approach (Carroll, 1966) because it advocated the deductive treatment of grammar and the use of the students' native language for the purposes of explanation and cross-linguistic con-

3.3. Five slogans of the Cognitive Approach and their implications...


trasts. There are several important differences between the traditional Grammar Translation Method and its modernized cognitive version, however. The modernized version derives grammar material from the up-to-date linguistic description, TGG; it has communicative aims and makes use of contemporary reading materials; it aims to develop the four language skills in a balanced way rather than mainly reading and writing; and rule presentation is used to complement the functional language practice.

3.3. Five slogans of the Cognitive Approach and their implications for the Cognitive Method of foreign language teaching
Diller (1978) provides an account of the ideas underlying the Cognitive Approach to foreign language teaching which is suitable for our purposes. The fifth tenet has been added by this author to do justice to the prevalent ideas on language universals. It is clear that they can be contrasted with the audiolingual tenets in a fairly consistent way. 1. A living language is characterized by rule-governed creativity. 2. The rules of grammar are psychologically real. 3. Man is especially equipped to learn languages. 4. A living language is a language in which we can think. 5. Languages share underlying similarities. A living language is characterized by rule-governed creativity. Ready-made sentences constitute only a marginal aspect of language use and to know them is not the same as to know the language because in real language situations we cannot predict what will be said. People do not quote sentences they have heard, but produce new ones. Language use is innovative within the bounds of grammaticality, which rule out a large number of combinations. Nonetheless, the number of possible sentences is infinite. This infinite number of possible sentences is not stored in the mind of the speaker, but can be produced and understood with the help of a rather small number of grammatical rules. As has been mentioned, the importance of rules in linguistic description is echoed in the emphasis on rules in foreign language teaching. Without going into the details of early implementation of TGG, especially the idea of kernel sentences, let it be pointed out that the field of teaching at the time demonstrates a renewed confidence in the idea that rules contain the material necessary for language use: learning the rules must facilitate language use. What follows is the return to the explicit teaching of grammar, the deductive presentation of rules, the use of the native language to explain grammar and to contrast the target and native language material as well as the revival of translation and retranslation activities. However, the multiplier effect of studying grammar explicitly and with attention deliberately focused on forms was rather modest. The ability to use this


3. The Cognitive Code Learning Theory

knowledge functionally was contingent on the amount of direct and functional practice in which the learner was involved. An insufficient amount of practice leads to hesitant and non-fluent speech (Komorowska, 1975). The rules of grammar are psychologically real. The generative transformational linguists do not claim that the linguistic description of the rules can be identified with the explicit knowledge that speakers possess. Children and even most adult native speakers are not able to formulate these rules, yet they use them functionally. Diller (1971) stresses that there is a fundamental difference between a rule and a formulation of a rule. He says (1971:27): 'Knowing a rule and being able to act on it is quite independent of being able to formulate the rule adequately. The rule can be psychologically real without any formulation of it.' Rules are best learned in conjunction with practice. Man is specially equipped to learn languages. Diller (1971) points out that the most striking aspect of language is that it is a universal phenomenon. Almost every person in the world knows at least one language, except for anomalous cases. Human language is species-specific. Language acquisition is a matter of maturation rather than learning and children need not be taught their mother tongue. Rather, they cannot be prevented from acquiring it. Language development in children shows remarkable similarity regardless of the ethnic group and culture or the situation at home. This language-specific ability must be attributed to the structure of the human brain. A living language is the language in which we can think. This tenet points to the difference between language use and language-like behaviour, for example reciting a memorized text. In order to claim that we know a given language, we must be able to express our thoughts in it. To my mind, however, it is not absolutely necessary to claim that it is the language in which we can think, because it is not clear to what extent we think in an ethnic language and to what extent we do this in some special mental (non-verbal) 'language' of thought, called the mentalese. It seems that we think in both, depending on the task and our emotional state. At the same time, we may prefer to think in our stronger language, for example the mother tongue, and still be able to fluently and idiomatically express our ideas in another language. The benefit of this tenet for foreign language teaching is that it puts emphasis on thought processes and, consequently, on the cognitive techniques which rely on understanding the material, on choosing non-trivial content to be learned together with the requisite vocabulary and/or concepts, on cognitively challenging tasks, such as problem solving, understanding the rules of grammar, and, in general, on helping the learner to practise the foreign language as an intelligent mature person despite knowledge deficits in the target language. Languages share underlying similarities. It is interesting that the audiolingualists compare languages, accepting the creed that languages are different (if they are different, what is their common denominator?), whereas the Cognitive Code Learning theorists compare languages following the conviction that languages share important underlying universals. As we recall, cross-linguistic comparisons in the Audiolingual Method were mainly relevant to the the writer of

3.4. Further characteristic features of the Cognitive Method


materials, who could incorporate the results of contrastive analysis into the textbooks to emphasize the danger zones with more learning materials. The Cognitive Code Learning theorists believed that the differences between the native and target language were helpful in identifying the target language system by explicitly differentiating it from the mother tongue (e.g. deliberately contrasting in special activities). Carroll (1966:102) states: 'According to the cognitive-code learning theory, ... the differences between the native language and the target language should be carefully explained to the student, so that he may acquire conscious control of the target language patterns.'

3.4. Further characteristic features of the Cognitive Method
1. Criteria for the syllabus. The Cognitive Code Learning Theory postulates the grammatical syllabus as the basis for the programme of foreign language teaching. The progression of the material is defined in terms of grammatical forms. Other aspects of language learning, most notably the development of foreign language skills, seem to turn on this pivot. It is no longer the case that the grammatical material be reflected in the artificial structure of the reading passages because these, according to the principles, must be meaningful and present some cognitively stimulating content. 2. The view of the learner. The learner is the centre of learning. Chastain (1976:134) contrasts this view with the audiolingual conception: 'The mind is not a passive globe to be moulded by environmental forces, but an active and determining agent in the acquisition and storage of knowledge.' Cognitive psychologists define learning as a constructive process. The learner's prior knowledge as evidenced in his or her cognitive structure is of primary importance. The teacher must adjust to it and teach accordingly. This is the time when research on motivation and other individual factors gains momentum. The celebrated volume on foreign language teaching is given the title Focus on the Learner to mark the beginning of the trend toward learner-centredness. The key idea is that teaching must be adjusted to learning. Chastain states (1976:144): 'The teacher's task is to organize the material being presented in such a manner that what is to be learned will be meaningful to the learner.' The effect of these cognitive ideas is the trend to individualizing foreign language instruction (Disick, 1975). 3. The view of learning. Chastain (1976:143) states: 'A cognitive definition of learning is similar to the following: Learning is the perception, acquisition, organization, and storage of knowledge in such a way that it becomes an active part of the individual's cognitive structure.' Learning, and language learning in particular, takes place as internal mental operations. An important aspect of language teaching resulting from the cognitive emphasis on the learner's cur-


3. The Cognitive Code Learning Theory

rent knowledge is personalization of content to be learned (Chastain, 1976), which is to say, stress on deriving personal relevance from the material to be learned and relating it to our experience, knowledge, and system of values. Language practice, for example, skill practice, does not have to take only the 'noisy' forms; reasoning processes which are silent are equally conducive to learning. Silent reading is used frequently for the purposes of fostering reading comprehension, which is hampered while reading aloud because the learner's entire attention span is taken up by transforming the written code into the spoken code. In brief, there are several significant accents on cognitive processes in the Cognitive Code Learning Theory: the role of meaning and awareness in the learning process and the role of mental operations, such as reasoning. The relationship between teaching and learning is now modified: in contrast to the Audiolingual Approach in which the learners were expected to adjust to universal teaching procedures, the Cognitive Method sees the learner as the subject actively involved in the cognitive processes, whereas teaching is seen as subordinated to suit learning. 4. The place of foreign language skills. The Cognitive Code Learning Theory breaks up with the audiolingual treatment of skills, i.e. the primacy of speech, for theoretical and practical reasons. The ontological and phylogenetic arguments, the cognitivists say, do not apply to the situation of literate adult learners in our culture. Prioritizing speech interferes with classroom activities and individual preferences of eye-oriented students. Critical opinions are voiced about the pre-reading period (Finocchiaro, 1975; Marckwardt, 1975; Stevick, 1974). Donaldson (1971) states: 'Language is primary; speech and writing are of secondary importance since both are outputs of language.' Speech and writing are on an equal footing. The four language skills in the Cognitive Method are treated in a balanced and integrated manner. There is no hierarchy or sequencing of skills in the process of foreign language teaching. If anything, there is a tendency to emphasize the receptive skills in the beginning of the learning process to provide the foundations for language competence which is necessary before the learner is expected to perform. Knowing a language is inseparable from the requisite mental representations and cannot be identified merely with one form of its manifestation, for example speaking. Language use takes place in any of the available modalities: auditory, visual, tactile. Although each skill taps the knowledge of the language, it has some specificity of its own and must be cultivated individually. 5. The treatment of grammar. As a result of the cognitive emphasis on the rule as a route to the creative use of language and understanding the rule - as a way to learn the grammatical system of the language, the Cognitive Method introduced advance organizers, devices used before the presentation of new grammatical material. The purpose of advance organizers, also known as anticipatory schemata, was to build a link between the grammatical material to be learned

3.4. Further characteristic features of the Cognitive Method


in the subsequent lessons and the current state of the learner's cognitive structure. Marton (1978) explains that in the case of the new material, the appropriate element in the cognitive structure had to be built first by introducing more general and abstract categories to help the learner to subsume the new, more detailed information meaningfully. A synthesis of a fairly broad grammatical problem was to provide the learner with some orientation in the material to be learned in detail, in individual lessons, and in conjunction with practice sessions. Such a strategy of 'mental scaffolding' could be implemented to introduce the system of tenses in English starting with a general presentation of such concepts as tense and time, the past, present and future, the aspect, the forms and the functions of the English tenses and some similarities and differences between Polish and English in this respect. Such an introduction, accompanied by a chart of the tenses, should not be mistaken with 'having taught' the subject, but merely having prepared the learners for the task of learning/practising the tenses meaningfully in the subsequent course of study. However, this strategy can reasonably be addressed only to a fairly sophisticated mature learner who is capable of processing all the metalingual information contained in the organizers, which is to say, a learner around 14 or more years of age. The use of advance organizers has its strengths and weaknesses which brings us to the following conclusion: their presence increases metalanguage talk during the foreign language lesson, but they enhance the organization of the material to be learned, which is equal to its better learning and retention. The degree to which advance organizers can be effectively implemented seems to depend on the kind of language course and the learners' needs and interests. 6. The treatment of error. There are no theoretical reasons to maintain the audiolingual pathological fear of error which will turn into a habit so it has to be prevented at all cost. Unlike in the Audiolingual Method, error is accepted as part of the learning process. There is an incorporated risk of making mistakes since the tasks designed for the learner are non-trivial and challenging, e.g. problem solving. The occurrence of error may be a signal for some explicit information about the language, analysis of the error and remedial teaching. Sources of errors are no longer linked to native language interference but to the developmental processes internal to target language learning, (cf the notion of Interlanguage, see p. 86). 7. Classroom work format is not revolutionized, but more time is devoted to individual rather than chorus activities. Question and answer exchanges are quite common between the students and the teacher. Individual activities, such as silent reading, call for working on one's own, whereas discussions and debates bring in elements of group activity. 8. Techniques include: grammar presentation, both inductive and deductive, and practice; crosslinguistic comparisons, a comparison of sentences illus-


3. The Cognitive Code Learning Theory

trating more flexible Polish word order with the less flexible English word order; grammar exercises with rationalization of choices (the students provide reasons why a given form is chosen; often used to teach the function of tenses in English); transformation exercises, such as changing active sentences into passive, the affirmative into the negative, singular into plural, reported speech into direct speech; problem solving activities; silent reading; learning new vocabulary with explicit analysis and definitions, both in the native and target language; oral as well as written compositions (for example opinion paper, for and against format, narrative, and argumentative writing); discussions and debates.

3.5. Closing remarks on the Cognitive Method
Empirical research comparing the Audiolingual and the Cognitive Methods did not demonstrate any decisive superiority of one method over the other. However, these studies may be interpreted to mean that each method is superior in the skills which it emphasizes (cf Kennedy, 1973; Komorowska, 1975). Mueller (1971) compared the achievement of students studying audiolingual materials and cognitive materials. Achievement scores in listening, reading, and writing were much higher for those students working with the cognitive materials. The GUME Project was conducted in Sweden comparing the implicit method (drills, no analysis or explanations) with the explicit method consisting of grammatical analyses, explanations, and practice. For fourteen-year-olds, there was no significant difference between the two strategies. In a later comparison by von Elek and Oskarsson (1972) with adults the explicit method was superior on class achievement scores and the oral test, at all age levels and all proficiency levels. Chastain and Woerdefoff (1968) compared the audiolingual habit theory and the cognitive code learning theory as applied to teaching first-year Spanish at college level. The Audiolingual Approach featured three characteristics: pattern drills, the inductive presentation of grammar and the natural sequence of skill. The cognitive classes were taught with 'traditional' exercises, the deductive treatment of grammar, and the integrated treatment of skills. At the end of the year the audiolingual students received significantly higher scores in repeating sentences after a native speaker, whereas the cognitive students received higher scores in reading. There were no differences in their ability to answer questions and describe pictures. There was a slight difference in the listening and writing scores favouring the cognitive students. A thorough discussion of the empirical research on foreign language methods with focus on grammar can be found in Komorowska (1975, 1982). The emphasis on explicit techniques and analysis of the material, on learning concepts and problem solving, can be suitable for a linguistically sophisticated mature learner. With these strategies the method is appropriate for the higher levels of the educational process, but definitely not for children. There is also the

3.6. The current view on the link between materials...


danger that the analysis of grammar and talking about the language will take precedence over language practice and use, leading to less-than-fluent speaking ability. Not all the information in language use can and should be analysed. Intentional learning in language is responsible only for a segment of all the knowledge that is acquired. There is also a considerable proportion of the material to be learned through incidental learning, that is through use with attention focused on communicative goals. Just as a pattern drill cannot guarantee learning the required amount of material for productive language use, the explicit language study of rules cannot guarantee acquiring the right material for language use. Most of the material is picked up from the meaningful input incidentally. Some information, especially language forms - both grammatical and lexical - in language, is arbitrary so it cannot be learned according to the principles of meaningful learning; this is to say that rote learning cannot be entirely excluded from the foreign language classroom.

3.6. The current view on the link between materials, meaning, and memory processes
Ausubel's theory of meaningful learning is certainly a step forward in contrast to the use of meaningless material of drills, which had no continuity in the disconnected sentences or truth value, and were learned without prior understanding of what was being practised. It can safely be claimed nowadays that in order to be learned the material must first be understood. The real merit in the theory of meaningful learning is the statement that teaching materials are effective if they are suitable for memory processes. The idea of meaningful learning is not just an aspect of the Cognitive Method, but a much more fundamental principle. However, the cognitive psychologists, who were not preoccupied with distinctly linguistic problems, stressed only one essential aspect of meaning, the factual meaning of the content to be learned, whereas in language use and in foreign language teaching we must also take other dimensions into account, such as pragmatic and cultural meaning, which are determined by the communicative context. These issues are taken up later by the proponents of the Communicative Approach to foreign language teaching. It should be recognized that the cognitive revolution in psychology has had a positive and lasting impact on the field of foreign language teaching. Unlike the behaviourist school, which did not stay very long, the cognitive school has gained momentum and strengthened its grip on the psychological processes underlying verbal communication, i.e. discourse comprehension and production investigated in the field of psycholinguistics. Although nowadays there are no advocates of the Cognitive Method in its classical form from the 1970s, there has been a lasting influence of the cognitive school of thought on foreign language teaching for one substantive reason: the field of foreign language teaching focuses on the learner


4. Developments in foreign language teaching...

and the processes of language learning are cognitive by definition. Cognitive psychology and psycholinguistics provide a view of the mental make-up of the language learner and the processes which take place during language use and learning. The interest in the cognitive aspects of human functioning has spilled over to linguistics (cognitive grammar) and Second Language Acquisition Research (cognitive SLA theory). There is also a cognitive conception of verbal communication as human information processing developed for foreign language didactics (Dakowska, 2003). The Cognitive Method has been modified and extended to incorporate the concept of verbal communication and the advances of Second Language Acquisition Research, as well as the accumulated professional knowledge of classroom foreign language teaching. The explicit teaching of grammar is not viewed as the route or the key to language, but as a strategy facilitating foreign language practice and providing intellectual control and orientation in the functioning of language as a communicative tool (in presentation as well as practice and feedback). Teaching about the language is not limited to the syntactical system but expands to various aspects of verbal communication as a whole.
Topics and review questions

1. Think of the possibilities of implementing the principles of the Cognitive Method to teaching English grammar to Polish liceum students in the following areas: a) introducing the present perfect tense (its functions and form) with an advance organizer; b) explaining the rules for question formation in English, making a graphic illustration, and providing practice; c) teaching the forms and functions of the passive voice (one tense would be enough) with the use of contrastive examples in Polish and English. 2. Using the grid below, compare the Audiolingual and the Cognitive Methods. The Audiolingual Method Criteria for the syllabus View of the learner View of learning Place of f. 1. skills Treatment of grammar Treatment of error Classroom work format Techniques 3. What is your view of the strengths and weaknesses of the Cognitive Method? The Cognitive Method

4.1. Pessimism regarding the search for an ideal method
Further reading


Chastain, K., 1971. The Development of Modern Language Skills. Theory to Practice. Philadelphia: CCD. Chastain, K., 1976. Developing Second Language Skills: Theory to Practice. USA: Rand McNally Publishing Company. Komorowska, H., 1975. Nauczanie gramatyki języka obcego a interferencja. Warszawa: WSiP Marton, W., 1978. Dydaktyka języka obcego w szkole średniej. Podejście kognitywne. Warszawa: PWN. Rivers, W. M., 1964. The Psychologist and the Foreign Language Teacher. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Rivers, W. M., 1968. Teaching Foreign Language Skills. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

4. Developments in foreign language teaching following the Audiolingual and the Cognitive Methods
A pervasive idea in foreign language teaching in the middle of the 20th century is the growing awareness that language is extremely complex whereas language learning discloses a specificity of its own. Stern (1973:25), who is an authority on foreign language teaching, expresses his own humble attitude to the intricacies of language learning: my personal view of language teaching methods is undogmatic, simply because I believe that the complexities of language make a narrow dogmatism quite unjustified.' The subsequent trends, especially alternatives to the methods tradition in the form known so far, are becoming increasingly diversified; the main directions can be identified as: • growing pessimism regarding the search for an ideal method as a largely unattainable goal: • the eclectic orientation as a compromise in the 'methods battles'; • alternative methods as an antidote to psychologically and linguistically derived systems of teaching; • focus on the learner as a departure from the traditional focus on the teacher; • individualizing foreign language instruction as a remedy to universal methods of teaching; • research on language learning as a reaction to the pervasive interest in language teaching.

4.1. Pessimism regarding the search for an ideal method
Until the demise of the Cognitive Code Learning Theory, the main preoccupation in the field of foreign language teaching had been to develop a teaching method. The method was perceived as a decisive didactic category responsible for the effectiveness of the whole process. Such titles as Prator's (1976) In Search of a Method or Stevick's (1974) The Riddle of the Right Method illustrate this point. However, although the Cognitive Method was formulated as a negation of the Audiolingual

66 6 6

4. Developments in foreign language teaching...

Method, there were problems with demonstrating the superiority of one over the other. Stevick (1974), for example, points out that method A is a logical contradiction of method B; if the assumptions of method A are justified, then method B should not be effective. Yet teachers achieve comparable results with both methods. Inconclusive evidence derived from empirical research led to skepticism regarding the feasibility of discovering a universal method of teaching foreign languages (cf Bańczerowski, 1979; Marton, 1975; Strevens, 1977; Wilkins, 1974). In general, the search for a teaching method ceased to be regarded as the main goal for foreign language teaching because the goal turned out to be beyond our reach. A critical discussion of various specific issues disclosed certain discrepancies between the assumptions underlying the approaches and methods and their practical guidelines for teaching. According to some authors, practical recommendations of the available methods had little to do with the underlying theoretical principles (Carroll, 1971; Livingstone, 1962). Hanzeli (1967), for instance, saw no reason to think that the teaching sequence of skills should reflect the linguistic sequence. He said that the sequence of audiolingual skills is a case of linguists speaking outside their domain; these reasons can be pragmatic or psychological, but not linguistic. Saporta (1966) was of the opinion that when converted into an educational goal, the primacy of speech paid the most superficial lip service to linguistics. Marton (1975, 1976) pointed out that such linguistic terms as generation, rule, and transformation taken over from the science of linguistics to the field of teaching became didactic mutations which largely distorted their original technical meaning. Transformation, a linguistic device to capture the relationship between syntactical forms, was treated as a new name for fairly old-fashioned exercises in which learners practise sentence conversion from singular into plural, or affirmative into interrogative sentences, or passive into active, etc. These are just a few examples to illustrate the growing awareness among the specialists that although methods are said to be derived from their linguistic and psychological assumptions, there is no consistent link between them and the resulting teaching recommendations. This gradually led to the loosening up of the bonds with the source disciplines, which could be welcomed as a sign of growth, if not to say maturation, of the field of foreign language teaching. The source disciplines were gradually losing their status of the sole fountain of wisdom. Skepticism as to the feasibility of designing a universal method of teaching together with the growing criticism of the existing ones led to relocating the energies of specialists in the field to new pursuits, such as the eclectic orientation, the alternative methods, the foreign language learner and language learning rather than teaching.

4.2. The eclectic orientation
In foreign language teaching, eclecticism originates in the view that the existing methods so far were based on too narrow, if not fragmentary, foundations and, as

4.3. The alternative methods


Stern (1975) suggested, provided single or too restricted solutions to complex problems. It was considered futile, therefore, to engage oneself in the methods battles (Stern, 1974) or be affected by the pendulum swings (Prator, 1976), which was aptly characterized by Carroll (1971:102):
Our field has been afflicted, I think, with many false dichotomies, irrelevant oppositions, weak conceptualizations, and neglect of the really critical issues and variables. When I summarized (Carroll, 1966) two extreme points of view as being, first, the 'audiolingual habit theory' and, second, 'the cognitive-code learning theory', I had no real intention of pitting one against the other. I was only interested in what each theory would imply if pushed to the limit. Indeed, at the timej meant to jmggest that each theory had a modicum of truth and that some synthesis needed to be worked out. Instead, the trend has been for points of view to become crystallized and polarized.

According to Stern (1975:47), 'the alternatives that the methods fanatism has put before us are, in fact, not genuine choices because to do justice to the complexities of language, we may well have to grasp both sides of the alternative.' Wilkins (1976) stated that there is no one method of teaching. Spolsky (1966) voiced his lack of confidence in methods by saying that the results obtained in teaching might have been in spite of the method that was used as well as because of it. Strevens (1977) found the idea of a single best method intuitively unsatisfactory. Bańczerowski (1975) observed that the typical method which consisted of five slogans derived from the source disciplines was limited because it emphasized some elements only and neglected the others. Many specialists saw the promise in, and the need of, combining the available methods (cf Carroll, 1971; Chastain, 1971; Finocchiaro, 1974, 1975; Pfeiffer, 1979; Stevick, 1974; Wardhaugh, 1975; Zabrocki, 1979). According to the eclectic orientation, the methods which had been designed as mutually contradictory, could be integrated into a more inclusive approach because each had its own merits. Moreover, this integrated solution would do justice to the complexities of the phenomenon of language. The theoretical compromise was worth the benefit of a more comprehensive system for the process of teaching. An eclectic method was expected to involve a combination of the audiolingual and cognitive techniques selected from the point of view of the age of the learner, his or her proficiency level, the learner's needs and the nature of the material to be taught. The eclectic orientation demonstrated that what was practically sound in foreign language teaching did not have to result from a commitment to one school in linguistics or psychology. Contrastively, it had to embrace more than just a narrow view of language and language learning, resulting from a few slogans.

4.3, The alternative methods
To begin with, an attempt will be made to explain the difference between what is considered here to be the synonymous notions of traditional, mainstream, and


4. Developments in foreign language teaching...

orthodox methods on the one hand and innovative, alternative, or unorthodox methods on the other hand. It can safely be said that the traditional methods have established themselves as the core ideas in the field. They have some history which I tried to briefly illustrate in the previous sections. They are mainstream because they have links with the source sciences and aspire to be integrated with the world of academia; they make use of evaluation criteria which are academic, if not scientific. On the other hand, the four methods listed here as the alternative ones have been treated as original, designer-made solutions to the difficulties involved in second/foreign language teaching in the 1970s and later. Each of them is associated with a person, an individual, the name of their author (the designer quality); the source of inspiration for each is the inventiveness and original thinking of their author (the innovative or creative quality); each has some idea of the key to language learning which is different from those accepted so far and derived from the science of linguistics (the unorthodox quality).

4.3.1. The Silent Way by Caleb Cattegno This brief account to follow is based on Caleb Gattegno's book Teaching Foreign Languages in School. The Silent Way. New York: Educational Solutions 1972. In his attempt to accelerate learning and create solutions to the existing problems in teaching any language, he puts the learner in the centre of the process and silences the teacher. The teacher is expected to say less and less while the learner - more and more as the course unfolds. He opens his outline of the method expressing the conviction that foreign language learning is radically different from learning the mother tongue, so a foreign language can be learned at school by artificial methods and with specially constructed materials. However, he does not seek inspiration in the existing methods of teaching nor does he think highly of the usefulness of linguistically based courses or commercially produced materials. The subordination of teaching to learning in the case of foreign language is discussed in the first chapter of his account. He is skeptical about the role of practice and imitation in foreign language learning and outlines his own view of learning our first language which stresses the child's experimentation with the individual sounds (phonemes) and prosody, as well as the feedback provided by the environment. Language becomes functional - he says - when it carries meaning to the hearer. And much of its meaning is carried first through intonation, intensity and other melodic elements beside words. The next stage of learning is when they manage to acquire vocabulary, i.e. names for various categories in their environment. The main point for him is to transfer the responsibility for the use of language to his students with as little interference from the teacher as possible. He introduces oral work and the written form of the material being learned with words in colours to signify their pronunciation, all the time focusing on the

4.3. The alternative methods


'melody' of the language. The students are allowed to work at their own pace. The complete set of materials includes: • a set of coloured wooden rods, • a set of wall charts containing vocabulary, • a pointer, • Fidel, a phonic code chart, • tapes or discs, • drawings and pictures with worksheets, • transparencies and some more worksheets, • texts, a book of stories, • worksheets on language, • three anthologies, • films. The role of the teacher is to help the learners to discover 'the spirit of the language', which can be done on the basis of the study of the language melody and structure, breathing requirements for that language, as well as the literature and philosophy of the group which uses it. He says (page 22): 'Surrender to the melody of a language, as to music, will bring to our unconscious all of the spirit of language that has been stored in the melody ... Surrender is a technique for learning languages.' Vocabulary learning is also a route to the spirit of the language and can be divided into functional, semi-luxury and luxury items. As the learners work on the language under the teacher's silent guidance, they are encouraged to develop their inner criteria for correctness, as represented in the native speakers' statements. These criteria can be fostered by the learners' reflection and reasoning about their speech. However, the route to perfection requires several approximations before the goal is attained. The initial lessons focus on the rod and its various colors with the teacher providing the required words or sentences and instructing the learners non-verbally to produce them. The native language of the learners is used very rarely, if at all. The learning material is fairly traditional and carefully graded to help the teacher to retain control over the learning process. Each unit is focused on the material which treats language as an object of learning rather than a functional tool. Instructions given by the teacher with the help of the pointer lead to reproducing words or sentences or performing the activities expressed in the imperative sentences, for example 'Take a blue rod and a green rod and give her the blue one and give him the green one' (Gattegno, 1972:42). Attempts are made to give the learners the opportunity to associate signs with their meaning, but based on the criterion of the reason for saying things, verbal communication in the current sense of the word does not take place. The stimulus for speaking comes in the prevalent form of gestures or motions of the pointer toward the classroom visuals, such as rods or charts. Pronunciation practice is carried out with very limited modelling provided by the teacher, but once the learners produce the given phonemes or words, the teacher uses the pointer and gestures to provide


4. Developments in foreign language teaching...

feedback and instruct the learners to modify their production to match the target. Vocabulary material, presented in over ten wall charts, is graded - first according to the grammatical categories, and later - according to topics. While working on vocabulary, the teacher uses ad hoc drawings, transparencies, films and television programmes, texts, worksheets and anthologies. The texts are prepared for classroom purposes and do not aspire to imitate authentic materials. Their purpose is to extend the learners' vocabulary and 'to analyse it for the language it contains or what would be generated from it by analogy, alterations, and so on.' (page 67). The teacher introduces the words by saying them and writing them down, a very old-fashioned technique indeed. The activities involved are predominantly manipulative/metalingual and include classifying words according to categories, making sentences with one or more words from a list, making as many sentences as possible according to the instructions, describing an object in the picture, etc. One of the activities calls for sentence elaboration: make the following sentence longer without altering its meaning 'I am cold'. The most advanced stage in which anthologies are used is aimed at developing literary awareness in the foreign language as well as the appreciation of style and art. Translation is not forbidden and may even be used before text appreciation activities. Gattegno points out that the consolidation of the material takes place while the learners are asleep. By way of evaluation, the method seems to be anachronistic, non-professional, paradoxical and dogmatic. It involves the paradox of preventing the teacher from speaking to the learners where, in fact, unlike the code of rods and pointers, the teacher's speech is a marvellous source of input for the learners and a perfectly natural way to communicate. Moreover, the learners are not supposed to ask questions. The choice of the focus of the initial lessons, the rod, is quite arbitrary. 'Spare the rod', one would like to say. Gattegno establishes a very artificial system for giving instructions to learners to perform manipulative activities at word and sentence level where the use of the target language could have been the source of input. The name of the method itself is an oxymoron: language learning, especially of its communicative social aspect, is noisy rather than silent and it is counterproductive to prevent the teacher from a completely instinctive urge to speak to the learners. If followed rigorously, the Silent Way kills the natural form of interaction between the teacher and the students. It is non-professional because it looks at language in a very old-fashioned way mainly as an object of reasoning rather than a tool of communication. Gattegno introduces a whole system of non-linguistic associations (colours and phonemes) which are useless outside the class. It is arbitrary and impractical because the reasons for using the colour rods, charts and the pointer come from teaching content subjects, not from considering the specificity of language use and learning. It is dogmatic because it is based on the inaccurate claim that language develops almost entirely from within. The question to be posed now is: which element of the Silent Way seems worthy of being retained in contemporary language teaching which relies on noisy language input and interaction in the foreign language classroom as well as the use

4.3. The alternative methods


of phonetic transcription and verbal articulatory instructions in teaching pronunciation? I must admit that there is place for the teacher's silence at a specific point in foreign language practice: it is the responsibility of the teacher to control the student-teacher speaking ratio to give students practice opportunities. The teacher indeed may have a reason to remain silent when the learners present their tasks, which is not to say that during the preparation for these tasks he or she must be silent all along. The teacher's duty is first of all to make sure that the learners have the necessary resources to cope with the task. This aspect of foreign language teaching is not mentioned in the Silent Way. Another instance of useful silence on the teacher's part is the so called 'wait time' given to the learner who is working hard to come up with his/her answer to the teacher's question or problem. This kind of silence shows the teacher's patience and creates an opportunity for the learner to complete the task without any interruptions rather than to opt out.

4.3.2. Total Physical Response (TPR) by James Asher James Asher was a professor of psychology at San José State University, San José California. An outline of the method can be found in J. Asher, 1977. Learning Another Language Through Actions: The Complete Teacher's Guide Book. Los Gatos, California: Sky Oaks Productions, Inc. Asher models his method on the process of language learning by a child. He thinks that the majority of mother-child interactions take the form of imperatives given by the mother and performed by the child. Before children can produce utterances, they demonstrate their comprehension of the command by physical action. In his view, the replication of this process by adults is a route to successful second language learning. He states (1982:54): 'The first step in learning another language is to internalize the code in the same way you assimilated your native language, which was through commands.' He is convinced that the imperative can be skillfully used to teach most of the grammatical structure and vocabulary of the target language. The initial part of the course is focused on practising physical actions in response to the teacher's commands which are varied to include as many verbs as possible. Students perform in a group and individually, and after some time they take over the teacher's part of giving the commands. With each new lesson the sentences become increasingly intricate to include new vocabulary items. The teacher may recombine the material to produce what Asher calls 'playful, silly, crazy, bizzare and zany' commands, because having fun during language learning is a strongly motivating factor. Sample instructions from lesson four are the following (Asher, 1982:63):
Consuelo, pick up the book from the table and put it on Ramiro's nose. Ramiro, throw the book to me, hit Consuelo on the arm, and draw a funny picture of Consuelo on the chalkboard. Jaime, walk with Juan to the table. Now, put Juan on the table.


4. Developments in foreign language teaching...

The pace of the lesson is fairly fast. The students do not say a word. Also when a written handout with the commands covered so far is distributed, the learners do not say anything or read aloud. Asher stresses that comprehension must precede speaking and that a necessary time gap must be observed before the learners are ready to produce. His method is categorized among the comprehension approaches to language teaching. The assumptions underlying Asher's method can be traced back to the work by Palmer and Palmer English Through Actions, who emphasize the desirable link in learning between language use and physical activity, especially performing the teacher's commands by children. Asher is of the opinion that the memory traces of the material learned through a combination of language and action activates both the left and the right hemispheres and remain stronger (Richards and Rodgers, 1986). He expects transfer of skills from listening to speaking, reading, and writing. Asher does not accept the criticism that in his method the semantic content is limited to certain kinds of physical activity because this may be eliminated with some ingenuity as in the following instructions (Asher, 1982:64):
Marie, pick up the picture of the ugly man and put it next to the picture of the government building! Gregory, find the picture of the beautiful woman with green eyes, long black hair and wearing a sun hat that has red stripes. When you find the picture, show it to the class and describe the woman.

It seems that the more advanced the course gets the more typical and traditional the activities become and the role of the imperative is diminished. To evaluate TPR - a second language method - from the perspective of the needs of a foreign language learner is not easy because in the case of the latter the process of language learning is organized in the classroom in view of the paucity or complete absence of the environmental input. Even then TPR seems to attach such an importance only to the imperative, neglecting the whole array of grammatical constructions, and to focus on the link only between language and physical action, which rightly reflects one but by no means all aspects of whole-person involvement in language use and learning. Children certainly link language learning with motor activity, but this connection dominates language acquisition merely in the first, sensorimotor stage, according to the Piagetan terminology. Even then, however, the link is more complex and multiaspectual than Asher would have it. Most often children utter words or phrases and perform the activity at the same time. They also reach a defiance (negation) stage when they make it a rule not to follow orders. Moreover, Asher's view conveniently overlooks the more advanced stages of development in which verbal learning plays an increasingly important and autonomous role. As a result, we see a case of reductionism in action: the whole communicative potential of language is reduced to the use of the imperative, whereas the connection between the whole person and language use and learning - only to the association between understanding imperatives and per-

4.3. The alternative methods


forming the respective physical activity, a well-known case of enactive learning, excluding emotions, imagery, creativity, imagination, music, social relations, and the arts in general. Although it would be hard to contest the point regarding the primacy of comprehension before production, the general idea formed on the basis of Asher's examples is that the classroom discourse to be comprehended by the learners hardly makes any sense because it is representative of only one fraction of the whole myriad of ways in which people use language in real life, including ways in which they demonstrate their understanding of utterances and the ways in which they react to imperatives (it seems to me that many would say 'Get lost'.). What is worthy of our attention in his method, which is by no means his original invention, is the accent on the whole-person involvement in the process of language use. The more sensory modalities involved, the more aspects of the person, the stronger the memory trace and the more lasting the experience. This principle, however, is not limited to the link between hearing an imperative sentence and performing the physical activity expressed by it, which Asher singles out for TPR. Despite the fact that he uses evidence to support the validity of his method, his solution to the problem of accelerating second language learning is too fragmentary to be seriously considered in the foreign language context. It is possible to accept it as a technique of special interest in teaching children, but by no means the leading or sole technique; nor a new technique, for that matter (cf 'Simon Says', a game for children).

4.3.3. Suggestopedia by Georgi Lozanov Developed by Georgi Lozanov, a Bulgarian psychologist and educator, Suggestopedia is used for foreign language teaching as well as a variety of school subjects. According to Bancroft (1983), who studied the method extensively, it is a combination of traditional materials and techniques with parapsychology and Baroque music. The account to follow is based on Lozanov (1982), Bancroft (1983), Stevick (1982) and Richards and Rodgers (1986). Lozanov is critical of the traditional principle of learning via consciousness in the field of foreign language teaching which (1982:156, 157): '... has resulted in demotivating and unpleasant conscious learning of isolated, senseless elements before the learners have grasped the idea of the meaningful whole, of the pleasant and motivating global unit which is eventually formed out of these meaningless elements.' He is also convinced that humans do not fully use their potential because of a mental block. The untapped mental reserve can be accessed by special relaxation techniques. As a result, learners can make use of 'hypermnesia' or 'supermemory' which is not used in the typical educational context (Stevick, 1982). Lozanov's route to accelerating foreign language learning is through relaxation, control of breathing and the learner's confidence in the authoritative figure of the teacher. To increase the rate of learning, Suggestopedia makes use of Baroque music whose slow beat affects the organism, especially the heartbeat, to produce relaxed body and alert mind. Relax-


4. Developments in foreign language teaching...

ing background music and musical rhythm is coordinated with the presentation of the material. There are two key terms in Suggestopedia: desuggestion, i.e. unblocking the memory of unwanted information, and suggestion, which means filling memory with desirable information. An important source of the success of Suggestopedia is connected with the teacher, whose self-confidence, acting ability, air of authority as well as absolute trust in the method must have a strong positive impact on the learners. The learners accept the teacher's authority as they progress from the state of infantilization to autonomy. At the same time, the teacher monitors the learners' progress and tactfully deals with errors. The method aims at conversational proficiency in a foreign language and the acquisition of as many as 2,000 lexical items, 60 percent of which are learned productively. A typical course is short and intensive with students living in the special compound where the course is held: it lasts 24 to 30 days, four classes a day, six days a week with limited amounts of homework (by permission). On the basis of a language test, the students are assigned to appropriate groups where they assume fictitious target language identities. They are required to refrain from smoking or drinking during the course. Each group consists of twelve students, six men and six women. To create a pleasant atmosphere, the classrooms are nicely decorated with comfortable reclining chairs arranged in a semi-circle, soft lights and background music to help the learners unblock during language learning. There are ten units of the material which must be meaningful and interesting, with a central dialogue in each, a vocabulary list with translation into the native language and grammatical explanations. The role of translation is to guarantee that the students understand the material. The syllabus is based on structural criteria and the activities are fairly traditional: grammatical explanations, translation, vocabulary lists with native language translation, listening to the teacher's reading, imitation, memorization, role-play, dramatization, dialogue modification, songs and games, etc. On day one, the dialogue is first presented in the written form with a parallel translation into the native language which is used for reference and rather briefly. The teacher reads the dialogue three times, each time in a very special way, with varying tone, volume and intonation and pauses between reading. The readings are accompanied by background music whereupon the students are asked to breathe deeply. The timing for breathing is the following (Bancroft, 1983): Bulgarian translation (2 seconds); foreign language phrase (4 seconds) - now the students retain their breath for 4 seconds which is thought to promote concentration; pause (2 seconds). At this stage the learning process is the most intensive. However, in contrast to the claims that it is 50 times quicker, the American experiments demonstrated that the results were only 2.5 times faster (Bancroft, 1983). The teacher modulates his voice together with the music while the learners first follow the text in the written form after which they close their books and their eyes and listen. Bancroft (1983:107) states that: 'The succession of baroque slow movements contributes to the state of relaxation and meditation (the 'alpha state')

4.3. The alternative methods


that is necessary for unconscious absorption of the language material'. Students continue to breathe in the same 2:4:2 rhythm. This is the core of Suggestopedia for which it is best known. Bancroft adds (1983:107): 'The lyrical and rhythmic music, the artistic and rhythmic rendering of the text by the teacher, the rhythmic, deep breathing, and meditative state of the students contribute to a marked decrease in fatigue and tension on the one hand, and marked increase in memorization of the language materials on the other.' The next two days are spent on the elaboration of the text, first imitation, questions and answers, and reading, and next, on reconstructing and acting out the dialogue with various modifications. During that time the feelings of joy and ease of learning produce the spirit of community in the group. On a critical note, Suggestopedia has a somewhat mystical air about it and was even harshly described by Scovel (1979) as 'a package of pseudo-scientific gobbledygook'. Two points can nevertheless be made for the purpose of this review, which looks at foreign language teaching as an academically justified rational endeavour. I will focus on the mental block and the role of music, leaving aside such aspects as the authoritative conception of the teacher and the need for the learner to infantilize. Apart from the fact that the teacher's ability to read a dialogue - or anything, in fact - in an animated way is commendable under any circumstances, readiness to accept these two ideas depends on the cultural context of the educational process and I see them as highly questionable in the Polish one. Lozanov's solution to the mental block problem, which combines Zen, yoga and Soviet psychology, does not have to be accepted by professionals in teaching foreign languages. This is not to say, however, that the problem of the mental block itself does not exist or that it is unimportant. Just the opposite - it has been widely recognized as a fairly common phenomenon and it receives increasingly more attention from researchers (cf Arnold, ed., 1999; Horwitz and Young, ed., 1991; Dörnyei, 2005). The technical term for this mental block is anxiety, especially task anxiety connected with public speaking. Modern strategies of teaching English as a foreign language do not ignore the fact that such a phenomenon exists, both in the form of trait as well as state anxiety; ways of dealing with it in the context of verbal communication must be developed. The difference between Suggestopedia and modern foreign language conceptions in this regard is that in the latter both the teacher and the learner must develop strategies of handling (dealing, coping, curbing, controlling) anxiety not only in class but also outside. The main source of inspiration for these strategies is not parapsychology, but our professional knowledge about language use and language learning, especially the subjective (related to the learner's experience) and objective (structural complexity) difficulty of the task, the learner's coping potential and the cohesiveness of the group. Relaxation techniques may be included among these strategies, but the main purpose of the classroom should be to help the learner to adapt and survive in communicative situations in the outside world rather than to camouflage the problem. The strategies offered by Suggestopedia are too idiosyncratic, and certainly insufficient for this purpose. The reason why anxiety should be kept under control is that it may


4. Developments in foreign language teaching...

interfere with our cognitive processes. Language learning is a form of cognitive work which takes place in various states of concentration and awareness. The learners must have the opportunity to learn it in class in the same state they would normally use it outside it. This is the opposite of what we have in Suggestopedia, which invites us to learning a foreign language in the state of deep relaxation. As for the role of background music, Suggestopedia turns one kind and one function of music into a universal principle. This principle is useless if we do not accept the assumption that foreign language learning should be conducted in the state of relaxation, but with normal concentration with debilitating anxiety at bay. There is a fundamental question to be addressed: what is the function of music in the foreign language classroom in general? The answer from a rationally-minded person would be: the same as in our environment outside the classroom. In the outside world, music is an integral part of our culture, both mass and elite; it is part of our everyday activities, such as walking, jogging, dancing, driving, singing, socializing, entertaining, etc. We have live and recorded music which we listen to or play ourselves. We listen to recorded music on the radio, television, film, our CD player. We go to concerts, operas, and theatres. Depending on our age, we develop a taste for a certain kind of music. It is a source of relaxation and pleasure, as well as our energizer while we do some work; it has a therapeutic function and it also generates various feelings and images in our mind. In the foreign language classroom music can be the background to activities (motor and/or rhythmical activity), the material of learning (a traditional song introduced as part of teaching the target language culture), part of a singing and/or listening comprehension activity based on a pop song, the background to a commercial which is analysed, a soundtrack of a recent film discussed during a group activity, a background tune to help us visualize, etc. There is no reason to select only Baroque background music for its special beat to relax us if music can function as the material of learning as well as background to our activities, our energizer and pacifier. What is more, the role of music in the foreign language classroom, as well as the choice of music, is linked, if not determined, by the age of the learner. It is different with children, adolescents, and adults. Suggestopedia certainly does not do justice to this wealth of various uses of music in its 30 days' course.

4.3.4. Community Language Learning by Charles Curran Community Language Learning or Counselling Learning is a therapeutic approach aimed at developing speaking ability in a second or foreign language. At the time of the popularity of his method, Curran, who held a doctorate in psychology, was affiliated to Layola University in Chicago and had been active in the field of counselling for 25 years. According to Stevick (1976), Curran is not a member of the 'foreign language teaching club', but a thinker who borrows his terminology from 'sectarian theology'. I will not elaborate upon this point, however, to focus on his teacher-learner relationship and foreign language teaching

4.3. The alternative methods


procedures. Curran (1976) builds his approach on the conviction that a nonthreatening counselling relationship between the teacher and the learner is the perfect context for whole-person learning. He emphasizes that the teacher, or rather the knower, should have some basic training in counselling. The learner is treated as a client whose insecurities connected with the process of language learning and/or with not knowing enough of it should be treated by the counsellor in a warm, reassuring way. The knower must give up his questioning manner and generate an unconditionally positive attitude as well as deep understanding of the learner's state. An important acronym supplementing these ideas is SARD (Curran, 1976), which comes from the first letters of the following words: SECURITY, ATTENTION - AGGRESSION, RETENTION - REFLECTION, and DISCRIMINATION. Security stresses that the entire learning experience depends on the teacher's and learner's state of willing openness, which can be achieved when they are freed of insecurities. Attention is the element connected with boredom and guilt which we experience when - as children - we do not comply when told to pay attention. However, we must accept the fact that our attention fades away so we must use varied tasks to prevent boredom. Learner-aggression is essential to constructive learning; like children, adults learn aggressively to assert their knowledge. Retention and reflection accompany the final stage of absorbing knowledge which is to become the learner's very own. Discrimination is necessary in mastering the sounds of the language, as well as the meaning of words and their grammatical usage. A group of students/clients of 6-12 are seated in a semi-circle to enable eye contact. There may be one or more counsellors assigned to the group. The main form of activity is speaking produced by individual members of the group, but the method may also be used for teaching composition writing. A traditional syllabus is not used as the method largely depends on the learners' choice of topic to talk about at a given time. First, the students think about what to say, and later they express the idea they have come up with in their native language. The counsellor listens to the native version and converts it into the target language, phrase by phrase. These phrases are often recorded on a tape recorder and used as input in subsequent work. The material may also be written on the board, transcribed and elaborated further. The students move from fairly simple first attempts to more and more engaging topics, relying less and less on their counsellor. Richards and Rodgers (1986) list the following activities typical of counselling learning: translation of the native language utterance into the target language with the student repeating the target version, group work devoted to discussions, preparation of a topic or a summary, recording of the conversations in the target language, transcription of the conversation for the sake of practice and analysis, grammatical and lexical analysis of the material, sharing reflections and feelings connected with the classes, listening to the teacher's monologue and free conversation. Stevick (1976) points out that error corrections are made in a matter-of-fact manner, that is on the whole supportive, whereas the free conversations which take place


4. Developments in foreign language teaching...

after the first 30 hours have all the attributes of animated communication between interested equals. In a way reminiscent of Lozanov's Suggestopedia, Curran considers the process of the learner's development in terms of individual human growth, i.e. as ontogenetic development. In stage 1, the learner is completely dependent on the knower and tries to develop a new self in the target language. Stage 2 is the time for the learner to achieve a measure of independence by using some expressions and phrases. In stage 3, the learner begins to understand the others directly in the target language and tries to use as little help from the knower as possible. Stage 4 is similar to adolescence in that the learner is now focused on moving beyond the basics in the target language. Stage 5 is the time of independence in terms of grammatical accuracy and style. The learner may now become a counsellor to other learners. The whole-person approach, according to Curran (1976), is about taking a person's intellect, volition, and instincts into account and centring the process of language learning on the deeply caring relationship between the participants in order to eliminate the sources of anxiety. However, Stevick (1976:93) points out that there may be an alternative source of anxiety which Curran does not seem to take into consideration: '...the anxiety that, in terms of one's career needs or lifetime goals, one is wasting one's time with poor method, inappropriate content, and so on.' Although the whole-person approach to the learner is highly commendable, if not indispensable, it is not, by itself, a sufficient solution to the teaching problems. The whole-person approach is an essential component of a foreign language learning process in addition to, not instead of, the rational procedures required by the unique material being learned, i.e. the foreign language. A candid evaluation of Counselling Learning from the point of view of this guide for professionals would be that it is a technique, or an element of a technique, in fact, rather than a comprehensive method. The really attractive part of its procedures is that, on a regular basis, the learners have an opportunity to decide what to say and are provided with the linguistic resources to express their own communicative intention in the target language. This aspect of Curran's method is not new and can be recommended to any teacher who wants learners to have some communicative freedom in practising the target language. However, the strategy can and should be easily implemented without accepting the method wholesale. Moreover, the language resources given to the learner to help him or her lexicalize the communicative intention need not necessarily take the form of native/target language translation, although, admittedly, this may happen. In view of the absence of the syllabus and structure of the course, especially the input for learning, Curran's method can be classified as one of the many lexicalization techniques to be used in foreign language speaking activities. The method's weakness certainly is the fact that the learners are always burdened with the responsibility to come up with an idea to speak about, considering the fact that there are well-known alternatives: they may be prepared for a conversation in a very stimulating way, such as by reading about the subject which is new to them. The most unacceptable aspect of the method is the implied view of foreign lan-

4.3. The alternative methods


guage learners as deeply disturbed, insecure human beings in need of counselling. Foreign language learners are just typical representatives of the population at large, no better, no worse; what sets them apart is that they are in need of effective, i.e. professional foreign language education. If we believe in the social distribution of labour and professional specialization, we will seek therapy from professional rather than half-baked therapists, and foreign language teaching - from professional teachers. There are fairly clear role expectations regarding the foreign language teacher and they should not be ignored. Respect and genuine interest in the student, which are absolutely necessary in the educational context to begin with, will not fill the didactic vacuum resulting from the under-defined structure of the process, the paucity of foreign language input, deemphasis of important skills, such as reading and writing, and a short list of activities, whereas confusing professional roles may certainly be harmful to the parties involved. To conclude the section on the alternative conceptions, they cannot be treated as comprehensive methods of foreign language teaching in the technical sense of the word 'method' for several reasons, first and foremost, because they rely on their 'hocus-pocus' quality to take our attention away from the truly important matters, such as the necessity to create classroom conditions for the development of communicative ability in the foreign language which is useful in the real world outside the classroom, a vast problem space indeed. It is characteristic that they offer short-term solutions rather than sustained and structured language teaching programmes, and that they rely on selected teaching strategies which are blown out of proportion to serve as magic keys to language learning. However, they do have their historical value which was pointed out in the outline. This value is mainly a function of the complexity of language learning, let alone foreign language teaching: the alternative methods are the evidence that this complexity has been treated by way of intellectual avoidance rather than approach, and that avoidance of understanding language learning and teaching is not a practical strategy. However, a professional teacher must be in a position to evaluate their merit, whether critically or enthusiastically, for a reason. Moreover, they touch upon some important issues which must be addressed by modern foreign language didactics anyway, such as a whole-person approach to the language learner, keeping the learner's anxiety under control, giving the learner his or her communicative freedom to choose what to say, and using the teacher's silence to give the learner a chance to express it.
Topics and review questions

1. Do you agree with the idea that an eclectic combination is better for the purposes of teaching English as a foreign language than the Audiolingual or the Cognitive Methods applied in their pure form? 2. When in terms of the learner's age and level should we introduce phonetic transcription to teaching English as a foreign language? Is it justified to introduce some other, perhaps simplified, notation systems in place of phonetic transcription? Why? Why not?


4. Developments in foreign language teaching...

3. Many specialists see the origins of TPR in the Gouin Series as well as Palmer's ideas (English Through Actions). What are their common features? What are the benefits of linking language use to actions and acting things out as you perform the activity? 4. What do you think about the use of background music in Suggestopedia? Would it disturb you or help you to concentrate? Would you be irritated by the choice of music if it were different from your favourite kind? 5. List the most important features of the four alternative methods using the grid below. Suggestopedia Community Language Learning

The Silent Way the key to language the role of the learner the role of the teacher teaching props special techniques other ideas


Further reading Bowen, D., H. Madsen, and A. Hilferty, 1985. TESOL. Techniques and Procedures. Cambridge, Mass.: Newbury House. Oiler, J. W., and P A. Richard-Amato (eds.), 1983. Methods that Work. A Smorgasbord of Ideas for Language Teachers. Boston: Heinle. Richards, J. C., and T. S. Rodgers, 1986. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

4.4. Focus on the learner
Focus on the Learner is the title of an influential volume, edited by Oiler and Richards in 1973, which epitomizes 'post-methods' trends. The subtitle of the volume: Pragmatic Perspectives for the Language Teacher accurately reflects the predominant orientation in which the main focus of interest no longer rests on the teaching aspect, but on the language learners, their capacities, attitudes, strategies, and needs. 'Above all, students both young and old have heads' says Stern (1973:26). This results from a much more critical, self-confident attitude of the authors to the source disciplines, especially linguistics, in view of the fact that foreign language didactics should be regarded as a discipline in its own right, i.e. an autonomous discipline (Mackey, 1973), governed by its own research priorities. Mackey states on page 13 of his contribution to the volume:

4.4. Focus on the learner


It is likely that language teaching will continue to be a child of fashion in linguistics and psychology until the time it becomes an autonomous discipline which uses these related sciences instead of being used by them. To become autonomous, it will, like any other science, have to weave its own net, so as to fish out from the oceans of human experience and natural phenomena only the elements it needs, ignoring the rest... For the problems of language teaching are central neither to psychology nor to linguistics. Neither science is equipped to solve the problems of language teaching.

The authors see the limitations of the notion of language and its implied focus on form and stress the concept of language use and the centrality of language learning instead. This position implies the relevance of psycholinguistics, which 'emphasizes the human being as a user of language' (Stern, 1973:18). Like many other authors, Stern stresses 'the intricate relationship between language and meaning, between language and thought and emotion, between language and culture' (Stern, 1973:24-25). Oiler (1973a) is of the opinion that a theory of second language learning with aspirations to adequacy cannot disregard the communicative function of language. This perspective requires researchers to bring together the linguistic and extralinguistic information involved in language use. In contrast to the view of language as a self-contained system, pragmatics is interested in the study of the relationships between linguistic forms to contexts, in other words, in what language users do with language signs and how they use language signs to send and receive messages. Language use is linked to psycholinguistic concerns regarding the encoding and decoding of messages, i.e. language production and comprehension, as well as perception and memory. In the same volume, Macnamara (1973) suggests that in child language learning, the need to communicate is the decisive factor. Children first determine the meaning which the speaker is trying to convey and only later work out the relationship between meaning and the expression they have heard. He states (1973:59): 'the infant uses meaning as a clue to language, rather than language as a clue to meaning.' Meaning is of paramount importance; it comes from the child's need to understand and express himself or herself. As for the tasks of the source disciplines, his view is the following (1973:64): 'One of the main tasks of linguistics and psycholinguistics is to make a systematic assault on the language learning device which is so remarkable in man. At present we know nothing of it in detail. We do, however, know that it is essentially geared to human thought and to its communication. It does not seem to function at all well unless the learner is vitally engaged in the act of communicating.' Kennedy (1973) adds that instead of having a rich linguistic environment, the language learner 'is fed intravenously'. The first responsibility of specialists is not to hinder language learning, and the next is to subordinate language teaching to language learning. Dykstra and Nunes (1973) argue that the teaching programme must be structured to match the specific individual characteristics of language learners and it should be developed and evaluated in the context of purposeful communication. 'Communication', Dykstra and Nunes (1973:287) point out '... emphasizes


4. Developments in foreign language teaching...

purpose and meaning in a social context. It emphasizes the individual in his environment. It emphasizes the use of language, not first of all the forms of language, which are important certainly, but exclusive emphasis on them constitutes an inadequate educational opportunity.' All the authors stress that language must be thought of primarily as a tool of interpersonal communication (Spolsky, 1973; Upshur, 1973; Oiler, 1973b; Tucker and Lambert, 1973; O'Doherty, 1973). Language learning is regarded as a natural process governed by its own laws. Richards (1973:107) evaluates the traditional view of language learning as completely inaccurate: 'Many current teaching practices', he says, 'are based on the notion that the learner will photographically reproduce anything that is given to him, and that if he doesn't, it is hardly the business of the teacher or textbook writer.' The focus is on what the teacher did and what materials were used but not on the learning strategies that the learners are developing. It may be the case, however, that learning strategies are fairly independent of the available methods used for teaching. The learner is not wholly dependent on the teacher for what he or she learns: the language cannot be taught but must be learned.

4.5. Individual factors in foreign language learning
The learner is now considered to be the central figure in the language learning process and largely in charge of it. In one and the same set of circumstances, the process of language learning is bound to produce variable effects in different individuals. The factors responsible for these differences include foreign language aptitude, understood as the individual gift for languages (Stern, 1983), motivation, which would nowadays be defined as both the sustained and task commitment of the learner to the learning process. Foreign language aptitude has much in common with general language aptitude which manifests itself in the native and other languages and includes verbal intelligence and reasoning, as well as word knowledge and verbal fluency. Aptitude refers to specific learner qualities necessary in second language learning. The most influential conception of language aptitude comes from Carroll and Sapon (1959, Modern Language Aptitude Test and Elementary Modern Language Aptitude Test) and Pimsleur (1966, Modern Language Aptitude Battery). These tests may be used for prediction and diagnosis, which in practical terms means selecting more promising and less promising, i.e. faster and slower learners of the target language. It is not a single entity but a cluster of composite abilities which learners demonstrate to a varying degree (Stern, 1983; Dörnyei, 2005), such as: • phonetic coding ability involves the auditory capacity of phonemic discrimination, coding, assimilating and phonemic memory, essential in acquiring the target language phonological system productively and receptively; • grammatical sensitivity is the ability to perceive and become aware of the grammatical forms, their functions and patterning, and establish relations between graphemic and phonemic representations;

4.5. Individual factors in foreign language learning


• rote learning ability is the ability to store and recall partly arbitrary language material accurately and assign associations between sounds and meaning, and retain them. • inductive language learning ability is the ability to infer regularities from language material, identify patterns of relationships involving meaning and grammatical form. The notion of motivation is linked to the study of attitudes and motivation by Lambert and Gardner in Canada in 1972. Their research was conducted in the framework of social psychology to explore the relationship between attitudes towards the target language group and learning outcomes in Montreal, a FrenchEnglish bilingual setting. Gardner and Lambert (1972) distinguished two kinds of motivation: integrative, which is connected with a positive attitude to the target language group and a desire to become its member, and instrumental, which is connected with utilitarian goals for language learning, such as obtaining a betterpaid job or possibility of travel. Initially, Lambert and Gardner thought that successful language learning is linked to integrative motivation, but it turned out that the relationship is much more complex. Certainly, motivation is not a causal factor in language learning. It may be claimed nowadays that the source of motivation is not as important as the fact that it is activated. Equally important is the concept of intrinsic motivation, which is the energy activated for the purpose of conducting a given task and bringing it to its completion. Research on motivation in foreign language learning nowadays focuses not so much on the learners' attitudes towards speech communities of the target language - with English as a world language - but on the much more specific concept of attentional policy in various learning tasks, defined by Keller (1983:389) as 'the choices people make as to what experiences or goals they approach or avoid, and the degree of effort they will exert in that respect.' It follows that the notion of motivation refers to the deployment of the cognitive resources by the learner, the degree of effort and the extent to which it is sustained in the long run. Current interest in motivation is much more classroom-oriented (Dörnyei, 2001, 2005), whereas the view of motivation is much more dynamic. The teacher's responsibility is to raise the level of motivation and maintain it this way as long as possible. Forisha-Kovach (1983:124) defines intelligence as 'the ability to learn from experience, the ability to acquire and retain knowledge, and the ability to respond quickly and successfully to a new situation.' She stresses that to be considered intelligent, behaviour must be rational and purposeful, as well as meaningful and valuable. Two factors have been defined in measures of intelligence: the general ability known as the 'g' factor and specific abilities known as the 's' factor. Results of intelligence tests are usually presented as Intelligence Quotient (IQ), which expresses how a person compares to other members of his or her age group. Average scores are computed for each age group which provide the basis for determining the mental age. The IQ score is computed by dividing the mental age by the chronological (actual) age of the person and multiplying by 100. The factors that affect intelligence are both heredity, which imposes a certain ceiling which we


4. Developments in foreign language teaching...

may or may not reach, and environment, especially differential practice. The role of intelligence in foreign language learning is increasingly recognized nowadays in view of the perception of language learning and use as strategic behaviour.

