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К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2008

Автор: Хакак А.Б.

The concept of teaching is understood as a process that is intrinsically and inseparably bound up with learning. Content and the process of the various modules consistently require the teacher to study learner’s problems, needs and strategies as a necessary basis for the formulation of effective teaching practice and theory. Grammar acquisition is increasingly viewed as crucial to language acquisition. However, there is much disagreement as to the effectiveness of different approaches for presenting vocabulary items. Moreover, learning grammar is often perceived as a tedious and laborious process. In this report I would like to examine some traditional techniques for grammar and vocabulary presentation and revision, in order to determine whether they are successful in presenting and learning English than other methods.

It is necessary to distinguish between “teaching” and “methodology”. Foreign language teaching methodology can be defined as ‘the activities, tasks and learning experiences used by the teacher within the language teaching and learning processes. Any particular methodology usually has a theoretical and underpinning that should cause coherence and consistency in the choice of teaching procedures. ‘Foreign language teaching’, on the other hand, though it naturally includes methodology, has further important components such as lesson planning, classroom discipline, the provision of interest- topics. The aims of foreign language teaching are threefold: practical, educational and cultural. Its practical aims are consequent on the basic function of language, which is, to serve as a means of communication. The educational aims of foreign language teaching consist in inculcating the principles of morality in the learners through instruction in the foreign language. The cultural aims of foreign languages imply the following tasks: widening the students’ general outlook, developing their powers abstract thinking, cultivating their sense of beauty and their appreciation of art. The reading of English texts acquainting the students with the life and culture of the English-speaking nations, and with their manner and customs, will contribute to the mental growth of the students.

Basic and modern techniques in teaching English are various and widely used: games, role-plays, dialogues, multimedia lessons, integrated lessons, etc. However, the teaching of English is a complex of some learning skills. To know a language means to master its structure and words. Thus, vocabulary is one of the aspects of the language to be taught. Experiments have proved that the use of programmed instructions of vocabulary learning allows us to increase the number of words to be learned. The vocabulary, therefore, must be carefully selected in accordance with the principle of selecting linguistic material, the conditions of teaching and learning a foreign language in college. Scientific principles of selecting vocabulary have been worked out. The words selected should be:

1) frequently used in the language;

2) easily combined (nice room, nice girl, nice weather);

3) unlimited from the point of view of style (oral, written);

4) included in the topics of the syllabus sets;

5) valuable from the point of view of word-building (use, used, useful, useless, usefully, user, usage).

The first principle, word frequency, is an example of purely linguistic approach to word selection. It is claimed to be the soundest criterion because it is completely objective. It is derived by counting the number of occurrences of words appearing in representative printed material comprising novels, essays, plays, newspapers, textbooks and magazines.

Modern tendency is to apply these principles depending on the language activities to be developed. For developing reading skills students need “reading vocabulary”, thus various printed texts are analyzed from the point of view of word frequency. For developing speaking skills students need “speaking vocabulary”. In this case the material for analysis is the spoken language recorded. The occurrences of words are counted in it and the words more frequently used in speaking are selected. The other principles are of didactic value. They serve teaching aims. The words selected may be grouped under the following two classes (M. West):

1. Words that we talk with or form (structural) words which make up the form (structure) of the language.

2. Words that we talk about or content words.

The selection of the vocabulary although important is not the teacher’s chief concern. It is only the “what” of teaching and is usually prescribed for him by textbooks and study - guides he uses. The teacher’s concern is “how” to get his students to assimilate the vocabulary prescribed. This is a difficult problem and it is still in the process of being solved. The teacher should bear in mind that a word is considered to be learned when:

1) it is spontaneously recognized while auding and reading;

2) it is correctly used in speech, the right word in the right place.

The process of learning a word means:

1) identification of concepts, that is learning what the word means;

2) student’s activity for the purpose of retaining the word;

3) student’s activity in using this word in the process of communication in different situations.

Accordingly, the teacher’s role in this process is:

1) to furnish the explanation, that is to present the word, to get his students to identify the concept correctly;

2) to get them to recall or recognize the word by means of different exercises;

3) to stimulate students to use the words in speech.

Teaching and learning words are carried on through methods you are familiar with; the teacher organizes learning and students are involved in the very process of learning, that is in the acquisition of information about a new word, its form, meaning and usage; in drill and transformation to form lexical habits; in making use of the lexical habits in hearing, speaking and reading, or in language skills. Various techniques are used to attain the goal- to fix the words in students’ memory ready to be used whenever they need them. The techniques of teaching students the punctuation and spelling of a word are as follows:

1) pure orcoscious imitation;

2) analogy;

3) transcription;

4) rules of reading.

