This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
CHAPTER I: Theoretical aspects of grammar teaching ............................................ - 3 1.1. 1.2. The importance of grammar teaching ........................................................ - 3 Attitudes towards grammar teaching ......................................................... - 6 Grammar in conventional teaching methods ...................................... - 6 Grammar in unconventional teaching methods .................................. - 8 Grammar in Communicative Language Teaching .............................. - 8 Grammar as product, process and skill............................................... - 9 -
1.2.1. 1.2.2. 1.2.3. 1.2.4. 1.3. 1.4.
Formal grammar vs. pedagogical grammar.............................................. - 12 Stages of teaching grammar .................................................................... - 15 Presentation..................................................................................... - 17 Practice ........................................................................................... - 21 Production....................................................................................... - 23 -
1.4.1. 1.4.2. 1.4.3.
1.5. Recapitulation.............................................................................................. - 25 CHAPTER II: Reflective teaching. ......................................................................... - 26 2.1. 2.2. 2.3. 2.4. 2.5. 3.1. 3.2. The definition of reflective teaching........................................................ - 26 The purpose of reflective teaching........................................................... - 30 Reflective model of teacher’s professional development ......................... - 32 Self-observation techniques in reflective teaching ................................... - 34 Recapitulation ......................................................................................... - 36 Description of the self-observation study................................................. - 37 Data presentation and analysis................................................................. - 40 Use of L1 and L2............................................................................. - 41 Presenting the new structure. ........................................................... - 43 The complexity of the explanations ................................................. - 47 Amount of teacher control during explanations................................ - 50 Rule repetition frequency ................................................................ - 52 Use of teaching aids and materials................................................... - 52 Use of the coursebook ..................................................................... - 55 Selection and sequencing of exercises ............................................. - 56 -
CHAPTER III: Self-observation study.................................................................... - 37 -
3.2.1 3.2.2 3.2.3 3.2.4 3.2.5 3.2.6 3.2.7 3.2.8 3.3.
Recapitulation ......................................................................................... - 59 -
CHAPTER IV: Interpretation of study results and conclusions ............................... - 60 4.1 4.2 Introduction ............................................................................................ - 60 Optimal solutions .................................................................................... - 60 Optimal use of L1 and L2................................................................ - 60 Optimal ways of presenting the new structure.................................. - 62 Optimal complexity of the explanations........................................... - 64 Optimal amount of teacher control................................................... - 67 Optimal rule repetition frequency .................................................... - 68 Optimal use of teaching aids and materials ...................................... - 69 Optimal use of the coursebook ........................................................ - 70 Optimal selection and sequencing of the exercises........................... - 71 -
4.2.1 4.2.2 4.2.3 4.2.4 4.2.5 4.2.6 4.2.7 4.2.8 4.3
Recapitulation ......................................................................................... - 73 -
Appendix................................................................................................................ - 74 Bibliography .......................................................................................................... - 80 Webgraphy............................................................................................................. - 82 Summary................................................................................................................ - 83 Streszczenie............................................................................................................ - 84 -
CHAPTER I: Theoretical aspects of teaching grammar
1.1. The importance of teaching grammar
During his primary education the author of this paper was faced with the need to learn the rules of Polish grammar, which at that time sounded a lot like some mysterious knowledge that his developing mind could barely comprehend and very often he had to learn them by heart. At the same time he could use the language and communicate his ideas without any real problem, so he often asked himself a question – what is the purpose of learning something that complicated if he can manage very well without it? In his young mind’s perception language consisted of words, so the important thing was to learn them and not some abstract rules and he assumed that the same mechanism works in case of foreign languages. It was only later that he discovered that grammars of various languages differ and more elaborate ideas simply cannot be communicated in the foreign language without a certain amount of knowledge of its grammar. Unfortunately, such experiences seem to be quite common among learners, resulting in their perception of grammar as something dispensable, at least in the first stages of foreign language learning. It would probably be difficult to find a teacher of English who hasn’t heard at least once a student saying that he doesn’t want to learn grammar, but how to communicate. The question is – how should the teacher actually respond to such a statement? The situation is less complicated if he agrees with it, taking a stance which can be actually supported by a number of methodologists. However, if he disagrees, how can he convincingly explain to the learner that grammar is indispensable or at least very useful? The argument, based on a common knowledge, that grammar is a set of rules of language and that is why it should be learned might be insufficient. Perhaps the matter must be investigated further for us to provide any more convincing arguments. A brief inquiry into the literature concerning the topic of grammar can provide us with some definitions of it. One of them comes from Ur (1993): Grammar may be roughly defined as the way a language manipulates and combines words (or bits of words) in order to form longer units of meaning. (Ur, 1993:4)
This definition is quite close to the common understanding of what grammar is. The main difference is that it tells us how the rules of language actually work – they arrange and shape words. Nevertheless, knowing what these rules do is not a very motivating factor alone. (2004) definition: Grammar is partly the study of what forms (or structures) are possible in a language. Traditionally, grammar has been concerned almost exclusively with analysis at the level of the sentence. Thus a grammar is a description of the rules that govern how a language’s sentences are formed. (Thornbury, 2004:1) Now we know that the rules of grammar are explicit. It does not only explain how the utterances are formed, but also provides a tool to generate some possible structures that have never been used before, which might be useful for people who prefer to use the language in a creative way. However, since that might persuade only the more ambitious learners, we may also refer to Komorowska (1980), who highlights another aspect of grammar: Commonly, the term grammar is used not only to describe a more or less complete portrayal of a language system or, to put it differently, more or less precise set of rules for creating sentences of a given language. It is also used to establish a required level of correctness of the created sentences1. (Komorowska, 1980:15) Grammar correctness – that is what students and teachers seem to be most concerned about. There is no doubt that a foreign language native speaker might understand a learner of his language even if his grammar correctness is rather low, but in artificial situations such as lessons or exams, correctness is very often a binary value, so a certain level of accuracy simply has to be reached is one wants to be successful. Finally, there is the ‘finesse’ aspect of grammar: Some additional information is provided in Thornbury’s
Translated from Polish by the author of the thesis. All the following translations were also made by the author of the thesis.
At its heart, then, grammar consists of two fundamental ingredients – syntax and morphology – and together they help us to identify grammatical forms which serve to enhance and sharpen the expression of meaning. (Batstone, 1994:4) Batstone (1994) underlines an important fact here – people, when communicating, want to be understood in a way that they intended and lack of grammar accuracy can obstruct this objective, especially when communicating more complex and abstract ideas. Perhaps grammar mistakes do not bring as much amusement as the lexical or even phonetic ones, but it is safe to believe that most people would prefer to avoid any possible linguistic faux pas. As it can be seen from the above definitions, grammar is not an unimportant set of rules that can be ignored without consequences. It is a very complex phenomenon and even though learners may find it a difficult thing to master, the time devoted to that is certainly not wasted. Making students realize it, however, is only the first step in teaching grammar, and the following activities can take many different forms, based on a selected approach and method. Those issues are going to be discussed in the following subchapter.
1.2. Attitudes towards teaching grammar
Teachers of English as a foreign language know the importance of grammar and the level of its intertwinement with both the receptive and productive language skills. Unfortunately, as it was said in the previous section, in the course of their work, they are often faced with the questions of students, who try to undermine the necessity of learning the rules of language use. In their perception, language consists of words and things such as conditionals or passive voice are just annoying obstacles that teacher puts in their way during the lessons. And even if they perceive the indispensability of grammar, they often express their annoyance at the fact that in most cases there are exceptions to the rules that they are provided with. Interestingly enough, there were and there still are scholars who would agree with the above view on grammar. Even the communicative approach, so popular nowadays, has its more radical face that gives very little attention to grammar. What is more, such attitude is not that modern. Actually, one of the oldest teaching methods, the Direct Method, does not include any drills or other grammatical exercises. On the other hand, another traditional method, the Grammar-Translation Method, would probably become a source of nightmares for a learner that prefers to concentrate on communication. This variety of attitudes is not surprising. In the history of language teaching, and especially in the 20th century, there were many debates on the topic whether and how grammar should be taught and various ideas that emerged from those discussions are present in the teaching methods that came into being. In the following subsections some of those ideas will be presented along with the theories concerning various aspects of grammar, especially in relation to teaching.
1.2.1. Grammar in conventional teaching methods
Conventional teaching methods, often called ‘traditional’ were developed mainly before 1950s and the emergence of what we call the unconventional teaching methods. These methods are usually more teacher-centred and put emphasis on the transmitted knowledge rather than the atmosphere in which it is conducted. They did not become obsolete, however, and they are still applied, partially or wholly, in language education. Komorowska (2002) lists and describes four conventional teaching methods, varying in
their treatment of grammar, some placing it in the centre of attention and some neglecting it quite severely. Those methods are: Direct Method, Grammar-Translation method, Audiolingual Method and Cognitive Method. According to Komorowska (2002), Direct Method is based on the authentic contact between the teacher and the learner. In this method there is no systematic learning of grammar, no selection and organization of what is being taught and the errors are rarely corrected. However, Thornbury (2004) claims that there is actually a syllabus of grammar structures being used in Direct Method, although he admits that no explicit grammar teaching takes place. Additionally, since L1 is not used in the process, there is no possibility of making any comparison between L1 and the target language. We can also say that this method relies on inductive learning, since there are no rules presented by the teacher and the learner must figure them out of the TL input that he is subjected to. Contrary to the Direct Method, Grammar-Translation method, as its name suggests, puts grammar in the centre of attention. Analysis of the grammatical forms, as well as comments and explanations referring to them, are just as important as the knowledge of lexis. On the other hand, the communicative aspect of the language is severely downplayed, as the exercises are focused mostly on learning the grammar rules and translating the authentic or simplified written passages. Thirdly, we have the Audiolingual Method, which relies on forming language habits in the learner’s mind through mechanical drills and excessive repetition. Interestingly enough, no grammar explanations are provided, and even though L1 is noticed, it play only the role of a source of negative transfer – any comparison of target language with learner’s native language is neglected and learners are actually discouraged from trying to analyze and compare TL and L1 on their own. Finally, there is the Cognitive Method, criticizing the idea that language can be learned through mechanical repetition and proposing the view that language relies on creativity and the ability to learn languages is inborn, which was an idea stated by Chomsky in the late 1950s, as mentioned by Thornbury (2004). Therefore the aim of this method is to supply learner with linguistic competence, enabling him to produce and understand the unlimited number of correct sentences in the target language by using a limited number of rules. Learners are expected to grasp those rules out of the naturally used language and while they do that, errors are allowed and expected and if any serious problems arise, there are always grammar explanations at disposal. -7-
Although traditional methods are seldom used in their pure form, they are still being used, albeit in slightly modified versions, and various techniques basing on them are used in the nowadays predominant Communicative Language Teaching. In contrast, unconventional methods, which will be briefly presented in the following subsection, have not gained a major popularity.
1.2.2. Grammar in unconventional teaching methods
Unconventional teaching methods differ from the traditional ones mostly in the fact, that they shift the emphasis from the teacher to the learner and his needs. They also concentrate more on the atmosphere in which the knowledge is transmitted, taking into account factors such as learner’s emotions, interests and preferences, attempting to make the learning process as comfortable for the learner as possible. As it was mentioned previously, they are not as popular as traditional methods or CLT. Nevertheless, they are sometimes employed in language teaching schools and their elements enrich CLT and the conventional methods. Out of the several most important methods belonging to that group, only Total Physical Response method is directly concerned with grammar, as its syllabus is organized around particular grammar structures, as noted by Komorowska (2002). As for the rest, they put more focus on communication or the proper conditions for learning and grammar competence is more of a byproduct of the whole teaching process, a lot like in the case of first language acquisition.
1.2.3. Grammar in Communicative Language Teaching
Having considered the conventional and unconventional methods, we can move to Communicative Language Teaching. Even though all those methods lost the battle for domination with the communicative approach, which is the basis for Communicative Language Teaching, it must be said that it was strongly influenced by them and it might even be said that it is an amalgamate of their elements. As Komorowska (2002:27) underlines, this is the reason for it being placed outside the conventional-unconventional spectrum and being classified as “approach” rather than “method”. As for the role of grammar in the Communicative Language Teaching, it has been changing in the course of time, fluctuating between the two opposite ends of CLT,
which Thornbury (2004:22) calls “Shallow-end CLT” and “Deep-end CLT”, with the former actually retaining grammar as the main component in its syllabus and the latter “rejecting both grammar-based syllabuses and grammar instruction”. However, presently there is no doubt that grammar cannot be totally excluded from the teaching process, since even if the focus is placed on the ability to communicate, some grammar forms must be learned to achieve a certain level of accuracy – not perfect, but sufficient to avoid communication breakdowns. Nonetheless, L1 usage in CLT is avoided and the frequency of grammar explanations is seriously reduced. The overall image of grammar in CLT is presented by Doman (2005), who makes a following statement: CLT does not deal with grammar directly. Rather, it disguises grammar rules in functional labels. In the CLT method, students receive grammar practice indirectly as they learn how to use everyday language (…). The textbooks of today leave room for the teacher to decide how much grammatical instruction to provide or not. (Doman, 2005:25) It seems, therefore, that CLT has taken a more moderate stance. It focuses on communication while not neglecting grammar, and at the same time it makes it possible to hide the actual fact of teaching grammar for those discouraged by it and it also makes space for introduction of new grammar structures, using as much instruction and explanation as the teacher decides fitting. Additionally, since new grammar material is presented along with exercises and context that require its use, it makes it easier to convince all the grammar-sceptical learners that it this knowledge is necessary for successful communication.
1.2.4. Grammar as product, process and skill
A very useful approach was presented by Batstone (1994), who differentiated three approaches to teaching grammar: as a process, as a product and as a skill, where the first two are on the opposite sides of a continuum and the third provides means of transition from the initial first one to the desired second one.
TEACHING GRAMMAR AS PRODUCT helps learners to notice and to structure by focusing on specified forms and meanings
TEACHING GRAMMAR AS PROCESS gives learners practice in the skills of language use, allowing them to proceduralize their knowledge
TEACHING GRAMMAR AS SKILL carefully guides learners to utilize grammar for their own communication
Figure 1: three approaches to teaching grammar (Batstone, 1994:53)
When teaching grammar as a product, teacher has a static perspective of grammar, divided up in a certain way, and concentrates on the components of the language system. Having all the grammatical analyzed might be helpful for the learners, as it develops their knowledge of the grammatical system and meanings that it is able to carry. It also helps learners notice those components when they are used by others in the written and spoken target language, a feature that is also emphasized by Thornbury (2004) Teaching grammar as a process concentrates on efficient use of grammar in communication. It helps learners by proceduralizing their knowledge of the rules governing the language, since studying and practicing a given structure does not necessarily lead to the ability to use it in real-time communication. This stage concentrates therefore on developing fluency. However, Komorowska (2002) underlines that there needs to be a parallel development of fluency and accuracy. Such attitude is shared by Thornbury (2004), who underlines that maintaining accuracy helps to avoid errors that lead to ambiguities and confusion of the interlocutor or the reader. Finally, teaching grammar as a skill fills “a kind of critical gap between a product and a process approach” (Batstone, 1994:52). Its purpose is to lead the learners from the controlled use of grammar as a product, which puts emphasis on a grammatical form, to productive use of grammar as a process, which focuses on meaning and selfexpression. Those three stages are probably familiar to every teacher, although the transition between the stages may not be clearly visible. Often situations looks more as if all the
- 10 -
three stages were introduced quickly one by one and then developed at the same time, but with the focus gradually being shifted from theory and repetition to communication. It is most probably because learners simply tend to forget some facts and need to be reminded about the rules, as well as due to the fact that in classroom situation learners grasp the rules and proceduralize them at various pace.