4.6. Individualizing foreign language instruction
This major educational movement in the United States in the early seventies (Altman, ed., 1972; Disick, 1975) offered an alternative to the idea of a universal or monolithic teaching method. The main point of individualized foreign instruction is to systematically take into account individual differences in language learning, i.e. to deliberately adjust teaching to learner characteristics. Disick (1975:5) defines individualized instruction as 'an approach to teaching and learning that offers choices in four areas: objectives of learning, rate of learning, method (or style) of learning, and content of learning', or a combination of two or more of these. It recognizes the students' unique talents, interests, and limitations. As a result of these choices, foreign language programmes promote self-study, flexible pace of work and choices in the content of learning. The students move freely about the room and the school, they work in flexible formats, such as on their own, in pairs or groups and with the entire class. Emphasis is placed on the personalized contacts of the teacher and the learners to provide tailor-made instruction suitable to individual interests and requirements. Disick (1975) describes one of the purposes behind individualized instruction as humanizing and personalizing classroom relationships, in which he recognizes the importance of humanistic psychology, especially the influence of Carl Rogers and his view that an educated man is the person who has learned how to learn, the man who has learned how to adapt and change. The most important effect of education is not the body of knowledge but the skills and problem solving abilities. The assumption that what is taught is in fact learned is far from being true. Several beliefs lie at the bottom of the philosophy of individualized instruction: • belief in the need to humanize mass instruction, • belief in the rights of learners to communicate their own ideas, • belief in the need to learn how to learn, • belief in the need for self-discovery and self-actualization, • belief in the value of foreign language learning, which promotes new understanding and new insights. Attributes of individualized instruction include learning packets created by the teacher with assorted supplementary materials for learning the foreign language and culture, independent study sessions, elective assignments, and a choice of course content. Testing and evaluation strategies as well as plentiful individualized feedback and correction procedures are also especially adjusted to the individualized programmes. Chastain (1976) links individualized instruction with the need to cater to low-achieving students in the American educational system. In his view, the main

4.6. Individualizing foreign language instruction


consideration in the philosophy of individualized instruction is Carroll's (1963) new understanding of aptitude as 'how long the learner takes to learn a given amount of material rather than the amount of the material he can learn.' At the same time, he lists some critical opinions about individualized instruction. The first objection is that it is not as new as it sounds - teachers have always made attempts to diversify instruction to suit individual learners' needs. The next point is that it is unfeasible to teach a course individually; instead, the whole group should be addressed with adjustments made for the brighter and the weaker students respectively. Individualized instruction is impractical in that it requires large quantities of materials to be produced by the teacher. Ideally, the teachers should be able to relate to individuals and manage group activities at the same time. Stern (1983:387) is also fairly skeptical about this trend: 'While this movement had rightly responded to a weakness in language pedagogy, it lost its impetus after a few years, like many other language teaching innovations, probably because its advocates had underestimated the magnitude of the task they had set themselves in trying to match individual learner characteristics with appropriate teaching techniques.' However, much as I dislike to disagree with Stern, we do not have to 'match individual learner characteristics with appropriate teaching techniques' because language is learned and used through humanly universal verbal communication. Every human being is capable of it, with few anomalous exceptions. Individualization can and should be implemented within the context of communication processes, which still enables the learners to exercise the right to communicate their own ideas (the right of communicative freedom, autonomy, and creativity in language use), to learn how to learn (learning autonomy), seek self-discovery and self-actualization (realizing one's human potential), as well as understanding new insights (the right to continuous education). Designing special materials, although highly desirable, is most effectively limited by our resources. The degree to which 'tailor-made' materials prepared by the teacher may supplement the professionally-made set of coursebooks selected at the beginning of the programme is determined strategically rather than academically, it would seem. Some of the critical comments addressed to individualized instruction seem accurate, however: indeed the social unit for which the learning processes are organized is the group; the process of foreign language teaching need not be considered as taking place solely in the minds of the individuals without any reference to this social context; the group is a miniature social entity which has its own norms, values and dynamics. Language as a tool of verbal communication must be learned as a code for social interaction, which implies a set of norms and conventions followed by the group. From this point of view, extreme individualization in foreign language learning would be unnecessary as well as impossible in our educational system; adding touches of individualization in the areas mentioned above: the pace of learning, supplementary materials, the choice of content to be learned, plenty of feedback, look like a worthwhile attempt to diversify foreign language instruction. It seems clear that individualized instruction is a forerunner of


4. Developments in foreign language teaching...

such current developments as learner autonomy and learner-centredness as well as what I call the principle of addressing teaching to the language learner.

4.7. The beginnings of Second Language Acquisition Research
In a classical article Interlanguage from 1972, Larry Selinker states the most important theses of Second Language Acquisition Research for the decades to come. It is of interest to us here primarily as departure from the method's tradition and its emphasis on teaching. The most comprehensive overviews of SLAR can be found in Ellis (1985, 1994) and Larsen-Freeman and Long (1991). First of all, like many authors already mentioned, Selinker makes a distinction between the teaching perspective and the learning perspective in pursuing the theory of second language learning. The former prescribes what has to be done in order to help the learner learn, whereas the latter focuses on the internal structures and processes of the learning organism. Selinker (1975:117) thinks one is compelled to hypothesize 'the existence of a separate linguistic system based on the observable output which results from the learner's attempted production of the TL norm. This linguistic system we will call 'interlanguage' (IL). Data relevant to the identification of IL forms include (1) utterances in the learner's native language (NL); (2) IL utterances produced by the learner; (3) TL utterances produced by the native speakers of the TL. There are five processes central to second language learning: • language transfer is the process which leads to fossilizable language items, rules and subsystems as a result of the NL; • transfer-of-training results from teaching procedures; • strategies of second language learning result from the approach of the learner to the training material; • strategies of second language communication are the approach of the learner to communication with native speakers; • overgeneralization of TL linguistic material. It is assumed that there is a mechanism of fossilization in the latent psychological structure which includes 'linguistic items, rules, and subsystems which speakers of a particular NL will tend to keep in their IL relative to a particular TL, no matter what the age of the learner or amount of explanation and instruction he receives in the TL.' (Selinker, 1975:118-119). A successful process of second language learning involves the reorganization of linguistic material from an IL to identify with a particular TL. It is clear from this short account that Selinker sets a research agenda for Second Language Acquisition Research in which learning is much more significant than teaching and it is to be formally investigated on the basis of the LI and L2 utterances. Another such ground-breaking contribution comes from Corder (1967,1981), who regards learner language as an idiosyncratic dialect, a language governed by its own rules which are dynamic and reflect the state of the learner's interim competence. He thinks that teaching does not directly influence

4.7. The beginnings of Second Language Acquisition Research


learning because language learning follows a built-in syllabus, the learner-generated sequence of learning which is not identical with the teacher-generated sequence. He points out that the learner is using a definite system of language at every point in his development, although it is not the target language in the developed sense. The learner's errors are evidence of that system and should be distinguished from mistakes, which one can correct oneself; errors are systematic whereas mistakes are random; errors belong to the realm of competence whereas mistakes - to performance. Systematic errors of competence reveal the state of the learner's transitional competence, that is the learner's language knowledge to date. The significance of learner's errors is in that they point to the way in which the learner tests his or her hypothesis about the nature of the language s/he is learning. Corder makes yet another important terminological distinction between input and intake. Input, controlled by the learner, is what is potentially available to the learner and intake is what actually goes in. He makes the following, characteristically deep reflection (1967:169):
We have been reminded recently of Von Humbolt's statement that we cannot really teach language, we can only create conditions in which it will develop spontaneously in the mind in its own way. We shall never improve our ability to create such favourable conditions until we learn more about the way a learner learns and what his built-in syllabus is. When we do know this (and the learner's errors will, if systematically studied, tell us something about this) we may begin to be more critical of our cherished notions. We may be able to allow the learner's innate strategies to dictate our practice and determine our syllabus; we may learn to adapt ourselves to his needs rather than impose upon him our preconceptions of how he ought to learn, what he ought to learn and when he ought to learn it.

To sum up, the most important developments in the field of foreign language teaching to mark the 'post-methods' era selected for this outline include gradual emancipation of the field of foreign language teaching from linguistics and psychology with an increasing awareness of its own problems and priorities. The concept of language, which has been central in foreign language teaching so far, gives way to the concept of language use, i.e. verbal communication with the learner's participation as an individual, to prepare ground for learner-centredness. The relationship between foreign language teaching and learning is now modified: teaching behaviour must be subordinated to the learning process and there is an urgent need to find out as much as possible about both the process and the learner.
Topics and review questions

1. Do you think that there are advantages in developing the field of foreign language teaching as an autonomous discipline? If so, what are they? What are the problems involved? Is it absolutely necessary, in view of the history of its relationship with the source disciplines?


4. Developments in foreign language teaching...

2. According to some views, intelligence has a very important role to play in the process of foreign language learning, while according to others this role is minimized. Which view is closer to you? Do you have any observations in this connection? 3. Since extreme individualization is unnecessary, think of the benefits of group language learning as opposed to one-to-one instruction. What are the benefits of various interaction possibilities in a group? What do we learn from our peers? What advantages do we have of different individuals in a group? 4. Do you think that as a way of individualizing instruction students should be given the opportunities to choose the content of their material? What benefit would you see in this? 5. What does it take to humanize mass instruction? Can you provide some specific examples? What are the benefits for the outcomes of the language learning process? 6. Summarize the main points regarding Selinker's conception of interlanguage including its definition and the key processes. 7. Corder was criticized for his distinction between errors and mistakes based on a rather vague criterion, namely the fact that in the case of mistakes the learner can correct himself or herself. Do you see any problems with this criterion? 8. Explain the idea of the built-in syllabus.

Further reading Arabski, J., 1986. O przyswajaniu języka drugiego (obcego). Warszawa: WSiP Cooper, C., 2002. Individual Differences. London: Edward Arnold. Corder, P S., 1981. Error Analysis and Interlanguage. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Dörnyei, Z., 2001. Motivational Strategies in the Language Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Dörnyei, Z., 2005. The Psychology of the Language Learner. Individual Differences in Second Language Acquisition. Mahwa, New Yersey: Lawrence Erlbaum. Larsen-Freeman, D., and M. H. Long, 1991. An Introduction to Research on Second Language Acquisition. London: Longman. Oiler, J. W., and J. C. Richards (eds.), 1973. Focus on the Learner. Pragmatic Perspectives for the Language Teacher. Rowley, Mass. : Newbury House. Schumann, J. H., and N. Stenson (eds.), 1975. New Frontiers in Second Language Learning. Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House. Skehan, P, 1989. Individual Differences in Second Language Learning. London: Edward Arnold. Stern, H. H., 1983. Fundamental Concepts in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Although Communicative Language Teaching is an approach and method in the well-known classical sense of the terms, it is not a simple continuation of the 'methods' tradition, but its considerable refinement and improvement. It is still a conception of language teaching derived from the source disciplines rather than from our knowledge of language learning, but it successfully manages to overcome essential drawbacks of the typical orthodox methods, such as the narrowly linguistic view of language as a system of forms, an ideological basis confined to a few slogans, or a narrow spectrum of teaching principles and techniques. Communicative Language Teaching is didactically 'progressive' in that it stresses the role of the learner, the role of meaning, and the central position of communicative competence. At the level of approach it has a firm basis in sociolinguistics which looks at language use from a perspective relevant to the field of teaching. The main tenet that the goal of teaching is to prepare the learner for language communication is not an article of faith or an axiom, but an expression of a real and well-justified aim of foreign language instruction. The Communicative Method does not implement a fixed number of slogans from the source disciplines, but addresses vital questions of the syllabus, materials, units and criteria for the choice of the activities, classroom work format, the notion of the target behaviour, i.e. communicative competence, and several other essential teaching entities. At the level of techniques, it includes a wide array of activities and tasks which can be modified and extended on demand. On the whole, Communicative Language Teaching is much more comprehensive and balanced than the earlier methods, be it orthodox or unorthodox. It is deliberately focused on foreign language teaching in the classroom taking stock of the knowledge accumulated in the field so far. Naturally, any criticism of Communicative Language Teaching will have to be much more subtle than the 'take it or leave it' (global) objections to the previous methods, which points to evolutionary rather than revolutionary progress in the field.


5. The Communicative Approach to foreign language teaching

5. The Communicative Approach to foreign language teaching
5.1. Foundations of the Communicative Approach
The key idea of the communicative approach is the view of language use in the context of communication. The narrow focus on linguistic form analysed at the level of sentences is broadened to include the links between form, meaning and function in a communicative situation. The unit of analysis as well as teaching is discourse rather than sentence. Territorially, there were two sources of communicative developments in foreign language teaching: the British and the American. The British school of Communicative Language Teaching was influenced by the work in the 60s and early 70s of the Council of Europe, a regional organization for cultural and educational cooperation among the nations of the European Common Market, which sponsored publications and conferences on foreign language teaching as well as promoted the foundation of the International Association of Applied Linguistics, better known under its French acronym, AILA. Representatives of the British school of CLT feature Christopher Brumfit, Christopher Candlin, Keith Johnson, Keith Morrow, William Littlewood, David Wilkins, Henry Widdowson, to name but a few, whereas the American ones include Sandra Savignon, who conducted empirical research on the development of communicative competence (Savignon, 1972), Christina Bratt Paulston, and Mary Finnocchiaro.

5.2. Interest in doing things with words
In his treatise How to Do Things with Words Austin (1973) formulated his influential Speech Act Theory. He starts with the argument that the analysis of the truthfulness of sentences in the philosophy of language is insufficient because it overlooks the fact that, given the appropriate circumstances, uttering a sentence may, by itself, constitute an action, or be an integral part of this action. His wellknown examples include: 'I do' in the sense of 'I take this woman to be my lawful wedded wife', as part of a wedding ceremony, or 'I name this ship Queen Elisabeth' while smashing a bottle of champagne against the stern. He proposes to call such sentences performatives to indicate that, as we utter them, we simultaneously perform an action. He admits that some of these actions may take place without the use of words, for example the act of placing a bet may be done by way of dropping a coin in the slot of a machine. Uttering the sentence is not the sole element necessary for the act to take place. What is needed are the appropriate circumstances connected with social conventions and some requisite subsequent actions. For example: 'I give it to you' requires that we seriously mean it, that we own the object in question, and that we hand it over to the person

5.2. Interest in doing things with words


addressed. This leads Austin to the conclusion that utterances have more than meaning, sense, and reference: they have force which is the pivot of his theory. He distinguishes three kinds of acts connected with speaking: a) locutionary acts, the acts of saying something referring to things in the world, b) illocutionary acts, which have forces attached to the locutionary acts, such as warning or promise, and c) perlocutionary acts, which evoke some natural condition or state in people who are affected by them. When we say: 'I am sorry', we perform all of the above acts in that we utter words which have the locutionary force, we produce a statement which has the illocutionary force of apologizing to the addressee, and we perform the perlocutionary act of satisfying the addressee's demands and expectations. Speech acts are performed according to the conventions accepted by the given speech community. Therefore, they are relevant from the point of view of the foreign language learner. Austin's theory of speech acts is in line with the interests of foreign language specialists who see the need to focus on language use in the social context. This is stressed by British linguists, most notably by Firth (1973) in his work from 1930, 1937 reprinted in 1964 Tongues of Man/Speech, who makes reference to Sweet to point out that language exists only in the individual; language is part of personality and must be studied in connection with social human nature. This requires looking at language in terms of social events, i.e. in the context of situation which includes the participants, the verbal actions of the participants, the non-verbal actions of the participants, the relevant objects, and the effect of the verbal action. Firth stresses that the meaning of an utterance is a function of the cultural and situational context in which it occurs. Abercrombie (1973) is among the scholars who stress the role of paralinguistic systems of verbal communication, which are distinguished on the basis of two criteria: a) that they communicate, and b) that they are part of a conversational interaction. This considerable interest in body language and kinesics in also reflected in the Communicative Approach to foreign language teaching. Halliday (1973) outlines the uses, which he rather ambiguously calls 'models' (see glossary) of language, acquired by a child in his first language. Adults develop the idea of language as a tool to communicate something, e.g. expressing messages, ideas, or thoughts which refer to the real world. But for a child this is neither the only nor the adequate use of language. The child develops many other, specialized ideas of language in use in addition to the representational one: • the instrumental use to get things done; • the regulatory use to control the behaviour of others; • the interactional use (for the interaction between the self and others); • the personal use - to form one's own individuality; • the heuristic use - to explore and understand the environment; • the imaginative function to create one's verbal, fictional, literary environment.


5. The Communicative Approach to foreign language teaching

5.3. The notion of communicative competence
The theoretical ferment which helped to lay the foundations of Communicative Language Teaching came from Dell Hymes, a sociolinguist, who questioned Chomsky's view of the subject matter of linguistics (Chomsky, 1965:3):
Linguistic theory is concerned primarily with an ideal speaker-hearer, in a completely homogeneous speech community, who knows its language perfectly and is unaffected by such grammatically irrelevant conditions as memory limitations, distractions, shifts of attention and interest, and errors (random and characteristic) in applying his knowledge of the language in actual performance.

Hymes criticizes Chomsky's conception of the ideal speaker-hearer as the 'Garden of Eden' point of view which is highly unrealistic and largely irrelevant to many applied concerns, such as understanding the development of disadvantaged children. In contrast to the above, he maintains that there is a differential competence within a heterogeneous speech community. Chomsky's idea 'posits ideal objects in abstraction from sociocultural features that might enter into description' (Hymes, 1979:7). Performance is concerned with psychological by-products of the analysis of grammar and not with social interaction. In his view, linguistic theory should develop to postulate a more important role to sociocultural factors whereas the terms 'competence' and 'performance' should be redefined: if competence is to denote knowledge of the language system, it is far too little to enable the speaker to use language. A lot more is involved: there are rules of use without which rules of grammar would be useless; what is needed is not so much a better understanding of how language is structured, but a better understanding of how language is used. Competence must include the notions of appropriateness and acceptability, which Chomsky leaves for performance. Hymes' communicative competence includes the following elements: • formal constraints - whether or not something is formally possible; • constraints as to the means of implementation - whether or not something is feasible; • appropriacy constraints - whether or not something is adequate to the context; • actual behaviour - whether or not something is in fact done. This broader scope of linguistic analysis embraces the adjustments speakers make in the use of language forms to sociocultural/situational factors. They are not random but governed by rules. Hymes (1974) stresses the role of the situational context in determining the linguistic form of communication. It is highly relevant who speaks to whom, about what, where, when, how, and for what purpose. These key factors in the communicative situation refer to the following:

5.3. The notion of communicative competence


The setting The participants The purpose The key The content The channel

The time and place of communication The social roles of the speakers and the addressees or the audience The communicative goal which can be further subdivided into smaller functions Tone, manner or spirit in which the speech act is performed The topic of communication may determine the use of specialized language The two main channels are auditory (speech) and visual (writing)

Table 5.1. Parameters of the communicative situation

The parameters of the communicative situation outlined above are equally important to language choices by native as well as non-native speakers, i.e. language learners. Practising language use in the abstract is impossible; to create sufficient context for language practice, these parameters must be specified. In 1980, following Hymes' lead, Canale and Swain published a seminal paper on the 'Theoretical Bases of Communicative Approaches to Second Language Teaching and Testing' in which the central position in communicative language teaching is assigned to the notion of communication and communicative competence. They spell out the following guiding principles of a Communicative Approach: 1. Communicative competence is minimally composed of grammatical competence, sociolinguistic competence, strategic competence (or communication strategies) and any teaching programme must provide for its development. 2. A communicative approach must respond to the learner's communicative needs, both these fixed and permanent as well as transitional and interim. 3. The language learner must have the opportunity to take part in meaningful communicative interaction with competent speakers of the target language. 4. Active use must be made of the learner's native language skills which are shared with the target language skills. 5. The primary objective is to provide the learner with the experience and the opportunity to practise the target language and culture and only with a limited knowledge about the language. The extensive quote below contains their explanation of the notion of communication relevant to language teaching (1980:29):
In proposing this theoretical framework, we have in mind several general assumptions about the nature of communication and of a theory of communicative competence. Following Morrow (1977), we understand communication to be based in sociocultural, interpersonal interaction, to involve unpredictability and creativity, to take place in a discourse and sociocultural context, to be purposive behaviour, to be carried out under performance constraints, to involve use of the authentic (as opposed to text-book contrived) language, and to be judged as successful or not on the basis of behavioural outcomes. We assume with Candlin (1978) that the relationship


5. The Communicative Approach to foreign language teaching
between a proposition (or the literal meaning of an utterance) and its social meanings is variable across different sociocultural and discourse contexts, and that communication involves the continuous evaluation and negotiation of social meaning on the part of the participants. We also agree with Palmer (1978) that genuine communication involves 'the reduction of uncertainty' on behalf of the participants; for example, a speaker asking a (non-rhetorical) question will not know the answer in advance, but this uncertainty will be reduced when an answer is provided. Finally, in keeping with the integrative theories ..., communication will be understood to involve verbal and non-verbal symbols, oral and written modes, and production and comprehension skills.

Canale and Swain (1980) distinguish the following levels of communicative competence: • grammatical competence, which includes the knowledge of lexical items and the rules of phonology, morphology, syntax, sentence grammar, and semantics; it deals with the accurate expression of the literal meaning of utterances, an important concern for any communicative approach; • sociolinguistic competence, which consists of: a) sociocultural rules of use and b) rules of discourse; this knowledge is essential in interpreting utterances for their social meaning, especially when the speaker's intention is expressed indirectly; sociocultural rules refer to Hymes' context of the communicative situation, such as the topic, role of participants, setting, and norms of interaction, also register and style, whereas the rules of discourse - to cohesion, i.e. to grammatical links within and above sentences, and coherence, i.e. the appropriate combination of communicative functions in utterances; rules of discourse make use of functional sentence perspective, which are not found in sentence grammars; • strategic competence, which consists of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies used to regulate conversation, for example to compensate for communicative breakdowns.

5.4. The importance of discourse in CLT
From a historical perspective, CLT may be considered the first full-fledged discourse-based approach and method in foreign language teaching, formulated in clear opposition to sentence-based approaches. This significant, quite natural and welcome reorientation in foreign language teaching, is certainly worthy of our attention at this point. Below is a characterization of discourse representative of the Communicative Approach, which comes from the book Teaching Language as Communication (1978) by Henry Widdowson, a well-known British applied linguist and foreign language specialist. In his considerations, which were fundamental for CLT, he finds it mandatory to go beyond the sentence and look at longer units of language utterances. A sentence may well be a suitable unit of grammatical analysis but investigations of human communicative conduct must

5.4. The importance of discourse in CLT


look at how sentences are used to create discourse. The two factors which make discourse different from a list of sentences are cohesion and coherence (cf rules of discourse, Canale and Swain, 1980). The term 'cohesion' is explained as follows (1978:26):
The notion of cohesion,... refers to the way sentences and parts of sentences combine so as to ensure that there is propositional development. Usually sentences used communicatively in discourse do not in themselves express independent propositions: they take on value in relation to other propositions expressed through other sentences. If we can recognize this relationship and so are able to associate a sentence, or part of a sentence, with an appropriate value, then we recognize a sequence of sentences or sentence-parts as constituting cohesive discourse. The difficulty we have in recovering propositional development is a measure of the degree of cohesion exhibited by a particular discourse.

This task is facilitated if the writer or speaker follows communicative conventions in the arrangement of information and avoids such violations as reordering or unnecessary repetitions. Cohesion is established by means of linguistic (grammatical and lexical) forms used appropriately to the context and to the purpose of linking the elements in clauses and sentences. These linguistic forms, e.g. pronouns, articles, tenses, recurrent lexical items or their synonyms, establish ties within and above the sentences by referring to previous elements (anaphora) and the following elements (cataphora) in discourse. Pronoun 'it', for example, functions anaphorically in that it copies the element with the same reference into the subsequent part of discourse. Coherence, on the other hand, is the organization of discourse into a meaningful whole at the level of propositions. Coherence can be worked out and reconstructed even when there are some missing links in cohesion. From our current perspective it is more convincing to state, however, that coherence is not so much the property of the text, but of the mental representation of the reader, and that it is established in the mind of the reader even when there are no overt markers of coherence (cf Jay, 2003:278). More on cohesive devices in English, such as substitutions, ellipsis, conjunctions, reiteration, synonymy, hyponymy, see M. Halliday and R. Hasan, 1976. Cohesion in English. London: Longman. Widdowson's well-known example is (1978:59): A: That's the phone. B: I'm in the bath. A: OK. In this case we assign a meaningful interpretation to the sentences as a) a request and b) a factual response to it. Coherence as much as cohesion are discovered or recognized by the reader or listener. 'Meanings do not exist, readymade, in the language itself: they are worked out. We are given linguistic clues to what propositions are expressed and what illocutionary acts are performed, and on the basis of these clues we make sense of the sentences' (Widdowson, 1978:31). When we produce discourse, we try to provide the reader or the listener with as


5. The Communicative Approach to foreign language teaching

many clues as we think necessary, which does not mean that we express everything. It is not even feasible. We make use of ellipsis which is the absence of explicit verbalization of those elements which, we assume, can be inferred from our shared knowledge, discourse context, or the context of the situation. The use of language as discourse is a creative task because the listener or the reader must compute the meaning from the component elements. Coherence results from our perception of the match between a given instance of discourse and our knowledge of how discourse is made. We would now define coherence as the overall unity of ideas expressed in the discourse (van Dijk and Kintsch, 1983). Savignon (1983:39) aptly explains the difference between coherence and cohesion:
Text coherence is the relation of all the sentences or utterances in a text to a single and global proposition [also called sense, comment - M.D.]. The establishment of global meaning or topic for a whole passage, conversation, book, etc. is an integral part of both expression and interpretation and makes possible the understanding of the individual sentences or utterances included in the text. Local connections or structural links between individual sentences provide what is sometimes referred to as cohesion, a particular kind of coherence. Some examples of the formal cohesive devices that are used to connect language with itself [language in the meaning of discourse elements or entities, comment - M.D.] are pronouns, conjunctions, synonyms, ellipses, comparisons, or parallel structures. The identification by Halliday and Hasan (1976) of various cohesive devices used in English is well known, and it has begun to have an influence on text analysis as well as on teaching materials for English as a Second Language (ESL).

Communication is a cooperative endeavour which relies on communicative conventions. From the point of view of the foreign language learner, the knowledge of these conventions derives from the experience of language use and not from learning the material disconnected from the real communicative purpose, which is merely 'language put on display' (Widdowson, 1978:53). It is also quite clear that sentence-based materials are inadequate for activating the mental operations which are required by discourse comprehension: reconstructing discourse cohesion and coherence, inferencing, computing the meaning and sense in an instance of social contact. Discourse is not a list of sentences, but an organic whole, an integral part of the communicative situation from which it emerges. This means that discourse follows communicative conventions accepted for the given situation. These different conventions are responsible for the fact that various instances of discourse fall into categories, or types, or genres, such as: a telephone conversation, personal letter, poem, story, recipe, article, instructions, TV commercial, report, debate, speech, interview, memo, contract, an annual report, minutes from a business meeting, etc. Swales (1990:58) defines the notion of genre as:
a class of communicative events, the members of which share some set of communicative purposes. These purposes are recognized by the expert members of the parent discourse commu-

5.5. The notion of role


nity, and thereby constitute the rationale for the genre. This rationale shapes the schematic structure of the discourse and influences the constraints choice of content and style ... In addition to purpose, exemplars of a genre exhibit various patterns of similarity in terms of structure, style, content and intended audience. If all high probability expectations are realized, the exemplar will be viewed as prototypical by the parent discourse community.

In CLT, discourse is considered to be the basic unit of practice (Savignon, 1983). Considering the fact that discourse is an organic whole, it must be represented in the teaching materials in its various natural forms so that the learner can become acquainted with its typological varieties, structures and conventions. Moreover, various genres must be present in a sufficient array to give the learners fairly representative material for learning. Becoming familiar with the typological features of discourse is helpful both in receptive and productive language use. In receptive language use the knowledge of these discourse conventions provides the learner with the orientation as to what to expect, reduced uncertainty (Spolsky, 1973), which may be helpful in guiding his or her attention to other aspects of the task. In productive language use, the knowledge and implementation of these conventions may enhance the learner's chances for being understood. Various genres, such as essays, abstracts, anecdotes, recipes, poems, advertisements, stories, columns from magazines, etc., may be presented as models to be implemented for their typological features, yet modified for specific details of content and situation. Some communicative textbooks, for example Think First Certificate by Naunton, contain activities for raising discourse awareness in which various discourse types (or excerpts) are presented for the learner to reconstruct the communicative context of situation, i.e. to answer such questions as who is speaking to whom, why, and where one would find such a text. Another type of discourse awareness activity is the scrambled text, which contains a sample of text in which sentences have been divided and rearranged to mess up discourse continuity. The task of the learners is to restore the discourse order of the sentences. As they do it, they must pay attention to discourse markers and other exponents of cohesion.

5.5. The notion of role
The concept of role is central to social psychology, connecting personal and social levels of organization. It is impossible to ignore it in discussing communication from the point of view of the foreign language learner because our role in a given communicative encounter largely determines our communicative behaviour, i.e. our verbal and non-verbal choices. The sense of the term 'role' is primarily connected with the fact that the participants of a communicative act are involved in it either as speakers or listeners, or better still, as senders or addressees, or both. These are their communicative roles. Additionally, however, it is necessary to distinguish the concept of a social role which, following Munby (1978:68), can be defined as 'a set of norms and expectations applied to the incumbent of a particu-


5. The Communicative Approach to foreign language teaching

lar position'. A more extended explanation comes from the Concise Encyclopedia of Psychology (Corsini, ed. 1987:991):
Roles are prescribed ways for people to divide the labour of society and to interact with others. Social roles maintain the social system, and they prevent it from changing. Interpersonal relationships do not simply occur in random fashion, but follow certain social conventions, somewhat similar to a script for a play, Since the stability of society is important, people are carefully trained and their behaviour is shaped by a process of socialization. To deviate drastically from one's social role (s) is to invite social sanctions, which can interfere with effective living and the attainment of one's goals. People continue to learn a variety of roles for various social situations. Thus a given individual in a lifetime acquires the roles of child, teenager, woman or man, wife or husband, student, worker, and leader, to mention a few. All of these roles enable the individual to interact with a variety of persons in many social contexts in appropriate ways.

According to Oyster (2000), role is a clash between the internal (individual) and the external (social) sets of expectations: a) role perception which refers to the individual's internal representation of the role and its appropriate behaviours and b) social expectations connected with the given role which are ascribed to the role by a given social group. Our social role determines how we construct our image in verbal communication. It is impossible to participate in a communicative encounter in no social role because the minute we enter this act we form a relationship with our interlocutor. Some roles are simply ascribed to us since we have no influence on our age, sex, or race; others are achieved, which is to say they depend on our choices and efforts, for example education or social position. Our role competence can be understood as the ability to linguistically comply as well as to violate the expectations of our interlocutors and our own, and to evaluate ourselves and others with reference to these norms and conventions. Because these roles are determined by social conventions, they are culture-specific at the same time: they vary not only within social groups, but across different language communities. A learning task for the foreign language learner is to determine the degree of similarity and difference in role expectations between the native and the target languages. Some foreign language specialists maintain that role competence can be optimally acquired in real-life communication rather than the classroom. On the other hand, any act of communication, which is not the same as 'any instance of language practice', including communication in the classroom, implies some social roles of the participants. In other words, relevant roles must and can - to some extent - be modelled and learned within the educational system.

5.6. Developments in communicative syllabus design
An important contribution to the conception of the communicative syllabus came from Wilkins in 1976 in his book Notional Syllabuses (Oxford University Press). He explains the origin of the term 'notional' in the following way (page 18, foot-

5.6. Developments in communicative syllabus design


note): 'The term notional is borrowed from linguistics where grammars based on semantic criteria are commonly called notional grammars (cf formal grammars where the criteria used in analysis are formal) .' He focuses his attention on the available criteria for organizing the material of teaching to distinguish two strategies, synthetic and analytic, to explain them in the following classical quote (Wilkins 1976:2):
A synthetic language strategy is one in which the different parts of language are taught separately and step-by-step so that acquisition is a process of gradual accumulation of the parts until the whole structure of the language has been built up. In planning the syllabus for such teaching the global language has been broken down probably into an inventory of grammatical structures and into a limited list of lexical items ... At any one time the learner is being exposed to a deliberately limited sample of language. The language that is mastered in one unit of learning is added to that which has been mastered in the preceding units. The learner's task is to re-synthesize the language that has been broken down into a large number of smaller pieces with the aim of making his learning easier. It is only in the final stages of learning that the global language is re-established in all its structural diversity. In analytic approaches there is no attempt at this careful linguistic control of the learning environment. Components of language are not seen as building blocks which have to be progressively accumulated. Much greater variety of linguistic structure is permitted from the beginning and the learner's task is to approximate his own linguistic behaviour more and more closely to the global language. Significant linguistic forms can be isolated from the structurally heterogeneous context in which they occur, so that learning can be focused on important aspects of the language structure. It is this process which is referred to as analytic. In general, however, structural considerations are secondary when decisions are being taken about the way in which the language to which the learner will be exposed is to be selected and organized. The situational, notional and functional syllabuses ... are analytic in this sense, as are approaches based on operational definitions.

The criterion for this division clearly comes from the fact that, in the case of the synthetic strategy, the material of teaching is rationed in terms of linguistic forms and ordered according to some idea of difficulty. In this way it is piecemeal and additive, unlike the analytic strategy, which operates on meaningful chunks of material, i.e. authentic rather than predigested. Synthesis as well as analysis refer to the mental operations performed by the learner during the process of foreign language teaching. The synthetic strategy is much more prevalent and older whereas the analytic one is a fairly recent invention. Wilkins has several reservations toward the synthetic strategy, first of all, that language learning is not complete before the entire grammatical syllabus has been mastered. More importantly, however, this strategy is impractical from the learner's point of view because he or she must reorganize the knowledge of forms to match various functions since there is no one-to-one correspondence between functions and forms. For example, the imperative form may be used to perform various functions, such as an invitation ('Come to my house on Saturday. We'll have a lovely lunch.'), a request ('Give


6. The Communicative Method and Techniques. Evaluating CLT

me your phone number, I'll call you as soon as I can.'), or an apology ('Forgive me.'). At the same time, ordering someone to do something, typically associated with the imperative, can be performed with a variety of forms in addition to the imperative, such as the affirmative ('I want you to get it for me as soon as possible.'), a question ('Can you get it for me as soon as you can?'), a negative sentence ('You wouldn't, by any chance, get it for me, would you?). According to Wilkins, situational syllabuses reflect the fact that language is always used and understood in its social context. Our language needs are also determined by the social situations which we encounter. In designing situational syllabus, it is necessary to predict the situations in which the learner will need the target language and select the material (grammatical forms, lexical material with special situational terminology), which the learner must learn to cope with linguistically. The significant features of the situation are (predictably) the participants, the setting, the topic and purpose of the encounter, the particular language activity - receptive or productive, etc. We are familiar with the typical situational units in various foreign language textbooks, recreated for language teaching purposes, such as 'At the post office', 'At the railway station', 'Booking a hotel room', 'Shopping', 'At a restaurant'. The situational syllabus may not prepare the learner for unexpected events and language needs, but despite this fact it uses a relevant criterion for the learner-oriented rather than grammar-oriented programme. In designing a notional syllabus the question asked is not how speakers use language to express themselves, but what it is that they communicate through language. The syllabus is then organized in terms of content rather than form, which is not to say that the form is disregarded. The difference is that the forms are subordinated to the semantic needs of the learner. Such a syllabus can cover all sorts of functions (semantico-grammatical categories, such as time, frequency, quantity, location), categories of modal meaning (modality, scale of certainty, scale of commitment, intention) and categories of communicative function (reporting, predicting, evaluating, persuading, arguing, providing information, agreeing, expressing personal emotions, such as sympathy, gratitude, flattery, hostility). The Communicative Approach is a well-known breakthrough in the foreign language syllabus design: in place of one essential set of criteria derived from linguistic descriptions (schools of linguistics have changed but the conviction has remained that descriptive linguistics identifies the 'what' of foreign language teaching), we see a whole myriad of criteria of a different nature: functional, notional, semantic, negotiational, task-based syllabus which has evolved into a trend in teaching of its own right, and learner-generated syllabus. Functional syllabus is based on the categories of communicative function. Categories of communicative function identify the purposes for which various forms are used in utterances. Forms refer to the syntactic analysis at the sentence level. Functions are clearly categories derived from the higher level of communicative interaction, for example talking about yourself, starting a conversation, making a date, asking for information, answering techniques, getting further information, requesting, attracting attention, agreeing and refusing, hesitating,

6.2. Criteria of communication in CLT


holding the floor in a conversation, offering, asking permission, giving reasons, giving opinions, agreeing, disagreeing, making suggestions and giving advice, expressing enthusiasm, and persuading.

6. The Communicative Method and Techniques. Evaluating CLT
6.1. The Communicative Method
The essential idea in the Communicative Method is teaching English for communication and through communication. Following Howatt (1984:279), a distinction is made between the strong and the weak version of CLT:
There is, in a sense, a 'strong' version of communicative approach and a 'weak' version. The weak version which has become more or less standard practice in the last ten years, stresses the importance of providing learners with opportunities to use their English for communicative purposes and, characteristically, attempts to integrate such activities into a wider programme of language teaching. In order to avoid the charge that communicative activities are merely side-shows, efforts are made to ensure that they relate to the purposes of the course as specified in the syllabus, hence the importance of proposals to include semantic as well as purely structural features in a syllabus design ... The 'strong' version of communicative teaching, on the other hand, advances the claim that language is acquired through communication, so that it is not merely a question of activating an existing; but inert knowledge of the language, but of stimulating the development of the language system itself. If the former could be described as 'learning to use' English, the latter entails 'using English to learn it.'

The strong version would not admit any pre-communicative or drill-like activities because they do not promote learning; the weak version on the other hand would be much more tolerant and accept pre-communicative activities to build a bridge between structural, functional, and communicative activities.

6.2. Criteria of communication in CLT
There seem to be two related lines of defining communication for the purposes of foreign language teaching. The first one stresses the aspect of conveying a message, the other - bridging the information gap. The first one draws from the theory of communication which exceeds the concerns of foreign language teaching and can be exemplified by Savignon (1983), the other view is formed largely in reaction to grammar-focused instruction of the traditional approaches and can be illustrated by views of Johnson (1979) and Morrow (1981). Savignon (1983) defines communication as getting one's message across, which is to say


6. The Communicative Method and Techniques. Evaluating CLT

conveying one's communicative intention to be understood. The success of our communicative attempts depends on the willingness of our communicative partners to comprehend our intention and on the interpretation they give to our meaning. Communication depends on the cooperation of all the participants involved. She points out (1983:8): 'We make the best use we can of the symbolic system we know. The meaning we convey depends on others who share an understanding of these symbols and who may or may not interpret them as we intend.' Communication is goal-oriented, dynamic, and deeply embedded in the social context. We learn how to communicate (for example, how to take turns) from our role models, persons we admire and would like to resemble, and we receive feedback on the adequacy of our communicative behaviour. Communication takes place in an infinite variety of situations, which we enter in some roles, and our success in these roles depends on prior experience and understanding of the context as well as the appropriate choices of style and register to adjust to the participants. Assertiveness training as well as the awareness of our body language are also part of our communicative competence. There is such a close link between communication and culture that the learner must be provided with enough authentic target language contextual clues to interpret the culture-specific meaning. Johnson (1979) understands the concept of 'communication' as similar, though not identical to conveying factual information, which implies uncertainty reduction. Teaching cannot be communicative when there is no possibility of alternatives as to what will be said. Traditional techniques of language teaching, such as telling a story based on a set of pictures, retelling a story after the teacher, describing actions taking place in the classroom are very helpful as grammar practice, but not as communication in action. Such form-focused practice is neither interesting to students nor does it involve them in interaction. The essence of this process is the information gap, which occurs when there is some unpredictability in the interaction which is eliminated by the speaker while the listener processes this information as he receives it and responds to it in real time. He adds (1979:201) that: 'the attempts to create information gaps in the classroom, thereby producing communication viewed as the bridging of the information gap, has characterized much recent communicative methodology.' The attempts take such forms as out-of-focus slides shown to the students, incomplete forms or diagrams to be filled by asking the partner for information, activities with a screen, i.e. where eye contact is prevented, as well as jig-saw reading and listening. In these activities the information gap is created by providing information to some participants and withholding it from others. Similarly to Johnson, Morrow (1981) singles out information gap and choice as two of the three processes which are essential in replicating communication in the foreign language classroom. The third process is feedback. Information gap exists when student A is in a position to tell student B something that he does not yet know. Choice refers both to having the freedom as to what to say as well as how to say it. Feedback in real life comes from accomplishing the aim of the activity,

6.3. Principles of the Communicative Method


for example having the invitation accepted, favour granted, complaint heard. In the classroom, the aim is typically to perform the activity till the end. These definitions of communication are of paramount importance because language learning takes place when 'the learner becomes involved in real communication so that he is a user of the language rather than a detached observer who analyses and rehearses the language for later use' (Stern, 1981; Johnson, 1982).

6.3. Principles of the Communicative Method
Communicative Language Teaching may be considered a sign of progress in teaching philosophy in that it follows some key principles: 1. It is learner-oriented; what really matters is the learner's experience and involvement during the foreign language class; the learner is the central figure in the process of language learning; the teacher's role is subordinated to this idea (Richards and Rodgers, 1986); the teacher often acts as a communicative partner or adviser or classroom work organizer/manager; the learners are entitled to negotiate the topics or other aspects of their work on the foreign language; this instigates a departure from the traditional lock-step (teacher fronted) instruction; a much more preferable work format is group and pair work which promotes learner-learner interaction and increases the learner's speaking time; moreover, the seats are arranged to secure eye contact among the students to enable them to process non-verbal clues such as body language. 2. Since communication is the route to language learning, classroom materials and activities must be meaningful and as authentic or authentic-looking as possible to promote understanding and, consequently, remembering; recommended exercises are open-ended and not wholly predictable; they are supposed to elicit answers based on truth value rather than some formal criteria; content, especially the personally relevant content is essential to promote learning through communication; the information gap principle is observed as much as possible; the gap may be natural (opinion gap or experience gap between the individuals in the group) or introduced by way of special information distribution (different cue cards given to members of the role-play team; different text segments given to different groups, as in jig-saw reading and listening, sets of pictures with relevant differences handed in to students as pair work material, as in 'spot-the-difference' exercise, etc. 3. Communication and culture are closely connected; for this reason classroom experience should be rich in cultural communicative input; some specialists call for creating a cultural island in the classroom environment by displaying various objects, maps, photographs, posters, charts, etc., hence the need for realia, i.e. real-life objects which come from the target language culture to


6. The Communicative Method and Techniques. Evaluating CLT

enrich language learning, and authentic texts as well as illustrations of all kinds in the language learning process. 4. Communication is context-embedded, which is to say that when speakers communicate they make use of verbal and non-verbal clues to understand the interlocutor's communicative intention. In face-to-face communication these contextual clues come from the people who communicate and their environment. This is why video materials are regarded as indispensable in CLT - they show speakers in their environment interacting verbally as well as with the help of body language, facial expressions, and other visual and auditory clues. At the same time, written messages are accompanied by graphic information (pictures, drawings, photographs, maps, graphs), which enhances the meaning expressed in the language code; these sources of information are helpful in coming to grips with the overall message and must be systematically exploited in processing written texts. 5. The unit of the material is based on communicative criteria, such as text (discourse which is a unit of verbal communication) and task. Task is a goal-oriented activity whose purpose is to be accomplished through verbal interaction; the completion of the task implies more than merely grammatical manipulation; although language forms must be processed successfully, they are used to accomplish a higher order goal related to communicative language use, such as performing some communicative function or act; a task may take the form of a problem solving activity, for which some entry data are provided and a solution is worked out (negotiated) by a group of learners. 6. A typical communicative textbook, which is in fact a set of several specialized books and recordings, reflects these principles by using multiple criteria for the selection and arrangement of the teaching content: the main criterion for the selection of the material is the topic; in addition to it there are skill-oriented activities followed by pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary activities. The topics refer to everyday matters and interests as well as popular and mass culture. The graphic layout is as important to language learning as the content. The student book is colorful and richly illustrated with photographs, pictures, humorous cartoons, maps, graphs, charts and drawings. Reading passages resemble texts taken out from authentic sources, such as papers and magazines, and they are accompanied by meaning-enhancing illustrations. These illustrations, which deliberately highlight the target language culture, aim to encapsulate the target language environment. 7. The most valuable work format is pair and group work. The amount of teacher-fronted instruction is reduced to allow learner-learner interaction and to increase the learner speaking time. The learners are no longer involved in the role of an audience but participants. The groups and pairs formed for the purpose of various activities are not stable.

6.3. Principles of the Communicative Method 6.3.1. Further issues in the Communicative Method


The four language skills. CLT does not recommend any priorities or sequences in teaching the four language skills; they are treated as equally important. In order to do justice to language use in communication, where only one skill is hardly ever singled out, various language skills must be involved in combination (e.g. listening to the message to comprehend it, making notes and relaying the information orally to someone else). However, there is some difference between CLT and the Cognitive Method regarding the treatment of skills: since CLT is so strongly concerned with teaching via communication, great care is given to the choice of tasks and situations to make the given skill practice as authentic as possible, for example writing tasks are shaped to resemble letters to the editor, letters of application or letters of complaint, a memo to a librarian, or a set of instructions. The task format makes it necessary to assign some communicative purpose to the activities aimed at developing the four skills. Reading practice, for example, is - more often than not - limited to reading for factual information, stressing such kinds of reading as skimming, i.e. reading for general information, and scanning, i.e. reading for specific information. The place of grammar. It has been stressed on several occasions that CLT is formulated in reaction to form-focused and grammar-based approaches in foreign language teaching. The objections of communicativists were primarily directed at the meaningless practice of sentences illustrating some point of grammar which did not make communicative sense and could not be remembered. The underlying idea was that the object of language learning is studying sentence level syntax. In contrast, CLT specialists recommend utterances as the material of learning and participation in communicative events as the route to language learning. As a result, the role of grammar is drastically limited. It is no longer considered to be the basis for syllabus design because alternative criteria have been proposed. Explicit teaching of grammar is not treated as essential since participating in communication rather than grammar is the key to language. Various broader areas of communicative competence are emphasized as equally, if not more, important, which initially leads to the deemphasis of grammar in CLT. Although grammatical competence was recognized by the proponents of the levels of communicative competence, Canale and Swain (1980), the first decade or so of CLT saw a considerable neglect of the role of linguistic, or grammatical, competence as well as grammar practice. Later, the attitude to the form and extent of grammar practice evolved, which was reflected in the communicative textbooks. Gradually, form-focused activities were reinstated together with charts and graphs highlighting some grammatical constructions, explanations and special exercises. These materials also contained language awareness activities, for example erroneous sentences to be corrected by the learner, explanations of grammar in the students' native language, and grammatical rules and principles collected in a special reference section. Such changes emerged in answer to the growing need for grammar instruction in the classroom which would provide the learner with useful orientation in the language system and help him/her develop morphosyntactic accuracy.


6. The Communicative Method and Techniques. Evaluating CLT

Accuracy versus communicative effectiveness. As has been pointed out, communicativists were openly critical of sentence grammar and fascinated with goal-oriented communicative interaction. In weighing accuracy against communicative effectiveness, the latter had to win. Littlewood (1981:4) made the following characteristic observation:
The most efficient communicator in a foreign language is not always the person who is best in manipulating its structures. It is often the person who is most skilled at processing the complete situation involving himself and his hearer, taking account of what knowledge is already shared between them (e.g. from the situation or the preceding conversation), and selecting items which communicate his message effectively. Foreign language learners need opportunities to develop these skills, by being exposed to situations where the emphasis is on using their available resources for communicating meaning as efficiently and economically as possible. Since the resources are limited, this may often entail sacrificing grammatical accuracy in favour of immediate communicative effectiveness.

Although Littlewood added that this meant acquiring grammatical accuracy as well as communicative effectiveness, the implicit understanding in CLT was that it was either grammatical accuracy or communicative effectiveness. Since grammatical accuracy in CLT is neither the focus nor the sufficient attainment for the language learner, the more obvious choice was communicative effectiveness. This preference went quite well together with a relative tolerance toward language error. Arguments against grammatical error correction stressed that if errors occur during a speaking activity, the teacher's intervention would intimidate the learner and interfere with his or her fluency work. A cure for error could be more practice and learning, so that errors would go away by themselves. The issue of error, however, which has became a bone of contention among the specialists of foreign language teaching, seems to be much more complex than that. The role of culture in CLT. Communicative Language Teaching may not be the first approach to address the issue of culture in foreign language teaching (cf Brooks, 1964; Lado, 1957), but it certainly is the first comprehensive one. The idea underlying CLT is that communication and culture are essentially inseparable. Culture defined as a way of life of a given society permeates all areas of communication and provides contexts for the interpretation of meanings. Hammerly (1982) divided the cultural 'literacy' necessary in foreign language learning into factual, behavioural and achievement culture. Factual culture is the background knowledge about geography and history with its important people shared by educated members of a given society, taken for granted in communication in the form of references, allusions, or metaphors. Behavioural culture refers to various expected forms of behaviour in verbal and non-verbal interactions, including the knowledge of typical scenarios for social events, values and attitudes, which imposes structure and predictability on social encounters. Achievement culture is the information about the accomplishments of artists, scientists, and other outstanding individuals who have contributed to the cultural heritage of the target language

6.4. Typical activities and techniques


community. This classification is significant from the point of view of foreign language learning because it points to qualitative differences between practising culturally appropriate rituals of behaviour in social encounters, such as: the conversational etiquette and other conventions, studying the mentality of target language speakers, i.e. the world of ideas, concepts, symbols, values, metaphors, attitudes, and norms that the target language group lives by and implies (also infers) in communication, and acquiring knowledge about the most appreciated cultural products of the target language community. Each kind of knowledge requires special materials and practice. Communicative textbooks implement this preoccupation with target language culture especially as to the choice of cultural topics for reading passages, so that the learners can learn about important people and places, as well as monuments and masterpieces, richly illustrated with graphic material. Communicative textbooks seem to have evolved in this regard and have broadened the spectrum of cultural information. For one thing, they tend to highlight the native culture of the language learner, i.e. the source culture, as well as the target culture, secondly, they no longer focus on Great Britain and the United States, but include Australia or New Zealand, and finally, they aim at what may be called a polycultural perspective in that they include information on various other countries, places, monuments and people in distant regions of the world.

6.4. Typical activities and techniques
Communicative exercises are characterized by rich input which helps the learners to enter a given communicative situation and act out some identifiable role. The learners must comprehend the input to perform their task according to the confines of the situation, including the role and its goal. The activities often engage the learner in integrating various information sources, linguistic as well as non-linguistic, to produce a piece of discourse relevant to the situation; it is common to ask the learner to convert one type of information, for example in the form of pictures, into spoken discourse, or vice versa, like in dictation drawing. Many activities take the form of language games which enable the learners to practise language use, speaking and listening, in a pleasant way. Communicative activities are not clear-cut categories; there is a great deal of overlap between them, especially since the four language skills are supposed to be integrated. A typical list of activities includes: • READING: skimming, scanning, jig-saw reading, scrambled texts; • LISTENING: jig-saw listening, note-taking, relaying information, following instructions, listening to a radio or TV broadcast, retelling, dictation and dictation drawing; • SPEAKING: structured dialogue, role-play, solving a puzzle or dilemma, reaching a consensus, conducting an interview, giving directions, making arrangements, twenty questions, spot-the-difference, developing a story, discussion, debate, simulations, projects;


6. The Communicative Method and Techniques. Evaluating CLT

• WRITING: letter writing, personal letters, letters of application, letters of complaint, letters to the editor or to an agony aunt, writing advertisements or leaflets, tourist brochures, memos, instructions, compositions, opinion papers. Let us now look more closely at six of these activities: structured dialogue, jig-saw reading, role-play, simulation, drama and project.

6.4.1. Structured dialogue This is a very popular activity in the CLT materials to practise guided speaking without having to repeat the model verbatim. The learners are given guidance in the form of an outline of the situation, roles and instructions suggesting essential ideas, sometimes functions of English, to be developed, for example: a visit to a doctor. Patient: greet the doctor; doctor: greet the patient, ask about the symptoms; patient: explain the symptoms; doctor: ask more specific questions; patient; answer; doctor: give diagnosis, explain treatment, prescribe medicines; patient: ask further questions about the medicines; doctor: explain, say goodbye; patient: thank and say goodbye.

6.4.2. Jig-saw reading and listening Jig-saw reading or listening is an information gap activity in which students read text segments in groups and retell the others the content of their reading so that the class can reconstruct the whole. A text, which is the essential material of the activity, is divided into meaningful segments, with separate copies of these individual segments made for each group (Stern, 1992). The teacher introduces the topic of the activity and uses any warm-up he or she considers suitable after the class is divided into groups so that each group can get one text segment. Forming groups may be done on the basis of the teacher's decision, the learners' choices, or by chance, e.g. by drawing slips of paper with numbers. When the groups have been established, the teacher hands out individual text segments to each group for the learners to read and study their material to be able to summarize it for the rest of the class. Time limit depends on the difficulty of the material to be read, after which representatives of each group provide an oral summary while the other members add some points. The order in which the groups are asked to provide their summaries reflects the organization of the text. When all the groups have taken their turn, the whole class has been acquainted with the content of the text. What usually follows is individual silent reading of the whole text to confirm the information already received in the more interactive form. The listening version of this activity requires the teacher to prepare segments for listening (e.g. eyewitness accounts of a robbery) available to the learn-

6.4. Typical activities and techniques


ers on individual cassettes with individual cassette players, situated in distant corners of the classroom for group listening. Having listened to their segment, each group summarizes the material for the rest. The activity may be a little cumbersome and not necessarily authentic, but certainly a good example of CLT in action. The ideal material for jig-saw reading or listening has modular organization, which makes it easy for the teacher to divide it without ruining the delicate discourse tissue.

6.4.3. Role-play Role-play is an essential part of language practice in CLT. Based on their individual role description on a special cue card, students interact with their partners to accomplish a communicative objective. This information gap activity helps the learners to expand their communicative competence to areas exceeding their natural role of a foreign language learner and prepare for other socially and communicatively useful situations. It is pointed out (cf Porter Ladousse, 1997) that playing various adult roles has an important developmental function in the socialization of children. It is also significant that in role-play the learners can hide their brittle ego behind the façade of the assumed role, if necessary. Practising various roles often goes together with practising various categories of communicative function, such as inviting, apologizing, explaining, convincing, reprimanding, denying, arguing, which are contextualized in some typical situations. The essential prop in a role-play activity is a set of cue cards, each containing specific information addressed to a given participant. The participants receive their instructions with the description of their role and their goal to be accomplished in the activity. The point of such a procedure is to create an information gap in which the participants understand the situation and the roles of other participants, but they cannot predict their strategies of dealing with them. The cue cards outline the situation and create the need for the learners to interact verbally in order to achieve their communicative goal. When this has been accomplished, the activity can be concluded. Role-play activities are appropriate for pair and group work; the learners who have practised their roles in groups or pairs may be called upon to perform their activity in front of the whole class. The teacher's task is to monitor role-play activities in pairs and groups not to allow too much time, which would slow down the pace of the lesson, and to prevent extensive use of the native language during the stage of preparation, which is considered to be the main disadvantage of group and pair work. Considering the fact that there is a goal to be accomplished, role-play is a good example of a task. Porter Ladousse (1997) calls it a low input - high output task, because the teacher's presentation and instructions are fairly limited, whereas the discourse generated in this activity, if it works, is ample and unpredictable. The learners study the constraints of the situation, the role, and the goal


6. The Communicative Method and Techniques. Evaluating CLT

to be accomplished in order to put the ideas into their own words. The proportion between low input - high output may be altered to high input - high output, if we wish to introduce new lexical material which can be practised during the activity. Needless to say, role-play itself is an opportunity to practise and consolidate, through speaking and listening, the knowledge that the learners already have. The main didactic advantage of this activity is that the interlocutors compose this verbal exchange in real time as opposed to retrieving some ready (memorized) material from their long-term memory. Following the activity in groups and its presentation in front of the class, the teacher may wrap it up by providing feedback on any of its relevant aspects, including error correction.
Further reading Livingstone, L., 1983. Role-play in Language Learning. Harlow: Longman. Porter Ladousse, G. E, 1997. Role Play. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

6.4.4. Drama A characteristic communicative activity which makes use of role-play is drama. It has been used in various functions in education, psychotherapy and speech (Stern 1983:208):
The objectives of using drama are different for each of these disciplines ... In child development, creative dramatics encourages the maturation and growth of creative capacity, with particular reference to verbal skills. Psychodrama helps restore a patient's mental health and trains individuals for new social roles. Speech therapy employs drama to help patients achieve and regain normal speech behaviour and patterns.

In the context of foreign language teaching there is an important difference between staging a play according to a script, in which students learn a great deal by acting out their parts, and drama activities which are structured to some extent, but mostly improvised. In the latter activities, the students identify emotionally with the role they are to act out and impersonate it with their bodies and minds, using their body language and movement in the classroom. A drama activity is usually charged with emotional tension, but the learners do not have to consider this to be a breach of their privacy because they treat the role as a mask. The emotional tension involved gives a strong reason to communicate in realistic situations (Maley and Duff, 1978). An example of a drama activity is acting out the roles of parents and their teenage daughter returning home after a party three hours late. Benefits of drama include the motivating character of the activity because of its emotional charge and realistic context, which reduce anxiety while building assertiveness and self-esteem (Stern, 1983).

6.4. Typical activities and techniques
Further reading


Maley, A., and A. Duff, 1978. Drama Techniques in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Holden, S., 1981. Drama in Language Teaching. Harlow: Longman. Porter Ladousse, G. P, 1997. Role Play. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rinvoluccri, M., 1984. Gramar Games. Cognitive, affective and drama activities for ESL Students. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

6.4.5. Simulation The difference between role-plays and simulations is a matter of degree: simulations consist of roles, but they are more complex and longer. In simulations learners are usually invited to participate in an invented social conflict, which resembles a real life event. Simulation is a leading communicative activity, but by no means limited to the foreign language classroom; it is extensively used in military and business training. Quitman Troyka and Nudelmann (1975:vi) write:
Simulation-games originated years ago with the so-called 'Pentagon war games'. Like war games, simulation games for the classroom are replications of a real environment. Social scientists have adopted simulation-games to the classroom to teach not only content such as political science and economics, but also the underlying human, social considerations that help shape decision making.

The material for a simulation activity, preferably prepared professionally, consists of a description of the situation, an outline of a conflict or problem in this situation, extended input information containing circumstantial evidence of the situation, accompanied by pictures, photographs, drawings, charts, graphs, maps, etc. role descriptions in the form of role cards, and suggestions for follow-up activities. A typical simulation activity consists of the following segments: role choice, strategy round, negotiation round, decision round and follow-up. An example taken from Quitman Troyka and Nudelmann (1975), which contains six simulations for teaching English, is 'Uprising behind the Bars'. The roles are: prisoner, prison guard, warden and deputy, civilian staff member, and mediator. The crisis situation results from the fact that prisoners in a correction facility threaten to go on a work and hunger strike to call attention to their living conditions and rules in prison. Circumstantial evidence includes a drawing of an aerial view of the prison compound, a yearly budget graph, a cut-away drawing of a cell, the prisoners' daily schedule, as well as rules and regulations. These data are followed by descriptions of roles which are to be acted out during the communication activity in which the representatives meet at a negotiation table to reach a compromise. To top it all, there are numerous suggestions and questions for follow-up activities integrating all of the four skills. The activity starts with the study of the material and role assignment to groups of students, followed by a strategy round in groups of students who have


6. The Communicative Method and Techniques. Evaluating CLT

the same role, the core of the activity, i.e. the negotiation round during which students act out their roles to accomplish the goal according to the established strategy, and the follow-up activities, which may include a news report of the conflict, an interview, an article for a newspaper, etc. Depending on its complexity and the students' proficiency level, a simulation activity may take as little time as one class or as much as two weeks.

Simulation (The Natural World) Source: Jon Naunton, 1990. Think First Certificate. London: Longman 1990, page 85.

The advantage of a simulation activity is that the learners study the ample input materials to visualize the communicative situation and learn some useful lexical material, they assume their roles which have communicative goals ascribed to them and establish their own strategy to accomplish the goal in the conflict. As they do this, they make use of their knowledge of the world, especially their social

6.4. Typical activities and techniques


knowledge, to act out their role as realistically as possible. The teacher may wish to have each student in the group assigned to a given role take turns at acting out the simulation activity, which can make the acting out stage a little monotonous. An alternative would be to stage the simulation simultaneously in the groups and have only one group perform for the rest of the class, or assign more roles for the follow-up activities. Participating in simulation activities may turn out to be a lasting experience for many students. When asked what activity in their courses in English as a foreign language they remembered best, my English language majors answered: a simulation game about an environmental issue that they participated in. To justify such an evaluation we may list its real life qualities: rich situational context, extended meaningful materials (sustained discourse), emotional involvement of the participants in the conflict situation, mobilizing their language resources to be able to accomplish the negotiation task, and its open-ended character.
Further reading Jones, K., 1982. Simulations in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Jones, L., 1983. Eight Simulations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Quitman Troyka, L., and J. Nudelmann, 1975. Taking Action. Writing, Reading, Speaking, and Listening through Simulation Games. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,: Prentice Hall.

