The Empirical Basis of Second Language Teaching and Learning

If in chapter one already discussed about the foundation for looking forward in SLTL, the purpose of this chapter is to focus research into a number of hypothesized relationships between Environmental- instructional factors and acquisition.
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A. Is Learning a Second Language Like Learning a First?

A.1 Psycholinguistic Mechanisms

The question addressed by researchers had to do with whether or not psycholinguistic mechanisms in second language acquisition where basically the same as or different from those in first language acquisition. In relation to the acquisition of the grammatical morphemes, Dully and Burt (1974a; 1974b) begin with the premise that first and second language acquisition in children were the same process, and that the kinds of errors made by second language learner would be the same by a first language learner of the same language, however, as a result of their research, they conclude:

“Although both the L2 and L1 learner reconstruct the language they are learning, it is intuitive to expect that the manner in which they do so will differ. Children learning a second language are usually older than L1 learners; they are further along in their cognitive development, and they have experienced a language once before”.

A.2 The Acquisition of Syntax

Recent experiment in first language acquisition based on the work of Chomsky strongly suggest that a first language is “hard wired” into the brain; in the other words, that our first language is an innate endowment bequeathed to us by virtue of our membership of the human race. Some would argue that the jury is still out over whether learning a second language is like learning a first, I believe there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the two skills are fundamentally different, certainly insofar as syntax and phonology are concerned.

A.3 Discourse Acquisition

In particular, at the perception of semantic and discourse relationships in written texts, and found a high level of agreement between first and second language readers. While the second language readers had greater overall difficulty with the text than the first language readers, in relative terms, those relationships that first language readers found difficult were also found to be problematic for second language readers, and those that the first language readers found easy were also found to be easy by the second language readers.

B. What Is The Role of Chronological Age on The Acquisition of a Second Language?

B.1 Age-Related Differences

The effect of age on acquisition has been extensively documented, the issue being whether younger learners acquire a second language more efficiently and effectively than older learners. As Ellis (1985), points out, it is necessary to distinguish between the effects of age on the route of acquisition (whether the same target language items are acquired in the same order for different learners), the rate (how rapidly the learners acquire the language), and ultimate attainment (how proficient they end up being). Ellis concludes that:

a. Starting age does not affect the route of SLA. Although there may be differences in the acquisitioned order, these are not the result of age.

b. Starting age affects the rate of learning. When grammar and vocabulary are concerned, adolescent learners do better than either children or adults, when the length of exposure is held constant. When pronunciation is concerned, there is no appreciable different.

c. Both number of years of exposure and starting age affect the level of success. The number of years’ exposure contributes greatly to the overall communicative fluency of the learners, but starting age determines the levels of accuracy achieved, particularly in pronunciation.

B.2 The Critical Period Hypothesis

Psycholinguistic have looked for evidence of the critical period in both first and second language acquisition. It has been argued (see, for example, Penfield and Roberts 1959) that the optimum age for acquiring another language is in the first ten years of life because it is then that the brain retains its maximum “plasticity” or flexibility (the plasticity metaphor, suggesting as it does that the brain is like a lump of plasticine that gradually hardens with age, seems a favored one among investigations of the critical period). The two hemisphere of the brain become much more independent of one another, and the language function is largely established in the left hemisphere. The critical period hypothesis argues that, after these neurological changes have taken place, acquiring another language becomes increasingly difficult. But, Ellis (1985) points out, it is only partially correct to suggest that acquisition as easier for young children. In fact, pronunciation is the only area where the younger the start the better.

C. What Is The Effect of Instruction on Acquisition?

C.1 The Morpheme Order Studies

The researchers found that, in fact, learner from very different first language background (for example Indonesia and Chinese) appeared to acquire a ser of grammatical items (or morpheme) in English in virtually the same order. From these investigations, researchers concluded that it was the nature of the language being learned, and not as had previously been thought, a contrast between the first and second languages, that determined the order of acquisition. Not one study showed that the so-called natural order could be changed through instruction. It was also found that knowledge of grammatical rules was no guarantee of being bale to use those rules for communication. Learners who were able to identify instances of rule violation and who could even state the rule, frequently violated the rules when using language for communication.

C.2 Conscious Learning Versus Subconscious Acquisition

Concious learning is identify in just memorize about grammatical. And subconcious learning is the first language/ mother tongue which we learn naturally.

C.3 Comprehensible Input

Input is used to describe the language that exposed to. It can be comperhensible by being simplier in structure and vocabulary. The comperhensible input is provided at a point where the learner needs it and is paying attention to the meaning in context. The learners experiences the benefits of both receiving input and producing output.

C.4 Comprehensible Output

Comperhensible output in meaningful interaction seems to be crucial factor in the learners development of L2 abilities. Based on Swain observations, she formulated an alternative hypothesis, which she called the “comprehensible output” hyphotesis, suggesting that opportunities to produce language were important for acquisition. It means both instruction and interaction are necessary for acquisition.

C.5 Developmental Stages

The researcher argue that an item is only learnable, and therefore should only be taught, when learners are at the developmental stage immediately preceding that of the item to be learn.

C.6 Interaction and Acquisition

Acquisition refer to any number of grammatical items, and instruction refer to the many different kinds of instructional opportunities that teacher arrange for their student.

D. What Is The Relationship Between Task Types/Modes of Classroom Organization and Acquisition?

D.1 Modified Interaction and The Negotiation of Meaning

“Learning by doing”, language is acquire as learners actively engage inattempting to communicate in target language.

