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					FOCUS ON FORM IN TBLT:
     RESTRICTING
         OR
    EMPOWERING?
    Dave Willis & Jane Willis
         www.willis-elt.co.uk
             Overview
• A bit of background
• Discussion
• Predictions about task language
• Language analysis: data from texts and
  spontaneous task recordings
• Implications
• TBLT in practice – short term and long
  term task sequences
  ????
 Burma
Canada
 China
 Dubai
 Egypt
 Greece
Holland
 Japan
 Spain
Thailand
 Turkey
  USA
 Other
… a conservative profession , out of touch
with language acquisition studies has for
many years transmitted essentially the
same view of how teaching should be
organised and what teachers should be like.
(Skehan 1998:94)
•The approach has an excellent
relationship with teacher training and
teachers’ feeling of professionalism.

•It lends itself very neatly to
accountability. (Testing; syllabus
design)

•There is no clear alternative.
(Skehan: 1998: 94)
It is … comfortable for teachers and teacher
educators, and for the writers and publishers of
teaching materials to maintain that there is a direct
relationship between teaching and learning. For
teachers and teacher educators this belief offers
security. It suggests that we know exactly what we
are doing and where we are going. We can plan
lessons and recommend methodologies with
confidence. For writers and publishers it means that
they can make clear, unqualified claims in terms of
teaching and learning for the materials they
produce. (D. Willis Forthcoming)
The desert island game:
If you were cast away on a desert island which four of
the following items would you choose to take with you?
an axe; a gun; an English dictionary; a fifty metre length
of rope; a month’s supply of tinned food; fifty boxes of
matches; a dozen candles; a set of kitchen knives; a
torch
Making suggestions:
One participant is asking for advice on travel and
tourism in South-east Asia. The other participant has a
lot of expertise in this area.
Daily routines:
Find out what time your partner has breakfast lunch and
dinner each day. Do not ask any questions about meals,
mealtimes or food.
If learners feel it necessary to use should all the
time (for example at the production stage of a
PPP cycle where should has been presented),
they are confined to one wording and are
missing out on experimenting with other ways of
expressing a whole range of similar meanings.
Learners may wish to express their meanings
less forcefully than should suggests, so phrases
like I would say or I would recommend or Well,
what you could do is … would be more
appropriate. In a PPP lesson learners are being
unnaturally constrained when they should be
experiencing the richness of meaning potential
and practising normal conversational skills
(Cox 2005:179)
    The focus on grammar should vary
according to the kind of grammatical system.
            Grammatical systems
Structure:
      Clause and phrase structure
      Interrogative and negative forms
      Relative clauses.

Orientation:
      Tense, modality and aspect
      Determiners
      Information organisation

Pattern:
      Systematic frames in which words operate
      e.g. It + BE + ADJ. + to-infinitive
           the + NOUN + of + -ing
•We cannot teach the grammar of
orientation by explaining,
demonstrating or exemplifying.
•Learner dependence on teacher and
on prescriptive input is restricting.
•Declarative knowledge is inadequate
for orientation and pattern.
•We cannot rely on progression from
declarative to procedural knowledge.
                Empowering learners


                 Learning
                processes


                Recognition
                                              Spontaneous
Improvisation                 Consolidation
                                                  use
                 System-
                 building


                Exploration
When to work on language and focus
             on form?
              Priming & Preparation
    Availability of key lexis & useful phrases

   Task >> Planning >>>> Report of outcome
             Language extension
                  >> Prestige language use

                    Form focus
                 Analysis & practice
             of language features from
texts written or spoken that learners have read or
                         heard
Why should learners bother to commit
 themselves to grammatical complexity
 in the classroom?
•Design and implementation of tasks
•Short term task sequences
•Task framework (task > planning > report)
•Data – recordings of tasks, task reports and task
related texts
•Language analysis (Skehan: Language use and
language learning. Johns and Davies (1983) ‘Text
as a vehicle for information (TAVI) and ‘Text as a
linguistic object’ (TALO)
•Long term task sequences – based on topic or
possibly on systemic/semantic analysis
                  Discussion
A presentation based model is still the norm
in the teaching profession. What can be done
to convince teachers of the value of task-
based approaches?
    • Research?
    • Training?
    • Publications?
    • Interaction with teachers?
www.willis-elt.co.uk

				
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posted:10/15/2010
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