6.4.6. Project Another instance of a complex communicative group activity is project work, highly recommended by the core curriculum. Topics for projects may range from general to specific, for example a school magazine, an opinion poll on pocket money (how much students get and how they spend it), cruelty to animals in the zoo or the circus, cultural monuments in your region, tourist attractions in your town, a pen-pal project between pupils in different countries. Various content subjects in the educational system make use of this form of work, not to mention real life projects in various fields of our professional life. Foreign language projects are different from other communicative activities in that they are conducted outside the confines of the classroom, in the field, as well as within it. My rather informal way of characterizing it, so that it would stand out among other communicative activities, is that project work sends a group of learners on a fact-finding mission. In contrast to simulations, which highlight some social conflicts, projects can be viewed as research-oriented tasks since students study and integrate various sources of information in order to expand their knowledge of the topic they have agreed to work on. They consult encyclopedias, books, leaflets, brochures, magazines, reports, Internet sources, etc. both inside and outside the classroom. This is the aspect responsible for the 'fact-finding' part of my characteristics. Another interesting point about this activity is that the border between the edu-


6. The Communicative Method and Techniques. Evaluating CLT

cational institution and the outside world is deliberately eliminated. Project work sends the learners outside the class, not only to the library or the Internet resources, but into the street, to various firms, tourist spots and institutions to practise language use in the natural social environment. Alternatively, students invite targeted representatives of various outside institutions to visit the classroom or launch a correspondence exchange with a partner school abroad. The point of the project in the foreign language context is to facilitate the learners' contacts with native speakers who could be helpful from the point of view of the topic. Each project leads to a tangible outcome of the students' work, a product, such as a school magazine, an article, an interview, a brochure, a tourist information booklet, an advertisement, an exhibition, results of an opinion poll, a fact file, or a bulletin board. Haines (1989) mentions a scrapbook collection of writing and pictures, figures and statistics, a classroom display, a newspaper, a radio or video programme. The finished product is a source of immense satisfaction for the learners and the teacher alike because it gives them a sense of achievement. Certainly, projects provide an all-round learning experience: they link English to other curriculum subjects as well as to the outside world, and they require learners to integrate a spectrum of skills, that would be not only linguistic, such as designing, illustrating, taking pictures, drawing, and handling equipment, for example cameras, cassette or video recorders (Haines, 1989; Fried Booth, 2002). They encourage the students to use various communication skills, such as negotiating the form and content of the tasks, planning, gathering and synthesizing information, observing, interviewing, problem solving, group discussion, and oral and written reporting (Hedge, 2000). Regarding the stages of implementing the project, Fried Booth (2002:6) states:
A project moves through three stages: beginning in the classroom, moving out into the world, and returning to the classroom. At each of these three stages, the teacher will be working with the students, not directing them but acting as counsellor and consultant - and, in this way, enabling them to take a project of their own devising out of the classroom into the world.

She develops the three stages further: 1. Classroom planning of the project, especially its content and scope, and predicting language needs that may ensue. 2. Carrying out the project: gathering the necessary information and materials. 3. Reviewing and monitoring the work: feedback sessions, both during and after the project, group analysis of the work, editing the outcome. Several advantages emanate from this self-contained activity. Students participate in the decision-making process and, at the same time, they are responsible for the work involved in their part of the assignment. This aspect of project work certainly promotes students' autonomy. Projects are open-ended activities with plenty of opportunities for the development of ingenuity and creative involvement. Creative involvement is a stress-reducing factor in learning (and not only in learning). Students must negotiate group decisions and carry out sub-tasks

6.5. Evaluating CLT


in their required coordination, which promotes collaborative learning. The materials which are studied for the project are meaningful, authentic, and informative, which helps to leave a lasting memory trace and develop in-depth knowledge of the topic. These advantages seem to outweigh such disadvantages as its rather demanding nature, the fact that it is time-consuming and involves problems typical in any form of group work, such as the use of Polish and the inevitably unequal work shared by the students involved.
Further reading Fried Booth, D., 2000. Project Work. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Haines, S., 1989. Projects. Edinburgh: Nelson. Henry, J., 1994. Teaching Through Projects. London: Kogan Page Limited. Hutchinson, T., 1991. Introduction to Project Work. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Philips, D., and S. Burwood, 1999. Projects with Young Learners. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Reibe, R., and N. Vidal, 1993. Project Work. London: Macmillan Heinemann.

6.5. Evaluating CLT
The best known criticism of CLT was launched by Michael Swan in the article 'A critical look at the communicative approach' originally published in two parts in ELT Journal 39/1 and 39/2, 1985 and reprinted in Rossner and Bolitho (eds.) 1990, which is my reference here. Swan (1990) pointed out several deficiencies of communicative theory and practice, first and foremost: • the need to teach the foreign language learner communication skills, • the absence of the native language in the underlying conception, • the false dichotomy of the structural versus functional criteria for syllabus design, • the information gap principle and its implementation. At the same time he defended: • drill-like activities and • specially prepared (as opposed to authentic) texts in language learning. To begin with, he objects to the need to teach language learners to communicate by saying (1990:77): 'Foreigners have mother tongues: they know as much as we do about how human beings communicate.' They can convey meanings and interpret utterances because they have been doing this their entire lives. They can also do this in the target language on the basis of experience and common sense, which is not language specific. In CLT, however, meanings, functions and communication skills are treated as if they had to be learned from scratch by the language learner. The student's mother tongue, which plays a very important role as a point of reference and resource, is not taken into account in the theoretical basis of CLT. What the language learners need is not incompetence communication strategies, but more target language lexical material. He rejects the communica-


6. The Communicative Method and Techniques. Evaluating CLT

tive belief that students cannot transfer normal communication skills from their mother tongue; they know what to say but have problems with saying it in English. He also makes critical comments about the communicative criteria for syllabus design. There is no real dichotomy between the structural and functional syllabus because both criteria are needed; what should be strengthened is the role of the lexical syllabus with idioms and conventional expressions. He says (1990:89): T h e real issue is not which syllabus to put first; it is how to integrate eight or so syllabuses (functional, notional, situational, topic, phonological, lexical, structural, skills) into a sensible teaching programme.' Despite the fact that CLT has enormously improved our teaching strategies, it is too rigid with reference to some useful language teaching activities, such as teaching grammar, drill-like practice or translation. He defends some forms of practice which, although remote from target behaviour, are nevertheless essential in foreign language learning because they help the learners to acquire the mechanical basis of communicative skills. 'A boy who takes up the violin may dream of one day playing the Beethoven violin concerto to a packed concert hall. But if he is to realize this aim, he is likely to spend much of his time in the intervening years working alone doing very 'uncommunicative' things: playing scales, practising studies, improving his bowing technique, gaining a mastery of positional playing, and so on (Swan, 1990:93).' Drill-like activities are truly necessary in foreign language learning; problems begin when all learning is reduced to them. His next point is the information gap principle, which is a sign of progress in foreign language teaching if used 'intelligently', as he puts it. However, it is very easy to abuse the principle to create artificial activities of no interest or educational value to the learner and fairly distant from real communication. My own (M.D.) example of such an activity would be 'Julia Evans Job Application Forms' from Jeremy Harmer's The Practice of English Language Teaching, London: Longman 1991, pages 99 and 100. The activity consists of two gapped texts, a letter of application from Julia Evans and her application form. Various items of her personal data deleted from one part can be found in the other. The task of the pair of learners, who are given one form each, is to ask each other questions to find out the information missing in his or her form from the partner to be able to complete it. My reservation about the communicative value of this activity, which is a perfect case of the information gap principle in operation, is that it is unrealistic and impractical because the learners perform a purely artificial task in purely artificial roles. The language output of the activity is also modest: it elicits short questions and laconic answers. In real life, people go through whole job application scenarios starting with job advertisements, preparing documents, writing a letter of application, receiving an invitation for a job interview, preparing for it strategically, choosing the right clothes to wear, taking the role of the applicant in the job interview, and receiving the response. It is hard to decide where in the authentic job application scenario the activity in question would fit. As input material preparing the learner for the situation of applying for a job it is irrelevant because there is no real role assignment in it and the activity is not structured as a real life

6.5. Evaluating CLT


process, or its part. It cannot be defended on the grounds that it may develop language skills, either. For a comprehension activity, the material is incomplete (gapped) and therefore unsuitable as input for processing or as a discourse model. As a production activity it is too easy because it is purely manipulative: the learners merely reshuffle the items of the information given in various places. There seems to be a clear discrepancy between the map of real communication and the spectrum of activities generated by the information gap principle. I could not agree more with the point about the importance of the natural as opposed to the artificial information gap which Swan makes (1990:94):
Perhaps no classroom exercises can completely achieve the spontaneity and naturalness of real exchanges, but there are certainly more realistic and interesting ways of organizing information gap work than by working with 'imposed' information of this kind. Each individual in a class possesses a vast private store of knowledge, opinions and experience; and each individual has an imagination which is capable of creating whole scenarios at a moment's notice ... If student X can be persuaded to communicate some of these things to student Y - and this is not very difficult to arrange - then we have a basis for genuinely rich and productive language practice. In many contemporary language courses, communication of this 'personal' kind seems to be seriously under-exploited ... Role play and simulation are all very well in their places, but there are times when the same language practice can take place more interestingly and more directly if the students are simply asked to talk about themselves.

Swan also argues for a place of not only authentic but also didactically modified or prepared texts which illustrate selected aspects of language use. These specially written texts or dialogues are usually looked down upon in CLT for being unnatural and lacking discourse features of natural texts. In his view, there is nothing wrong in including specially prepared texts in language teaching materials since some control of language input is necessary and such texts are highly efficient in this regard. To sum up this critical evaluation, it seems clear that Swan has a set of valid arguments, which point to the existing weaknesses within the Communicative Approach, but which do not undermine its overall value. In fact, these arguments help to refine and improve the early version of the approach to make it more suitable to the needs of foreign language learners. On the basis of my own critical evaluation of CLT (Dakowska, 1996, 2003), I would like to point out further reservations which can pave the way to a more comprehensive current approach to teaching English as a foreign language presented in the chapters to come. 1. Communicativists are so preoccupied with opposing meaningless drills and the structural syllabus that they do not define their notion of communication specifically enough to make a distinction between communication as an essential property of the human being which is universal and constitutive, i.e. does not have to be taught, and verbal communication in L1, L2, L3, where a special code must be learned for each. What is to be learned in the foreign language classroom is not communication, but the L2 code as a tool of verbal communication.


6. The Communicative Method and Techniques. Evaluating CLT

2. Information gap in the sense of a factual information gap is an unrealistic criterion of communication. In reality, it is neither possible nor necessary to establish with any degree of certainty when we are dealing with an information gap, and where it is actually located for speaker A and speaker B. Human communicative encounters serve so many different purposes, such as bonding, making contracts, agreements, acknowledging, admitting, confirming, etc. that an information gap may seem to exist from the point of view of speaker A, but not speaker B; it may be spotted in one area of communication by speaker A, and in a completely different area by speaker B. Speaker A may have the intention to provide speaker B with a piece of news that s/he thinks speaker B has not heard of, and, out of politeness, speaker B may pretend to treat it as new although s/he has known all along. No factual information gap in human encounters does not yet mean that no real communication takes place. In such encounters, the relationship component as well as the history of previous contacts and bonding between the participants play a characteristically important role. 3. From the point of view of the learner, the novelty, and, therefore, the educational gap (Marton, 1987) is not only located in being told a new fact or being provided with a piece of news, although they are certainly vital; the information novelty is elsewhere: in the conventions and norms that the target language speakers follow, in the lexical material they use, in the morphosyntactic forms and grammar rules they apply, in the choice of topics for a given situation, the content they express, the taboos they respect, and the values they cherish. The notion of information is much more elementary than the factual information gap: it may refer to forms of various kind, phonemic, graphemic, morphological, lexical, at sentence and discourse level, most of which will be new to the foreign language learner. 4. CLT should be criticized whenever it sets a higher value on communicative effectiveness than morphosyntactic accuracy and when it rejects, in the initial decade since its inception, the explicit teaching of grammar and error correction. Communicativists are right to point out that in order to learn syntax, we do not have to practise it in nonsensical examples because we will not remember them anyway. However, any neglect of accuracy and form-oriented strategies goes against the grain of the essential nature of language as a system of signs. The material of learning must indeed be meaningful and communicatively relevant to begin with, but this does not preclude learning the signs, especially their forms and combinatorial principles, exactly and precisely, with all the required contrasts and oppositions. To reconstruct this system, the learner needs not only discourse input but also form-focused activities, accuracy and precision training, as well as feedback on error. The point is to know the forms and be able to use them in the context of a situation. Contrary to the audiolingual belief, forms cannot be learned outside their context, but once they occur in a meaningful and communicative environment, they must be perfected. Acquiring formal accuracy is advantageous because in communication it guarantees a level of redundancy in the message which is comfortable to the interlocutor. If this level

6.5. Evaluating CLT


is reduced by the learner's liberties with the language system, the process of communication may come to a halt. Who wants to be able to communicate only with oneself? On the other hand, real communicative effectiveness is hard to predict in the classroom setting because it depends on various factors, for example on the status of the interlocutors and their willingness to cooperate toward a common goal. We cannot predict the learner's chances of communicative effectiveness on the basis of classroom simulations for various human reasons, such as negative attitudes, prejudice, or avoidance which underlie human communicative behaviour. 5. As regards error correction, the argument that errors should not be corrected because they would not disappear anyway is illogical. The question is not whether or not errors should be corrected, but when and how they should be corrected, and what is the ideal proportion between error correction and other forms of feedback. Good teaching practices must include error prevention and feedback on error, although even then errors may persist, i.e. a) take time to disappear; b) disappear in some areas of the system faster than in others; and c) in the case of some learners more easily than in others. There is no reason to expect all errors to disappear by themselves or to consider feedback information, both positive and negative, as unnecessary to an intelligent learning organism. Accuracy and precision are a definite value in our culture, especially in communication and education, and cannot be discarded on the grounds that they are hard to attain, or that they take time to develop in the foreign language classroom. 6. Learning theory is certainly not a strong point of Communicative Language Teaching. Indeed, there is no denying that participating in communicative tasks and using meaningful materials support foreign language learning. A vast area of knowledge which comes from psycholinguistic research on comprehension and production as well as acquiring foreign language pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary has not been fully or systematically exploited. Neither the strong nor the weak version of CLT seems to do justice to the complexities of the learning process underlying the development of foreign language skills and accuracy. Although CLT may be adjusted to various age groups and levels, it is a fairly universal conception reflecting the underlying static and abstract notion of communicative competence, indifferent to time or the growing and developing human subject. In other words, it is not explicitly adjusted (which is not to say, intuitively adjusted) to the learner's stage of cognitive, social, and emotional development, or to the learner's foreign language proficiency level. This weakness may be observed in a random selection of roles in the numerous role-play activities. One and the same exercise may involve roles for which the learners are socially and communicatively quite ready and roles for which they have hardly any experience and coping potential. The use of games is recommended on the grounds that they provide a rewarding and enjoyable learning experience. In CLT, however, their type and amount is not adjusted to the learner's developmental stage and needs, nor do they reflect the kind of authentic games and their proportion to other activities used by people of their age group


6. The Communicative Method and Techniques. Evaluating CLT

outside the educational context. As a result, classroom time may be wasted on activities which are moderately amusing and educationally useless. 7. Neglecting precision is noticeable in communicative strategies for the development of reading comprehension. Leading communicative activities in the development of this skill are skimming and scanning, with multiple choice questions as comprehension checks. However, exact semantization, storage of the text content and interpretation of the author's communicative intention with focus on critical reading and evaluation of the material are hardly ever recommended. Additionally, many texts are presented in a modified form - with gaps, segments taken out and grouped together for being reinserted by the learner. This form of text alteration may be conducive to problem solving activities related to discourse cohesion, but not suitable for deep processing, comprehension and storage of its communicative meaning and form. From the point of view of foreign language learning, the techniques for reading used in CLT are too superficial to enhance the development of reading comprehension and language learning from the written input. 8. Pair work and group work are recommended and implemented in a fairly generous, but sometimes indiscriminate way, on the grounds that they provide students with opportunities to participate in communicative interaction. After all, to interact you need a partner. But it is counterproductive to use, or rather abuse, this work format for other functions, such as provision of target language input or teacher's feedback. For example, on many occasions in communicative textbooks, the task of answering reading comprehension questions is assigned to learners as pair work, whereas, in fact, comprehension checks really make sense when the learners receive feedback from someone more knowledgeable than themselves; comprehension checks can be conducted more effectively as classroom conversation, with the learners still playing an active role, but able to process generally available feedback from the teacher. The main function of pair work and group work is practising verbal interaction. More demanding (complex) cognitive operations, such as studying the material, are best performed as individual work. On the other hand, it is not impossible that the much-criticized teacher-fronted work format is suitable for a larger assortment of tasks than we had thought, for example, for providing authentic cultural input in various listening comprehension tasks. Peer input reaching the learner in pair or group work is not of the same quality as native or native-like input which drives the development of the learner's language forward, so the benefit of this work format should not be exaggerated. The above reservations do not undermine the overall value of the Communicative Approach. In fact, when the numerous techniques of CLT are used skillfully, the limitations of the approach are considerably minimized. At the same time, the three decades of the Communicative Approach in operation have seen an evolution and refinement of these ideas. Nowadays, CLT has incorporated most of the criticism regarding deemphasis of accuracy and grammar, and it has been diversified to suit

6.5. Evaluating CLT


different age groups and proficiency levels. When we outline the current scene in teaching English as a foreign language, however, CLT will not be presented as the final word in the development of foreign language teaching. What the field of teaching English as a foreign language needs can be expressed as the following tendencies: • a much deeper and broader notion of verbal communication than the one underlying CLT; • a much more systematic incorporation of our cognitive processes in verbal communication; • a very serious treatment of learner-centredness and a whole-person approach; • a revised notion of foreign language learning and teaching, which results from the above considerations.

Topics and review questions

1. What in your view are the reasons for error correction? What are the constraints on error correction? What criteria should be used? 2. What are the most appropriate activities to be conducted as pair work? Provide examples. What is your attitude to pair work and group work based on your own experience? Do you like the fact that in group work you must compromise (adjust) your individual ideas for the sake of the group task. 3. Do you find sufficient guidelines in CLT for teaching pronunciation? 4. What may be the problems connected with using multiple choice questions as the main reading comprehension check? 5. What is your own view of the strengths and weaknesses of CLT? Use the grid below, if necessary. Communicative Language Teaching 1.

levels of communicative competence criteria of communication categories for the syllabus the role of the learner the role of the teacher the place of grammar the treatment of skills the role of culture error correction work format techniques and activities

3. 4. 5.


9. 10. 11.


6. The Communicative Method and Techniques. Evaluating CLT
Further reading Johnson, K., 1995. Understanding Communication in Second Language Classrooms. New York: Cambridge University Press. Marton, W., 1987. Methods in English Language Teaching. Frameworks and Options. New York: Prentice Hall. Richards, J. C., and T. S. Rodgers, 1986. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rivers, W. M., 1983. Communicating Naturally in a Second Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rossner, R., and R. Bolitho (eds.), 1990. Currents of Change in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Stawna, M., 1991. Podejście komunikacyjne do nauczania języków obcych. Warszawa: WSiP Stern, H. H., 1992. Issues and Options in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Yalden, J., 1983. The Communicative Syllabus: Evolution, Design, and Implementation. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

The field of foreign language teaching has undergone an evolution from fairly modest beginnings when its rational underpinnings were just emerging into a professional discipline with fairly well-developed scientific foundations. The purpose of this chapter is to outline the current framework for the field of teaching English as a foreign language, which is the background of the more specific issues discussed in the subsequent chapters. The following questions will be addressed: 1. What are the sources of orientation and reference which can replace the arbitrary solutions to the problems of the field of foreign language teaching? 2. What changes have taken place as regards the central issues in the field, such as the view of the learner, the process of language learning and teaching, and the status of the teaching method? 3. Are we anywhere nearer making sense of language learning, i.e. understanding the process so that it can be taught in the classroom?

7. Focus on verbal communication, learning and reasoning
As for the sources of orientation in the field of foreign language teaching, the most important qualitative change which distinguishes the past from the present is the field's current focus on verbal communication as a natural social phenomenon, which is taken as a source of information and a point of reference. The term 'phenomenon' denotes an event, an episode in time and space. Verbal communication is both a natural and cultural phenomenon prevalent in all areas of our life. It is real and available for observation. Every speaker of a given language has vast experience of how verbal communication works in its various contexts, domains, and natural situational varieties. The way in which a language learner goes about lan-


7. Focus on verbal communication, learning and reasoning

guage learning cannot be identified with descriptive linguistic procedures. Language learning is a natural process which has its own specificity and it takes place in the human mind. This means that the learner makes use of his or her human information processing system. Thanks to its functioning, the learner acquires the ability to comprehend and produce discourse in communicative encounters. In addition to this, and depending on the age, the learner can make use of his or her reasoning processes to reflect on various aspects of verbal communication and the language code. For our purposes, we have the following points of orientation: • verbal communication: comprehension and production with the auditory and written codes; • human information processing with its subsystems (perception, attention, memory, anticipation, retrospection, planning, monitoring, feedback, controlled and automatic processes; • our reasoning processes to reflect upon verbal communication, especially the language code. Not only do verbal communication and reasoning share one location in our information processing system, but they also tap their shared information pool: when we interact communicatively, we at the same time store the information from such experience. This fact qualifies it as cognition, or learning. When we have learned something, e.g. some content subject matter or skill, we have enriched our necessary mental representations to be activated in communicative encounters.

7.1. The nature of communicative processes
It has been suggested at the end of the previous chapter that the notion of verbal communication offered by the communicativists should still be deepened and broadened for our purposes. It is a fact that verbal communication is cast in a communicative situation with such parameters as the participants, or, rather, the sender and the addressee, the setting, the topic, the purpose, the channel and the tone, but this characterization is not exhaustive. The defining feature of verbal communication is communicative intention, a certain state of the speaker. To begin with, verbal communication is a form of human interaction, which means that the speakers involved influence each other; they take each other into account and adjust their messages according to their image of the other person. Głodowski (2001) reminds us of the fact that when we communicate, we implement at least six constructs connected with the images of the persons involved: • the person we think we are, • the person our interlocutor thinks we are, • the person we think our interlocutor thinks we are, and the respective three constructs at the addressee's end. When we communicate, we construct and project a certain image of ourselves throughout the interaction.

7.1. The nature of communicative processes


Each communicative act has a content and a relationship component, since, through verbal communication, people negotiate their status more than anything else. If they want to cooperate, they take into account the other person's perspective of the events. Empathy is the ability to put oneself into the interlocutor's position and imagine the feelings one would have in his/her shoes. Communicative interaction may be symmetrical, as between equals, or based on a power relationship, where one participant has more influence than the other and dominates. Although both the sender and the addressee are a source of information, whether they like it or not, communication begins only when the sender and the addressee turn their attention to each other to open a communicative channel. This means that communication is intentional. The speaker's motivation to communicate may be internal or external, or both. Verbal communication begins when the sender has come up with a communicative intention, a thought that the speaker has decided to convey to the addressee in the verbal form. Deciding what to say in a given situation is not a simple matter, and if so, only in some circumstances. More often than not, it is a highly demanding and constructive endeavour: the speaker decides what to say and what not to say to carve out his or her message not only on the basis of his or her state of mind and thoughts, but in view of the parameters of the situation: the roles of the participants, their mutual relationship, the goal of the communicative encounter, the topic, the time and the setting. Once these decisions are made, the speaker must format the shapeless inaccessible thought into a linear form, i.e. serialize it into a plan and put it into words (verbalize it), i.e. encode it as discourse which can be sent out, registered and decoded by the addressee. As for his part, the addressee must have the intention of perceiving the sender's message, recognizing it as discourse, decoding it and reconstructing the communicative intention encoded by the sender. Speakers do not verbalize all the ideas that pertain to the given situation; nor is it possible. They leave out what can be restored, or inferred, by the addressee on the basis of various knowledge sources, such as previous communicative encounters, the verbal context of discourse produced by the participants, i.e. co-text, the situational context, i.e. the environmental information, and the participants' knowledge of the world which embraces knowledge of the social group in question and its culture, including communicative conventions. As a result of its various presuppositions and references to the outside world, a piece of discourse is deeply embedded in the context of situation. Similarly to choosing the communicative intention by the sender, understanding the sender's message by the addressee is a highly constructive act: the addressee must reconstruct the communicative intention from the verbal form which the sender used to encode it, at the same time inferring and restoring the missing elements on the basis of his or her sources of knowledge. Although the form of verbal communication may be more or less visible, we may safely say that it has an episodic structure with a beginning, a development, and an end, determined by the communicative goal to be accomplished by the participants. Speakers modify and repeat their communicative attempts or give up when they think they have failed. Communicative behaviour is dynamic and


7. Focus on verbal communication, learning and reasoning

strategic in that the speakers make what - under the circumstances - seem to be optimal choices. Strategic behaviour is characterized by evaluating one's resources in view of the goal to choose a plan which seems optimal in the given context. At the same time, the participants use feedback information about the results of their communicative decisions. Feedback provides speakers with the knowledge of the effects of their communicative behaviour and facilitates communicative goal-oriented adjustments. Verbal communication is an open system deeply integrated with other information systems that we use in interaction. As has been pointed out above, discourse is deeply embedded in its various contexts so that its comprehension must resort to numerous, not only linguistic, knowledge sources. This is but one aspect of the openness. The next important consideration is that the participants of a communicative event are involved in it with their entire persons, their bodies and minds. Speakers process not only linguistic clues, i.e. discourse, but paralinguistic and non-linguistic clues about their interlocutors, such as ethnic background, sex, age, physical appearance, style of dress, body language, facial expressions, voice pitch, as well as all the relevant environmental clues. These clues enable us to determine the role and the status of our interlocutor, which significantly influences the flow of communication. The participants' personal characteristics, including their intelligence, resourcefulness, imagination and the ability to visualize, anxiety level, assertiveness, self-esteem, also play an important part in a communicative act as they influence mutual attitudes and the emotional relationship between the individuals involved. Verbal behaviour is intricately linked to non-verbal behaviour, i.e. discourse is linked to human activity, which can be illustrated with reference to social scenarios and scripted communicative behaviour. In such cases verbal and non-verbal activities are interwoven, although one may also occur without the other. An example of such interconnectedness is a wedding ceremony and a wedding reception in Polish culture, in which certain verbal and non-verbal rituals appear in a predictable order and most of them, though not all, require both language use and action. Verbal communication is an abstract term for what in real life is a whole array of natural varieties. In real life, we encounter verbal communication as instances, or categories, of communicative situations characteristic of our culture, which has already been signalled by the notion of discourse genres. These natural instances or categories may be subdivided on the basis of the number of people involved and the degree of intimacy between them. We can, therefore, distinguish interpersonal (informal between individuals), public (formal with an auditorium) and mass communication (with an auditorium and limited, delayed feedback). These types cross-sect with the criterion of domains of verbal communication, such as home, school, the neighbourhood, entertainment, sports, health, food, shopping, travel, education, religion, fine arts, politics, law, etc. The significance of these distinctions for the foreign language learner is related to the fact that each case is a natural category with its topics, terminology, norms, conventions and see-

7.1. The nature of communicative processes


narios. Knowing these norms, conventions and scenarios reduces the level of unpredictability of the situation by providing the speaker with a highly desirable set of expectations (orientation), which facilitate verbal communication. This view of verbal communication has several important implications for teaching foreign languages. For one thing, the whole point of verbal interaction, the ultimate reason why it happens, is to understand (reconstruct) the intention of the interlocutor. Meaning and sense are of paramount importance as the essential objective for people to do it. From the point of view of the sender, the psycholinguistic processes which take place in our mind in this search for meaning and sense are discourse comprehension processes, which may be specialized for spoken and written discourse comprehension. From the point of view of the sender, the psycholinguistic processes involved are discourse production specialized for spoken and written discourse. Discourse comprehension and production involve more than linguistic knowledge. They require the use of language skill, which is understood as the ability to perform various hierarchically arranged tasks and subtasks in their temporal integration. Some elementary, lower-level tasks must, therefore, be performed automatically. Automaticity is achieved through practice. Meaning is not given in a ready form but actively constructed by the sender, and reconstructed by the addressee with the help of all the available clues. Speakers make use of all the information they can get, linguistic and non-linguistic alike to carve out their communicative intention through various selections. The meaning encoded in the verbal form, i.e. discourse, is elaborated upon and computed by the addressee on the basis of all, not just linguistic clues. Meaning is deeply determined by the situational context of the communicative act, especially the relationship and the attitudes of the people involved. Since verbal communication is dynamic, goal-oriented and strategic, it must be classified as a form of human intelligent (problem solving) behaviour. Its essential point is the search for meaning and sense. The fairly condensed characteristics of verbal communication refers to what in our world is a whole spectrum of specific instances and varieties of communication. This rich map of communication may be systematized for the foreign language teaching purposes with the help of such criteria as domains, i.e. areas of human activity, including professional and cultural domains, characteristic topics and content, the setting, i.e., where it takes place, the roles of the participants, discourse types involved, levels of formality, special terminology and other lexical material, typical speech acts both in spoken and written language, and categories of communicative function. Important didactic categories which emerge from this outline include: natural varieties of communicative situations, meaning and sense, content, comprehension and production, language as skill, discourse, types of linguistic and other knowledge used in comprehension and production, the constructive nature of comprehension and production, inferencing, ellipsis, plans, and strategic behaviour (Clark, 1996; Dakowska, 2001, 2003; Littlewood, 1979).


7. Focus on verbal communication, learning and reasoning

7.2. The main components of our learning 'equipment'
Verbal communication is a constitutive human property: all human beings have the ability of verbal communication; they are born with the instinct to communicate (Corsini, 1987; Papalia and Olds, 1990). Processes of verbal communication are localized and executed in our mind, in our information processing system, to be exact. Human information processing is specialized for our cognitive (learning) processes which enable us to observe our environment, learn intentionally and unintentionally, form concepts, solve problems, reason, engage in abstract thought and use symbols, perform mathematical operations, and, last but not least, participate in verbal communication (Eysenk and Keane, 1995; Rebok, 1987). Human information processing (HIP) system consists of such subsystems as: perception, attention, memory, planning, retrospection, anticipation, monitoring and feedback. Perception is the opening of our nervous system onto the environmental information. Although perception is aimed at receiving the external information, it is not passive. Even at this stage, it is structured and organized on the basis of our previous experience. This subsystem is specialized as modalities, among which the auditory and the visual modalities are the most significant in language learning and use. The next stage in information processing is attention, a narrowing of our information processing system, which may be viewed as our cognitive energy available at a given time, indispensable in guiding intentional behaviour. Since its resources are limited, attention is a selection mechanism: when we focus on a task, we cannot at the same time perform other tasks well, if at all. Among the vast number of stimuli which reach us from the environment, we can process only about a fraction (1/3) so we constantly make deliberate or subconscious choices as to which information or task to attend to and which to ignore. Some psychologists regard attention as concentration of our consciousness, which has a focus as well as periphery. Attention is viewed as equivalent to working memory which is a transitional stage of information processing between perception and permanent memory. Working memory is also seen as a decision centre which is responsible for the policy of dispatching our cognitive resources and launching intentional behaviour, as opposed to the subordinated system which executes these decisions and which runs on fast automatic processes. Automatic processes are characterized by having been practised to the point that they no longer diminish our pool of attentional resources. Their disadvantage, however, is that once they are formed they are rather inflexible. Controlled processes, i.e. those which remain within the range of our awareness and attentional control, on the other hand, are relatively slow, but flexible. Resource-demanding controlled processes are essential for bigger units of our strategic intelligent behaviour, whereas the less demanding but subordinated automatic processes are functional only if they have been integrated with, yet subordinated to the higher order controlled decisions. Attentional limitations make it necessary to prolong time on complex tasks and/or to repeat the contact with complex materials to allow more information to be perceived and processed from the given input.

7.2. The main components of our learning 'equipment'


Memory is the store in which information is categorized and organized. It is a very complex structure where the essential position is taken up by our mental lexicon. Bodies of organized information, i.e. knowledge, are retrieved from and committed to memory as a result of our cognitive and communicative activities, so that memory comes to represent our individual history and life experience. Information is initially registered in the form in which it has been perceived, for example as iconic memory trace (visual image) or echoic (auditory) trace. Specifically linguistic information takes either the graphemic form, i.e. as visual language signs, graphemes and their clusters, or the phonemic form, i.e. auditory language signs, phonemes and their clusters. In this well-organized memory structure psychologists distinguish episodic and generic, or semantic memory (Gleitman, 1981). The former is a chronological representation of events in our personal experience, while the latter - a more abstract, hierarchically organized representation of categorized universal knowledge of meanings, relations, propositions, etc. The better organized our knowledge the easier it is to retrieve and use it. We naturally tend to process the incoming information for meaning. If we cannot assign any meaning to it, the information is not committed to permanent memory and fades away. The deeper our processing for meaning, for example, the more levels of interpretation evoked for the purpose, the better it is remembered. In an attempt to remember some information exactly we may rehearse, chunk or elaborate it. Rehearsal is a deliberate repetition of some information in an attempt to strengthen its memory trace; chunking is organizing information into categories, whereas elaboration is retrieving our existing knowledge relevant to the task to establish various associations with the target material. Any instance of human information processing, especially verbal communication, requires knowledge activation to bring to bear on the task at hand. Most of the instances of information processing are based on categorizing and recognizing the incoming information, bottom-up processing, on the basis of the what we already know, top-down processing, which testifies to the fundamentally interactive nature of our cognitive operations. Organized bodies of information represented in our memory have been referred to as knowledge, which brings us to an important distinction between declarative and procedural knowledge representations. Declarative representations, 'knowledge, that', are available to retrospection and contain factual (content) information. Procedural representations, 'knowledge, how', are not so readily available to insight but can be demonstrated by performing operations which require their use. Procedural representations are called upon in skilled comprehension and production in the process of verbal communication. Planning, anticipation, retrospection, monitoring and feedback are closely related in that they stretch the limits of our attentional resources: planning is designing mental steps into the future; anticipation is looking ahead to predict what the future may bring; retrospection is looking back into the past in order to understand the present better; monitoring is observing one's behaviour 'from above'; feedback is using information about the results of our behaviour to make it more effective.


7. Focus on verbal communication, learning and reasoning

Planning, which plays a very important role in our cognitive functioning, is possible thanks to our ability of chronological coding, the property of human information processing system to register information in its temporal sequence (cf the notion of episodic memory). Additionally, we have the ability of feature coding which is responsible for concepts and abstract thought (cf generic memory). The two abilities together make planning possible. Planning refers to the process of constructing a series of mental operations toward a given goal to be implemented in our behaviour. When we wish to stress the product of such operations, we speak of plans, which may be local or global. Certainly, plans may also pertain to elements in their spatial arrangements. In verbal communication as well as in other areas of our activity, we find it necessary both to design new plans with very little previous material and/or to use ready elements recalled from memory. Depending on the nature of the task, planning may be deliberate and premeditated, or fairly spontaneous and fast. From the perspective of verbal communication, it must be stressed that discourse plans perform a very important function in comprehension and production: they hold discourse together and enable participants to coordinate their steps in verbal communication. To be processed by our limited attentional resources, discourse must be linear, i.e. it must rely on a plan. Additionally, it is indispensable for the sender to orient his addressee as to what is to come, and once it is recognized by the latter, the comprehender's uncertainty is reduced. In other words, plans are essential constructions which, once we know them, organize the communicative event by narrowing down the unpredictability of the communicative situation. Plans may become conventionalized as cultural schemata and scenarios, and in this way function as culture-specific discourse knowledge needed in verbal communication. Planning is an inseparable part of intentional, goal-oriented behaviour and it is integrated with the other subsystems, such as anticipation, retrospection, monitoring and feedback. Anticipation is the state of being mentally prepared for the information to come. It is a state of looking forward to something which is only partly unpredictable. The clues helpful in evoking this state are derived from the information already available in the input as its feasible continuation, or from our knowledge in permanent memory. Anticipation is the ability to predict rather than guess: it is based on reasoning to diagnose the available environmental information. The state of anticipation is helpful in information processing, especially verbal communication, because when we have orientation as to what is to come, we can more effectively deal with the unpredictable elements. Too much novelty, on the other hand, may be a source of tremendous stress. Retrospection is concerned with looking back at the information which has been processed and pushed aside from the focus of attention, but should be consulted again to help the communicators to realize more global aspects of the material than what is currently within the scope of attention span, such as the discourse plan. For this reason, anticipation and retrospection can be treated as compensatory mechanisms which overcome the limitations of our attention span. Monitoring refers not only to an editing device which guards grammatical

7.3. Strong ties between verbal communication and our learning


accuracy, as in Krashen's conception of the Monitor, but to human action, cognition and verbal communication. People observe their own behaviour, especially when they launch a plan which must be overseen to make sure it is properly implemented and reaches the target. Monitoring is nothing else but making use of surplus attentional resources to observe our planned, goal-oriented behaviour to see if it advances in the desired direction. Our monitoring device may focus on any aspect of communicative behaviour which is relevant at a given time, i.e. formal accuracy, brevity, factual precision, persuasiveness, etc. Feedback, the term derived from cybernetics, refers to returning the information about the results of the system's behaviour into the system's input. Our reactions are controlled by a comparison between the current and target behaviour and the difference is fed back to the system to modify our behaviour until the difference is eliminated. As a result, feedback dramatically enhances the precision with which we can hit the target, which is to say, the effectiveness of our behaviour. Thanks to feedback, our actions may be modified even after launching the plan, while we are engaged in implementing it. Intelligent organisms make use of feedback all the time to increase their adaptive potential; however, human beings differ from machines in that they process feedback actively, either incorporating it or ignoring it completely (Eysenk and Keane, 1995; Carroll, 1986; Dakowska, 2003; Gleitman, 1981).

7.3. Strong ties between verbal communication and learning
The cognitive/learning equipment outlined above is the main location of the processes of language use in verbal communication and language learning. As has been pointed out in the introductory remarks, there is a great deal of overlap between communicative and cognitive processes in the form of cross-fertilization among the various information stores, regardless of their communicative or cognitive origin. An act of verbal communication, which is aimed at interaction with other people in the social environment, always produces memory records of this experience which contain information of various aspects of this event, both as echoic and iconic traces, declarative and procedural representations, in episodic as well as generic memory. In this way, participating in an act of verbal communication/interaction feeds the process of learning, which is defined as the acquisition and retention of knowledge in the mind of the individual. The numerous types of knowledge accumulated in this way are activated in various dimensions of subsequent communicative encounters. In order to participate in verbal communication in a typical social setting, we really need vast knowledge stores, i.e. options to choose from in executing our communicative decisions. The flow of information between communicative (interactive) and cognitive (learning) processes is clearly seen at the individual and social level. Socialization or social learning, which is essential for human survival, takes


7. Focus on verbal communication, learning and reasoning

place as cultural transmission of knowledge by means of verbal communication. At the same time, our own knowledge acquired as well as generated creatively determines our communicative success and impact on the social group to which we belong.

7.4. Language as a special code of verbal communication
Keeping in mind the common location of human cognitive and communicative processes, as well as their constant informational exchanges, we must not lose sight of the language specificity of verbal communication. From the point of view of verbal communication, language is a tool for interaction with others. From the point of view of cognition, language is an object of reflection, a source of insight and understanding. The interactive processes in verbal communication are other, i.e. socially-oriented, in that the whole point is to send an encoded message out, whereas the cognitive processes of learning are storage-oriented, i.e. they are aimed at retaining the information in the mind of the individual. From the point of view of its units, language is a system of signs, i.e. arbitrary meaningful entities. From the point of view of its function, it is a code, a highly organized system of transformations for encoding and decoding the content of our mental life, especially ideas, notions and thoughts, images, symbols, emotions, values, and attitudes. A characteristic feature of signs, as opposed to other forms of information such as signals, is that they are emitted intentionally, i.e. they imply a sender and an addressee. Language signs consist of their substance, or the vehicle (auditory or visual), form (the shape or mould assigned to the substance by the code), and meaning (the reference of the form to entities outside the code). Language code is characterized by double articulation, which is to say, the smallest meaningful unit is the morpheme consisting of an arrangement of phonemes or graphemes which have their form, but do not yet have meaning in the sense of reference outside the code. The meaning or function of phonemes and graphemes can be identified within the code. On the other hand, morphemes carry meaning which can be identified outside the code, through association with concepts and real world objects. The language code/tool is a strictly organized system with distinct levels: phonological, morphological, syntactical, lexical, semantic, and pragmatic. This organization is often formalized and described by rules. The signs used by the code at different levels of organization derive their identity from their place in the system, i.e. mutual relationships, contrasts, oppositions, subordination, superordination, etc. Their form, therefore, is of utmost importance. Once emitted, signs, or rather their arrangements, carry information across time and space. This information is structural (regarding forms) as well as semantic (regarding meanings), and pragmatic (regarding the relationships between signs and their users). Language signs are arbitrary, i.e. unmotivated and conventional in the sense that

7.5. Reasoning processes available in the language learner


here is no reason why they are the way they are, so their users must know their form, meaning, arrangements and pragmatic use to identify and produce them properly. To master the language code for the purposes of verbal communication, a foreign language learner must learn the requisite skills for emitting (articulating) and receiving (recognizing) the signs, the lexical units and their sequences, the combinatorial rules to construct and recognize their arrangements, and the ability to assign forms to meanings (lexicalize) for the role of the sender, and meanings to forms (semanticize) for the role of the addressee (Dakowska, 2001, 2003).

7.5. Reasoning processes available to the language learner
In addition to the most fascinating processes of verbal communication sketched above, people learning how to communicate in a foreign language have one other resource to rely upon in this complex task: their reasoning processes, such as problem solving, analysis, synthesis, analogy, comparison, contrast, ordering, generalization, induction, deduction, inferring, formulation of laws, finding exceptions to them. Let me explain them briefly. Problem solving is a mental activity in which the initial set of information, called problem space, contains a missing element. Solving a problem involves the diagnosis of what is missing to be supplied by the subject. Problem solving is a very demanding and constructive form of reasoning because the solution must be generated rather than found in the available data. Special difficulty is involved in solving ill-defined problems, which require a definition to begin with (i.e. subsuming them under some relevant categories), a creative act in itself, as well as their solution (i.e. providing the missing link in the information). Analysis and synthesis are two complementary reasoning operations. In analysis we investigate a given body of information by breaking it into smaller components to single out their individual properties, whereas in synthesis we integrate the most important information into a larger unit so that it makes up a qualitatively new whole. Mental analysis and synthesis are possible even on objects which cannot be physically dissected (Matczak, 1992). Analogy is a process of perceiving similar or parallel (structural) properties, individual as well as in arrangements, in different sets of materials. Comparison is mentally placing two objects of thought side by side to find their similarities and differences; contrast, on the other hand, involves looking mainly for their differences. It is essential in this operation to be able to use a common criterion or point of reference (this ability gradually emerges in human development) (Matczak, 1992). Ordering is the operation of sequencing certain elements according to some features, for example according to its growing intensity. Generalization is the process of drawing inferences from certain instances and making them applicable to other instances. Generalization is similar to induction


8. The whole-person involvement in verbal communication and learning

in which we proceed from the particular (specific) to the general. Deduction is a reverse process which starts with the general information, from which we draw inferences about the particular information (see 1.3.1. on induction and deduction in teaching grammar). Inferring is an act of drawing conclusions on the basis of the available data, as a result of which new propositions are constructed. Formulation of laws is the process of identifying relations between various occurrences in time, which can be categorized as causal. The nature of causal relations is such that event A is said to cause event B, if B always follows A, and it never occurs without A. Exceptions to laws are counter evidence to the statement contained in the law. The learner can use these reasoning processes to operate on communicative as well as other information material to come up with more processed, i.e. categorized, generalized, explicit knowledge about various aspects of the language code, verbal communication and the social environment in general. The extent to which we make use of reasoning during the act of communication depends on the availability of surplus cognitive resources, i.e. attention. Foreign language learners certainly do not have problems with attentional surplus, just the opposite. We may also engage in them retrospectively focusing on various aspects of our personal or observed communicative encounters represented in memory and available to our reflection with various degrees of explicitness (Eysenk and Keane, 1995; Carroll, 1986; Gleitman, 1981).

Topics and review questions

1. What is meant by the bottleneck metaphor of attention? Can you explain it? What does it mean to the language teacher? What does it mean to the language learner? 2. What implications for foreign language teaching result from the fact that the deeper the processing of information and the more meaningful, the better it is remembered? What does it make you think of such techniques of reading as skimming and scanning? 3. Compare the notion of the 'Monitor' in Krashen's theory with that of the monitor in our general cognitive functioning? Which notion is more general? Which is more convincing to you as adequately reflecting our processes? 4. Feedback is essential in modifying our mental representations on the basis of our knowledge of the results and especially effectiveness of our goal-oriented behaviour. What does it mean for teachers as far as error correction is concerned? Can we learn a foreign language in the classroom without error correction? 5. Can you explain the function of anticipation in language learning? How is it used in designing various activities, especially the warm-up stage? 6. Provide examples for the properties of verbal communication: its dynamic and strategic character, communicative adjustments that speakers make, and its planful character. 7. What reasoning processes would you find appropriate to use with children of about 10 years of age? Which processes would be appropriate for adolescents?

8.1. The learner's contribution to the dynamics of verbal communication..,
Further reading


Anderson, B. F., 1975. Cognitive Psychology. The Study of Knowing, Learning and Thinking. New York: Academic Press. Anderson, J. R., 1980. Cognitive Psychology and Its Implications. New York: Freeman and Co. Carroll, D., 1986. Psychology of Language. Monterey, California: Brookes/Cole Pubi. Clark, H. H., 1996. Using Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dakowska, M., 2001. Psycholingwistyczne podstawy dydaktyki języków obcych. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN. Dakowska, M., 2003. Current Controversies in Foreign Language Didactics. Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego. Eysenk, M. W., and M. T. Keane, 1995. Cognitive Psychology. Hove: Psychology Press. Gleitman, H., 1981. Psychology. New York: W.W. Morton Hargie, O. D. (ed.), 1997. The Handbook of Communication Skills. London: Routledge.

8. The whole-person involvement in verbal communication and learning
It has been emphasized on several occasions that people participate in verbal communication not only with their linguistic and/or cognitive equipment, but as individuals, with their personalities, bodies and minds. This entire person's involvement, reflected in the idea of verbal communication as an open system outlined above, has important consequences for our conception of foreign language learning and teaching. Learning English as a foreign language is not a matter of acquiring the knowledge of its grammatical system, no matter how skillfully contextualized and illustrated, but actively, constructively, strategically, fully, and deeply participating in verbal communication.

8.1. The learner's contribution to the dynamics of verbal communication and learning
The quintessential nature of communication is communion: one must enter the act, that is either approach or avoid it, and participate in its construction. Participation is a form of interaction, i.e. mutually influencing each other through negotiation, adjustments resulting from the image of the interlocutor, addressing messages to the interlocutor, i.e. targeting them at him or her while taking the other person's perspective into account. The ultimate goal of the participants in a communicative act is the search for meaning, the effort to make sense of the messages in the context of the situation with all the help they can get and all the ingenuity they can come up with. It is clear that creativity, imagination, and resourcefulness have a role to play in it and should be taken into account and fostered in foreign language teaching. An act of verbal communication is an act of composing (a message) for the sender and reconstructing (the meaning and sense)


8. The whole-person involvement in verbal communication and learning

for the addressee, both highly demanding decision-making operations, completely different from retrieving ready material from memory. This active involvement goes hand-in-hand with the view of the learner as a subject with his or her own locus of control and a sense of agency, understood as making an impact on the environment and being able to act, i.e. to select behaviour from among various options, in contrast to being an object of someone else's manipulation.

8.1.1. The role of cognitive resources There is no temptation in this framework to say that language learning is either unconscious or subconscious because the operations that have been mentioned in this connection are all a form of cognitive work, be it in the focus of attention or its periphery, either in the realm of controlled or automatic processes, either as part of incidental or intentional learning, be it part of concentrated study or just learning through play. Learners are autonomous subjects of verbal communication and learning in the sense that they are in charge of their own cognitive resources and make decisions which tasks to approach and which to avoid, and how much (sustained) effort to invest in them (cf the concept of motivation, Crookes and Schmidt, 1989). Their engagement in verbal communication and learning is possible only as a result of approaching the task, which can be understood as the decision to dispatch their attentional cognitive resources and mobilize other aspects of their information processing system. There are a number of factors, not only linguistic, which play a considerable part in these decisions. They include intrinsic motivation (the task is interesting, informative, relevant), self-confidence, self-esteem needed for interaction, willingness to communicate, on the side of the 'approach' factors, and anxiety, hostility, prejudice (prejudgment prevents a person from deeply processing the incoming information), and low expectations about oneself on the side of the 'avoidance' factors. Only when the task has been accepted, can the processes of communication and learning be activated. Then, the learner's engagement and sustained effort depend on his or her interest and persistence in the communicative task, as well as its content and relevance to his or her life goals. Anxiety is an important factor responsible for avoidance behaviour. It is understood as the fear of speaking in a foreign language in front of the group. This feeling of communicative apprehension unproductively engages cognitive energy in irrelevant aspects of the activity and in this way blocks the effective performance of the communicative task at hand. Anxiety interferes with the process of gathering the relevant experience and practice in foreign language speaking. In fact, the quality of the learner's experience in the foreign language classroom and the amount of practice that the learner gets are contingent on the teacher's and the learner's ability to deal with anxiety as a real classroom phenomenon (Maclntyre, 1999).

8.1. The learner's contribution to the dynamics of verbal communication... 8.1.2. Making communicative adjustments


Verbal communication has been categorized as a form of interaction, which is a matter of influencing each other: speaker A influences speaker B, and in turn is influenced by him or her. This type of interaction refers first of all to interpersonal communication, since it presupposes two communicative partners with some sense of identity, be it individual or social, some self-image, and some image of the interlocutor. This also presupposes self-confidence and negotiation skills to shape aspects of communication and learning as well as communicative intelligence, the ability to take the other person's perspective into consideration, empathy, collaboration in the communicative effort to search for meaning and constructively solve communication problems. Interaction with a communicative partner presupposes decision-making and emitting linguistic behaviour addressed to another person in the context of the situation as well as communicative assertiveness to seek balance of power in communicative encounters (Littlewood, 1979; Wood, 1982).

8.1.3. The learner's creative and constructive involvement The language learner in a communicative act makes decisions in the sense of choices from the mental options relevant to the situation thus contributing to the dynamics of communication. The learner's role is constructive, i.e. it requires building new units of communication - the discourse in a given communicative encounter is tailor-made for the purpose - even if its elements are known, as well as strategic, i.e. it requires the optimal choices of action under the circumstances, with the available resources, and in view of the goal to be reached. In comprehension and production, the role of the communicator is aimed at computing meanings, both literal and figurative, considering various options and visualizing situational models of discourse, drawing upon various knowledge sources, linguistic and non-linguistic to decode the meaning, and inferring, interpreting and evaluating to reconstruct the sense of the communicative intention. The processing of communicatively relevant information takes place in the mental context of the person's emotions, imagination, imagery, and creativity in the sense of ingenuity, flexibility and productivity of thought and visualization, intellectual sensitivity, metaphorical thinking, unexpected, fresh associations, performing mental transformations, as well as cognitive curiosity, the drive to ask and answer questions. The human mind is creative by definition, but people have this property to a varying intensity. Creative or productive thinking is defined as 'the ability to produce new forms by bringing together the elements usually thought of as independent or dissimilar, ...the aptitude for achieving new meanings that have social value.' Creative students are characterized by Sisk (1987:10) as having the following set of properties: • openness to experience, • internal locus of evaluation,


8. The whole-person involvement in verbal communication and learning

• ability to play with ideas, • willingness to take risks, • preference for complexity, • tolerance for ambiguity, • positive self-image, • ability to lose oneself in a task. To extract the meaning and sense of the communicative intentions cooperative comprehenders may go out of their way to consult all the contexts of information which seem relevant, especially cultural knowledge, including the native and the target culture. In this way, verbal communication taps individual resourcefulness and flexibility, presupposes personalization, visualization, building mental models of the situation, cooperation, taking the addressee's perspective into consideration in comprehension as well as production. These are important human aspects which become visible in the whole-person approach to language teaching and learning, which link verbal communication to effort and voluntary as well as subconscious choices of an autonomous human being (Runco, 2003).

8.2. Personality factors
8.2.1. The role of the learner's personality Personality is defined (by Chastain, 1976; Williams and Burden, 1997; Dörnyei, 2005) as an individual's skill in relating to others and evoking a positive reaction in those individuals with whom he comes into contact; personality transpires in social interaction as a predisposition to behave in a consistent pattern, as total adjustment of the individuals to their natural and social environment, and as unique aspects of behaviour which give people their individuality. Personality refers to cognitive, affective and social considerations. Cognitive considerations pertain to the internal processes with which individuals perceive and organize their life situation into a meaningful whole, while social considerations - to interrelationships in the social structure in which the individual is operating. Affective (emotional) considerations refer to the attitudes and feelings as he or she interacts with others in the natural and social environment, trying to comprehend it. The individual's cognitive structure plays a decisive role in the development of the social-affective aspects of personality. There is an interaction between them.

8.2.2. The role of self-concept and self-esteem An individual's values are organized into a system, whose pivot is the evaluation of oneself. An individual must begin by liking himself or herself. Chastain (1976:187) states:

8.2 Personality factors


The individual's self-concept encompasses his entire person. It is a product of all the physical, cognitive, social, economic, moral, and emotional factors that have gone into his makeup. The acquired self-concept is a prerequisite for all subsequent endeavors that the individual may undertake.... Lacking an adequate self-concept, the individual is reluctant to accept himself or others. He will also shy away from any and all activities that threaten him.

Ideal self is a vision of what a person would like to be, whereas the real self is the actual self-image. The closer they are the better adjusted the individual. Too wide a gap between the ideal and actual self-image may cause damage to the person's self-image and self-esteem. We are living out our self-image. Chastain continues (1976:188):
The child with a positive self-concept accepts himself and is confident of his ability to deal with others and his environment. The child with a negative self-concept is plagued by feelings of two inadequacies. First, he is unable to accept himself as a person, seeing himself as being unlovable. Second, he is insecure in his relationships with his surrounding circumstances, feeling a lack of ability to cope with his situation.... A person handicapped with low self-image has difficulty expressing himself freely, undertaking new and different tasks, and participating in new and different situations.

Self-concept influences what we attempt to undertake, our expectations and performance. Our ability to learn is also influenced by our self-concept. Unchallenging classroom experience may be damaging to self-concept, whereas selfreliance and independence are crucial to healthy emotional development. Selfconcept is based on competence, significance to others, doing the right thing, and influence on the individual's social structure. Negative self-concept leads to an inability to cope and the feeling of being unlovable. Ego-enhancing procedures in teaching include (Mattocks and Sew, 1974 in Chastain, 1976) among others: 1. The teacher is sensitive to each student. 2. She promotes student confidence and participation in classroom activities. 3. Activities are challenging in terms of thinking and doing. 4. She stresses that mistakes are not tragedies. 5. She avoids unreasonable demands. 6. She stimulates the student's natural curiosity. 7. She provides more awards than punishment. Students are motivated when the subject matter is interesting. The content of the course should be as close as possible to their interest areas. Students remember the material better if it refers to real life situations. Language instruction is more effective when learning is considered to be a creative process. Although learning is admittedly a social process, individuality is an important value to be cherished and recognized in class. Students are motivated when they have some opportunity to make decisions, when they can contribute to the planning stage and feel responsible for practising, and when they experience more success than failure. If they feel incapable, which is to say, if they feel they have insufficient coping


8. The whole-person involvement in verbal communication and learning

potential, they will give up. They participate when the activity is under their own control. Students should be encouraged to ask questions and become involved in open-ended activities. This implies assuming communicative freedom to choose what to say and some influence on the flow of the activity.

8.2.3. Communicative assertiveness The concept of assertiveness, which is central to verbal communication, can be explained as the ability to defend one's communicative territory, in the sense of being in charge of one's resources, for example time, money, energy, the evaluation of the situation, the right to have an opinion, to refuse, to disagree, to deny a favour. It presupposes expecting respect for oneself and for others, confidence in oneself, defending one's positive self-image, effectiveness and power in dealing with other people in communicative encounters as opposed to powerlessness and manipulation by others, in other words, the ability to stand one's ground. It is an art of clear, honest and direct communication. An assertive attitude to communication enhances our self-esteem and ability to make choices in life, manage our anxiety and stress in communicative situations. Instead of being governed by the need to please others, assertiveness helps us to recognize our feelings, take charge of our behaviour, act in our best interest, and exercise our own rights. Mansfield (1994) as well as Townsend (1991) explain the notion of assertiveness as self-confidence and respect for oneself and the feelings and needs of others; assertiveness makes it possible for us to act in our own best interest, defend our opinion and judgment of the situation, and accept our feelings, even if they differ from those of the others. It is a demand to have our rights respected as well as to respect the rights of others. From the point of view of verbal communication, the most characteristic of these rights include: • the right to make autonomous decisions and take responsibility for them; • the right to ask and refuse favours and expect others to do the same; • the right not to feel guilty for other people's problems; • the right to acknowledge that you do not understand something; • the right to make mistakes; • the right to privacy and independence; • the right to your own opinion; • the right to be successful; • the right to have your own judgment of the situation; • the right to say no. A person behaves unassertively when s/he does not defend these rights and allows others to break them. An aggressive person expects his or her rights to be respected at the expense of the rights of others. The conception of assertiveness (Townsend, 1991) distinguishes between some inalienable human rights of every individual and the rights which result from the social roles we play and are responsible for.

8.3. The learner's development along the lifespan


Since assertiveness is a real aspect of communicative behaviour, teachers may include some assertiveness training in their speaking activities. Teachers may stimulate assertive behaviour and their verbal exponents by inviting students to participate in the process of decision-making and problem solving. They may encourage them to express their opinions even when they differ from their own. An assertive teacher does not impose decisions, but expects their students to be involved. Assertiveness transpires in verbal communication and it can be cultivated through role-plays. Such activities focus on making specific requests clear, learning how to say no, handling criticism, learning the meaning of body language, managing the expression of feelings, and improving the student's self-presentation, all of which enhance self-esteem as well as the speaking skill. The teacher's professional role includes helping the learners to develop their standing in communicative encounters.

8.3. The learner's development along the lifespan
Regarding verbal communication as inseparable from the human subject it is living in modifies the status of the so-called 'age factor.' A factor is an element which brings about some effects, which may be identified by contrast with a situation in which the factor is absent. In empirical research, for example, one should be able to manipulate one factor at a time. It seems, however, that in this view of foreign language learning and teaching, age has much more fundamental significance because it indicates the stage of the subject's cognitive, communicative, linguistic, social, and emotional growth. In other words, age denotes what a given learner is capable of doing, both cognitively and communicatively. Age is a constitutive property of the human being and a complex constellation of factors in the sense that it decides where the learner is developmentally: • The state of the cognitive system. What is the attention span at a given stage? What are the organization and memory strategies? What is the level of accomplishments in vocabulary acquisition, sensory/abstract, symbolic/visual? What are the abilities of guiding attentional resources vis-à-vis incidental/intentional learning distinction? Can the child learn only through games or through more deliberate tasks? • The communicative accomplishment. To what extent the child can decentre and assume the addressee's perspective and address the message to him or her? Is the child capable of goal-oriented behaviour? Can he or she process feedback from the communicative encounters? Which communicative roles has the child experienced? What communicative functions does the child know? • The linguistic development. What is the child's mean length of utterance? What is the stage of the acquisition of syntax and phonology? What is the child's level of metalinguistic development? • The social growth. To what extent has the child developed a sense of identity? Can he or she cooperate with other children? Can s/he respect the other child-


8. The whole-person involvement in verbal communication and learning

ren or does s/he want to dominate them? Can the child follow rules of a game, work in a group? • The emotional development. Can the child control his or her emotions, especially anger and disappointment, and to what extent, or is he or she completely impulsive? These questions demonstrate that the connection between the age of the language learner and the processes of language use and language learning is very strong: age is an indication where the learner is on the developmental dimension, i.e. where we can locate him or her on the lifespan axis. Language use and learning have their own specificity at various points along the lifespan, the most fascinating contrasts provided by foreign language learning by children and adults.
Topics and review questions

1. On the basis of the table below which lists characteristic features of creative students, ego-enhancing strategies of 'good' teachers, and the rights of an assertive person, can you produce a list of characteristics of a teaching programme which would support creativity, self-esteem, and assertiveness? Are there any cases where you may advance more than one characteristic feature of a person with one strategy (such as gentle error correction or giving learners opportunities to choose would be useful in promoting all the three characteristics)? CREATIVITY • openness to experience • internal locus of evaluation • ability to play with ideas • willingness to take risks • preference for complexity • tolerance for ambiguity • positive self-image • ability to lose oneself in a task. EGO-ENHANCING STRATEGIES • the teacher is sensitive to each student • s/he promotes student confidence and participation in classroom activities • activities are challenging in terms of thinking and doing • s/he stresses that mistakes are not tragedies • s/he avoids unreasonable demands • s/he stimulates the student's natural curiosity • s/he provides more awards than punishment. ASSERTIVENESS • the right to make autonomous decisions and take responsibility for them • the right to ask and refuse favours and expect others to do the same • the right not to feel guilty for other people's problems • the right to acknowledge that you do not understand something • the right to make mistakes • the right for privacy and independence • the right to your own opinion • the right to be successful • the right to have your own judgment of the situation • the right to say no.