- 11 -
1.3. Formal grammar vs. pedagogical grammar
While in the previous sections the question of grammar concerned every stage of the lesson, this one will be focused on the distinction that is important mainly in case of grammar explanations that we provide the learners with, namely – the distinction between the explicit and precise grammar rules and the rules presented to the learners. When we compare the rules that the linguists provide us with and those provided to the learners by their teachers, we can notice some significant differences between them. The most obvious of them is their explicitness, the simplest manifestation of which is the size of grammar books for ‘average’ learners in comparison to works such as Quirk’s “Comprehensive Grammar Of English”, dedicated to advanced learners interested even in the minute details. Batstone (1994) makes a distinction between formal grammar and idealized grammar, and compares it to the situation of air travel, when regularities and patterns can be seen from a very high altitude, then some detail and irregularity emerges at middle altitude and finally at the ground level everything can be seen in all detail. In this continuum, the perspective from high altitude corresponds to idealized grammar, while the ground level is a metaphor of the formal grammar. According to this idea, pedagogical grammar would be a kind of idealized grammar, since rules provided by the former must be to some extent simplified, depending on the learner’s level of proficiency. However, the choice of this extent might become problematic, which is clearly described by Westney (1994): (…) we encounter the well-known challenge of avoiding oversimplified ‘basic’ rules that inevitably prove inadequate, if not actually false, in subsequent learning and have to be radically changed, hazards amply illustrated by Close (1981:18-24). An explicit contrast between ‘rules of thumb’, in the sense of informal pedagogical formulations of limited validity and scope, and ‘rules of grammar’, in the sense of linguistically sound, highly abstract generalizations, is made by Berman (1979). Berman argues the need for both types in pedagogical grammar, with the former gradually leading to the latter. (Westney, 1994:77)
- 12 -
Such cautious attitude towards simplifying rules is supported by Batstone (1994), who underlines that when we examine particular sentences closer, we may come across structures that are governed by rules within rules, or that cannot be subjected to any generalization at all. Once we exemplify grammar through actual instances we discover that grammar does not exist on its own. It is interdependent with lexis, and in many cases grammatical regularity and acceptability are constrained and conditioned by words. Thus, in morphology, the past morpheme -ed applies only where the verb in question happens to be ‘regular’. (Batstone, 1994:8) On the other hand, he admits that there some rules of grammar may be strict and not allowing any exceptions, referring to the case of sequence of the modal auxiliaries in the English verb phrase. He also agrees that idealizing grammar is a necessary step in language learning. Nevertheless, on the whole he objects to perceiving grammar as a set of absolute rules. He claims that learners who expect that might find it difficult to handle exceptions and their persistence in idealizing grammar might lead to common developmental errors resulting from oversimplification. In an attempt to help teachers solve the problems considered above, Westney lists three types of problematic areas that must be taken into account when making generalizations: 1. Establishing the nature and extent of a generalization: choosing what to include in the generalization. I.e. we can provide only the generalized rule, or we can present it together with the descriptive grammar rule and/or examples. 2. Finding an appropriate formulation for a generalization: choosing the appropriate concepts to present the generalized rule, so that the learners can understand it clearly. 3. Finding a safe generalization: deciding whether providing a generalization is actually possible, since, as Westney states: “the evidence available may simply not support any safe generalization” (Westney, 1994:80) All things considered, teachers always have the possibility of referring to the formerly prepared pedagogical grammar rules, which are provided in the coursebooks or grammar books that they use in their classrooms. They must bear in mind, however, that - 13 -
sometimes even those carefully prepared rules might be perceived as either too complex or too general by the learners. If such situation happens, the teacher must adjust the extent of generalization in the explanation on his own. The distinction between formal and pedagogical/idealized grammar is especially important in the first stage of teaching grammar that is presentation. An important choice must be made at that point, since it will facilitate or obstruct the following stages and decide about the success of the whole teaching process. This crucial stage, as well as those following it, is discussed in the following section.
- 14 -
1.4. Stages of teaching grammar
Obviously, if the teacher chooses a method that includes more than just marginal interest in grammar, his task is to find the best way of teaching it to his students, both by proper structuring of the lesson and the optimal choice of techniques. Teaching grammar must be organized in a way that makes is possible for the learners to observe the new rule in the language, understand it and, through increasingly meaningful practice, achieve the ability to use it freely in their speech. In Communicative Language Teaching, which, as it was already mentioned, is the most widespread approach to language teaching, the lessons are usually divided in three stages. Interestingly enough, there are also three main approaches to how those stages should be treated. First possibility is the PPP, meaning Presentation, Practice and Production, which is probably the most widespread one, possibly because it is “an easy one to use and adapt” (Thornbury, 2004) and follows the logical order of progression from theory to practice, as well as simply fulfilling most learners’ expectations in the topic of language lessons. In the first stage, the new knowledge is presented to the learners using their existing knowledge, context and meaningful repetition. Second stage concentrates on familiarizing the learner with the new ideas and attaining the proper accuracy. This stage moves into the direction of communication, which is in the focus of the third stage, Production. ESA, the second method, meaning: Engage, Study and Activate is quite different. It was proposed by Harmer (2001). Its first stage, even though it might appear quite similar in practice, has totally different aim, that is, not to present the new knowledge to the learner, but motivate him. It is the second stage, study, that focuses on the knowledge. And the third one is quite similar to PPP’s Production, except that it does not concentrate on producing the new structures, but communicating using all the knowledge of the language, including the newly acquired elements. Finally, there is also the EEE method, Exploration, Explanation and Expression, an idea of Sysoyev (1999). In contrast to the above methods, especially PPP, this one puts much emphasis on the inductive learning, mainly in the first stage, when the students are presented with the language material, i.e. some sentences, out of which they have to extract the rule and the pattern. Their findings are then clarified and compared with the actual rule in the second stage by the teacher, thus giving the learner a sense of - 15 -
security in possessing precise reference material. Afterwards, they move to Expression, when they can use the newly discovered rules in a meaningful communication. As we can see, even though the number of stages remains the same, there are various ideas for their content, some of them overlapping, some excluding particular elements, and some introducing totally new ones. The above methods, however, are referring mostly to the lesson organization in general, although they can be used for teaching grammar in detachment and actually they often are. There are, nevertheless, some approaches that are devoted solely to grammar, and the division of grammar learning into stages is often much more varied there, although they can be usually related somehow to the three models mentioned above. Let us take a closer look at one of such approaches, presented by Penny Ur (1993), who differentiates four stages of teaching any given structure. These four stages are: a) Presentation b) Isolation and explanation c) Practice d) Test It is quite obvious that we could easily adjust this division to the three-staged approach. Presentation naturally corresponds to the first stage of PPP, isolation and explanation can either be attributed to the first stage as well, or if we prefer the EEE division, it will correspond to the second stage. However, practice according to Ur (1993) is encompassing both the second and third stage of PPP, as it includes both drills and communicative activities. Testing might be the most problematic question here, since formally it is just the same exercises used for practice and production but with evaluated performance. The only difference here seems to be the purpose and perception of the activity – whether it is seen as means of absorbing the new knowledge or evaluating to what extent it has been absorbed. Having said that, we can proceed to the comparison of various viewpoints concerning how every stage of teaching grammar should be organized and what techniques should be used, according to different situations in the classroom. For the purpose of this paper it was decided that the following subsection will be based on the three-stage PPP division, due to several reasons. First of all, PPP seems to be the division most widely used in language classroom. Secondly, its stages correspond best with the terminology used by the authors concerned with the organization of teaching - 16 -
grammar. And finally, the two remaining divisions either touch upon subjects which are not in the centre of attention of this paper, as in the case of motivation in ESA, or they are limited in the areas that will be covered in it, as in the case of EEE being devoted to inductive teaching while downplaying the deductive aspect.
As it was said before, in PPP the stage of presentation concentrates on introducing new knowledge and letting students recognize and understand the meaning that it carries, but not necessarily offering any clear explanation. Here we assume that presentation is everything that comes before the actual practice, including explanation. It has been already noted, that this stage incorporates the first two stages proposed by Ur (1993), that is,  Presentation and  Isolation and explanation. As for the role of the presentation, she states that: The aim of the presentation is to get the learners to perceive the structure – its form and meaning – in both speech and writing and take it into short-term memory. (Ur, 1993:7) This stage, as the author notes, is associated more with the context than the form. The former is in the centre of attention during the isolation and explanation. Again, quoting Ur (1993): At this stage we move away temporarily from the context, and focus, temporarily, on the grammatical items themselves: what they sound and look like, what they mean, how they function – in short, what rules govern them. The Objective is that the learners should understand these various aspects of the structure. (Ur, 1993:7)
- 17 -
The presentation stage exists also in the approach of Komorowska (2002) and it actually corresponds almost directly to what is being covered in this subsection. According to her, the proper presentation should include following elements: § § § § § § § using the new structure in a proper context, that makes it understandable for the learner, checking if the structure was understood properly, repetition of the structure by the learners, writing the structure on the blackboard, clarification of the structure and underlining its relevant features (i.e. the -ed ending in English Past Simple tense), reading the structure writing the new structure in the notebooks in a possibly characteristic context, i.e. in a proper mini-dialogue This plan is quite explicit in its form. However, Komorowska (2002) underlines, that it is based on the deductive teaching of grammar, while there is also a possibility of using the inductive teaching, where learner seeks the new forms in the text, then figures out its meaning from the context and tries to formulate his own explanation, which then is either accepted by the teacher or corrected, if a need arises. Still, some approaches advocate additional elements used at this stage of teaching grammar. As an example of such stance, Thornbury (2004) supports the use of the advance organizer, that is, information presented at the very beginning of the lesson, before the actual learning, which the learner can use for systematization and understanding of the new knowledge. In order to discuss how to choose proper techniques for conducting presentation, we may begin with a reference to Komorowska (2002:125-126), who proposes a list of the seven most important decisions that have to be made in order to present the new material in a correct way: 1. Which grammatical structure are we going to teach? 2. What meanings of this structure are we going to teach? 3. Which forms do we want to teach? 4. What situations are we going to use to present and explain the given structure? - 18 -
5. How are we going to introduce the new structure? 6. Which teaching aids and materials are we going to need in order to teach the given structure? 7. Which vocabulary must the learners know in order to understand and practice the new structure? As for the selection of the structures, it all depends on the context in which the teaching takes place. If teaching takes place in a very formal context, i.e. at school, the selection will be based mainly on the syllabus and the coursebook. In a less formal context, i.e. in some language teaching schools or in private teaching, selection will be based mostly on the learner’s needs and the chosen coursebook. Another two questions concern the amount of the material that is going to be introduced. It should be administered according to the possibilities of the learners as well as their level. Referring to the examples provided by Komorowska (2002), if we teach Present Continuous tense to beginners, we are interested in its meaning expressing doing something in the moment of speaking, not its more intricate usage such as when we want to express annoyance. And, as for the amount, when we teach past forms of verbs to beginners we should introduce either only the regular forms or 5 or 6 irregular. The rest of the questions concern various aspects of explanations. Situation that we use must agree with those that the given structure is meant to describe. An extreme example of a wrong use of the situation would be saying “She plays guitar” to describe what a given person is doing at the moment, which would require Present Continuous tense and definitely not Present Simple. To the question of how to introduce the new structure Komorowska answers with several techniques that might be used: conversation with the learners, a short scene or manual demonstration. Another problem – which teaching aids and materials are to be used - depends on their availability, their appropriateness for the presentation of a given structure and the age of the learners. Finally, the question of vocabulary used in the presentation. In short, we should not use voacabulary that the learners are not acquainted with, since that would lead to them having to concentrate both on the new vocabulary and the new structure simultaneously, which might greatly impede the learning process.
- 19 -
Those seven decisions that Komorowska (2002) places in front of the language teacher cover many of the features of presenting new grammar material. But what is sometimes also needed after presenting new grammar is a certain degree of explanation. As stated by Ur (1993), the length of the explanation and the way in which it is conducted may vary according to the type of classes, the difficulty of the structure and the learning style of the learners. The influence of such factors is accounted for by Stern (1993), referring to Celce-Murcia, who provided a whole set of learner’s characteristics and proficiency objectives that influence the importance of form-centered teaching:
Importance of a focus on form Learner factors Learning style Age Proficiency level Educational background Less important Holistic Children Beginning Pre-literate No education Moderately important Mixed Adolescents Intermediate Semi-literate formal Some education More important Analytic Adults Advanced Literate formal Well-educated
Figure 2: Learner factors which influence a focus on grammatical form in language teaching (Stern, 1993:129, adapted from Celce-Murcia, 1985)
What we can notice from the above table is the fact that some of those factors actually influence the selection of learners into the classroom, while some of them are simply considered individual differences. It actually does not happen that a learning style plays a role in such selection and therefore teachers have to cope with their variety among students. Usually it is the age and proficiency level that count the most and the educational background is not considered important, except for consequences resulting already from the age factor.
- 20 -
Importance of a focus on form Learner factors Learning style Skill Register Need/use Less important Holistic Listening, Reading Informal Survival Consultative Vocational Formal Professional Moderately important Mixed Speaking Analytic Writing More important
Figure 3: Proficiency objectives which influence a focus on grammatical form in language teaching (Stern, 1993:133, adapted from Celce-Murcia, 1985)
Although the objectives presented in figure 3 are undoubtedly important, again it is rare that they play a role in the selection of learners. However, contrary to the factors from figure 2, level of formality can be adjusted to particular exercises that focus on a specific objective, since modern syllabuses and coursebooks are balanced in terms of skill development and formality of the communicative situations. Evidently, a teacher will not provide learners in the primary school with explanation consisting of complex metalinguistic terms. On the other hand, more mature and highly proficient learners may require a very formal and abstract explanation. There are undoubtedly many other factors influencing the efficiency of an explanation, such as the amount of L1 being used, which depends on the level of the learner’s L2 metalanguage, since he may require abstract explanations, but lack words needed to express them. Some other factors may even concern extralinguistic influence such as the teacher’s charisma or his voice’s tone.
After conducting a proper presentation of a new structure, the time comes to make the learner acquainted with it, as well as provide him with enough training to achieve the accuracy needed to move on to another stage – production. According to Thornbury (2004), practice activities have three objectives – first is the precision of
- 21 -
using the language system, second is the automisation of it and third is restructuring, by which he means integrating new information into the previously acquired knowledge. As said by Ur (1993), practice enables learner to “understand and produce examples of it [material] with gradually lessening teacher support”. This view is supported by Komorowska (2002), who claims that the main rule of L2 practice is starting with almost totally mechanical exercises, then providing the learners with exercises guided by the teacher and following the constant pattern and finally arriving at more open-ended tasks and almost-natural situations, with teacher playing a less important role. There are many guidelines given by the scholars investigating the practice of foreign language. Thornbury (2004) differentiates them according to the objectives that the practice has. An exercise focusing on accuracy should pay attention to form and encourage the learners to be accurate, include the familiar language, give enough thinking time and provide feedback referring to their progress. An exercise focusing on fluency should underline meaning, be authentic and have some communicative purpose, divide the language into smaller, memorisable chunks and include proper amount of repetition. Finally, an exercise focusing on restructuring should initiate problematising, push the learners beyond their current level and provide enough security to make learners feel safe when taking risks. Similarly, Komorowska (2002) attempts to formulate seven rules of conducting grammar exercises:  they must have their subjects and titles,  they must have a clear purpose and instruction,  they should enable repetition of a given pattern in natural situations,  they should be well-paced, varied and short – so that they do not become boring,  learners should be active and motivated during practice,  the more individuality and personalization during the practice, the better efficiency of learning grammar,  learners must be informed whether the exercise aims at fluency or accuracy. Another set of guidelines is provided by Ur (1993) and it is divided into three sets of factors: those concerning the structures of the task, those that contribute to learner’s interest and those that influence learner’s motivation. Many of those factors overlap with those previously mentioned, for example: clear objective, active language use, open-endedness, and personalization. However, a lot more emphasis is put on the precise activities done during practice.