D.2 Small Group Work

Small group communicative tasks were an important mode oforganization in many communicative classroom. The acquisition would occur when learners understood message in the target language. According to Ellis, there are following factors were likely to enhancesecond language acquisitionin instructional contexts:

  • Quantity of intake
  • A need to communicate
  • A choice on the part of learners over the what is said
  • The performance of range of speech acts
  • An input rich in extending utterance
  • Uninhibited practice
D.3 Tasks Types and Discourse

Different types of language stimulate by transactional an interpersonal task. Transactional task is one in which communication accurs principally to bring about the exchange of goods and sevices, and interpersonal task is one in which communication occurs largely for social purpose.

E. What Is Relationship Between Learning Strategies and Acquisition?

Learning strategies are the mental and communicative procedures learners use in order to learn and use language. Learning styles are the general orientation to the learning process exhibited by learner.

E.1 Defining Learning Strategies

Cohen and Aphek (1980) looked at the effect of strategy training on vocabulary acquisition. They found that such techniques, such as the paired associate technique, did result in successful acquisition. O’malley (1987) studied the effect of different types of strategy training (metacognitive, cognitive, and socioaffective) on different language skills and found the training had a significant result on speaking but not in listening.

E.2 Strategy Preferences and Biographical Variables

It is widely accepted by teachers that such things as ethnicity, age, and other factor will have an effect on preferred ways of learning.

E.3 Learner Types

One final finding of note was that learners could be categorized by type according to the pattern of their responses on the questioner. They are concrete learner, analytical, communicative, authority oriented. Learner type and their preferences are set out in table 2.3.

E.4 The Good Language Learner

  • Find their own way
  • Organize information about language
  • Are creative and experiment about language
  • Make their own opportunities, and find strategies for getting practice in using language 
  • Learn to live with uncertainly and develop strategies for making sense of the target language without wanting to understand every word 
  • Use rhymes, word associations, and so forth
  • Use linguistic knowledge 
  • Let the context help them perform beyond their competence
  • Learn production techniques 
  • Learn different styles of speech and writing
E.5 Strategy Training and Task Performance

Important questions in designing strategy training and performance:

  1. What is the effect of learner strategy training on student motivation?
  2. What is the effect of learner strategy training on student’s knowledge of learning strategies?
  3. What is the effect of learner strategy training on the level of strategy utilization by students?
  4. What is the effect of learner strategy training on student’s attitude toward to use of strategies in language learning?
The questions:
  1. Is there any correlation between conscious learning and sub-conscious?
    • Conscious is focus on grammatical rules and Sub-conscious is focus on communicative or the function of language.
  2. What is the first language for us?
    • Actually it depends on the area. Some area, especially in the city, the first language is Indonesia but in some places, especially in the village, they speak with their native language.
  3. What is the exactly the relationship between learning strategies and acquisition?
    • Because of everyone has different acquisition, so that they have different learning strategy and the relationship is indirect.

Task-Based Language Teaching

TASK-BASED LANGUAGE TEACHING

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The concept of task has become an important element in syllabus design, classroom teaching and learner assessment. Tasks are defined in terms of what the learners will do in class involving learners in comprehending, manipulating, producing or interacting in the target language while their attention focused on mobilizing their grammatical knowledge rather than in the world outside the classroom. There are some keys characteristics of a task:
  • Meaning is primary
  • Learners are not given other people’s meaning to regurgitate
  • There is some sort of relationship to comparable real-world activities
  • Task completion has some priority
  • The assessment of the task is in term of outcome
Broader curriculum consideration

Curriculum is a large and complex concept, and term itself is used in a number of different ways_ program study or science curriculum and syllabus. Generally, at the vary minimum a curriculum should offer some aspects such as:
a. In planning
  • Principles for the selection of content
  • Principles for the development of a teaching strategy
  • Principles for the making of decisions about sequence
  • Principles on which to diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of individual students and differentiate the general principles to meet individual cases
b. In empirical study
  • Principles on which to study and evaluate the progress of students
  • Principles on which to study and evaluate the progress of teachers
  • Guidance as to the feasibility of implementing the curriculum in varying school contexts, environments, and peer group situations
  • Information about the variability of effects in differing contexts and on different pupils and an understanding of the causes of the variations
c. In relation to justification
  • A formulation of the intention or aim of the curriculum which is accessible to critical scrutiny.

Communicative learning teaching

The relationship between communicative learning teaching and task-based language teaching are synonymous. It’s argued that CLT is a broad, philosophical approach to the language curriculum that draws on theory and research in linguistics, anthropology, psychology, and sociology, whereas task-based language teaching represents a realization of this philosophy at the level of syllabus design and methodological.

Alternative approaches to syllabus design

In a seminal publication, there two types of approaches to syllabus design those are synthetic and analytical. All syllabus proposals that do not depend on a prior analysis of the language belong to this second category.

Experiential learning


Experiential learning takes the learner’s immediate personal experience as the point of departure for the learning experience. It has disserved roots in a range of disciplines from social psychology, humanistic education, developmental education, and cognitive theory.

Policy and practice

Task-based language teaching was still innovation at the level of official policy and practice. If official documents are to believed, TBLT has become a cornerstone of many educational institutions and ministries of education around the world.

Learner roles

One way of dealing with this tendency is to sensitize learners to their own learning processes by adding to the curriculum a learning strategies dimension that should be possible for learners to make choices about what to do and how to do it. This implies a major change in the roles assigned to learners and teachers.