2. What is your opinion about the role of creativity in the foreign language learning process? 3. Which points presented in this section do you disagree with? Enumerate and discuss them.

9.1. Primary conditions for foreign language learning
Further reading


Brown, H. D., 2000. Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. New York: Longman. Chastain, K., 1971. The Development of Modern Language Skills: Theory to Practice. Philadelphia: CCD. Dörnyei, Z., 2005. The Psychology of the Language Learner. Individual Differences in Second Language Acquisition. Mahwa, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Williams, M., and R. Burden, 1997. Psychology for Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

9. Conditions for foreign language learning. Input, interaction, feedback. The role of cultivation strategies
Our present view of language use and learning as verbal communication is different from older conceptions in foreign language teaching in that the learner is not regarded as a container for knowledge to be filled by the language teacher, who brings various goodies (i.e. 'items of knowledge') to class to hand in to the students (the idea of the teacher as a knowledge dispenser), or acts as the intermediary between the learner, and the main source of information or the source of explanation, the learner's understanding of the explanations being equivalent to language learning. Various metaphors of language learners abound in the field of foreign language teaching. Williams and Burden (1997) list the following ones, each of which implies the underlying understanding of foreign language learning and teaching: • resisters, who are made to learn, rather than start with the will to learn; • receptacles to be filled with knowledge by the teacher, who is its source; the success depends on the learner's IQ; • raw material, or building material, to be moulded into a fine construction, largely according to the teacher's wishes (almost like the behaviourist conception); • clients, who have special needs that must be identified and met, like in ESP programmes; the clients know what they want to learn, and how much time and money they want to spend; • partners, where the relationship between the learner and the teacher is symmetrical and based on negotiation; the teacher is no longer in charge; • individual explorers to whom teachers are merely facilitators; • democratic explorers who learn in a group. In the three initial metaphors, the teacher has a powerful position between the language and the learner and is in control of the classroom process. However, it is recognized nowadays that foreign language teaching does not cause learning and that the teacher is not ah indispensable element of the language learning process. Language learning, including foreign language learning, occurs without the benefit of having been taught as well as while being taught. For this reason,


9. Conditions for foreign language learning. Input, interaction...

teaching is neither the necessary nor the sufficient condition for language learning. If properly adjusted to learning, however, teaching may help.

9.1. Primary conditions for foreign language learning
Although the task is by no means easy, some generalizations can be made about the necessary conditions for foreign language learning to take place. The learner must be able to observe verbal communication in the target language in meaningful situations. Observation activates our perception to store relevant communicative data, which is understood as the information about all the aspects of the communicative encounter, first of all, the language forms and their arrangements used in order to convey meaning in the context of human interaction. Such information can be stored in memory because it makes sense. This type of exposure to the foreign language data is called input to denote the information that goes into the learning system. Communicative input is retained both in its form and meaning, i.e. both as the mental retracing of the environmental data in a verbatim fashion, utterances, in our mental representations, and meaning, content, and communicative intention decoded from the utterance. Krashen (1985) considers the essential condition for language learning to be the availability of comprehensible input, which is symbolized as i+1, containing information just above the learner's current language level. Krashen's idea has been criticized for being largely impressionistic and hard to measure. From the point of view of foreign language learning as verbal communication, in order to be comprehensible, input must be meaningful, i.e. contain data which make sense, i.e. humanly reasonable intentions conveyed in language in various communicative situations. If this condition is met, the degree to which input is comprehensible will depend on the learner's communicative resources, complexity of the material, and the conditions of processing, i.e. the whole task. For the sake of contrast, meaningless input would be the old-fashioned, sentence-based material aimed to illustrate the working of the grammatical system of the target language. The problem with the latter is not that forms are being focused upon, because focus on form is a necessary (secondary) condition, but that the environment (context) for forms is insufficient to justify their use. From the point of view of verbal communication, the term input does not yet indicate the communicative role assumed by the learner, either of the observer or the participant, or both. When the learner is an observer or an eavesdropper of a communicative encounter, s/he activates his comprehension process, trying to make sense of the situation, especially decoding the communicative intention. This is what happens when we are involved in verbal communication via the mass media, a highly educational experience which feeds various knowledge stores required later on in language comprehension and production. When the learner is a participant in a communicative act, input is addressed to him or her personally: s/he is taken into account by the sender and the utterances are adjusted to him or

9.2. What can we learn from observing children?


her in terms of shared knowledge, references to previous communications, the goal of the encounter, the situational context, etc. The learner is much more involved in the communicative interaction because s/he must mobilize language production processes. The process of production in verbal communication is quite a complex form of verbal behaviour which must be learned through being practised. There is no substitute for the experience of participation in a communicative act in the roles of the sender and the addressee, which activate the processes of language comprehension and production and which feed the requisite declarative and procedural knowledge representations. Swain (1985) pointed out that in addition to comprehensible input, the language learner needs comprehensible output, i.e. language production opportunities.

9.2. What can we learn from observing children?
When children acquire their native language, meaningful input, practice, and interaction are constrained by the stage of their own cognitive, social and emotional development. Different achievements are possible at different stages: language learning is determined by their development and maturation. A more mature learner is no longer such a dynamically developing organism so his or her progress is not subject to such constraints as limited attention span, limited metalinguistic awareness, concrete rather than abstract concepts and ideas, slowly emerging processing strategies, etc. (Rebok, 1987). Caregivers are instinctively involved in the quintessential nature of verbal communication with children as cooperative and caring participants who adjust their utterances to facilitate language understanding and language learning. According to Taylor and Taylor (1990), Papalia and Olds (1990), and Rebok (1987), caregivers provide emotional support and communicative encouragement in a variety of ways: • Caregivers usually interact with the child in meaningful contexts which provide relevant situational and linguistic clues for such speech acts as naming or describing. • They speak distinctly and slowly, even slightly exaggerating the pronunciation to make the language forms more salient to the child. • At the same time, they go out of their way to understand what the child means, while they themselves adjust the form and content of their messages to what they think the child will comprehend (the here and now, the sensory aspects, the child's world and perspective, they use rather short simplified sentence forms). • Caregivers often use elaboration of children's utterances, i.e. they reconstruct or recast the full form of what the children were saying, which provides instant input on demand to the child; caregivers repeat a great deal what they say and what the children say to strengthen the memory trace and increase the redundancy of information.


9. Conditions for foreign language learning. Input, interaction...

• They do not intimidate children for their mistakes, but command on the progress they make and take delight in anything new that the child can do. • When they introduce error correction, they use conversational strategies, such as recasts and reformulations, for example: 'so, would you say' ... plus the corrected version of the child's utterance (Jay, 2003). The above strategies of interaction play an important function: they encourage the child to participate as well as facilitate the process of comprehension and storage. Some of them have also been treated as essential attributes of the second language classroom discourse (Long, 1983, 1996). Teachers implement some or most of them intuitively or deliberately because they naturally strengthen the perceptual salience and meaningfulness of the language input for learning and interaction. The primary conditions which are indispensable for activating language learning processes (not just foreign language learning, but any language learning) are communicative (meaningful) input for observation and comprehension, communicative interaction consisting of comprehension and production, and communicative feedback for the learner to approximate the target language norm. This constant comparison of the environmental data, one's own mental representations, and one's own production and comprehension drive the learning process toward its goal, approximating native-like mastery of the target language.

9.3. Secondary conditions for foreign language learning. Cultivation of language learning in the classroom
To optimize the process of foreign language learning in the educational context, we must not only satisfy the primary conditions, but also, considering the limited time available to the learner, adjust and intensify the experience by unblocking, facilitating, enhancing, and intensifying the processes. In line with our selected sources of orientation referring to real processes which take place in the learners' minds, our strategies to do that are derived from: • our understanding of verbal communication; • our understanding of our cognitive (HIP) system and reasoning processes; • and our understanding of the language code and its place in verbal communication. Verbal communication-related strategies emphasize and make use of the interactive nature of verbal communication, the role of various knowledge sources in the learner's mind, the role of various important structures, e.g. schemata and discourse plans, the levels of comprehension, the necessity of reconstructing missing elements, the role of culture, the nature of skill and the source of its difficulty, as well as comprehension and production processes. Strategies related to our cognitive (HIP) system tap our knowledge of the functioning of the subsystems of our information processing, such as perception, attention, memory, planning, anticipation, retrospection, monitoring, and feed-

9.3. Secondary conditions for foreign language learning...


back, as well as abstract thought and reasoning operations which can efficiently organize language data available to the learner. Code-related strategies are focused on accuracy and precision in learning this communication tool. They are concerned with the two modalities in which the code operates: the visual and the auditory modality, which require their own special cultivation. They are specialized for comprehension (decoding meaning from graphemic or phonemic form) and production (encoding meaning into graphemic or phonemic form), as well as for converting one code into the other (transcoding) to make it a truly functional and precise tool for verbal communication in a foreign language. Unfortunately, it follows from the above that the teacher no longer possesses the key to the gate of language. The teacher is no longer the intermediary between the learner and the language. The learner can reconstruct the foreign language system by observing and understanding meaningful communication in the environment and by participating in verbal communication as a sender and an addressee. The key is in the learner's hand, but, as one would expect in the educational process, the teacher may be very helpful as a guide and leader who not only keeps the lock in good working condition but also provides a word of guidance and encouragement as to how to turn the key.

9.3.1. The essential processes in foreign language learning and teaching The process of foreign language learning and teaching is determined by the state of the learner's cognitive system at a given developmental stage, the nature of verbal communication, including the specificity of the code of verbal communication, i.e. language. Verbal communication is a natural human phenomenon which develops in time and space and operates on human resources, such as mental energy, effort, attention, and produces quantitative changes, i.e. more information is acquired, and qualitative changes, i.e. it is better organized, proceduralized, consolidated for use, and more and more exactly represented in the learner's mind. Because of the role of observation in language learning, one of the most essential processes is mapping the environmentally available utterances, i.e. input, discourse, or primary data, onto the learner's mental representation. Mapping is the process of storing the input information, utterances, in their situational context, their form, meaning, function, and structure as exactly as possible. Mapping requires comprehension to be decoded and decomposed but it is not just a comprehension process which is aimed at extracting meaning from the verbal form. The only problem is that when we comprehend communicative discourse we remember meaning better than the form of the utterances; we may even forget the form completely (Jay, 2003). If the form of the utterances is not emphasized or enhanced deliberately for the sake of foreign language learners to leave a lasting, and possibly exact, memory trace, they will not have the requisite raw material to use in production. Mapping feeds the learner's episodic memory which may be


9. Conditions for foreign language learning. Input, interaction..

further categorized and represented in a more abstract form by the learner. Mapping requires some cultivation strategies in receptive activities to make sure that the input form is stored, and not just meaning. The next important, but underestimated process is imitation, an act of copying more experienced members of the speech community (Allport, 1985), copying not so much the meaningless syntactic forms, recommended by the Audiolingual Approach, but units of meaningful behaviour. This has nothing to do with regarding imitation as a behaviourist-style mechanism of language learning, but rather as an important route to socialization among human beings, involving the need to identify oneself with a desirable role model (Włodarski and Matczak, 1992). Wyrwicka (2001) sees imitation as an ability and an instinct observed a few hours after birth and occurring spontaneously throughout our lifetime. Imitation may be immediate or deferred (with delay), the latter of which requires the retention of the whole mental structure of the activity. Mapping from observation as well as imitation require the learner to structure the incoming information before storage, therefore they should not be dismissed as purely passive. Needless to say, the role of context is very important in both processes because it imposes structure on the information to be stored. All in all, imitation is seen as an expression of the natural human propensity to master new kinds of behaviour, e.g. social roles, by mirroring the behaviour of others, and may be justified as a tool of expanding our communicative repertoire. Modelling is a more complex, advanced form of imitation, which occurs spontaneously in child socialization and learning. The point here is no longer in the faithful copying of input data, but retaining their important structural characteristics with some modifications. Activities involving modelling allow the learner to take up a fairly ambitious task and perform it till the end, but contribute only some of the required operations having the rest of them provided in the model. The teaching process does not have to rely only on spontaneous modelling, as in the natural processes of language acquisition, but must target and implant certain models especially useful to the learners. To make sense to the learner of a foreign language, the units for modelling must be related to situationally-embedded discourse. Practice is absolutely indispensable in foreign language learning. Practice is not confined to rote learning of meaningless material. It may mean any form of language activity which prepares learners for real language tasks, but in itself is far from an authentic task. Practising is performing a given activity for the sake of consolidating its elements. Unlike in modelling, the stimulus for productive practice may come in the form of instructions what to do and possibly some elements to be used in the task. Practice may also occur as a self-assigned task. Productive practice in the educational context may come in guided, controlled, or otherwise contrived forms, with the purpose of rehearsing verbal communication at an acceptable level of difficulty. Practice is both a natural and typical form of human behaviour. Important, but insufficiently appreciated, processes which feed foreign language learning are comprehension and production in the psycholinguistic mean-

9.3. Secondary conditions for foreign language learning...


ing of the terms. The purpose of participating in verbal communication is the search for meaning and sense, i.e. production and comprehension of utterances or written discourse. As has been pointed out, nothing can replace this experience as a form of preparing for communicative encounters. In comprehension, the addressee identifies the message as a linguistic discourse unit, assigns it a structural description with a plan, assigns meaning to form, identifies the communicative intention, i.e. interprets it in the situational context, and evaluates it. We must not confuse the process of comprehension with skimming and scanning. Production starts with evaluating the global situation to select the communicative intention, constructing a plan to linearize it, inserting the lexical material, articulating it (assigning phonemic representation) or writing it (assigning graphemic representation) while, at the same time, adjusting the elements to each other and incorporating feedback information. Memory trace from comprehension and production episodes include meaning (content) and sense of the discourse which has been processed as well as the elements of discourse itself: the lexical material (lexical items, phrases, idioms, expressions), discourse plan and schemata (strategies of cultivating production and comprehension in verbal communication are outlined in the respective chapters on the four language skills). Participating in communicative interaction, i.e. in conversation, which consists of comprehension and production, but tightly interwoven rather than hardly related and/or distant in time. Conversation demands such operations as adjustment strategies, modifying the interaction, negotiation of pace, content, participant status and goal, implementing coordination devices, working on the distribution of power and other relationship components, mutual influence of the participants, as well as comprehension checks, turn taking, bringing in a new topic, and performing various speech acts and communicative functions to construct the conversation. These operations can only be learned by observing and participating in conversations and related forms of communication in the target language. Processing feedback information about the results of our behaviour is quintessential in effective verbal communication. To make communicative adjustments, we must actively process (incorporate) positive and negative feedback regarding all aspects of verbal communication, such as topic selection, choice of intention, choice of discourse strategies, lexical and grammatical accuracy, articulation precision, writing clarity, effectiveness of the whole encounter, personality of the interlocutor, in order to form an opinion on what works and what does not work in target language interaction. Making use of feedback helps us to regulate and target our behaviour. If we define learning as the modification of knowledge, incorporating feedback information emerges as the key factor. In addition to the processes evoked by the nature of verbal communication, there are the learning and reasoning processes which operate on the information available from verbal communication which enable the learner to store, categorize, order, elaborate, define, generalize, analyse, synthesize and otherwise process primary communicative data. Thanks to the cognitive operations, when he or she is developmentally ready, the learner may start to reflect on all aspects of verbal


9. Conditions for foreign language learning. Input, interaction...

communication, especially language in order to form metalinguistic knowledge, representations about forms, functions, their meanings and mutual relations, as well as deliberately develop the lexicon. Metalinguistic knowledge enhances our orientation and precision of using the tool of communication, language. We must not confuse metalinguistic knowledge, developed internally and naturally in the learner's mind with the metalinguistic information he or she is provided with from the external sources, as if by a feeding tube. To sum up, foreign language learning in real life takes place as verbal communication, which is to say, as processing discourse in a meaningful situational context. This context may be both real and imaginary, even fictional, which helps in the educational setting. • Discourse in meaningful situational context provides input for observational learning (for the learner it means comprehension in the role of a member of the audience, as well as mapping, imitation, modelling, practice). • Discourse is the material for comprehension (participating in communicative interaction in the role of the addressee), production (participating in communicative interaction in the role of the sender); participating in communicative interaction allows the learner to acquire the ability to construct conversation. • Discourse is the material for various learning and reasoning operations which categorize and otherwise organize the primary data into a more processed form in the learner's mind. These processes may be stimulated or enhanced. • Feedback is the knowledge of results available to the learner in interaction, which, if incorporated, enables him or her to refîne the existing knowledge representations, so that comprehension (decoding meanings) and production (coding forms) can match the target norm.

9.4. A look back at the traditional approaches to foreign language teaching
The problem with traditional approaches to foreign language teaching is that the essentially descriptive linguistic origin of didactic criteria for the selection of the language material led to the poverty of input, limited artificial interaction and insufficiently individualized feedback, and too much stress on singled out points of grammar in the abstract, or in the sentence, presented or even 'given' to the learners so that they could 'understand them', especially: • stress on sentence-length material which is too short for anchoring our memory processes, the material which produces a patchwork, or channel flipping effect: when we swap channels in our TV set very rapidly, looking for a programme to watch, we cannot recall very well what we have seen in this way; • artificial prefabricated texts illustrating grammatical forms rather than verbal communication in action, with the purpose of 'teaching grammar', but suitable neither to teach grammar nor to provide input for observation on how verbal communication works, or for comprehension processes;

9.5. The nature of teaching - the role of the teacher


• stress on the presentation and practice of grammar at the expense of morphosyntactic accuracy work in productive communicative tasks which demand focus on form and the incorporation of accuracy feedback on the task; • a limited amount of sustained situationally-embedded discourse, to present coherence and cohesive devices as well as discourse plans, and to justify grammar forms in the context of communicative language use; providing insufficient opportunities of learning natural, longer components of sustained communicative interaction and communicative (conversational) genres; • poverty of content and intellectual substance adequate for the age group, making it difficult for the learner to engage in critical thinking and creative aspects of language learning, and relating content to personal experience; • limited opportunities for the learners to participate in communicative interaction in their own identity and with a fair amount of communicative autonomy/freedom of being able to choose what to say, leading to communicative 'alienation' of the learner. The other fundamental difference between the traditional approaches and methods and the current view of foreign language teaching is that in the former the descriptive linguistic criteria are used in the syllabus to first focus on forms and contextualize them in communication later, whereas in the latter the communicative material must be provided first of all because this is the primary input for language learning, whereas focus on form and accuracy work must come later, as a way of elaborating the meaningful discourse material.

9.5. The nature of teaching - the role of the teacher
Foreign language teaching in the educational context can be treated as cultivation, with the foreign language classroom as a hothouse where we create sheltered conditions for the natural process to be additionally enhanced by various procedures and fertilizers. When these procedures are properly adjusted, foreign language communication and learning are facilitated, speeded up, and intensified. Foreign language teaching in this conception does not cause learning, but it certainly is derived from our view of foreign language learning and must be strictly coordinated with it. Teaching strategies are determined by our view of the language learner as a person, his or her cognitive system (HIP) developing along the lifespan, verbal communication with its special code, language, our learner's reasoning processes available developmentally, and educational constraints, such as the limited time available for instruction. What distinguishes the foreign language learner from the accomplished speaker of that language is his or her reduced redundancy in communication (Spolsky, 1973). The learner may try to cope with target language communicative tasks, but considering various knowledge deficits, he or she does not enjoy the same level of comfort and precision in verbal communication as fluent or native speakers. Native speakers' vast knowledge representations form communicative


9. Conditions for foreign language learning. Input, interaction...

reserves providing multiple clues for communicative processing: they have extensive cultural knowledge, they know a variety of discourse types, extensive terminology for various domains, prefabricated patterns, constructions, idioms, they have factual knowledge, including current events, group history, etc. To compensate for the learner's reduced redundancy, foreign language teaching resorts to such strategies as, for example, providing specific input for the task, which may refer to form as well as content of what is to come. To help the learner comprehend utterances, in teaching we must include semanticizing strategies which help to match meanings to forms when they are not familiar, as well as include feedback on comprehension. From the point of view of the producer, teaching must include lexicalization strategies which help the learner to put his meanings into words under reduced redundancy conditions. In conversational interaction, lexicalization and semantization occur as a variety of interactive comprehension checks and meaning clarification strategies. Additionally, foreign language learners must deal with reduced automaticity/fluency (skill) deficits as far as discourse processing is concerned, the remedy for which is task repetition, slowing down the pace of the task, breaking it into smaller components first, rehearsal to consolidate elements of the task, and practising its delivery (this means practising a meaningful, learner-generated task), as well as editing strategies. To sum up, the first responsibility of the teacher is to create primary conditions for foreign language learning, i.e. provide input, interaction opportunities, and feedback. The next step is to facilitate and catalyze the process of foreign language learning in the educational setting. These strategies refer to various aspects of verbal communication, as pointed out above. Below are some examples of strategies related to the components of our cognitive (HIP) system and reasoning processes to operate on verbal communication material, especially its code, language. Perception of communicative material may be facilitated by its enhanced structure or clarity of presentation (loudness), i.e. salience. Limitations of attention may be compensated by the teacher's guidance through the task and specific instructions, as well as by breaking a complex task into subtasks, as well as repetition of some tasks and unrestricted time on other tasks. Memory processes may be facilitated by activating relevant schemata and paying attention to the organization of the material to be learned as well as rehearsal, building associations and elaboration strategies (Eysenk and Keane, 1995). Anticipation may be tapped as deliberate activation of the task-relevant knowledge (Oiler, 1972), whereas planning deficits may be compensated by presenting relevant models of discourse plans, while time given to plan can make up for insufficient automaticity in production (Crookes, 1988). Monitoring may be encouraged by breaking a written task into two subtasks, drafting and editing, which - in a speaking task - would have the equivalent of rehearsal and performance; retrospection may be evoked by a summary after a reading comprehension task, the better to store the information and develop longer discourse plans in memory; the effect of feedback may be emphasized by various noticing and feedback incorporation strategies (Wenden and Rubin, eds., 1987).

9.6. Focus on form and accuracy


The efficiency of controlled processes can be enhanced by means of intentional learning with focal attention, analysis, and development of definite declarative representations, the knowledge required in the task; automatic processes can be developed according to Anderson's conception in three stages: cognitive, associative, and autonomous; automatic processes can be developed through consolidation through practice and repetition (Ellis, 1988; Bygate, 1996); integration of controlled and automatic processes characterizing the language skill, responsible for the dynamics of communicative composing, are exactly the same for production as for comprehension: dividing communicative tasks into subtasks, withdrawing communicative time pressure from practice sessions, giving time to focus on the plan, providing teacher's input for the task (containing lexical, grammatical, cultural information), and preparing for the tasks by accumulating relevant knowledge sources and rehearsal. The chapters on language skills outline possible options for the teacher to choose from rather than ready teaching sequences. They are strategies to be selected when needed in terms of their purpose and function. It is hardly possible that all of them would be needed at the same time. Most of them are essential categories that can take a variety of forms.

9.6. Focus on form and accuracy
The purpose of participating in verbal communication is to reconstruct the code of communication, the target language, to be used productively, or even creatively, on countless occasions. To accomplish this, the first language acquirer simply needs the primary conditions to be satisfied: natural input, natural interaction and natural feedback; his own cognitive and social development takes care of the progress in language acquisition so that the target language system is fully reconstructed in the child's mind. In the foreign language context, learning the language code must be cultivated for reasons of time limitations as well as the learner's age. The limited time of contact with the target language means that the learner must contend with reduced input and interaction for reconstructing the principles of the system, forms, functions, and meanings in use. Relevant information may not recur frequently enough to provide sufficiently robust data to reconstruct the code. For this reason, input (communicative and meaningful all along) must be targeted at some forms, meanings, functions and use. The same arguments may be used to justify code-related accuracy and precision strategies in the area of pronunciation or syntax, such as emission (articulation) and recognition (discrimination) of phonemes, as well as larger-unit pronunciation practice, clause and sentence-level pronunciation and intonation strategies, inter- and intra-lingual grammar contrasts, explicit information about forms and their functions, generalizations regarding their use, syntactic accuracy work, discourse grammar, etc. It is quite clear now that in the formal foreign as well as second language learning context (cf Doughty and Williams, 1998), language form, especially at


9. Conditions for foreign language learning. Input, interaction...

the level of syntax, must be taken out of the attentional periphery otherwise it will not be acquired precisely. This refers both to recognition in comprehension and use in production. The place of syntactic forms in production is such that they are inserted subconsciously, with the help of what for fluent speakers are automatic processes; likewise in comprehension, they are also recognized, i.e. matched with meaning, at the level of subconscious processing. Syntax is processed fast and with marginal attention. To learn forms well and precisely, we must have these forms brought to the centre of attention and focused upon, so that they can be identified, consolidated and mastered automatically in comprehension and production. It is also indispensable in reconstructing the language code to be able to match the written code with the spoken code, for example by way of transcoding, i.e. converting spoken discourse into written discourse and vice versa. Teaching grammar in the above sense is quite acceptable and useful if it fulfils the following conditions: a) the illustrative material is meaningful, because meaning justifies the use of form; b) sufficiently contextualized, for example in a situation, because in this way it can be remembered; and c) practised in discourse not sentence units, because discourse coherence and cohesion organize forms into an organic whole. To master forms, the learner must, above all, practise them in the role of the sender and the addressee, practise converting form to meaning, or meaning to form, rather than convert or transform one form into another most of the time. Grammar learning tasks, or form-focused tasks, must not only enrich our declarative/analytical, but procedural knowledge as well. Since forms must be learned exactly as well as proceduralized, it is essential not to overlook precision and accuracy strategies in the stage of feedback, which are a very important aspect of learning the code of verbal communication.

9.7. The origin and role of the foreign language teaching method at the beginning of the 21st century
Regarding the teaching component, there is a clear contrast between the so-called 'methods framework', which dominated foreign language teaching in the post-war decades of the previous century, and the present state of the field. The first distinct element is that nowadays learning is emphasized much more decisively than it used to be, and teaching is a function of our conception of learning rather than the result of exports from the source disciplines. In the middle of the 20th century and even later, the main preoccupation of the field was the construction of a universal teaching method derived from the axioms or assumptions in linguistics and psychology, slightly, if at all, modified by the knowledge of classroom reality of foreign language learning. Nowadays, the teaching method is not a priority in the field, although it remains a didactic category. 1. A method can still be regarded as a systematic conception of foreign language teaching, but it is not derived from the tenets of the source disciplines.

9.7. The origin and role of the foreign language teaching method...


2. Moreover, it is certainly local rather than global in scope since a universal teaching method is considered to be a mirage, a didactic science-fiction with no one to address. 3. In contrast to the top-down reasoning in methods construction in the past, i.e. starting from the axioms on the nature of language and language learning, methods nowadays are more likely to be constructed by way of bottom-up reasoning, starting with the language learners, verbal communication and the educational context. 4. They take into consideration fairly specific categories of learners and target specific areas of verbal communication. A teaching method is a system which results from adjusting the primary conditions and cultivation strategies to the learner's age because of the developmental stage of the learner's cognitive equipment and his or her language proficiency (beginning, intermediate, advanced level), the learner's needs in terms of the content of learning, the future roles and situations, as well as the most important skills and genres to be learned. As a result of these selection criteria, a method is simply the result of adjusting the learning process to the specific parameters and needs of the language learner in the educational setting rather than an alternative solution of the problem 'how to teach a foreign language'. At this moment, teaching methods do not compete, but complement each other. Each can certainly be perfected in that it can always meet the addressees' needs more effectively. It would follow that teaching children of a certain age group calls for a method in the sense of a system of choices as for content domain within the child's interest, the type of suitable materials, the range of vocabulary belonging to the child's world, the choice of skills within the child's reach, types of activities, such as dancing, singing, playing games, arts and crafts to foster creativity as well as their length, resulting from the energy level of the young learner, and, finally, the work format suitable for the child's social development. All of these choices responsible for producing a method for teaching children are strictly determined by the developmental state of the learner. As a result, the method of teaching children is different from the method of teaching adults. In fact, what is termed ESP - English for Specific Purposes - can be treated as a method of teaching English in this sense because it is based on the selection criteria of the communicative domain to focus upon, the content of communication to be considered, the communicative situations, especially roles, settings and topics to be included, discourse types to be highlighted and modelled, speech acts to be mastered as well as pertinent terminology and other lexical material, the media to be used and the communicative culture to be acquired. A teaching programme for business English, for example, is usually addressed either to pre-service or in-service learners (the age-group is self explanatory) and designed on the basis of the following considerations of input and interaction: • the firm, general information; • communication inside the firm, types of communicative events: presentations, meetings, formal/informal, telephoning, socializing, reporting, corresponding;


9. Conditions for foreign language learning. Input, interaction..

• communication outside the firm with the public, e.g. press conferences, and with other business partners, e.g. contracts, agreements; • the roles, e.g. managerial, secretarial; HRM, PRR; • topics, such as sales, marketing, human resources, finance strategies, accounting, public relations, production; • types of documents, e.g. memorandum, report, annual report, minutes, newsletter, brochure, advertisement, business plan, proposal, CV, evaluation form, magazine article, manual, instructions, invoice, letter of intent, contract, • various types of written correspondence, such as e-mail, fax messages, letters, notices; • speech acts to be practised: e.g. presentation, negotiating contracts, advertising; • professional knowledge to be acquired, technical terms and phrases; • social encounters, polite conversation skills, etc. All these communicative categories become didactic categories for the course design and make the programmme advance. Cultivation strategies, if adjusted to the age of the learner, would in no way be different from the usual pool of feasible strategies used outside the ESP context, with the task as a unit of teaching and learning.
Topics and review questions

1. What are the key components of our information processing system? 2. What are the primary conditions of foreign language learning? 3. What are the secondary conditions of foreign language learning? 4. Explain the idea of cultivating foreign language learning in the classroom? 5. What is your view on developing syntactic accuracy in the framework presented above?

Further reading Dudley-Evans, T., and M. J. St John, 1998. Developments in ESP. A multi-disciplinary approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hargie, O., and Ch. Saunders, and D. Dickson, 1994. Social Skills in Interpersonal Communication. Chatham: Routledge. Hutchinson, T., and A. Walters, 1987. English for Specific Purposes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Robinson, P, 1980. ESP. Bath: Pergamon Press.

10. The development of the language learner in childhood and adolescence
Following Papalia and Olds (1990), human development can be divided into the following stages:
Term Prenatal development Infancy to toddlerhood Early childhood Middle childhood Adolescence Adulthood Old age Approximate duration From conception to birth Birth till 3 years 3 till 6 years 6 till 12 years 12 till 18 years 18 till 60 years 60 years onwards Stage of life and main activity Growth Play Nursery school and the kindergarten, play Primary school years, learning and studying Gimnazjum and liceum, peak intellectual years, learning and studying Professional work, family, stabilization of intellectual ability Retirement, decrease in intellectual form

Table 10.1. Lifespan development in stages

From the point of view of foreign language learning and teaching, the most important stages in one's entire lifespan embrace early and middle childhood and adolescence. Early childhood is the time when English as a foreign language is introduced in such institutions as the kindergarten on an optional selective basis. Various problems of teaching English to children are certainly challenging. The first three


10. The development of the language learner in childhood...

years of primary school are the time of teaching English within the system of integrated education where English is incorporated into the curriculum at the headmaster's discretion and at parents' expense. In grade four of primary school a course in a foreign language becomes an obligatory subject. English is a leading foreign language at our schools chosen, on the average, by half of the learners (Ministerstwo Edukacji Narodowej, O nauczaniu języków obcych, 2000). A course in a foreign language which begins in the fourth grade is continued in the gimnazjum, which takes three years, until pupils are 16. At that point, young learners take up their education in the secondary school (liceum) which they graduate from after three years of study, at the age of 19. English courses are offered in their basic and extended form, which is taken into account in the scope of the matriculation exam. In our educational system, learning English as a foreign language is continued at university, where it is profiled either for general or specific purposes, depending on the course of studies. Additionally, English courses are offered by private language schools, which cater to a variety of needs and levels including in-service courses for adults, organized and financed by the companies as well as individual learners. There is plenty to choose from in terms of courses preparing for various specialized tests and certificates. First, I list the developmental landmarks of the stages relevant from the point of view of foreign language learning and teaching, and next I outline the characteristic guidelines for teaching strategies.

10.1. Landmarks of development
Children develop language skills and simple forms of learning in toddlerhood, when they are still very dependent on adults with whom they spend most of their time. From the point of view of foreign language teaching, early childhood is much more interesting because this is when they learn to communicate with their playmates, their imagination becomes really vivid, while their ability to play and their motor energy - enormous. In middle childhood they develop the ability to think logically and to learn deliberately in the context of formal education, to perform concrete operations, and to establish social ties with other children. They absorb many aspects of culture from their environment and culture-specific skills. Adolescence is a search for identity which may sometimes be a stormy process starting with defiance rather than compliance. The young pubescent individuals are now able to engage in abstract thought and theorizing, while the effectiveness of their learning processes grows dynamically. Coming of age is the time of severing the ties with parents and integrating more closely with the peer group. At the same time, sexual identity becomes a prominent factor. Adulthood is the time of starting a family and professional work, with the cognitive processes remaining at a fairly well-established level. With age certain memory processes become stifled, however, and memory capacity may slightly decline, depending on the individual differences and individual experience. In the present perspective, children as well as older learners are viewed as agents of their own learning, which is to say, much of what they know is a result

10.1. Landmarks of development


of their own activity. Their will, purpose, commitment and intelligence have a very important role to play. Lifespan development involves changes which are quantitative, i.e. they refer to the amount of knowledge, as well as qualitative, i.e. they refer to the levels of organization of knowledge. The amount of knowledge paves the way for its restructuring and increasing integration.
An important figure in the field of research on the child's cognitive development is Jean Piaget (1896-1980), an exceptionally creative and prolific Swiss psychologist who lived and worked in Geneva and produced a comprehensive theory of cognitive development in children, presented in 40 books and 100 articles, based on meticulous observations of his own children. He is considered to be a proponent of an organismic view of intellectual development, which stresses the child's active role in its own development, and a forerunner of the cognitive revolution in psychology with its focus on mental representation and internal processes. According to Piaget, the core of intelligent activity is the ability to adapt to the environment. As children explore the world with their senses, such as sight, hearing, feeling, touching, moving, they develop more complex cognitive structures, known as schémas or schemata. A schema is a mentally organized pattern of thought or behaviour which helps us to sort out information. Children learn through the processes of assimilation, which incorporates new information into the existing structures, and accommodation, which uses old schemata to deal with new information or problems and to achieve equilibrium, a state of balance between the child and the outside world (Papalia and Olds, 1990) Piaget divided lifespan development into the following stages (Rebok, 1987): 1. The sensorimotor period from birth until 2 years of age, during which the child's exploration of the world depends on (immediate) sensory experience and motor activity; what is reflex-based at first is later transformed into symbolic processes. The child is unable to discriminate between the self and objects. The time frame of thought is the present. 2. The pre-operational period from 2 to 7 years of age, when children develop the ability to use symbols, such as words, concepts and mental images, to stand for objects and events in the world. These symbols become increasingly complex and organized, although the child's thought processes are still illogical. The time frame of thought is immediate past and present. 3. The concrete operational stage, from about 7 till 11 years, is the time when the child begins to think more systematically and logically, but still in concrete, here-and-now terms. The time frame of thought is past, present and future. 4. The stage of formal operations from about 11 till 15 years and older enable the young individual to think both logically and in abstract terms; learners are able to engage in theorizing and hypothetical thinking and they become more apt at complex problem solving and hypotheses testing. They are able to treat language as an object of reflection and form metalinguistic knowledge. All time frames are available in thought processes. It is significant what Piaget pointed out as the principal goal of education: it is to shape individuals who are creative and inventive, as well as capable of critical evaluation of what they are offered rather than accepting it without question.

Human cognitive development is viewed in terms of the growth of intelligence, the acquisition of knowledge, reasoning and problem solving operations. Intelligence is the child's ability to adapt to reach a goal. Goal-oriented behaviour is a form of intentional problem solving, in which they identify and define the problem and try


10. The development of the language learner in childhood...

to find the missing element. Papalia and Olds (1990: 202) define intelligence as: 'an interaction between inherited ability and environmental experience which results in a person's ability to acquire, retain, and use knowledge; to understand both concrete and abstract concepts; to understand the relationship between objects, events and ideas and to apply this understanding; and to use all this in solving the problems of everyday life. It is the ability to adapt behaviour in pursuit of a goal.' Intelligence is not fixed; native intelligence is the quality people are born with, but it can be nurtured by a supportive environment and stimulating experiences. 10.1.1. Gradual emergence of verbal communication Human development reveals the emergence of verbal communication as a complex cluster of component abilities, or cognitive achievements at various points along the lifespan.
The aspect of verbal communication Communication - other-oriented, goaloriented behaviour Emerging elements Vocalizations, emitting behaviour, crying, gestures, joint attention, from private speech to social speech, other-oriented messages to be understood, taking other people's point of view into consideration, decentring, adjustments, processing feedback Reciprocal exchanges, symmetrical behaviour, imitation, body language (smile, facial expression, movement) ability to attract attention, role acquisition, control over the elements of conversation, forming one's identity to be able to interact Learning phonemes and words, symbolization, development of syntax and lexicon, growth of accuracy in articulation, grammar, and mean utterance length, metalinguistic knowledge and awareness Generation of meaning, sense, thoughts, acquiring concepts and ideas, inner speech for the expression of thought, growth of HIP system, control of this system, creativity (early as well as mature), generating culture

Interaction - mutually influencing each other, self-awareness, identity, autonomy of thought and action, constructing a conversation, coordinating with someone else The language code - a complex system of signs, awareness of this system

Cognition - knowing, reasoning, thought processes, increasingly objective cognition, growth of cognitive awareness, human creativity

Table 10.2. A list of components of verbal communication emerging in childhood and adolescence

10.2. The first stage - infancy and toddlerhood
10.2.1. The psychosocial development According to Papalia and Olds (1990), during this time children grow to become goal-oriented beings who can organize their behaviour toward people and objects, generalize it to a variety of situations and integrate old and new behaviour. They

10.2. The first stage - infancy and toddlerhood


acquire the concept of object permanence which means that people and objects exist whether they are seen or not. They acquire the concept of causality, which is the recognition that some events are the necessary and sufficient conditions for other events to occur. Children develop representational abilities, i.e. the abilities to map objects into memory with the use of symbols, such as words, as well as the ability to act out and imagine things. They also begin to coordinate information from the senses while their behaviour becomes increasingly purposeful. Moreover, children are able to anticipate events and show curiosity. They often engage in imitation, especially deferred imitation of adult activities, like their father's shaving. Deferred imitation is an ability to encode and store the mental image of a given activity and replicate it after a lapse of time. During this stage, at the age of 2, children begin to use symbols such as words and numbers. A prime example of the relationship between physical, cognitive and emotional development is play. The kind of play in which children engage is determined by what they can do at the given stage. Play is babies' work. First it is physical, later it becomes more closely connected with intellectual coordination.

10.2.2. Communication Matczak (1992) rightly points out that the fundamental prerequisite of all the communicative abilities in children is their discrimination between the self and the environment, and their realization of their interactive relationship with other people who receive and respond to children's actions. This is the basis of communicative readiness, which is first implemented as non-verbal behaviour, and later evolves into verbal communication. At about the age of 18 children start developing mental representations of meaning, which are linked to objects and words which stand for them, the essence of which is the symbolic process. This may be treated as the real beginning of language in that the emitted vocalizations are made up of phonemes, they are intentional and they have meaning. Mental representations enable the child to prepare practical activities by mental consideration and planning (Matczak, 1992). Emerging intentional behaviour is the beginning of human intelligence. A child is a thinking individual who is capable of planning his or her actions as well as a social individual who is able to interact with others. Language and communication milestones in infancy and toddlerhood: • over one month - the child smiles in response to stimulation; • a month and a half - coos, makes long vowel sounds which are not found in the phonological system of the environment; • 6 months - cooing changes into babbling and consonants appear; • 8 months - says 'dada' and 'mama' but does not use them as names; • 11 months - uses 'dada' and 'mama' as names; • 12 months - says gibberish sentences without real words, says one word, imitates phonemes of the language;


10. The development of the language learner in childhood...

• 14 months - responds to simple commands; • a year and a half - says two-word combinations, pivot grammar, uses phonemes of the language; • two years - growth of vocabulary, pronouns.

Pre-linguistic communication This form of communication takes place as the use of vocalizations without words or grammar. Its first form, crying, is 'an innate form of communication that in newborns and infants expresses a need for attention or a strong emotion; the basic infant's cries include the rhythmic cry of need, the angry cry, the cry of pain, and the cry of frustration' (Papalia and Olds, 1990:248). Babies whose cries bring relief gain confidence fast, so they cry less and less. Smiling is another form of non-linguistic communication which is innate and begins as a reflex only involving the lower facial muscles, but soon becomes social and engages the muscles around the eyes. Smiling begins to express pleasure and trust, as well as the recognition of the caregiver, especially his or her face. Laughter also appears and becomes quite common at that time; it is used to relieve tension at times. A 'conversation' as early as at the age of 8 months may take the form of imitative exchanges between the mother and child in which both parties take great delight in producing the same vocalizations which form symmetrical conversation-like turn-taking patterns. In the second half of the first year, children accidentally imitate phonemes, but later they imitate them deliberately. Pre-linguistic communication makes use of body language, i.e. gestures as well as facial expressions, which show a wide range of emotions and needs which children cannot express verbally. Children learn how to get their parent's attention, which functions as an important factor in their development. According to Jay (2003), infants begin to use gestures when they are 8 months old. Whether or not they are intentional may be determined on the basis of the following properties: effort to get the adult's attention, persistence, i.e. repetition of the gesture until there is a desired action from the adult, and using alternative strategies, such as crying. This intentional use of gestures is an instance of the child's goal-oriented behaviour. When the gestures which children make up are not interpreted by their parents, they drop them. Around 10 months of age children develop protoimperatives, the ability to use gestures to obtain objects, as well as protodeclaratives, the ability to draw the adult's attention to an object. Joint attention which results from this effort forms the basis of communication. Researchers have found that the more effort put into joint attention, the faster the development of language (Jay, 2003). Children are able to use some gestures and movement in the symbolic function, for example to represent a horse or a dog. Papalia and Olds (1990) point out that these gestures are quite significant indicators of their cognitive development: they show that children understand that objects have names and that symbols can be used to refer to the things and happenings in everyday life even before speech.

10.3. Early childhood (3-6 years) Linguistic communication


Holophrases are children's utterances which consist of one word that conveys a thought used by children between 12 to 18 months, the most common of which are names of things. Holophrases perform various functions, such as naming things, events, or attributes, making requests, replying, etc. Children learn the words which are important to them. 'All-gone' in English is used frequently to denote disappearance or absence of something. The first sentences are composed of two words: they are based on pivot grammar: open class words and pivot class words. The average length of children's utterances grows steadily. In the beginning, the articles, modal verbs or suffixes, such as plural markers, are missing, producing the effect of telegraphic speech. Telegraphic speech can be characterized as consisting of three morphemes per utterance, expressing a thought but not containing complex grammar. Later, children start using overgeneralization which points to their use of rules in language learning, for example 'goed'. They also simplify: 'no drink' which may have several communicative functions. However, they understand grammatical relations even though they cannot express them yet. Motherese is child-directed speech which has various features of adjustment already mentioned, such as slower pace, clear, slightly exaggerated pronunciation, simple and short constructions, here-and-now reference, numerous repetitions, etc. Children learn such social skills as getting the attention of adults, using adults as resources, and showing affection and hostility, planning activities and carrying them out. As they learn to understand language, they become actors, reactors and interactors; they learn to make their own choices and decisions, and to follow their own interests. Their expression of will is the use of negation, which shows their drive toward autonomy, i.e. self-determination, and away from control by others. The children's sense of self develops dynamically, which slowly brings about such correlates as: a) self-awareness, i.e. the ability to recognize one's own actions, emotions, states and abilities; b) social referencing, i.e. seeking out another person's understanding of an ambiguous situation, and c) self-regulation, i.e. control of behaviour to conform to social expectations.

10.3. Early childhood (3-6 years)
During early childhood, we see a considerable development in motor skills, especially motor control of movement, and growing coordination between the children's desires, feelings and possibilities. In this period children are very mobile and energetic, demonstrating a constant hunger for motor activity. They start developing such abilities as dancing, running, riding a bicycle, skating, roller-skating, climbing trees, swimming, but they become bored quite easily and keep changing one form of activity for another. A pleasant activity tends to be repeated spontaneously for the fun of it (Kielar-Turska, 2001). At the age of 5-6, children's small


10. The development of the language learner in childhood...

muscle development allows them to control writing utensils and handle some sedentary activities and a more structured day at school better. Children also show a considerable gain in eye-hand muscle control and coordination as well as hand preference. This is the time of artistic development; preferred activities include drawing. According to Papalia and Olds (1990), children's self-taught drawings can be arranged into developmental stages reflecting the maturation of the brain: scribbles (by the age of 2, based on lines), shapes (about 3 years of age, basic shapes and geometrical figures), designs (at the age of 3, shapes are combined into more complex configurations), and pictures (between 4 and 5, more representational). Their cognitive development falls into Piaget's pre-operational stage (2-7 years). At that time, children use logic and symbols but are not capable of abstract thought. Symbolic function is understood as the ability to have one thing represent another, or, better still, to use mental representations to which children have ascribed meanings. Symbolic function is observed in language, symbolic play, in which one thing stands for something else, in deferred imitation and in children's drawings in which shapes are made to stand for something rather than merely be the marks left by a pen or pencil. They grasp the meaning of some entities and their functions, which makes the world more predictable and orderly. At that time, most children are characterized by egocentrism, which is the inability to consider another person's point of view, or see things from another person's perspective. It is unthinkable to children that other people do not think the same way they do. But in some familiar situations, children seem to be able to show empathy, i.e. the ability to put oneself into another person's position and feel the way s/he would. Intellectually, what characterizes them is centring, focusing on only one aspect of the situation, as opposed to the later achievement of decentring, i.e. thinking of several aspects of the situation at the same time. Instead, they can move from one aspect of the situation onto the next. Children's thinking at the stage of concrete operations involves no abstract reasoning, but they can also group items and classify them into single-category and two-category groupings. The development of memory in this period is still in progress in that recognition, i.e. correctly identifying a stimulus as something known, is better than recall, i.e. the ability to reproduce material from memory, but it improves around the ages 2-5. Memory in early childhood is not yet deliberate in the sense that children are not able to commit facts to memory; instead, they remember the events which have made an impression on them. The elementary form of organization of the material in memory is the narrative, which is the effect of chronological coding and which feeds the autobiographical (episodic) memory. This basic form of discourse organization is universal in different cultures and appears as songs, stories, epics, and myths. An important aspect of education in this period is story time, the time to read or tell stories to children. This stimulates their imagination as well as language development. Social interactions play an important role in remembering: when adults talk to children about various events, their coding of the events in memory is better than in the case of events which have not been verbally labelled. Personality also influ-

10.3. Early childhood (3-6 years)


ences the intellectual development of a child. Papalia and Olds (1990) state that the child who is curious, alert, and assertive will learn the most from the environment. A child who is creative and has initiative, i.e. is ready to expend energy and sustained effort in pursuit of goals, is bound to interact with others more. Sociable and assertive children seek adult attention more than other children. A child who is passive and withdrawn will naturally learn less because s/he avoids contacts. The best way for parents, as well as teachers, to foster their children's development is to be warm, loving, accepting and encouraging so they can explore and express themselves, for example by asking open-ended questions. Children respond by being creative and interested in various new situations. It is significant that television, which becomes important at the time, may stifle the children's development by preventing them from taking up activities which require sustained effort and creative imagination.

10.3.1. Language and communication in early childhood In early childhood children start using the grammar and style of their native language more adequately. This is also the time for asking endless questions. It is interesting for language researchers that children overgeneralize linguistic rules: at the age of three, a child said 'Mummy held the milk' but at four she might say 'Mummy holded the milk'. A characteristic phenomenon at that age, accounting for 20 to 60 percent of what children say, is private speech, i.e. saying things aloud to oneself, with no intention to communicate this to somebody else, i.e. to be understood (Papalia and Olds, 1990). This form of communicating with oneself is a link between language and thought, thinking aloud in which the formulated ideas become more understandable to the child (Matczak, 1992). Very often the child practises this form of behaviour even when alone, as monologues addressed to himself or herself. This egocentric communication performs such functions as naming, commenting, describing, playing with words, repetitions, emotional release, narrating one's actions, and many others. Such activities help the child to understand the world around him or her better. Vygotsky (1962) regarded inner speech as an important aspect of communicating with oneself, helpful in integrating language with thought and action. After some time, as children begin to think silently, inner speech fades away. At that time, children communicate primarily via social speech, which is intended to be understood by someone other than the speaker. In social speech children take the other person's perspective and needs into account and use language to establish and maintain social contacts. At the age of four, grammar and pronunciation improve and the child is able to clarify communicative misunderstandings and show growing control over the elements of conversation. There is also a leap in vocabulary development. Children can attract and hold their interlocutor's attention and they start to adjust to the interlocutor in their conversations. A four-year-old may speak 'motherese' to a two-year-old. Children still learn how to tailor their speech to specific situations.


10. The development of the language learner in childhood...

It is important at that time to give the child opportunities to practise and show interest and support for all the early attempts at participating in adult conversations, such as wait time, and plenty of stimulating questions.

10.3.2. Play in early childhood Papalia and Olds (1990) state that play is characteristic of all mammals and it is the main business or work of the young. Through play, children grow, gain experience and develop the ability to coordinate various aspects of their activity as well as mastery of their bodies. Naturally, children imitate various adult roles and learn to cope with complex emotions. They learn new skills, for example, how to ride their bicycle. As they play they pretend to be various things and they actively use their inventiveness and imagination. Play discloses both the social (interactive) and the cognitive (intellectual) aspects of human development: first, children begin by playing alone, then side by side, also observing other children, after which they engage in associative play when the presence of other children is merely recognized, and, finally, they participate by interacting and cooperating with other children. This is the time when children are ready and eager to compete (middle childhood). Not all of the non-social play is necessarily more elementary and immature in comparison to the interactive play; it is in fact considered to be important for the development of complex cognitive operations. Psychologists maintain that children need some time alone to concentrate on more complex intellectual tasks and problems. The key element is the structure and content of the activity, not the fact that the child is playing alone. Play also engages the child's vivid imagination. Many activities, around 3-4 are within the 'pretend' category, which in fact consists of elements of visualizations, fantasy, drama, and imagination. The children's abilities to pretend rests on their use of symbols. Through play they develop various skills and become more creative. By the end of the pre-school years, children are mentally ready to engage in a more complex form of play, i.e. games, which are goal-oriented and have rules. In the process of personality development, the first stage is identification, in which a child acquires characteristic features of another person in the group, or an adult, to resemble that person. The next stage is negation of this identity in the form of opposition, defiance, or rejection, and the third - self-determination.

10.4. Middle childhood
10.4.1. Piaget's stage of concrete operations In the stage of concrete operations children can think logically about the hereand-now, but not about abstractions. They develop the ability to apply logical

10.4. Middle childhood


principles to concrete situations and to solve problems; they can classify objects, arrange them according to some feature, deal with numbers, understand concepts of time and space, distinguish between fantasy and reality, and understand the principle of conservation (that the amount of liquid does not change as a result of placing it in a different container). Middle childhood is the time of developing moral judgment. The progress from egocentric to moral thinking takes several stages: • age 4-6 - The child is egocentric and judges from his point of view considering it to be the only possible one. • age 6-8 - Children realize that other people may interpret the situation differently, they realize the importance of intention or motive of a given action. • age 8-10 - Children develop the awareness that other people realize that they have a different point of view. • age 10-12 - Children can imagine a third person's perspective taking several points of view into account. • adolescence and later - Complex ideas of various aspects of the situation are possible. Some dilemmas and rival values are taken into consideration simultaneously. Middle childhood is characterized by an increase in the ability for intentional cognitive operations, i.e. learning, which positively influences attentional control, task completion, memory processes, as well as speaking. Practical activities and cognitive operations begin to diverge and specialize.

10.4.2. The development of memory in middle childhood The development of memory in middle childhood is the effect of two processes, a growing ability to commit information to memory (i.e. growing memory control) and a growing ability to organize the information to be stored, which improves its quality (structural analysis of the material to be remembered leads to its understanding and categorizing in various relationships). Very often, these operations are accompanied by verbalization which has a strongly facilitating role. Around the age of 11-12 intentional memory processes dominate the incidental ones (Matczak, 1992). The ability to retrieve information from memory depends on how well it has been perceived, organized and stored. In middle childhood, the attention span, or working memory capacity, increases. Children's ability to recognize information, i.e. categorize the stimulus as familiar, is better developed than the ability to recall it, i.e. retrieve an item from memory. Just before the onset of middle childhood, children discover that while trying to remember things they can deliberately commit items to memory. This is the emergence of memory strategies which begin with more elementary forms - pre-strategies. The first early attempt to get to know a given object is through its perception and manipulation. Later children learn about new objects by taking them apart, manipulating them and discovering their function. Information is consolidated in memory dur-


10. The development of the language learner in childhood...

ing regular, everyday activities, such as thematic play, drawing, conversations with adults, and bed-time monologues, which are functional equivalents of strategic behaviour: they help to consolidate information in memory although their overall aim is different from committing an item to memory. Memory strategies, which are intentional (deliberate) activities aimed at remembering, include: naming, rehearsal, categorization, elaboration, and using external memory. Naming (Jagodzińska, 2003) is an elementary memory strategy which involves putting verbal labels on various stimuli and repeating names. As has already been mentioned, rehearsal is repetition of an item to keep it in working memory and improve its memory trace; most children engage in rehearsal spontaneously from first grade on. Categorization is the process of organizing (chunking, clustering) the material into related groups, which reduces the amount of information to be learned. Adults engage in categorization automatically while children start doing this around the age of ten or eleven. Elaboration is the strategy of adding more information to the item to be learned in order to strengthen the associations between the new and the old, e.g. constructing a story, using some illustrative situation or an explanation, employing imagery, etc. Papalia and Olds (1990) stress that children at that age remember information better when someone else has made the elaboration for them. This is just one example of the role of adults in helping children to expand their knowledge. External aids include writing things down, making lists, or placing an item where it stands out and cannot be missed. As children use these strategies, they process the information to be committed to memory: repeat and explain it, compare with previous knowledge, and reorder it in various ways. Strategies are understood as intentional activities taken up with memory goals in mind. While using them the child demonstrates the ability of intentional learning in an early form as well as the knowledge of the activity to be chosen for this purpose. The development of memory in middle childhood is characterized by the increase in the pace and effectiveness of information processing, which enable the child to use more complex processes, such as building extensive associations and organizing information hierarchically. These processes demand greater cognitive resources in terms of working memory capacity and knowledge structures. The quality of the information coding also increases as a result of the ability of the child to consider a greater number of features. Memory development is stimulated by the development of speech which strengthens the semantic coding of information. The development of speech allows the use of more extensive verbal memory strategies, such as summarizing events, making stories, sharing memories with other people. The narrative form of information coding becomes fairly important at the time (Jagodzińska, 2003). Metamemory is the awareness of our own memory processes which develops during middle childhood. At the beginning of this period, children begin to understand the nature of learning, remembering and forgetting, as well as their own abilities in this area. The development of metamemory is a function of the growth of general (world) knowledge represented in the child's mind, which in

10.4. Middle childhood


turn enables the child to learn new information by relating it to what s/he already knows, which is to say, learn it more effectively.

10.4.3. The development of thinking Middle childhood is the time when children experience cognitive curiosity and the need of novelty, and this is also the appropriate time to teach thinking skills, especially critical thinking involving evaluation of various statements and problem solving, as well as fostering creativity, for example, by asking open-ended questions: what, why, how. Reading to children stimulates the development of their verbal skills, thinking, and imagination. It is beneficial to encourage children to perform various reasoning operations, for example, to compare, find links between items of information, and further categorize their growing knowledge of the world, as well as to find the most important point in a given information set. Children will learn from being shown how to approach a given problem: 1) they must first realize what they know and 2) what they need to know, then 3) what has to be done; that 4) they must design a plan to solve it, and finally 5) to implement and evaluate the results. It is also very important to use guided imagery, i.e. an act of constructing mental pictures of events or experience. 'Sensory images help to store information in long-term memory, and the more senses are involved the better' (Papalia and Olds, 1990:436). The terms 'mental images', 'mental pictures' and 'visualization' are considered to be essentially synonymous for our purposes here. Visualization helps children to go beyond the information given and be creative. Imagery can serve three important functions which are, by no means, constrained to childhood: • it inspires inventiveness and creativity; • it aids comprehension processes in which we naturally build mental models of the discourse situation; and • it is used as a mnemonic technique. Creative projects may include, for example, writing a poem, drawing a picture, writing a story, first version, polishing and revising it. Papalia and Olds (1990) recommend such useful activities as teaching practical tasks, e.g. reading a map, promoting techniques to control the use of time: setting goals, making plans, checking the results, encouraging children to write because putting thoughts on paper helps to organize them better (keeping a journal, writing letters).

10.4.4. Language development In middle childhood, children have well established pronunciation and syntax as well as communication skills, whereas their vocabulary is constantly growing. Children are able to use more complex sentence constructions. Their constantly improving ability to transmit and understand information takes a new form, the


10. The development of the language learner in childhood...

form of metacommunicative knowledge, which grows throughout middle childhood. At the same time, the ability to monitor their own comprehension processes grows, but the ability to understand instructions well should not be taken for granted. According to Sinclair (1986), there is also a gradual, but significant increase in metalinguistic knowledge, which emerges in the form of such abilities as: • segmenting utterances into smaller units, i.e. phonemes, syllables, and words; • accuracy judgments; • self-correction; • awareness of word meanings including polysemy; • perception of verbal ambiguity including puns. Sinclair (1986) defines metalinguistic knowledge as information resulting from making language the object of reflection and reasoning processes, which may focus separately on form and meaning, and on the relationships between the two aspects. These processes lead to categorized, i.e. abstract knowledge about the language, in addition to, and following the acquisition of the ability to use language in communication. Although there is a considerable degree of overlap between metacommunicative and metalinguistic knowledge, two separate terms can be defended on the grounds that each has a specific focus: the former stresses meaningful interaction in a sociocultural context and its norms, whereas the latter - the cognitive, i.e. reasoning insights into the language code. The growth of metalinguistic knowledge culminates at the time of formal operations, such as the ability to understand and formulate rules about language forms, their meanings and functions.

10.4.5. Developing a sense of humour Like understanding figurative language, a sense of humour is more involved than the literal comprehension of utterances. 'Humour refers generally to anything that is funny.' (Jay, 2003:306). Forms of humour include jokes, wit (situational, spontaneously invented humour), riddles, puzzles, play with words, and puns. A joke is quite specific: it is a self-contained piece of discourse produced with the aim of providing amusement to the listeners; it usually has a build-up phase and a punch line, which is a surprise reversal of what one is led to expect in the build-up. Because of the discourse structure, getting the point of the joke depends on the stage of the cognitive development. The most competent children are thought to have the best sense of humour. A sense of humour has considerable social advantages and helps to release tension and strong emotions, as well as stress. During this time, the teacher becomes an important figure, a substitute for the parent figure at school, a guide in the world of values and in developing selfesteem. Nevertheless, parents still influence a child's intellectual development. It has been established that parents of achieving children do the following: they communicate with them extensively; they have high expectations for their

10.4. Middle childhood


children; and they maintain a warm, supportive relationship with them. It is also possible for parents to improve their children's reading skills by stressing reading, books, and literature as an important value. Simple everyday activities influence the child's attitude to reading: being taken to the library, being read to, reading to parents, buying books, storybooks, dictionaries, using writing materials, pens and pencils, talking about everyday matters, elaborating on children's utterances. Playing games with children is also educational and may involve breaking tasks into manageable parts. What is important for both parents and teachers is having confidence in the children, encouraging them to work hard to justify this, being warm and supportive, as well as spending time with them. It is clear that both the teacher's and the parents' expectations set the child's ambitions in motion.