- 22 -
As for the techniques themselves, their number is only limited by the teacher’s creativity. However, very often used during foreign language lessons the somewhat controversial drills are being used, such as slot-fillers, multiple-choice exercises, matching (Ur, 1993), substitution, transformation and integration (Komorowska, 2002). On the other hand, their controversy disappears if we accept the need of the teacher to slowly release control over his learners’ exercises. We must bear in mind, however, that although such guidelines are quite precise, they will never result in particularly similar outcomes, due to various individual differences of the learners. What is a clear instruction for an adult might be incomprehensible for a young learner and, conversely, what is interesting for a young learner might be seen as useless or boring by adults or even adolescents. Teachers must, therefore, be creative and flexible, conscious of the fact that what is good for one does not have to be good for the others and vice versa, but also bearing in mind that they cannot satisfy everyone and must find optimal solutions when faced with varied groups of learners. After being subjected to the sufficient amount of exercise in context, as well as communicative activities, learners can enter another stage, which is Production.
In the production stage learners arrive to the point where they need to develop their fluency, while trying to retain as much accuracy achieved in the practice stage as possible. The increasing contextualization and communicative purpose of the Practice stage exercises leads them to the use of authentic materials and real-time communication that tries to mimic the authentic talk of native speakers. The organization of the production is similar to that of practice, with the difference in the starting point. When the production stage starts, the learner achieved a proper amount of accuracy and needs to develop a communicative level of fluency. Therefore production exercises will move towards greater authenticity, as well as towards requiring more and more accuracy in the fluent communication. As said by Thornbury (2004), communicative tasks must possess the features of real- life communication, that is: purposefulness, reciprocity, mutual intelligibility and unpredictability. Therefore techniques used to exercise production very often include pair work and group work, when learners communicate with on another. Komorowska - 23 -
(2002) lists also fun activities, being useful as a transition phase between the precommunication and communication exercises. Ur (1993) also provides some ideas for communicative activities, such as brainstorming - where a single impulse may initiate a great amount of responses, chain exercise - where students ask similar questions to one another, fluid pairs – where students exchange information on the basis of a prescribed dialogue, semi-controlled small group transactions – where learners are encouraged to use certain patterns, but they control the content, and finally, free discussion – the least controlled exercise, where learners have an opportunity to conduct an authentic conversation in the foreign language. As in the case of Practice stage, here we must also remember about the learners’ differences when choosing the activities and their topics, since some of them might simply stay silent and avoid communication not due to the fact that they are not able to produce a given structure, but simply because the activity does not appeal to them or they have nothing to say on a particular topic. Even though it might seem that the production stage reaches some kind of “ending” in language learning process, this process is actually never-ending. All the presented stages overlap in a way, since while one issue may be at Presentation stage, another one may already be at Production. It is simply impossible to teach one structure on a proficient level and then move on to another, forgetting the previous one. First of all, it might lead to students simply forgetting the received knowledge, and secondly, new structures are often built on existing foundations, i.e. we must know Present Simple and Future Simple tenses to learn The First Conditional in English. Thus, the previous knowledge will be repeated, in a more or less formal way, with more and more issues reaching the Production stage and making the learner a skillful user of the foreign language.
- 24 -
This brief inquiry into the matter of teaching grammar, next to presenting the various and ever-changing attitudes towards this issue, definitely highlights one important matter – if a teacher decides to put some more emphasis on grammar in the classroom, he must make many decisions and face various problems that can appear. First it must be decided ‘how much’ grammar should appear during the lesson, then to what extent it has to be formal and how to present the new structures to the learners. And later there comes the need to select and arrange the practice and production activities. All in all, teaching grammar is a demanding task, but when conducted in a reasonable and fine-tuned way, it can provide a great boost to learners’ accuracy of language use, as well as providing them with a sense of understanding of the underlying mechanics of what they are learning. While grammar is the answer to the question “what is going to be studied?”, another question that needs answering is “how is it going to be studied?” Therefore, having discussed teaching grammar, I would like to proceed to the next chapter, devoted to the issue of reflective teaching, which will hopefully answer the second question stated above.
- 25 -
CHAPTER II: Reflective teaching.
2.1. The definition of reflective teaching
The process of reflection is a thing that most people are familiar with – we contemplate our past ideas, actions and approaches as well as those of others. However, whether this leads us to some meaningful conclusions depends on many factors, which will be considered later. Richards gives a following definition of critical reflection:
Reflection or “critical reflection” refers to an activity or process in which an experience is recalled, considered, and evaluated, usually in relation to a broader purpose. It is a response to past experience and involves conscious recall and examination of the experience as a basis for evaluation and decisionmaking and as a source for planning and action. (Richards, 1991)
In comparison to the ‘everyday’ reflection, thus, critical reflection is an organized process that actually needed some reason to appear. It involves looking on our past actions with a critical eye and planning the forthcoming ones, which will also become subjected to critical reflection. It is exactly the same situation with the reflective teaching, which is simply a reflection made upon the process of teaching, analyzing it in as many relevant aspects as possible. Richards and Lockhart (1999) notice that “in every lesson and in every classroom, events occur which the teacher can use to develop a deeper understanding of teaching”. We might actually say that every teacher uses reflective teaching to some extent, simply because every teacher needs to cope with the problems that arise in the classroom. Even in a spontaneous and unsystematic form reflective teaching results in certain professional development, therefore it is not surprising that it has been suggested as an official approach to teacher development. Bartlett (1993) notes that reflective teaching has been implemented as such next to approaches such as teacher-asresearcher, action research, clinical supervision and the critical pedagogy perspective. Additionally, according to Nunan and Lamb (1996), reflective teaching has been presented in contrast to the effective instruction, that is, relying on a pre-learned theory
- 26 -
and its application in the classroom. They also claim that reflective teaching, which assumes that professional growth is a lifetime process, is more adjusted to the constantly evolving conceptions of language and learning. A similar stance is taken by Richards, who makes a following statement:
Teachers entering the profession may find their initial teaching efforts stressful, but with experience they acquire a repertoire of teaching strategies that they draw on throughout their teaching. (Richards, 1991)
It is probably the experience of every teacher that the first lessons require a lot of preparation activities, the stress is present, sometimes even overwhelming, and every departure from the original plan additionally increases it. Fortunately, when teachers find their actions successful, they tend to use them automatically, which lets them concentrate on other issues and reduces the amount of time devoted to the preparations. Reflective teaching is actually promoted by BBC and British Council on their website devoted to teaching English (www.teachingenglish.org.uk). In an article about this approach, Tice supports the statements presented above, claiming the following:
By collecting information about what goes on in our classroom, and by analysing and evaluating this information, we identify and explore our own practices and underlying beliefs. This may then lead to changes and improvements in our teaching. Reflective teaching is therefore a means of professional development which begins in our classroom. (Tice, 2004)
The above statement mentions professional development and that is also what reflective teaching is useful for. Obviously, every private reflection on the teaching process is useful and has a part in teacher’s development, but when used deliberately as a means of professional development, it might be more useful to teachers in training than relying on the strictly theoretical knowledge. This topic will be more broadly explored in one of the following subchapters. Even though the presented views suggest that reflective teaching is something that every teacher should employ to at least some extent, it does not mean that it - 27 -
requires no skills in order to be performed properly. Nunan and Lamb (1996) express their views on that matter, dividing the required skills and knowledge into three subcategories, each referring to one of the “key curriculum areas”, namely: planning, implementation and evaluation.
Curriculum area Planning
Knowledge/skills Sensitive to a range of learner needs (objective and subjective ) and able to use these as a basis for selecting and organizing goals, objectives, content, and learning experiences of language programs Knowledge of the nature of language and language learning and ability to utilize this knowledge in selecting and organizing goals, objectives, content and learning experiences of language programs Technical competence in instruction and classroom management Ability to analyze and critique their own classroom behavior and the behavior of their learners Ability to assess learners in terms of a program’s goals and objectives Ability to encourage learners to self-monitor and self-assess Ability to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching
Figure 4: Knowledge and skills required for reflective language teaching (Nunan&Lamb, 1996:121)
It turns out, then, that not everyone is able to conduct reflective teaching in a successful manner. The range of required skills presented in the above table is quite wide and demands a lot of analytical approach on the part of the teacher, as well as a sufficiently distanced attitude, making it possible for the teacher to see past his/her own emotions and beliefs. When it comes to the structure of the reflection process, Richards claims it to be a three-stage process, regardless of the approach that is used. Those three stages are:
- 28 -
Stage 1 The event itself The starting point is an actual teaching episode, such as a lesson or other instructional event. While the focus of critical reflection is usually the teacher’s own teaching, self-reflection can also be stimulated by observation of another person’s teaching.
Stage 2 Recollection of the event The next stage in reflective examination of an experience is an account of what happened, without explanation or evaluation. Several different procedures are available during the recollection phase, including written descriptions of an event, a video or audio recording of an event, or the use of check lists or coding systems to capture details of the event.
Stage 3 Review and response to the event Following a focus on objective description of the event, the participant returns to the event and reviews it. The event is now processed at a deeper level, and questions are asked about the experience. (Richards, 1991)
In other words, the teacher must first experience the event, either his/her or someone else’s lesson, then describe it in as much detail as possible and finally turn to critical review of what has happened and start drawing conclusions. This sequence of events is rather natural. However it must be conducted in a well-organized way to yield creative outcomes. It seems clear that although more than a quarter century has passed since the earliest works on the topic of reflective teaching, written by Van Manen, Cruikshank and Zeichner, it is still a widely discussed topic and a useful tool for teacher’s personal development. Its purposes are going to be discussed in more detail in the following subchapter.
- 29 -
2.2. The purpose of reflective teaching
The first and foremost purpose of reflective teaching is teacher development. It must be born in mind, however, that it does not concern only teachers-in-training. Referring once more to Nunan and Lamb (1996), it is undeniable that teacher’s professional development is a lifetime process. Therefore reflective teaching should be concerned by every teacher, even a very experienced one. The model of professional development will be discussed in the next subchapter. Another purpose of reflective teaching can be seen if we relate it to action research. Interestingly enough, the process of reflection is present in both those approaches. Bailey explains the difference between them as follows:
What action research contributes that is different from reflective teaching is the systematic implementation of planned actions as a result of observation and reflection on the data (…) In addition, most models of action research depict an iterative, spiraling sequence of planning, acting, observing, reflecting, and replanning, which necessarily involves a certain longitudinality. In contrast, a reflective teacher can contemplate, at one point in time, the difference between two lessons enacted from the same lesson plan, for instance, without necessarily systematically implementing and investigating a potentially lengthy series of interventions, which would be required in order to label such efforts as action research. (Bailey, 1997)
As it can be seen from this explanation, reflective teaching is essentially easier to execute than action research and it does not require as much time on the part of the teacher. The latter factor is probably essential in what Wallace (2000) notices as the “indifference and downright hostility” towards action research. Reflective teaching, therefore, provides alternative means for teacher’s development without burdening him or her with the requirements of “traditional” research, which Wallace (2000) calls “unreasonable”. This seems to be in accord with Bailey (2000) stating that “reflective teaching may be a highly productive but intensely private means of conducting one's ongoing professional life”. On the other hand, reflective teaching can be an alternative
- 30 -
to the more demanding action research as well as it can be a preparation and warm-up for it. In the end, being accustomed to critical reflection is very valuable for any teacher who would like to conduct some action research. The last purpose of reflective teaching that will be presented here might be less obvious, but still it has some impact on the teaching process. It is often said that teacher should also set an example for his students. Therefore, as stated by Nunan and Lamb (1996), “it would certainly be inconsistent got non-reflective teachers to encourage reflectivity in learners”. It is very probable that students will notice the attitude of the teacher towards his work and his learners, and reflective teaching is undoubtedly in favor of them. On the whole, the most important purposes of reflective teaching are teacher training, their further professional development and preparation for the action research. However, its value as means of introducing a ‘reflective atmosphere’ to the classroom may also be useful, especially when working with more mature learners, willing to take the critical and analytical approach towards their own learning.
- 31 -
2.3. Reflective model of teacher’s professional development
The reflective model of professional development is a practical implementation of the reflective teaching theory. One of such models, consisting of three main stages: pre-training, professional education/development and goal (professional competence) was presented by Wallace:
Figure 5: Reflective practice model of professional education/development (Wallace, 1991:49)
In this model, the first stage represents the knowledge possessed by the trainee before entering any professional training – with his or her expectations, attitudes and some possible basic experience in the matter. The second stage includes the interrelating received knowledge (facts and theories) and experiential knowledge (practical experience) which enters the reflective cycle, that is, the process of putting the knowledge to use, reflecting on it, possibly implementing some changes and then practicing it again. And finally, there is the goal: professional competence, which is actually never reached since, as it was stated before, teacher’s development is a lifetime process. The reflective cycle in Wallace’s model is relatively simple. However, a more complex version of it, including 5 stages, is presented by Bartlett:
- 32 -
Figure 6: The elements of a cycle for the process of reflective teaching (Bartlett, 1993, adapted from McTaggert and Kemmis, 1983; Smyth 1987)
In this version of the reflective cycle, mapping is gathering evidence about our teaching, informing concentrates on our intentions, contesting tries to find the reasons for our current idea of teaching, appraising is the search for alternatives and, finally, acting as practicing our new, rearranged knowledge. The model presented by Bartlett (1993) is definitely more detailed and provides greater insight into the process of reflection than the simplified idea of Wallace (1991). On the other hand, the more complex cycle will be applicable only to the structured reflective process, since the unstructured one might not include all of the stages presented on it.
- 33 -
2.4. Self-observation techniques in reflective teaching
Having considered the question of reflective teaching in general, we can now proceed to the techniques used in order to provide some structured data for reflection, with the emphasis put on those that do not involve any third person in the reflection, since that is going to be the case in the research section of this thesis. Wallace (1991) distinguishes 5 types of “media” that can be used for this purpose. First one is personal recall, that is, trying to remember the course of the action and reflecting on it. Another type is the documented recall, using written report of the lesson, notes, diaries, etc. Then there is audio – recording of the lesson, and respectively – video. The final medium is the transcript, which is the most troublesome of all the listed media and very often it requires the use of recording equipment in the first place anyway. Richards (1991) provides six procedures, out of which only four fulfill the previously mentioned criteria, namely: teaching journals – a written response to the teaching events, self reports – a structured list describing the occurrence of procedures used by the teacher during the lessons, and audio and video recordings. As for the audio and video recordings, Wallace (2000) comments that even though they provide a relatively easy way of gathering data and at the same time very detailed, as in the case of video recording, there are some problems - mainly their intrusiveness, making the learners feel uneasy, as well as problematic access to the fragments of the lesson that are of interest to the observer. Richards (1991) is more optimistic when it comes to the problem of audio/video recorder’s intrusiveness and assumes that the learners will eventually get used to their presence. He notes, however, that the video recording equipment is not always available for use. Personal recall, although it is the simplest and least expensive way of selfobservation, is also the faultiest, since it is easy to forget some smaller, but important details or fill the missing information with mere suppositions. Finally, we have the written reports, which fall into several sub-categories: transcripts, journals and reports. When it comes to transcripts, it has been already said that they require the use of some recording equipment so the negative intrusive aspect also applies here. - 34 -
Additionally, as Wallace (2000) noticed, transcribing the whole lesson may consume a lot of time. On the other hand, it provides us with a relatively convenient access to the information we need. Richards (1991) claims that self-reports let teachers make regular assessment of how they fulfill their ideas in practice and how they are working in the classroom. It is supposed to be especially efficient when teachers concentrate only “on specific skills in a particular classroom context”. As for the journals, they are supposed to include all the meaningful events happening during the lesson, including also the comments and reflections of the teacher. This provides the data for the teacher to analyze his own development. The choice of the observation technique may depend on many factors. One of them is the amount of time that teacher wishes to devote to his reflective activities. If it is rather limited, the analysis of audio and video recording may be out of question, not to mention transcripts, since even if they would be done by some appropriate third party, the finding of it might become another problem. Reports, journals and notes seem to be more useful in such situation, since teacher can concentrate on particular problems that are of his interest and does not have to search through the whole recording to find the crucial moments. And if the time is really scarce, there is always the minimum version – personal recall. Another criterion is the classroom situation. Sometimes it might be impossible to write notes during the lesson, since teacher may have to devote all the attention to the learners. Additionally, techniques involving the use of recording media, next to their intrusiveness, might encourage some younger and less disciplined learners to misbehave. On the other hand, this can be only a temporary problem, lasting until the learners get used to the situation and ignore the recording equipment’s presence. Finally, there is a question of reliability of the selected technique, especially if the data is to be analyzed by a group of researchers or when the situation requires some solid proof, not the potentially subjective account of one teacher. Then it might be best to select one of the recording techniques, providing raw material for analysis.