Communicative Language Teaching: Theory and Practice


Communicative Language Teaching: Theory and Practice

By:
Luqman Ahsanul Karom
2111040038
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Abstract

Keywords: Social view on SLA, Interaction, Communicative Language Teaching, Communicative Syllabus

Introduction

Social view on Second Language Acquisition (SLA) has influenced the development of teaching methodology.

Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) which is based on Communicative Approach has been widely used as a teaching method troughout the world.

It is reasonable to say that the CLT has widely replaced the use of Grammatical Approcah that has been applied before.

Therefore, in this short article, we are going to examine the CLT, theory behind it and its practice in the field of language teaching.

1. How do sociolinguists view second language acquisition?
2. What is the implementation of the view on English teaching field?

Social View of Second Language Acquisition

The discussions about second language acquisition are always initiated by the questions around what exactly the L2 learner comes to know, how the learner acquires this knowledge, and why some learners are more successful than others. For instance, linguists answered the questions by grammatical approach, which believe that the goal of second language acquisition lies in gaining grammatical competence. Furthermore, learners gain this competence through the exposure of grammar. Thus, a successful learning is resulted from an adequate exposure of grammar. In contrast, a less successful learning is resulted from the lack of the exposure.

However, sociolinguists offer answers for those questions from their social perspective. In spite of believing that the goal of English teachings lies in the achievement of grammatical competence, they believe that a successful learner is the one who is successful in communication. In English teaching field, it is said that a successful English teaching is achieved when the learners have gained communicative competence. Moreover, the process of language acquisition is mediated by input and interaction. The more one is involved in live communication with L2, the more successful he/she will be in the process of learning.

Aspects on Second Language Acquisition in Social Context

Variation on Learner Language


The variation also occurs in L2 learners, some learners are more successful than others. In explaining this phenomena, sociologists argue that variable feature occurs in the production of any one speaker (native or language learner) depends largely on the communicative contexts in which it has been learned and is used. Furthermore, The extent of using English in communication becomes a factor influencing the acquisition of L2.

The variation of L2 learners is recognized by changes that occur in what learners know and can produce as they progressively achieve higher levels of L2 proficiency. It was previously considered as unsystematic irregularity, but recently sociolinguists found that the variation seems to follow such paricular predictable patterns in form and meaning. Accordingly, the changes are grouped under following dimensions:

• Linguistic context

Elements of language form and function associated with the variable element. In the examples given above, for instance, the phonological variable [ŋ] in coming is more likely to be used before a word which begins with a back consonant or before apause, and the variable [n] in comin’ is more likely before a front consonant. The part of speech canalso be a relevant linguistic context, with production of [ŋ] most frequent in one-syllable nouns such as ring or sing, and [n] in the progressive form of verbs, as in I’m workin’.

• Psychological context

Factors associated with the amount of attention which is being given to language form during production, the level of automaticity versus control in processing, or the intellectual demands of a particular task. In learners’ production, for instance, the copula of that is a big book may be produced during a formal second language lesson in in a writing exercise but omitted in informal conversation even at the same point of L2 development. Similarly, the variable [ŋ] is more likely to be used by L1 or L2 speakers when they are focusing in their pronunciation in a formal setting thatn in casual conversation.

• Microsocial contexts

Features of setting/situation and interaction which relate to communicate events within whicih language is being produced, interpreted, and negotiated. These include level of formality and participants’ relationship to one another, and wheter the interaction is public or intimate. Such features interact imprtantly with the amount of attention that is paid to language form, as illustrated above for the probability that the copula or [ŋ] versus [n] will be produced, or that the difference among see, saw, and have seen will be consistently observed.

Input and Interaction

It is obvisous that input plays important roles in SLA. However, among disciplines of study, the role of input is still in dispute. As a matter of fact, followers of behaviorist learning theories consider input to form the necessary stimuli and feedback which learners respond to and imitate; followers of Krashen’s Monitor Model consider comprehensible input not only necessary but sufficient in itself to account for SLA; proponents of UG consider exposure to input a necessary trigger for activating internal mechanisms.

Sociolinguists also have their own view on the role of input in SLA. They consider language input as primary “data” for essentially linguistic and/or cognitive process. In other words, it is the source of data which in turn is further processed in the interaction to gain more advanced knowledge. Furthermore, interaction is generally seen as essential in providing learners with quantity and quality of external linguistic input which is required for internal processing. Therefore, language input and interaction play important roles in the process of acquisition.

Input Modification

In some learning contexts, language inputs are often modified to gain success in communication. The modification is intended to achieve meaningful communication, since it is considered primary in sociolinguistic’s view on language. Furthermore, the modification can be a simplified form of language, and it sometimes occurs naturally. In fact, learners with low proficiency will get difficulties in attending a communication where the speakers are natives and use a high grammar of language. In this regard, the natives will naturaly and automatically simplify the form of their language, so the learners will have better understanding on the language, and the communication will run meaningfully.