10.4.6. Gifted and creative children Sisk (1987) states that the goal of the educational system is self-realization, and failure to help a gifted child to reach his or her potential is a social tragedy. Giftedness is not a single measure, but a complex of factors, an interaction of hereditary and environmental factors, especially educational opportunities and a stimulating environment. 'Giftedness is one or more of the following: superior general intellect, superiority in a single domain (like mathematics or science), artistic talent, like painting, singing or acting, leadership ability, or creative thinking, the ability to look at problems in a new way' (Papalia and Olds, 1987:447). According to Sternberg (1996), gifted children process information very efficiently, especially in novel tasks which require insight. Insight skills include three essential processes: 1) distinguishing relevant from irrelevant information, 2) integrating isolated pieces of information into a unified whole, 3) relating newly acquired information with the previous knowledge. According to Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences (1985), people can be gifted in one or more of the following seven relatively independent areas: musical, bodily-kinesthetic (moving precisely as in dance), interpersonal intelligence (understanding others), intrapersonal intelligence (understanding yourself), verbal intelligence (reading comprehension, writing), logical-mathematical intelligence (using numbers and solving problems), spatial intelligence (finding one's way in the environment). Intellectually gifted children are fairly mature in their moral reasoning. Sisk (1987) lists the following characteristics of the gifted: they vary among themselves in many ways; they may be among the youngest in the group; they are popular with other children; they are influenced by the socioeconomic and educational status of the father, as well as the force of character. There is a considerable condensation of high IQ scores among them, the advantage which is continued into adulthood. Problems with the education of the gifted children include unsupportive teachers, emphasis on grades, and a lack of challenge.


10. The development of the language learner in childhood...

Creativity is the ability to see things in a new perspective, to see problems that others may fail to recognize, and produce new and useful, effective solutions. The elements of artistic success include inborn talent, encouragement of that talent, and the artist's drive to excel through hard work and task commitment. In other words, talent must be recognized, nurtured and supported by hard work. Creativity involves divergent thinking, i.e. thinking with a wide perspective, aimed at discovering a new, unusual answer to the problem, as opposed to the convergent one, i.e. thinking with a narrow focus aimed at finding one answer. Fostering creativity requires a stimulating environment suited to individual interests, with the teacher's focus on strengths rather than weaknesses of the learners, the teacher's assistance in standing peer pressure and his own example in counteracting stereotypes, especially in the area of gender roles. The teacher may promote creativity in his pupils by welcoming and praising original ideas and not grading everything the learners do, resorting to open-ended activities and divergent thinking. On the other hand, it is well-known that too much interference on the part of teachers and parents inhibits creativity because children who are constantly moulded lose confidence and spontaneity which are necessary in its development. Papalia and Olds (1990) stress that children are born creative: they are imaginative in their stories, drawings, and play, but these predispositions are dwarfed by education when various acquired schemata come into play.

10.4.7. Personality and social development in middle childhood Middle childhood are formative years in developing a self-concept, a social concept, which is a meeting ground of the individual and the society, social expectations and the picture we have of ourselves, our self-image, the idea of who we are and who we would like to be. Children's behaviour is regulated more by themselves than by their parents. This is also the time of learning about friendship, other people's needs, team membership, social roles and relationships, managing one's own behaviour and taking responsibility for it. Children develop the ability to cooperate in a group by coordinating their activities with others and distributing tasks (Matczak, 1992). At the same time, they aspire to achieve a desirable position in their peer group. The most important aspect of personality is the development of self-esteem - a positive self-image, the feeling of our own worth, which comes from the awareness that one can deal with things and be in charge of one's own life. A positive self-image may be the key to success and happiness throughout life. According to Papalia and Olds (1990), four factors contribute to self-esteem: a sense of significance, competence, virtue, and the power to be in control of one's own life (see 8.2.2.). In middle childhood, children continue to learn through play, both realistic and unrealistic. Play provides opportunities to learn new roles, skills and behaviours, to learn how to cooperate and compete, to practise the use of imagination

10.5. Adolescence


and the release of aggression and tension. Peer group becomes increasingly important, but children still look to parents for support, affirmation and affection. This is the time of forming intimate friendships and bonds with peers, i.e. members of the same age group. A peer group helps children to form opinions about themselves on the basis of how others see them. A peer group and its system of values help children to free themselves from the influence of their parents to form independent judgments. A group may also influence individuals to the point of acting against their better judgment, seen in various instances of peer pressure and conformity. Training in social skills includes carrying a conversation, sharing information about oneself, showing interest in others by asking questions, giving help, suggestions, invitations, and advice. These social graces can be developed and when they are, they positively influence our social position and popularity, as well as the intensity of interaction with others. However, when we address children as group members we should not take their comprehension processes for granted; we should monitor their accuracy by asking questions and other strategies, such as individual checks.

10.5. Adolescence
According to Forisha-Kovach (1983), adolescence means 'growing into maturity'. Puberty is the time of reaching sexual maturity, whereas pubescence is the process of reaching it. Adolescence is the peak of intellectual functions which require flexibility and coordination, but measures of intelligence which require learning and organization of material show a continued development throughout life. Young individuals grow increasingly independent of parents while a peer group and its norms of behaviour gain importance. A peer group is the context in which adolescents try to establish their identity. Identity can be understood as the internalization of values, having one's own standards and making one's own choices. Adolescent peer groups are composed of cliques of several members with more intimate ties, and crowds, i.e. larger groups based on social activity. In early adolescence these groups are composed of members of the same sex, later by members of both sexes. Adolescents are susceptible to peer pressure at that time, although parental influence is continued. Forisha-Kovach (1983) lists the following developmental tasks for adolescence: • accepting one's physical appearance; • achieving more mature relationships with peers of both sexes; • achieving a masculine or feminine social role; • achieving emotional independence from parents and other adults; • preparing for a professional career; • preparing for marriage and family life; • learning socially responsible behaviour; • acquiring a set of values and ethical system - developing an ideology.


10. The development of the language learner in childhood...

10.5.1. Intellectual development in adolescence Piaget's stage of formal operations is characterized by the peak in the ability to think critically and abstractly, as well as to hypothesize and build theories. This makes thought more universal and cognitive schemata wider and more abstract than in earlier stages. At the same time, there is a strong need to systematize information. It is a new way of dealing with information, not only logically and concretely, but in an abstract way and construct elaborate theories of the world. Adolescents at the level of formal operations are able to deal with combinations of ideas in a systematic way, propose and test hypothesis and imagine what might happen in novel situations. Abstract thought permits the individual to construct collective conceptual representations in which some properties of the represented objects are actively disregarded to focus on others. This increases the flexibility and combinatorial potential of thinking because the adolescents are capable of generating all possibilities of a given situation and all the alternative solutions (Biehler and Snowman, 1982). Sometimes adolescents get carried away by this world of ideas and values forgetting about the constraints of the real world. Formal operations are attained between 11 and 15, or, according to some sources, between 12 and 16 years of age, but although this is the last stage of our cognitive development, not all, only about 65 percent of people attain it. Gifted students more consistently demonstrate the ability of formal thought than the less gifted ones. This fact is influenced by the interaction between social environment and maturation of the brain; the former can be encouraged and developed by schooling. Forisha-Kovach (1983:139) stresses the role of subjective creativity in the cognitive development of adolescents: 'Adolescents grow not by copying experience but by reacting to experience in a meaningful way ... The process of reacting to experience is often creative, and very often experienced as a process of invention, not as a process of discovering already known truths. In adolescence, all learning experiences become creative.'

10.5.2. Personality development Personality refers to the behaviour, thought, feelings and motives of an individual. This is the time for individualization of behaviour resulting from the accepted system of values and life priorities. Self-concept is formed through interactions with others as a result of the effect which we have on others. It is a theory which we construct about ourselves, how we perceive ourselves. In adolescence young people are concerned with what they are like. Self-esteem is about how we feel about who we are. The lowest point in self-esteem is around the age of 14 and it gradually increases in later years. High self-esteem is related to being open to people, accepting school and having high task competence (ability to cope with complex tasks). Papalia and Olds (1990) point out that adolescents behave in a self-centred way, they have a tendency to deny rather than comply with authority, they see

10.5. Adolescence


many nuances of an issue and argue. They also have a tendency toward self-consciousness, self-centredness, the conviction that they are special and are not subject to natural laws that govern the rest of the world. Teenagers tend to think that they are magically protected from harm. When they develop a more mature way of thinking, they gain better contact with their own identities, as well as the ability to form adult relationships, and find a place in society. Adolescence is the time when young people consider alternatives for themselves; at that stage in life their opportunities are vast and they have wide choices at their disposal. From all the available possibilities, adolescents must choose one which will suit their current life and future expectations. The connecting thread between one's current activities and future expectations is commitment, which lends stability and energy investment to our endeavours. The central experience for teenagers is the high school leading to a choice of career. Forisha-Kovach (1983:185) persistently stresses the role of culture in the process of coming of age:
The set of assumptions an adolescent makes forms the basis for what we call the orientation to the world. The orientation of an individual encompasses the values, attitudes, and beliefs that an individual has about what is important. The values people hold and the beliefs which guide their behaviour will help them make the choices they confront in their life. These values do not simply emerge in adolescence; rather, they are the products of both an individual's personal history and his or her cultural experience. Values, attitudes, and beliefs - what they are and how they are acquired - form the basis in moral development.

A value may be defined as putting more weight on some and not other qualities or goals, or states of existence, seeing them as preferable to their alternatives. A person's value system may be treated as an acquired system of rules or principles for making choices and resolving conflicts. Values may refer to our way of conduct or goals to accomplish.

10.5.3. The search for identity, including sexual identity Adolescence is often referred to as the time of storm and stress which is part of forging the sense of the self. Identity is determined in relationships, in the reflections of ourselves in others, peers, parents, members of the opposite sex. Autonomy is being governed by one's own rules. To be autonomous, young people struggle to find out who they are and what goals they have in life, on the basis of which they can relate to and interact with others. They gradually prepare to assume adult roles. Self-identification emerges because the individual has selected his or her own system of values, rather than accepting them from their parents. The effort to make sense of oneself and the world is a healthy process which generates personal development. Identity is defined as an internal, self-constructed, dynamic organization of drives, abilities, beliefs, and individual history. Tn creating an identity, one brings together one's personal history and one's cultural his-


10. The development of the language learner in childhood...

tory within a given setting. In achieving an identity one finds oneself in society.' (Forischa-Kovach 1983:30). She adds that the most important context of growing up is culture which 'provides the setting in which individuals grow up and live out their lives. Furthermore, they provide values and expectations against which individuals come to know themselves.' (page 45). Sexual identity in differences between males and females that arise from socialization (social attitudes and practices) first as peer groups and friendships and gradually as heterosexual groups and couples. Friendships tend to be closer and more intense in adolescence than in other periods.

10.6. Resulting principles of foreign language teaching in childhood and adolescence
The most characteristic features of a child at the age of 3-6, i.e. in early childhood, is a short attention span, the inability to learn intentionally, a propensity for play, good echoic memory and imitation ability, high energy level and hunger for motor activity, the vivid imagination, and enjoyment of stories and artistic activities. Teaching strategies must comply with these characteristic features since when the materials attract the child's attention, participation and learning will be activated involuntarily and continue until the child becomes bored. The length of activity is determined by children's interest, rather than the teacher's intention. The educational interaction takes place in the form of play and games, motor activities with or without music, singing, playing instruments, imitation activities, arts and crafts (drawing, painting, colouring, cutting things out, making things of play dough, etc.), acting things out. Language input suitable for children includes: stories, fables, tales, puzzles, rhymes, nursery rhymes, songs, chants, and poems. These forms of input are most adequate for children not only because they reflect authentic materials used in English as the native language by that age group, but because children do not yet have the mental schemata to organize incoming discourse; so the more salient its organization at the discourse surface, as in verse or song or chant, the more likely it can be grasped and remembered in a verbatim echoic form. The most favoured form of discourse for children is the narrative, the story which they listen to, and later read themselves. This form of input can stimulate imagination as well as language development and serve as material for numerous other activities. The content of foreign language activities for children must be closely connected with the 'here-and-now', the world of the child's experience, the toys, parents, peers, animals, food, characters from their favourite literature, everyday objects, and fictitious and imaginary figures and characters. Language functions which may be practised with this age group include naming, describing, commenting on activities, making a story, asking questions and answering them. Considering the length of the attention span and the inability to organize information in memory, activities for children must be relatively short and varied,

10.6. Resulting principles of foreign language teaching...


and often repeated so that the material can be recycled for the sake of better learning. This is not yet a good time to engage children in highly structured tasks, a form of goal-oriented activity, but certainly activities with a purpose, such as making various objects which can be displayed for parents to see and which will bring the teacher's praise, are highly motivating. Middle childhood is the school period. It is the time of developmental accomplishments making school education possible, such as the increasing attention span, emergence of intentional learning and memory prestrategies, with motor energy giving way to cognitive energy, which enables the child to concentrate and participate in a planned, goal-oriented undertaking, i.e. task, for a certain amount of time. In middle childhood, verbal learning begins to play an increasingly important role, although direct learning through experience (observation and participation) is still helpful and relevant. Longer attention span and intentional learning are also integrated with the ability of the child to follow instructions and take feedback information from the teacher. The development of memory makes it possible to organize the information better and in a more lasting way. The child is highly receptive to foreign language input and is now able to learn vaster amounts of the material in a more lasting way with fewer repetitions than in early childhood. Discourse genres which are suitable for children in this age group are no longer connected with very young children's literature, but rather with popular authentic materials on general culture which can develop knowledge of the world at a level acceptable to the child. Their developing sense of humour and metalinguistic awareness makes it possible to include a wide spectrum of discourse genres, including literature. Topics of interest embrace sports, celebrities, computers and their uses, geography, pop culture, especially pop music, hobbies, travel, science fiction literature and fantasy, movies, etc. This is the time when creativity still remains fairly vivid while critical thinking emerges as a fairly important aspect of classroom activities. Children may benefit from guided imagery and writing tasks which help them to organize their ideas. Their growing social competence makes it possible to practise various conversation skills and functions of language. The level of metalinguistic awareness enables the teacher to introduce some grammatical terminology and form-focused activities, which do not yet make use of grammar rules, but highlight forms and accuracy principles. Peak cognitive development at adolescence makes it possible for the teacher to introduce a wide spectrum of materials and activities, without constantly keeping in mind the developmental constraints which were so significant in the previous periods. A wide scope of interests, potent memory strategies, the ability to organize information hierarchically and think in highly abstract terms, with tendencies to generalize and theorize, curiosity about the language as a tool and hunger for metalinguistic information to help the learner order this complex domain all sound like properties of a perfect learner. Non-trivial teaching content, for example regarding social issues and explicit grammar instruction are helpful, if not to say absolutely necessary in most cases of language learners. However, this


10. The development of the language learner in childhood...

is also the time when peer group, ego development and sexual identity become very important, certainly more important than the teacher and the grades for most, except the most academically-oriented learners. Considering the fact that learners have reached cognitive maturity, but do not yet have to devote most of their working hours to full-time jobs, the effects of teaching and learning may be more than satisfactory.

Topics and review questions

1. What are the main achievements in communicative abilities in early childhood, and in middle childhood? 2. What justification do we have for using motor activities in teaching a foreign language to children of pre-school age? What are the main differences between TPR and the above outline as far as recommendations for motor activities for children are concerned? 3. What justification do we have for using music, songs and chants? Arts and crafts? Discuss. 4. What justification do we have for using games in teaching children of pre-school age? 5. Can adolescent learners be taught grammar explicitly? Why? 6. Can young children be taught grammar explicitly? Why? Why not? If not, what activities can be used to promote accuracy?

Further reading Biehler, R. F., and J. Snowman, 1982. Psychology Applied to Teaching. Boston: Houghton Miffin Company Jagodzińska, M., 2003. Rozwój pamięci w dzieciństwie. Gdańsk: Gdańskie Wydawnictwo Psychologiczne. Jay, T. B., 2003. The Psychology of Language. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Newbury House. Papalia, D. E., and S. W. Olds, 1990. A Child's World. Infancy Through Adolescence. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.

11. Spoken and written discourse
11.1. Comprehension and production as an integral part of verbal communication
Perceiving the four language skills as an integral part of verbal communication organizes and systematizes our presentation of their development and cultivation. In this framework, we see the use of skills as a form of goal-oriented behaviour and truly appreciate the role of situational context and meaning in their implementation because conveying meaning and sense through communicative intention is the ultimate reason why people communicate. The use of skills is regarded as situationally-embedded and episodic, which means that the situational parameters (who speaks to whom, where, when, about what and for what purpose), the type of situation (discourse genre, topic domain, relevant knowledge sources, especially schemata) will have an important role to play in practising the skills. In the development of each skill, the learners will have to recognize the need to be actively involved in verbal communication, actively processing all the relevant clues, verbal as much as para- and non-verbal, skipping what is not to be verbalized (ellipsis) as well as drawing inferences, adjusting to the sender, negotiating status, processing feedback information, and monitoring comprehension and production. Consequently, foreign language skills development proceeds in terms of fairly specific, local, experiences, involving our episodic memory and engagement in various forms of meaningful (communicative) language interaction. The most suitable concept to name such a unit of activity which shares criterial attributes with episodes of verbal communication is the task. It is a unit of human cognitive purposeful activity, in which we use all the sources of information for dynamic decision-making to process the input material to accomplish


11. Spoken and written discourse

a desired goal. Likewise, it is a unit of verbal communication. Episodes of verbal communication, tasks, are embedded in situations and they are meaning-oriented, they involve on-line processing of environmental verbal and non-verbal information, as well as the activation of the learner's knowledge from long-term memory. The only constraint in the use of task as a universal unit of communication would be developmental, i.e. referring to the period in the development before children reach the ability to perform goal-oriented operations.

11.2. Differences between spoken and written discourse
While talking about the phonemic (auditory) and graphemic (written) codes of the English language we automatically imply that although they belong to one and the same code of an ethnic language, they possess their own specificity. Speaking develops in time, while writing develops in space. According to Brown and Yule (1983:14): 'the major differences between speech and writing derive from the fact that one is essentially transitory and the other is designed to be permanent.' Writing allows the use of a greater number of embedding devices, in which more information is packed into idea units than would be possible in real-time speech production. They add that 'the overall effect is to produce speech which is less richly organized than written language, containing less densely packed information, but containing more interactive markers and planning fillers.' (page 15). As a result, it is often recognized that the syntax of spoken language is less structured, i.e. it contains incomplete sentences, sequences of phrases, simple rather than complex sentences, pre-fabricated fillers, active forms, rarely the passive, or conditional or relative sentences. Typically, the reference is located in the environment so pointing and other gestures may be used. The density of the information in spoken language is, or rather should be, appropriate for speakers to process comfortably within the limits of their attention. The written language uses discourse markers to link clauses, which are more tightly integrated than in speaking. Rost (1990:9) points out important differences in our access to the sender's planning stage in listening and reading:
Spoken texts contain features such as ... irregular pauses, false starts, hesitations. Self-revisions, and backtrackings. These features do have correlates in drafts of written texts (e.g. irregular and illegible scrawls, lines crossed out, arrows inserted), but most early written drafts are not made available to the readers. Listeners, however, have access to the composer's (that is, the speaker's) on-line planning and editing processes and must somehow make sense of the appearance of planning and editing signals in the discourse.

It is not true that most written language is rather formal and organized, whereas the spoken one is informal and spontaneous. Such an evaluation (cf Ur 1991, for example) can be done more fairly in the context of specific situations of language use. We can certainly find very formal cases of spoken language with

11.1. Comprehension and production as an integral part of verbal...


very careful pronunciation and lexical selection, such as for instance the Sejm committee hearings on Rywingate, broadcast on our TV. At the same time, instances of very informal and casual written communication, such as e-mail correspondence between close friends or other personal notes, are quite abundant. Nevertheless, there are essential differences between speech and writing related to temporal constraints, intensity of interaction, and the role of prosodic elements which pose special challenges to the foreign language learner. The graphemic form of discourse consists of discrete elements (graphemes, words, clauses, sentences, paragraphs, etc.) with clear visual representation and boundaries, whereas in speaking we must cope with co-articulation, overlap of different speakers, unfinished sentences, changes of sentence plans in the middle, abbreviated forms, and other reductions. Speech boundaries can be detected at the level of phrases, clauses, and turns. Listening comprehension takes place under temporal fluency constraints in the sense that the listener is pressed for time: either he or she can manage to process the material within his or her attention span, i.e. the limits of his or her working memory, or it will fade away. In reading comprehension, on the other hand, we are, to a large extent, able to control the pace of the task and review the material of processing, if necessary, moving our eyes back and forth, or even up and down the page (this refers to Polish learners of English and the left to right linearity of our graphemic system). The listener may sometimes, but not always, influence the pace of the task by negotiating it with the speaker, or ask clarification questions, where appropriate. We must realize, however, that in our culture not all the communicative face-to-face encounters allow such negotiations to a degree which would satisfy a foreign language learner. Nor is this possible in taking auditory input from mass communication, such as the media, unless we record the material in one form or another. When we can see the speaker, we process a considerable amount of visual clues, both verbal, para-verbal, and non-verbal, such as body language, facial expressions, appearance, environmental clues, in addition to prosodie features which organize discourse into structure and assign importance to its elements. In the case of writing, the burden of assigning the structural description and hierarchical organization of elements rests with the reader. From the foreign language learners' point of view, this short life of the auditory stimulus is the most tricky part of listening comprehension. Since time constraint is so significant, the role of procedural representations underlying the automaticity necessary in discourse processing is also prominent. Foreign language learners have not yet developed the basis for automaticity in language use. This means that in the initial and intermediate stages of the learning process, they perform language processing operations more slowly, in a more controlled manner, than skilled language users. Listening activities in their case present a real challenge and may be a source of considerable stress. However, without active participation in listening comprehension practice, they will not be able to develop the necessary automaticity and its underlying procedural representations to reach a comfortable or almost native-speaker level. It is not by accident that recordings


11. Spoken and written discourse

of passages and conversations on cassette are so frequently used in the foreign language classroom because they overcome the main drawback of authentic face-to-face oral communication: their input is relatively more permanent and can be repeated. There is no way to circumvent auditory practice in developing listening comprehension ability. The auditory input is an essential source of data for our echoic memory which stores information on pronunciation, including rhythm, stress and intonation, and auditory models of linking words into clauses. This aspect is of primary importance in the case of English as a foreign language in which the phonemic form is in no faithful relationship with the graphemic form. The two forms require deliberate effort to learn each and match both with each other. Especially the stressed and unstressed syllable unit of the English language, the foot, requires the Polish learner to restructure the native language attitude to pronunciation. To give a simple example, the pronunciation of the Polish word komfort consists of two accented syllables, whereas the pronunciation of the English word comfort consist of one accented and one reduced syllable /'kΛmf ə t/. This restructuring takes time and effort, yet is communicatively highly adaptive and therefore absolutely indispensable. It seems reasonable for the E F L learner at the beginner and early intermediate level, on some occasions, to be exposed to both the graphemic and the phonemic forms of the same discourse because they complement and mutually define each other. The written code with its permanence and precision of representation of the message (punctuation, word boundaries, what in the auditory code would be strong and weak forms, including suffixes, prefixes, is represented as explicit, unreduced form) is an important source of information to the language learner, who must reconstruct the system precisely. In the written message, the morphosyntactic forms are simply more salient than the same morphosyntactic forms would have been in the spoken version of the same message. The auditory message, on the other hand, is an integrated, prosodically structured form which the learner must acquire to be understood in spoken communication. Since the learner's aim is to reconstruct the language system, his or her contact and matching both forms of discourse will enhance the precision of this system's mental representation in the learner's mind. It would seem justified, therefore, to use such elements in skills development as the written transcript to 'put the dot over the i' in a listening comprehension task, or to read a written passage aloud to specify its correct pronunciation for the language learner. Such a traditional activity as dictation could also be defended on the grounds that it offers a valuable opportunity for the teacher to get access to the learner's phonemic discrimination ability as he or she transcodes speech into writing. Transcoding activities, which require the learner to convert the spoken discourse into the written form, or vice versa, draw his or her attention to the language forms in the context of discourse, a highly educational foreign language learning experience with focus on the language code, and a source of feedback information about language learning for the teacher. Needless to say, they are options to be used when and if they are needed (for an example of a problem, see 13.6.).

11.3. Authentic and didactic texts. Authentic and didactic tasks


Focus on the language code in developing the four skills demands the following cultivation strategies: • Developing listening comprehension puts a demand on the teacher to help the learner reach the stage of precision in discerning the forms in the spoken message first and foremost by means of transcoding. • Developing reading comprehension requires the teacher to help the learner reach the stage of integration of the forms on the written page, for example as listening or reading aloud, also a form of transcoding. • Developing speaking means, on the part of the teacher, helping the learner to reach the stage of precision in expressing himself or herself by means of processing and incorporation of feedback on accuracy, including error correction, on the part of the learner. • Developing the writing skill requires the teacher to help the learner reach the level of morphosyntactic precision by means of organization and editing processes which integrate these forms in line with discourse coherence and cohesion principles.

11.3. Authentic and didactic texts. Authentic and didactic tasks
Some specialists in the field of second and foreign language teaching contemplate the dilemma of whether or not to teach foreign language skills exclusively by engaging learners in authentic tasks. The notion of an authentic task, however, is an imprecise formulation because when a task is performed in a foreign language class, it is of necessity didactic. Secondly, the foreign language classroom and the real world are treated as if to imply that they were two worlds apart. Ur (1991:107) states, for example: 'Classroom listening is not real-life listening.' Also Rost (1990) expresses such an opinion. This dilemma, especially in the post-communicative era, is not a trivial problem. For this reason, let me comment on the notions of authentic and didactic materials, and authentic and didactic tasks. In foreign language learning, the real problem seems to be that, historically speaking, the archetypical didactic material used to be construed as an artificial text consisting of sentences illustrating points of grammar with no aspirations of being coherent, cohesive, meaningful, individualized and specific, demanding bridging inferences, processing figurative speech and humour, building a mental image of the situation, finding links with other instances of communication, or otherwise activating knowledge sources for the language user to make sense of it. As we recall (see 1.2. and 1.8.), the idea of the reading passage as a tool to present grammar comes from the proponents of the Grammar Translation Method, first and foremost from Seidenstrücker in the 19th century. In other words, neither the structure nor the purpose of this material were geared toward discourse comprehension. This is an important qualitative difference between the structure and function of texts as didactic materials in traditional approaches and their structure and function in the current ones. Current


11. Spoken and written discourse

approaches stress the role of discourse in stimulating the processes of comprehension and language learning. Acquiring grammar is very important indeed, but grammar cannot be learned functionally and productively merely by way of seeing certain forms condensed in a reading passage. Certainly new forms may be perceived and stored in the context of meaningful authentic-looking input, but above all they must be further defined, made precise and automatized in a special form, and in accuracy-oriented as well as fluency-oriented activities and tasks. They do not have to recur in the text to be noticeable because it conflicts with its coherence and cohesion. Focus on form in comprehension and accuracy work in production do not require the learner to deal with mutilated reading passages consisting of nonsensical system sentences. Focus on form takes specialized activities involving the learner beyond perception and comprehension and into production. Since foreign language discourse materials must be adjusted to the foreign language learners' level, there is no practical utility in following the principle that they be derived from native-to-native speaker communication. If we followed such a criterion of authenticity rigorously, we would find it hard to adjust them to the learners' needs, background knowledge and proficiency level. Native speakers of any language share vast areas of common background knowledge (also called 'common ground', cf Clark, 1996), which results from their group membership. A foreign language learner is not yet a member of this group and his knowledge may be shared with native speakers to a much more limited degree. Moreover, as we recall from the process of first language acquisition in children, message adjustment to the language acquirer plays a vital role: it is a way of coordinating communicative efforts with the learner. The most significant property of texts from the point of view of foreign language learning and teaching is that to be relevant to the language learner, they must fulfil the purpose for which they are constructed: model communicative discourse with all its relevant communicative parameters. As long as this condition is met, i.e. the text is meaningful and situationally-embedded, the authorship and origin of the text are of secondary importance. A profound question is: are the foreign language classroom and the 'real world' two worlds apart? Not, if we regard our educational system as an integral part of our culture. Children and adolescents spend an enormous amount of their lives in school, where they grow and establish themselves as individuals. The goal of education is to transmit culture, including knowledge and skills, to the young generation. School is a place where this transmission is supposed to take place in sheltered conditions, which is to say, in a safe environment, a hothouse for learning; regrettably, we know that is often not the case, but this is the problem of our world as much as our educational system. To learn about our history, we do not want the young generation to experience the past wars, but to read about them. A considerable amount of learning in the educational system is verbal rather than derived from direct experience, but this is in line with the learner's propensity for verbal learning at a certain developmental stage. Much of education comes from simulated or second-hand experience, and this is precisely the quintessential nature of education: it gives the young generation the advantage of being knowl-

11.3. Authentic and didactic texts. Authentic and didactic tasks


edgeable and prepared ahead of the relevant experience outside the educational context without having to deal with the real-life consequences of error. This property does not make education is any sense unreal, or contrasted with the 'real' world. At this point, I am not even trying to address the difficult issue of educating the young generation for a future that we cannot predict because it only makes the matters more complex. With these reservations in mind, a foreign language classroom is a part of the real world as much as anything else. Effectiveness of the educational process comes from strengthening the links between the outside world and the classroom, with real learners in a real institution, and, where possible, opening rather than maintaining their rigid borders. This can be done in a variety of ways, but first and foremost by making the activities in the foreign language classroom practical and relevant to verbal communication in general, i.e. in the outside world. What implications does it have for the notion of authentic tasks in the educational context? As has been pointed out by the proponents of CLT, there are instances of real/authentic communication in the classroom: they refer to teacherlearner exchanges about everyday organizational matters, the 'housekeeping' business of the course and school activities. But these exchanges are marginal in terms of the time they take. The real question is what properties should the mainstream didactic tasks have in the foreign language classroom to be practical and relevant to the foreign language learner? Certainly they must present verbal communication in its wide array of varieties and important structural properties which have been outlined in section 7.1., at the same time adjusted to the learner's language level. The ultimately 'authentic tasks', although absolutely necessary, model the target behaviour which in the case of language learners is the final product of learning. On their way to this target they must also be engaged in intermediate tasks properly adjusted to their current stage of development, that is, to their current proficiency and knowledge level. If these adjustments are based on relevant language learning and communicative criteria, for example, on the stages of skill development, or derived from natural conversational adjustments made by speakers of the target language, they naturally enhance the language learner's coping potential in the task at hand. Both types of tasks, intermediate (adjusted to the learner's le;vel) and authentic (modelling target-like communication) are necessary throughout the learning process: they are adjusted on the basis of relevant addressee-related criteria. In sum, while it is inevitable that all classroom tasks are didactic by definition, the real point is: are these didactic tasks that we engage the learners in relevant and conducive to the language learning process. Like food, an 'authentic' task which is not addressed to the given learner may be equally irrelevant to him or her at a certain stage as a finely-tuned didactic task - relevant for a reason. It is our job to single out such language learning criteria. Below is a task in which you are asked to analyse a text, a didactic text because it is in a book of practice tests, in order to determine the extent to which it also fulfils the criteria for an authentic text, i.e. generated solely for communicative purposes.


11. Spoken and written discourse

Superbrats strike back

Source: Roy Kingsbury, Felicity O'Dell, Guy Wellman, 1991. Longman Practice Exams for CAE. London: Longman, page 7.

Authentic materials and authentic texts Study the material in the example and answer the following questions: 1. Where, do you think, would you find a passage like that? 2. Who is writing to whom, about what, and for what purpose? What is the communicative intention here? 3. What graphic clues in the text help us to identify the components of the text (entries from individual authors)? 4. In order to make sense of the text, we must constantly reconstruct the previous communicative event to which writers refer. What is it? Does this fact make the reading process interesting?

11.4. Stages in learning a skill in a foreign language


5. What kind of references to cultural knowledge do we find in the text? Do these references prevent you from understanding the text, or can you guess their meaning from the context? 6. Do you find any individual features in these letters, any stylistic devices, such as metaphor or irony? 7. What strategies for arguing their point do the writers use? Are they effective? 8. What reference to popular culture do you see in the title? What function does it have? 9. What information do we find in the drawing? What strategy to present his or her point does the author of the drawing use? What purpose does it serve as an orientation device before reading? 10. Can you relate to the content of the text and use your personal experience to bring to bear on the reading process? Are you capable of evaluating critically the ideas expressed or referred to in the text? Can you form an attitude or opinion in this connection? 11. Do you think this text is authentic (taken from an English language magazine?) or not? Why? Is it relevant as language learning material at the upper-intermediate or advanced stage? Why? 12. Do you enjoy reading such texts in magazines yourself? Why? Why not?

11 A. Stages in learning a skill in a foreign language
Performing a task which requires skill involves the ability to integrate in time all the hierarchically arranged operations. In the case of language skill, the top of the hierarchy is occupied by the communicative intention; at the next, lower level there are pre-verbal discourse schemata which may contain various syntagmatic (linear) plans and constructions, and at still lower - discourse in its verbal form. When we say that skill has a hierarchical nature, we mean that higher-level choices are more important than the lower level ones, i.e. that they determine the lower level choice and decide about the whole effect of the task. To express a communicative intention, the speaker must make numerous decisions: what to say and what not to say, in what perspective should the intention be presented, what plan should be used, what stylistic devices, if at all, what lexical material should be used, etc. In addition, the speaker must synchronize all these decisions in time, implement the plan, monitor its execution, edit while speaking, and take feedback information from the interlocutor(s). These decisions take fractions of seconds. If the learner has not yet mastered language use as a skill, s/he will be unable to keep pace with the typical communicative fluency requirements. However, automaticity involved in performing the operations at the lower levels of the skill hierarchy, such as syntactic adjustments or articulation, cannot be singled out and practised separately in elementary drill-like activities, because the level of complexity is incomparable and, as a result, we can expect hardly any transfer from such elementary practice to communicative language use. The most appropriate strategy for developing automaticity in skilled language use is skill-focused practice in the context of a meaningful communicative task, for example, repetition of a meaningful, learner-generated utterance, which improves fluency. Anderson (1980) distinguished the following stages in acquiring a skill: the cognitive stage, during which the learner forms a mental representation of the


11. Spoken and written discourse

requisite knowledge, the associative stage during which connections are built between the necessary steps or operations, and the autonomous stage, when the automaticity is developed for the whole operation. Such an operation is relatively independent of our attentional resources. Each stage has a specificity of its own. But it also means that in order to acquire a language skill, the learner must be involved in practising commensurate operations, i.e. operations of a comparable degree of complexity. The question arises how this relationship can be estimated. Probably by referring to skill hierarchy, and the types and number of decisions that the speaker makes in communicative situations. We may ponder about the typical communicative exercise: how many of the essential communicative decisions are made by the learner and which decisions in a given task have already been made for him? 1. Does the learner make the decision as to what to say? 2. Does he choose the perspective and style (tone) of his utterance? 3. Does he select the plan of the utterance and sentence constructions? 4. Does he decide on the lexical material to insert into his utterance (syntagmatic) plan? 5. Does he or she integrate these operations within the time constraints of communicative fluency? 6. Does he himself monitor his utterance and edit for accuracy? 7. Does he himself evaluate its communicative effectiveness? If all these decisions are made by the learner himself under the communicative time pressure, we can safely assume that indeed language skill is involved and practised. Even if only a proportion of these decisions are in the learner's hands, the task is probably controlled or intermediate, but conducive to skill learning. If, however, it is much more elementary, such as sentence repetition, form manipulation, or filling in the gap in a sentence, not even a continuous text, it may be completely irrelevant to acquiring language skill because of qualitative differences in the practice involved. Naturally, this does not mean that it is useless for other purposes. It is significant in discussing stages of learning a given skill to consider differences between experts and novices. Novices are characterized by the fact that their utterances are laconic, much shorter than those of the experts, they are much less fluent than the experts in that they take more time to produce or comprehend an utterance, they do not demonstrate the same level of certainty as the experts as far as their accuracy is concerned, and finally, they make many more errors. Experts speak much more correctly, following target-language norms, as well as fluently; they develop their utterances more fully than the novices, so they are longer, more complete, whereas their certainty as to their accuracy is stronger (Levelt, 1978, 1989). These differences demonstrate that skill acquisition has several dimensions. The first dimension is: acquiring the variety of language forms, including the lexical and syntactic material, to enable the learner to express the ideas adequately to their meaning and context; the second one is the linear (syntagmatic) dimension of this material, such as discourse plans and schemata,

11.4. Stages in learning a skill in a foreign language


which enable the learner to build fully developed discourse; the third dimension is the growing awareness of these forms which enables the learner to control their use in agreement with the rules of the system and monitor his or her accuracy, and the fourth one is the ability to integrate all the operations in time which enables the learner to perform the task fluently. These observations lead to the following interdependencies which may be helpful in adjusting the level of task difficulty to the learners' current level:
the length of the task the language material needed for task completion the pace of the task the integration of choices in time the shorter the task the easier and less tiring it should be (the problem of sustained discourse) the more input for the task is provided for the learner, the easier the task (e.g. the use of external sources or 'pre-teaching the material for the task') the less time pressure (the opportunity to do the task at the learner's pace, time given to plan), the easier the task the more opportunities to break the task into subtasks and then integrate, the easier the task (e.g. rehearsal stage before performing the task, separate editing stage)

Table 11.1. Dimensions of task difficulty

The above criteria are suggested as relevant dimensions of task difficulty to be used by teachers to adjust the difficulty level in the tasks prepared in the textbook materials rather than prepare the materials and tasks themselves (cf Ur, 1991). Writing most of one's own material and tasks would not be a realistic goal in view of the need to keep the division of labour in our profession (textbook writers are professionals in their own right) and to keep pace with the on-going work load of a practising teacher. However, all the insights into the problems discussed above, such as the sources of skill difficulty and its subcomponents, the differences between the written and spoken codes, as well as dimensions of task difficulty can be helpful in meeting one important goal that no one else except the teacher can meet: addressing teaching to the individual and actual language learner, especially his or her current proficiency level.
Topics and review questions

1. List the main differences between auditory and reading comprehension. 2. What are the ways in which writing may be of use as a support system for the foreign language learner? 3. Do you accept the idea that authentic texts are those that have been produced by the native speakers of the language? Why? Why not?


12. Receptive skills: reading comprehension

4. Can we use this idea as a practical criterion in teaching English as a foreign language? 5. Choose an activity from an English textbook and try to modify its difficulty according to the criteria of skill?

Further reading Littlewood, D., 1984. Foreign and Second Language Learning: Language Acquisition Research and its Implication for the Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Skehan, P, 1998. A Cognitive Approach to Language Learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press. McDonough, S., 1995. Strategy and Skill in a Foreign Language. London: Edward Arnold. Rost, M., 1990. Listening in Language Learning. London: Longman.

12. Receptive skills: reading comprehension
Reading comprehension possesses essential features of verbal communication, such as: • it is goal-oriented; reading comprehension may be defined as searching for meaning and sense (Danks et al., 1983); in other words, the goal of the comprehender is to reconstruct the communicative intention of the sender and, possibly, to respond to it, where necessary; • the act of comprehension is, to a large extent, an act of recognition, i.e. diagnosing the incoming information in the light of what we already know; in this, like in any communicative effort, the comprehender makes use of all. not just linguistic, knowledge sources; they include his or her communicative (cultural) and world knowledge, linguistic knowledge of L1, L2 and other languages, procedural knowledge and imagery (visual non-linguistic information), etc.; • the comprehender makes use of plans and conventions imbedded in the material of processing, i.e. discourse, as well as of active computing, or working out, the meaning of various lexical elements; these meanings are not fixed or 'contained' in the discourse, but constructed, modified,, and interpreted by the individual in their social or cultural context; • the process of comprehension is dynamic and strategic, which is to say, it requires what under the circumstances seem to be the optimal choices; in this dynamic and strategic undertaking the comprehender makes use of the monitor and feedback to enhance the effectiveness of comprehension.

12.1. Reading as a form of interaction
When we read we put ourselves in the position of an addressee of a written message which we try to comprehend and respond to, if necessary. It is stressed

12.2. Bottom-up and top-down processes in reading


nowadays that reading is a highly interactive process. Interaction is understood as the mutual influence of the participants of a communicative event on each other. The writer influences the reader by his or her message and vice versa, the reader reconstructs the ideas from the reading material depending on his or her own knowledge and experience, as well as the environment in which reading takes place. Teaching reading in a foreign language must be treated as an integral part of a communicative event, which takes into account the whole communicative situation (the purpose, the topic, the roles of the participants, the place, the type of communicative exchange, the discourse genre, etc.). Naturally, such a view of developing the foreign language reading skill emphasizes the role of various sources of information in addition to the language (graphemic) form of the text. These sources can be located in: a) the text, b) its environment (Does it come from a popular magazine, a website, a scientific publication, an official document?) and c) the reader's memory. (a) The printed page contains the text in the form of sentences, most typically organized into paragraphs and sections, with typography indicating the role of elements in the text, and illustrations emphasizing the ideas with visual clues. These sources of information reflect the structure and organization of the text, and facilitate our search for the meaning and sense which the writer is trying to convey. (b) The environment surrounding the text, its whole situational context, helps us to determine the nature of the communicative event, discourse genre and its feasible category of communicative intention, understood as the purpose for which the text has been written. For example, it is the situational context which leads us to discard various advertisements arriving in our mail, but makes us very careful and attentive while reading instructions how to open an e-mail account on-line. (c) The most significant source of information is in the reader's memory: his or her knowledge of the target language, but also knowledge of the native and other foreign languages, factual knowledge of the topic and other background knowledge, knowledge of the writer and previous reading episodes, knowledge of discourse genres, etc. These knowledge types help to assign the structure and meaning to language forms in the discourse under processing. The above knowledge sources (L1, L2, L3, factual/background and communicative knowledge) must be activated by the reader interpreting the text as a message with communicative intention.

12.2. Bottom-up and top-down processes in reading
In the literature on reading we come across such terms as bottom-up and topdown processes (see 7.2.), which emphasize the interactive and constructive nature of reading comprehension. The 'bottom' in this case refers to the information derived from the text and its context, whereas the 'top' - to the various knowledge


12. Receptive skills: reading comprehension

sources in the reader's memory, especially concepts and schemata relevant to the task at hand. Bottom-up processes are initiated and dominated by the textual information on the printed page; the text form, also referred to as the stimulus structure, is said to define the intention extracted from the passage. The top-down ones operate on various knowledge sources in the reader's mind to narrow down the reader's expectations towards the text to be comprehended. While developing the reading skill in a foreign language, we cannot afford to ignore either of these two closely related, indispensable poles of the learner's processing of written materials. What we can do is to stimulate their interaction and make use of their specific advantages. For example, bottom-up processes are usually stressed during intensive reading activities, which treat the text first and foremost as language learning material, whereas top-down processes may be stressed to activate the learner's coping potential before a difficult reading task in an attempt to demonstrate to the learner that many clues can be used to narrow down the scope of his or her search for meaning.

12.3. The learner's angle on reading
For native speakers reading is not hampered by reduced redundancy conditions; it is aimed at extracting some factual information from the text. A natural reaction of the native speaker to the text is to act as an addressee of this text, i.e. to critically evaluate the ideas presented and respond to them. Outside the classroom, we read for information and/or pleasure. The foreign language learner, however, uses the text for foreign language learning as well as for communication. Most important of all, he or she uses the text as language input which is the source of information about the way in which native speakers communicate ideas in the target language, about its lexis, idiomatic expressions, and discourse conventions. The form linked to the content of the text are a rich source of information for the language learner. Although the learner cannot ignore the communicative impact of the text, he or she must also exploit it as language (and cultural) input to remember as much as possible from the reading experience. This knowledge will enhance his or her language potential to cope with the subsequent reading task. Unlike native speakers, language learners approach foreign language reading tasks with some deficits in the target language and cultural knowledge, as well as skill deficits resulting from insufficient automaticity in processing the tasks. As a result, apart from making full use of communicative operations while reading and exploiting the communicative potential of the text to the full, the language learner should be given some leeway in the reading tasks by receiving special input to make up for his/her deficits and taking more time to do the reading (at least initially) to compensate for the insufficient automaticity of processing. Below is a list of key options of communicative and cognitive processes involved in foreign language reading comprehension.

12.4. The levels of reading comprehension


Communicative processes in reading comprehension, characteristic of native and non-native speakers Defining the context (communicative situation) Recalling relevant information about it Perceiving elements of the text in structural relations, main ideas, supporting ideas, literal vs. figurative meaning Building a mental model of the text, the use of imagery Relating and responding to the text from the point of view of the addressee, personalizing the content, its critical evaluation.

Cognitive processes in reading comprehension necessary in view of the language learner's knowledge and skill deficits Studying the text more than once, exact semantization (feedback from the teacher) Using external sources of information by the learner Special (cultural and language) input for the task provided by the teacher Elaboration of concepts, domain terms and other lexical material, elaboration or condensation of content Analysis of discourse genre, especially its structure, summarizing, retelling, parallel writing, précis writing, etc. to retain the information.

Table 12.1. Communicative and cognitive processes in EFL reading comprehension

12.4. The levels of reading comprehension
Reading comprehension is understood as the process of deriving the writer's intention from his or her detailed instructions in the form of a text. When we read, we assign meaning to the graphemic form. The text is segmented into clauses fitted into the more global organization of the text, which must also be recognized by the reader. In this process, the reader uses various clues, such as punctuation devices, paragraphing, bold print, subtitles, numbering of the sections, etc. The most basic level of comprehension is called semanticizing (Palmer, 1968, see 1.7. on translation as a form of semantization). The impulse to assign meaning to language forms occurs whenever we are faced with a piece of text written in a language we are familiar with. Semanticizing language material in context is different from learning meanings of separate unknown words because in the case of a continuous text the context defines the grammatical status and function of individual elements. Semanticizing is the least subjective stage of comprehension because we are confined by the language code. Providing the learner with prompts and feedback at this stage is inevitable in view of the language learner's deficits; it also enhances processing precision. The next level is interpretation of the meaning identified in the text in the light of the communicative situation and various sources of knowledge perceived as relevant to the task at hand. The comprehender refers the meanings identified in the text not only to the global structure, but, first and foremost, to the writer


12. Receptive skills: reading comprehension

and the communicative environment of the text. At this stage the comprehender is trying to reconstruct the communicative intention of the writer, which is not available in a ready form. Interpretations of different learners may vary, contributing to an interesting information gap in the classroom. The third level of comprehension, which is relevant in foreign language teaching, is evaluation of the communicative intention from the point of view of our own values, convictions and ideas about the topic. At this stage we act in the capacity of the addressee, not just the decoder of the text. The addressee is in a reciprocal relationship to the writer, responding to the intention and switching to the role of the sender/writer herself. Evaluation seems to be the most subjective of the three stages, but this is no reason for concern, provided the previous stages have been completed satisfactorily. This subjectivity reflects the fundamental nature of human communication. The above enumeration is not intended to suggest that we proceed through these stages in a rigid order, or that developing reading comprehension must always involve explicit and exhaustive work at each stage. It merely outlines the scope of the comprehension problem. After all, the extent to which we decide to emphasize or highlight the given level depends on the learners, their reading experience, previous activities and the text itself. In the light of this information and the analysis of the text, we simply make strategic selections of relevant aspects of comprehension to focus upon. Nor is it implied that the teacher is always supposed to present the information to the learner. A much more preferable strategy would take the form of interaction between the teacher and the learners, in which the learners are actively involved in monitoring their comprehension processes, asking questions, identifying unknown items and searching for or inferring their meaning. Interactive strategies for semanticizing the meaning of unknown words include the following options: • The learners are asked to identify the items in the text whose meaning they do not know. • The teacher provides the meaning of the items identified by the students, asks their peers to provide the meaning, encourages lexical inferencing (informed guessing) of selected items and later provides positive feedback for the given item, encourages the use of the dictionary as well as provides positive feedback for the information found by the learners there. • The teacher asks questions to make sure that what he or she predicts as problematic segments of the text are semanticized accurately by the learners . • The teacher asks students to translate selected segments (such as a clause) into Polish, or provides translation herself, to make sure semantization is accurate. This helps to eliminate incorrect semantization of so-called 'false friends' and justifies a highly controlled use of the native language (1 percent of the total class time would be my rough estimate).

12.4. The levels of reading comprehension


Food fraud down under

Source: R. Kinsbury, F. O'Dell and G. Wellman, 1995. CAE Advantage. London: Longman, pages 6-7. Semanticizing Looking at the text Food fraud down under in Example 12.1., select the elements in the text which require special treatment in the light of the idea of interactive semantization between the teacher and the learners. Try to find one suitable example for each point mentioned. The learners are asked to identify the items in the text whose meaning they do not know. They may have chosen the following words: fraud, down under, cohesive, cliché, tucked, meticulous, vaunted, precipitate, minute. How would you decide to explain them? Which of these items are suitable for being explained by the teacher? What would you say to explain them (provide the exact wording of the explanation)? Which can be guessed by the learners from the context? Which should be checked in the dictionary? Do you see any text segment/phrase which should be translated into Polish? Would the sentence 'The cat was out of the bag' be suitable for this purpose or not? Why? Why not? Interpretation Looking at the text Food fraud down under in Example 12.1., find clues to the communicative intention. What is the main idea of the text (Is it contained in any of the sentences?) and which are the supporting ideas? He describes a series of images with a purpose. What is this purpose? How do the parts of the text contribute to the presentation of the writer's point? What is the role of the title of the text? Do you find any metaphors or comparisons (similes) in the passage? What is their function?


12. Receptive skills: reading comprehension

Evaluation Looking at the text in example 12.1 try to assume the position of the addressee of Ustinov's message and respond to it in the light of your own ideas about it, as well as your knowledge of the topic and personal experience. Are you convinced by his idea and his illustrations? Do you agree with his point? Can you find some examples from your experience to argue for or against this idea? Is this a positive phenomenon or not? Asking questions Having analysed the text from the point of view of the three levels of comprehension, formulate questions which you could ask your students if you wanted to target and stimulate each comprehension level in an increasing order of complexity, from semanticizing to evaluation. 1. Semanticizing - questions which guide the learner toward literal comprehension at the level of phrases and sentences. 2. Interpretation questions - reconstructing the writer's intention by linking the ideas expressed in the text into a coherent whole. Global understanding and the integration of ideas are necessary at this point. 3. Evaluation questions - responding to and evaluating the writer's intention from the point of view of the addressee, especially his or her convictions, background knowledge and values. A critical evaluation should be sought.

12.5. The teacher's analysis of the text for its communicative and language learning potential
The process of designing a reading lesson starts with an analysis of the reading material from the point of view of its communicative (interactive) and language learning (cognitive) potential. In order to appreciate the communicative potential of the text (i.e. its use in verbal interaction), the teacher should analyse it in view of the following considerations: 1. What kind of communicative situation does it come from? Who is the writer? Who is the addressee? Where can it be found? What purpose does it serve? 2. What is the topic, theme, content area? 3. What genre is it? How is it organized/planned? What kind of style is it, formal informal, personal, impersonal? What is the structure/hierarchy of the ideas presented? 4. What rhetorical devices are used? Are there any images, metaphors, humour? 5. What is the writer trying to tell us? 6. Can my students relate to this communicative situation and the message? Can they bring their personal experience to bear on this reading material? Can they respond to it critically? 7. What would the student's natural response be to the message in the text (agree, disagree, evaluate, respond, present their own view)? What productive tasks could naturally follow reading? Such an analysis in the case of Food fraud down under would lead to the following observations: the text is a regular column in The European written by a well-known actor with the purpose of providing the reading public of the paper

12.5. The teacher's analysis of the text for its communicative...


with his impressions from a trip. The addressee is a native speaker of English who will immediately recognize the genre and reconstruct the cross-cultural references in the article. The text has its individual, personal style not devoid of humour and is composed of vivid images to provide light reading for relaxation. To reconstruct the communicative intention, the reader must regard these images and episodes as a line of examples which serve to illustrate the point that the world has shrunk, which is to say that we see recurrent cultural elements everywhere, regardless of our location. This idea can easily be linked to the learner's experience as a traveller and observer of his or her own changing environment as well as evaluated and elaborated from this point of view. The language learning potential of the text (i.e. the language material to be retained in the learner's memory) is inseparable from the communicative potential, the only difference being that the stress in the activities and tasks connected with the language learning potential would be on cognitive elaboration and retention (storing) of the language material and the factual information which it contains. Strategies tapping the language learning potential of the text would have to stimulate the commitment of the material to permanent memory. In order to appreciate the language learning potential, the teacher must analyse the text from the point of view of the following considerations: • What is the factual and cultural information to be learned from this text? • In connection with the topic domain, what kind of terms, vocabulary items, lexical phrases and expressions can be learned from the text? Which topic vocabulary should be elaborated upon? • What is the text structure: the component parts that make up its introduction, development and conclusion? How are they ordered and integrated? What are the main points and supporting details? • What are the linguistic exponents of the text's organization? • Can they be identified and extracted as containers for similar ideas to be used productively by the learner in a parallel writing task? • What natural activities can be used to retain this material in memory and practise it in production? Following such an analysis, the teacher realizes the nature of the reading material at hand and can make the appropriate teaching decisions regarding the selections and focus of his or her classroom activities, naturally integrated with the text to benefit the language development of the student. For example, it is important to identify the natural plan of the text to decide where to break the text into parts, if necessary, and to group vocabulary items of interest to the learners into categories pertaining to city landscape and architecture, restaurants and cuisine, people's appearance and characteristics, etc. Another language learning aspect of the text would be the role of the various geographical names and their location as well as the cross-linguistic references used to create a humorous effect. The learner's attention may be drawn to the writing technique which consists of using irony and exaggeration as well as vivid details in sketching fairly effective images in order to make the point that exotic, distant places are losing their local colour.


12. Receptive skills: reading comprehension

The Melting Pot

Source: Jon Naunton, 1990. Think First Certificate. London: Longman, pages 154-155.

The two aspects of the above analysis are intimately connected in that the deeper the level of comprehension of the material, the more accurate and lasting its storage. The better the storage of the given communicative episode, the more useful it is for being transferred for use in other communicative episodes. The benefits of analysing the text from these two largely overlapping points of view are

12.5. The teacher's analysis of the text for its communicative..


considerable. Recognizing the communicative and the learning potential in a given text is helpful in designing activities which naturally grow from it to offer practice in the context of the situation evoked by the text, especially in accord with the real purpose for which the text was written. This may help the learner to perceive the reading tasks as interesting and relevant to him or her personally. Although the learning potential cannot be neglected in view of the learner's needs, it is the communicative potential which takes priority in planning classroom activities. Quality teaching must involve presenting the text as part of real communication rather than merely an object of analysis. In both lists of questions, considerable weight is given to the text form, its plan and organisation. Learning different text plans and organisation strategies is an essential part of becoming communicatively literate. Native speakers know different text types, or genres, including their plans and derive a great deal of orienQuestions referring to the communicative potential of the text 1. What kind of communicative situation does it come from? Who is the writer, the addressee? What is the purpose? 2. What is the topic, theme, content area? Questions referring to the language learning potential of the text 1. What is the factual and cultural information to be learned from this text? 2. In connection with the topic domain, what kind of terms, vocabulary items, lexical phrases and expressions can be found in the text? 3. What are the component parts that make up its introduction, development and conclusion? How are they ordered and integrated? 4. What are the linguistic exponents of the text's organization? 5. Is the text logically organized? Are the arguments convincing? Is the analysis of the material convincing? What is the effect of our critical reading of the material? 6. What natural activities can be used to retain this material in memory and practise in production? Can this text structure be used by the learner in a parallel writing task? 7. Which lexical items should be elaborated upon as belonging to the domain terminology?

3. What genre is it? How is it organized, planned? What is the main point and the supporting ideas? 4. What rhetorical devices are used? Are there any images, metaphors, humour, etc.? 5. What is the writer trying to say? What is his communicative intention?

6. Can the students relate to this communicative situation and the message? Can they bring their personal experience to bear on this reading material? What would be their evaluation of this intention? 7. What would be the students' natural response to the message in the text (agree/disagree, evaluate, write an answer, present their own view)? What productive tasks would be natural to follow reading?

Table 12.2. Questions referring to the communicative and language learning potential of the text


12. Receptive skills: reading comprehension

tation from this knowledge in various communicative encounters. From the point of view of language learning, focus on the text form and plan is essential in storage and subsequent retrieval of ample, and sometimes complex, information in our memory. Knowledge of these plans increases the predictability of subsequent reading tasks in various communicative situations. In this way it performs an important facilitating function in the process of language learning.

This task is to be performed by the teacher prior to designing a reading activity. Working on your own, ask the two sets of questions regarding the communicative and language learning potential with reference to The Melting Pot provided in Table 12.2.

List your answers to compare them with ideas from other students in your class. What tasks can be suggested to personalize the text content? Do you have any other suggestions in connection with analysing the communicative and language learning potential of the text that have not been mentioned?
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: These answers may vary, but the students should not overlook the fact that the topic area of the text is migration, and more specifically emigration from Europe to the United States between 1815 and 1914. The topic is treated at the level of popular sociology and culture, appropriate for a foreign language texbook. The main point that the author addresses are the reasons why people left their homelands (the push factors) on the one hand and the reasons why they wanted to settle down in the US (the pull factors). The push and the pull factors organize the whole text so that the plan of the text may be expressed as noun phrases naming these factors (land hunger, poverty, physical hunger, e.g. potato famine, avoiding conscription, religious persecution, versus promise of land, the demand for settlers and workers in the West, prospects of factory jobs, religious freedom). It would also be meaningful to establish the link between the text and its title.

12.6. Sources of difficulty in reading comprehension and strategies of dealing with them
12.6.1. Increasing background knowledge Difficulty in reading comprehension may be understood as an obstacle to making sense of the text, i.e. to perceiving its elements as a coherent whole. Considering the highly interactive nature of reading, the foreign language learner's subjective difficulty may be attributed to deficiencies in any and all of the knowledge types activated during the process of reading. The sources of difficulty are certainly connected not only with gaps in the learner's linguistic knowledge. The ideas themselves may turn out to be quite complex and hard to understand, regardless of the language form in which they are expressed. The learner's deficiencies in these knowledge stores are quite natural; they are part and parcel of being a learner. On the other hand, the teacher's role is to eliminate excessive difficulty in classroom tasks, so that they can be completed successfully. Since reading is no longer regarded as solving a lexical and grammatical puzzle, but a genuinely communicative endeavour of reconstructing the commu-

12.6. Sources of difficulty in reading comprehension and strategies...


nicative intention of the author, one of the natural strategies to eliminate excessive difficulty in reading tasks is to supply the student with the relevant knowledge which he or she may not yet have, but which will prove useful in the reading comprehension task, i.e. provide input for the task. As a result, the learner may be able to complete the task and gain the indispensable reading experience without becoming demotivated or frustrated. Sample techniques aimed at supplying factual knowledge: • A lecturette given by the teacher - a short speech (about 3 to 5 minutes) containing relevant factual information about a key concept or fact mentioned in the reading passage. This technique is especially useful in providing learners with the cultural input necessary to understand the reading passage. • A lecturette prepared by a student or a team of students and presented to the class before reading. This technique may be an integral part of a bigger project prepared by the learners. • Brainstorming, recalling and sharing information or thinking aloud about the topic of the text. Learners take part in this activity spontaneously and volunteer information. As they do this, they learn from each other and become primed for the information to come from the text. • Guided classroom conversation on the topic of the text - the teacher prepares a set of questions to elicit information from the learners on a more systematic basis than in brainstorming. Learners become aware of what they already know and systematize this information before they can use it for the purpose of reading comprehension. • Using external resources, such as books or the Internet - the learners are asked to find some information on text-related concepts and terms to be shared with other students and used while reading as more meaningful elaborations.
Providing factual information Think of possible activities aimed at supplying factual information before reading The Melting Pot. Below are some suggestions of options to choose from with no intention to suggest that all of them should be used in one lesson. 1. Provide ah example of a lecturette explaining the concept of the 'melting pot' used with reference to American society. 2. How would you conduct a brainstorming session of about five minutes on the concept of the 'melting pot'? 3. How would you conduct a classroom conversation on the notion of the 'melting pot'? What questions would you ask to guide your students? Would you compare this idea with the notion of the 'salad bowl', also used with reference to American ethnic diversity? Do you see any use for intercultural comparisons? 4. How would you conduct a classroom conversation on the topic of emigration and its personal significance? Would you refer to any films with this motif or family experiences of the students? 5. How would you prepare classroom conversation on the concepts related to a) the key push factors, such as land hunger, poverty, avoiding conscription, religious persecutions, and b) the pull factors, such as the promise of land, prospects of factory jobs, settling in the West, and religious tolerance?


