FOCUS ON FORM IN TBLT: RESTRICTING OR EMPOWERING? Dave Willis & Jane Willis www.willis-elt.co.uk. Overview. A bit of background Discussion Predictions about task language Language analysis: data from texts and spontaneous task recordings Implications
FOCUS ON FORM IN TBLT:
Dave Willis & Jane Willis
… a conservative profession , out of touch with language acquisition studies has for many years transmitted essentially the same view of how teaching should be organised and what teachers should be like. (Skehan 1998:94)
It is … comfortable for teachers and teacher educators, and for the writers and publishers of teaching materials to maintain that there is a direct relationship between teaching and learning. For teachers and teacher educators this belief offers security. It suggests that we know exactly what we are doing and where we are going. We can plan lessons and recommend methodologies with confidence. For writers and publishers it means that they can make clear, unqualified claims in terms of teaching and learning for the materials they produce.(D. Willis Forthcoming)
The desert island game:
If you were cast away on a desert island which four of the following items would you choose to take with you?
an axe; a gun; an English dictionary; a fifty metre length of rope; a month’s supply of tinned food; fifty boxes of matches; a dozen candles; a set of kitchen knives; a torch
One participant is asking for advice on travel and tourism in South-east Asia. The other participant has a lot of expertise in this area.
Find out what time your partner has breakfast lunch and dinner each day. Do not ask any questions about meals, mealtimes or food.
If learners feel it necessary to use should all the time (for example at the production stage of a PPP cycle where should has been presented), they are confined to one wording and are missing out on experimenting with other ways of expressing a whole range of similar meanings. Learners may wish to express their meanings less forcefully than should suggests, so phrases like I would say or I would recommend or Well, what you could do is … would be more appropriate. In a PPP lesson learners are being unnaturally constrained when they should be experiencing the richness of meaning potential and practising normal conversational skills
The focus on grammar should vary according to the kind of grammatical system.
Clause and phrase structure
Interrogative and negative forms
Tense, modality and aspect
Systematic frames in which words operate
e.g. It + BE + ADJ. + to-infinitive
the + NOUN + of + -ing
(Willis, D. 2003)
Priming & Preparation
Availability of key lexis & useful phrases
Task >> Planning >>>> Report of outcome
>> Prestige language use
Analysis & practice
of language features from
texts written or spoken that learners have read or heard
Why should learners bother to commit themselves to grammatical complexity in the classroom?