In this case, for instance, there is a term “foreigner talk”, a language addressed by L1 speakers to L2 learners with frequent and systematic difference compared to that is addressed to native or very fluent speakers. The characteristics of the modified variety is listed below:
  • Simple vocabulary, using high frequency words and phrases
  • Long pauses
  • Slow rate of speech
  • Careful articulation
  • Loud volume
  • Stress on key words
  • Simplified grammatical structures
  • Topicalization (topic at the beginning, then a comment about it)
  • More syntactic regularity
  • Retention of full forms (e.g. less contradiction, fewer pronouns)
For instance, in an introduction context, native speakers will speak in a simplified form:
___ you like to play football? (deletes do)
___you live in this city? (deletes do)


In a classroom context, a teacher also sometimes simplify their language forms:
Would give us ___ pencil? (deletes a)
Could you close ____ door, please? (deletes the)


In learning and teaching context, it is found that a teacher often speaks in a modified form of language as like in the above example. The modification can also occur in academic texts, it is due to the fact that using the modification will make the learners to feel easier in arranging their composition. In academic texts, the patterns of modification is characterized as follows:
  • Frequent organization markers, such as headings and linking devices
  • Clear topic statements
  • Highlighting of key terms and inclusion of synonims and paraphrase
  • Bulleted of numbered lists of main points
  • Elaboration of sections which require culture-specific background knowledge
  • Visual aids, such as illustrations and graphs
  • Explicit summations at regular intervals
  • Questions which can used for comprehension checks 
All above descriptions about input modification show the regularity found in L2 learners’ language. As a matter of fact, some of the oral modifications may make acquisition easier, but all L1 and many L2 learners can succeed without them. Furthermore, modifications in written input which improve comprehension are similar for L2 and L1 students, but research on their effectiveness for SLA is quite limited.

Interactional Modification

In sociolinguists’ view on SLA, interaction is generally seen as essential in providing learners with the quantity and quality of external linguistic input which is reqiured for internal processing. Thus, as stated earlier, the more a learner has a chance to communicate with the target language, the more successful he/she will be.

In teaching and learning context, the interaction is also sometimes modified namely interactional modification. This modification can be recognized to have some following characteristics:

• Repetition
  • Teacher : This is your assignment for tomorrow?
  • Student : what?
  • Teacher : This is your assignment.
• Paraphrase
  • Teacher : This is your assigment for tomorrow?
  • Student : what? 
  • Teacher : This is homework.
• Expansion and elaboration
  • Student : Hot.
  • Teacher : yes, it’s very hot today
• Sentence completion
  • Student : For tell how old tree is, you count……
  • Teacher : Rings. Tree rings.
• Frame for substitution
  • Teacher : How old are you?
  • Student : Five old are you.
• Vertical construction
  • Student : Ana. (name of another student)
  • Teacher : what did Ana do?
  • Student : pencil.
  • Teacher : what did Ana do with the pencil?
  • Student : throw. (makes throw motion)
  • Teacher : Ana, don’t throw pencils.
• Comprehension check and request for clarification
  • Teacher : substract, and write the reminder here.
  • Student : what is “remain”?
As like input, social interaction plays an important role in L1 acquisition: no children can learn their initial language by merely listening to tape recordings, radio broadcasts, or television programs. However, some other views argue that L2 learners can acquire a high level of competence without interacting with speakers of the target language. Therefore, the disscussion about the necessity of interaction is also in dispute.

However, sociolinguists tend to see that the modification is necessary in teaching and learning contexts, since the core of every communication lies on interaction. Again, it is essential to provide learners with external inputs for internal processing.

Communicative Competence

As stated earlier, communicative competence becomes the goal of English teachings. However, the term communicative competence itself remains unclear without examining another definition of the term competence from another field of study. For instance, Chomsky as a linguist defined competence as static knowledge lies in mind, a state of product that excludes any notion of “capacity” or “ability”. Furthermore, competence becomes performance when the competence is put in use. Therefore, he distinguished between competence, a static knowledge, and performance, an active use of the knowledge.

Instead of seeing the competence as a static knowledge, the proponents of communicative approach believe that “competence” covers both the static knowledge and the active use of the knowledge. In addition, the term competence is also accompanied with the notion of communication. Thus, it is necessary to define the notion of communicative competence in a comprehensible definition. Accordingly, some models of communicative competence have been proposed in order to meet the comprehensible definition.

The Model of Communicative Competence

The model which will be presented here is the model proposed by Canale & Swain (1980 in Murcia, Dorney & Thurell, 2006:7). It is the first proposed model, and it posited four components of communicative competence:
  1. Grammatical competence – the knowledge of the language code (grammatical rules, vocabulary, pronunciation, spelling, etc.).
  2. Sociolinguistic competence – the mastery of the sociocultural code of language use (appropriate application of vocabulary, register, politeness and style in a given situation).
  3. Discourse competence – the ability to combine language structures into different types of cohesive texts (e.g., political speech, poetry).
  4. Strategic competence – the knowledge of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies which enhance the efficiency of communication and, where necessary, enable the learner to overcome difficulties when communication breakdowns occur.
The model shows us that competence is not merely a static knowledge, but also it covers an active skill initially known as performance. As a matter of fact, discourse competence is an active ability in combining language structures into different types of cohesive texts, while grammatical competence is a static knowledge about language code. Therefore, the model is comprehensive enough to explain the competence from sociolinguists point of view.

The Implication of the Social View on Teaching-Learning Methodology

Communicative Language Teaching (CLT)


One of the implication of the social view is a methodology so called Communicative Language Teaching. However, some teachers are often mistaken when asked what is CLT and how it is implemented in detail in a classroom setting. They often answered simply with group discussion. Therefore, we will examine in detail what is CLT and how it is implemented in a classrooom setting.

According to Richards (2006: 2), “CLT can be understood as a set of principles about the goals of language teaching, how learners learn a language, the kinds of classroom activities that best facilitate learning, and the roles of teachers and learners in the classroom.” Thus, it is obvious that in defining CLT we need to observe each component above in order to gain a comprehensible definition. Therefore, we will examine them in turn.