- 35 -
Reflective teaching seems to be a useful and flexible tool that every teacher can adjust to his own needs and abilities. Even in its least demanding form it can help in solving the persistent classroom problems. Its potential is far greater, however, as it can facilitate the teacher’s professional development and serve as a first step into the action research. Obviously, more benefits require more time, more preparation and more skillfulness on the part of the teacher, but it is a profitable investment. After discussing the two key issues of this thesis, I would like to proceed to the study itself, which will put the theoretical aspects of those issues into practical use in order to establish the optimal solutions for the investigated problem.
- 36 -
CHAPTER III: Self-observation study
3.1. Description of the self-observation study
The main aim of the study was to examine various ways of introducing selected syntactic structures to the Polish learners of English and establish the optimal ones, based on the analysis of the data collected in the teacher’s diary, which was kept by the author of this thesis. As it was stated in the first chapter, teaching grammar leaves teacher with a lot of decisions to be made, both on the macro and micro level of the teaching process. Therefore any effort devoted to finding the optimal decisions is of utmost importance to the development of the effective teaching. What is more, this study is concerned first and foremost with the teacher, not the students. It happens very often that the research in this matter concentrates on the learners and finding optimal conditions for their learning process, which teachers should supposedly provide with any means necessary. Meanwhile, many teachers would probably be interested in how to maintain a decent level of teaching at the minimal effort possible – which can at least increase teacher’s convenience, but it can also leave them more time to develop their skills or give more attention to some particular problems. Nevertheless, even if we concentrate on teacher’s point of view, we cannot forget about the learner, since their perspectives are not independent of each other and therefore the influence of students’ feedback on the teacher also plays a part in this study. Additionally, this study has also provided an occasion to exercise the reflective teaching abilities and thus helped the author become aware about the choices he made during the lessons. The issue of reflective teaching was examined more closely in the previous chapter and there is no doubt, that developing skills in that matter is useful, if not for action research, then for teacher’s professional development alone. Hopefully, the experience gained thanks to this study will be fruitful in the professional future practice of the author of this paper and it will provide some useful insights for anyone interested in that matter. In order to establish the optimal solutions concerning the introduction of new syntactic structures, I was keeping a teacher’s diary for three months, during which I noted the course of 30 lessons and commented on some factors relevant to fulfilling the aim of the study.
- 37 -
The data written in the diary was collected during the lessons with individual learners or in very small groups, consisting of two or three learners. The learners belonged to different age and proficiency groups. There were six blocks of lessons, with the participants placed according to the table below # 1 2 3 4 5 6 Number of learners Three One One Two One Two Age of the learners 9-12 28 40 14-38 16 26-29 Proficiency level of the learners Beginner Beginner Elementary Elementary Pre-intermediate Pre-intermediate Teaching environment classroom home home classroom home home
Figure 7: Characteristics of groups taught during the self-observation study
During the classes with those groups and individuals, there had been many syntactic phenomena of English language introduced, out of which eight structures were chosen for the lessons which became the material for this study. Those eight structures are: 1. Verb “to be” in Present Simple tense. 2. Verbs in Present Simple tense. 3. Adverbs of frequency in Present Simple tense. 4. The modal verb “can” in Present Simple tense. 5. Present Continuous tense. 6. Past Continuous tense. 7. Present Perfect tense. 8. Passive voice of the Present Simple tense. Although the selection of the structures was limited by the number of the grammar material presented during the lessons, it aimed at including both the structures which are perceived as difficult by Polish learners and those perceived as easy.
- 38 -
Additionally, it included the structures of certain similarity, as well as those significantly different from the others, which provided even more variety. Each of the structures listed above was introduced to at least three of the groups, according to their level of proficiency. Having described the self-observation study and its aims, I would like to proceed to the presentation of its results and analysis, which will lead to the formulation of the optimal ways of introducing new syntactic structures to the learners of English in the following chapter.
- 39 -
3.2. Data presentation and analysis
In this section of my MA thesis I would like to present the general tendencies noticed during the course of the self-observation study, as well as some more detailed information about particular situations happening during the lesson. Furthermore, I am going to analyze those tendencies and situations in order to provide enough data to establish optimal ways of introducing new syntactic structures to the Polish learners of English. The presented data will be divided into eight subsections, dealing with eight issues that I considered important for teaching new syntactic structures and especially focused my attention on them during the self-observation study. In the first subsection I am going to present the data concerning the language used during the observed lessons, that is, the use of L1 (Polish) and L2 (English), the changes in balance between them and my response to the difficulties I encountered The second subsection is devoted to the first stage of introducing the new structure, when I was trying to organize students’ knowledge in a way that would foster their understanding of the new structure and its use. The third subsection is concerned with the complexity of the explanations – their level of formality and the amount of metalanguage that they included. In the fourth subsection I am exploring the issue of teacher control during the explanations, including the balance between inductive and deductive teaching and increasing students participation in the discovery and understanding of the rules governing the introduced syntactic structures. The fifth subsection deals with rule repetition frequency and explores the contexts and situations in which this frequency has been adapted for the reason of better memorization. In the sixth subsection I consider the use of teaching aids and materials during explanations, discuss their availability, present my perception of their usefulness and problems with their use. In the seventh subsection I concentrate on the coursebook and its usefulness in terms of providing grammar explanations and reference, as well as the exercises for practicing them.
- 40 -
Finally, the eighth subsection is concerned with the selection and sequencing of grammar exercises, the usefulness of drills and problems encountered during progression to the more communicative activities.
3.2.1 Use of L1 and L2
Although it is often stressed, that learners should be immersed in the target language from the very beginning of its study, I found that idea to be quite hard to accomplish during my lessons. Even on purely vocabulary-oriented lessons with beginners it is quite hard not to speak in L1, especially when giving instructions. It is not impossible, of course, but it can consume a significant amount of time which could be spent more efficiently, since the profits of purely L2-centered environment might not be significant enough. On the other hand, we cannot keep the learners in L1 environment for the whole time. My idea was to create a smooth transition from L1 to L2, progressing according to the expansion of the students’ vocabulary and the execution of that idea was quite differentiated among the six groups that I taught. The biggest problems with this transition occurred in group #1, consisting of young learners. First of all, for a long period of time they had problems with understanding even the written instructions in the coursebook, so trying to provide them with oral instructions only in English did not seem reasonable at all to me. Therefore, when their knowledge of vocabulary was high enough, I decided to start providing them with instructions and explanations in L2 and immediately translating them into L1. They took twice as much time that way, but since this was supposed to be only a transitional phase, I decided that it is proper to devote some time to it. However, when after several lessons I decided to start giving instructions only in L2 (while still using both languages for explanations), the learners were confused and still required translation of what I said into L1. Therefore I employed a different strategy – I gave the instructions in L2 and translated them with the learners. This strategy had several drawbacks – first of all, it consumed a quite significant amount of lesson time and very often the learners were guessing more than trying to understand the instruction. Nevertheless I planned to continue doing that as long as they are not able to understand the instructions in L2 on their own. I saw some progress during the following lessons, but since my classes with this group finished soon afterwards, I could not finish my plan. - 41 -
The situation with the adult beginner from group #2 was, fortunately, a lot more simple. I used the same strategy that I used initially with group #1, starting with using only L1, then moving to using L1 and L2 and ending up with all the instructions and most if not all of the explanations provided in L2. This time the transition was rather smooth and at the point of introducing Present Continuous to the learner, I provided most of the instructions and some of the explanations in L2, only occasionally having to clarify some misunderstanding. Similarly, with the adult learner on the elementary level from group #3 the transition was also executed with no significant problems, with the main difference being that I started from using both L1 and L2, without the stage of using only L1, as the learner already had some knowledge of vocabulary. On the other hand, the transition that occurred in group #4 was quite spontaneous. During the first lessons with that group that were a part of this observation study, I used only L1 for instructions and explanations, even though the students’ knowledge of vocabulary was good enough to introduce L2 in that context. I think this was mostly due to the very relaxed atmosphere of those classes and many off-topic conversations started by learners (and sometimes even by me), which were conducted in L1. Nevertheless, during one of the lessons I decided to try providing the instructions in L2 and students understood them perfectly. What is more, even if they were slightly surprised by this change, they did not show it. On the next lessons I started to provide explanations mostly in L2 as well and again I encountered no negative feedback, so from that point on I kept using L2 and only occasionally referring to L1. As for the two pre-intermediate groups, with group #6 I had been using L2 for a longer period of time and, obviously, it did not change during the classes that were a part of this study. However, with the adolescent learner from group #5 I was still using L1 together with L2 during some of the classes, since he was not accustomed to the situation of only L2 being used during the lesson and while he had little problem with understanding the written instructions and most written explanations in L2, the oral ones were often difficult to understand for him. Fortunately, his understanding of spoken instructions and explanations in L2 was constantly improving during the course of the study. It must be noted, however, that even when I began using mostly L2 during the lessons, I switched to L1 in situations when the explanations were either too difficult in terms of lexis or when they could be more or less understood by the learners, but I - 42 -
valued the clarity of the explanation and lesson time more than adhering strictly to the L2 environment.
3.2.2 Presenting the new structure.
The first question that came to my mind when I was supposed to introduce a new structure to the learners was whether this structure is actually introduced to them for the first time, or perhaps they had some contact with it previously and they possess not only their own ideas and hypotheses about it, but also those communicated to them by others, usually previous teachers or the authors of the coursebooks, from which the learners tried to learn English independently. Thus, I thought that it might be useful to ask the learners about it. Initially, I was asking the learners in all the groups if they were taught this structure previously. Most adults and all the adolescents were able to give me a satisfactory answer. The biggest problem was with the young learners from group #1, since they rarely knew the English or names of the tenses or their Polish translations. Additionally, some adults had finished their education a longer while ago and they simply did not remember what they did in their school years. Such approach to asking the learners about their already acquired knowledge turned out to have one more shortcoming. I assumed wrongly that the fact of knowing or not knowing the structure is equal with, respectively, understanding and not understanding it. The truth proved itself to be quite different, since the learners sometimes had a good understanding of the structure’s use without declaring any previous knowledge of it or, conversely, they had no idea about the correct use of the structure even though they were taught about it. I decided to employ a different strategy and started to ask learners what they think is the use of a given structure. That way I could account for their expectations and hypotheses as well as for the previously acquired knowledge. Obviously, it was very often that I got no answer, especially from the younger learners, but the situation was much clearer and enabled me to build upon the learners’ existing knowledge and ideas where possible, while only clarifying the issues about which the learners’ perceptions were faulty. I employed this approach during all the following lessons in all the groups. Obviously, it is not only the knowledge of the given structure that can be used as foundation for the new information during the introduction. When introducing the new structures, I often referred to the previously learned structures of English and sometimes I made comparisons with Polish grammar. Such reference had the best effects with the - 43 -
adult learners, who often got engaged in the presentation and wanted to clarify everything that was not totally understood by them or to test their own hypotheses. On the other hand, young learners were almost totally disinterested with the provided reference and they wanted to move straight to the exercises, downplaying explanations as well. This was rather annoying for me, especially since they were asking a lot of questions when doing the exercises, and during several next lessons I refused to change my attitude, trying to keep their attention on the introduction and explanations. This, however, turned out to be counter-productive, since I was spending the lesson time on the introduction to which they paid little attention, if any at all. Eventually I abandoned the introduction stage, made the explanations as short as possible and proceeded to the exercises, answering the questions of the learners when they appeared. The main problem with that strategy was that very often I had to repeat my explanations to each of the learners separately, since they were concentrating on the exercise and not on the explanations. Nevertheless, during the course of the study I did not manage to devise a more efficient strategy. As for the adults and adolescents, I tried to make use of as much of their existing knowledge as possible. For example, during the lessons with groups #3, #4, #5 and #6, when I was introducing Past Continuous tense, I always explained to the learners that in terms of form it is exactly the same as Present Continuous, except for the conjugation of the verb “to be” which is conjugated in its past form, and not the present one, and that it uses different adverbs of time, for obvious reasons. Most of them had no problems with remembering the form of Past Continuous, so although I cannot be totally certain, I believe that introducing the new material with such reference to previous knowledge facilitated their understanding. Additionally, the whole introduction rarely took longer than three minutes and required very little preparation on my part. The only obstruction happened during the lesson with the learner from group #5. I am not sure whether he misunderstood my explanations (although it was provided in both L1 and L2) or just developed a confusing association in his mind, but he very often conjugated the “to be” verb in Present Simple instead of the Past Simple, which resulted in forming sentences in Present Continuous instead of Past Continuous. Nevertheless, this was a single case and after a certain amount of drills he learned to use both those tenses in correct contexts. There were also situations when I referred to the similarities and differences between the two languages. For example, when introducing Present Perfect tense in - 44 -
groups #4, #5 and #6 I underlined that this tense is usually expressed in Polish through Past Tense which, however, expresses also the meaning of English Past Simple. I wanted to make learners conscious that what is expressed by one tense in Polish might bed divided into two tenses in English, each appearing in a particular context. Such reference seemed to interest mostly learners from groups #4 and #6, who expressed linguistic curiosity during most of the lessons, whereas the learner from group #5 listened to it, but it did not seem to help him reach better accuracy in the use of newly learned tenses. Contrastively, learners from group #4 and #6 performed much better during the exercises and seemed to use the reference I provided to expand their own knowledge of the phenomenon of language and use it to form their own hypotheses. I make this assumption basing on the fact that their participation in the lesson increased after several such lessons and the questions that they asked concerning the newly introduced structures were becoming more and more complex. Nevertheless, referring to the previously acquired knowledge was not the only way in which I tried to facilitate learners understanding of the new syntactic structures. I also tried to provide some less abstract means in order to fulfill this aim. Sometimes, when introducing the use of a new structure, I tried to show its meaning by simply acting it out its examples or describing the context in which it would be used. This was extremely useful when I was comparing two tenses referring to the similar space of time, such as Past Simple and Past Continuous. Conversely, it was not necessary to provide a lot of context in order to describe the difference between Present Simple and Past Simple, since all the explanation required at that point of the course was limited to the difference between the present and the past, which is rather obvious for most people. When it comes to acting out the meaning of examples of a particular structure, I did it mostly in the classroom context. The main reason for this was the simple fact, that in the classroom I was already standing and moving, so the transition from some verbal introduction to the visual demonstration was smooth and natural, while during private lessons I was usually seated at a table with the learner(s), so any action would require a sort a disruption that I preferred to avoid. Additionally, I think I would not feel comfortable enough interacting with the objects in the learner’s home, in contrast to the classroom setting, which is my ‘territory’. As an example of this technique’s use, I would like to refer to the lesson with group #4 when I was introducing Present Perfect to the learners, who already knew Present Simple, Present Continuous, Past Simple and Past Continuous. I used this - 45 -
opportunity to revise the use of those tenses, showing a whole chain of comments concerning the activity of opening the door using the listed tenses. This introductory activity was based on the example of an ‘advance organizer’ presented by Marton (1979). First I went to the door and slowly opened it, saying “I am opening the door” during the activity, “I have opened the door” just after it and then I told the students to imagine that an hour passed and I said “I opened the door an hour ago”. Then I asked them about their definition of the contexts I used the three tenses in (the two of which they were already supposed to know). Their idea was very close to the factual one and I only had to clarify some matters after moving on to the explanation stage. In situations when acting out the use of a particular structure would be uncomfortable or simply difficult, I often preferred to give learners detailed description of the contexts in which a particular structure would be used. I used this technique also during explanations and when correcting their mistakes during exercises, but I assumed it would be useful also at the very beginning of the lesson while presenting the new structure. During the observation study I used this technique usually with slightly more advanced learners, since the use of the structures presented to beginner rarely allowed for ambiguities. However, it was already useful to some extent at the point of showing the difference between Present Simple and Present Continuous when I was introducing the latter to the learners from groups #2 and #3. At the beginning of the lesson I told them that Present Continuous is used to describe actions done at the point of speaking as well as plans for the future, in contrast to Present Simple which is usually used to speak about things done in habitual manner. I explained that this is the reason they should not say “I take out garbage” when they are doing it at the moment of speaking, since their interlocutor might understand that this is their job or hobby. I also told them that, on the other hand, saying “I am working in a bank” when asked about their job during a conversation in the middle of the forest would probably not be understood as the description of their current action, but nevertheless it would be much more proper if they said “I work in a bank”. Because of its humouristic aspect, this technique proved to be extremely successful, since even after several lessons the learners remembered the ‘funny’ meaning that they should avoid. Additionally, it definitely helped to create a more relaxed atmosphere during the classes and I must admit that I enjoyed the creation of humouristic meaning and contrasting it with the proper one. What is more, it showed the
- 46 -
learners that even grammar has its entertaining aspect which can be explored during the lessons and does not have to be dull and boring. It is worth noting that the positive feedback to my aims at fostering the learners’ understanding of L2 and language in general encouraged me to further experimentation in this matter and implementation of new techniques in the introduction of new syntactic structures, whereas lack of response and indifference on part of the learners was rather frustrating. Nevertheless, I am quite convinced that even if only one group encouraged me to develop my techniques of introduction, I would still do it, since it was very rewarding.