12. Receptive skills: reading comprehension

6. Ask students to find additional information about the potato famine in Ireland, the collapse of the economy in Italy in the 1860s, the Pilgrim Fathers, persecutions of Russian Jews, the Old World, the New World, the Promised Land in its metaphorical meaning.

12.6.2. Highlighting the genre The learner's subjective perception of the task's difficulty may result from not knowing the type of discourse to be processed. The learners may be provided with this information by the teacher, or guided in their own analysis of the text from the point of view of its organisation and characteristic terms. As a result of such a brief session, learners can narrow down their expectations with reference to the text. The plan of the text identified in this way will function as an orientation device, a form of guidance in processing the ideas expressed throughout the reading passage. It is beneficial for the student to perceive and become aware of the discourse plan because this knowledge may be transferred to other receptive and productive tasks. Once the genre is familiar, reading comprehension of similar texts will be facilitated. Sample techniques aimed at highlighting the organization of the text: • Identifying the type of organization of the text in terms of some conventional categories (narrative, description, expository writing, argumentative writing, etc.). • Identifying the plan of the text by reading out the key parts, or underlining them in the text (separate copies are needed for underlining). • Listing on the board the title, the topic sentence, the key words for each paragraph, and the concluding sentence. One of the students writes on the board what the others supply orally. • Providing subtitles for the paragraphs of the text to emphasize the way in which the ideas are organized. Class or group work. • Reconstructing the plan of the text in points. Class activity, individual or pair work; writing the plan down in student books. Sample techniques aimed at highlighting the terminology and style: • Highlighting the terms characteristic of the topic domain in the text. • Identifying the level of specificity/generality of the key terms and other lexical items (specific versus abstract). • Identifying stylistic devices appropriate for the given text type, any instances of figurative language use, if applicable, elements of humour, academic style, etc.
Focus on the text organization How would you conduct classroom activities aimed at making the students aware of the plan in The Melting Pot in Example 12.2.? 1. Identify the plan of the text by underlining the key points in each paragraph. 2. Write down the title, the topic sentence, the key words for each paragraph, and the concluding sentence.

12.7. Vocabulary and the reading passage
3. Provide subtitles for each paragraph of the text. 4. Reconstruct the plan of the text in points.


5. Provide other ideas which help the learner to focus on the organization of the text which have not been mentioned so far. 6. Summarize the main ideas of the text with the help of your plan. Focus on the topic-related lexical material and style 1. Explain such terms as migration, emigration, immigration. 2. Explain and provide an example for the term religious persecution. 3. List reasons for emigration that you can think of, grouping them into social, economic, political, and religious categories. 4. In what way would a text discussing emigration from an individual, personal perspective differ from The Melting Pot?

12.7. Vocabulary and the reading passage
Specialists who investigate vocabulary acquisition through reading (cf Nagy, 1997), stress that the meanings of words are not given in the text in some ready form; they must be constructed in the context, i.e. our mental image of the situation presented in the text. In other words, we do not pick ready information regarding the meaning of a given item from our mental lexicon, but compute it, i.e. work it out for the specific context, eliminating the unlikely possibilities to arrive at the most suitable interpretation. This suggests certain guidelines for the treatment of vocabulary in a reading task at the same time undermining the so-called 'pre-teaching of the vocabulary' (cf Field, 2002). The lexical material is unquestionably an important aspect of learning from the text and certainly belongs to the vital information that the learner should take from this experience. This, however, does not mean that vocabulary items which the teacher thinks are not familiar to the learners should be presented as an arbitrary list and explained as decontextualized items before reading the passage. Presenting a random list of words, extracted from the text one by one, before it is read - on the basis of what the teacher considers to be new vocabulary - and providing the students with their meaning is very common, but counterproductive. This particular activity is not adjusted to the way in which our memory functions: the arbitrary list will not be remembered and the meanings of words provided in this way will still have to be readjusted by the learner to fit the context. 'Pre-teaching new vocabulary' does not guarantee that we eliminate the difficulty in reading comprehension, because some familiar items may turn out to be hard to understand in their particular context anyway, while some new items may prove to be quite transparent. Moreover, the level of text difficulty results from the complexity of ideas expressed in the text as well as the language forms. For example, 'To be or not to be.' is a grammatically simple pair of infinitives, but their meaning is difficult to


12. Receptive skills: reading comprehension

understand in their Shakespearian context. The word 'momentous' in the third line of the second paragraph of The Melting Pot is not a simple or frequent adjective, but is almost self-explanatory in the context in which it is used. From the point of view of our memory processes, teaching some items before the students read the text is justified in the case of vocabulary systems, for example terms which belong to a given semantic field or topic domain, in other words, which are part of the terminology of the text. In the case of Food fraud down under, these would be all the culture-related items used to exemplify the main idea that the world has shrunk; in the case of The Melting Pot, lexis grouping the political, social, religious reasons for emigration. Such networks or categories should even be extended and elaborated with additional items provided by the teacher or students during class work to easily find their way to our memory store because of their semantic connections. Providing meaning for unknown vocabulary in context may take the form of interactive work between the teacher and the students during the stage of semantization, discussed above. At this point the learner is familiar with the context and can fit new meanings into the model of the situation that he or she is visually reconstructing in the mind. On the other hand, 'pre-teaching' vocabulary is artificial and puts the initial emphasis on the cognitive rather than the communicative nature of the reading task. To make the learner curious about the reading material, it is more appropriate to initially emphasize the communicative and/or informative nature of the task, and most important of all, the content of the passage and deal with the learning (cognitive) aspect thereafter. Strategies used to clarify meanings of unknown words in the text may also be systematized according to the kind of information they make use of, such as L1, L2, metalingual (definitions) and visual (non-lingual) information: • lingual strategies: expressing meaning in the target language, here English, providing examples, illustrative situations, synonyms, antonyms, hyponyms, paraphrasing; • interlingual strategies: providing native language equivalents, in this case, the Polish translation of the English item in focus; • metalingual strategies: providing a definition of a given item in the target language; definitions, especially at the elementary stage of learning may be given in the native language of the learner, as well. Definitions are said to be cognitively difficult to understand and formulate; they may be saved for the more advanced stage; • non-lingual strategies: gesture, picture, mime, pointing at objects or their drawings, etc. The choice of strategy depends on the nature of the lexical item. Some of them, e.g. terms for abstract concepts, must be translated into the learner's native language for reasons of precision. However, during the reading process, we must keep in mind the need to engage the learner as actively as possible in monitoring his or her comprehension, identifying unknown items, actively looking for their

12.8. Types of reading and their function in learning English...


meaning in mental and external resources, including computing the meaning through problem solving and inferencing. The teacher's role may even be limited to providing confirmation or positive feedback to the learner to make sure that the outcome of these computing efforts is accurate for storage. On the other hand, the much despised 'vocabulary pre-teaching strategy' is rather teacher than learnerdominated in that the teacher decides what the learner does or does not understand and how to explain it. He or she is the sole provider of the information. This teacher-dominated strategy is in conflict with our desire to promote learner autonomy in the foreign language classroom.
Focus on vocabulary 1. Lexical inferencing. Which vocabulary items in Food fraud down under would you select as suitable for practising lexical inferencing? List them and think about each: what clues would the learners have to use in inferring the meaning of these items: word structure, immediate context, knowledge of L1, L2, other foreign languages, factual knowledge of the topic, the more global discourse context, especially the mental model of the situation in the discourse, their own experience? 2. Providing meaning by a definition. Considering the nature of the reading passage The Melting Pot, which terms would you find suitable for the metalingual strategy of defining? The strategy of defining is based on picking a more general concept to which the item belongs and selecting the distinctive property which would single it out from the rest in this category. This technique should naturally match the character of the word.

12.8. Types of reading and their function in learning English as a foreign language
Silent reading is suitable when the teacher's aim is reading comprehension. During such an individual activity, the learner may direct all the resources to assigning meaning to the graphemic forms and making sense of the reading material. In the classroom setting, however, this solitary activity is hard to control. Silent reading may, therefore, be done in segments and mixed with more social, interactive forms of work with the text, helping the teacher to monitor the effects of silent reading. The function of reading aloud is different when performed by the teacher than when it is done by the learner. From the point of view of language learning, the benefit of having the teacher read aloud the text to be understood and remembered is that its graphemic form is linked to its target-like phonemic form. It is a most useful form of work in the early stages of language learning. The material in the text, which will be used in productive activities, is associated with its accurate acoustic memory trace. Reading aloud by the language learner, on the other hand, provides the teacher with an insight into the way the learner segments the material into phrases and reconstructs the text structure. As Rost (1990:42) rightly points out: 'decisions where to place stress are made partly on the basis of language conventions and partly on the basis of the speaker's assessment of information status in the current discourse. Certain syllables within multisyllabic words must be given lex-


12. Receptive skills: reading comprehension

ical stress; appropriate contrast between syllables is part of the 'correct pronunciation' of a word. Beyond these conventions stress can be used to fill communicative functions.' These are precisely the reasons why the way in which the learner reads a given text aloud provides the teacher with useful information about the learner's comprehension processes at the level of recognition, segmentation, structuring and semantization. The teacher may provide feedback and help the learner with pronunciation and prosody to make it congruent with the structure and meaning of the text. This form of activity is not conducive to deep comprehension because the learner's resources are directed to transforming the material from the written to the spoken code, here called transcoding. As a result, the learner's attention is focused on the language forms. Extensive reading is different from intensive reading with regard to the pace of the activity and the size of the material. While intensive reading is connected with a more in-depth study and analysis of a relatively limited amount of text as well as the use of external resources to supplement the learner's knowledge déficits, extensive reading is fairly fast and based on the comprehension strategies available to the learner at the moment. The learner does not use external sources of information during this rather fluent process, but derives considerable orientation from the vast contexts within by the passage. Extensive reading has the advantage of the quantity of input at the expense of the processing precision. Intensive reading, on the other hand, can lead to precision, but at the expense of the slower pace of the task. Both kinds of reading should be used in foreign language teaching because they complement each other: one kind provides positive transfer to the other.
Intensive reading Size of the material: shorter passage, often a segment of a larger whole, selected by the author of the programme. Pace of the task: rather slow with repetitions, intensive interaction between the teacher and the student, e.g. input for the task, feedback, comprehension checks, analysis, consulting external sources of information, etc. Function: serves as learning experience for the development of reading comprehension. Memory trace is a function of precision of processing. Benefits: helps the learner to practise reading strategies, learn vocabulary and discourse types, deliberately commit information to memory. Extensive reading Size of the material: book, story, essay, novel, often self-selected by the student on the basis of interest and variety. Pace of the task: fairly fast pace of reading, typical of communicative fluency. Learner knowledge deficits are compensated by the ample context, and the task is mostly performed as an individual activity, a form of self-teaching. Function: serves as communicative experience providing language input in the written form. Memory trace is the function of a more global (meaningful, complete) unit of the material. Benefits: significant source of cultural and factual knowledge and incidental vocabulary acquisition, performs important motivational function, enhances communicative autonomy.

Table 12.3. Characteristic features of intensive and extensive reading

12.9. Options in designing reading tasks. Pre-reading, reading...


Extensive reading should be cultivated in the sense of: encouraged, guided, provided for, stimulated, rewarded, by the foreign language teacher for the following reasons: • it has an important educational value; being well-read, both in the native and foreign language, is a trademark of an educated person; • extensive reading is an invaluable source of cultural and language input; it enhances the learner's confidence and communicative autonomy; • it is a natural communicative process in its pure form: it is motivated by content curiosity, it is not disturbed by the teacher's interference, it is done for pleasure and relaxation. As a result, it is ultimately rewarding for the learner. Skimming is used to get a general idea of the nature of the text (Brown, 1994). For this purpose the reader makes use of important structural clues in the text, such as its appearance, the title, list of contents, abstracts, subtitles, topic sentences, illustrations, conclusions, where applicable. Skimming is helpful in our decisionmaking processes, for example when we try to make up our mind which recent article on learner autonomy to copy for our research, which Mediterranean cookery book to buy, or which article to read carefully in the newly purchased Time Magazine. In the classroom setting, skimming is valued for the general orientation that the learner derives from this initial contact and is usually followed by a more careful study of the material. While reading the text more thoroughly, the learner can perceive and process parts of the text in their functional relationships to the whole. Scanning 'involves searching rapidly through a text to find a specific point of information, for example, the relevant times on a timetable, items in a directory, or key points in an academic text.' (Hedge, 2000: 195). Effective scanning is an important sub-ability in reading comprehension; it presupposes that we know where to look for the relevant information and thus strengthens our study skills. On a more general note, it should be emphasized that skimming and scanning are by no means the leading reading processes, as many communicative textbooks would lead us to believe. If they are used regularly as the main intensive reading tasks, they will become the main reading comprehension abilities developed by the learners. In everyday communication, however, they play a much more marginal role and should not overshadow deep comprehension, critical reading, and language learning from the written input.

12.9. Options in designing reading tasks. Pre-reading, reading, and follow-up
Traditional approaches to reading produced reading lessons which consisted of teaching some vocabulary and grammar points before reading, then the act of reading itself, followed by questions testing comprehension and/or discussion of the content. In contrast, current, psycholinguistically motivated approaches require the teacher to prepare, if not to 'warm up' the learner mentally for read-


12. Receptive skills: reading comprehension

Time-eaters and what you can do about them

Source: Sue O'Connell, 2004. Focus on Advanced English CAE. London: Longman, page 41.

12.9. Options in designing reading tasks. Pre-reading, reading...


ing, conduct the reading session according to the current ideology that it is a guessing game, and follow it with various related, mostly productive activities which encourage the learner to use the knowledge acquired through reading. (A similar, though not exactly the same point is made by Hedge, 2000). Breaking a reading lesson into these three stages seems to be quite appropriate in view of the nature of reading and the language learners' special needs. The pre-reading stage performs the function of an introduction to the reading task with some anticipation or input strategies aimed at facilitating the reading comprehension process under reduced redundancy conditions, i.e. in view of the language learner's knowledge and skill deficits. The reading stage provides an opportunity to process the form and content of the passage to accomplish the three levels of discourse comprehension and retain the vital information. The third, follow-up stage is the time to consolidate the information from discourse and respond to the intention, i.e. communicatively interact with the author in the role of a sender. This encourages the learner to practise productive skills closely related to the receptive input from the text, most typically remaining mentally within the same communicative situation as the discourse that has been read. 1. Analyse the text Time-eaters and what you can do about them in example 12.3. and decide on the communicative and learning potential by answering the questions related to the teacher's analysis of the text, part 12.4. and table 12.3. As we recall, the most important points to consider before designing reading tasks are the communicative situation, text type, especially its plan, relationship of the content to the learner's knowledge of the world and experience, and topic-related vocabulary. 2. The purpose of the analysis is to bring the text back to life as a communicative event which involves the interaction between the writer and the addressee. The resulting activities should naturally result from the nature of the text and the communicative situation which it evokes and enhance both the communicative and the learning potential inherent in the text. 3. As has been said, while designing the reading task, the teacher streamlines the whole activity into three stages: a) the pre-reading stage; b) the reading stage; c) the follow-up activities. The purpose of the pre-reading stage is to mentally prepare the learner for the reading task to facilitate the experience. Following the earlier considerations on the nature of the reading process and the sources of the learner's difficulties, prereading is the stage to arouse curiosity for the content of the passage, as much as to enhance the learner's coping potential for the task at hand by tapping various relevant sources of information: the text and its presentation, the context, if applicable, and the learner's knowledge. At this point, I must disagree with the idea that the learner should be made to predict or guess as much of the text content as possible.


12. Receptive skills: reading comprehension

It seems both unjustified and counterproductive. The reading process certainly requires very active, almost aggressive processing strategies (Nuttall, 1990 refers to them as 'word attack' and 'text attack' strategies), but this does not justify guessing or predicting the content instead of its careful reading to find out from the autor. The quintessential role of the addressee (the reader is, after all, the addressee) is to reconstruct the intention. Such is the character of communication. If the reader, or the listener for that matter, guesses what the author is going to say instead of giving him a chance to communicate it, it means that he or she is uninterested and prejudiced, or even finds the sender boring, which are not the attitudes that we want to promote in our school system. Verbal communication is about being interested in the interlocutor and giving him a chance. This attitude is different from knowing what to expect, a highly desirable state of orientation in the given communicative situation. This state of the reader, conducive of reading comprehension, is a function of his or her ability to draw conclusions about the character of the discourse to come from the available clues rather than guessing or predicting the content. Therefore, we should create in the reader a state of readiness or, as Oiler (1982) calls it, the state of expectancy for successive elements as the function of the reader's knowledge of certain communicative and linguistic structures and their arrangements. The main purpose of pre-reading is not to kill curiosity but to stimulate it and eliminate the reader's anxiety by showing him that he has a coping potential. Various strategies may be used to accomplish this goal, such as: • brainstorming for ideas so that the learner can activate his or her knowledge of the topic; • drawing the learner's attention to the title, organization, graphic information in the printed page to derive orientation as to the discourse type to come; • trying to elaborate and personalize the ideas contained in the title and the first paragraph to evoke some image of communicative situation or human problem (issue, matter) to be discussed; • focusing on the key concept in the title, in this case Time-eaters, and conducting a classroom conversation about this metaphor to guide and narrow down the learner's expectations. The reading stage is supposed to provide the learner with an opportunity to decode and comprehend the text as precisely and deeply as necessary to store the material for use in further communicative activities. The teacher can derive some guidelines from the section on the levels of comprehension, each of which may by enhanced in this case. During this stage, the teacher has options to read the whole text or parts of it, to read it once or more than once, each time profiling the activity in a different way. This is the time to interactively work on the vocabulary in context and expand the lexical material with further related items. Checking the learner's comprehension may take the form of: • comprehension questions designed by the teacher at the level of literal comprehension, interpretation, and evaluation; • sentences to be judged as true or false in the light of the text;

12.9. Options in designing reading tasks. Pre-reading, reading...


• multiple choice questions which require the learner to comprehend various options, eliminate the incorrect ones and select the matching one; • matching words from the text with their definitions; • writing subtitles for each paragraph; • summarising the text. The follow-up stage provides the opportunity to practise the material in a more productive format in line with the text's communicative potential. Possibilities include: discussions, expressing opinions, agreement, disagreement, evaluating the ideas and their practicality, expanding the text by listing more examples of relevant situations, adding further evidence for or against the issues discussed, writing a response to the magazine which published the article, writing a letter sharing your own time-management problems, and making some cross-cultural comparisons regarding the treatment of time as a resource, etc. The learning potential of the text is activated in summary writing, retelling, precis and parallel writing. This is also the time to check the retention of vocabulary and lexical phrases from the text. A technique which may be used for these purposes is a gapped text. In this case, the text which has been read, the Time-eaters, is copied in a bigger format, with certain targeted lexical elements taken out (blanked) to be reinserted by the students. Completing such a test induces the learner to focus on the text form and the lexicon, which enhances its memory trace.

Design a reading lesson for text 3. Time-eaters and what you can do about them. Try to incorporate your own ideas in addition to the suggestions provided as well as to vary the activities in your lesson, so that if you choose classroom conversation for the pre-reading stage, your follow-up activity is not a yet another classroom speaking task.

Design a reading lesson for text 2. The Melting Pot. Try to focus on the vocabulary and personalization of content and inviting the learner's opinions and sharing experience. Follow the principle of variety of skills involved as well as work formats, individual, pair, and group work.

Design a reading lesson for text 1. Food fraud down under. What are the criteria of a good, wellintegrated introductory activity? Can you select such an activity for this text? Make sure it is not an activity in its own right, competing with the reading itself or taking the learner's attention in a different direction, away from the reading task.

In the long run, reading tasks based on these principles and developed in line with the creative propensities of the teacher should enable the learner to do the following: • read with deep comprehension, critically, and with insight; • process the text with a view to its structure and organization, especially its coherence and cohesion;

212 • • • • • • • •

13. Receptive skills: listening comprehension

recognize larger rhetorical parts, figurative language, and other stylistic devices; bring all the relevant knowledge sources to the task at hand; distinguish between fact and opinion, main point and example, irony and sarcasm; make use of all the clues, verbal and non-verbal alike, to become oriented with the nature and meaning of the text; infer the meaning of some unfamiliar words from the context, but use a dictionary where necessary for feedback information; infer the information which is not expressed explicitly; read interactively, i.e. evaluate the writer's intention and respond to it; monitor his or her own comprehension process and check for accuracy in comprehension.
Further reading Day, R., and J. Bumford, 1998. Extensive Reading in Second Language Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hedge, T., 2000. Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Nation, P, 1997. The language learning benefits of extensive reading. Language Teacher 21,13-16. Nunan, D., 1993. Introducing Discourse Analysis. London: Penguin. Nuttall, C., 1996. Reading Skills in a Foreign Language. New Edition. London: Heinemann. Renandya, W. A., and G. M. Jacobs, 2002. Extensive reading: why aren't we all doing it? In: J. C. Richards and W. A. Renandya (eds.), Methodology in Language Teaching. An Anthology of Current Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 295-302. Ur, P, 1991. A Course in Language Teaching. Practice and Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wallace, C., 1992. Reading. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

13. Receptive skills: listening comprehension
It is often stated in texbooks on methods and techniques of teaching English as a foreign language that listening is a prevailing form of communication. Hedge (2000:228) points out that 'of the time an individual is engaged in communication, approximately 9 percent is devoted to writing, 16 percent to reading, 30 percent to speaking, and 45 per cent to listening. Listening is involved in all areas of our life, both public and personal. We process messages from the media, such as radio and television: we comprehend their coverage of political, cultural, and commercial matters as well as sports events and educational topics. We activate listening comprehension to take in culture at a theatre or film show, to take part in religious rituals, when we use public transportation, in our social and professional life. Clearly, listening comprehension is an integral part of interpersonal communication. Both public and personal communicative situations make use of a host of discourse genres. They range from formal to highly informal and include such instances as: interviews, TV news, reports, radio phone-in programmes, commercials, songs, feature films, documentaries, talk shows, political speeches, news conferences, quizzes, announce-

13.1. Functions of auditory input in foreign language learning


ments, weather forecasts, sermons, talks and lectures, conference presentations of various kinds, public speeches, stories, anecdotes, jokes, instructions, etc. The knowledge of the discourse genre in a given communicative situation provides the same welcome kind of orientation to the listener as it does to the reader.

13.1. Functions of auditory input in foreign language learning
As we recall, previous approaches and methods of foreign language teaching did not underestimate the listening skill. Particularly the Audiolingual Method, which prioritized speech and the auditory code, had to emphasize listening as part of its ideology. But in all fairness to the Audiolingual Method and its accomplishments at the time, its treatment of listening would be far from satisfactory nowadays, when real communicative needs of students include the development of listening comprehension for communicative purposes. The Audiolingual Method promoted listening activities, but the material of listening was no discourse. It consisted of sentences constructed to illustrate a point of grammar in the form of sentence patterns and they were practised for the same reason, to learn various points of grammar, so that the learner could learn, or even 'over-learn' these sentence patterns (Hedge, 2000). If dialogues were included, they merely recycled the grammatical information. Deep processing for meaning, intention, sense and further communicative interaction engaging the learner's entire personality was unheard of at the time. The learner echoed these sentence patterns to be able to develop language habits. Pronunciation practice, which also required the learner to deal with recorded material in one way or another, was conducted in the form of elementary (word-length) discrimination and imitation activities, such as minimal pair drill, but not as part of speaking at discourse level. However, the constant presence and use of recorded materials as well as the emphasis of the spoken language inevitably contributed to the development of auditory traces in the learner's echoic memory. The extent to which they were meaningful and useful in verbal communication is a highly questionable matter. Auditory input, i.e. spoken discourse which is processed as listening material, is of fundamental importance in foreign language learning (Nunan, 1991). Written input aside, it is the main source of data for language learning fulfiling the primary conditions of language learning: it provides the input for observational learning, especially models of communicative interaction, and it provides input for communicative interaction, i.e. comprehension and production either as relatively independent entities or as conversation (see 9.1.). 13.1.1. The learner as a member of an audience This environment may take a variety of forms, depending on the source of input and intensity of interaction, especially the learner's personal involvement in this interaction. Input from the mass media, such as TV, engages the learner in the process of comprehension accompanied by a wide variety of quite helpful contex-


13. Receptive skills: listening comprehension

tual clues, but the role of the learner is confined to being a member of an audience, a listener or a viewer, rather than a directly involved participant in interpersonal communication. The message is most probably neither targeted at the learner as an individual, nor adjusted to his or her needs and abilities. The learner comprehends this input, but does not at the time interact with the sender to construct output. He or she is merely an observer, rather than a sender and an addressee. But even in this limited role the learner benefits from the opportunity to process monologue and dialogue discourse (interaction) models and learn cultural and language information, especially from the opportunity to pick up plentiful lexical material in its auditory form. This form of input affords extensive listening, whose advantages resemble those of extensive reading. Although the learner in not personally involved as a participant in communicative interaction, the benefits in terms of traces recorded in echoic memory cannot be underestimated. But this form of input alone is not sufficient in foreign language learning. This is why - for the purposes of foreign language learning - it is advisable to stimulate the learner to interact with the sender at least mentally, if not in person, by formulating an opinion, or criticism, or any other response in line with the third level of comprehension (see 12.4.). As has been pointed out, the first type of input which presents instances of verbal communication but is not addressed at the learner personally is treated as an interaction model and can be replicated with various modifications, or even verbatim. Foreign language learners vastly expand their classroom experience by taking over native or fluent speakers' communicative behaviour as models to be recreated, i.e. acted out in the classroom. This is no different from parallel writing tasks, which imitate communicatively important structural features of written discourse models. The recordings (conversations, situational dialogues, service encounters, exchanges illustrating the use of various functions of English, etc.) which can be found in large quantities in our EFL textbooks may safely be used as input for communication, i.e. input for comprehension, as well as a model of communicative interaction to be recreated with a varying degree of fidelity. Although these recordings are far from ideal material, they perform a useful function in this way. 13.1.2. The learner as an addressee A more interaction-conducive form of input processed by the learner in the foreign language classroom is provided by the teacher and other group members, or visitors, when they target, i.e. address and adjust, their utterances to the learners and engage them in conversation. Such input demands from the learners acting both in the role of addressees as well as senders. Even when the learners are not speaking at the time, they must, at least mentally, prepare for taking their turn and for constructing utterances. Interpersonal communication in which the learners participate as subjects is essential in learning how to cope with the ongoing conversational demands, how to monitor and clarify comprehension problems, how to make oneself understood and process feedback from the communicative encounters. In conjunction with the

13.1. Functions of auditory input in foreign language learning


learner's participation and involvement, auditory input provides vast experience for language learning, consisting, among other things, of procedural representations required in the skillful execution of language tasks as well as pragmatic knowledge. It is not surprising that teachers who demonstrate good communication abilities are recognized as outstanding in our field (cf Chastain, 1971; Moskovitz, 1976; Stern, 1992). Such form of auditory input is processed for the purposes of comprehension and interaction, i.e. conversation. The essential condition for language learning from such an input is fulfiled as participating in interaction. 13.1.3. Input for pronunciation Auditory input is also the essential material for the learner to master the pronunciation of the English language in communication, i.e. in production and comprehension rather than in isolated words. In production, learners must be able to articulate the phonemes automatically as they construct discourse, while in comprehension, they must be able to discriminate them subconsciously as they decode the incoming discourse. The most significant contribution of the auditory input to language learning is that it is the only source of data for reconstructing the spoken code of the English language with its distinctive phonemic entities, their rhythm, intonation and other temporal constraints. If we cannot observe speakers of the target language modelling verbal communication in the spoken form, we are unable to discern the components of this system and the way they are used, which means that we are unable to interact with the use of the spoken language ourselves. Auditory input brought into the language class acts as a surrogate natural spoken English environment which is so indispensable in first, second, and foreign language acquisition. Hedge (2000:240) compiled a list of differences between spontaneous informal talk and recordings for English learners. It seems that the artificial qualities listed here are inevitable in the materials at beginner and intermediate-level, but not higher.
Spontaneous informal talk • variations in the speed of delivery, often fast • natural intonation • the natural features of connected speech, e.g. elision • variety of accents • any grammatical structures natural to the topic • colloquial language • incomplete utterances • restructuring in longer, more complex sentences • speakers interrupt or speak at the same time • speakers use ellipsis (i.e. miss out parts of sentences) • background noise present Recordings for English learners • • • • • • • • • • slow pace with little variation exaggerated intonation patterns carefully articulated pronunciation Received Pronunciation regularly repeated structures more formal language complete utterances grammatically correct sentences speakers take careful turns ellipsis infrequent (i.e. sentences usually compete) • background noise absent

Table 13. 1. Difference between spontaneous informal talk and recordings for English language learners (source: Hedge 2000: 240)


13. Receptive skills: listening comprehension

However, these recorded, professionally prepared materials have an invaluable advantage: they provide pronunciation models at discourse level and can be exploited for fluency-oriented pronunciation practice. The point of such practice is not to replace the well-known traditional, yet absolutely indispensable discrimination and articulation work at word or phrase level, but to take the learner's pronunciation ability a step further. A situation in which the learner is asked to repeat a text (be it a dialogue or a monologue), phrase after phrase, having to keep pace with the speaker's rhythm, intonation, pronunciation and fluency for as long as five or more minutes - depending on the student's level - is excellent 'gymnastics' for his or her a) working memory as well as for b) the articulatory coordination at discourse level. As for a) the working memory span is challenged by the necessity to structure the incoming material (a phrase or clause, not a word), as well as to hold and replicate it under the pressure of doing this for an extended period of time. This is essential in building articulatory foundations for speaking. At the same time, b) the learners' articulation ability is put to the test in that they must implement and coordinate a series of various articulatory movements of their speech organs and must also keep doing this for an extended period of time. Both accomplishments provide the basis for the learner's ability to generate sustained spoken discourse. The use of recordings provided in the textbook package as well as ANY additional materials should be strongly recommended as an obligatory part of a foreign language lesson at the beginning and intermediate levels, which is not to say they should disappear at the advanced stage. These materials present target language models of communication, including pronunciation, in that they leave indispensable traces in our echoic memory with their appropriate temporary constraints, i.e. pace and rhythm, and they help the teachers to save their own vocal cords while making up for their own articulatory imperfections which are acceptable among non-native speakers of the target language. This input alone, with at least some degree of comprehension, can be helpful in learning the spoken code. If the accompanying activities are well-designed and adjusted to the learner's level, benefits for the foreign language learner naturally accrue. From the point of view of the Polish learner of English, an important and even difficult learning task is phonemic discrimination in listening comprehension because of a typological difference between Polish, a syllable-timed language, and English, a stress-timed language. Rost (2001:9): writes: 'In 'bounded' languages (or 'syllable-timed') languages - such as Spanish and Japanese - stress is located at fixed distances from the boundaries of words. In 'unbounded' (or 'stress-timed') languages - such as English and Arabic - the main stress is pulled towards an utterance's focal syllable. Bounded languages consist of binary rhythmic units (or feet) and listeners tend to hear the language in a binary fashion, as pairs of equally long syllables. Unbounded languages have no limit on the size of a foot, and listeners tend to hear the language in clusters of syllables organized by either trochaic (strong-weak) rhythm or iambic (weak-strong) rhythm. Stress-timing produces numerous linked or assimilated consonants and reduced (or weakened) vowels so that the pronunciation of words often seems slurred [emphasis

13.2. Listening comprehension as an integral part of verbal...


- M.D.].' For the Polish learner of English, the task is to learn the stress-timed system taking the syllable-timed system as a highly automatized point of departure. This requires practice and effort to restructure (unlearn and relearn) the existing knowledge both at the level of discrimination in listening comprehension and at the level of articulation (emission) in speaking.

13.2. Listening comprehension as an integral part of verbal communication
The fundamental psycholinguistic stages of listening comprehension by native or near-native speakers include (based on Clark and Clark, 1977): 1. The listeners register chunks of speech (phrases, clauses) with their working memory. 2. They assign it a structural description (segmentation into constituents with certain importance/function). 3. As they identify each constituent, they assign meaning and reconstruct the underlying propositions building them into a hierarchical representation (i.e. organized into more important and subordinate propositions). 4. Once they have identified these propositions for a given constituent, they must empty their working memory of the auditory information (the form of the auditory stimulus) to be able to process new incoming material. While doing this, they forget the exact wording and retain the meaning. Listening comprehension is an integral part of verbal communication as much as reading comprehension. The comprehension of the spoken message can be visualized at three levels of semantization, interpretation and evaluation, just like reading comprehension. Listening comprehension is influenced by the situational context, the relationship between the interlocutors, the sender and the addressee, and their mutual perceptions of each other as well as their goals in the communicative event. Spoken communication is goal-oriented, plan-based and strategic as much as the written communication is. The main difference is that by its instantaneous character in many cases spoken communication affords greater intensity of interaction between the speakers and their mutual influence upon each other, including the possibility of negotiating their status, the pace of interaction, the degree of redundancy, and other features. These observations are mere generalizations which must be verified against specific communicative situations with their specific parameters. As a communication act, listening is as active as is reading. 'The listener takes an active part in interpreting the speaker's message and constructing a contextually relevant sense.' (Rost, 1990:81). Let us take an example of a dialogue which takes place in a medium-size American grocery store:
Customer (almost ready to pay asks not quite clearly): Is a check OK? Cashier: Sorry, I couldn't here you. Customer: Oh, I said: is it OK if I write a check?


13. Receptive skills: listening comprehension

Cashier (laughs): I thought you were asking about Chuck. I heard: 'Is Chuck OK' and I don't know any Chuck. Yes, check's OK. Customer (also laughs and writes a check for the amount shown on the register).

This short exchange shows a minor misunderstanding which has pragmatic and acoustic sources. The question asked by the customer was not articulated distinctly enough, because she thought it almost obvious that a new customer could only ask about payment forms such as credit, debit card, or check. The cashier, however, had a different set of expectations. Since it was a local, fairly small, grocery store in a rather small town, where most customers were on a friendly basis with the staff, it was even expected that they engage in small talk while shopping. The depth of comprehension in spoken discourse is no different from deep processing for meaning in written discourse (cf three levels of reading comprehension). As Hedge (2000:235) points out:
Face-to-face encounters involve evaluation and negotiation. If, for example, a friend is describing a complex and distressing financial situation with some degree of emotion, the listener will need the intelligence to follow the information, the prior knowledge to understand the financial implications, the empathy to appreciate the emotion, the cultural knowledge to be aware of the limits on appropriate questions and suggestions, personal knowledge to assess whether the friend is overreacting and over-emotional, and the judgment to know whether the speaker's purpose is to elicit only sympathy or a personal loan as well. In this sense, there is not a total match between the speaker's intended message and the listener's perception of meaning. The listener will be interpreting according to all of the factors just listed.

If we were to characterize listening ability, (cf Rost, 1990:186) we would say that competent listeners can understand different styles of speech that are intelligible to well-educated native speakers, and when not, they are able to elicit clarification; they are able to understand speech at different levels of intellectual complexity, monitor their understanding and be aware of areas of their knowledge deficits as well as recognize when the speaker is not clear; they are able to respond in a wide variety of situations and adopt an appropriate risk strategy to respond to task demands. A speaker of limited ability is able to understand a limited range of styles but is often unsuccessful in seeking clarification, may have problems with understanding more abstract concepts in the target language and requires repetitions and explanations, and may not always be quite aware where their own knowledge is lacking and confused about the source of problems in understanding, their range of listener responses (feedback) may be small, and their risk strategies at listening tasks may be inadequate.

13.3. Difficulties experienced by foreign language learners in listening comprehension tasks
If learners of English as a foreign language had regularly and consistently been exposed to the recordings of native speakers engaged in monologues or conversa-

13.3. Difficulties experienced by foreign language learners...


tions from the very beginning of their English course, their perceived level of difficulty of listening comprehension tasks at different stages of the learning process would have been tolerable. Listening tasks would not be treated as a reason for concern, as they in fact are (Ur, 1991). Listening comprehension tasks are perceived as a source of considerable anxiety among Polish learners of English, second only to speaking activities (Żebrowska, 2005). The roots of the problem are to be found in the scarce and irregular practice of listening tasks in the foreign language classroom with the resulting underdeveloped auditory (echoic) memory representations for spoken discourse in English. Without experience and vast auditory (echoic) memory representations there is no basis in the form of procedural and declarative representations for the activation and development of the listening comprehension skill. For this reason, it is mandatory that the learners face the challenge of processing spoken discourse from the beginning of the course. Practice and experience in sufficient quantities will lead to improving listening comprehension and the development of the listening skill. Why, then, do so many teachers fall into the trap of focusing on the written language neglecting listening input and practice? The answer to this question has little to do with the transient nature of the auditory message because with recorded materials we have given the spoken message a relative degree of permanence and possibility of repetition. The answer relates to the uncomfortable clash between the following factors: a) temporal constraints imposed on the listener to process the auditory stimulus within a certain fluency span, and b) the foreign language learner's insufficiently developed automaticity to do the task so quickly. Since the learner is constrained by his learning stage to perform processing tasks slower than the skilled speaker/listener is, it is natural that he or she feels more comfortable with the written code, which is much more malleable to the slower pace of processing. The only remedy is more practice in the form of intensive listening. Faster action will be possible with further temporal integration of the component sub-tasks and the development of the requisite procedural representations. When they are talking about their listening comprehension problems, Polish learners of English complain about the fact that listening activities are too long for them, which also means, stressful and tiring, and that not only is it hard for them to discern what the speakers are saying, but to keep pace with them for some time. Listening material is too fast and one round of listening is not enough for them. In their opinion, a remedy for these difficulties would be to have plenty of intensive listening comprehension tasks as well as having the opportunity to choose materials and control the running of the tape to suit their individual needs. As we recall, intensive listening practice is based on the same principles of grading task difficulty in skill development as those used in intensive reading comprehension tasks: • the length of the task is a factor: the shorter the task, the easier it is for the learner to complete it; • the pace of the task is a factor: the faster the task, the more difficult it is for the learner; suspending the fluency requirement makes the task easier;


13. Receptive skills: listening comprehension

• the amount of input is a factor: the more material is presented to the learner for the sake of the task, the easier it should be to complete it because comprehension difficulty is a function of the balance between the given and the new; • task complexity is a factor: if the task is first broken down into sub-tasks, it is easier for the learner to perform the whole of it. To sum up, for many Polish learners of English as a foreign language the solution to listening comprehension deficits include: a) adjusting the listening tasks to the learners' proficiency level because in this way they will be more likely to accept them than to opt out, and b) maintaining a consistent listening practice regimen, because only thanks to processing the listening input will the learners internalize the requisite vast auditory memory representations. If the adjustments lead to tasks which are too simplified or too elementary for the taste of some communicative purists, they may be defended on the grounds that a) they are merely stepping stones to the target-like, i.e. fluent, listening skill (fluency develops through integration of sub-skills), and b) they are an inevitable intermediate stage to target-like extensive listening.

13.4. Guidelines for listening tasks
Ur (1991) suggests the following guidelines for listening activities: as for the material for listening, the text should be close to informal discourse rather than simplified or edited. Visual information is helpful so video should be used when possible. The learners should be asked to comprehend as much as possible from a single hearing. As for the tasks, they should be contextualized and introduced as meaningful situations to activate relevant schemata (expectancy set, anticipation of successive elements) which can help them to understand the situation and content, not as forms to be processed. A specific purpose for listening, a task which would guide the learner's attention through the listening material is more conducive to listening comprehension than vague or very general instructions. Learners should be able to give on-going responses as they listen during the task as well as at the very end.

13.5. Auditory input and various follow-up activities
Ur (1991:113) lists listening comprehension activities which can be followed by shorter or longer responses. The following is a modification: • Performing instructions is an integral part of classroom reality and may take various forms: typical teacher-learner interaction when the teacher performs his organizing function; in games, for example 'Simon says', in learner-learner interaction for example during project work, we also recall that performing the teacher's instructions was the main line of action in the Total Physical Response. Obeying instructions contained in the recording or read by the teacher is a spe-

13.5. Auditory input and various follow-up activities


cial case of the above type of interaction; a related activity is to make a drawing in response to instructions, e.g. drawing routes, shapes or pictures (cf dictation drawing p. 223). • Ticking off items in the list. The learners must comprehend the listening passage with specific clues in order to tick off respective items in their materials. • True/false judgment. The learners are asked to demonstrate their comprehension by judging the sentences provided as either true or false according to the content of the passage for listening. • Cloze. The learners listen to a passage and fill in the blank spaces in the written version of the same text provided for them. It is up to the teacher to decide how much of the original text should be left out and whether only words or whole sentences can be eliminated. • Answering comprehension questions. Comprehension questions may be given orally or in the written form, which makes it easier for the learner to follow the task. Their essential character and levels of cognitive difficulty are no different than questions for reading comprehension. Interesting activities may be built around authentic materials, such as stories, anecdotes, songs, feature films, or theatre plays recorded on the video. Ur (1991) points out that these materials are suitable for designing activities with no overt response, for example listening to stories (story time is especially enjoyable to children) or anecdotes; the learners will usually enjoy such an activity if the material is suitable and their body language will disclose their degree of understanding. The same can be done with songs and films. It seems however, that possibilities are much more numerous. 1. Stories may be treated as material for listening, followed by some comprehension work and material in the story may be used for acting it out, a story continuation task, retelling from another perspective, summarizing, and many others. 2. Songs are in vogue nowadays as material for language teaching, which makes material for developing listening comprehension. Songs may be used in a listening activity, for singing along, as cultural input, and for interpretation and discussion. A typical activity which accompanies a song in communicative textbooks nowadays is a gapped text of the song the learners are asked to listen to. Although this task is almost mandatory with a song-based activity, the value of such a comprehension check is questionable. If the purpose of the activity is to comprehend the song, the learners are in fact distracted in it by having to focus on the task of reconstructing the missing lines. Songs often have interesting poetic lyrics worth concentrating upon, so more meaning-oriented comprehension work would be advisable. Moreover, the use of tapescript in its complete rather than gapped form, may be helpful in reconstructing the exact form of the text, which is necessary comprehension before discussing the sense of the song (see 13.7. on the function of tapescript in developing listening comprehension). Songs, especially the traditional ones, connected with special holidays or other social occasions, are presented as cultural input as well as listening comprehension material. In these cases, additional cultural commentary is needed as


13. Receptive skills: listening comprehension

well as learning to sing the song, if possible. Needless to say, songs and chants are 'staple food' in teaching children. It is widely recognized that language material, especially vocabulary, presented with its melody - in the form of a song - is much more memorable than other forms of vocabulary presentation (cf Wach, 2003). 3. Feature films and other recorded programmes, if adjusted to learners' proficiency level, may provide valuable material for listening comprehension, discussion, evaluation. Situational clues and body language are useful clues which compensate the learner's listening comprehension deficits. Where available, tapescript may also be used as feedback and for clarification purposes. Watching such programmes is motivating to students because they can participate in target language media culture. Whenever the use of video is involved, many authors recommend such activities as silent viewing to predict what the speakers are saying, but they seem to me to be a waste of time and in conflict with deep processing for meaning that can be activated on the basis of the linguistic and paralinguistic material on the recording.

13.6. Activities aimed at developing listening comprehension
Considering the functions of auditory materials in developing pronunciation, auditory comprehension and conversation abilities (input and a model of conversational interaction and pronunciation), we may order the activities from verbatim imitation to modelling of various sorts. Repetition of the recorded material after the model from the tape is especially useful in the initial stage of learning English as a foreign language, or as remedial activity for learners with problems in articulation because it helps the learners to master pronunciation at the level of clauses and sentences. If the material is meaningful, it may even be remembered. The point of the repetition is to get the rhythm and stress pattern right and to integrate clauses by using linking devices. This activity is also beneficial from the point of view of developing our working memory span for productive tasks. Although the activity seems quite undemanding, students tend to have problems keeping pace with the rhythm and speed of this activity. Dictation may be considered a traditional, if not an old-fashioned, spelling test, but it is mentioned here for its very important other uses. It is irrelevant for listening comprehension problems that most dictations are read out by the teacher, rather than played from a recording: when there is eye contact between the teacher and the group, the pace of dictating and the learners' progress in writing down clauses and sentences can be more conveniently syncronized. The most important feature of this activity is that the auditory input for processing is converted into its graphemic form. The learner must work out this graphemic form

13.6. Activities aimed at developing listening comprehension


on the basis of his or her processing of the auditory clues and transcode, i.e. convert the representation of the phonemic into the graphemic code. The written version of the text reflects quite precisely the way in which s/he processes the auditory input.

Original text Restaurant manager: Well, what can we do? I can't have half a dozen extra waiters standing around every day on the off chance we'll have a sudden rush, can I? These franchises are very tightly financed, we have to keep our costs right down or we can't operate. People complain enough already at the prices we have to charge, and if that means queues when there's been some sort of hold-up, there's not much we can do about it. I mean, contingency plans would mean staff on standby and as I say, we're not making the sort of profits that'd let us do that, are we now? A dictation taken by an intermediate learner Restaurant manager: I can't have a dozen waiters, standing around everyday, on the of chance, will have a sudden rush. Can I? This franchisers are very titly financed. We have to keep are costs write down, or we can operate. People complain enough or ready at the price we have to charge. It that means couse when there is been some sort of hold up, there is not much to we can do about it. I mean contingexxx plans would mean stuff or stand by, and I say were not make in the sort of profits. That would lead us to that are we now. Source: L. Hashemi, 1997. CAE Practice Exams Part 2. CUR test 3, paper 4, section D, page 136.

The learner's mistakes provide insight into his or her processing because they reflect: • the way s/he segments the stimulus material into clauses, • represents grammatical relationships within clauses, • reconstructs individual content words, • reconstructs the unaccented grammar morphemes attached to words, • and the way s/he discriminates and codes the phonemic-graphemic correspondences. This is the reason why feedback on such tasks is highly educational and absolutely necessary, especially at the initial stages of foreign language learning. Although at a later stage of language learning dictation may have a rather marginal role to play, one cannot deny that it is a useful elementary and intermediate form-focused activity to be used with those learners who have auditory discrimination problems, or with learners who have not practised auditory discrimination tasks sufficiently for their general language level. This activity supports communicative abilities, without being a communicative activity itself. It provides the teacher with precise feedback on the learner's auditory discrimination processes. Dictation drawing. This activity makes use of the material which contains some spatial information, for example a description of a room or a route in a map.


13. Receptive skills: listening comprehension

The text is read out to the students twice and the learners try to understand the text content and visualize it. On this basis they draw the plan of the room or the route on the map. This material activates the learners' auditory comprehension, visualization ability, and the ability to convert the mental model into a drawing. The activity is quite well-known in the field of foreign language teaching from the Communicative Approach. Hedge (2000:248) presents a variation on this theme based on White (1998), namely an activity called: describe rooms from stories, in which students are asked to make a drawing on the basis of a description from a literary work as well as discuss various ideas connected with the characters in the story considerably contextualizing the information that they work on. The task may be followed by a segment from a feature film made on the basis of the story or novel presented to the students so that they can compare their vision with that of the film director's. Dictogloss is described by Nunan (1991) as a listening activity which involves individual note-taking, and collaboration in groups to reconstruct the text on the basis of the notes they have. It is not a dictation because the learners take down bits and pieces of information, and not the text verbatim. Feedback is provided on the text reconstruction which the students have done in a group, not individually. For the sake of consistency, Nunan says, it is better to play a recording than to read the text. The stages are as follows: • preparation - asking questions, discussing some visual material, vocabulary, etc. and dividing students into appropriate groups; • listening to the text - learners listen to the recording twice, the first time for the general idea of the text, the second time to make notes; • reconstruction - the learners pool their notes together and without any additional input from the teacher at this time, they produce their collective version of the passage; • analysis and correction - the teacher may provide feedback to groups of students and the corrected versions may be copied and distributed to the other groups. Possibilities are numerous, depending on the learners' preferences and the teaching material. Summary writing. When the learner is warned that a summary will be required after listening, his or her attention will be focused not only on comprehension of the passage, but also on retention of the verbal form. This particular task guides the learner's attention to concentrate on what is required. It may be advisable to give the instructions, play the material once or twice, depending on the circumstances, and ask the learners to start writing. But if they experience difficulty in recalling the relevant information, the teacher may play the tape yet again. A successful summary should be proportional to the original material and it should reflect the structure of the original. By reading the summary, the teacher may evaluate the learner's comprehension and retention processes and decide on the amount and type of feedback needed. This activity builds the foundations for

13.6. Activities aimed at developing listening comprehension


sustained discourse processing: it enhances verbal memory processes, it helps the learner to store some discourse plans, it focuses the learner's attention on lexical phrases and syntax in context. There are courses which make use of this technique as a leading one which would be exaggerated and unnecessary in the typical school context. Note-taking involves a compromise between attending to the listening material and the need to record selected information (Rost, 1990). In this effort, the learner converts the information processed in the auditory code to the written code. At the same time, he or she must cut down on the amount of writing, develop a kind of shorthand, to keep pace with the incoming auditory information. Note-taking is an authentic task in the sense that we are often engaged in it outside the foreign language classroom, for example when we must record some information, e.g. the content of a lecture. In this way note-taking is one of the study skills. From the point of view of foreign language learning, note-taking is a useful attention-channeling task: to write down the important items of information from the passage, the learner must listen attentively, whereas the process of converting the auditory material into written notes strengthens its memory trace. Notes taken by different learners vary as to their quality. Ideally, the information selected to be written down should correspond and be proportional to the original text content as well as reflect, even graphically, the hierarchy of the ideas (main points, supporting ideas, examples, counter-examples). These are the features that good notes share with a good summary. For the same reason, notes may be treated as a form of checking the learner's listening comprehension: as they convert their auditory intake into written output, the learners provide important evidence about these processes as well as a relevant basis for the teacher's feedback. However, whether or not learning how to make notes adequately should become an aim in its own right is another matter and depends on the course. Notes are a recording strategy which is meant to overcome our memory limitations. In the classroom as much as outside, it is useful both in productive and receptive tasks as well as in the function of plans (i.e. discourse plans or lists of things to do). It has been pointed out that in receptive tasks notes act as a mnemonic strategy to help us cope with numerous ideas we want to keep track of, while in productive tasks they provide a record of things to say or do. It seems that in addition to their function in checking comprehension, notetaking activities may be helpful in various cases of coping with complex content learning.
Filling a grid or a form Peter Whitehead interviews Frances Kelly Peter Whitehead: The Campaign for Glean Air has just issued a report on air pollution and we have in the studio Frances Kelly of the CCA who's going to tell us something about the dangers we face from air pollutants. Frances Kelly: Hello.


13. Receptive skills: listening comprehension

Peter Whitehead: Let's start with sulphur dioxide which causes acid rain. I thought the government was doing something about that. Frances Kelly: Well, they are but slowly. Sulphur dioxide emissions from power stations are still going on and the resulting acid rain is killing off fishes and plant life in lakes and destroying the forests. And we in Britain are among the worst culprits when it comes to this kind of pollution. Peter Whitehead: What are the other pollutants? Frances Kelly: Carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Carbon monoxide, which is mostly produced by motor vehicles can, even in small doses, cause sickness and a slowing of the reflexes and there is strong evidence that it has an effect on the growth of children. Peter Whitehead: And carbon dioxide? Frances Kelly: Well, in a way this is the least dangerous of the pollutants we've mentioned but in the long term it may be the most damaging. Peter Whitehead: Why? Frances Kelly: There is clear evidence that the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the main cause of the Greenhouse effect. This will have dreadful results like the melting of the polar ice caps and subsequent flooding in the lower-lying areas. Peter Whitehead: So what you're saying is that the increased amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is making it warmer. Frances Kelly: Yes, that's right and the results will be catastrophic. Peter Whitehead: And what should we be doing about this? Frances Kelly: Frankly, the government has got to impose far stricter controls on the emissions and bring in tough legislation to deal with the problem. Peter Whitehead: Frances Kelly, thank you very much. Frances Kelly: Thank you. Peter Whitehead: After the news we hope to be talking to the Minister for the Environment, Patrick Hilliard... Source: The text of the recorded listening is taken from Jon Naunton, 1990. Think First Certificate. London: Longman, unit 7, The Natural World, page 77.

At first sight, we notice that the text presents three pollutants, their sources and negative effects on us and our environment. It is a suitable example of listening material for a comprehension activity in which learners show their understanding of the main ideas by filling a grid (Rost, 1990). The information used in the table must reflect the structure of the comprehension material.
The pollutant Sulphur dioxide Carbon monoxide Carbon dioxide Table 13.2. Filling a grid after listening to the interview with Frances Kelly The source Its negative effects

13.7. The function of tapescript in listening comprehension tasks
From the perspective of a foreign language learner who is not yet very skilled, listening comprehension presents itself as an auditory discrimination task of the material which is not available to the learner in an exact form. The fact that the speaker structures discourse into sense groups with stress patterns, rhythm, and

13.8. Options in designing a listening comprehension task


intonation, uses the voice pitch and accompanies speaking with body language, facial expressions, and other non-verbal and para-verbal clues enables a competent listener to decode the message without a deep analysis of the morphosyntactic forms. The most important semantic information may be extracted on the basis of the accented content words in context. Syntactic information does not have a significant role unless there are alternative interpretations of meaning. Native or very fluent speakers can afford not to be preoccupied with reduced and unaccented forms in the spoken discourse because, if necessary, they can easily reconstruct (reinstate) these forms on the basis of their auditory mental representations anyway. For foreign language learners, however, the forms are not readily available from their mental representation. The learners find it frustrating to process a listening passage because the speakers' clues are reduced and therefore insufficient for them to reconstruct the forms on the basis of the incoming information. When they infer the meaning and still feel that they are not sure about the precise syntactic forms used by the speakers, they may be shown the tapescript as a kind of feedback on form at the end of the listening task, after they have made the effort to understand the meaning on the basis of the available information and the teacher's input. Matching the graphic representation of the listening passage with the recording helps learners to improve the precision of its mental representation. The use of tapescript in this function must have a positive influence on the quality, i.e. precision and certainty, of the reconstructed system. To conclude, a tapescript may occasionally be used as a feedback device at the end of a listening task when the learner is still developing his or her auditory comprehension and/or when the text is rather difficult, but this does not make it an obligatory or regular feature of listening tasks. It seems that the above situation, in which foreign language learners receive the tapescript of the text they have been listening to, is in a way comparable to a dictation task.

13.8. Options in designing a listening comprehension task
The text below is a tapescript of recorded material for listening. An interview with Sally, a book designer Interviewer: Sally. You're a book designer. What does your job involve? Sally: Um I'm first involved in producing a book when I'm given a raw manuscript and a brief, that is an explanation of who the book will be for and I have to er mould the manuscript - obviously I read it first of all - and mould it into something that's presentable, that is marketable um and attractive to the person who is going to buy it. That doesn't necessarily mean it is full of illustrations and photographs. It doesn't have to be particularly er current or wacky in any way but it has to actually suit the market. Interviewer: And how did you become a book designer? Sally : Slightly by default, really. I didn't know what I wanted to do, so when I finished school and chose my A-levels, I thought I'd do art as an easy option, the third A-level, and it just went from there. I still didn't know what I wanted to do when I finished so I did a foundation course which is a general design,


13. Receptive skills: listening comprehension

well a general art course and got interested in photography, then decided to do graphics and photography and er went to university, did three years and changed my mind yet again, specialized in typography and that was it, that was my training. Interviewer: What do you like about being a designer? Sally: Creating, I think. Um I don't think that there are any parts of my job that I don't like. I like the challenge, the -, of taking something that most people wouldn't want to look at and making it something that's attractive, into something that's attractive. Um the creation side. Problem-solving. Interviewer: Could you give us an example of a problem-solving situation? Sally: Being given several pages of manuscripts and being - and a brief, for instance, the market, um, and having to produce something that would be suitable for the market. Um maybe making lots of bits fit one page. Making the decisions to which bits shouldn't be on there. Interviewer: What don't you like about being a designer. There must be something. Sally: When I have to open artwork - i.e. when I receive artwork in the post and it is an illustration I've paid several hundred pounds for and I open the package and when I first take the wrapping off and see if it's any good or if I've actually wasted all the money ... It's quite nerve-racking. Interviewer: Being a designer must be quite tense at times because you're having to meet tight deadlines perhaps. Are there any situations you'd like to tell us about? Sally: Er yes, I'd say I was quite tense at the moment because I'm going on holiday next week so I've actually got three week's work to do in no time at all, you know, not allowed for in any schedule and er the book I ' m working on at the moment is such a high priority title that there is no excuse whatsoever for any work not getting done on time. So I'm actually coming in at half past eight and leaving the building when the alarm goes at eight and in between times running from job to job and that's quite stressful, not being able to take any lunch-break and chasing up other people and waiting for them to give me work which is overdue and then being expected to actually make that time up as well as working in advance of when I should be working. Interviewer: Being a designer sounds like quite a highly pressurized job. How do you keep smiling? Sally: I love it. I love it, as I said originally, just creating and making things, and I think I work quite well under pressure anyhow, so although I find it traumatic at the time, when the book actually arrives on my desk and it's a good product and I think that it's it looks good and interesting and it's going to be successful, it's going to make money, it's going to sell, I get a buzz out of it. Source: Roy Kinsbury, Felicity O'Dell, and Guy Wellman, 1991. Longman Practice Exams for the CAE. London: Longman, exam two, section C, pages 29-30.

Having analysed the material, which seems suitable for upper intermediate or advanced learners, from these two overlapping perspectives, the teacher notices that the interview contains some interesting, but non-technical information about the job of a book designer, its positive and negative aspects, and that the learners may relate to this account through their own or their parents' professional experience, or their professional plans, as well through such concepts as stress or creativity or what makes a book attractive to buy, etc. They may have many ideas about this or other professions to talk about to personalize the content and elaborate on the ideas from the text. The plan of the interview is fairly transparent as the interviewer asks questions referring to the job responsibilities, Sally's personal route to choosing this profession, as well its good and bad sides. On the basis of this analysis, it is possible to outline the following options for the three essential stages of the listening task: 1. The warm-up or introductory stage. The purpose of the introductory stage in listening comprehension is to stimulate the learner's curiosity in the subject

13.8. Options in designing a listening comprehension task


Questions referring to the communicative potential of the text 1. What kind of communicative situation is it? Who is the speaker, the addressee? What is the purpose of the interview ? 2. What is the topic, theme, content area? What is the main point that the interviewee makes?

Questions referring to the language learning potential of the text 1. What is the factual and cultural information, if any, to be learned from this text? 2. In connection with the topic domain, what kind of terms, vocabulary items, lexical phrases and expressions can be found in the text? Which of them are informal, characteristic of speech? 3. What are the component parts that make up the interview? 4. Which aspects of the job are characteristic of being a designer, which are true of any job? 5. What natural activities can be used to retain this material in memory and practice in production? Can this text structure be used by the learner in a parallel speaking task ? 6. Which lexical items could be elaborated upon as belonging to the topic vocabulary? Which concepts are worthy of a general discussion?

3. What genre is it? How is it organized, planned? What is the order of ideas based on the questions? 4. What can one learn from this interview about the topic? 5. Can the students relate to this communicative situation and the message? Can they bring their personal experience to bear on this listening material? 6. What would be the students' natural response to the message in the text (agree/disagree, evaluate, respond, present their own view)? What productive tasks would be natural to follow reading?