The goals of language teaching

The goals of language teaching in CLT are communicative competence. Respectively, the explanation about the competence has come in the previous discussion. However, in a more practical term, the competence is summerized as follows:
  • Knowing how to use language for a range of different purposes and functions
  • Knowing how to vary our use of language according to the setting and the participants 
  • Knowing how to produce and understand different types of texts
  • Knowing how to maintain communicationdespite having limitations in one’s language knowledge.
How learners learn language

The process learners learn language is viewed from the social point of view. It is seen as resulting from processes of the following kind:
  • Interaction between the learner and users of the language
  • Collaborative creation of meaning
  • Creating meaningful and purposeful interaction through language
  • Negotiation of meaning as the learner and his or her interlocutor arrive at understanding
  • Learning through attending to the feedback learners get when they use the language
  • Paying attention to the language one hears (the input) and trying to incorporate new forms into one’s developing communicative competence
  • Trying out and experimenting with different ways of saying things
Of course, interaction is the backbone of the CLT, since the social view on language has become the backbone of language teaching and its most influencing perspective.

The kinds of classroom activities that best fasilitate learning

The kinds of classroom activities in CLT are grouped in activities such as the use of pair work activities, role plays, group work activities and project work. These are discussed in the following discussions.

The roles of teachers and learners in the classroom

The type of classroom activities in CLT and the view on the urgency of interaction also implied roles in the classroom for teachers and learners. The roles of learners in the classroom can be catogerized as follows:
  • Learners are to participate in classroom activities were based on collaborative rather than individualistic approach to learning
  • Learners are to become comfortable with listening to their peers in group work or pair work tasks, rather than relying on the teacher for a model
  • Learners are expected to take on a greater degree of responsibility for their own learning
Meanwhile, the roles of teachers in CLT can also be characterized as follows:
  • Teachers are to assume the role of facilitator and monitor, rather than being a model for correct speech
  • Teachers are to be a facilitator in the process of language teaching
Proposals for Communicative Syllabus

The four components of CLT should be facilitated in a systematic way that accomodates those components in term of syllabus design. Thus, CLT has its own design of syllabus which varies based on its function. Several new syllabus types are proposed by advocates of CLT. These include a skill-based syllabus, a functional syllabus, and English for specific purposes.

Skill-based Sylllabus

This type of syllabus focuses on the four skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking, and breaks each skill down into its component microskills: for example the skill of listening might be further described in terms of the following microskills:
  • Recognizing key words in conversations
  • Recognizing topic for a conversation
  • Recognizing speakers’ attitude towards a topic
  • Recognizing time reference of an utterance
  • Following speech at different rates of speed
  • Identifying key information in a passage
Advocates of CLT however stressed an integrated-skills approach to the teaching of the skills. Since in real life, the skills occur together, they should also be linked in teaching, it was argued.

Functional Syllabus

This type of syllabus is organized according to the functions the learner should be able to carry out in English, such as expressing likes and dislikes, offering and accepting apologies, introducing someone, and giving explanations. Communicative competence is viewed as mastery of functions needed for communication across a wide range of situations. Vocabulary and grammar is then chosen according to the functions being taught. A sequence of activities similar to the P-P-P lesson cycle is then used to present and practice the function. Functional syllabus are often used as the basis for speaking and listening courses.

English for Specific Purposes


Advocates of CLT also recognized that many learners needed English in order to use it in specific occupational or educational settings. For them, it would be more efficient to teach them the specific kinds of language and communicative skills needed for particular roles, (e.g. that of nurse, engineer, flight attendant, pilot, biologist, etc) rather than just to concentrate on more and more general English. This led to the discipline of needs analysis – the use of observation, surveys, interviews, situation analysis, analysis of language samples collected in different settings – in order to determine the kinds of communication learners would need to master if they were in specific occupational or educational roles and the language features of particular settings. The focus of need analysis was to determine the specific characteristics of a language when it is used for specific rather than general purposes. Such differences might include:
  • Differences in vocabulary choice
  • Differences in grammar
  • Differences in the kinds of texts commonly occuring
  • Differences in functions
  • Differences in the need for particular skills
ESP courses soon began to appear addressing the language needs of university students, nurses, engineers, restaurant staff, doctors, hotel staff, airline pilots, and so on.

Activities in CLT’s classroom

In an attempt to have a complete definition of CLT, we need to examine the activities categorized as communicative activities. It is due to the fact that without a brief explanation of the activities, one can be mistaken in defining CLT, for instance, a teacher who simply considers CLT as a group discussion activity. Furthermore, group discussions cannot be easily categorized as communicative one, since they vary in its detail sequence of activities.

The activities in CLT’s classroom can be seen as following particular patterns as like focusing on fluency, emphasis on mechanical, meaningful, and communicative practice, considering information-gap, and one so-called jig-saw activities. There are also other activities categorized as communicative ones as like task-completion activities, information-gathering activities, opinion-sharing activities, information-transfer activities, reasoning-gap activities, and role plays.

Accuracy versus Fluency Activities

One of the goals of CLT is to develop fluency in language use. Fluency is natural language use occuring when a speaker engages in meaningful interaction and maintains comprehensible and ongoing communication despite limitations in his or her communicative competence. Fluency is developed by creating classroom activities in which students must negotiate meaning, use communication strategies, correct misunderstandings and work to avoid communication breakdowns.

