Teaching Media for the fifth grade students in Elementary School in Unit One about Daily Activities

30 Jun

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Elements of CLT…

30 Jun

Elements of CLT

Communication – According to Ability

Whether CLT should be considered an approach or a methodology is a more abstract debate and here I want to deal with its more practical aspects. In fact, it is those very elements, and the name itself, which have been used to challenge the future relevance of CLT. Firstly, the label implies a focus on communication and some might argue that this method can’t be employed genuinely with low levels as there is no authentic communication, due to a limited vocabulary and restricted range of functions. Initially, many of a learner’s utterances are very formulaic. As an aside, consider just what percentage of our own English expressions are unique, and how often we rely on a set phrase; just because it is delivered unselfconsciously and with natural intonation does not make it original.  The aim is that the length and complexity of exchanges, and confident delivery, will grow with the student’s language ability.

With the emphasis on communication, there is also the implication that spoken exchanges should be authentic and meaningful; detractors claim that the artificial nature of classroom–based (i.e. teacher – created) interactions makes CLT an oxymoron. Nevertheless, a proficient teacher will provide a context so that class interactions are realistic and meaningful but with the support needed to assist students to generate the target language. We need to consider that producing language is a skill and when we learn a skill we practise in improvised settings. For example, before a nurse gives a real injection, they have punctured many a piece of fruit to hone their technique.

Accuracy as Well as Fluency

It might also be argued that the extent of some of the structures or functions may never be used in real life. One example is adjective order; I have given students an exercise where they have to produce a phrase with a string of adjectives, such as “a strong, orange, Norwegian, canvas tent.”   This is very unnatural, as most times we only combine two or three adjectives. The other example is directions – we have students follow a map and negotiate exhaustive directions which suggest maze-like complexity. In reality, most of us probably are only involved in a three-phase set of directions. In fact, what we are doing with these exercises is exposing students to patterns which they can later activate.

This focus on accuracy versus fluency is one of the issues not often considered in a discussion of CLT. The teacher decides to pay attention to one or other end of this band, depending on the type of lesson, or the stage of a particular lesson, and accuracy is their choice if they want to deal with students getting things right, take an opportunity for correction, or gauge the success of their teaching, for example. Freer speaking involves more choice, therefore more ambiguity, and less teacher intervention. While CLT implies the lessons are more student-centred, this does not mean they are un-structured. The teacher does have a very important role in the process, and that is setting up activities so that communication actually happens. There is a lot of preparation; accuracy practice is the bridge to a fluency activity. By implication, CLT involves equipping students with vocabulary, structures and functions, as well as strategies, to enable them to interact successfully.

The reference to strategies introduces the matter of grammatical versus communicative competence. If we view the two as mutually exclusive, then we are likely to champion one over the other, in terms of approach, curriculum or whatever else determines and defines our classroom teaching. In fact, Canale and Swain’s model of communicative competence, referred to by Guangwei Hu, includes four sub-categories, namely grammatical, sociolinguistic discourse and strategic. They consider someone competent in English should demonstrate both rules of grammar and use.

Promoting Learning

This returns us to the consideration of who we are teaching, and why. Are our students aiming to learn or acquire English? Do they need to know lexical items and linguistic rules as a means of passing an exam, or do they want to be able to interact in English?  For those inclined to maintain the dichotomy between learning and acquisition, and who argue that our primary focus is learners, CLT still has relevance. It is timely to review an early definition of CLT. According to Richards and Rodgers, in Guangwei Hu, CLT is basically about promoting learning.

Then again, Mark Lowe suggests that we follow Halliday’s lead and drop the distinction between learning and acquisition, and refer to language mastery instead. After all, if the students master the language, they will certainly be able to perform better in exams, if that is their goal. In addition, those who do see a purpose beyond classroom-related English will be better equipped for using the language socially. 

Motivation 

One of the constant discussions in all my teacher training groups was how to motivate students. This suggests that the focus on passing the exam was not always enough. Motivation relates to engaging students but also includes confidence building. If there is a climate of trust and support in the classroom, then students are more likely to contribute. One way of developing this is to allow pair-checking of answers before open-class checking occurs. Another way is to include an opportunity for students to discuss a topic in small groups before there is any expectation that they speak in front of the whole class. Evelyn Doman suggests that “The need for ongoing negotiation during interaction increases the learners’ overt participation…” It is this involvement we need to harness and build on.

Sometimes the participation is hardly what we would define as ‘negotiation’, but merely a contribution. For a few students, just uttering a word or a phrase can be an achievement. Indeed, some of the teachers in the training sessions said this was the goal they set for their more reticent pupils. And I have had students who, after writing their first note or e-mail in English, expressed their pride at being able to do so.