Table 13.3. Analysis of the material to identify its communicative and language learning potential

matter of the passage, contextualize the task of listening in its communicative context or otherwise orient the learners, e.g. guide their attention to it, recall some relevant information and otherwise eliminate excessive uncertainty, which may lead to anxiety. The following options can be considered for the listening task-based on the text in the example: • classroom conversation about the job of a book designer and what it involves; teacher or student input on the same topic prepared beforehand; • a short talk about such terms as graphics, typography, design, photography, drawing; • the question to talk about: what is important in choosing one's job; • if you were doing an interview with a book designer, what questions would you ask? • other options? 2. The listening stage. This stage is the time for the learners to comprehend the material and become familiar with its contents including the lexical material. The teacher's options include: • listening to the passage more than once, each time with a different purpose in mind;


14. Productive skills: speaking

• dividing the material for listening into segments to give learners the possibility of intermissions to talk about some language points such as the vocabulary/expressions, to elicit explanations from the teacher, etc. The teacher has a clear idea where such naturally dividing lines may be found in the discourse. • choosing the most appropriate form of comprehension check from among the available possibilities (questions, multiple choice, true/false, a grid, a retelling or summarizing activity, note-taking, etc.) • focusing on the discourse plan to identify the main ideas and the supporting examples and details; • other options? 3. The follow-up stage serves the purpose of providing the learner with opportunities to internalize and personalize, or even visualize the content of the material for listening a little further, elaborate on any aspect of the material and respond to it as a sender or replicate the material as a communicative model for production. The options include: • responding to the ideas in the interview from the learner's personal perspective to answer the questions regarding the job: What do you think of...?, Do you like...?, Would you like...?, What kind of person is Sally, do you think? How do you imagine her appearance? What kind of clothes does she wear? Do you think you work well under pressure? What makes a book attractive to you? What makes you buy a book? Why do you think the creativity involved in the job is so important and motivating? • elaborating on the lexical material in the passage from the point of view of the following criteria: the content domain (terminology connected with book designing, expanding knowledge in this content domain), the importance of the concept in the text (here: the concept of creativity and stress; what do they mean to you, what is their role in one's profession? etc.); elaborating on the topic of what makes a book attractive, a short oral composition with an example prepared by each student (suitable as homework); • responding to the material as a sender: what is your response to this interview, what is your opinion of the ideas expressed, what questions would you ask Sally? • as for using the material as a model for production, options include: imitating the interview with Sally in a slightly abbreviated form to practise communicative behaviour under 'sheltered conditions'; parallel interview on a topic related to one's job but more personalized, including the students' choices of content, but with informal phrases from the listening material; • any other options? Keeping in mind the criteria for the analysis of the text from the point of view of its communicative and language learning potential, it seems clear that the choice of the specific strategy for each of the three stages cannot be arbitrary. It must result from the character of the material at hand. With an interview such as the above some options seem to be quite natural while others are impractical. The only thing that remains for the teacher to do is to coordinate his or her choices at

14.1. Speaking as an act of verbal communication


each stage within the whole task, so as to avoid monotony and maximize variety within a) the available options for each stage and b) within the important didactic categories to keep in mind (discourse genres, planning, content and culture learning, lexis, accuracy, skill learning, fluency, working memory work, etc.). Having considered all of the above, how would you plan the listening task based on: An interview with Sally, a book designer?
Further reading Anderson, A., and T. Lynch, 1988. Listening. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Brown, J., 1990. Listening to Spoken English. London: Longman. Rost, M., 1990. Listening in Language Learning. London: Longman. Rost, M., 1991. Listening in Action. Hemel Hempstead: Prentice Hall International. Rost, M., 1994. Introducing Listening. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Underwood, M., 1989. Teaching Listening. London: Longman. Ur, P, 1984. Teaching Listening Comprehension. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. White, G., 1998. Listening. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

14. Productive skills: speaking
Although speaking is the most emphasized skill in the field of foreign language teaching and various teaching methods have focused on its development, it is nevertheless recognized as the most difficult one to develop in classroom conditions. As we recall, with the advent of the so-called oral/aural methods speaking has been treated as the goal of foreign language teaching and the main preoccupation of the teacher and the learner in the classroom. Audiolingualism derived its focus on speaking from linguistic principles, namely the creed that language is speech and not writing, advocating a narrow view of speaking as imitative routine behaviour in predictable situations with stress on learning pronunciation. The last tenet need not be contested at this or any time, in fact. Speaking was considered to be the most fundamental skill and its development alone was to guarantee transfer to the other skills (Bygate, 2001). The treatment of skills became slightly more balanced in the times of the Cognitive Method, when the essentially grammatical syllabus was supported with activities in all of the four skills. However, the specificity of the language skills in terms of their psycholinguistic difficulty and discourse genres involved in their use were yet to be fully recognized. Since the communicative era, the focus on skills, especially speaking, has become much more realistic: practising the four skills requires the choice of natural, suitable situations, as well as defining participant roles and the discourse genre. Speaking in CLT has been most carefully developed in various forms of interaction, such as: dialogues, role-plays, speech acts and functions of English, solving a puzzle or a dilemma, reaching a consensus, giving directions, spot-the-difference activities, developing a story, simulations, interviews, discussions


14. Productive skills: speaking

and debates, drama and games, projects, and many other information gap activities. Admittedly, the abundance and variety of tasks for the development of the speaking skill in CLT is a very rich pool of resources for the practising teacher to choose from also nowadays. However, it would be a mistake to consider the contribution of Communicative Language Teaching as the final word in matters of developing foreign language skills, especially speaking, because of the narrow view of communication underlying CLT. In fact, the weaknesses of CLT in this regard amounts to its: a) insufficient recognition of the complexity of speaking as a psycholinguistic operation, as well as b) its emphasis on the information gap criterion for communicative practice which sometimes leads to artificial or quite impractical speaking tasks (see 6.4 on CLT and its critical evaluation). In addition to the above, c) the problem of morphosyntactic accuracy in CLT makes the whole conception of how to develop the EFL speaking skill rather incomplete. These issues, i.e. psycholinguistic complexity of speaking, realism of didactic tasks and the problem of building accuracy into the speaking skill, will be addressed in this chapter.

14.1. Speaking as an act of verbal communication
When we speak we are involved in verbal communication in the role of senders to produce discourse with the use of our auditory modality. Producing discourse in our auditory modality has a specificity of its own, which is hard for the learner to acquire because of its temporary constraints and the necessity to perform the requisite communicative coding operations in working memory. In addition to these temporal constraints on working memory operations, the learner faces a vast material to learn because spoken discourse has many different forms, the most essential being monologues, dialogues, and polylogues (i.e. when more than two speakers communicate, such as a panel discussion, Nęcki, 2000). In this wealth of natural varieties or genres of spoken communication we may nevertheless find some underlying properties which provide guidelines in teaching the skill of speaking and grading the difficulty of the tasks. Below is a list of our points of orientation in this complex problem space: 1. Speaking in 'real life' is always constrained by the context of verbal communication; the elementary unit of verbal communication is a communicative situation with its essential parameters, including: topics, roles, goals, genres, cultural norms, conventions and other communicative circumstances. Our social encounters can be seen as a complex map of these natural varieties, whereas our cultural/communicative ability may be treated as familiarity with these areas of the map which are relevant to our everyday communicative endeavours. The natural varieties, for example an academic lecture as opposed to a casual telephone conversation between friends, differ in terms of their specific content, plans, conventions, terminology, goals and speech acts. Developing the speaking skill is, of necessity, connected with selecting the most important situations on this communicative map. It is didactically more sound to cover a few

14.1. Speaking as an act of verbal communication


relevant situations in some depth than to cover many only superficially because the learner must have sufficient material to reconstruct the typological features of these instances. 2. Participants are involved in the act of communication with their entire personalities, they process verbal as well as non-verbal information from the environment, they activate all their relevant background knowledge sources represented in their minds, and they adjust their message to the addressee, based on the image of the addressee that they have formed. Communicative encounters have their content and relationship components, and sometimes one aspect may dominate the whole encounter. The speakers' knowledge and experience enable them to make instantaneous communicative decisions required by the communicative act. All of the above direct our attention to the need of vast experience and extensive background knowledge in speaking to provide mental options to choose from. 3. The quintessential (constitutive) feature of verbal communication is the occurrence of communicative intention in the speaker's mind. Forging communicative intention may, on one occasion, be a highly constructive and demanding act or an automatic and casual act on another. Communicative intention is the meaning and sense that the speaker wants to encode and convey to the addressee to enable him or her to reconstruct it, in other words, to be understood. The speaker's production must contain a sufficient amount of sufficiently accurate clues for the addressee to understand, interpret, and evaluate it. The speaker is involved in integrating hierarchically arranged choices from intention, through planning, lexical insertion, integration, monitoring to articulation. These choices must be coordinated and executed in fractions of seconds to keep pace with the communicative fluency demands of the task. The role of morphosyntactic accuracy is very important: it helps the speaker to be understood, which is to say, it functions as an adjustment, listener-friendly strategy of helping the addressee to reconstruct the meaning. Whether it is sufficient by itself is another matter. Problems with reconstructing the meaning may be deeper than the morphosyntactic level. To sum up, the difficulty of the speaking skill results from: • the need to perform numerous hierarchical operations, especially at the level of communicative intention; first and foremost, deciding what to say; • the need to integrate these operations in fractions of seconds to keep pace with the demands of communicative fluency; • the need to do this primarily in the working memory and relying primarily on our internal (mental) auditory representations. The links between speaking and the remaining skills are very strong. The auditory code imposes the same temporal constraints in speaking as it does in listening comprehension. Moreover, listening comprehension may be used as a way of providing the learner with input for the productive task (i.e. as a source of receptive knowledge), and considerably facilitate speaking at the same time. Reading may function as a source of extensive input for speaking. Writing, the other productive


14. Productive skills: speaking

skill, on the other hand, is helpful during speaking practice as external memory i.e. a way of recording information for the spoken task, a kind of mnemonics.

14.2. Long-term investment in speaking
In the foreign language classroom as much as in the world outside, speaking does not, and cannot, take place in a vacuum. Conversely, vast knowledge representations are required and activated for the purpose in the learner's mind. In the foreign language learning context, in which we deal with the characteristic reduced redundancy predicament on the part of the learner, this void cannot be filled instantly. To make the learner ready for speaking, we must invest in long-term (course-level) as well as in short-term (lesson or task-level) preparation for speaking tasks. Long-term preparation involves taking advantage of the transfer of training from other skills which have been cultivated in a way which links receptive and productive practice: a) Reading and listening activities which stress the need to bring to life the text in its communicative context, especially the typological properties of communicative situations, can be regarded as a long-term investment in the learner's productive abilities: discourse genres and plans highlighted, in such a way help the learners to remember these extremely important communicative forms and use them as information containers in their own communicative attempts, either as ready or raw plans and materials. b) Taking full advantage of the communicative potential of the text is a form of preparation for speaking and writing. After all, responding to the comprehension material in the role of the sender is straightforward language production practice under sheltered conditions, in which the facilitation of the production task comes from the rich input from reading comprehension. The communicative situation has already been fairly well outlined and visualized by the learner, so he or she can maximize the benefit of this mental model by expressing his or her own intention without the need of constructing all the situational circumstances from scratch, for the purpose of a new productive task. c) Focus on meaning, sense and content of learning, so strongly emphasized in reading comprehension activities, also benefits the learners' speaking readiness because they develop representations of networks of propositions, the stuff of communicative intentions. Throughout this work, meaning, sense, and content have been regarded as very important didactic categories; we have also stressed the need of content (especially cultural content) elaboration in reading comprehension, as well as the importance of critical reading, and extensive reading and listening. This ideology helps the learners to consistently develop factual information (i.e. knowledge) through language learning and to pay attention to the ideas expressed in the foreign language. If this aspect of verbal communication is

14.3. The structure of conversation


systematically stressed, if not to say, prioritized in the educational process, having nothing to say will probably be less of a problem to the learner than when meaning and sense are marginalized. Reading comprehension as search for meaning and sense, as well as the source of interesting learning matter, is a worthy longterm investment in developing the learners' knowledge representations from which they may be more likely to carve out some communicative intention. d) Elements of long-term preparation for speaking as well as writing can be found in the activities following reading or listening comprehension which require the learner to summarize the comprehended material. When learners make the effort to construct such a summary, they in fact build a new text which is a symmetrical, condensed representation of the original. They must perform important planning and integration operations which prepare them for free productive tasks when they struggle with their own discourse plan and try to retain important information in their working memory. Moreover, when learners know they would be required to summarize the text, they pay more attention to the source material than when the follow-up task is less demanding, which in turn enhances their general memory processes. e) In a way similar to note-taking in listening comprehension tasks, we may assign some role to writing in the speaking tasks. Writing may be regarded as a skill in its own right as well as a form of our external memory, a mnemonic strategy of recording items so that they are not forgotten. Such is the function of making lists of things to do as well as making notes to prepare for a speech or presentation. Jotting down ideas before speaking can help the learner organize things to be said and control the task better. Written preparation allows the learner to take time while working on various items of the task at hand and to do them consecutively, which may directly benefit the quality of discourse. f) Listening input is expected to serve the function of modelling monologues and conversations in English for the learners to replicate with a varying degree of exactitude. Such models are important back-up resources to rely upon: the learner who does not want to learn them verbatim can modify them or use them as raw material. These models certainly fill the mental void of options to choose from in spoken monologues and dialogues. The above long-term investments which are natural products of fostering other skills provide building blocks for the speaking ability. Similar strategies i.e. emphasizing receptive input, factual knowledge and discourse plans, may be used as a way of preparing for speaking right before the task.

14.3. The structure of conversation
Conversation is such a universal form of face-to-face communication that learners of English as a foreign language can activate quite a lot of previous knowledge to bring to bear on the task of conversation in English. Some specialists seem to confuse two things (cf Ur, 1991): the ability to perform various speech acts and par-


14. Productive skills: speaking

ticipate in the joint project of conversing, which is the effect of socialization in all communities, and doing this in a given ethnic language with the use of appropriate language forms. When we teach English as a foreign language, we do not teach learners how to take turns, as Ur would see it, but we teach learners how to use English language exponents for turn-taking and its conversational etiquette. Clark (1996) calls conversation a joint project, a collaborative effort which requires the coordinated activity of two or more people in the same way as a dance does. How can a foreign language learner acquire the art of weaving the thread of conversational discourse in English? By learning its structure and components, such as how to open and close a conversation, how to take turns, how to complement the adjacency pairs. Jay (2003:290) comments: 'The unfolding structure of a conversation depends on the participants' goals, shared background knowledge and what new information needs to be added to that shared information to achieve the goals.' Participants in conversations have their own personal identities and feelings as well as personal roles. They also have their professional roles and identities. An important concept in the structure of conversation is common ground, which refers to mutual shared beliefs as well as knowledge that we can assume is available to other members of the group. This concept resembles the notion of information culture proposed by Hammerly (Hammerly, 1982; see 6.3.1.). Common ground is a dynamic construct which emerges in social encounters depending on the circumstances and situations. It is a set of cultural elements, such as: stereotypes, prejudices, attitudes, values, norms, metaphors, taboos, and presuppositions, which play a very important role in constructing a conversation. However, this knowledge cannot be acquired in any other way than by group membership. In a conversation, new elements are added to the participants' common ground. Participants in a conversation must be able to open it according to the situation and the level of formality, conduct it, regulate its flow, monitor their own comprehension, engage in various speech acts and functions, and close it according to the politeness etiquette. Adjacency pairs (Schegloff and Sacks, 1973) are two symmetrical and matching elements, which are intended to constitute an exchange between two speakers: e.g. greeting - greeting, compliment - a word of acknowledgement, invitation - acceptance, question - answer, etc. Clark (1996) calls them minimal joint projects. Adjacency pairs, speech acts and functions of English, such as requesting, asking for information, agreeing, refusing, asking for permission, giving reasons, making suggestions, etc. are building blocks of a conversation. In addition to these, speakers use various discourse genres, such as stories and other narrative accounts, jokes, anecdotes, personal information, impressions, convictions, opinions, recommendations, etc. as construction material to develop in this social enterprise. An important aspect of the structure of conversation is turn-taking. Usually in a conversation, one person talks and others listen, waiting for their turn (too idealistic?). Participants usually follow three simple implicit turn-taking rules (Jay, 2003):

14.4. Abilities involved in participating in a conversation


• The speaker can pick the next speaker. • The speaker may continue but does not have to. • If the speaker does not pick the next speaker, someone else can speak. This is often indicated by pauses and hand gestures, which signal that the speaker is about to finish his or her turn, or that a new turn is about to begin. Jay (2003:297) lists the following cues for taking up the speaker position: 'shifting head direction away from the partner, moving the head forward, initiating gesticulations, tensing the body, or pointing a finger' and the following devices indicating that the speaker is ready to become the listener: 'unfilled pauses, a trailing off of voice intensity, cessation of gesticulations, relaxation of the body, looking at the next intended speaker, or the utterance of some stereotypical expression'. In formal debates or discussions, the order of turn-taking steps and their duration may be quite rigidly fixed. In conversation, as much as in continuous discourse, propositions expressed by different speakers are linked to each other by co-references, reiteration, recurrence of items, and many other devices, such as cohesive hand gestures. While anything may serve the purpose of opening a conversation, it is interesting what Jay (2003) has to say about closing them. Speakers use what he calls preclosing statements, which introduce the need to finish the encounter gradually. They provide a reason for having to go, indicate some plan for a future encounter to reaffirm their relationship, express pleasure at their meeting, some speakers summarize the main points of the conversation, wish their interlocutors well, and sometimes more than one of the above. The purpose of these strategies is not to let the conversation end abruptly, but gradually and smoothly. These strategies will have to be considered also in terms of age groups and their norms as well as levels of formality, but it seems that the situations to practise in the school setting would still remain within the more or less neutral category of the conversational etiquette.

14.4. Abilities involved in participating in a conversation
Rost (1990:116) lists the following abilities involved in the speaker's participation in collaborative discourse (i.e. where interaction is intensive, for example in conversation):


14. Productive skills: speaking

14.5. The role of anxiety in developing the speaking skill
Anxiety is understood as a feeling of tension and worry connected with speaking in a foreign language in front of the teacher and a group of peers (Horwitz and Young, 1991). This state can certainly be attributed to the uniqueness of the foreign language learning situation: the learners deal with the feeling of inadequacy in expressing their ideas in a new language, in which they make many mistakes. They experience communicative apprehension and fear of negative social evaluation (Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope, 1986). Of all the stressful events in the foreign language context, such as tests, listening, writing, and speaking tasks, the latter is the most important source of anxiety among learners. In a study conducted by Żebrowska (2005), more than half of the students of a Polish gimnazjum, liceum and university, pointed to anxiety as their serious problem, and more than half of those who did, acknowledged that speaking was the most stressful aspect of learning English as a foreign language. The feeling may be intensified by the learners' personality traits, previous experience, negative convictions about their abilities, especially constant comparisons with other students, and the level of difficulty of foreign language tasks.

14.5. The role of anxiety in developing the speaking skill


Anxiety is a serious problem not only from the point of view of the learner's negative feelings connected with speaking in a foreign language, but first of all, from the point of view of the internal working of the language learning process, especially the unproductive use of our cognitive energy on worry, instead of the task (see 5.3.3.). In most cases, anxiety produces avoidance behaviour, either in the form of physical absence in the class, truancy, or in the form of attentional withdrawal from participating in the communicative activities in the classroom. Teachers are familiar with such symptoms of the learners' avoidance as silence, no eye contact with the teacher, choosing seats away from him or her. Anxiety may also surface as nervousness, excessive laughter, or even muscle tension leading to headaches. One problem leads to others, such as insufficient participation in speaking tasks, which quite naturally leads to limited practice and facility in various aspects of the speaking skill. As a result, the learners make hardly any progress to help them gain greater confidence in speaking based on growing competence. The teacher's job is to deal with the learner's anxiety to the point at which the learner can approach the language speaking tasks rather than avoid them. This is a very complex goal, but one of the most important and difficult ones in the entire learning process. It is complex because the success of the undertaking does not depend on one, but on a constellation of factors. It is difficult because the right balance of these factors can be easily upset and the teacher, just because he or she recognizes the weight of anxiety, may easily fall into the trap of insufficiently challenging his foreign language students. This constellation of factors begins with clear instructions before the task, which learners, including the anxious majority, can understand while the teacher makes sure this is the case. The learners may find it easier to accept a task if they make a choice of the topic or otherwise participate in defining its overall character. Moreover, the teacher should avoid stereotyping students as good or bad, but evaluate them on the individual case-by-case basis and continue to have high expectations about each of them. Having high expectations does not mean 'unrealistic' expectations. It is quite the opposite. Clear criteria, withholding formal grades while practising speaking and the gentle treatment of errors are essential. Speaking activities should be frequent and informal, including personal questions about everyday matters. To relieve tension, the teacher may use a very old and effective strategy of smiling and using wit and humour, which are known to be foolproof in stressful situations. Learners should not be allowed to laugh at their peers when they make mistakes in speaking the foreign language. Learners admit to preferring pair work and imitative work as a form of preparation before speaking as well as reading aloud and plenty of receptive input and being given advance warning, to be able to prepare at home, even in the written form. It is also important to have patience and give learners some wait time to put their ideas together before answering the teacher's question. Most learners will start cooperating in the speaking tasks only after they have become familiar with and accustomed to this feature of the EFL lesson. It also seems important to show gen-


14. Productive skills: speaking

uine interest in what the learners are saying, i.e. focus on the content and meaning of the speaking activity and avoid unnecessary metatalk about its form and purpose, which unnecessarily emphasizes the superficiality of the classroom exchange.

14.6. Cultivating articulacy in EFL
Teaching speaking involves more than simply developing another language skill; it involves the development of articulacy. In the same way as literacy in writing, its social parallel in speaking, articulacy, is absolutely indispensable in our cultural survival. Articulacy, sometimes referred to as oracy (Ur, 1991), the cultivated mature form of speaking, is the ability to speak distinctly and clearly, so as to be understood by the addressee. It is also the ability to take active part in various communicative encounters, especially in conversations, by producing relevant and fully-grown forms of discourse. This involves expressing and defending opinions or points of view, formulating arguments, presenting information about oneself, expressing various functions of language, telling stories and anecdotes, expressing interest in the interlocutor, understanding his or her utterances, asking clarification questions, if necessary, summarizing someone else's ideas, and performing many other speech acts, connected with social niceties and graces, or polite noises, which we produce on social occasions. It is clear that the substance and extent of articulacy will vary depending on the age group and level of formality, but the school system does not have to prepare the learners for absolutely all the feasible circumstances, only for the most significant of them. While learners interact among themselves, they also demonstrate a certain level of articulacy, 'reduced' articulacy, but it cannot remain their only form to deal with the outside world. What they need to accomplish inside the foreign language classroom is the equivalent of their articulacy in Polish during their courses in Polish language and literature. However, learners vary tremendously in this regard, as much as they vary in their reading abilities in the native and foreign language. They come from different family backgrounds where articulacy may have been assigned a prominent or marginal role. Children who have not been encouraged to speak in front of grown-ups may be intimidated to do that in the classroom, be it in the native or foreign language. However, articulacy is what they badly need during their foreign language examinations as well as in various social situations in the outside world. It is an essential part of their social competence. The time to learn it is during speaking activities in the foreign language. The teachers will soon notice that for some learners speaking is just adding new vocabulary and sentence constructions to the already existing native language articulacy, behind which there is assertiveness, experience in turn-taking and holding the floor, answering questions and joking, not being easily intimidated, having a wealth of ideas to talk about, multiple strategies of developing sustained discourse, and appropriate speech acts. For

14.6. Cultivating articulacy in EFL


many other students, it may be starting from scratch, i.e. learning those psychological and social feats to make up for their limited experience, as well as foreign language material to add to this budding communicative structure. The development of accuracy goes from laconic to fully developed sentences in discourse, from lack of accuracy to accuracy built into the skill, from lack of certainty to certainty as to these forms, and from lack of fluency to fluency in production. Some learners who must develop both articulacy in general and in their foreign language happen to suffer from foreign language speaking anxiety; unfortunately, they are the most likely candidates, because they have a reason to be concerned about their speaking ability. For the teacher who has a difficult task at hand the following are some suggestions. The most important obligation of the foreign language teacher as regards developing foreign language articulacy and the speaking skill is to chat with the students i.e. regularly, systematically, and informally have brief, 5 to 10-minute classroom conversations, with them. Chatting is a natural social activity which serves the purpose of bonding, establishing rapport and communicating good intentions, paving the way for the subsequent business of the lesson and joint activity (Richards, 1990; Richards and Renandya, 2002). Once incorporated into classroom procedures in a manner controlled by the teacher, chatting performs important didactic functions: it is a conversation model for the learners to observe and a way to pave the way for the language activities to come. Chats must be regular because they are the essential case of language use at its best - for genuine communicative purposes. They usually cover a wide spectrum of communicative topics and conversational components together with the vocabulary material needed. Chatting with the students may involve subjects of personal interest, current events, hobbies, recent TV programmes, cinema, food, health, trips, money, clothes, pets, celebrities, books, sports, etc., talked about from the learners' personal perspective. The benefits of such chats are the same in the class as of chatting outside the class: the teacher and the students gradually get to know each other as individuals, they find out more about each other as real people, depending on how much they wish to disclose. Chatting is interesting and spontaneous, since it activates on-line speech production processes. It is motivating for the students because they are recognized as individuals and the content concerns them. They can personalize their knowledge, which makes it memorable (Hedge, 2000), and learn how to contribute to a conversation, first by observing the teacher, and next by participating themselves. The teacher may focus on one element of a conversation and build a more formal task on its basis; he or she may give advance warning to the learners to prepare a short oral composition about a topic and present it in class; the teacher may prompt planning strategies for these (short, informal, 3-5 sentences) oral compositions and first ask students who volunteer. Later, to secure even participation, the teacher may control turn-taking more rigorously, or assign students formally to take a turn, and even assign some roles, such as of a person who wraps up the conversation.


14. Productive skills: speaking

To make sure that all the learners will have something to 'take out' from such a lesson, the teacher may ask the learners to write a short note containing the ideas which he or she has/has not expressed in class, or which occurred to him or her as the others were speaking. When the learners submit their written homework (a paragraph, half a page), which should not be hard to write after their exposure to classroom input, the teacher may provide each student with highly individualized written feedback without the other students witnessing it. It is clearly time-consuming to read and mark/correct all the written samples from the students, but a most valuable learning experience for the learners. Being asked to write down what they choose and have practised in speaking helps the students to organize and consolidate the language material in discourse form. Additionally, the learners receive individualized feedback from the teacher. The problem with the teacher's time needed to do this should be solved depending on the teacher's resources, that is, in answer to the question: how many papers from all of my students can I take home and read each semester? The rest may be corrected on the chance basis or in the classroom, by glancing at selected written pieces at each lesson. All of the written work may be submitted as a portfolio during or at the end of the course. Even five such short written works in a semester would make a difference to the development of the individual learner's articulacy in general, and the speaking ability in English as a foreign language in particular. In this way, learners gain experience in how to take turns, how to develop a topic, and how to build sustained discourse. Topics and ideas for chatting with students may be categorized as follows (partly based on Stern, 1992:191):
Personal information Daily life Name, address, home town, neighbourhood, house you live in, attractions in your home town, places to visit, your favourite area, others. Routines, events of the year, activities, personal calendar, shopping, housework, health, food, organizing daily chores, TV programmes, important cultural event, etc. Parents, grandparents, siblings, marital status, plans for the future, family history, biographical reminiscences, pets, visits from relatives, problems with relatives. Information about school, aspirations for the future, opinion about the school, problems at school, friends, peers, favourite activities, clubs, sports. Fine arts, music, literature, sports and games, hobbies, leisure activities, fitness, travel, tourism, sightseeing, others. Opinions, values, convictions, political ideas, interests and activities, social issues, others.


School Personal interests Beliefs and opinions

Table 14.2. A list of ideas for chatting with students

The next obligation of the EFL teacher is to have regular and well-designed speaking tasks in addition to chatting with the students in their real identities. These tasks may require various identities and roles, both assumed and real. The main criterion of well-designed tasks is that they are specific enough for the

14.6. Cultivating articulacy in EFL


learner to avoid uncertainty as to what to do in the task and what to say in the communicative situation outlined in the task. The first problem can be eliminated by clear instructions with some quiet time given for their comprehension and comprehension cheks from the teachers (Hedge, 2000), illustrated with an example or even translated into Polish, if absolutely necessary. The other problem can be eliminated by providing enough contextual information to the learner to help him or her visualize the role and goal to be accomplished, with possibilities to define the missing links on the basis of the learner's knowledge, if necessary. Many tasks cause anxiety because they are vague, ill-defined, non-descript, or hard to visualize. We could defend them on the grounds that they stimulate creative thinking, and such an argument is well-taken. However, it is even easier to develop creativity in clear and well-designed tasks. Asking some basic questions regarding the communicative situation may be helpful: Is the learner acting in his own or some assumed identity? Is the situation sufficiently clear? If not, how can it be made more specific? Sometimes a model or an initial stimulus given by the teacher may be helpful. The teacher might say: 'If I were given such a task, I would start by focusing on the magazine I like reading and choose a specific section ...', or: 'How would you start a conversation with a stranger on a train?' In most tasks in which learners participate in assumed identities (assumed roles), learners must visualize the situations which provide context for their oral discourse. If they can anchor their mental processes in the situational model, mental energy will be channelled to speech production rather than worry. It also helps if the teacher not only reviews the clarity of the instructions, but also estimates the output of such a task, i.e. the amount of discourse that would be generated. The level of specificity would always increase with more contextual information and input for the task generated for the occasion, because more ideas (propositions) would be available to the learner to choose from. The third obligation of the EFL teacher, when it comes to speaking is to grade the difficulty of the speaking tasks on the basis of their psycholinguistic components: the content (communicative intention, what to say), the plan (linearization level) of the utterance, and the verbalization (execution and monitoring) stage of production. This can be done by focusing on the component parts of speaking in isolation. Such an approach to grading would specifically facilitate the aspect of speaking connected with the integration of several operations in time. Without the necessary automaticity, the learner would find it hard to perform these sub-skills in temporal integration. • A facilitating strategy might include gathering information about the topic or role to facilitate the choice of communicative intention and planning. • Time given to plan takes the pressure off the speaking task allowing the learner to recall information relevant to the utterance and to organize it in a linear manner appropriate for the discourse format (Foster, 1996). • Rehearsal is the segment of the speaking task when the learner is able to put his or her utterance together and deliver it in a 'rough copy', before presenting it in an improved version the second time. Benefits of rehearsal include some oppor-


14. Productive skills: speaking

tunity to try out integrating the operations necessary for the completion of the task, leading to an increase in fluency, and incorporating feedback. In typical classroom conditions, this stage of the task usually takes place as pair work. An additional benefit of rehearsal is that the next round of the task is always a repetition, which benefits both fluency and accuracy (Bygate, 1996, 2001). If we have doubts about error correction during speaking and in front of the class, rehearsal is an ideal time to build accuracy into the task, and subsequently into the speaking skill. • Written preparation is also a form of facilitating a speaking task: the content and plan is available in the written form, and the learner's available attention is directed to the appropriate rendition of the material. If there is an audience to address, the delivery itself may be hard enough. As we can see, the function of writing in this case is reduced to mnemonics, external memory rather than a skill in its own right.

14.7. Selected activities for the development of the speaking skill
Among the numerous speaking activities offered by the proponents of the CLT, such as role-plays, games, quizzes, retelling, relaying information, reconstructing a story, solving a dilemma, solving a puzzle, there are several very straightforward, but useful speaking activities that can be stressed, if not added, in this list. Oral composition is a task in which the learners prepare a piece of discourse, the length of a paragraph, on a topic of everyday or more academic interest. Discourse genres modelled for this purpose may include a narrative, which comes in countless shapes, a description, an opinion, an argument for or against format, a list of characteristics, a comparison, an explanation, an attempt to convince someone, and many others depending on the students' interests. An important part of preparing oral compositions is to focus and demonstrate to the learners various sample planning strategies for making the skeleton of sustained discourse. Simple topics have such an advantage that the learners do not have to struggle with the difficult cognitive content of the task. On the other hand, however, it makes sense not to limit students in their choice of the subject matter because freedom to choose what to say is motivating and reduces stress. Moreover, the learners must have a chance to talk about intellectually mature topics, even when their limited language proficiency makes it hard. Oral composition practice leads to acquiring facility with various speech acts which are used as the components of conversations. Social conversation is the outcome of all the activities involving the teacher chatting with the students, as well as the work devoted to learning the components of conversation, which may now be brought together as the building blocks in one activity. Additionally, various phrases to open and close a conversation and assorted adjacency pairs may be learned and practised as stock phrases. The learn-

14.7. Selected activities for the development of the speaking skill


ers will find it easier to participate if they have practised this form of communication on many occasions and if they have some rehearsed material in their working memory (a joke, an anecdote, a story, an opinion, a film review, a recommendation, a personal question, a biographical episode, a recipe, a piece of news to share, a piece of gossip, etc.). Practising social conversation may be linked to other activities and other skills to secure even participation, preparation, and feedback incorporation. Telephone conversation as well as electronically mediated chat should be practised for its routine expressions and typical scenario of the exchange and adjacency pairs between the parties. Since visual information is not available or rather limited (e.g. icons), the speakers must manage to convey their ideas as precisely as they can. They differ depending on the fact whether the participants know each other or whether they are strangers. Telephone conversations may be devoted to various forms of practice, such as for example service transactions, giving instructions, explaining how to do something, describing an object, etc. An interview involves two roles, one of which, the interviewee, is more demanding in terms of factual information and the use of sustained discourse. An interview requires some serious preparation on both sides in the form of research and the choice of interesting questions, based on an opinion poll among the peers, as well as analysing some native speaker interviews to evaluate the questions, the information elicited, interest in the interviewee and listening ability. Often, interviews are integral segments of more complex activities, such as simulations or projects. Students may stage interviews involving assumed identities, preferably of their choice, or real people invited as guests. Discussion is a form of verbal interaction between two or more people with the purpose of looking at a certain issue from different points of view or aspects. On many occasions, the teacher's or textbook writer's instruction 'Discuss X or Y' simply means - talk about it or analyse it. However, to have a successful discussion in a foreign language classroom, we must include the following considerations: • the topic must be potentially substantive and controversial to warrant looking at it from different angles; • the learners must have some influence on the choice of the topic; in this way they exercise their right to communicative autonomy; when they do, they are more likely to be involved in the preparation for and participation in the activity; • the learners must be interested in the topic sufficiently to see the many aspects of the issue involved, and they must be knowledgeable enough to discuss it, i.e. have the factual information to use in their arguments; this state may be accomplished by long- or short-term preparation: studying sources (the Internet, media, library) or processing teacher or peer input; • they must have some idea of the events to come and their turn-taking schedule to orient them in the activity; practice first in groups or pairs is certainly helpful. Discussion may be staged in open-class or panel form, with a more formal role assignment. It seems to be a naturally promising activity for adolescent learners at the intermediate level and above.


14. Productive skills: speaking

Debate is more formal than discussion in that the issues to be discussed are usually debated from two opposing points of view, with points of view ascribed to members of each debating team, but also with points being developed in answer to the opponents as they emerge during the activity. Arguments must be thoughtful and well-prepared to be convincing and logical. At the end of the activity, the issue may be put to the vote (Ur, 1991) so that members of the debating teams can decide what they think regardless of their assigned debating task. (A side remark that I feel tempted to make at this point is that membership in a debating club is a popular form of perfecting American students' articulacy in their native language). To conclude, the most characteristic features of the current approach to the enormous endeavour of developing the speaking skill include the following aspects: long-term investment in speaking, stressing the communicative situation as context of the speaking task, curbing anxiety and keeping the communicative channel in good working condition, and learning component parts of a more complex whole. Long-term investment in the speaking skill is quite natural first of all because it takes time to develop any skill, especially such a complex language skill as speaking. It takes time to do the required working memory practice, to learn sustained discourse strategies and communicative content. To make sense to the learner, practising the speaking skill must be contextualized in a communicative situation, with a clear role, discourse genre, plan and purpose. Information processed in this way will be practical and therefore remembered. Curbing anxiety is hard, but not impossible, if we establish a certain code of conduct in the class, especially during speaking, which stresses that the foreign language classroom is a place to learn, rather than to show off. The best remedy for anxiety is regular, moderately difficult practice and observation, as well as fair and objective evaluation on the part of the teacher communicated to the learner individually rather than on the class forum, with a tendency to encouragement rather than negativity. The condition of the communicative channel in the foreign language classroom is as vital to the foreign language learning process as the condition of our blood vessels to our oxygen supply. The first obligation of the teacher is to go out of his or her way to make sure that the learners understand what is going on during the lesson. This is the minimum requirement of communication. Alienation (not paying attention, opting out, avoidance) comes from not caring what is going on and not trying to understand. This kills communication in its initial stages to seriously prevent the learner from subsequent participation and learning. Secondly, assumed identities and fancy roles are all very nice and the reasons why teachers use them in class are quite convincing. However, we must also understand that they are not the sole vehicle for the development of the speaking skill. Our most important focus and resource in the classroom are real learners in their real identities. For the purposes of verbal communication, this resource is vital because all communicative relationships, including teacher/learner relationships, thrive on mutual attention. To tap this cognitive energy, we must relate to each other first

14.7. Selected activities for the development of the speaking skill


and foremost as real people, as individuals. This is the springboard for further communicative exploits, especially in speaking, which requires the learner to send out, i.e. emit messages, not just receive them. Assumed identities may be helpful in supporting the growth of the learners' communicative repertoire or to hide their own identity, if necessary. Often, what we call 'roles' are simply tasks with functions to be performed. It may be useful, once in a while, to ask oneself the question: why am I asking the student to take this role rather than act things out in his or her own identity?

Topics and questions

1. List the sources of difficulty in speaking English as a foreign language. 2. List the strategies of long-term preparation, divided into such categories: a) material from receptive skills b) working memory 'fitness' c) the support of writing 3. How does anxiety interfere with the process of developing the speaking skill? 4. How can excessive anxiety be kept under control? 5. Do you agree or disagree with the idea that communicative relationships thrive on mutual attention? Why? Why not? What does it mean to the teacher of English as a foreign language? 6. Choose an activity from your textbook for teaching English as a foreign language, analyse it from the point of view of its internal design, level of difficulty, grading strategies, input and output, and adjust to your learners to make up a well-adjusted teaching task. 7. Imagine that you are about to engage in an activity we called 'chatting with the students'. How do you plan your topics (e.g. current events at school), questions, turn-taking arrangement, monitoring comprehension and participation, feedback on error (if any), consolidation in any form? 8. How would you prepare a speaking task in an ESP context? Think of a situation and design a task in graded stages, with input on content, planning, rehearsal, incorporating feedback, and presentation.

Further reading Bygate, M., 1987. Speaking. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Byrne, D., 1986. Teaching Oral English. London: Longman Byrne, D., 1987. Techniques for Classroom Interaction. London: Longman. Carter, R. A., and M. J. McCarthy, 1997. Exploring Spoken English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dörnyei, Z., and S. Thurrell, 1992. Conversations and Dialogues in Action. New York: Prentice Hall. Klippel, F., 1984. Keep Talking. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Nolasco, A., and L. Arthur, 1987. Conversation. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pattison, P, 1987. Developing Communication Skills. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Underhill, N., 1987. Testing Spoken English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


15. Productive skills: writing

15. Productive skills: writing
Teaching the skill of writing has been of interest to specialists in foreign language didactics from the beginning of the 'methods' tradition because writing can serve various useful functions, such as recording and organizing our ideas which gives us better control over them. But writing and manipulating (adjusting, selecting, completing) sentences, as in grammar exercises, the earliest and most traditional way of practising writing, is far from sufficient in learning how to communicate in the written code. The next attempt popular in the Audiolingual and Cognitive Methods, was controlled or guided writing, consisting of various techniques, many of them paragraph-length, which made the task of writing easier by segmenting the product, as opposed to the process of writing. It should be pointed out, however, that the Cognitive Method stressed challenging content and problem solving in writing activities while looking at writing as a thinking process (cf Mary Lawrence, 1975. Writing as a Thinking Process, Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press). In a controlled writing activity, the title and the introductory paragraph (or the first segment of a narrative) would be provided, on the basis of which learners were expected to produce a complete piece of writing. Alternatively, the title was followed by a plan of the composition which the learners were asked to develop. Controlled writing sometimes required the learners to write and combine simple sentences into a more complex form with some additions to create a well-integrated text. Leading genres in writing at that time were composition and letter writing. Utilitarian forms of writing introduced by CLT brought a fashion for letters of complaint, letters to the editor or the agony column, letters of application, letters of invitation, advertisements, booklets, leaflets, brochures, reviews, articles, memos, instructions, opinions, etc. These activities are interesting and useful because they help the learner to visualize the communicative situation, their task and role, and produce a piece of discourse based on a conventional plan, as well as addressed to a recipient. However, to present a complete picture of the current scene in teaching writing we must supplement CLT with such elements as psycholinguistic criteria for grading the written tasks, principles and practice of process writing and feedback on written tasks.

15.1. Writing as an act of constructing a message
'Writing' may denote several operations: a) the act of using graphemes to code a message (the ability which learners acquire as part of their literacy, i.e. reading and writing ability); b) writing something down, e.g. a list, as a mnemonic strategy, i.e. to record in our external memory; and c) writing as a form of written communication with its natural varieties of written discourse characteristic of our culture. In this section, we are primarily concerned with the second and third meaning of the term rather than the first because when our learners start learning English as a foreign language at school, most of them are literate and, fortu-

15.1. Writing as an act of constructing a message

249 2 49

nately for them, the Polish and the English alphabetical systems are typologically similar. In a communicative situation, the difficulty in writing results from the number of simultaneous decisions that a writer must make on the level of content and form, especially planning, organizing, and expressing ideas in a sufficiently explicit way to make them comprehensible to the reader essentially on the basis of graphemic clues. Illustrations, for example pictures, drawings, photographs, charts, tables, graphs of various kinds, used in written communication, have a much more modest function in conveying the meaning of the written text in comparison with the rich semanticization available to the listener from non-verbal and prosodie clues in speaking. Nevertheless, speaking and writing share important similarities characteristic of language production: both involve hierarchical decisions in content, planning and lexical insertion with syntactic adjustments i.e. based on subordinated sub-skills which must be integrated to produce linear discourse. Flower and Hayes (1980) accurately describe the dynamics of composing as juggling constraints. Although the act of writing, on most occasions, is not influenced by such time limitations as speaking, the fact that the message must be wellorganized and explicit for the reader to understand makes it sufficiently complicated as a skill in its own right. The essence of writing (Eysenk and Keane, 1995) concerns selections at the level of content, based on the knowledge of the topic which we recall or generate for the task, the level of planning the discourse while verbalizing our ideas with the use of lexical elements and constructions, editing i.e. improving as we go along, and writing the revised version in the sense of putting it down with incorporated improvements. Hardly ever do these operations occur in isolation, especially if we use electronic word processing. Most writers (Hedge, 2000; Zamel, 1982) perform these operations recursively, over and over again, rereading and revising simultaneously, while introducing considerable changes, generating new or eliminating old ideas from the text. They strategically concentrate on the parts of the task which demand attention at the moment. These characteristics indicate the essentially dynamic, constructive and strategic nature of our communicative processes in general, writing included. It clearly follows from the above that writing in the sense of written communication, especially in its mature forms, consists of the thought component, composing element, and coding this information into language form. The thought component is implemented through content: propositions and ideas, facts and evidence supported by reasoning e.g. arguments and other forms of logical substantiation; composing is implemented as planning, organization, and mutual adjustments within discourse to make up a balanced whole with satisfactory relationships between parts, and accents and contrasts as desired by the author to achieve his or her communicative goal, and coding into language form is connected with activating the requisite verbal material from memory and integrating it by means of syntactic devices to express the designated meaning according to the author's intention and in the form of coherent and cohesive discourse.


15. Productive skills: writing

As stressed by Flower and Hayes (1980), the writer must juggle several mental operations: recalling relevant information, planning, inferring, visualizing the addressee, introducing new ideas, adding supporting details as they read, modifying their plan to incorporate new evidence, testing their view of the addressee against the discourse they have written, modifying their perspective of the information presented to suit the image of the addressee, summarizing, emphasizing, perfecting rhetorical devices, etc. To coordinate this complex task, writers usually produce multiple drafts, and, unlike foreign language learners, they do not regard the first draft as the finished product, but as the material to start working on. Multiple drafting and redrafting are the norm rather than the exception with native speakers and other proficient writers in English. Keeping in mind the recursive, dynamic, and strategic nature of the act of on-line writing, we may still distinguish, for analytical purposes, the following most important construction stages in writing a piece of discourse (Eysenk and Keane, 1995), which are not to be automatically taken as a teaching sequence (Hedge, 2000; Ur, 1991): • identifying communicative intention in the context of the situation; • planning the arrangement of the ideas and the rhetorical strategies; • inserting the lexical material, both single elements and phrases coordinating these elements to fit the whole (syntactic adjustments, coherence and cohesion); • executing the task in the sense of rough drafting; • editing, i.e. incorporating feedback information by inserting it into the earlier draft. The last stage, the stage of incorporating the feedback information, is the result either of processing feedback from some external readers or from the writers' own reading as they assume the role of addressees of their own writing (Levelt, 1989). The clarity of discourse is enhanced by a clearly formulated goal, clear structure, coherence and cohesion, conventional discourse devices which are used to organize it and signalled to the reader, as well as subtitles and typographical devices to accentuate text hierarchy and plan (Nunan, 1991).

15.2. Differences between experienced and inexperienced writers
Better writers are more concerned with the global, fundamental aspects of composing (larger structures) than the local aspects, even leaving some elements at the language surface unfinished. The weaker writers, on the other hand, are preoccupied with the surface elements at the local, clause level, such as sentence syntax or expressions, paying insufficient attention to the global aspects of the task (Eysenk and Keane, 1995; Hedge, 2000). In their study of the writing process, Flower and Hayes (1980) compared the strategies used by knowledgeable, 'expert', and less knowledgeable, 'novice' writers and discovered that the knowledgeable ones for-

15.3. Long-term investment in the writing skill


mulated much more exact and better coordinated plans than the less knowledgeable ones, not only demonstrating greater awareness of the available options of developing their piece, but also greater awareness of the addressee. The more skilled authors maintain that the best route to improving their writing is perfecting their planning strategy. This is, indeed, the stage which absorbs more of their attention in comparison to writing itself, and certainly more than the planning stage in the case of the less skilled writers. When it comes to editing discourse, experts go deeply into its global structure sometimes modifying it to put the addressee into perspective, whereas the less skilled writers perform editing operations fairly fast and they consider smaller units. This result may be interpreted as the effect of the author not yet having sufficiently automatized lower-level processes. They absorb the writer's attention preventing him or her from moving up, to the higher-level structures. It is significant from the point of view of foreign language teaching that while editing, experts were able to trace and correct 74 percent of their own errors, improving the overall comprehensibility of the text, whereas the less skilled writers - only 42 percent of errors. This result is meaningful because in debating the question of editing and error correction in foreign language writing, we must not forget that there is a proficiency barrier to successful error correction of the learners' own writing. Successful editing is not only the question of the learner's good will, but language ability leading us to the conclusion that the less proficient the learner, the more important the teacher's role at that stage of improving the written work. Hedge (2000:328) lists the following features that good writers demonstrate, which nicely wraps up our outline so far: 1. They have something to say as well as a sense of purpose. 2. They have a sense of the audience. 3. They control the development of their ideas, giving them a sense of direction. 4. They can organize their content clearly and in a logical manner. 5. They can use language conventions, such as grammar and spelling, to develop sentence structure. 6. They link ideas and demonstrate a range of vocabulary.

15.3. Long-term investment in the writing skill
In fact, any teaching approach which emphasizes discourse as a unit of the foreign language material is a good candidate for providing foundation for the written skill. Communicative Language Teaching offers very specific and technical guidance in addition to stressing discourse. It would also seem logical to expect some benefits for the writing skills from developing the skills of reading, listening, and speaking. The list of long-term strategies which enhance the students' readiness to write is not vastly different from the long-term investment in the speaking skill, but I will reiterate the most important points:


15. Productive skills: writing

1. Stressing typological features of various discourse genres in the receptive skills, especially reading, provides the learner with various discourse models and plans, which can be used as raw material in writing. 2. Productive tasks used to top off reading comprehension, such as responding to the author of the reading passage in the role of the sender are straightforward writing tasks guided in terms of situational context and content, but demanding important communicative decisions from the learner. 3. Parallel writing, as well as summary and precis writing, are useful transitional activities which exploit ample reading input from reading in the writing task. In the case of summaries and precis, some content decisions have been made for the learner; in the case of parallel writing, the discourse genre is used as a point of reference, whereas the content is usually changed, depending on the learner's intention. 4. Language learning which does not disregard content provides raw material for writing in terms of factual knowledge that the learner accumulates and can use in various written tasks. Learners who are consistently encouraged to think critically and to evaluate ideas are ready and willing to express their thoughts on a given subject in writing. 5. Jotting down ideas, writing plans for oral compositions, and writing down whole oral presentations are the strategies which bring the learner closer to integrating the numerous operations of full-scale writing. The benefits which emanate from these long-term investments can be summarized as helping the learners to develop their ability of constructing sustained discourse. This ability is an extremely important context for the mechanics of using syntax to signal coherence and cohesion, as well as storing sentence constructions to support longer utterances.

15.4. Learning how to write versus process writing
It has been stressed in this outline that using language for communication produces learning effects in the form of memory traces which can be helpful on subsequent communicative occasions. This reciprocal relationship refers to writing as much as to any other form of verbal communication, the more so that writing is conducive to organizing ideas and reasoning processes so that they can be understood even better. In current literature on developing the writing skill we have two processes which must be set apart and brought back together again: the learning process with various stages which reflect the growing complexity of the writing skill and process writing which consists of the important components of the act of writing spread in time to enable the writer to cope with one at a time. Let me address these two ideas to stress the reciprocal relationship between them. 1. The stages of the process of learning how to write refer to the learner's growing ability of dealing with increasingly difficult writing tasks over time. The stages reflect the growth of a skill.

15.4. Learning how to write versus process writing


2. The stages of process writing reflect the act of writing, which in the case of the written language can be spread over time to facilitate coping with a complex undertaking. The stages reflect the growth of a task. Regarding the learning process, in their influential book from 1978, Rivers and Temperley (1978:265) provided a list of stages in learning how to write in a foreign language, which accurately outlined the scope of the problem from the perspective of the 1970s: • writing down (learning the conventions of the code), • writing the language (learning the potential of the code), • production (practising the construction of fluent expressive sentences and paragraphs), • expressive writing (using the code for purposive communication). The list reflects the progression in learning how to write from the mechanics of handwriting to sentences, to paragraphs and to communication. Although these stages must have been completed for the writer to achieve a certain level of proficiency, nowadays, especially in CLT and in more recent conceptions, they are no longer considered to be such clear-cut distinct entities or episodes in the learning process as they used to be in the past decades. A much more dynamic and integrative view of these stages is dominant in which communicative context would be used for the learner to perform even an elementary task, and various ways of facilitating writing would not prevent the learner from constructing a meaningful message quite early in the learning process. The categories which are taken into account in grading writing activities include: • the cognitive difficulty of the task; other things being equal, immediate experience and everyday content would be easier to write about than abstract content which activates formal thought processes; the narrative, i.e. events coded chronologically is considered to be the elementary form of organization which would present the least cognitive difficulty to the learner (Littlewood, 1979); • the length of the task; other things being equal, the longer the task the more complex it would be; this concerns the hierarchy of ideas and planning strategies involved; in a way similar to the receptive tasks, we may always seek the facilitation effect by segmenting a bigger task into smaller components; • the resources needed for the task; the information pool needed to do the task can be available to the learner internally as his or her own knowledge representations, externally as available resources to be consulted for the task, time permitting, and the immediate input presented as context of the task; • the time available to the learner; the task will always be more difficult when there is a time limit, which means that the learner must work at a certain designated pace and may not be able to consult the external resources. In fact, to be communicatively fit and to survive in our culture, we must be able to perform written tasks within certain reasonable time limits; written tasks cannot take forever.


15. Productive skills: writing

15.5. Sample activities of learning how to write in EFL
Diary or journal writing in English is a form of recording thoughts and impressions or feelings, which the teacher may read and respond to. The element of organization of ideas does not play a decisive role in the case of diary or journal writing because the main point is to encourage the learner to write regularly in order to prepare for more challenging tasks.

Letter writing The Golden Fork Restaurant
After seeing an advert for a local restaurant, you and your friend Tony went there last Friday but it was an expensive and disappointing evening. You've described the experience in a letter to a friend. Read the restaurant advertisement, restaurant bill and the extract from the letter and then, u s i n g the information carefully, write the letter described in the instructions on page 34.

15.5. Sample activities of learning how to write in EFL


Dear Pat,

You asked how Tony's birthday celebration went. Well, after a lot of discussion and consulting various restaurant guides, we saw an advert for a place called the Golden Fork which looked interesting and had had good reviews. All I can say is it's not a good idea to believe everything you read! When we arrived we were the only ones there - hardly a good sign! The place was absolutely freezing - maybe they didn't think it was worth wasting money on heating for just the two of us - but anyway we had to keep our coats on throughout. The menu looked quite promising, actually, but they were completely out of lobster which was our first choice. The waiter was pretty scruffy and off-hand and we got the distinct impression he was more interested in getting back to the kitchen where it was warmer! In the end, I had a steak which was as tough as old boots, with peas which were obviously tinned. Tony had some vegetarian dish which they'd obviously heated up in the microwave but not for long enough because it was lukewarm. The bill was the last straw! It was enormous - they'd charged extra for bread (which we didn't eat), and included a service charge of 20%, would you believe it? In the end we just paid the bill and went, we were too miserable to make a fuss. Thinking about it later, though, and looking at what it says in their advert, we've decided to write and complain in the strongest terms. If they don't give us our money back, we're going to write to each and every one of those restaurant guides and put them in the picture!

Write a suitable letter of complaint to the Golden Fork Restaurant. You must lay out the letter in the appropriate way but it is not necessary to include addresses. Source: Sue O'Connell, 1992. Advanced English CAE. Walton on Thames, Surrey: Nelson, pages 33-34.

Letter writing e.g. personal letters in which we communicate about everyday matters having our addressee and purpose in mind as well as our previous contacts and common ground (shared knowledge), which are important communicative parameters. Letter writing for many young people nowadays mainly takes the form of e-mail correspondence mediated by the Internet, which has some stylistic features of its own. Both pen-pal and key-pal projects, in other words, maintaining correspondence with a group of learners abroad, are very motivating writing activities. Other forms of letter writing activities include: letters to the editor, to the agony column, invitations, letters of application, letters of complaint, letters of congratulations, official and business letters, etc. These activities may be based on direct models, which the students are asked to follow in one way or another, or on more complicated input which, if properly analysed, provides substantial clues to the writer, as in the above example.


15. Productive skills: writing

This particular material comes from a book of practice tests for CAE and consists of parts, each of which is to highlight some aspect of the communicative situation essential for writing a letter of complaint. The first set consists of a) an advertising leaflet which tries to attract customers with the restaurant's specialties and b) a bill from the same restaurant. The next material is an excerpt from a personal letter, describing a very disappointing and expensive evening at the Golden Fork Restaurant. The task is to assume the perspective of this customer and write a letter of complaint to the manager. The task is interesting because the plentiful input is not provided in a ready form. The learner must first select the relevant data from the information provided to subsequently integrate it and supplement the missing elements from his or her own knowledge store. A considerable part of this task relies on comprehension processes and a deep understanding of the instructions to realize what the learner already knows. The task format requires the learner not to lose sight of the goal to be accomplished and adjust the writing procedures accordingly, rather than process globally all of the information given. The advertisement and the bill are relevant as sources of information only to the extent to which they can be useful in the letter of complaint, which must emphasize the mismatch between what the leaflet promises and what the restaurant delivers, as described in the personal letter. The personal letter, on the other hand, is a rich source of data, but not everything in it is relevant to the rather formal and condensed letter of complaint to be written. Selection criteria for the relevant information result from the conventional entities for the letter of complaint: reason for writing, date and place of the event, failures in categories with the necessary details, action demanded and a threat of reaction, if not satisfied. Some of my students, who were asked to do this task, included the fact that it was their wedding anniversary, which was irrelevant to the main point altogether. Having established the relevant pool of facts and failures to deliver what was promised, the learners were supposed to activate the conventional plan for a letter of complaint providing the information in a reader (manager) friendly way and rephrasing it in a slightly more formal style. The relative ease or difficulty of the task depends on whether or not the learners know the conventional plan for a letter of complaint and whether or not the transformation of the informal into more formal style is accessible to them on the basis of what they know. All in all, the students who did the task for me evaluated it as interesting and practical, even if they were never to write such a letter in the future, because it was practical, which means, it invited them to enter a communicative situation and to act within its constraints and parameters. Narrative writing embraces a variety of tasks, such as stories, summaries of films or novels, comic strips, events, biographies, personal episodes, worst memories, best memories, excursions, etc. The level of difficulty may vary, depending on the needs of the students. For the beginner and the intermediate student, this form of organizing discourse is a most valuable practice in the use of tenses in

15.5. Sample activities of learning how to write in EFL


English as well as their sequence. In writing a story, the learner is constrained by the need to communicate the relevant ideas and be understood at the same time. The following example illustrates some of the problems faced by the learner of English as a foreign language at the intermediate level.
A student's summary of a film A film 'Ghost' is about young couple. She is an artist and he is a bancer. They lived together and wanted to marriage. They had a friend who worked in the same bank as Sam. This 'friend' made a dirty money. Sam detect something and changed the number and a code of account. So in the same time the 'friend' found a gangster who killed Sam. Sam was dead but his ghost was still around. He saw and heard everyone, but nobody saw and heard him. Demi was in despair. She looked for human who could help her. At this time Sam found his murderer. He knew that Demi was in danger. He wanted to tell her this, but how? He found a medium. She could hear him. They together came to Demi, but she didn't believe. Sam couldn't tought anything. He learned on the train station with another ghost how to toughing things. After again with the medium he went to Demi. He penetrated trought the wall and told medium that Demi was in short blauz, dark trousers, and she has earrings which received she from Sam a year next year. Medium repeated this. Demi still didn't believe. In this moment Sam told medium to put a coin (Demi didn't see his hand and him) and gived the coin Demi. In his moment Demi believed. They spoke with Sam for a long time but in one moment came this pseudo friend and he wanted to kill medium and Demi. They ran away on the roof. Friend ran on the roof too, but there Sam killed him. When he died his ghost was around. But in one moment devils got him to hell. Sam found Demi and medium and spoke with them gone to heaven.

This sample is a draft submitted as homework and it is quoted here to illustrate not only the language and comprehensibility problems, especially the tenses, which an intermediate learner faces while producing a seemingly simple film summary, but first and foremost the need for feedback and the editing stage still to be added to the task. Leaving the task in the form as presented above does not make up a complete learning experience, and those specialists who claim that error correction is unnecessary and harmful to the learner's ego should rest assured that the quality of writing as presented above hurts not the learner's ego, but the teacher's reputation as a professional. What kind of teacher would leave the learner at this stage of ignorance? What would the communicative benefits be to the leaner if he or she did? Certainly, the context of the task is the appropriate framework to process and incorporate feedback. The benefits of providing feedback to this task are considerable because the learner can improve his or her control of the grammatical system in a practical, task-related, contextualized way. Book report or book review. This task format may also be used with reference to other genres. Essential considerations in such a task is a model for writing and balanced proportions between the summary part and the evaluation part. The level of difficulty may vary quite considerably depending on the material in focus and grading criteria. Leaving the choice of the book to the learner may increase


15. Productive skills: writing

the attractiveness of the task, but the point of the task very often is to check whether the learner has read the assignment. Description. Descriptive tasks may range from fairly straightforward to quite creative. The most important point is the organization of a description to orient the reader, for example conduct the description from the centre to the background, from the left to the right, from the bottom to the top, or in a clockwise direction, etc. Descriptions may be realistic, for example, picturing the view you can see through the window now, including the construction crane in front of you, or imaginary or fantastic, refer to people and places, works of art such as paintings or monuments, and depending on the caliber of the writer, they may also be fascinating to read. A form of description quite popular in CLT includes describing processes; such a form of chronology naturally organizes discourse into a coherent whole and demands coordinated tense and vocabulary use. Natural plans always provide useful memory support in language tasks because they are available in the learner's mind without being coded in an ethnic language. Creative writing, such as poems, stories, plays. These tasks may seem too difficult to some learners and cause stress, but if elected by those learners who feel they can give them a try, they may be highly rewarding and motivating. The point of such tasks is not only to stimulate creativity in language use, but also enhance the process of visualization and imagination, i.e. thinking in pictures, with or without the use of background music. Limited language resources need not prevent learners from constructing imaginative or funny stories or poems filled with emotions with fresh and exciting metaphors. As we recall, creativity reduces stress and may be promoted in the classroom with any age group, not only just children, who are naturally creative. Long-term investment in creative tasks comes from teaching culture, especially literature, and using various literary forms, such as poems, as material for discussion and interpretation.