Fluency practice can be contrasted with accuracy practice, which focuses on creating correct examples of language use. Differences between activities that focus on fluency and those that focus on accuracy can be summerazed as follows:

Activities focusing on fluency
  • Reflect natural use of language
  • Focus on achieving communication
  • Require meaningful use of language
  • Require the use of communicative strategies
  • Produce language that may not be predictable
  • Seek to link language use to context
Activities focusing on accuracy
  • Reflect classroom use of language
  • Focus on the formation of correct examples of language
  • Practice language out of context
  • Practice small samples of language
  • Do not require meaningful communication
  • Choice of language is controlled
However, it does not mean that the teacher cannot use the accuracy activities at all. The accuracy activities can be used as a supplement for fluency activities. Therefore, teachers are supposed to use both of them in balance in order to gain more success in teaching and learning.

Mechanical, Meaningful, and Communicative Practice

Another distinction that some advocates of CLT proposed was the distinction between three different kinds of practice – mechanical, meangingful, and communicative.

Mechanical practice refers to a controlled practice activity which students can successfully carry out without nececarily understanding the language they are using. Examples of this kind of activity would be repetition drills and substitution drills designed to practice use of grammatical or other items.

Meaningful practice refers to an activity where language control is still provided, but where students are required to make meaningful choices when carrying out pratctice. For example, in order to practice the use of prepositions to describe locations of places, students might be given a street map with various buildings identified in different locations. They are also given a list of prepositions such as across from, on the corner of, near, on, next to. They then have to answer questions such as “where is the book shop? Where is the café?” etc. The practice now is meaningful because they have to respond according to the location of places on the map.

Communicative practice refers to activities where practice in using language within a real communicative context is the focus, where real information is exchanged, and where the language used is not totally predictable. For example, students might have to draw a map of their neighborhood and answer questions about the location of different places in their neighborhood, such as the nearest bus stop, the nearest café, etc.

Information-gap Activities

An important aspect of communication in CLT is the notion of information gap. This refers to the gap that in real communication, people normally communicate in order to get information they do not possess. This is known as information-gap. More authentic communication is likely to occur in the classroom if students go beyond practice of language forms for their own sake and use their linguistic and communicative resources in order to obtain information. In so doing, they will draw available vocabulary, grammar, and communication strategies to complete a task.

Jig-saw Activities

These are also based on the information-gap principle. Typically, the class is divided into groups into groups and each group has part of information needed to complete an activity. The class must fit the pieces together to complete the whole. In doing so, they must use their language resources to communicate meaningfully and so take part in meaningful communication practice.

Reference

Celce-Murcia, Marianne, Dorney, Zoltan & Thurrell, Sarah. 1995. Communicative Competence: A Pedagogically Motivated Model with Content Specifications. Issues in Applied Linguistics, (Online), Vol. 6, No.2, (http:// http://escholarship.ucop.edu, accessed on 17 December 2011)

Saville-Troike, Muriel. 2006. Introducing Second Language Acquisition. New York: Cambridge University Press

Richard, Jack. C. 2006. Communicative Language Teaching Today. New York: Cambridge University Press


L2 Learning and Teaching

L2 LEARNING AND TEACHING

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Introduction

In an attempt to understand the process of second language acquisition, we are seeking to answer three basic question: (1) what exactly does the L2 learner come to know? (2) how does the learner acquire this knowledge? (3) why are some learners more successful than others? There are no simple answers to these questions. As amatter of fact, there are probably no answers that all second language researchers would agree on completely. In part this is because SLA is highly complex in nature, and in part because scholars studying SLA come from academic disciplines which differe greatly in theory and research methods.

Although there is no such a convension for those questions, it is still possible to find a synthesis among disciplines. The disciplines that search for answers of those questions are linguistics, psychological, and social science. Every discipline has its own emphasis which is different among three questions. Therefore, this short summary will examine each perspective and find the synthesis of all disciplines.

Integrating Perspective
Linguistics, psychological, and social perspective on SLA have each tended to focus primarily on one question over the others. These disciplinary perspectives are listed below on the table.

Disciplinary priorities

Linguistics
Psychological
Social
1
2
3
What?
How?
Why?
How?
Why?
What?
Why?
What?
How?
There are significant differences of opinion within each perspective as well as between them, depending on subdisciplinary orientations. Still, it is possible at this stage in the development of SLA theory and research to report some answers to our questions with considerable confidence. For others, we should remain more tentative. I will integrate findings from the three perspectives as much as possible, but I give greatest weight to linguistic contributions in answer to what, to psychological contributions in answer to how, and to social contributions in answer to why.

What exactly does the L2 Learner come to know?
  • A system of knowledge about a second language which goes well beyond what could possibly have been taught. There is significant overlap with first language knowledge, especially (1) in underlying rules or principles that languages have in common and (2) in the potentials of language to make meaning. However, nor is it ever exactly the same as that of its native speakers.
  • Patterns of recurrent elements that comprise components of L2-specific knowledge: vocabulary (lexicon), morphology (word structure), phonology (sound system), syntax (grammar), and discourse (ways to connect sentences and organize information).
  • How to encode particular concepts on the L2, including grammatical notions of time, number of referents, and the semantic role of elements (e.g. whether subject of object).
  • Pragmatic competence, or knowledge of how to interpret and convey meaning in contexts of social interaction.
  • Means for using the L2 in communicative activities: listening, speaking, reading, writing. 
  • How to select among multiple language systems, and how to switch between languages in particular social contexts and for particular purposes. 
  • Communicative competence: all of the above, plus social and cultural knowledge required for appropriate use and interpretation of L2 forms.