If teachers consider an activity to be irrelevant or not engaging enough, there are many other tasks which may be more appropriate, such as surveys, using a stimulus picture and prompt questions (Who… Where… When…What…), or a series of pictures which need to be sequenced before a story is discussed. In this respect, CLT addresses another area which constantly challenges teachers, the mixed-ability class. When the lesson progresses to a freer-speaking activity, students can contribute according to their ability and confidence, although I acknowledge both need to be stretched. So there is a challenge for the more capable students, while those with an average ability still feel their effort is valid. This compares with the less creative opportunities offered by some textbooks, where students read a dialogue, perhaps doing a substitution activity, for example.

A basic responsibility is considering and responding to the needs of our students, so if the course book is inadequate we need to employ the following steps: select, adapt, reject and supplement.  Moreover, because each class we teach has its own characteristics and needs, CLT will vary each time we employ it.

Conclusion

Too often, a ‘new’ approach appears to completely dismiss the previous one. This is not always the intention, but probably more a result of the enthusiasm of practitioners exploring and implementing fresh activities or opportunities. Also, throughout the CLT debate, there seem to be dichotomies which are employed to argue for its irrelevance. It is evident that CLT has gathered a range of characteristics, perhaps more through misunderstanding or by association, but it is actually not as incompatible with other valued practices as it is sometimes made to appear. In practical terms, whether assisting mixed-ability classes, aiding motivation, leading from a focus on form to one of fluency, or supporting learning, it has a lot to offer the EFL teacher.

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The pros of CLT…

30 Jun

The pros of CLT are purported to be:

 

  • Students get more practice speaking the language,
  • The classes present situations which the student may encounter in real life,
  • Increased fluency,
  • Students have increased confidence when interacting in the language.

 

Through my own personal reflection, however, I have only found two pros to the communicative language teaching method:

 

  • This method may work quite well for socially active people who do not like to study grammar and vocabulary or who may find grammar and linguistic concepts difficult,
  • I think this method may be quite good for teaching pre-adolescent children, because, unlike adults, children actually are still able to learn a new language similarly to the way they learned their first language. Plus, children lack the mental capacity to grasp grammar concepts that we, as adults, are able to use to speak and write correctly in a new language.

What is wrong with the communicative language teaching method?

In my opinion, plenty. Probably more than you will want to read about here. I will begin by stating my opinion about a few of the purported pros of CLT:

 

  • Students get more practice speaking the language. Most of that speaking practice is with peer students who can neither teach the language nor provide a good native example, therefore, the potential for the student to reinforce and internalize mistakes and poor language practices in all areas of the language is great.
  • Increased fluency. The student’s chances of becoming fluent are quite slim, because in the CLT method, accuracy in the use of the language is not valued and because the student interacts mostly with other peer students who do not know the language.

     

    Fluency by definition means “able to express oneself readily and effortlessly.” The CLT method assumes that practice and confidence in speaking is the only criterion for becoming fluent, when, in fact, all factors – grammar, appropriate use of vocabulary and correct pronunciation – all play a foundational role in a person’s ability to speak a foreign language fluently and comfortably, or to “express him or herself readily and effortlessly.”

  • Students have increased confidence when interacting in the language. I do not believe that practicing speaking the language with peers promotes confidence in students. I believe that the students who are already generally confident in themselves will be confident when speaking, and students who are generally insecure in themselves will continue to feel insecure and self-conscious when speaking the language.

     

    Proponents of the CLT method claim that a lack of confidence is produced in students when a main focus of teaching is on grammar and correcting students’ language use. However, I believe that lack of confidence in language learning and in language use is caused by a weak foundation of the cornerstones of language, which are grammar and vocabulary, as well as pronunciation when speaking.

    Lack of confidence in the student can be remedied by laying a solid foundation and understanding for grammar and gradually increasing creative use of vocabulary with correct application of grammar – not by skimming through grammar points to coddle students because, for some reason, the language-teaching community has decided that language-learning, unlike math or any real subject, has to be taught by playing games.

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BDGUGUG

30 Jun

BDGUGUG

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ApproachThe Com…

30 Jun

Approach

The Communicative Approach in language teaching starts from a theory of language as communication. The goal of language teaching is to develop communicative competence (Richards & Rodgers, 2001:159). Another linguistic theory of communication favored in CLT is Halliday’s functional account of language use. Linguistic is concerned with the description of speech acts of texts, since only through study of language in use are all the function of language and therefore all components of meaning brought into focus.

 Learner’s Role

Discussing about learner role, Breen and Candlin in Richards & Rodgers (2001:166) describe the learner’s role within CLT is as negotiator between the self, the learning process, and the object of learning, emerges from and interacts with the role of joint negotiator within the group and within the classroom procedure and activities which the group undertakes.

 Teacher’s Role

According to Breen and Candlin in Richards & Rodgers (2001:167) that teacher has two main roles in CLT. First, to facilitate the communication process between all participants in the classroom, and between these participants and the various activities and text. Second, to act as an independent participant within the learning-teaching group. Other roles assumed for teachers are need analyst, counselor, and group process manager.

