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					 TAKING REVISION AND RECYCLING SERIOUSLY
                 Hugh Dellar

Abstract (from the conference program): If second language
acquisition research tells us anything, it is that students need
comprehensible exposure to language in order to learn it. This
workshop will consider how the way materials are constructed can help
or hinder this process. We will then look at some practical ways of
revising language which could be used with any course.

Hugh Dellar is a teacher and teacher trainer at the University of
Westminster, London, and co-author of the course book series
Innovations (Thomson and Heinle)
TAKING REVISION AND RECYCLING SERIOUSLY



The presenter began by narrating his ordeal
 remembering the names of a class of Korean
 students. He then went on to establish a
 parallelism between his experience and
 language learning, in order to make the
 following points.
TAKING REVISION AND RECYCLING SERIOUSLY


THE ROLE OF ROTE LEARNING


The value of this type of learning is relative. One needs to consider what needs
   to be remembered. In his experience with the Korean class, he was able to
   learn the spelling of the names by heart, but he failed to remember either
   their pronunciation or who the bearer of each name was.

Students may remember single words, or lists of words, but that doesn’t
   necessarily mean they’ll be able to use them productively. e names of a
   class of Korean students. He then went on to establish a parallelism
   between his experience and language learning, in order to make the
   following points.
TAKING REVISION AND RECYCLING SERIOUSLY



LEARNING FOR PERFORMANCE

The students need much more than to learn single words or memorize
   grammar rules, or even pronounce words and phrases correctly. In his
   experience, the presenter found this to be true when he was finally able to
   remember most names on his Korean class registration list, but was unable
   to match the names with the people.
TAKING REVISION AND RECYCLING SERIOUSLY



LANGUAGE LEARNING STRATEGIES

Language learning strategies are good but they also have their drawbacks. For
    example, focusing on familiar words can eventually lead to sticking with
    what sounds familiar. In the presenters experience, he ended up calling
    only on those people whose names he could remember because he was
    able to associate them with familiar-sounding English words.
TAKING REVISION AND RECYCLING SERIOUSLY


FORGETTING IS A GRADUAL PROCESS

Language learners need to revise and recycle. This type of practice is best
   provided in class. As language teachers we are responsible for providing
   for this in the classroom. In order to get us started we need to reflect on the
   following:

• What do we expect our students to revise and recycle outside the class?
• What is the relationship between what we do in class and how the students
  revise outside the class?
• Does the course book help us to review and recycle?
• What sort of practice can help our students recycle and revise effectively.
TAKING REVISION AND RECYCLING SERIOUSLY



A lot of what the students do for recycling (outside the class) in fact only
   serves to confuse them further.

We should show our students better ways of revising vocabulary and making
  notes.

One idea to help with learner training would be to record stories of successful
  and unsuccessful uses of learning strategies and discuss them in class
  (example on page 1 of handout).
TAKING REVISION AND RECYCLING SERIOUSLY



Students get into trouble when they separate words and grammar, and often
   too when they use dictionaries.

Most course books are written so that chances for revision and/or recycling are
  reduced.
TAKING REVISION AND RECYCLING SERIOUSLY


One problem with course books setting out to present grammar meanings and
  grammar rules is that course book writers want to produce interesting
  contexts but they often overdo it. For example, the use of farfetched
  examples and language to present and practice the use of the modal
  auxiliary can.

Example:
Talk to a partner. Ask and answer questions about what each of you can and
   can’t do.
   ___ use chopsticks      ____ take the bungee jump
   ___ cook a crab         ____ scuba dive
   ___ walk on a tight     ___ touch your toes with the tip of your nose
          rope
TAKING REVISION AND RECYCLING SERIOUSLY


The big aspirin

The presenter contends that what many course books do is analogous to a
     doctor prescribing an aspiring the size of a cake.

Textbook units are often organized around a couple of grammar items to the
     exclusion of others.

Related to the above, discrete textbook units get cleaned up of a lot of
     structures just to focus on a couple of them.
TAKING REVISION AND RECYCLING SERIOUSLY


What to do?

Re-cosnisider the interaction between grammar and lexis. Organize lessons
   and practice around practical situations/topics (rather than isolated
   grammar structures).

Take a topic and think about types of conversations that would take place
   within these contexts in order to ensure relevance.

For example, it is not sensible to expect low level students to learn the present
   perfect tense. Instead, we can expose them to high-frequency instances of
   the present perfect and present these in a lexical sort of approach.
TAKING REVISION AND RECYCLING SERIOUSLY


AUTHENTIC MATERIALS

Be cautious with authentic materials. As classroom practitioners we should
   write our own texts and dialogues, or adapt ‘authentic’ texts by stripping
   them down or grading them down.

Another problem with most course books is that they don’t recycle topics over
  a series. We need to allow our students to talk about the same topics
  throughout a course, only widening gradually the range of grammar and
  lexis. We need to take the idea of repetition more seriously.

For example, pages 2 and 3 of the handout show an example of an exercise for
   reviewing the use of the modal auxiliaries can / can’t for different course
   levels.
TAKING REVISION AND RECYCLING SERIOUSLY




There a number of practical -and very simple -ideas that we can make use of to
   help our learners revise and recycle. For example, use the workbook
   retrospectively. For example, don’t assign workbook homework for unit
   one until after you have covered the whole unit in class.

Pages 5 and 6 of the handout propose ideas for revision-enhancing classroom
   practice and course planning.

				
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posted:12/2/2011
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