through Task-based Language Teaching

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Oct 24, 2013 (3 years and 10 months ago)

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Developing Grammar Consciousness
-
raising


through Task
-
based Language Teaching








Farida

ABDERRAHIM



University of Constantine , ALGERIA


farida_abderrahim@hotmail.com



1

Outline




Place of

grammar

in language teaching .




Rationale for
Consciousness
-
raising

(CR) .




Principles of
Task
-
based Language


Teaching(TBLT).




GCRTs
in
EFL

at university level .


2

Place of Grammar

in Language Teaching




Grammar

has always
fascinated



theorists

and
practitioners
in the field of
education
.





On the
whole
,
except

for
the
Communicative Approach


where

language use
is believed to lead to the

command

of


the
target language
,




agreement

that the
grammatical component



should
not

be
neglected

,




need

for learning the
code

and
practising

it in a
systematic


manner

in order to achieve

linguistic

proficiency
.



3


Agreement
also that
grammatical errors
are

a
natural phenomenon


reflecting
restructuring ,


replacing
,


readjusting ,


developing

communicative strategies
.



As to FL

learning

, the
context of our paper
, it has been
found
to be


determined

by :


exposure to comprehensible input

,


attitude

,
motivation

,



interaction

,
cognitive processes
.



So

,
grammar pedagogy

has to take into account the
sound findings
of :


Linguistics
,


Psycholinguistics

,


Sociolinguistics
,


Neurolinguistics

,


Cognitive Psychology

.






4

The Consciousness
-
raising Approach




One
development

of these
related disciplines
is
CR



a
cognitive
approach to
grammatical

instruction developed by


Sharwood
-
Smith

( 1981 )
.



Compatible

with research findings related to
how

learners



acquire
second / foreign language

grammar

.




A
learner
-
centered
orientation, with
emphasis
on :



learning processes
and
strategies
where the learners

rely
on


their
intellectual

capacities
and
use
their
cognitive modes
to learning :


the most important one being noticing

leading to


awareness

about the
use

of a
language structure .





5



Aspects of grammar
are
focused on ,



without
necessarily

using


explicit rules

or
technical jargon


to help learners
discover

the
rules

by

themselves
.



CR

has proved to be useful at an
initial

stage of
acquisition
,


the stage of
controlled processing

,


to trigger the
declarative knowledge
,


paving

the
way
gradually to the
procedural knowledge





when learners attend to
content

rather than

form


(
Ellis 2003
)
.








6

Task
-
based Language Teaching




A
curriculum

is viewed as a
collection

of academic

tasks
specifying :



1.
the
products

students are to
formulate

,


2.
the
operations

required to generate the
product

,


3.
the

ressources

available
to the
students

to
generate

the
p
roduct

.





( Doyle

1979, 1983 ,reported by
Nunan

1988)



Starting from this view
, other
researchers
, (
eg
.
Richards
,
Platt and

Weber 1985,



Candlin

1987,

Nunan

1989,Long 1989,

Robinson 1995, Willis 1996)




have
specified

the various
aspects
of a
task

,


stressed

the

meaning
-

primacy interactions

to solve a


communicative problem

comparable with
real world
activities with an


outcome

,


argued
that optimum conditions for
communicative


development
lead to
interlanguage

development
,






7




A
task

has :


a
goal

: the general

purpose

of the task,



an

input

:
verbal

or
non
-
verbal

information supplied by the task,





conditions

: the
way

in which information is

presented

,



procedure

: the
method
followed in performing the task,



predicted outcomes

: the
product .


( Ellis 2003 )



A
task

with the above
characteristics

, can be :


an
information
-
gap

activity involving a
transfer

of
given information
from

one
learner
to
another

;



a
reasoning
-
gap

activity involving the
discovery

of
new

information
through

inference

,
deduction

or
perception
of
relationships

or
patterns
;


or an
opinion
-
gap

activity

involving

a
response

to
a
given

information .


(
Prabhu

1987)




8




In
this

context

,
form

(structure) has to
be

:



Natural

: the
use

of a
structure

during a
task
does

not
stand out

.




Useful

: the
use
of a
structure

helps

in completing the task .



Essential

: a
structure

has to

be used
in order to complete a
task

.


(
Loschly

and
Bley
-
Vroman

1993
)



Focus on form

can be :




Proactive

: the choice of the
form
is made
in advance

: when we
design

the


task

, we ensure that
opportunities

to
use problematic forms


while
communicating a message

will arise ;


or
Reactive
: the learners
notice

and are prepared
to handle

various learning


difficulties

as they
arise

.
(
Doughty and Williams 1998)




However

,
there

is

a
reaction
to this view which
stipulates

that :




language

aspects
that are
not salient

may go

unnoticed

.


( Long 1991 , Schmidt 1990 )



9



Two major TB models :



Willis

(
1996
)

:




The pre
-
task activities
which

aim at
activating


the
schematic knowledge
,


what is likely to make the

task authentic


and
providing

opportunity
for a
focus on form

and
noticing

.




The task stage
which
stresses

the

form
-
meaning relationship



providing

opportunity

for
language use



and the
development

of
accuracy
,
fluency

and
complexity,


contributing to the
proceduralisation

of language .




The language focus

stage
with

CR
activities
requiring

learners


to
process input

in a way which makes

features
more
salient



and
aiming at
getting the learners to

identify

and
think about

particular


features of
language form

and

use

at their
own time
.










10



Skehan

(
1998
)



developed
an

information
-
processing

approach where the
tasks

:



cover
a
wide range of structures

;



are selected

on the basis of the
utility

criterion ;



are selected

and

sequenced

in such a way as to achieve


a
balanced
development of


accuracy

,


fluency



and
complexity

;




offer

maximum chances of
focus on form

through :


manipulation

,


reflection



and

awareness
.