Characteristics of Communicative Methodology

According to Johnson & Johnson in Richards & Rodgers, (2001:173) there are five core characteristics that underlie current applications of communicative methodology. They are:

1.  Appropriateness: Language used reflects the situations of its used and must be appropriate to that situation depending on the setting, the roles of participants, and purpose of the communication.

2. Message focus: Learners need to be able to create and understand messages, that is, real meanings. Hence the focus on information sharing and information transfer in CLT activities.

3. Psycholinguistic processing: CLT activities seek to engage learners in the use of cognitive and other processes that are important factors in second language acquisition.

4. Risk taking: Learners are encouraged to make guesses and learn from their errors. By going beyond what they have been taught, they are encouraged to employ a variety of communication strategies.

5. Free practice: CLT encourages the use of “holistic practice” involving the simultaneous use of a variety of sub-skills, rather than practicing individual skills one piece at a time.

Advantages and Disadvantages of CLT

1.  Advantages

Communicative teaching emphasis on “task-oriented, student-centered” language teaching practice, asked to show the life of the actual needs of the English language to simulate a variety of life contexts, emotional, and to provide students with comprehensive use of English language, for communication of opportunities, its focus is not only a language in the form, grammatical accuracy, more emphasis on the appropriateness of language use, feasibility, communication skills, as well as training students in communicative activities in the strain and problem-solving ability.

Specifically, the communicative approach of teaching has the following three advantages:
(1) The interaction between students and teachers. Communicative teaching is becoming increasingly clear feature is the change in the way as the internship, students develop the subject, initiative and become increasingly important. Teacher-student relationship is an interactive, harmonious relationship, rather than the traditional education, the kind of master-servant relationship. (2) To impart the basic knowledge and ability to skillfully combine the development. Traditional classroom teaching of English in the main body of the expense of home study, only emphasized the teachers on the knowledge of the systematic and integrity, which is a teacher-centered, knowledge-centered from the medieval “scholastic” teaching methods inherited One consequence of the neglect of student ability. The communicative teaching emphasizes the learner’s cognitive ability and operational capabilities, which allow the students themselves to think about and express their views, thus trained in real life the ability to use language to communicate.
(3) Greatly enhanced the student’s interest. Communicative teaching students to participate in, sometimes accompanied by scenes or simulated scenarios, so that students more close to life, the students became the main character, naturally they were interested in the English language, to learn English as a pleasure.

2. Disadvantages

a.  Although it can be successfully argued that the communicative language teaching (CLT) approach does enable learners to interact, it is possible that the activities undertaken in the classroom may be perceived by learners as being too abstract. Despite teachers’ best efforts, classroom activities are not actually real-life, and it can be difficult to reproduce truly authentic language use and to facilitate genuine interaction.

b.  It may also be a difficult method to use in very large classes, where it may be easier to monitor and guide students by adopting a more didactic approach.

c.  Students with low levels of proficiency in the target language may find it difficult to participate in oral communicative activities and, if the exams used by an institution are grammar based, communicative fluency may not be appropriate.

d.  It is also worth considering that CLT may not be appropriate in EFL classrooms where English is rarely heard or used outside of the classroom – where all the situations in which English is used in the classroom are ‘pretend’ and are therefore difficult to place in any authentic context.

e.  Some people believe that with CLT there is a danger of focusing too much on oral skills at the expense of reading and writing skills, and that there may be too much focus on meaning at the expense of form. It is felt that there is not enough emphasis on the correction of pronunciation and grammar errors.

f.  Li (2001) also cites the difficulties faced by teachers and EFL students in Korea when attempting to introduce a communicative approach. Difficulties reported included: students’ lack of motivation for developing communicative competence, low English proficiency, and resistance to class participation, teachers’ misconceptions and lack of training in CLT combined with deficiencies in sociolinguistic competence and little time for developing materials for communicative classes and large classes. Other difficulties cited included grammar based examinations, insufficient funding and lack of support.

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BackgroundThe o…

30 Jun

Background

The origins of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) are to be found in the changes in the British language teaching tradition dating late 1960s. Until then, situation of Language Teaching represented the major British approach to teaching English as foreign language. In situational language teaching, language was taught by practicing basic structure in meaningful situation-based activities. But just as the linguistics theory underlying audio-Lingualism was rejected in the united state in the mid-1960s, British applied linguists began to call into question the theoretical assumptions underlying Situational Language Teaching.

Common to all version of Communicative Language Teaching is a theory of language teaching that stars from a communicative model of language and language use, and that seeks to translate this into design for an instructional system, for material, for teacher and learner roles and behaviors, and for classroom activities and technique. Let’s see how this is manifested at the levels of approach, design, and procedure.

Hello world!

29 Apr

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