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From the Traditional to the Contemporary in Second Language Teaching and Learning

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In this chapter, we will show how contemporary trends have added value to practice, or have prompted a reassessment and reevaluation of practice in the areas of syllabus design, approaches to teaching, the role of the learner, approaches to language, the role of text, resources, and approaches to learning, classroom organization, and assessment. The chapter deals with the following issues and concept:

Stimuli for Change

• Ineffectiveness of Traditional Approaches

Traditionally, in grammar – translation classroom, learners typically spent years and yet many of them still unable to use the language effectively so that a new approach to language learning and teaching was needed. The author believes that language learning should have a central place in any educational system.

• Relevance of Language Teaching to General Education

However, we need to learn language as communication, not just as a list of fact to be memorized or a set of symbols to be manipulated. Effective foreign language learning produces learners with the social and cognitive problem-solving skills that can be used in other subjects in the school curriculum.

Syllabus Design

• Difficulty of separating content and process in a communicative syllabus

In general education, Stenhouse (1975) changed perspectives with a compelling rationale for the elevation of process (traditionally the domain of methodology) to the same status as content. Mike Breen (1984) and Leo Van Lier (1988). These developments are described in some detail in my 1989 book on syllabus design. Traditionally, Mike Breen (1984) argued, content was seen as destination. Separation became difficult to sustain because, if our method of achieving the target performance is to rehearse that performance in class then the route becomes destination.

• Linguistic Specification as a Second-Order Activity

Syllabus designers begin by choosing language content and learning experiences that match the needs of learners as users of language beyond on classroom. In designing courses they are guided by specified communicative tasks that learners can perform at the end of their learning. In consequence, it is easier for learners to apply what they have learned in class to the challenge of communicating in the real world and for employers to know what learners can do. In practical terms, syllabus designers no longer begin with a structurally graded list of linguistic items, and then cast around for ways of teaching those items.

Approach to Teaching

• Transmission versus Low-Structure Teaching

In traditional language classroom, learners are thought chiefly about language and its rules. They learn facts about language rather than how to use it communicatively to express ideas to talk and write to other people, to read and listen to real language and to learn how to cooperate with others.

• High-Structure versus Low-Structure Teaching

High-structure teaching situations are those in which the teacher is very much in control of the instructional process. In those situations, learners have relatively little power or control over either the content or process of learning. Low-structure situations, on the other hand provide learners with numerous options and a great deal of autonomy. According to Biggs and Telfer (1987 : 362) all instructional decision making can be located on a continuum which has "high-structure" decisions at one extreme and "low-structure" decisions at the other.

Role of Learners

• Passive versus Active Language Roles

As indicated in the preceding section, learners in classroom characterized by a transmission model of learning are cast in a relative passive role. They are passenger being carried forward in learning experience by the teacher. In language classroom operating within such a transmission mode, learners practice patterns provided by teachers, textbook, and tapes.

• Reproductive Language Tasks

The following task, adapted from a recent textbook is an example of a task that is purportedly a communicative exercise, but is in reality a reproductive exercise practicing comparative adjectives.

• Encouraging Creative Language Use

Creative language use involves the recombination of similar elements (words, structure, and prefabricated patterns) in new ways to produce utterances that have never been produced before by that particular individual (for that individual, they are therefore unique). In role plays, stimulation, and problem solving tasks, learners are given opportunities for creative language use.

Approach to Language

• Shortcoming of Grammar-Translation and Audiolingualism

Grammar-translation and audiolingualism adopted very different approaches to the treatment of grammar. In fact, audiolingalism developed partly in reaction to grammar-translation excessively approach to the teaching of grammar.

Of all modem methods of teaching languages, audiolingualism has undoubtedly had the greatest impact. In fact, it is probably still the most influential method use today. Numerous principles underpinned audiolingualism, although the two key contributions are probably the following:

  1. Language learning is a process of habit formation.
  2. Teachers should teach the language, they should not teach about the language.
• Teaching Grammar Communicatively

In the teaching methodology that reflects what we know about second language acquisition, grammar and vocabulary are thought communicatively. Grammatical patterns are matched to particular communicative meanings so that learners can see the connection between form and function. Learners learn how to choose the right pattern to express the ideas and feelings that they want to express. They learn how to use grammar to express different communicative meanings.

Using Language Texts

• Authenticity

Authentic texts are those that have been produced in the course of genuine communication, not specially written for purpose of language teaching. They provide learners with opportunities to experience language as it is used beyond the classroom. Of course there is great deal of language generated within the classroom itself that is authentic and can very often be used for pedagogical purpose.

• Student-Generated Data

With appropriate guidance and support even low level learners can benefit from opportunities to work with everyday spoken and written texts such as these. Older learners can be given a greater sense of ownership and control over their own learning by being encouraged to bring their own authentic data the classroom.

Facilities for Learning

• Textbooks and Support Resources

In contemporary approaches to language teaching the design of textbooks has become much more sophisticated. The incorporation of real and authentic data brings the content to life and helps learners make connections between the classroom world and the world beyond it. In addition classroom text published textbook series these days typically contain self-study workbooks, cassette tapes, and videotaped materials that bring the real world into the classroom.

• Information Technology and The Internet

Increasingly access to the internet also brings the world into the classroom. Student can access and even download a wide rang of informative, educational, and entertaining information. They can also establish contact with other first and second speakers of English around the world through chat lines and pen pal links. In addition to increasing their intercultural awareness and sensitivities this also provides them with opportunities for genuine communication beyond the classroom. Such opportunities are not always easy to find in foreign language settings, and so the explosion in internet usage has been particularly valuable to EFL students.