3.2.3 The complexity of the explanations
After providing the students with some introductory information, I always moved on to the explanation stage, in which I described the formation of a particular structure and presented what I perceived as a sensible amount of information about its use. Obviously, I modified this amount according to the level and, to some extent, age of the learners. Another issue that varied depending on those factors was the complexity of the explanations that I provided and the extent of the use of metalanguage. It must be noted that during the course of the study to tried to experiment in that matter to some extent. My initial assumption was that I would present only as much information about the given structure as included in the coursebook. However, even though I expected the learners to ask some questions going beyond that scope, I did not foresee the difficulty that I would have with leaving some questions unanswered or only partially answered when they appeared. Being a teacher-in-training, I was subjected to grammar at the formal level for the last several years, and the urge of ‘going into details’ that I was experiencing during teaching the students was in some way connected with that fact. However, after several lessons I managed to keep this urge at bay and not meander into digressions where unnecessary. Nevertheless, I still had to deal with the appearing questions and this caused me to go beyond my initial plan. Interestingly enough, this issue was actually nonexistent in group #1 and group #5. In the former, the learners were almost never asking questions about grammar, even though they asked a lot of questions concerning the vocabulary. In
- 47 -
the latter, the situation was even simpler, since the learner rarely asked any question at all. Thus all the questions concerning grammar appeared in the adult groups. During one of the lessons with group #4, when I was introducing Past Simple, one of the learners asked me whether this tense is only used simply to express something that happened in the past. Thus I was faced with the dilemma to what extent my answer should be simplified. If such question appeared during the lesson with young learners, I would probably only confirm the learner’s idea and move on with the explanations. However, since I was dealing with more analytical and abstract-thinking age group of learners, I decided to lay some foundation for the future lessons. First of all, I explained that Past Simple is not the only past tense in English and thus it cannot handle all the expressions concerning the past, because otherwise there would be no need for other past tenses. I told them that Past Simple deals with the past event that happened at some particular point in the past, e.g. last week or on 20th of May 1990. Additionally, I mentioned that Past Simple can be found also in the conditional sentences, but I did not explain what those sentences are. Instead, I assured the learners that those issues will be accounted for on the subsequent lessons. I believe that this way I managed to prevent the learners from forming some false beliefs about L2 grammar while providing them with a sense of continuity at the same time and not causing any confusion that might result from presenting too much new knowledge at one time. Judging from the aforementioned beliefs that this group presented during the introduction of Present Perfect several lessons later, I think that my strategy was successful. I encountered a similar problem while teaching the adult beginner from group #2. On the lesson introducing the verb “to be” in Past Simple, an expression in passive voice was used for this purpose, namely “was/were born”. When I was providing him with the translation of this expression, I realized that a lack of comment at that point might lead to the formation of some false beliefs about language. Perhaps this was a bit too paranoid of me, but nevertheless I decided to devote some lesson time to the explanation of that structure and the difference that appears between L1 and L2 in its case. First of all I explained that we are dealing with a structure called passive voice and I provided the L1 counterpart of the term as well as some examples. Then I explained that, similarly to L1, in L2 most of the sentences can be transformed from passive to active voice and vice versa. I decided that this is enough information about passive voice at this point of the course, so the only additional explanation was about the fact - 48 -
that some fixed expressions can have different forms in L1 in L2, as in the case of someone’s birth which is expressed in active voice in Polish and passive voice in English. Finally, I assured the learner that we would deal with the issue of passive voice on the upcoming lessons. Generally, when I was providing additional information to the learners, such as those about the syntactic structures that were not introduced yet, I did it in hope that even if they would not be able to use this knowledge in their writing or speech, they would learn to notice those structures in L2 and know that they carry a different meaning than those they already know. In other words, I was making a sort of preintroduction during my explanations. I think it was positive for the students’ motivation, since it helped them know whatto expect on the future lessons and increase their curiosity, that would at least boost their interest during the actual introduction of the mentioned structure and perhaps even encourage them to work individually after classes more often. When it comes to metalanguage used in the explanations, I originally planned to use very little of it during the classes with young learners, while maintaining a moderate amount of it during the classes with adults and adolescents. While this kind differentiation seemed to work perfectly with the young learners and adolescents, I encountered some problems while teaching adults who had finished their education a longer while ago. Actually, they remembered only the basic metalingual terms such as the categories of words, so I had to re-introduce some knowledge to them, mostly about the sentence, its structure and constituents. Initially, I planned to devote a lesson to two issues, that is, the definitions of main metalinguistic terms in Polish and the English translations of those terms. In the end, however, I decided to define and translate the terms when the need for them would appear in the explanations, thus introducing them in context and not in isolation, which I believe made the memorizations of those terms easier. I assume this strategy was a good choice, since the learners did not exhibit any problems with understanding those terms on the following lessons and I could not attribute any of the appearing errors to a misunderstanding of a metalinguistic term. Situation with the adolescents was easier, since they were relatively acquainted with the knowledge about parts of speech and of the sentence. Thus the main need was only to provide them with L2 translation of the required metalinguistic terms. As in the case of adult learners, I finally decided to do that when a given term appeared in the
- 49 -
explanations and, similarly, I could not notice any errors that could result from misunderstandings. Finally, when concerning young learners, it is actually difficult to say whether the strategy I chose for them was successful or not, since, as I mentioned before, they were rarely paying attention to my explanations and preferred to go straight to the exercises. Nevertheless I doubt whether including more metalanguage in the course of teaching them would have any positive results. I base my assumption on the fact that even though I was very often emphasizing which word belongs to which category of parts of speech, when asked to provide the examples of the words from given category they chose words without paying any attention to which category it is.
3.2.4 Amount of teacher control during explanations
At the beginning of the course, I planned that I would start with holding as much control as possible on the lessons and release it gradually, according to the increasing language competence of the learners. However, I encountered two main difficulties. First of all, to my own surprise, I noticed that I was somehow reluctant to loosen my control over the lesson and involve students in the explanation process. It was definitely a lot easier when I had a formerly prepared plan to give students some more freedom during the lesson, since when I tried to do this spontaneously, I was not consistent and after one act of encouragement I usually came back to the usual controlling routine. Therefore, I decided to devote more time to planning my explanatory activities and this proved to be a successful strategy. Although this was a bit demanding at first, I slowly became accustomed to it and thus the preparation time it required decreased. Nevertheless, when I tried to increase the amount of students’ participation in explaining new syntactic structures, I noticed something that I found quite demotivating. Often their reaction to such attempts was surprise and they seemed quite uncomfortable when they were asked to, for example, figure out the rule of a particular structure’s formation basing on the provided examples of it. In general, many of them seemed more comfortable when their participation in the explanations was limited to asking a clarifying question once in a while. It must be noted, that I was especially reluctant to limit my control in group #1, the one comprised of young learners, and group #5 - one adolescent learner. Reasons for that reluctance were quite different in those two cases. I often had discipline problems - 50 -
in group #1 and it was difficult to maintain the learners’ attention, so I assumed that any less control could only make matters worse. Although I can imagine situations where this assumption would prove faulty, they require some interest and motivation on the part of the learner. Grammar, on the other hand, is often perceived as something boring and troublesome even by adult learners, so the situation with young learners is usually even worse. Additionally, whereas most adults and some adolescents are learning languages because they want to, most young learners, as well as the rest of adolescents, do this out of obligation and this does not support any independent action on their part. This was also the case with group #5 learner. Although I did not have any discipline problems with him, he did not make any effort to discover the rules on his own until I started to lead him. As an example, on the lesson introducing the Present Perfect tense when given a set of examples and encouraged to find a regularity which would be a rule for the formation of this tense, he went silent observing the examples and did not say a word until I started to ask him more detailed questions, eliciting the information piece by piece and then having him recapitulate it as the whole rule. Fortunately, the situation in the other groups was positively different. Despite being seemingly unaccustomed to participation in the explanation process, they adapted to it and, judging from their performance during exercises, it helped them memorize the rules better. In group #4, I used inductive teaching in order to teach Present Continuous tense. I presented 5 examples of sentences and asked the learners to find the rule governing the formation of sentences in this tense. The learners performed very well, providing a complete rule, which I only recapitulated. The learners from group #2 and #3 were also initially surprised, but later on they started asking more and more questions and often I had to mitigate their curiousity in order to avoid providing them with too much information at one time. Finally, the learners from group #6 did not seem surprised at all by my attempts to include them in the explanation process and they actively took part in it. Generally speaking, even if some of the motivated learners were initially surprised by involving them in the explanation process, they gradually adapted to this seemingly new situation. Obviously, their ideas were not always correct and often I had to correct them in order to arrive at a well-formulated rule, but their demonstrated visibly better performance at the memorization and proceduralization of the rules in the discovery of which they participated.
- 51 -
3.2.5 Rule repetition frequency
The two main questions that I had to answer concerning rule repetition frequency were “how often” and “when”. My aim was to help learners memorize the rule without making an impression of annoying mechanical repetition. At first, when I rarely involved learners in the explanation process, I was providing the rule before explaining it, about two or three times during the explanations and finally after finishing the explanations. However, I had an automatic reaction of increasing the frequency of repetition during explanations if suspected that the learners have problems with understanding it. Obviously, this was not solving the problem in any way and if there were any effects of such frequent repetition, they were probably negative, such as the annoyance of learners and mine too, especially when I realized that I repeat the rule mindlessly. However, I managed to limit this reaction and instead of useless repetition of the rule, I tried other method of explaining it to the learners. Needlessly to say, the effects of this strategy were much better and the explanations were more efficient, leaving more lesson time at my disposal. Obviously, repetition of the rule had to be structured differently if I chose to have the learners discover the rule themselves. In such situation I only recapitulated the rule discovered by the learners or provided it in case when then failed to do so. I usually repeated it twice at that point and I considered that as enough. Most learners never asked for additional repetition, except for the young learners from group #1. However, once more repeating what I mentioned in previous subsections, learners from this group were rarely concentrated on my explanations and asked for them only after they started doing exercises, which meant repeating the rule for every learner whenever he decided that he does not know how to deal with a particular example. On the whole, the amount of repetitions of the rule that I established after the initial problems seem to function well, as most learners had little problem with remembering them and they never complained about the frequency of the repetitions being too high and annoying.
3.2.6 Use of teaching aids and materials
During the lesson taking place in the classroom, the main teaching aid that I used was the whiteboard. Theoretically, I could rely on the descriptions present in the coursebook, but the whiteboard provided me with more opportunities of showing how - 52 -
the structure of the sentences changes, e.g. when making interrogative and negative sentences out of declarative sentences or passive voice out of active voice. It also enabled me to underline the crucial or changing elements of the sentence by using various colours of markers or to provide the learners with the examples of the sentences that they can use to find the governing rule on their own. When it comes to other teaching aids, I only had a set of playing cards used to memorize the irregular English verbs. However, I did not use them in any way while providing explanations, but only during exercises. Only two groups were taught in the classroom context, group #1 and group #4, and I was using the blackboard quite differently on the lessons witch each of those groups. Due to the fact that group #1 was comprised of young learners, I tried to use more visual stimuli to keep their attention and interest, that is, more colours, more arrows signalizing the change of word order and more underlining of crucial elements. However, during the earlier observed lesson with that group I noticed that when I finished working with the whiteboard, all the information that I presented on it was so cramped that it looked chaotic and confusing. This problem was caused by the fact that I wanted to keep all the information visible for the learners for the whole duration of the explanation, so that they could understand all the differences and changes that I was presenting. After reflecting on this, I decided to present the information in smaller chunks. The above idea was implemented during on of the subsequent lessons with group #1. For example, on the lesson introducing Present Continuous, I started with revising the conjugation of the verb “to be” in Present Simple tense. When I was assured that the learners remember it, I cleared the whiteboard and provided them with the examples of sentences in Present Continuous, using different colours for the subject, auxillary verb and the “-ing” ending. I tried to ask them to find some regularity in the provided examples, but like I noted before, this group was rather reluctant towards participation in the discovery of rules, therefore I had to provide it myself and then I explained how it contributed to the formation of the example sentences. Then I made a drill exercise for the formation of declarative sentences and only then cleared the whiteboard again and moved on to explain the interrogative and negative sentences, each type followed by a appropriate drill exercise as well. In group #4 I used the whiteboard in a slightly more limited extent. First of all, the learners in this group were thinking more analytically and they had enough - 53 -
metalinguistic knowledge for me to use the names of parts of speech and sentence. That is why I abstained from using colourful markers, limiting myself to underlining and drawing arrows that signalized changes in the word order. Additionally, their coursebook had a well-developed grammar reference section and their knowledge of L2 at that point was developed enough to understand the information provided there on their own. Thus I could use it instead of writing everything on the whiteboard. During private lessons the availability of teaching aids was even scarcer, since I had no whiteboard at disposal. However, I found a way to counter this shortcoming by using A4-sized sheets of white paper and markers. The sheets were in front of the learner(s) and I used them in the way similar to whiteboard, with the only difference being that I could not wipe what I had written. On the other hand, learners could be given those sheets in order to analyze them later on their own if they felt a need to do so. Initially, I did not leave the sheets for them, but when the learners from group #6 asked me for that, I thought that they certainly would have more use of them than I would and thus I employed this attitude with all the other private teaching groups. The situation with teaching materials was slightly better, although my limited experience and relatively low amount of resources gathered during teaching practice was definitely an impediment. However, I used the Internet, some grammar books and other coursebooks to provide more explicit explanations of the use of particular structures as well as the exercises to practice it, since I was sometimes unsatisfied with the amount of those elements in both coursebook and workbook. Another option was to create the written explanations and exercises on my own. However, I was cautious about making an exercise in which I might, for example, create an ambiguous context that would allow multiple possibilities of answering where there should be only one, or an explanation where I might miss an important point. What is more, creating of such materials would consume a significant amount of my time, especially if I wanted to make sure than they do not allow any ambiguity and do not miss anything important. Therefore I preferred to rely on the materials present in the grammar books or other coursebooks, which are prepared by professionals. Yet, this raised another problem, since sometimes it was hard to find exercises for a given structure where the vocabulary would be on the appropriate level and I had to devote more of my time to finding them.