11


Grammar Consciousness
-
raising Tasks





It is possible to
integrate

the teaching of
grammar

with opportunities for


communication, exchange
of

information in




grammar tasks




students solve
interactively
in order to formulate :



the
implicit knowledge
:
intuitive
and
procedural
knowledge
,




and the
explicit knowledge

: the knowledge we
learn ,
which when


l
inked with opportunities for
natural communication
,


helps to provide
more rapid

second
language acquisition
.




( Long 1988 , and Ellis 1990 )



12




These
tasks
provide
opportunities


to

practise

forms
that have been first
presented declaratively



and to

receive feedback

on the
mistakes

under
real conditions .



They
are information
-
gap

activities : they





promote

communication

about
grammar

,





raise

the learners’
consciousness
about the
grammatical


characteristics
of the language ,



require

the
exchange of information
in order to reach an


agreed solution
to a
problem .
(
Ellis 2003
)




Fotos

and Ellis (1991) and
Fotos

(1994)
showed that
grammar tasks


(with task sheet and task cards)
produced
significant gains


in the
understanding

of the
targeted structure
.



13

Our Study :

First Year EFL University Students



Are GCRTs effective



for
developing

grammatical accuracy




and
promoting

grammatical explicit knowledge

of
English tenses ?



Why

tenses

?


1. Problematic area

: The students are
confused

by :



the various
tenses
in their
simple

and
continuous

forms ,


and in their

perfective

aspects ,



and by the
complexity
of the
uses

of each
tense

.




2. The students often ask for rules
to make them become
aware of

the


use

of the
tenses,
and consequently
use

them
correctly
.



3. Mistakes made

require ,



formal instruction




and
CR

activities to make the learners achieve an
accurate use of the
tenses

in an
appropriate context of communication
.






14




Comparison
of the
results

of
two groups



One : TTFGLS

(
traditional grammar teaching
and
written practice)
.


One : GCRTs
consisting of :



information
-
gap

activities : the students
complete

a given

input
,


reasoning
-
gap

activities : the students
induce

the
rules



underlying

the given sentences ,


and
decision
-
making

activities : the students
reach
a


negotiated decision .



The
tasks
are designed
in conformity
with the
task

components
explained
earlier.



Goals
: the
tasks
are
expected
to :



1. raise
the students’
consciousness
about the
English tenses ;


2.

help

them
gain

grammatical
explicit knowledge

of
this aspect
;


3. promote
their
grammatical accuracy
;


4. provide
them with

opportunities to

interact
,
communicate

and
negotiate
meaning to

improve fluency
and achieve
implicit knowledge ;



5. enhance

their
autonomy

,
self
-
confidence

and
motivation

.


15

16


Input


A
Task sheet , Task cards
and
Task

directions
.



Example : The Present Simple (
Pr.S

)




A
Task sheet

consisting of :



Form

: the
4 forms
of the

Pr.S

to be completed ,


Use

: the
4 uses
of the
Pr.S

have to be identified in a series of
4 sentences


included in the
4 task cards
.




Task cards

:
4

cards




Each

containing
one form
:
Affirmative , Negative , Interrogative


and
Interro
-
Negative
;


and
one use
of the
Pr.S

:
Truth

,
Habit , Planned future actions
,


and Past related as present or historic present .









Task directions


Objectives :
Through
this task
, you are
expected

to
be

able to
:


raise
your
awareness

,


and
gain

an
explicit knowledge
about the different
forms

and
uses

of the
Pr.S

through a series of
interaction
and exchange of
information
.




Organisation

of the task :


1. Complete


the
task cards
individually .


2. Dictate

them to
your subgroup
who
write them
down on the
task sheet
.


3. Discuss
the
use of the
Pr.S

you think
corresponds
to the
sentences

.


4. Negotiate

your
choice

with the
other subgroups
.




The procedure



1. Analysis

of the
task card input
to find the required
tense

form
and
rule

governing the set of sentences to be copied in in the
task sheets
.


2.
I
nteraction

and

negotiation of

the

answer

provided by
each one

.


3.
Once the
right answer i
s
agreed on
, it is
submitted

to the
whole class

for


a general

agreement

under the
teacher’s

guidance
and

control
.







17




Outcomes :
The students
have to develop
:


1. understanding

of the

forms

and the

uses

of
the tense

,

2. the ability to choose

the
correct rule

underlying the tense ,

3. interaction

,
autonomy

and
motivation

,

4.
an
active
role

in the
process

of
learning



through

the
exchange of

information .





Results




The
post
-
test
results (essay writing, narration) indicate that
GCRTs
are
:


1.
more

effective
for
developing

grammatical accuracy

and
grammatical


explicit knowledge

than

TTFGLs

,

2.
more
effective

for
fostering

interaction

and
comprehensible output
and


for
enhancing

students’ autonomy , self
-
confidence

and

motivation .



This gives us
grounds

to
advocate

GCRTs
as a
motivating methodology
to the


teaching of grammar
in the context of
EFL
.





18

Conclusion


1.
The
general goal

of
language learning
is


fluent accuracy

and
effective use

of the
target language
.

So, the
primary
concern of a teacher should be
how to


integrate
attention to
form
and
meaning .



2. GCRTs

are
in accordance with
the
principle

that what


learners can find
by
and
for

themselves


is

better

remembered than what they are
simply told
.


3.
They are a
critical investigation

of the
linguistic features


involving the learners in a
study of
the
form
and the
use
.







19

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