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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

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FOCUS ON FORM IN TBLT:

RESTRICTING

OR

EMPOWERING?

Dave Willis & Jane Willis

www.willis-elt.co.uk


Overview
Overview

  • A bit of background

  • Discussion

  • Predictions about task language

  • Language analysis: data from texts and spontaneous task recordings

  • Implications

  • TBLT in practice – short term and long term task sequences


????

Burma

Canada

China

Dubai

Egypt

Greece

Holland

Japan

Spain

Thailand

Turkey

USA

Other


… 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: 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.

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

Making suggestions:

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.

Daily routines:

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 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.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

(Cox 2005:179)



Grammatical systems grammatical system.

Structure:

Clause and phrase structure

Interrogative and negative forms

Relative clauses.

Orientation:

Tense, modality and aspect

Determiners

Information organisation

Pattern:

Systematic frames in which words operate

e.g. It + BE + ADJ. + to-infinitive

the + NOUN + of + -ing

(Willis, D. 2003)


  • We cannot teach the grammar of orientation by explaining, demonstrating or exemplifying.

  • Learner dependence on teacher and on prescriptive input is restricting.

  • Declarative knowledge is inadequate for orientation and pattern.

  • We cannot rely on progression from declarative to procedural knowledge.


Empowering learners demonstrating or exemplifying.

Learning processes

Recognition

System-building

Exploration

Spontaneous

use

Improvisation

Consolidation


When to work on language and focus on form
When to work on language and focus demonstrating or exemplifying.on form?

Priming & Preparation

Availability of key lexis & useful phrases

Task >> Planning >>>> Report of outcome

Language extension

>> Prestige language use

Form focus

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?


  • Design and implementation of tasks grammatical complexity in the classroom?

  • Short term task sequences

  • Task framework (task > planning > report)

  • Data – recordings of tasks, task reports and task related texts

  • Language analysis (Skehan: Language use and language learning. Johns and Davies (1983) ‘Text as a vehicle for information (TAVI) and ‘Text as a linguistic object’ (TALO)

  • Long term task sequences – based on topic or possibly on systemic/semantic analysis


  • Discussion grammatical complexity in the classroom?

  • A presentation based model is still the norm in the teaching profession. What can be done to convince teachers of the value of task-based approaches?

    • Research?

    • Training?

    • Publications?

    • Interaction with teachers?


www.willis-elt.co.uk grammatical complexity in the classroom?


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