15.6. Process writing
Process writing is a relatively recent addition to teaching writing in a foreign language, but it is not a recent invention in the educational system. Any MA or BA seminar is in fact a good case of process writing in action because the course does not require the students to bring a completed piece of writing each time the class meets; instead students focus on only one stage of the task for a week or more and hand in the finished product after numerous revisions which are not themselves graded or evaluated. If they are asked to produce an independent piece of writing during the course, it is closely related to the target task as an integral part or an embryo of the final product. The idea of process writing is to segment the task of writing, which is formally complex and intellectually non-trivial, into stages to enable the student to cope with it. There seems to be a reciprocal relationship between the complexity of the task and the need to spend extended time on various stages of writing it. In contrast to some opinions (Ur, 1991; Hedge, 2000),

15.7. Error correction in the written work


there is no need or obligation to introduce process writing when the learners are not proficient enough to handle such a challenge, or when their needs do not justify such activities. Ur (1990) points out what in her view is a disadvantage of process writing, namely that it is time-consuming, which is a misunderstanding. If a task can be done faster, there is no need to launch the whole elaborate procedure of process writing. If, however, the task is worth doing with the learners, but its complexity warrants the process approach, there is in fact no other way out but to invest the necessary time. Most typical contexts for the process approach to writing would be academic and professional settings. The key stages of process writing reflect the act of producing an extended complex piece of discourse, and they are not vastly different from the components of speaking. The only difference is that speaking is usually done under temporary constraints. Keeping in mind the fact that writers produce discourse, strategically and recursively, we have nevertheless distinguished the following components (see 14.2.): • deciding on the content of the piece of writing; • planning the piece of writing; • producing a rough draft; • editing and redrafting while incorporating feedback and modifications. Once we have a relatively complex topic which cannot be developed overnight, we plan to spend time in and out of class to focus on each stage and provide the learner with feedback and opportunities to discuss the outcomes with their peers. Decisions in the realm of content of process writing may be enhanced by classroom conversation, brainstorming, peer input, graphic visualization of the problem, using resources and conducting opinion polls, generating creative ideas, interviewing people/consulting experts, using illustrative materials from books or films. Planning may be conducted as a classroom writing task with one collective plan being written on the board, or as planning options which learners may note down to use for inspiration or as their actual material. The teacher may provide guidance and feedback at this stage once the learner does have a clear view how to organize his or her piece. At this point, emphasis may be placed on the fact that the piece of writing must be clear to the reader. The stage of drafting and editing is discussed in various sources from the point of view of the question whether or not the teacher should correct errors and whether peer editing is a useful strategy. This is precisely the stage when error correction and other forms of revision should be done and incorporated to improve the quality of the final copy.

15.7. Error correction in the written work
To summarize reasons for error correction and teacher's feedback during the stage of editing in process writing, the following arguments will be listed: 1. Peer input is most valuable during classroom interaction, brainstorming or brain searching for ideas to be shared, in a critical discussion of issues which


15. Productive skills: writing

stimulate thinking on a given topic, or in joint projects when the responsibility for the product is evenly distributed among peers. Peer correction of written work, however, which is common in the first language context, is not justified in the process of foreign language learning, and writing in particular, other than as a time-saving device (Hedge, 2000; Ur, 1991; Raimes, 2002). As a time-saving device, however, it is just as good as asking your fellow patient in line to a doctor's appointment to diagnose your illness and prescribe your medicines. We know that useful exchanges happen in the doctor's waiting room, but people wait to see the doctor anyway. It is an integral part of the teacher's professional role to help the learner eliminate language imperfections in his or her work. Peers cannot be responsible for the teacher's professional role nor do they have sufficient language tools to do that in the context of foreign language learning. 2. Since error correction is necessary as part of feedback which pushes the language learning process forward, it would be useful to point out that editing a written task, especially produced in process writing, is the most opportune moment to do it. These are the reasons: • The feedback is provided in a private way, on the written work that only the learner concerned gets to see. When the teacher sees the need to publicly discuss a segment of the text as relevant to the rest of the class, he or she can do this anonymously; nobody's ego is hurt while everybody can learn some useful information; • Unlike speaking, writing has the advantage of giving permanence to language utterances so, in addition to producing the piece, we can also reflect on it to focus on forms and process related feedback, as well as reason about forms in order to learn them better; • Writing is the appropriate context for processing feedback on form because forms in the graphemic code are represented explicitly, as opposed to their reduced representation (unaccented pronunciation) in speaking; what we process fast and automatically in on-line speaking and listening can now be taken out of our attentional periphery and made precise to be automatized in the target-like form. • Editing and improvements on the drafts are a natural activity for native speakers and even for highly accomplished writers; the better the writer the deeper the editing; if learners do not wish to benefit from this natural stage of writing, this means that they, not the teachers, are the ones to change their attitudes. We know very well that good language learners pay attention to form and edit their writing very carefully as they gratefully, which is not to say uncritically, incorporate their teacher's ideas; weaker learners, on the other hand, treat the editing stage in a rather nonchalant manner, sometimes trying to educate the teacher to change his or her point of view rather than to modify their own. I call such learners defensive learners; they do not come to the educational process to change because they think of themselves as finished products. Unfortunately for them, this is a deeply misconceived idea of the role of the learner and the role of the educational process.

15.7. Error correction in the written work


• Errors in foreign language production are quite natural because of the unpredictability of verbal communication; when we see some imperfections in students' writing, the problem is not that the students are wrong; the students are not yet 100 percent right. So the task of the teacher is to add - not to correct but to add the necessary input to help the learner come closer, i.e. approximate the target language norm in this particular task. Writing accurately can only be learned while receiving error corrections on written tasks. There is no other way to learn productive accuracy. It is a natural and normal part of language learning. At the same time, expecting the teacher to perform error correction tactfully and effectively should not be considered as asking too much of a professional. • A productive task is the ideal context in which accuracy in syntactic forms can be polished; expecting that all errors will disappear as a result of such corrections is unrealistic; acquiring morphosyntactic accuracy is a painstaking process, yet the only natural unit of the material for this process to operate is the task rather than sentence-based grammar exercise (see section 15.). The written work of our students is time-consuming to read and correct, a problem that must be solved strategically, and it does not involve direct, face-to-face communication. Nevertheless, it is a very useful multipurpose form of language practice for the learner, who is encouraged to perform the task individually, using all the communicative freedom he needs. S/he then receives individualized feedback on this task. This form of teacher-learner interaction is a significant way of intensifying interaction and the learner's participation.

Topics and review questions

1. What are the similarities and differences between speaking and writing? What are they in the area of rehearsal and editing? 2. How do the differences in speaking and writing influence the choice of error correction strategies? 3. Do you see any value in such intermediate activities as so-called paragraph writing? If so, what are they? 4. Think of a topic of a written task (about five paragraphs or less, if you wish) which would involve learners in writing about their native culture. What would its topic be? How would you present it? What instructions would you give? How would you get the learners started? 5. What would in your view be a suitable topic for a task in process writing for a group of upper-intermediate or advanced students? What resources would you need? What stages would you have and how much time for each of them would you consider suitable? 6. What is your opinion about peer input and peer correction? 7. Do you agree or disagree with the points regarding error correction at the end of the chapter? What other considerations have not been mentioned? What is your personal opinion in this regard? 8. How can the teacher tell the difference between the learner who just does not try hard enough or does not take enough time to write an acceptable written piece and the learner who has done his or her best, and yet made some errors?


15. Productive skills: writing
Further reading Byrne, D., 1988. Teaching Writing Skills. London: Longman. Brookes, A., and P Grundy, 1990. Writing for Study Purposes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Grabe, W., and R. B. Kaplan, 1996. Theory and Practice of Writing. London: Longman. Hedge, T., 1988. Writing. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Krashen, S. D., 1984. Writing: Theory and Applications. Oxford: Pergamon Press. Kroll, B. (ed.), 1990. Second Language Writing: Research Insights for the Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Leki, I., 1989. Academic Writing: Techniques and Tasks. New York: St Martins Press. Raimes, A., 1983. Techniques in Teaching Writing. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Reinking, J. A., and A.W. Hart, 1991. Strategies for Successful Writing. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall. Sherman, J., 1994. Feedback. Oxford: Oxford University Press. TESOL Quarterly 1991, 25 devoted to writing White, R. V., and V. Arndt, 1992. Process Writing. London: Longman. Zamel, V., 1982.Writing: the process of discovering meaning. TESOL Quarterly 16, 2, 195-209.

he guide on teaching English as a foreign language has taken us on a trip in time, to the past of foreign language teaching, in which English as a foreign language has always played a prominent role, to look at the evolution of ideas on how to go about doing this in a changing cultural environment as well as growing recognition of the complexity of the teaching task. Various ideas of dealing with complexity have been developed, including the need to strengthen the scientific foundations for teaching and extending its conceptual framework. The ever growing demand for speakers competent in various foreign languages has necessitated the institutionalization of foreign language teaching and providing it with academic foundations. What used to be a finite body of knowledge and relatively simple directives has evolved into a dynamic and fascinating academic discipline branching out and specializing in various highly technical directions and coming to terms with its subject matter - people engaged in verbal communication. This retrospective on the development of ideas on foreign language teaching outlined in the volume provides a professional teacher with tools for a balanced and principled evaluation of his or her teaching options, both currently available and still to be developed. A professional certainly needs a sense of orientation in the past developments to evaluate them rationally and not to discard any of them for inadequate reasons. At the same time, he or she must be able to tell the difference between a valid, promising procedure used for a specific function, and a hoax, or a lot of crap. On the other hand, a highly desired and necessary map of teaching and learning, a bird's eye view of the whole problem, which has been elaborated in this outline, shows us vast territories still to be explored. The bird's eye view that we see emerging now is fascinating: it shows people in interaction in social situations which are part of human cultures. They grow with us as we grow along our lifespan to acquire increasingly complex abilities for these interactions. At the same time, as we live, we accumulate our personal experience and vast knowledge representations. Our learning processes have definite mental location



and representation. Our interactions are species and language specific: they have a recognizable structure and partly predictable flow. Our interactions involve us as whole human beings, together with our emotions and personalities as well as intellect. Language learning, including foreign language learning, runs on human resources: time and intellectual (cognitive) energy on both the side of the learner as well as the teacher. We need time because language, the tool of communicative interactions, is a vast and extremely complex problem space while we are limited by our attentional capacity at a given time. We need intellectual or cognitive energy because language learning is cognitive work. Its form depends on what is available at a given stage of our lifespan development i.e. the form is different for children, who rely on play supplemented by motor activity, than for the adults, who are able to engage in focused, sustained study. Teaching English as a foreign language at the dawn of the 21st century is in a fascinating state because, after turmoil and agitation, it has finally hit the ground, which is to say, it has finally, after who-knows-how-many-centuries, conceptually targeted real people in the real world: it now deals with learners communicating in the target language not with grammars floating around in search of their speakers. From the point of view of the practice of teaching, this ideological difference is a fundamental transformation. As has been pointed out on numerous occasions in this outline, a teaching approach which is aimed at imparting the grammar of the target language, English for that matter, creates many hurdles for the learner: sentence-length practice materials, artificial texts for reading, scattered underdeveloped content, focus on accuracy at the stages of presentation, practice and contextualization rather than in comprehension and production with specific code-related feedback procedures, cluttering of the communicative channel in the foreign language classroom with activities to which the learners cannot personally relate, so they become alienated, excessive use of indigestible, or certainly unmemorable, metatalk and strong borders between the classroom and the 'real' world. Good language learners will learn the foreign language no matter what, despite the teacher or the inadequate method, but this is not the point. A child will learn a foreign language if we start early enough and give him or her plenty of time, but this is not the point, either. The point is to recreate the primary and secondary conditions for foreign language learning in the classroom, i.e. to create sheltered environment for a language learning hothouse. What are the advantages, including economic advantages, of growing plants and vegetables in a hothouse? That we are not constrained by the outside climate and can harvest the benefits, including economic gains, of our own expertise. If we know enough about human learning and communicative interactions, we should be able to recreate the conditions for foreign language learning in the school environment. But, admittedly, our ideas on how to go about doing it have changed dramatically over the last decades. What are the implications of this situation for the professionals in the field of teaching? The first one is what we have known forever: that the process of foreign language teaching is a resource-demanding undertaking. Since the learning operations result from the involvement and participation of the learner and the teacher,



we need plenty of time and opportunities for individualized interaction to make that happen. The institutions which, at a price, can guarantee such conditions and implement even fairly traditional teaching procedures, are closer to success than avant-garde courses of low intensity and with large groups. The second implication regards the definition of the teacher's professional role, which has recently been blurred to intolerable proportions, implying that teachers should decline their classroom leadership role yet assume some completely marginal, non-technical roles including research responsibilities. This underestimation of the need for the social division of labour is in fact tantamount to adding an unnecessary burden to our work load. As we realize, there is no way of preventing people from assuming more than one role in their professional career, but this is quite different from assuming two under-defined roles in place of a single, yet well-defined, one. The first and the main difference between a professional and a non-professional is having the educational background required for the particular job. Fortunately, our educational system has been extensively developed for that purpose. The second one is the classroom role in the language learning process which characterizes a professional. It has been described as the role of a leader who can mobilize a group of people to work toward a given goal. The teacher must understand the nature of the goal and what it takes to reach it. The teacher must also have some power to organize, coordinate and regulate the work of the group, but this power must be legalized by his or her expertise rather than anything else. Having some vested power as a leader is nothing new in democratic group undertakings and teachers need not be ashamed of the fact that they know better. They should. This is precisely where their responsibility lies: in taking the learners to exactly the target that the learners envisage, the command of the foreign language. If the professional expertise is inadequate, we may be missing the target, as many conceptions outlined in this work demonstrate vividly. It is the teacher's responsibility to refine his or her expertise of learning and communicative processes to deserve the trust of the learners. Retaining the power of a leader, as much of it as necessary to coordinate the group endeavour of learning, does not preclude supportive and democratic or partner/reciprocal relationships between the participants in the teaching process. But respect and support are needed by both sides: by the learners as much as by the teacher, which we bitterly realized witnessing their gross abuses taking place in our schools. The third aspect of the teacher's professional role is to guarantee the functioning of the primary and secondary conditions of language learning. This means the learners' access to meaningful input for observation and interaction, and the teacher's positive and negative feedback for the primary conditions as well as the enlightened use of cultivation strategies to facilitate, guide, and enhance the process of learning the code of communication. Feedback is as necessary to the learner to refine his or her knowledge representations as to the teacher to evaluate the effectiveness of his or her teaching efforts. In this context, teaching has nothing to do with handing out bits and pieces of information to the learners or 'explaining' to them so they learn the language, or 'giving' learners vocabulary to



use. The role of the teacher as a leader implies that the learners process the necessary information themselves under his or her supportive guidance. If the teacher declines to provide this expert guidance, including objective evaluation of the learner's progress and corrective feedback, he or she will make the whole task more difficult to the learner. In many circumstances the learner is viewed as a client and the teacher as a service provider. This role arrangement, though deceptively attractive, has its hidden trap: in the market economy to which this role assignment clearly alludes, such factors as quality criteria and competition are also at play, so professionals are more likely to survive anyway. Having justified the role of background knowledge as the foundations for the professional activity of an EFL teacher, anyone will admit that the problem space is vast and one set of answers evokes a host of further issues, so one volume cannot do justice to the job of introducing a professional to its meanders. To be continued...

Brainstorming. Oyster (2000) explains the concept of brainstorming as a technical term used in stimulating creativity in group processes, for example before group projects in companies. The purpose of the first stage in brainstorming is to generate as many creative ideas as possible without concern for their evaluation. Critical judgment is actively suspended because it is the number and variety of ideas that matter. The next stage is a more critical selection or even synthesis of these creative ideas to provide a suitable solution to the problem at hand. In foreign language didactics, however, the term 'brainstorming' seems to be used much more freely to refer to any classroom conversation during which learners recall and share relevant information, especially before reading a text, i.e. as part of a warm-up activity. Clarification of meaning is understood as a conversational exchange in which the listener diagnoses a problem in his comprehension and requests clarification, whereas the speaker complies with this request and provides a repair (Rost, 1990:119). Long uses the term 'negotiation of meaning' for such an event and attributes it an important function in second language acquisition. If taken literally rather than metaphorically, however, the word 'negotiation' refers to situations when speakers reach a compromise, meet half-way in their goals or plans, for example while negotiating terms of agreement or contract. In a conversation, both parties have the same goal, to understand each other's utterances so the meaning is not subject to negotiation. If it were, a speaker would have to make a compromise in his intended meaning e.g. change it. Instead, the speaker provides further comprehension clues to the listener while all the time sticking to his original communicative intention. As a result, meaning is subject to clarification, not negotiation. A suitable example of negotiation of meaning would be a situation in which a group of scholars get together to write a letter to the organizers of an up-coming international conference to let them know that they are not happy with their


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choice of key-note speakers. As they are trying to formulate the letter, they negotiate the ideas to be included, for example: 'should we suggest our own candidates?' This case is far apart from clarification of meaning, when one party has a hard time comprehending the message of the other and received additional clues. Needless to say, clear understanding of meaning does have an important role to play in foreign language learning because it plays a very important role in verbal communication. Classroom conversation versus chatting with students. On several occasions in connection with warm-up before reading, the idea of classroom conversation appears to denote a communicative format: the teacher faces all the students and turn-taking is available both to volunteers and to the speakers nominated by the teacher. The content of classroom conversation is another matter. When classroom conversation is devoted to everyday topics of personal interest with the social purpose of paving the way to the main 'business' of the lesson, it performs the function of chatting with the students, which is a perfectly natural communicative act. Cognitive schemata can be understood as internally represented structures, images, models, or plans which reflect reality: actual, real, hypothetical, fictional, past, present or future, and which mediate our information processing: comprehension, storage and use. To be of use in specific and unique situations of information processing, they must be abstract, have a degree of generality (universality, or adaptability). Abstract quality comes from focusing on some relevant properties and disregarding others. Abstraction and universality go together. Schemata are adjusted, modified and reconstructed actively to suit the concrete information being processed. Comprehension versus understanding. When we wish to understand non-verbal information, we try to make sense of the situation or find the underlying propositional coherence in the ideas presented. When we comprehend discourse, however, we must first decode language by way of assigning meaning to verbal forms, deducing the meaning of unfamiliar items, inferring information not explicitly stated by way of bridging inferences, recognize discourse coherence and cohesion markers, in other words we must decode language to identify propositions as well as make sense of them, i.e. find the underlying links between them. At the stage of decoding language, users experience difficulties connected both with the specific code in which the discourse is communicated (auditory comprehension as different from reading comprehension) and the 'core' (universal, essential, shared) comprehension problems connected with communing to terms with propositions, their structure and mutual relationship, regardless of the code. Comprehension as a process of building a mental model of the situation. Jay (2003:273) explains: 'Text comprehension is a strategic and constructive process

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whereby the reader uses information in the text as cues to the structure of the events, images, and inferences drawn from the text. One of the major issues in discourse comprehension concerns the need for a situational representation, in addition to a representation of the text itself. During the discourse comprehension process, readers actively construct a mental model of what they are processing (Johnson-Laird, 1983; van Dijk and Kintsch, 1983). The comprehension of the text depends not only on a mental representation of the text but also on a mental representation of the situation described by the text... The mental model becomes a rich global representation based on reasoning that goes beyond the mere parsing and comprehension of sentences. A mental model is under continuous construction and revision as incoming information and inferences about the text are processed.' Critical reading. According to Hedge (2000:199): 'Those who advocate the development of critical reading skills as part of reading curriculum argue that the ability to read critically depends on an awareness of how elements of language can be manipulated by writers, and that language learners need to build this awareness. Critical reading pedagogy requires close scrutiny of the language in order to see what the writer means by the text. There is a particular concern in the case of younger learners, that such 'language awareness' should be an important educational goal, and as legitimate to second language as to first language education.' Inferential reasoning is one of the central processes in reading comprehension. Jay (2003:275) states that 'it is a concept central to the mental work needed to construct a model of the text. Inferences are used to make bridges from one proposition to another. They are part of the active constructive process of comprehension.' What from the point of view of the comprehender is inferencing or bridging would, from the producer's perspective, be considered to be ellipsis. Interactional encounters versus transactional encounters. It is common to speak of transactional encounters when informational content plays an important role (e.g. service encounters) and interactional encounters - when the relational component is dominant, as during social, polite conversation (Brown and Yule, 1983). In my framework, interaction is the most fundamental and constitutive feature of verbal communication. These terms, however, imply that transactional encounters are not interactive, and yet they are. In my view, an interactional speaking situation is tautological. The solution to this terminological predicament is to distinguish transactional encounters (service encounters) as a special kind of interaction rather than juxtapose them to interactional encounters. Lexical inferencing is a problem solving procedure to compute the meaning of an unknown word in context. The learner must diagnose what part of speech the word is, recognize its components, such as prefix, root, suffix, recall knowledge of other languages to bring to bear on the problem solving task, look at the immedi-


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ate and broader context to get clues as to what could reasonably be used to fill the existing gap in meaning, refer to general or technical knowledge to fill the existing gap, visualize the situation and draw conclusions from this discourse model as to the feasible solution, use some content or cultural schemata to fill the existing gap. The meaning which is inferred should be checked for accuracy. Meaning versus proposition versus content versus knowledge versus sense. In order to clarify possible ambiguity resulting from frequent use of the above terms, let me point out that for the purposes of this work on teaching English as a foreign language, the term 'meaning' is treated as the opposite of 'form', the term 'proposition' is regarded as a mental, semantic sentence, in which concepts in various relations form ideas. On the verbal level, i.e. on the level of utterance these relations are conveyed by syntactic means. 'Content' also refers to meaning, but it presupposes networks of propositions and their hierarchies in various human domains. It seems appropriate to me to think of content as the factual (semantic) information in discourse, which, when considered from the point of view of human mental representation, can be called 'knowledge'. 'Sense' is perceived when a given set of propositions are mentally organized into a coherent (logical) whole. If discourse makes sense to us, it means that we have been able to reconstruct its propositions and structure them into a system. (As we know, system is a well-organized (hierarchical) whole (arrangement) which consists of elements in mutual relations; a system is more than a sum of its parts). Model is a term which has two meanings in foreign language teaching, both referring to the relationship of correspondence between two elements, the representation and the entity being represented. The first meaning of the term 'model' refers to the fact that our understanding of some phenomenon may be represented in a given form. In this sense we may speak of models of comprehension, discourse processing, top-down and bottom-up models, etc. A model represents our understanding of the phenomenon in a concise way and in this way performs an important heuristic function. The other meaning also refers to a correspondence between two entities in that one entity is a form of replication (imitation) of the other from the point of view of essential structural attributes. Much of language learning involves modelling, if not imitating, target language communicative events and behaviours. The main task for the language learner is to be able to retain essential structural attributes of these events and behaviors and adjust them to the situation at hand. These communicative situational models may be present in the classroom as immediate stimulus material before a given activity or mentally present in the minds of the participants as cognitive representations of relevant structures of behaviour. Such is the nature of target language learning that we develop models of communicative behaviour which we try to approximate. Multiple-choice questions. Rost (1990:132) explains: 'Closed tasks, such as written multiple-choice tests (m/c), differ from summarizing tasks in that the listener

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is given a new text (i.e. the written test) and is asked to integrate a representation of the first text (i.e. the lecture text) with this text. This contribution of this new text is often overlooked when m/c tests are used as measures of 'listening comprehension'. (The term 'comprehension' is used here to refer to a restricted concept of understanding: identifying propositions in a text.) ... Individual items on m/c tests may be considered as selected probes of text representation rather than indications of the listener's understanding of the overall text. However, correct responses on probe test items do not necessarily indicate text understanding, either. Because of chance factors on m/c tests, all subjects, even those who did not hear the lecture text (e.g. who were not present at the lecture), will obtain some correct answers. 'Test wiseness' (i.e. the comprehension of the 'test as a text') will contribute further to some subjects obtaining correct answers.' For the above reasons it seems dangerous to use multiple-choice questions systematically, as a leading form of comprehension check, which a majority of textbook writers would like teachers to do. Participants and non-participants (or overhearers) in communication are distinguished following Goffman (1976). 'Participants can be divided into speakers, addressees, and side participants, who are not anticipated to answer the speaker. Overhearers include two roles, bystanders and eavesdroppers. Bystanders are recognized as present and have access to what the speaker says. Eavesdroppers have access to what the speaker is saying, but are not fully recognized as present' (Jay, 2003:298). Pragmatics is an area of linguistics which deals with the relations of signs to interpreters. According to Morris, it is what people do with signs. Problem solving is a reasoning operation for which there is a missing link in the initial information set. Matczak (1992) mentions three stages of problem solving: 1) defining the problem, i.e. diagnosing the missing element in its context; 2) defining the information needed to solve the problem and sorting out the available information relevant to its solution; 3) generating the missing information as well as evaluating the utility of the solution. The more mature the learner, the more solutions he or she is able to come up with. A schema (pl schemas or schemata) is explained as 'a mental framework used to organize meaningful material on the basis of prior experience with an event or a social situation. The schema guides our understanding of the global outline of the story on which the particular details of propositions are hung. Rather than building a text structure from scratch, schemas function as control structures to ensure the operation of the appropriate context-sensitive construction rules for the text' (Jay, 2003:282). He adds: 'Schemas are culturally constructed, and they affect our understanding as well as our memory for a story. The relevant schema also guides the production of discourse as in a conversation or a storytelling episode.'


Additional terms

Scripts are also mental structures which guide our information processing, but they are more specific than schemata; they provide the details of a sequence of events that unfold chronologically in a particular setting under particular circumstances, for example a restaurant script. System-sentences versus text-sentences is a distinction made by Lyons 1977. System sentences are units in linguistic discussion of the structure and function of language and they never occur as the products of ordinary language behaviour. They are the product of grammar. Such sentences are viewed as objects which have no producers and no receivers. Their function is not taken into account (Brown and Yule, 1983:23). Text-sentences are grammatical units of language use in communicative context. They are linked to producers and receivers. Here, the analysis concentrates on coherence and cohesion in which extended texts are viewed as products. The process view would be focused on the comprehension and production in attempted communication of the message. The term is viewed as a dynamic means of expressing the intended meaning. Text is understood as 'the verbal record of a communicative act' understood as an event (Brown and Yule, 1983:6).

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accuracy, 19, 25, 29, 42, 45, 51, 52, 78, 105, 106, 118, 119, 120, 131,147, 149, 151,153,154, 160, 170, 173, 177, 183, 184, 188, 189,212,231,232, 233, 241, 244, 260, 264, 270 addressee/sender, 91, 93, 97, 124, 125, 127, 130, 132, 133,135, 136,138, 141, 144, 145, 147, 149, 150, 151,154,155, 179, 180, 185, 190, 192, 193, 194,196,197, 199,209,210,214,217,228,230, 232, 233, 234, 240, 250, 251, 252, 255 addressing teaching to the learner, 86, 189 adjacency pairs, 236, 244, 245 adjustments, communicative, 126, 137, 149 adolescence, 78, 157, 158, 160, 167, 173-176, 177 advance organizers, 60, 61 alienation of the learner, 151, 246 alternative methods, 35, 65, 66, 67-79 analogy, 38, 45, 70, 133 analysis/synthesis, 18, 19, 20, 38, 39, 43, 45, 59, 61, 62, 63, 77, 90, 92, 94, 96, 99-100,133, 153, 167, 193, 194, 196, 197,198, 199,202,206,209, 224, 227, 228, 230, 267 anticipation, 128, 129, 130, 146, 152, 209, 220 antimentalism, 39 anxiety, 54, 75, 76, 78, 79, 110, 126, 136, 140, 210, 219, 229, 238-239, 241, 243, 246 approach/avoidance behaviour, 136, 239 articulacy, 240, 241, 242, 246 attention, 60,63,77,92,97,99, 100, 124, 125, 128, 130, 133, 136,141,146, 147, 152, 153,160, 162, 163, 165, 167, 176, 177, 180, 181, 182,206,211, 220, 224, 225, 226, 233, 244, 246, 247, 250 attentional periphery, 154, 260 Audiolingual Approach 38, 39, 40, 45, 47, 60, 62, 148

Audiolingual Method, 39, 43, 44, 45, 47, 53, 58, 61,65,213, 248 audiolingualism, 36, 44, 47, 49, 51, 231 auditory input, 181, 182, 213, 215, 220, 222, 223 authentic task, 148, 183-187, 225 authentic text, discourse, materials, 27, 70, 93, 103, 104, 115, 117, 176, 177, 183-187, 221 autobiographical memory, 164 automatic/controlled processes, 124,128,136,153, 154 autonomous view of foreign language teaching, 80,81 Berlitz Method, 25, 30 bilingual lists of vocabulary, 19 bottom-up/top-down processing, 129, 155, 191, 192, 270 brainstorming, 201, 210, 259, 267 categorization, 168 chatting with students, 241, 242, 244, 268 childhood, 157, 160, 163-173, 176, 177 chorus repetition, 41 chronological/feature coding, 130, 164 cloze, 221 cognition, 53, 124, 131, 132, 160 Cognitive Approach 57-59 Cognitive Method, 52, 53, 57-64, 65, 105, 248 cognitive structure, 54, 49, 60, 138, 159 Cognitive Code Learning theory, 53, 56, 59, 60, 65 coherence, 32, 94, 95, 96, 151, 154, 183, 184, 211, 250, 252, 268, 272



cohesion, 32, 51,94-95, 96-97, 120, 154, 183, 184, 211,250, 252, 268, 272 commitment to the task, 82, 172 communication, interpersonal, 82, 126, 137, 212, 214 communicative assertiveness, 137, 140-141, communicative intention, 78, 102, 104, 120, 124, 125, 127, 137, 138, 144, 149,179, 187, 190, 194, 197, 199, 201, 233, 234, 235, 243, 250, 267 Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), 15, 89, 90, 92, 93, 94, 97, 101, 103, 105, 106, 108, 109,115-122, 185,231,232,244,248 251,253, 258 Communicative Method, 89, 100, 101-107, 231 communicative syllabus, 98 communicative techniques, 100 Community Language Learning, 76-79 comparison, 43, 47, 58, 61, 96, 131, 133, 146, 244 competence communicative, grammatical, sociolinguistic, strategic, discourse 51, 55, 60, 86, 87, 89, 90, 92-93, 94, 98, 102, 105, 109, 119, 139, 172, 174, 177, 239, 240 Comprehension Approach, 26, 30, 72 comprehension, 13, 20, 26, 30, 41, 60, 63, 71, 72, 73, 76, 81, 94, 117, 119, 120, 124, 126, 127, 129, 130, 131, 137, 138, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148-149, 150, 152, 154, 170, 173, 179, 181, 182, 183, 184, 190, 193, 194, 196, 198, 206, 209, 210, 212, 213, 214, 215, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 224, 225, 226, 227, 228, 230, 233, 234, 235, 236, 243, 256, 264, 267, 268, 269, 271, 272 conditioning, 37 content, 15,26,45,51,56, 58,59,63,70,72,78,84 85, 93, 97, 100, 103, 104, 108, 111, 113, 114, 118, 120,124,125,127, 129,132, 136, 139, 144, 145, 149, 151, 152, 155, 166, 176,177,192,193, 196, 199,204,207,209,210,221,225,227,228, 229,230,232,233,234,240,241,243,244,246, 249, 251, 252, 253, 259, 264, 268, 269, 270 contrast, 23, 26, 28, 31, 39, 57, 118, 132, 133, 144, 205 conversation, 20, 24, 27, 40, 77, 78, 94, 96, 100, 104, 120, 149, 150, 156, 160, 162, 165, 166,168, 173,175, 182,201,210,211,213,214,215,222, 229,232,235,236,237,240,241,243,244,245, 267, 268, 269, 271 creative involvement, 114 creativity, 14, 16, 50, 57, 73, 85, 93, 135, 137, 155, 160, 169, 172, 174, 177, 228, 230, 243, 258, 267 cultivation strategies, 143, 148, 155, 156, 183, 266

culture, 15,22,26,27,30,39,43,55,58,60,76,98, 102, 103 104, 106-107, 119, 125, 126, 130, 138, 146, 155,158, 160,164, 175, 176, 177,181, 184, 200, 212, 222, 231, 263 debate, 53, 61, 62, 96, 107, 232, 237, 246, 248 deduction, deductive, 19, 23, 42, 56, 57, 61, 62, 133,134 defensive learners, 260 definition, 31, 39, 59, 62, 64, 99, 103, 204, 205, 211 describing, 70, 102, 145, 165, 176, 25, 258 dictation, 28, 107, 182, 222, 223, 224, 227 dictation drawing, 107, 221, 223-224 dictogloss, 224 Direct Method, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 32 discourse type/genre, 96-97, 126, 127, 152, 155, 177, 191, 193, 199,202,206,210,212,213,231, 234, 236, 244, 246, 252 discourse, spoken, written, 107, 127, 149, 154, 179, 179-183 discussion, 77, 114, 207, 211, 221, 222, 231, 245, 246, 258, 259 domain terminology, 193, 199 double articulation, 132 drama, 28, 108, 110, 166 drill, 27,28,44,45,46,47, 49-50 , 51,63, 100, 116, 117, 187,213

eclecticism, eclectic orientation, 65, 66-67 editing, 114, 130, 152, 180,183, 189,249,250,251, 257, 259, 260 educational gap, 118 effectiveness, communicative effectiveness, 106, 118, 119, 188 ego-enhancing strategies, 139, 142 elaboration, 70, 75, 129, 145, 152, 168, 197, 201, 234 ellipsis, 95, 96, 127, 179, 215, 269 emitting behaviour, 160 empiricist view of language, 56 error, 15, 43, 45, 61, 74, 87, 92, 106, 118, 119, 185, 189, 239, 251,260 error correction, 15, 24, 30, 31, 77, 106, 110, 118, 119, 146, 183, 244, 251, 257, 259, 260-261 ESP, 143, 155-156 evaluation, 47, 68, 70, 84, 94, 138, 140, 156, 169, 193,194, 195, 196, 199,210,217,218,222,238, 246, 257, 263, 266, 267 expectancy for successive elements, 210 external memory, 48, 168, 234, 244, 248

factual information, 102, 105, 192, 197, 201, 205, 234, 235, 245, 252 feedback, 31, 38, 47, 53, 64, 68, 70, 84, 85, 101, 102, 110, 114, 118, 119,120, 124,126, 128, 129, 130,131,141,143, 146,149,150,152, 153, 160, 177, 179, 182, 183,187,190, 193, 194,205,206, 212,214,218,222,223,224,225,227,242,244, 248, 250, 257, 259, 260, 261, 264, 265 focus on form, 81, 144, 151, 184, 260 follow-up, 111, 112, 113, 207, 209, 211, 221, 230 foreign language aptitude, 82 functions of English, 108, 214, 231


games, 74, 111, 119, 120, 141, 155, 166, 171, 176, 220, 232, 242, 244 generalization, 23, 133 Gestalt psychology, 53 gifted children, 171 grammar, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32, 38, 39,42, 44, 45, 49, 55, 56, 57, 58, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 92, 94, 99, 102, 103, 105, 106, 116, 118, 119,120, 133, 150, 151, 153,154, 160, 162, 163,164, 177, 183,184,213,223,251, 261, 264, 272 Grammar Translation Method, 18, 19, 20, 22, 25, 28, 29, 47, 56, 57, 183 grammaticalism, 19 graphemic/phonemic code, 180, 223, 260 graphemic/phonemic representation, 82, 118, 149, 223 group work, 77, 103, 104, 109, 115, 120, 202, 211 guided imagery, 169, 177 GUME project, 62 holophrases, 163 humour, 170-171, 239 ideal method, 65-66 identity, 55, 132, 137, 141,151, 158, 160, 166,173, 175, 176, 178, 243, 247 idiosyncratic dialect, 86 imitation, 18, 21, 38, 41, 42, 44, 49, 50-51, 68, 74, 75, 148, 150, 160, 161, 164, 176, 213, 222, 270 immediate constituent analysis, 39 individualizing foreign language instruction, 59, 65, 84 induction, inductive, 19,21,22,23, 24, 25, 29,42, 44, 62, 83, 133, 134 inferring, inferencing, 19, 42, 55, 96, 125, 133, 134, 137, 194, 205, 250, 268, 269-270

information gap, 101, 102, 103, 108, 109, 115, 116, 117, 118, 232 inner speech, 160, 165 input, 13, 26, 31, 32, 40, 63, 70, 72, 77, 78, 79, 87, 103, 107, 109,110, 111, 112,116,117,118,120, 130, 131,143,144, 145,146, 147, 148, 150, 151, 152, 153, 155, 176,181, 182, 184, 189,201,206, 207, 209,213,214,215-217, 219, 220, 221,222, 229,233,234,235,239,242,243,245,252,253, 255, 256, 259, 260, 265 Input Hypothesis, 32 insight, 16, 129, 131, 171, 189, 223 integration, 50, 127, 153, 159, 183, 189, 196, 219, 220, 233, 235, 243 intentional learning 63, 136, 141, 153, 168, 177 interaction, 13, 24, 25, 28, 29, 35, 37, 53, 70, 71, 85, 91, 92, 93, 94, 100, 102, 103, 104, 106, 120, 124, 125, 126, 127, 131,132, 135, 136, 137, 138, 143,144, 145, 146,149, 150,151, 152,153,155, 160, 164, 170,171,173, 174, 176,179,181, 190, 191,192, 194, 196,206,209,213,214,215,217, 220,221,222,231,237,245,259,261,263,264, 265, 269 interlanguage, 61, 86 interpretation, 30, 95, 96, 102, 106, 120, 129, 193, 194, 195, 196, 203,210,217,221, 225, 238,258 jig-saw reading, 102, 103, 107, 108, 109 knowledge, factual, background, 14, 16, 106, 152, 184, 191, 196, 200, 201, 206, 233, 235, 236, 266 knowledge, procedural, declarative, 129,145,154, 190 language and culture, 14, 15, 26, 43, 81, 84, 93 language code, 13, 104, 124, 132, 133, 134, 146, 153, 154, 160, 170, 182, 183, 193 language games, 107 language learning, 13, 14,15,16, 17,20,21,22,23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 29, 30, 32, 35, 36, 38, 41, 43, 44,47, 48, 50, 51, 53, 55, 56, 59, 61, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 70, 71, 72, 74, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 87, 89, 99, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 115, 116, 119, 120, 121, 123, 124,128, 131, 135, 136, 141, 142, 143,144,145,146,147, 148,150, 151, 152, 154, 155, 157, 158, 163, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 192, 197,200,205,207,213,214,215, 223,225,234,238,239,246,252,260,261,264, 265, 268, 270


narrative, 22, 26, 62, 164, 168, 176, 202, 236, 244, 248, 253, 256 Natural Method, 20, 24, 26, 28, 32 networks of propositions 234, 270 non-professional teacher, 15, 16, 265 non-verbal communication, non-verbal behaviour, 38, 126 normative grammar, 42 note-taking, 48, 107, 225, 230, 235

language use, 13, 14, 17, 41, 42, 44, 47, 49, 50, 56, 57, 58, 60, 63, 64, 70, 72, 73, 81, 85, 87, 89, 90, 91,93,94,97, 104, 105, 107, 114, 126, 128, 131, 142, 143, 180, 181, 187, 202, 241, 258, 272 Latin, 17, 18, 42 law of effect, 37 lecturette, 201 lifespan development, 159 literacy, 19, 106, 240, 248 long-term investment in speaking, 234-235 low-input/high-input task, 109, 110

mainstream methods, 35, 67, 68 map of communication, 127 meaning, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 27, 30, 31, 39, 47, 54, 60, 63, 66, 68, 69, 70, 77, 81, 82, 83, 89, 90, 91, 94, 96, 100, 102, 103, 104, 106, 115, 120, 127,129, 132,133,135, 136, 138, 141, 144, 147, 148, 149, 150, 152,154, 160, 161, 164,170, 179, 180, 188, 190, 191,192, 193, 194,203,204,205, 206,212,217,219,221,222,227,233,234,235, 240, 248, 249, 267, 268, 269, 270, 272 memorization, 22, 41, 42, 74, 75 memory, 22, 27, 31, 51, 52, 54, 63, 72, 73, 74, 81, 82, 92, 110, 115, 124, 128, 129, 130, 134, 136, 141, 144, 146, 147, 150, 152, 158, 161, 164, 167-169, 176, 177, 179, 180, 182, 191, 197, 200, 203, 204, 205, 206, 213, 214, 216, 219, 225, 229, 249, 252, 258, 271 mental lexicon, 129, 203 metacommunicative knowledge, 170 metalinguistic knowledge, 150, 159, 160, 170 metamemory, 168-169 metatalk, 240, 264 method, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 27, 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, 42, 43, 44, 45, 47, 49, 55, 62, 65, 66, 67, 68, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 77, 78, 79, 84, 86, 89, 94, 154, 155, 212, 213, 231, 264 middle childhood, 157, 158, 166, 167, 169, 172, 177-178 mimicry, 41 modality, modalities 48, 60, 73, 100, 128, 147, 232 modelling, 69,148, 150, 215, 222, 235, 270 monitoring, 41, 114, 124, 129, 130-131, 146, 152, 179, 194, 204, 233 motherese, 163, 165 motivation, integrative, instrumental, task, intrinsic, 59, 82, 83, 125, 136 naming, 24, 145, 163, 165, 168, 176

observational learning, 150, 213 oral/written composition, 62, 77, 108, 230, 241, 244, 252 ordering, 133 overlearning, 41, 49 pair work, 103, 104, 109, 120, 202, 211, 239, 244 pattern drill, 41, 42, 44, 45, 50, 62, 63 perception, 18, 53, 59, 81, 84, 98, 124, 128, 144, 146, 152, 167, 170, 184,218 personality, 37, 91, 138, 164, 166, 172-173, 174-175,213, 238 personalization of content, 60, 211 planning, 114, 124, 128, 129, 130, 139, 146, 152, 161, 163, 180, 199,231,233,241,244,250,251, 259 play, 21, 136, 155, 157, 158, 161, 164, 166, 168, 172, 176, 264 portfolio, 242 post-methods era, 80, 87 potential of the text, communicative, language learning, 56,72,119,131,140,174,185,192,196, 197, 199,200,209,210,211,229,230,234,253 poverty of content, 151 practice, 18, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31, 38, 40, 41, 42, 44,45, 47, 49, 50, 51, 53, 57, 58, 60, 61, 62, 63, 63, 69, 71, 84, 87, 93, 98, 102, 105, 105, 115, 116, 117, 127, 136, 145,148,150, 151, 153, 182, 187, 188,216,217,219,220,233,234,239, 244, 245, 246, 248, 256, 261, 264 précis writing, 193, 211, 252, precision, 118, 119, 120, 131, 147, 149, 150, 151, 153, 154, 182, 183, 193, 204, 206, 227 preclosing statements, 237 pre-linguistic communication, 162 pre-operational stage, 159 pre-reading period, 40, 48, 60, 164, 209, 211 pre-strategies, 167,177 private speech, 160, 165 problem solving, 58,61,62,84, 104, 114, 120, 127, 133, 141, 159, 169, 208, 248, 269, 271

process writing, 248, 252, 253, 258-259, 260 production, 13, 27, 29, 30, 63, 70, 73, 81, 86, 94, 117,119, 124,127,129, 130, 137, 138, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148-149, 150, 152, 153, 154, 156, 179, 180, 184,197,199,215,229,230,233,234, 243, 249, 260, 264 professional role of the teacher, 15, 141, 151, 260, 265 professional teacher, 14, 15, 16, 79, 263, 265, 266 project, project work, 107, 108,113-115,201,220, 232, 236, 245, 260, 267 Prussian Method, 19 random list of words, 203 rationalist view of language, 56 reading aloud, 41, 60, 183, 205-206, 239 reading comprehension, 120, 152, 171, 183, 190-191, 192, 193-196, 194, 200-203, 201, 202,203,205,206,207,209,210,217,219,221, 234, 235, 252, 268, 269 Reading Method, 26 reading, intensive, extensive, 192, 206-207, 214, 219,234 realia, 21, 103 reasoning, 23, 29, 53, 60, 69, 70, 82, 123, 124, 125, 130,133,134, 146,147, 149,150,151, 152, 154, 159, 160, 164, 169, 170, 171, 249,252,269, 271 reception/discovery learning, 54 reduced certainty/uncertainty, 94, 97, 102 Reform Movement, 22, 23 rehearsal, 51, 129, 152, 153, 168, 189, 243, 244 reinforcement, 37, 38 repetition, 26, 27, 41, 44, 49, 51-52, 95, 129, 152, 153, 162, 163, 168, 177, 187, 188, 206, 218, 219, 222 retrospection, 124, 128, 129, 130, 146, 152 role, ascribed, achieved, 97-98 role-play, 74, 103, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 117, 119, 141,231,244 rote learning, 20, 42, 63, 83, 148 rule, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 28, 29, 32, 42, 45, 55, 57, 58, 60, 72, 86, 92, 94, 95, 105, 111, 133, 142, 163, 165, 166, 160, 177, 189, 236, 238, 271 salience, salient, 145, 146, 152, 176, 182 second language, 13, 17, 32, 4, 71, 72, 76, 81, 82, 86, 92, 96, 146, 153, 267, 269 Second Language Acquisition Research, 14, 64, 86-87 self-concept, 138, 139, 172, 174 self-esteem, 110, 126, 136, 138-141, 170, 172, 174


semanticizing, 31, 152, 193, 194, 195, 196 semanticizing device, 31 sensorimotor stage, 72, 159 silent reading, 26, 61, 62, 108, 205 Silent Way, 68-71 Simulation, 107, 108, 111-113, 117, 119, 231, 245 situational context, context of situation, 24, 32, 91, 92, 96, 113, 118, 125, 127, 145, 147, 149, 150, 179, 191, 252 situational reference, 32 skill, 13, 14, 23, 27, 28, 40, 41, 48, 49, 50, 51, 54, 55, 57, 59, 60, 62, 66, 72, 79, 84, 93, 94, 104, 105, 106, 107, 110, 111, 115,116,117,119,127, 153, 179, 182, 182, 183, 184, 187 skill learning, 187-189, 231 skills, receptive/productive, 60, 190-262 skimming/scanning, 105, 107, 120, 149, 207 social conversation, 244, 245 source disciplines, 36, 48, 53-66, 67, 68, 80, 81, 89,154 Speech Act Theory, 90 stage of concrete operations, 159, 164, 166 stage of formal operations, 29, 159, 174 strategic behaviour, 13, 84, 125, 127, 168 strategy, 13, 15,16,28,29 31,41,42,45,47,49,51, 53, 54, 61, 62, 64, 65, 75, 78, 79, 80, 84, 86, 87, 93, 94, 99, 111, 112, 115, 116, 118, 120, 141, 145, 146-147, 149, 151, 152, 153, 156, 158, 162, 167, 168, 176, 177, 187, 194, 197, 199,200,201, 204,205,206,209,210,218,225,230,233,235, 237,238,239,240,241,243,244,246,248,250, 251,252, 253, 259 stress, 22, 114, 130, 140, 170, 181, 228, 230, 244, 258 structure of conversation, 235, 236 suggestopedia, 73-76, 78 Summary, 13, 41, 48, 77, 108, 152, 224-225, 235, 252, 257 syllabus, analytical, synthetic, notional, functional, 13, 44, 59, 74, 77, 78, 87, 89, 98-101, 105, 115, 116, 117, 151,231 symbolic function, 162, 164 syntagmatic plan, 187,188 tapescript, 221, 222, 226-227 task, 15, 16, 30, 31, 35, 43, 47, 49, 51, 52, 54, 58, 59, 61, 71, 77, 81, 83, 85, 89, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 104, 105, 107,109,113,114,116, 119, 120, 127, 128,129,130,133, 136,138, 139, 141, 144,148, 151,152,153,154,156,166, 167, 169, 171,172, 173,174, 177,179,180,181, 182, 184, 185,187, 188, 189,192, 193, 194,196,197, 199,200,201,


value, 19, 23 26, 30, 51, 60, 63, 79, 84, 85, 95, 103, 106, 107,116, 117,118, 119, 120,132, 137, 139, 167,170,171, 173, 174,175, 176,194, 196,207, 221, 236, 242 verbal communication, 14, 15, 22, 63, 64, 69, 74, 85,87,91,98, 104, 117, 121, 123, 124, 125,126, 127,128, 129, 130,131,132,133, 134,135,136, 138, 140, 141,143, 143, 145,146, 147, 148,149, 150, 151, 152, 154, 155,160,161, 179,180, 185, 190,210,213,214,215,217,232,233,234,246, 252, 269, 263, 268, 269 verbal learning, 72, 177, 184 verbatim, 19, 42, 54, 108, 144, 176, 214, 222, 224, 235

202,203,204,205,209,211,212,216,217,218, 219,220,221,222,223,225,227,228,229,231, 232,233,234,235,238,239,241,242,243,244, 246,247,248,249,250,252,253,256,257,258, 259, 260, 261, 263, 266, 269, 270 teaching method, 17, 19, 25, 39, 40,47,48,65,66, 84, 120, 154, 155, 231 technique, 14, 15, 16, 20, 23,24, 25, 31, 36, 37, 39, 43, 45-46, 47, 56, 58, 61, 62, 69 70, 73, 78, 85, 89, 100, 102, 107-115, 116, 120, 169, 201, 202, 205,211,212, 225, 248 text,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,28,29,30,32, 39, 41, 42, 44, 54, 58, 69, 70, 74, 75, 95, 97, 103,104, 107, 108, 115, 116, 117, 120, 150, 180, 183,184, 189, 191, 192, 193, 196,197, 198, 199, 200,201,202,203,204,205,206,207,209,210, 211,212,216,221,223,224,227,228,229,230, 234,235,249,250,260,264,267,268,269,271, 272 toddlerhood, 157, 158, 160, 161 Total Physical Response, 71-73, 220 transformation exercises, 56, 62 Transformational Generative Theory, 55 Transformational Generative Grammar (TGG), 55, 56, 57 translation, 19, 20, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29-32, 44, 47, 57, 70, 74, 77, 78, 116, 193, 194, 204

wait time, 71, 166, 239 warm-up, 108, 228, 267, 268 work format, 45, 61, 89, 103, 104, 120, 155, 211 working memory, 30, 49, 51, 128, 167, 168, 181, 216, 222, 231, 232, 233, 245, 246 writing, letter writing, journal writing, narrative writing, creative writing, 22,24,25,28,40,41, 42, 47, 48, 57, 62, 72, 77, 79, 93, 105, 108, 116, 149, 169, 171,177, 180, 181, 182, 183, 189, 193, 197, 199,202,211,212,214,224,225,231,233, 234, 235, 238, 240, 244, 248-262

Pages in italics refer to further reading.

Abercrombie, D., 91 Ahn, F., 19, 20 Allport, G. W., 51, 148 Altman, H. B., 84 Anderson, A., 231 Anderson, B. F., 135 Anderson, J. R., 135, 153, 187 Anthony E. M., 36 Arabski, J., 88 Arndt, V., 262 Arnold, J., 75 Arthur, L., 247 Asher, J., 71, 72, 73 Austin, J. L., 90,91 Ausubel, D., 48, 53, 54, 55, 63

Burden, R. L., 138, 143 Burwood, S., 115 Bygate, M., 153, 231,244,247 Byrne, D., 247,262 Canale, M., 93, 94, 95, 105 Candlin, C., 90, 93 Carroll, D. W., 134,135 Carroll, J. B., 47, 56, 59, 66, 67, 82, 85, 131 Carter, R. A., 247 Chastain K., 44,45, 52, 59,60, 62,65, 67, 84, 138, 139,143,215 Chomsky, N., 37, 48, 55, 56, 92 Cicero, 22 Clark, E., 127, 217, 236 Clark, H., 135, 127, 184, 217, 236 Comenius (Jan Amos Komensky), 18 Cooper, C., 88 Cope, J., 238 Corder, P S., 86, 87, 88 Corsini, R. J., 38, 98, 128 Crookes, G., 36, 136, 152 Curran, C. A., 76, 77, 78 Dakowska, M., 64, 117, 127, 131, 133,135 Danks, S. J. H., 190 Day, R., 212 Dickson, D., 156 Diller, K., 56, 57, 58 Disick, R. S., 59, 84 Donahoe, 38 Donaldson, W. D., 60

Bancroft, W. J., 73, 74 75 Bańczerowski, J., 66, 67 Berlitz, M., 25, 27 Biehler, R. F., 174,178 Bloomfield, L., 39, 41 Boas, F., 39 Bolitho, R., 115,122 Bowen, D., 80 Bratt Paulston, Ch., 90 Brookes, A., 262 Brooks, N., 50, 106 Brown, G., 180, 207, 269, 272 Brown, H. D., 143, 207 Brown, J., 231 Brumfit, C., 90 Bruner, J. S., 54 Bumford, J., 212


Name index
Hymes, D., 92, 93, 94 Jacobs, G. M., 212 Jagodzińska, M., 168,178 Jakobovits, L. A., 49 Jay, T. B., 95, 146, 147, 162, 170, 7 78, 236, 237, 268, 269, 271 Jespersen, 22 John, M. J. St., 756 Johnson, K., 90, 101, 102, 103,122 Johnson-Laird, P N., 269 Jones, D., 27 Jones, K., 113 Jones, L., 113 Kaplan, R. B., 262 Keane, M. T., 128, 131, 134, 735, 152, 249, 250 Keller, J. M., 83 Kelly, L. G., 18, 28,33 Kennedy, G. D., 62, 81 Kielar-Turska, M., 163 Kingsbury, R., 186, 195, 227 Kintsch, W., 96, 269 Klippel, F., 247 Komorowska, H., 52, 58, 62, 65 Krashen, S. D., 32, 131, 144,262 Kroll, B., 262

Dörnyei, Z., 75, 82, 83, 88, 138, 143,247 Doughty, C., 153 Dudley-Evans, T., 156 Duff, A., 110,111 Dykstra, G., 81 Ellis, R., 86, 153 Ervin, S., 50 Eysenk, M. W., 128, 131, 134,135, 152, 249, 250 Field, J., 203 Finocchiaro, M., 60, 67, 90 Firth, J. R., 90 Flower, L. S., 249, 250 Forisha-Kovach, B., 83, 173, 174, 175, 176 Foster, P, 243 Fried Booth, D., 114,115 Fries, C. C., 39, 43 Gardner, H., 171 Gardner, R. C., 83 Gattegno, C., 68, 69, 70 Gleitman, H., 37, 129, 131, 134,135 Glodowski, W., 124 Goffman, E., 271 Gouin, F., 21, 22, 27 Grabe, W., 262 Grundy, P, 262 Haines, S., 114,775 Halli day, M. A. K., 91, 95, 96 Hammerly, H., 106, 236 Hanzeli, V. E., 66 Hargie, O., 135, 156 Harmer, J., 116 Hart, A. W., 262 Hasan R., 95, 96 Hashemi, L., 223 Hayes, J. R., 249, 250 Hedge, T., 114, 207, 209, 212, 213, 215, 218, 224, 241, 243, 249, 250, 251, 258, 260, 262, 269 Henness, G., 20, 24 Henry, J., 115 Hilferty, A., 80 Holden, S., 111 Horwitz, E. K., 75, 238 Horwitz, M., 238 Howatt, A. P R., 18, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 33, 101 Hutchinson, T., 115, 156

Lado, R., 35, 39, 43, 106 Lambert, W. E., 82, 83 Larsen-Freeman, D., 86, 88 Lawrence, M., 248 Leki, I., 262 Levelt, W. J. M., 188, 250 Littlewood, W., 90, 106, 127, 137,190, 253 Livingston, C., 110 Livingstone, L., 66 Locke, J., 24 Loftus, E., 37 Long, D. H., 86,88, 146, 267 Lozanov, G., 73, 75, 78 Lynch, T., 231 Lyons, J., 272 Maclntyre, P D., 136 Mackey, W. F., 17, 18, 21, 26, 80 Macnamara, J., 81 Madsen, H., 80 Maley, A., 110,111

Name index
Manis, M., 53 Mansfield, P, 140 Marcel, C., 20 Marckwardt, A. H., 60 Marshall, M. E., 37 Marton, W., 53, 61, 65, 66, 118,122 Matczak, A., 133, 148, 161, 165, 167, 172, 271 Mattocks, A. L., 139 McCarthy, M. J., 247 McDonough, S., 190 Meidinger, J., 19 Miller G. A., 54 Montaigne, 18 Morris, C. W., 271 Morrow, K. E., 90, 93, 101, 102 Morton, R., 50 Moskovitz, G., 215 Moulton, W. G., 40 Mueller, T. H., 62 Munby, J., 97 Nagy, W., 203 Nation, P, 212 Naunton, J., 97, 112, 198, 225 Nęcki, Z., 232 Neisser, U., 53 Newmark, L., 32 Nolasco, A., 247 Nudelmann, J., 111, 113 Nunan, D., 212, 213, 224, 250 Nunes, S. S., 81 Nuttal, C., 210, 212 Pattison, P, 247 Pestalozzi, H., 24 Pfeiffer, F., 67 Philips, D., 115 Piaget, J., 72, 159, 164, 166, 174 Pimsleur, P, 82 Plötz, K., 19, 20 Porter Ladousse, G. P, 109, 110, 111 Prator, C., 65, 67 Prendergast, T., 20 Quitman Troyka, L., 111,113


O'Connell, S., 254 O'Dell, F., 186, 195, 227 O'Doherty, E.F., 82 Obrecht, D. H., 50 Olds, S. W., 128, 145, 157,159, 160, 162, 164, 165, 166, 168, 169, 171, 172, 174,178 Ollendorf, H.S., 19, 20 Oller, Jr. J. W., 48, 50, 56, 80, 81, 88, 82, 151, 152, 210, 251 Oskarsson, M., 62 Oyster, C. K., 98, 267 Palmer, D., 72, 94 Palmer, H. E., 72, 94, 193 Palmer, H., 27, 30 Papalia, D. E., 128, 145, 157, 159, 160, 162, 164, 165, 166, 168, 169, 170, 172, 174,178

Raimes, A., 260, 262 Rebok, G. W., 51, 128, 145, 159 Reibe, R., 115 Reibel, D. A., 32 Reinking, J. A., 262 Renandya, W. A., 212, 241 Richard-Amato, P A., 80 Richards, J. C., 19,20,25,39,52,72,73,77,80,82, 88, 103,122, 212, 241 Rinvoluccri, M., 111 Rivers, W., 253 Rivers, W. M., 40, 52,65,122 Robinson, P, 156 Rogers, C., 84 Rodgers, T. S., 19, 20, 25, 39, 52, 72, 73, 77, 80, 103,122 Rossner, R., 115,122 Rost, M., 180, 183, 190, 205, 216, 217, 218, 225, 226, 231, 237, 238, 267, 270 Rubin, J., 152 Runco, M. A., 138 Sacks, H., 236 Sapir, E., 39 Sapon, S., 82 Saporta, S., 66 Saunders, Ch., 156 Saveur, L., 24 Savignon, S., 90, 96, 97,101, 102 Schegloff, E. A., 236 Scherer, G.A. C., 47 Schmidt, R., 136 Schumann, J. H., 88 Scovel, 75 Seidenstrücker, J., 19, 20, 183 Seliger, H., 42 Selinker, L., 86


Name index
Van Dijk, T. A., 96, 269 Vidal, N., 115 Viëtor, 22 Von Elek, T., 62 von Humbolt, 87 Vygotsky, L. S., 165 Wach, A., 222 Wallace, C., 212 Walters, A., 156 Wardhaugh, R., 43, 55, 67 Watson, J. B., 37 Weir, R., 51 Wellman, G., 186, 195, 227 Wenden, A., 152 Wertheimer, M., 47 West, M., 27 White, G., 231 White, R. V., 224,262 Whorf, B., 39 Widdowson, H., 90, 94, 95, 96 Wilkins, D., 30, 31, 66, 67, 90, 98, 99, 100 Williams, M., 138, 143, 153 Winitz, H., 26 Włodarski, Z., 148 Woerdefoff, F. J., 62 Wood, B., 137 Wortman, C. B., 37 Wyrwicka, W, 51, 148 Yalden, J., 122 Young, D. J., 75, 238 Yule, G., 180, 269, 272 Zabrocki, 67 Zabrocki, L., 32 Zamel, V., 249,262 Zawadzka, A., 46 Żebrowska, I., 219, 238

Sew, C. C., 139 Shaw, B., 26 Sherman, J., 262 Sinclair, A., 170 Sisk, D., 137, 171 Skehan, E, 88,190 Skinner, B. F., 37, 38, 55 Smólska, J., 46 Snowman, J., 174,178 Spolsky, B., 67, 82, 97, 151 Stawna, M., 122 Stenson, N., 88 Stern, H. H., 65, 67, 80, 81, 82, 85, 88, 103, 108, 110,122, 215, 242 Sternberg, R., J. 171 Stevick, E., 60, 65, 66, 67, 73, 76, 77, 78 Strevens, E, 66, 67 Stieglitz, F., 46 Swain, M., 93, 94, 95, 105, 145 Swales, J. M., 96 Swan M., 95, 115,116, 117 Sweet, H., 20, 22, 25, 26, 32, 30, 91 Taylor, I., 145 Taylor, S., 145 Temperley, M., 253 Thorndike, E. L., 37 Thurrell, S., 247 Titone, R., 18, 19, 22, 31, J J Townsend, A., 140 Tucker, G. R., 82 Underhill, N., 247 Underwood, M., 231 Upshur, J. A., 82 Ur, E, 180, 183, 189, 212, 219, 220, 221, 231, 235, 236, 240, 246, 250, 258, 259, 260 Valdman, A., 45

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