A basic disagreement among different linguistic perspectives comes in considering whether the system of knowledge about a second language is primarily (1) an abstract system of underlying rules of principles, (2) a system of linguistic patterns and structures, or (3) a means of structuring information and a system of communication. This disagreement stems from different assumptions about the nature of language and language study that arise from different theoretical approaches. However, it is assumed that the differences are the result of different points of view. As a matter of fact, they complement one another and and all are needed to gain a full-spectrum picture of the multidimensional nature of SLA.

How does the learner acquire L2 knowledge?
  • Innate capacity. While there is disagreement over whether capacity for language learning is basically different from learning any other complex domain of knowledge, it is clear that some innate capacity must be posited to account for learning.
  • Application of prior knowledge. The initial state of L2 includes knowledge of L1 (and language in general), and the processes of SLA include interpretation of the new language in terms of that knowledge.
  • Processing of language input. The critical need for L2 input in SLA is agreed on, although its roles in acquisition receive differential definition and weight in accounts from alternative perspectives and orientations.
  • Interaction. processing of L2 input in interactional situations is facilitative, and some think also causativ, of SLA.
  • Restructuring of the L2 knowledge system. SLA occurs progressively through a series of systematic stages. Development of L2 knowledge does not manifest itself in a smooth cline of linguistic performance, but rather in one which sometimes shows abrupt changes in the interlanguage system.
  • Mapping of relationgships or associations between linguistic functions and forms. L2 acquisition (like L1 acquisition) involves increasing reliance of grammatical structure and reduced reliance on context and lexical items.
  • Automatization. While simplistic notions of habit formation are no longer accepted as explanations for language acquisition , frequency of input as wll as practice in processing input and output are widely recognized determinants of L2 development.
  • A basic disagreement within both psychological and linguistic perspectives comes in considering language learning as primarily a process of acquiring (1) language-specific systems of rules, (2) very general principles with options to be selected, or (3) increasing strength of associations between linguistic forms and meaning. Again, this disagreement derives from very basic differences in theoretical orientations and is not likely to be resolved.

Why are some learners more succesful than others?
  • Social context. Features of social context which affect degree of success include the status of L1 and L2, boundary and identity factors within and between the L1 and L2 speech communities, and institutional forces and constraints.
  • Social experience. Quantity and quality of L2 input and interaction are determined by social experience.
  • Relationship of L1 and L2. The more L1 has similarities with L2, the easier it is acquired.
  • Age. There is belief that children are more succesful L2 learners than adults, but the evidence for this is equivocal.
  • Aptitude. We may conclude that aptitude is an important predictor of differential success in L2 learning, but it is not deterministic.
  • Motivation. Motivation largely determines the level of effort which learners expend at various stages in their L2 developmnet, and it is often a key to ultimate level of proficiency.
  • Instruction. Quality of instruction clearly makes a difference in formal contexts of L2 learning.
Basic disagreement remains in the definition of relative success in L2 learning. Without a general convension among disciplines, it is difficult to define the criteria of success for SLA, since each discipline offers their own perspective which is quite different each other.

Approaching Near-native Competence
The judgement that L2 learners have approached or achieved “near-native” or “native-like” competence means that there is little or no predictable difference between their language performance and that of native speakers. It is obvious that one’s L2 system is never exactly the same as the native speaker’s.
Some aspects which are identified as “foreign” features can be summerized as follows:
  • Pronunciation, especially if L2 learning began after the age of twelve or so.
  • Lexical reportoire.
  • Grammatical forms
However, it is also possible for some to master natives’ competence but with very rare exeptions.

Implications for L2 Learning and Teaching
All of the above descriptions can be our consideration to build a methodology for language learning and teaching. Although we cannot control and accommodate the whole concepts of SLA, we can underline and take some important things to consider in language teaching and learning. Therefore, the general guidelines for L2 learning and teaching below will be useful for us.
  • Cosider the goals that individuals and groups have for learning an additional language
  • Set priorities for learning/teaching that are compatible with those goals
  • Approach learning/teaching tasks with an appreciation of the multiple dimensions that are involved: linguistic, psychological, and social
  • Understand the potential strength and limitations of particular learners and contexts for learning, and make use of them in adapting learning/teaching procedures
  • Be cautious in subscribing to any instructional approach which is narrowly focused or dogmatic. There is no “best” way to learn or teach a second language
  • Recognize achievement in incremental progress. And be patient. Learning a language takes time.

Social Context of Second Language Acquisition and Its Implementation of English Teaching

Social Context of Second Language Acquisition and Its Implementation of English Teaching

Introduction
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The recent development of English language teaching has proposed the Communicative Approach. This approach in some degree has replaced the use of the grammatical approach as the classical one. The grammatical approach was seen as failing to interconnect between psychological competence; grammatical competence, and social competence; discourse and strategic competence. Thus, the searching for an approach that accommodates the goal has arrived at the recent approach namely communicative approach. The proponents of this approach tend to see the goal of language teaching is not the grammatical competence, rather the communicative competence, the competence facilitated by a strategy, later called as strategic competence, allows someone to use every language potential inside his/herself for achieving a meaningful and successful communication.

The communicative approach is originally based on the Sociolinguists’ view on Second Language Acquisition. Sociologists tend to view that language is acquired through the medium of input and interaction. Furthermore, the input and interaction are modified in some cases, such as when the competence of a speaker is in different level with the hearer. Those modification occures in order to gain a succesful communication. Accordingly, social environment where the interaction takes place has a significant role in the process of acquisition. Thus, the core of communicative teaching lies on the process of interaction is social life.