- 54 -
3.2.7 Use of the coursebook
As I have mentioned in the previous subsection, the coursebook was not always satisfactory when it comes to quality and quantity of the explanations and exercises. Additionally, it rarely accounted for the special difficulties that Polish learners may have while learning English. It was quite problematic for me, being still a teacher-intraining, since I preferred to follow the coursebook in most respects and modify its content quite rarely. Nevertheless, the coursebook was not able to account for all the doubts and questions raised by the learners, especially due to the fact that the explanations present there were only in L2 and very often the learners had problems with understanding everything clearly. As a result, during the lessons with beginning students, I often had to provide the translation of the explanations presented in the coursebook and translate the guidelines for the exercises. When I considered the explanations unsatisfactory, I often omitted those in the coursebook and provided my own, although this very often kept me stressed due to the possibility of omitting something important, especially during my first attempts. Nevertheless, with more and more experience in this matter and no arising problems, my self-confidence rose and I become more independent in my teaching. Concerning the issue of accounting for the particular needs of Polish learners, the coursebook left me entirely on my own. Again, I was initially afraid of providing guidelines based on my own knowledge and experience, but since my first small steps brought no negative consequences and some learners appreciated my guidelines and found them useful, I started to give them on more regular basis. Finally, when teaching the groups with learners capable of more than basic communicative exchange, I often used the exercises as starter for such exchange. For example, if the exercise in the coursebook included describing the clothes of the people on the pictures, after its completion I asked the learners to tell me what they were wearing on that day, what kind of clothes they like or whether they are planning to buy some new clothes and if so – which? Basically, my actions were based on the assumption, that it would be easier to encourage learners to communicate basing on an exercise that they just did and thus thriving on the raised confidence resulting from that fact. Additionally, learners did not have to search for vocabulary needed to express what they were asked about, since they had just recently used it. And since the communication activity was rather short, discouraging periods of silence were limited.
- 55 -
What is more, in groups with more than one learner if such situation appeared, I simply asked the other learner(s) and only later came back to the previous learner, who thus had more time to prepare their answer. And if it so happened that no learner could enter the communication, I tried to help them as much as needed until the communication eventually started.
3.2.8 Selection and sequencing of exercises
After conducting the presentation and explanations I moved on to the Practice and Production stages of the lesson, although the latter one was usually very basic in its form when dealing with beginning learners. Nevertheless, I had to choose and arrange exercises in a way that would help learners memorize and proceduralize the new knowledge. Initially, I simply followed the order of exercises provided in the coursebook and then moved on to the workbook, with the only modifications being omitting some of the drills if I saw that learners had no problems with the use of the new structure. Generally, the exercises in coursebooks and workbooks were ordered starting from uncreative drills through contextualized drills and finally arriving at communicative activities with decreasing amount of control. Nevertheless, even though such sequence of exercises is the most logical one, it often has to be modified and adapted to the unpredictable situations that may arise during the lesson. The situation that happened most often was that the learners did not achieve the proper amount of proceduralization of a particular structure and moved on to more meaningful tasks, where they had to concentrate on communication as well, and committed a very high amount of errors in the use of this structure. Interestingly enough, such situation happened very often during the introduction of interrogative and negative sentences in Present Simple tense. Learners from all the three groups that had those structures introduced to them during the observed lessons had great difficulty in remembering about adding the auxiliary verb “do” and ‘moving’ the “-s” ending in 3rd person singular interrogative sentences from the main verb to the auxiliary verb. Actually, they even had problems with remembering about the “-s” ending in the 3rd person declarative sentences. The main problem was that both in the coursebook and workbook this commonly problematic issue was given as much practice opportunities as the conjugation of “to be” verb or Present Continuous, which turned out to be quite easy - 56 -
for most of the learners. Obviously, the situation could be different for native speakers of language other than Polish. When this problem appeared for the first time, while I was teaching group #1, I was a bit confused and did not know what to do. Seeing that learners make constantly the same mistakes after finishing the drill exercises, I came back to drilling the structure by means of spontaneously creating an exercise on the blackboard and continuing to drill it until they finally managed to make mistakes rarely enough. When I experienced the same problem with group #4, I simply moved to the drilling exercises from the exercises book earlier (that is, before finishing the unit in the coursebook). This, however, caused another distortion in my original plan, since I usually use the drill exercise in the workbook as homework, in order to have learners memorize and proceduralize the rule of forming a particular structure better. I devised a short drill on the spot instead, but it was not satisfactory. Thus when I was introducing the same structures to the learner from group #2, I had some additional exercises prepared just in case and they turned out to be useful, as the same problem appeared again. This time, however, I noticed learner’s difficulties while doing the drills from the coursebook so I proceeded straight to the additional exercises and only later continued to do other exercises from the coursebook. Conversely, there were also situations when the most sensible solution was to omit the drill exercise and continue to more meaningful ones. This happened especially often in group #6 and sometimes in group #3. The ones from the former group were handling new structures so well, that next to ceasing from giving them drills for homework, I limited their number during the lessons. Naturally, situations when the learners needed more practice happened as well, but quite rarely and they never needed more exercises than those provided in the coursebook. The instance of the learner from the latter group was similar, although in his case I only limited homework drills from the workbook, while still doing most of those provided in the coursebook. Logically, if I increased or limited the amount of drills, the amount of the following more meaningful exercises also had to change. In case when the drills took more time, I either chose slightly more meaningful exercises earlier or left the most communicative ones for the next lesson or gave them as homework. The first strategy turned out to be less successful, since in many cases the increased pace of progression caused some difficulty for the learners. On the other hand, during the study I did not observe any possible negative effects of the second strategy, since I usually compensated for the lower amount of the more communicative exercises later, during - 57 -
revision lessons. However, when the pace of progression was higher, due to the limited use of drills, the situation was much easier. I could devote the additional time for practice of more meaningful exercises or, in case of more advanced groups, devote some time to discussion or conversation.
- 58 -
In this charter I presented the aims of the self-observation study, which were providing date for determining optimal ways of introducing selected syntactic structures to Polish learners of English and, secondarily, exercising reflective teaching abilities. I also provided the description of the study, including the method of data collection, the overall structure of the groups that I conducted the lessons with and during which the self-observation took place. I also listed the eight syntactic structures taught during those lessons, which were selected for the purpose of the study. The next section of this chapter was divided into eight subsections, according to the eight issues that were the focus of my observation during the study. In those eight subsections I presented the excerpts from the collected data and provided their analysis as well as some general conclusions. Having presented and analyzed the data in this chapter of this thesis, I was able to establish several optimal ways of introducing selected syntactic structures to Polish learners of English language. The results of this endeavor are presented in the following chapter.
- 59 -
CHAPTER IV: Interpretation of study results and conclusions
The last chapter of this thesis is devoted to establishing the optimal ways of introducing selected syntactic structures to Polish learners of the English language based on the analysis of the data presented in the previous chapter. Due to the fact that this study was executed in a specific teaching environment, that is, during one-to-one teaching and teaching in very small groups, as well as due to my limited experience as a teacher and the lack of a enforced syllabus, I do not claim the findings of this study to be optimal in every possible situation and they should be considered in terms of the listed conditions. However, I believe that those finding may constitute a source of possible teaching implications as well as to provide some insights valuable for the further research in the field of grammar teaching techniques.
In this subchapter I will present the optimal solutions established through the
analysis of the data collected through the self-observation study. The solutions will be divided into eight subsections according to the eight observation criteria that I established for the needs of the study and according to which I have divided the data and its analysis in the previous chapter.
4.2.1 Optimal use of L1 and L2
While it is often underlined that L2 learners should be immersed in it from the very beginning of the course, I find it difficult to implement that principle in its entirety. The crucial difficulty is that beginning learners had problems with understanding the simplest instructions in L2, not to mention grammar explanations, and persistence in the use of L2 alone might lead to their discouragement and retardation of their progress. Unfortunately, it is hard to find any other solution than simply translating them to L1. Paraphrasing the instructions in L2 at that point is not an efficient option, since the students’ vocabulary is too limited. On the other hand, it is not advisable to provide the - 60 -
explanations only in L1 for an extended period of time. Most learners have little contact with L2 outside the classroom and even less possibilities of communication in it, so the teacher must take advantage of every possibility to initiate it and the classroom, in spite of it being always a slightly artificial environment, gives that possibility. Situation is even better during private lessons, especially in one to one context, since communication tends to be less formal then and thus more authentic. Out of the two options that I employed during the observed classes, that is a smooth transition or a sudden shift from L1 to L2, the optimal solution would be to execute the former option, using the transitional phase during which both the languages are used. Obviously, the pace of this transition and its starting point must be adjusted to the students’ knowledge of vocabulary at a given moment in time, and teacher can adjust it by simply monitoring students’ responses to the language used. It must be noted, however, that the only sensible order of language being used then is to provide the explanation in L2 and only after a while in L1. Otherwise it is highly probable that the students’ will not pay attention to the explanation provided in L2 and will not understand it when it is provided without the L1 counterpart. Even though I find this solution optimal, it is not free of shortcomings. The main factor that can be problematic during its application is the heterogeneity of the group, which can decrease the pace of transition and make it harder to adjust the balance between L1 and L2. What is more, it is evident that providing the instructions and explanations in both languages doubles the time devoted to those activities. Nevertheless, these problems are only temporary and disappear after students attain the level of knowledge of L2 vocabulary which will allow to limit the use of L1 to emergency situations. Evidently, when starting to teach students whose L2 vocabulary is more developed, the optimal solution for the teacher is to start with L2 right away or, in case of lack of certainty, with L2 statement followed by its translation to L1 and then deciding to what extent the use of L1 should be limited. However, every teacher must bear in mind that even the slightly more proficient students were sometimes taught by the teachers who downplayed the use of L2 during the lessons and may be simply not accustomed to learning in L2 environment and those might need some transition period as well. Finally, when the teacher has to provide a lengthy but not crucial comment or digression during the explanations, there is always an option of temporary switching - 61 -
back to L1, even when dealing with more proficient learners, if the situation requires us to save the time of the lesson. It may be also advisable in situations when the comment includes a lot of new vocabulary in L2 and would need excessive on-the-spot clarification.
4.2.2 Optimal ways of presenting the new structure
At the beginning of the lesson, when the new structure is presented, it is helpful for the teacher to know the ideas and expectations of the students considering the matter, be them previous learning experiences, wild guesses, associations in their minds or analytical conclusions. During the course of the study I attempted several methods of obtaining such knowledge finally arriving at the one that I would consider successful. This optimal solution relies on simply asking the learners about their thoughts concerning the newly introduced structure, whatever they might be. The first impression might be that by using such method we will receive a chaotic mass of random responses or, perhaps even worse, no response at all. However, it is more efficient than the other possible options. If we ask the learners if they have learned the structure before, we may easily receive their binary answers to that issue. The question is whether this actually leaves the teacher with any real insight into the students’ knowledge. A positive answer to this kind of question may mean nothing more than the learner was on the lesson when a given structure was taught. It does not actually say whether he understood the rules of forming and use of the structure. The seemingly obvious idea, then, would be to ask the learner about what he knows about a given structure. This approach is far better, but still has several shortcomings. The main one is that when asked what they ‘know’ about a given structure, students try to remember the definitions that they have been taught or that they tried to learn themselves and they rarely express their own ideas or expectations about the structure which are also important and could become useful during the explanations. Additionally, due to students’ apparent assumption that they are asked about concrete definitions, they gave very few responses. The situation was very different when I employed the optimal solution. When asked about their ideas and expectations, the students responded quite frequently, sharing their perception of the given issue with me. Moreover, the majority of their responses was not random, and very often I only had to add some additional information to their ideas in order to make them complete. - 62 -
Still, some problems still occurred, although it must be noted that they were present no matter which solution was chosen. All the employed methods were very limited in their efficiency while dealing with young undisciplined learners. Some problems were to be expected, such as their problems with expressing their ideas, resulting from very basic metalinguistic knowledge. However, the main problem was their lack of interest in grammar and the rules of language. They rarely paid attention during the presentation of new structures as well as during grammar explanations. Thus, if they provided any response at all, which was rare, it was quite random and it was hard to use it in any way. In such cases I believe it is best to introduce the material as if it was completely new to the learners. As I have stated in the introduction, there might be situations that did not occur during this study, which might prove some other shortcomings of the solutions I consider optimal. My main doubts concern the efficiency of the above solution while teaching bigger groups of learners, with the most important one resulting from the possibility that the teacher may not be able then to account for every idea that his learners might have and help them build more knowledge on its foundation. Organizing the knowledge that the students already possess is only the first step in the introduction, however. Before the teacher proceeds to the actual grammar explanations, it is possible to provide students with some more introductory information, especially concerning the use of the introduced structure. I based some of those activities on the ideas presented by Marton (1979). The decision to use them was based on my assumption that it might be useful and motivating for the learners to provide them with the answer to the question: “Why do we need to know this structure?” Consequently, I used two methods of doing that. First one was to act out a situation when a given structure should be used and the second one was to describe it verbally. The optimal use of those techniques depends on several factors. First one is the environment in which the lesson takes place. The acting technique was less comfortable to use on the private lessons, since I was usually seated next to the learners and it would require a disruption in the course of the lesson. Additionally, I felt more natural doing this in the classroom, which I consider a kind of my ‘territory’, while I think I would feel uneasy doing this in learner’s private quarters. Additionally, when conducting the lesson in the classroom I am usually standing, so the transition to physical demonstration of the context is much smoother. As a consequence, I consider it optimal to use the descriptive verbal method during private lessons and both those techniques in - 63 -
the classroom context. It must be added, however, that even in classroom setting it was not always possible to act out the use of particular tense and in such cases I had to limit my presentation only to the descriptive method. As for the age of the learners, both methods worked well with adults and adolescents and while I expected the ‘acting’ method to be far better than the descriptive one when dealing with young learners (since their way of thinking is less abstract and analytic), in the end it is hard to say whether any of them was successful, due to the reasons that I mentioned before, that is, the lack of interest and motivation on the part of the learners, which were very difficult to overcome for me. As a result I cannot claim that of those methods is optimal when teaching young learners, although I find it as such in terms of the older age groups. There is one more issue that needs to be raised in terms of the descriptive method, which is related to the previous subchapter, namely the language in which such description of the context should be presented. Even when the learners attained the proficiency level that enabled them to understand the instruction and explanations conveyed in L2, I often had to resort to L1 when describing the context, since the examples I used often required more advanced vocabulary and were quite lengthy, which would make the proper understanding of them problematic, were they given in L2. Therefore it would limit the usefulness of such method for the teacher who prefer a strictly L2 environment during their lessons.