Since a word consists of sounds if heard or spoken and letters if read or written the teacher shows the students how to pronounce, to read and write it. However the approach may vary depending on the task set (the latter depends on the age of students, their progress in the language, the type of words, etc.). For example, if the teacher wants his students to learn the word orally first, he instructs them to recognize it when hearing and to articulate the word as an isolated element (a book) and in a sentence pattern or sentence patterns alongside with other words. (This is a book. Give me the book. Take the book. Put the book on the table.).

As far as the form concerned the students have but two difficulties to overcome: to lean how to pronounce the word both separately and in the speech; and to recognize it in sentence patterns pronounced by the teacher, by his classmates, or by a speaker in case the tape- recorder is used. There are two ways of conveying the meaning of words: direct way and translation. The direct way of presenting the words of a foreign language brings the learner into direct contact with them, the mother tongue does not come in between, and it establishes links between a foreign word and the thing or the concept directly. The direct way of conveying the meaning of foreign words is usually used when the words denote things, objects, their qualities, sometimes gestures and movements, which can be shown to and seen by students, for example: a book, a table, red, big, take, stand up, etc. The teacher should connect the English word he presents with the objects, the notion it denotes directly, without the use of students’ mother tongue.

The teacher uses various techniques for this purpose. It is possible to group them into (1) visual and (2) verbal. The first group involves the use of visual aids to convey the meaning of unfamiliar words. These may be: besides, the teacher may use movements and gestures. For giving effective explanations the teacher must follow some fundamental rules.

1. Preparation. You may feel perfectly clear in your own mind about what needs clarifying, and therefore think that you can improvise a clear explanation. But experience shows that teachers’ explanations are often not as clear to their students as they are to themselves! It is worth preparing: thinking for a while about the words you will use, the illustrations you will provide, and so on; possibly even writing these out.

2. Make sure you have the class’s attention. One of the implications of this when giving the instructions for a group-working task is that it is advisable to give the instructions before you divide the class into groups or give out materials, not after!

3. Present the information more than once. A repetition of the necessary information may make all the difference: learners’ attention wanders occasionally, and it is important to give them more than one chance to understand what they have to do. Also, it helps to represent the information in a different mode: for example, say it and also write it up on the board.

4. Be brief. Learners-in fact, all of us-have only a limited attention span; they cannot listen to you for along time with maximum concentration. Make your explanation as brief as you can, compatible with clarity. In some situations it may also mean using the learners’ mother tongue, as a more accessible and cost-effective alternative to the sometimes lengthy and difficult target- language explanation.

5. Illustrate with examples. You may explain, for instance, the meaning of a word, illustrating your explanation with examples of its use in various contexts, relating these as far as possible to the learners’ own lives and experiences.

6. Get feedback. When you have finished explaining, check what they have understood. It is not just enough to ask “Do you understand?”; learners will sometimes say they did even if they did not, out of politeness or unwillingness to lose face, or because they think they know what they have to do, but in fact completely misunderstood! It is better to ask them to do something that will show their understanding: to paraphrase in their own words, provide further illustration of their own.

From my teaching experience I have noticed how enthusiastic students are about practicing language by means of games. I believe that the grammar games are not only fun but they help students learn without a conscious analysis or understanding of the learning process while they acquire communicative competence as second language users. Teachers should be very careful about choosing games if they want to make them profitable for the learning process. If games are to bring desired results, they must correspond to either the students’ level, or age, or the materials that are to be introduced or practiced. Not all of the games are appropriate for all students irrespective of their age. Different age groups require various topics, materials and modes of games. For example, children benefit most from games which require moving around, imitating a model, competing between groups, and the like. Furthermore, structural games that practice or reinforce a certain grammatical aspects of language have to relate to students’ ability and prior knowledge. Games become difficult when the task or the topic is unsuitable or outside the students’ experience.

Another factor influencing the choice of a game is its length and the time necessary for its completion. Many games have time limits but according to Siek Piscozub, the teacher can allocate more or less time depending of the students’ levels, the number of people in a group, or the knowledge of the rules of a game, etc. Games are often used as short warm-up activities or when there is some time left at the end of the lesson. As Mr. Lee observes, a game should not be regarded as a marginal activity filling in odd moments when the teacher and class have nothing better to do. Games ought to be at the heart of teaching foreign languages. Mr. Rixon suggests that games should be used at all stages of the English lesson, provided that they are suitable and carefully chosen. At different stages of the lesson, the teachers’ aims connected with a game may vary: 1. Presentation. It presents and provides a good model making its meaning clear.

2. Controlled practice. It elicits a good imitation of the language and appropriate responses.

3. Communicative practice. It gives to the students a chance to use a foreign language.

The games resulted only in noise and entertained students, they are still worth paying attention to and implementing in the classroom since they motivate learners, promote the communicative competence, and generate the fluency. However, can they be more successful for presentation and revision than other techniques? My teaching practice proves that the answer to this question is absolutely affirmative.


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К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2008

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