Therefore, in this paper, we are going to examine the sociologists’ view on Second Language Acquisition in the first part of the discussion, and its implication on language teaching in the next part. Specifically, the issues discussed in this paper are guided by these following questions:
  1. How do sociolinguists view second language acquisition?
  2. What is the implementation of the view on English teaching field?
  3. What is the strength and the weakness of the view?
Social Context of Second Language Acquisition

The discussions about second language acquisition are always initiated by the questions around what exactly the L2 learner comes to know, how the learner acquires this knowledge, and why some learners are more successful than others. For instance, linguists answered the questions by grammatical approach, which believe that the goal of second language acquisition lies in gaining grammatical competence. Furthermore, learners gain this competence through the exposure of grammar. Thus, a successful learning is resulted from an adequate exposure of grammar. In contrast, a less successful learning is resulted from the lack of the exposure.

However, sociolinguists offer answers for those questions from their social perspective. In spite of believing that the goal of English teachings lies in the achievement of grammatical competence, they believe that a successful learner is the one who is successful in communication. In English teaching field, it is said that a successful English teaching is achieved when the learners have gained communicative competence. Moreover, the process of language acquisition is mediated by input and interaction. The more one is involved in live communication with L2, the more successful he/she will be in the process of learning.

Further discussions below will examine communicative competence and aspects surrounding it in more detail. It includes the discussions about models of communicative competence, aspects of SLA which is seen from sociolinguistics perspective, and the implication of the view on English teaching field.

Communicative Competence

As stated earlier, communicative competence becomes the goal of English teachings. However, the term communicative competence itself remains unclear without examining another definition of the term competence from another field of study. For instance, Chomsky as a linguist defined competence as static knowledge lies in mind, a state of product that excludes any notion of “capacity” or “ability”. Furthermore, competence becomes performance when the competence is put in use. Therefore, he distinguished between competence, a static knowledge, and performance, an active use of the knowledge.

Instead of seeing the competence as a static knowledge, the proponents of communicative approach believe that “competence” covers both the static knowledge and the active use of the knowledge. In addition, the term competence is also accompanied with the notion of communication. Thus, it is necessary to define the notion of communicative competence in a comprehensible definition. Accordingly, some models of communicative competence has been proposed in order to meet the comprehensible definition.

The Model of Communicative Competence

The model which will be presented here is the model proposed by Canale & Swain (1980). It is the first propesed model, and it posited four components of communicative competence:
  1. Grammatical competence – the knowledge of the language code (grammatical rules, vocabulary, pronunciation, spelling, etc.).
  2. Sociolinguistic competence – the mastery of the sociocultural code of language use (appropriate application of vocabulary, register, politeness and style in a given situation).
  3. Discourse competence – the ability to combine language sturctures into different types of cohesive texts (e.g., political speech, poetry).
  4. Strategic competence – the knowledge of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies which enhance the efficiency of communication and, where necessary, enable the learner to overcome difficulties when communication breakdowns occur.
The model shows us that competence is not merely a static knowledge, but also it covers an active skill initially known as performance. As a matter of fact, discourse competence is an active ability in combining language structures into different types of cohesive texts, while grammatical competence is a static knowledge about language code. Therefore, the model is comprehensive enough to explain the competence from sociolinguists point of view.

Aspects on Second Language Acquisition in Social Context

Variation on Learner Language


The variation also occurs in L2 learners, some learners are more successful than others. In explaining this phenomena, sociologists argue that variable feature occurs in the production of any one speaker (native or language learner) depends largely on the communicative contexts in which it has been learned and is used. Furthermore, The extent of using English in communication becomes a factor influencing the acquisition of L2.

Input and Interaction

The process of acquisition is influenced by some aspects such as language input and interaction. Language input is considered as primary “data” for essentially linguistic and/or cognitive process. In other words, it is the source of data which in turn is further processed in the interaction to gain more advanced knowledge. Furthermore, interaction is generally seen as essential in providing learners with quantity and quality of external linguistic input which is required for internal processing. Therefore, language input and interaction play important roles in the process of acquisition.

The Implication of the Social Context on Teaching Methodology

Communicative Language Teaching


The goal of communicative competence lies on the gaining communicative competence, which has been explained earlier. The process of teaching and learning in the classroom also concerns with activities facilitated by the modification of input and interaction. Moreover, The teacher is actively involved in the activities, and becomes the facilitator and motivator, while students are expected to be comfortable with their peer. Therefore, the activities tend to be in the form of classroom or pair discussion.

Specifically, classroom activities using communicative language teaching are guided by some considerations below:
  1. Fluency activities: one of the goals of CLT is to develop fluency in language use rather than accuracy.
  2. Mechanical, meaningful, and communicative practice: language practices that moves from controlled ones to free ones.
  3. Information-gap activities: it refers to the fact that in real communication people normally communicate in order to get information they do not possess.
  4. Jig-saw activities
The Strength and Weakness of the Approach

Strength:

  • This approach is not guided by strict rules as grammatical/linguistic approach. Thus, it allows learners to feel free in learning English.
  • The implementation of this approach is potential to build learners’ sustainable learning. It is due to the fact that activities guided by this approach are flexible, fun, and more student centered.
  • The implementation of this approach gives teachers more flexible roles in the classroom. Accordingly, teachers have a chance to modify teaching procedures in more interesting way.
Weakness
  • This approach fails to explain the learners’ mental development in a systematic way. The explanation of the variation occurs in learners’ achievement has inadequate support from empirical study.
  • This approach fails to explain some autodidact learners who teach themselves without having an exposure of communication. in fact, there are a lot of learners who are successful in learning English without such kind of communicative exposure.
  • The implementation of this approach is weak when it comes to young learner education.