Approach to Learning

• Learning Styles and Strategies

In traditional classroom, learners typically did not learn how to become better language learners on their own once they left a school or college. As a result, students rarely learned how to make use of this stored knowledge in an organized and creative way. Ways of learning language better and more affectively was not on the pedagogical agenda, and practice was therefore often unfocused and not directed at those skills they needed to improve.

• Adding a Process Dimension

A substantial amount of research has now been carried out on learning styles and strategies, and, in classrooms where teachers have been able to draw on this research their student is able to develop a range of effective language learning strategies. They learn how to read and listen effectively, how to work well in corporation with others, how to use what they know in new and unpredictable situations, how to speak and write appropriately and so on.

Classroom Organization

• Teacher-Fronted versus Small Group Classroom

As we have seen, the traditional mode of classroom organization was a teacher-fronted one, with learners sitting in rows facing the teacher. The physical set-up of classroom was predicated on this mode of organization, with desks set out in rows and even in many cases screwed to the floor, thus making any other mode of organization almost impossible.

In chapter 1, we saw that experiential learning was based on a constructivist approach to education. Such a philosophy is realized at a classroom level by cooperative, task-based learning, with learners working in small groups and pairs. Students become skilled at cooperating with others and express their own opinions, ideas, and feelings, guided by teacher.

• Communication in The Workplace

Group work is essential to any classroom that is based on principles of experiential learning. Through group work, learners develop their ability to communicate through tasks that require them, within the classroom to approximate the kinds of things they will need to be able to do to communicate in the world beyond the classroom.

Assessment

• Shortcoming of Standardized Tests

In traditional learning environments, assessment practices are characterized by standardized tests designed, administered and graded by outside authorities. Teachers have little control of what is assessed or how it is assessed and the examination system has a disproportionate influence over the curriculum. In such environments, learners do not develop their own ability to assess how much they have learned and how much they need to learn. As a result they often do not know exactly what they have learned and how much they still have to learn. The assessment is typically through quizzes and test that do not reflect actual language use.

• Student Self-Assessment

In contemporary language teaching learners are trained systematically in ways of assessing their own learning progress. Learners can identify their own strengths better and where they need help from the teacher. When they leave the program we can indicate their proficiency level in the language they have been studying and also provide a profile of their strength and weaknesses in many other factors that influence effective communication. In this way, learners, parents, and employers can see precisely what progress has been made and what communicative tasks learners can successfully carry out. Increasingly, portfolios of work, providing concrete instances of learner achievement are being accepted by employers and educational institutions.

Language Out of Class

• Strategies for Activating Language Out of Class

In contemporary approaches to language teaching, learners are involved in role plays and practice simulations, and through these develop an ability to carry out creative and imaginative learning projects outside of the language classroom. These projects are carefully connected to the kinds of language tasks that they will have to perform when they complete their studies. In this way they develop independence, they learn how to function as communicators themselves and they learn to use language as a working tool to achieve their objective outside if the classroom.

CONCLUTION


In this chapter, I have drawn together the major ideological and empirical themes that emerged in the first two chapters. I have illustrated the change that have been brought about to pedagogical practice as a result of changing views on the nature of language and learning and also through the incorporation into classroom teaching of insights from research.

  • Learners practice skill they will need of the classroom
  • Learners are actively involved in using the language they are learning and in learning through doing
  • Learners communicate authentically and learn to use language appropriately
  • Learners learn how to use grammar and vocabulary to express different communicative meanings
  • Learners listen to and read authentic texts of different kinds
  • Learners develop strategies to become better language learners
  • Learners work together in small cooperative groups
  • Learners develop skills in self-assessment and self-evaluation
  • Learners learn how to take their language into the real world beyond the classroom
  • Teachers help learners to learn useful language and to become better learners
  • Teachers provide models of the language they are learning and share their knowledge of real-word tasks
  • Teachers actively cooperate in providing a varied program of instruction
  • Teachers continuously assess learners performance and provide a detailed profile of their skills 

The questions:

  1. What is grammar-translation and audiolingualism? 
    • Grammar-translation is teaching grammar by using translation.
    • Audiolingualism is teaching grammar by drilling the language itself (based on behavior)
  2. Could you explain about the statement “teachers should teach the language, they should not teach about the language”?
    • Teacher should teach the function of language itself not only about the structure of the language
  3. How to develop the small village from the Traditional to the Contemporary in Second Language Teaching and Learning?
    • We can use some techniques related to contemporary style that is appropriate and possible to be applied at villages. If we can't use Internet in the villages so we just don't use it. 
  4. Which one is the most important between structure of language and the language?
    • Both of them are important. We teach the second language as the means of communication, but without the appropriate ability in structuring the language it will be hard to be understood. Usually, the language comes at the first time, then we're studying about it's structure.
  5. What is the major of conceptual based on Stenhouse?
    • Studying about the content as the aim and methodology is the way.
  6. What are the differences between High-structure versus low-structure teaching?
    • In high-structure, teacher dominates the classroom, and in low-structure, students dominate in the classroom (students centered).
  7. What are the differences between assessment and evaluation?
    • If evaluation deals with the collection and interpretation of information about aspects of the curriculum (including learners, teachers, material, learning arrangement) for decision making purposes, then assessment is the subcomponent of evaluation.
  8. What does the means by student self-assessment?
    • It means that the students are trained systematically in ways of assessing their own progress.

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