4.2.3 Optimal complexity of the explanations
When providing learners with grammar explanations, every teacher has to make a number of decisions concerning their quality and quantity. To what extent should the explanations be simplified? How to satisfy learners’ curiosity and provide a digestible amount of information at the same time? How much metalanguage should be used? How to contrast L2 with L1 without risking an increased occurrence of negative language transfer? All those question must be answered in order to provide an optimal solution. When it comes to the simplification level of the explanations it is not easy to find balance. Practically, the teachers have two options. They can either simplify the rule by generalizing it and later provide more and more details or tell the learners that they only present one of many aspects of a given structure’s use. The former option has - 64 -
one great shortcoming – by using eat the teacher constantly presents his students with white lies, and every time that he expands the information, he must admit that the truth is not like he said and it is actually much more complex. The latter option, on the other hand, does not force teacher to lie. Instead of constant updating of rules governing the use of a given syntactic structure, it simply adds more and more chunks to them, finally arriving at the complete set of rules. Nevertheless, presenting the information in chunks has a certain deficiency. Namely, it may make it more difficult for the learners to communicate in L2. When provided with a simplified rule, the students might use it in improper contexts, but even if they lack accuracy, they can still be understood by their interlocutor. If they are conscious that they were only presented with one aspect of the structure’s use, they might be reluctant to use it in different contexts. The efficiency of those two methods differs according to the age of the learners. While the adults and adolescents have little problem accepting that they are taught grammar in chunks and seem to prefer it to being provided with simplified generalizations, the young learners seems to feel more comfortable with the latter option, which is probably due to the fact that they are still more able of acquiring the language rather than just learning it and their language undergoes similar processes as those encountered during L1 acquisition, with simplification and overgeneralization being the recurring phenomena. Thus I believe it is optimal to use the chunk-method with the more analytical, older learners while simplifying the rules for young learners. However, no matter if we are providing grammar explanations in chunks or by updating them, we might encounter learners’ questions that will require us to present a bigger chunk or less simplified rules than we initially planned. In such situations the teacher must be aware and provide sensibly extended explanations, avoiding too many digressions and providing only some general information while assuring the learner that their questions will be answered in more detail during the subsequent lessons. Again, I consider this an optimal solution, since on the one hand it is discouraging to ignore such questions and provide no clarifying information at all, and on the other the teacher cannot try to explain everything in detail and including every aspect, because that would lead to an almost infinite chain of explanatory digressions, which learners would simply be not able to remember. Teachers must be also very careful when using additional materials during the lessons, since they may sometimes include syntactic structures that the learners are still - 65 -
not ready to be introduced to, and their presence would surely increase the number of appearing questions, that having the teacher faced with the dilemma described in the paragraph above. Concerning the optimal use of metalanguage, the teachers have to be careful to adjust its complexity to the metalinguistic knowledge of learners and if they consider this knowledge not sufficient, they should expand it gradually during the lessons. The group which is usually most accustomed to the use of the metalanguage are adolescents, since they were being taught L1 grammar at school and they are learning other languages there as well. The situation is different with adults, unless they are students who learned some language recently or they are freshly after studies. Otherwise it is quite common that their knowledge of metalanguage is quite limited, due to the gap in time between the present and the time they were learning it, which causes them to forget many details. Finally, the young learners are often before the stage when they are taught the metalanguage and it might be left to the teacher to introduce its very basics, if anything at all. Thus it is advisable to use and extend the knowledge of metalanguage among the adolescents and adults, especially the more abstract thinking ones, while using only basic or no metalinguistic terms when dealing with young learners, who should be taught using a lot of visual aids and simple notions that they can easily understand. Finally, the last question deals with the contrasting of L1 and L2 (and even other languages, if applicable) in order to help the learners understand the particular grammar issues. I found this a very useful tool, which makes many new syntactic structures easier to understand for the learners and often provides an interesting material for the more curious among them. On the other hand we must be careful not to make an impression on the learners that L1 is not really different to L2 (although there might be cases when it is true, it is certainly not in case of Polish and English), which might lead them to present an increased level of negative language transfer. Differences should be stressed as much as the similarities, encouraging learners to treat only the particular phenomena as similar or different, not the whole languages.
- 66 -
4.2.4 Optimal amount of teacher control
There is no doubt that the learners should foster independence in their learners, allowing them to expand their knowledge about language on their own outside the classroom. However, most learners, and especially the beginning ones, expect quite a serious amount of teacher control during the lessons, either because of their previous learning experiences and individual preference or simply due to the fact that their knowledge is too limited to work on their own and they need extensive supervision at least during the first stages of learning the language. It is the teachers’ responsibility then to develop the independence of their learners and gradually increase the amount of control given to them. Obviously, it is not only learners who are usually accustomed to the more authoritarian style of teaching, but the teachers as well, and some of them might experience difficulties when trying to share some responsibility with their learners. It is advisable for them to plan the actions that increase the learners’ independence in detail, because their spontaneous actions will likely tend to be in accordance to their own preference. Evidently, it requires some effort and on the part of the teacher, but I believe it is worth the time devoted to it. What is more, teachers should not be discouraged if their initial attempts have little effect on the learners and they express very little independence, even when given the occasion to do so. They must remember that the learners may need to accustom to the new situation of the shared responsibility. If their responses are rare and limited, teacher should encourage the learners and try to lead their thinking in a way that would enable them to arrive at some conclusions of their own. However, if the teacher deals with an undisciplined and unmotivated group of learners, the optimal solution would be to discipline and motivate before sharing the responsibility, because otherwise it may lead to a situation when the loosened control over the lesson on the part of the teacher will lead to disorganization and downright chaos. It may also happen that the teacher will have to deal with learners who may not cause any discipline problems, but they will be very reluctant participate in the lesson, either due to lack of motivation or simply preferring to be led rather than advised. In such cases I consider the optimal solution to maintain the high level of teacher control during the lessons, while at the same time providing the learners with tools that they can but do not have to use for independent learning.
- 67 -
In case of motivated learners, however, promoting learner independence is the best possible solution. It additionally increases that motivation, encouraging them to perceive the language and its rules as an interesting object of their own discoveries and leaves them with the appetite for knowledge.
4.2.5 Optimal rule repetition frequency
The repetition of the rule during grammar explanations should not be random and unstructured, since when done properly, it can facilitate the learner’s ability to remember the rule and help him understand it. We must bear in mind, however, that the rule repetition should be structured differently according to whether we used deductive or inductive teaching during the lesson. In addition to that, we must remember that the excessive amount of repetitions can be boring and even annoying for the learners, while it rarely provides any positive effects. And if the teacher decides to repeat the rule more often, he should not do it in the same way, but paraphrase it, which might be especially efficient in case explanations in L2, making them easier to understand for the learners if they have some initial problems with that. During the observed lessons I managed to establish what I regard as an optimal amount of repetitions for deductive and inductive teaching. When employing deductive teaching it is best to start with providing the rule, then repeat it two or three times when providing explanations and examples, stressing different elements of the rule on the way, and finish the process with the recapitulation of the rule. When using inductive teaching, the rule is discovered with the teacher’s help by the learners, therefore it is best to recapitulate it at the end of the process, possibly once or twice. What I also noticed during the self-observation study, is that I automatically increased the frequency of repetitions when I saw that the learners have trouble with understanding it. It was counter-productive, however, as the simple repetition of the rule would not help the learners understand it in any way and, according to what I have stated before, it could have been annoying. Fortunately, I managed to cope with that habit and instead I simply asked the learners which part of the rule is problematic for them and, consequently, explained it to them in another way, which usually solved the problem and turned out to be the optimal way.
- 68 -
4.2.6 Optimal use of teaching aids and materials
During the self-observation study I had a rather limited access to teaching aids and for the purposes of grammar explanations I was actually using the whiteboard in the classroom and sheets of paper which I used in the similar fashion during private lessons. My access to teaching materials was definitely better, although as a beginning teacher I do not have many such resources at hand and I often had to devote my time to finding or creating them. Nevertheless, even with a relatively small access to resources I tried to use the existing ones to the fullest. The whiteboard, even though it is one of the most basic teaching aids, proved to be very helpful. However, it took me some time to develop an optimal of using it. Initially, I was making the mistake of providing too much information on the whiteboard at one time, which definitely decreased the clarity of what was presented there and learners were sometimes complaining about this. Eventually, I decided to present only the basic information for the whole time, while providing the details in chunks, referring them to the basic idea that was constantly present on the whiteboard. This strategy proved to be successful and since then I have had no learners’ complaints referring to that issue. The whiteboard gives the possibility of using colourful markers, which turned out to be especially useful when dealing with young learners. Initially, I was using only one colour during the lessons with both young and older learners. While adults and adolescents had usually little problem with following the explanations that I wrote on the blackboard, I was getting a lot of questions from the young learners, mostly in situations when I contrasted the structure of the two tenses or declarative, interrogative and negative sentences in a given tense. The problem of the learners was that they had problems with seeing all the changes existing between the example sentences clearly. Thus I decided to use the colourful markers, which underlined the differences between the elements of the sentence and the changes in the structure of the sentence. I noted a decrease in frequency of those problems after employing this strategy, which proved to be optimal here. Obviously, I had also an option of using underlining or arrows for the same purpose, but I decided that it would make the information present on the blackboard slightly messy, so I used those signs only occasionally, to additionally emphasize some more important changes.
- 69 -
As I have mentioned before, I had no access to blackboard during private lessons, so I had to devise a replacement for it and the easiest and most effective option was to use white sheets of paper in a similar way to whiteboard. There obvious difference was that I could not wipe off what I have once written. On the other hand, the sheets of paper with all the information present on them could be given to the learner as a reference material, which I started to do regularly after I was asked by one of the learners whether he could take those sheets if I were not planning to use them. Having considered teaching aids, I would like to proceed to the issue of teaching materials. As I have stated before, I often had to find teaching materials and sometimes even create them myself. Both of these activities required my time, but the latter was especially time-consuming, since I had to be careful not to create ambiguous contexts and not to use too difficult vocabulary. Therefore after several such efforts I decided that it is best for me to temporarily limit my material-creating activities to making some simple structural drills and gradually attempt to create more sophisticated exercises as I gain experience in that matter. Regarding the choice of teaching materials made by others, my concerns were similar to those that I had when creating teaching materials by myself. The problem that I encountered most often was the too difficult vocabulary present in the exercises, which would create a situation when the students do not understand the sentences they operate one, which might be annoying even during the simple structural drills, not to mention the exercises that deal with the use of a particular structure. Very often the optimal solution was to simply use the material from other coursebooks or pedagogical grammar books, since it was problematic to find appropriate resources on the Internet, especially for beginners.
4.2.7 Optimal use of the coursebook
It is often that teachers, especially beginning ones, rely on the coursebook to quite a wide extent. However, the grammar explanations present in the coursebooks are not always satisfactory, especially since they are rarely customized according to learners’ L1 and that leaves the responsibility of providing such reference on the teacher. I think the optimal solution would be to follow the grammar syllabus offered by the coursebook, while providing additional customized information, supported by teaching materials if possible. While this requires some effort on the part of the teacher, - 70 -
it is also a good occasion for him to practice his explanatory skills and exercise his own knowledge of the language, thus increasing his independence. However, if the teacher decides to rely on his own knowledge of grammar, he must constantly observe and reflect on the errors that the learners make and control whether they could be attributed to imperfections in the self-devised explanations. Another problem that the teacher may stumble upon while using the coursebook, characteristic to teaching beginners, is that the coursebooks for beginners are often written only in L2, which makes it initially impossible or at least very difficult for the learners to understand the instructions and explanations provided in the them. Definitely such approach to coursebook writing is connected with the principle of immersion in L2 from the very beginning of the course, but the practice is that learners often get discouraged by it and it is the role of the teacher to help them cope with that difficulty. I believe the optimal way of dealing with this problem is similar to the one described in the subchapter devoted to the optimal use of L1 and L2 during the lesson. Namely, the teacher should start with providing the Polish translation of the explanations and instructions and gradually limit them, according to the rising proficiency of the learners. The coursebook is usually a source of exercises as well, but it might happen that their range is not satisfactory as well, i.e. in terms of the number of communicative exercises. Nevertheless, the exercises in the coursebook can be used as a foundation for a more meaningful and communicative activity, instead of using other sources. Such use of those exercises has the advantage of the fact that the learners are already familiar with the vocabulary and the topic of the exercise and it might be easier for them to communicate their ideas.
4.2.8 Optimal selection and sequencing of the exercises
It has been generally established that the exercises using a newly introduced structure should progress from simple drills that help the learners become familiarized with it and then move on to the increasingly meaningful exercises which practice the context in which the structure is used and, in the long run, end in communicative activities in which the learners imitate real-life situations and express their own opinion and ideas. During the course of the study I followed this order and in this respect my observations are not in any way innovative, since such sequence turned out to be the most efficient and reasonable one. - 71 -
However, what often needed to be optimalized was the amount of exercises at a particular level of progress, since some structures were easy to learn and proceduralize, but the context of their use was problematic for the learners to understand, while in the case of other structures the situation was opposite. The amount of exercises for both those matter was rather fixed in the coursebooks and workbooks, so if there was a need to put more emphasis on one of those aspects and after completing all the available exercises the learners still had problems with it, I had to devise exercises on the spot, since I rarely had any additional materials with me. Fortunately, such situations were not too frequent and usually I had to omit some exercises, especially drills, rather than experience their shortage. Evidently, the possible omission of exercises enabled me to devote more lesson time to the more meaningful exercises and communicative tasks and had no negative consequences. On the other hand, if the practice of drills had to be extended, it was more difficult to arrive at the more meaningful tasks on the same lesson. In such situations I usually told the learners to prepare for some more communicative task at home, and I conducted it on the next lesson, thus saving some lesson time and giving the learners an opportunity to familiarize themselves more with the new structure after the classes. Another option was to omit some of the following less meaningful exercises in order to complete the lesson and although I employed this strategy and rarely encountered problems, I think it is slightly risky as the more meaningful exercises may sometimes turn out to be too difficult for the learners. Generally, I believe that the optimal solution for selection and sequencing the exercises is simply to follow their order in the coursebook and workbook and be flexible when the learners have little or, conversely, many problems with them. It is also advisable to have some additional exercises prepared in case those in the books are not sufficient.
- 72 -
As it can be observed from the presented findings of the study, it is hard, if not
impossible, to establish optimal solutions for presenting new syntactic structures due to many factors that influence the teaching and learning process, both internal, such as the teacher’s personality, beliefs and teaching style, and external, such as the number, age and proficiency level of the learners, their previous learning experience and other factors, such as the context in which the lesson is conducted. In general, I think that there are two key factors to the success in optimalizing one’s teaching process. One is self-reflection exercised during the practice of reflective teaching, which allows the teacher to see his advantages and disadvantages and provide a critical but constructive self-evaluation. The second factor is flexibility, which allows the teacher to adapt himself to the constantly changing conditions in the classroom and experiment with various techniques and methods, trying to achieve the one in which both him and his learners will become successful.
- 73 -
OBSERVATION # 4 Learners’ age: adult Learner’s level: pre-intermediate Syntactic structure being introduced: Past Continuous tense
Course of the lesson Investigated problems Purpose of the introduction Comments I decided to make an introduction contrasting Present Simple with Past Continuous to underline the differences in meaning between those tenses, especially because I wanted to introduce all the contexts in which those tenses are used separately and together. Judging from the low number of mistakes in the exercises employing the new contexts (done during the lesson) the introduction was helpful to the students. I used almost only L2 in the introduction, reverting to L1 only in case when I was not sure whether students understood my explanations. I also reverted to grammar of L1 to show similarities and differences between the languages. This proved to be a good strategy, since it helped the students overcome the difficulties that they had in understanding the use of those tenses. The introduction took about seven minutes. It was longer than I expected since I had to repeat some of the statements and make additional explanations. In the end, it used too much of the lesson’s time, but at least it had a positive influence. No teaching aids were used and I decided to rely only on coursebook and the additional notes or diagrams that I could write on-the-spot in the learners’ notebook. In classroom context I would definitely use the whiteboard but I have no such opportunity during private lessons. This shortcoming might be countered, however, with the use of a portable PC. Unfortunately, buying one for myself is an expensive action and the learners are rarely equipped with one. I used the Grammar Reference section of the coursebook as a means of presenting the structure of positive, negative and interrogative sentences in Past Cont. as well as the short answers in that tense. During the explanation, I was using the copy of the book in front of the two learners and thus it didn’t really differ from what I would do in the classroom where I have the whiteboard. I believe it provided similar positive influence, thus making it possible to do without any additional teaching aids. I compared Past Continuous to its Present Tense counterpart, showing that it is only the conjugation of the “to be” verb that changes, since it is done is the past form instead of the present. Learners found it quite easy to comprehend that way, since the only main new requirement at the structural level was to remember about that different conjugation and they
A brief introduction was made in L2 about the difference in meaning between Past Simple and Past Continuous
The language used in the introduction
The length of the introduction
The structure of the Past Continuous tense was presented to the learners, using the information provided in the coursebook Then I proceeded to explain the contexts in which Past Continuous is used.
The use of teaching aids and materials
The use of the coursebook
The complexity of the explanations
- 74 -
The language used in the explanations
Repetition of the rule
thus they seemed more confident in using it. As for the use of P.C., I started with providing the basic distinction between P.S. and P.C., with the former describing a more point-like action and the latter describing an action happening during a period of time. The learners were already previously acquainted with that distinction and they understood it, so I decided to provide the more accurate details, such as the completion of a task being expressed usually by P.S., and the sentences in which the two tenses are contrasted. I decided to stop at that point, since I thought that those are the most frequent and important uses of that tense and the other ones would be mentioned only after a necessity for it came during future lessons. Additionally, the contrastive use of P.S. and P.C. posed a bit of a difficulty for the learners, so any additional knowledge would probably have been even more difficult to digest. I think the number of the new contexts that were introduced was big enough to expand the learners’ knowledge appropriately while not to big to cause too much chaos in their perception of the use of Past Continuous (and Past Simple). Almost all the explanations were provided in L2, except for some background stories which I used to illustrate the contexts in which Past Continuous would be used rather than Past Simple and the other way round. Initially I tried to tell them in L2, but eventually I decided to provide them in L1 in order to speed things up and avoid any misunderstandings, which were actually happening. While most of the explanations posed no problem for the learners and I didn’t have to repeat them more than twice, the contrastive use of P.S. and P.C. turned out to be a bit problematic and I had to repeat it three times and then additionally draw sentences with the diagrams and use them for clarification. The whole explanation process was controlled by me and I left no initiative to the learners. This wasn’t as much of a conscious choice, as a spontaneous way of speeding things up, since I assumed that the past exposure to the knowledge about that tense leaves no place for any real “discovering”. Thus I decided to concentrate on the new contexts of P.C. use and there I left more time for any questions that would arise. The whole process was still mostly in my control, though. However, I am not sure if I could have done it more effectively if I left more control in learners’ hands. All the exercises were taken from the coursebook and accompanying workbook, which provide quite a variety of them. It definitely saved a lot of my time, and the exercises concerned with the use of P.C. provided more context than I could think of in a short span of time. Thus it was both time-saving and reliability-increasing to depend on the coursebook.
The amount of teacher control
Students were asked to do some practice exercises, both for the form and use of the Past Continuous.
The use of the coursebook
- 75 -
The use of teaching aids and materials Selection of exercises
The use of the coursebook The use of teaching aids and materials Selection of exercises
I used no additional aids. Just the coursebook and the workbook. I chose one pure drill for a warm-up, and then, seeing that learners have no problems with the form, I decided to move on to the more creative exercises, concentrating on the appropriate use of P.C. At first the students made quite a lot of errors, but supported with the knowledge of why their choices were erroneous, they managed to arrive at a satisfactory amount of accuracy. The was no appropriate production exercise provided by the coursebook at that point, so I decided to devise a simple yet communicative one myself. No aids or materials were used. I told the learners to describe me their previous day. They could do it in pair, providing additional information or comments on the way. The main problem was that one of the learners was more fluent and talkative than the other, who on the other hand seemed to place a bit more emphasis on the accuracy of his utterances (which might be the reason of his decreased amount of speech). Nevertheless, I think it gave an opportunity for one to learn from the other, cooperating in communicating ideas to me.
Students were encouraged to participate in some production activities
OBSERVATION # 9 Learners’ age: adult Learner’s level: elementary Syntactic structure being introduced: can/can’t
Course of the lesson Investigated problems Purpose of the introduction Comments Next to presenting “can” as an important element of everyday English, I wanted to relate “can” to some knowledge already possessed by the learners, therefore I mentioned the category of “modal verbs” in English and described their behaviour in the sentences as similar to that of the “to be” verb in terms of forming questions and negatives, as well as possessing a special conjugation. Judging from the low number of mistakes that the learners made during the lesson, it is probable that this strategy was efficient. The explanation was provided in L1, as the learners were not comfortable enough with my use of L2 during the lessons and I preferred to avoid any possible misunderstandings. The introduction took about 2 minutes. It was enough to recall the behaviour of “to be” verb” and relate it to behaviour of “can”, providing all the similarities and differences. I was asked some clarifying questions by the learners but in most cases I simply approved their conclusions.
A brief introduction was made in L1 about the verb “can” and the consequences of it being a modal verb, as well as about the similarities and differences of “can” and “to be”.
The language used in the introduction The length of the introduction
- 76 -
The use of teaching aids and materials The use of the coursebook
I presented the behaviour of positive, interrogative and negative sentences with “can” and “to be” verb
The complexity of the explanations
The language used in the explanations Repetition of the rule The amount of teacher control
I used the whiteboard to present and contrast the sentences using “to be” can “can” verb using various colours to highlight the main parts of the sentences and their shifting positions. The coursebook provided only the information about the structure and meaning of the sentences using “can”, so I decided not to refer to it and instead used only my own explanations on the blackboard, which allowed me to include the reference to the knowledge already possessed by the learners, that is, about the “to be” verb. The explanations were quite simple, since the issue discusses on that lesson was rather uncomplicated. The students understood everything perfectly and I believe that any complication of the matter would be counter-productive. I provided all the explanations in L1 in order to avoid any misunderstanding that would require further clarifications and extend this phase of the lesson too much. I repeated the rule twice, although learners seemed to understand it quite well after the first time. I controlled the whole explanation process. I decided that the matter is too simple to suggest the learners that there is a “catch” that they must discover. Additionally, presenting everything to them sped things up a lot. All the exercises were taken from the coursebook and workbook. They contained various types of exercises and no external source of those was needed. I used no additional aids. Just the coursebook and the workbook. I started with purely drill-oriented exercises and them moved on to exercises contrasting the two meanings of “can” (permission and ability) and ended at exercises in which the learners were to describe other people’s abilities as well as their own. I selected only one, rather simple exercise from the coursebook for production purposes. No aids or materials were used. The exercise was supposed to have learners ask questions to each other about the various things that they can or cannot do, so it was a more communication-oriented variation of one of the final practice exercises. Learners were also encouraged to provide additional comments, not just the questions and answers, but they rarely did that.
The use of the coursebook Students were asked to do some practice exercises. The use of teaching aids and materials Selection of exercises
Students were encouraged to participate in some production activities
The use of the coursebook The use of teaching aids and materials Selection of exercises
- 77 -
OBSERVATION # 26 Learners’ age: adolescent Learner’s level: pre-intermediate Syntactic structure being introduced: Present Perfect
Course of the lesson An introduction was made about the use of Present Perfect tense and its place in relation to Present Continuous and Past Simple. I contrasted the use of those tenses by description of the action of opening the book. “I am opening the book”, “I have opened the book” and “I opened the book half a minute ago”. Investigated problems Purpose of the introduction Comments While both the structure and use of Present Perfect tend to be problematic for the learners, the latter seems to be especially difficult. This is why I decided to emphasize this matter in the introduction. What is more, this enabled me to revise the use of the previously introduced tenses. The introduction was provided in L2 and a part of it was also translated to L1, since I saw that the learner had problems with understanding several sentences. The introduction took about 3 minutes. Most of that time was devoted to a more detailed presentation of the context in which Present Perfect is used, contrasted with Present Continuous and Past Simple. Acting this context out was not enough and I had to provide additional information for the learner to make him understand it properly. I used a sheet of paper on which I wrote the exemplary sentences of all three types, underlining the changes in word order between those types. The sheet was given to the learner after the lesson. The coursebook provided some more exemplary sentences and the abstract structure of the Present Perfect tense. The explanations were only using some basic metalanguage and were to a large extent visual, thanks to the use of sheet of paper. As for the use of P.P., I provided only the basic context in which it is used, including speaking about recently completed actions and thing that have been done for some period of time until the moment of speaking. I decided that this is enough at this point. I provided all the explanations in L2 and fortunately this time I didn’t have to translate them to L1 as the learner understood everything. I repeated the rule of P.P. formation about 5 times. In the beginning, three times when working with exemplary sentences and one more time at the end. The learner seemed to understand the explanations and his good performance in the drill exercises suggests he actually did. As for the use of P.P., it has been already mentioned in the introduction, so I provided the rule twice. One before giving some more examples and one afterwards. The whole explanation process was controlled by me and I preferred to stick to deductive teaching, as the learner was rather reluctant to participate in the lesson All the exercises were taken from the coursebook and workbook, except for one which I made myself. I used mostly the coursebook and the workbook, but I also employed a sheet of paper on which I made an exercise spontaneously.
The language used in the introduction The length of the introduction
The use of teaching aids and materials The use of the coursebook The complexity of the explanations I presented the behaviour of positive, interrogative and negative sentences in Present Simple Tense. I also provided the most general rule of P.P.’s use.
The language used in the explanations Repetition of the rule
The amount of teacher control Students were asked to do some practice exercises. The use of the coursebook The use of teaching aids and materials
- 78 -
Selection of exercises
Students were encouraged to participate in some production activities
The use of the coursebook The use of teaching aids and materials Selection of exercises
The exercises were mostly uncreative drills, exercising the formation of Present Perfect and the Past Participle forms of regular and irregular verbs. Additionally, I devised a short exercise that I wrote on a sheet of paper while the learner was doing the drills, which exercised the use of Present Perfect in contrast with Present Simple. The learner had to know which tense to use basing on the phrases dealing with time, present in the sentences (such as “for 5 years”, “since 1995”, “already”, “in 1981”, “two days ago”, etc.). However, I made a mistake of not telling the learner which of those phrases are characteristic for Present Perfect before and I had to do it whenever he made a mistake. None. Only one exercise was done and it was spontaneously devised by me. No aids or materials were used. Only one exercise was done at this point and I created it on the spot. The learner was supposed to tell me about some things that he had done for some time, such as “I have played computer games since 1998”. Although this was a rather controlled exercise, the learner communicated the facts, so I believe this was a good start for meaningful activities with the use of Present Perfect tense.
- 79 -
· Bartlett, L. 1990. ‘Teacher development through reflective teaching’. In J. C. Richards & D. Nunan (Eds.). Second language teacher education: 202-214. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. · · Batstone, R. 1994. Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bailey, K. M. 1997. ‘Reflective teaching: situating our stories.’ Asian Journal of English Language Teaching 7:1-19 · Doman, E. 2005. ‘Grammar consciousness raising. Six steps to language learning.’ Modern English Teacher 15/1:24-32. · Harmer, J. 2001. How to Teach English. Edinburg: Longman Publishing Group. · Komorowska, H. 1980. Nauczanie gramatyki języka obcego a interferencja. Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Szkolne i Pedagogiczne. · Komorowska, H. 2002. Metodyka nauczania języków obcych. Warszawa: Fraszka Edukacyjna. · Larsen-Freeman, D. 1986. Techniques and principles in language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. · Marton, W. 1979. Optymalizacja nauczania języków obcych w szkole: teoria i praktyka. Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Szkolne i Pedagogiczne. · Nunan, D. 1992. Research methods in language learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. · Nunan, D. / Lamb, C. 1996. The self-directed teacher: managing the learning process. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- 80 -
Richards, J. C. 1991. ‘Towards Reflective Teaching.’ The Teacher Trainer 5/3:4-8
Richards, J. C. / Nunan, D.
(ed.) 1993. Second language teacher
education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. · Richards, J. C. / Lockhart, C. 1999. Reflective teaching in second language classrooms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. · Seliger, H. W. / Shohamy, E. 1990. Second language research methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press. · Stern, H. H. 1993. Issues and options in language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. · Thornbury, S. 2004. How to teach grammar. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited. · Ur, P. 1993. Grammar practice activities: a practical guide for teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. · Wallace, M. J. 1991. Training foreign language teachers: a reflective approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University. · Westney, P. 1994. ‘Rules and Pedagogical Grammar’. In T. Odlin (Ed.) 1994. Perspectives on pedagogical grammar: 72-95. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. · Widdowson, H. G. 1991. Aspects of language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- 81 -
· Sysoyev, P. V. 1999. ‘Integrative L2 Grammar Teaching: Exploration,
Explanation and Expression.’ The Internet TESL Journal. Retrieved on 12.03.2008. <http://iteslj.org/Articles/Sysoyev-Integrative.html> · Tice, J. 2004. ‘Reflective teaching: Exploring our own classroom practice.’ British Council teaching English. Retrieved on 26.02.2008.
- 82 -
The purpose of this thesis is to establish optimal ways of introducing selected syntactic structures of English language by means of teacher’s self-observation and selfanalysis. The thesis consists of a theoretical and practical part. The two chapters of the theoretical part provide a review of the literature concerning the topics relevant to the study: teaching grammar and reflective teaching. The first chapter presents theoretical aspects of teaching grammar, exploring its importance, various attitudes towards this issue present in different teaching methods, the difference between formal and pedagogical grammar and the question of how teaching grammar should be organized. The second chapter is devoted to the idea of reflective teaching. It discusses its purpose and importance in the context of teacher’s professional development and presents some of the most popular self-observation techniques and describes their strengths and weaknesses. The latter two, which comprise the practical part of the thesis, are dedicated to the self-observation study, its description, analysis of the observed situations and finding the optimal solutions. The third chapter starts with describing the self-observation study, the environment in which it was executed and the selection of introduced syntactic structures of English language. Then it proceeds to presentation and analysis of the observations made during the study. The observations are divided into eight sections, according to the observation criteria employed in the study. Finally, the fourth chapter is devoted to establishment of the optimal ways of introducing the syntactic structures by reviewing the techniques employed by the author of this paper during the study and choosing the ones that proved most efficient.
- 83 -
Celem niniejszej pracy jest określenie optymalnych sposobów wprowadzania wybranych struktur syntaktycznych języka angielskiego za pomocą auto-obserwacji i auto-analizy. Praca ta składa się z części teoretycznej i praktycznej. Dwa rozdziały składające się na część teoretyczną prezentują przegląd literatury zajmującej się kwestiami dla tej pracy kluczowymi: nauczaniem gramatyki i nauczaniem refleksyjnym. Pierwszy rozdział przedstawia teoretyczne aspekty nauczania gramatyki, jej istotności oraz zróżnicowanie poglądów na ten temat obecnych w różnych metodach nauczania, różnice między gramatyką formalną i pedagogiczną oraz koncepcje tego jak nauczanie gramatyki powinno być zorganizowane. Drugi rozdział poświęcony jest koncepcji nauczania refleksyjnego. Rozważa też jego cele i istotność dla rozwoju zawodowego nauczyciela. Przedstawia też najpopularniejsze techniki auto-obserwacyjne i opisuje ich wady i zalety. Kolejne dwa rozdziały, które składają się na część praktyczną pracy, poświęcone są badaniu auto-obserwacyjnemu, jego opisowi, analizie zaobserwowanych sytuacji i określeniu optymalnych rozwiązań. Trzeci rozdział zaczyna się od opisu badania i środowiska, w jakim zostało przeprowadzone oraz przedstawienia wybranych na jego użytek struktur syntaktycznych języka angielskiego. Następnie dokonana zostaje w nim analiza danych zebranych podczas badania. Dane te przedstawione są w ośmiu sekcjach, zgodnie z ośmioma kryteriami obserwacji, które zastosowano w badaniu. Rozdział czwarty, ostatni, poświęcony jest ustaleniu optymalnych sposobów wprowadzania struktur syntaktycznych za pomocą przeglądu technik stosowanych przez autora niniejszej pracy podczas badania i wybraniu tych, które okazały się najskuteczniejsze.
- 84 -
Imię i nazwisko autora pracy/rozprawy Imię i nazwisko promotora pracy/rozprawy Wydział/Jednostka niebędąca wydziałem Kierunek studiów/dziedzina nauki Specjalność/dyscyplina naukowa Tytuł pracy
prof. dr hab. Maria Wysocka
Filologia angielska Metodyka nauczania języków obcych Optymalne sposoby wprowadzania wybranych struktur syntaktycznych języka angielskiego w nauczaniu polskich uczniów. Auto-obserwacja.
Niniejszym oświadczam, że zachowując moje prawa autorskie, udzielam Uniwersytetowi Śląskiemu nieodpłatnej licencji niewyłącznej do korzystania z ww. pracy bez ograniczeń czasowych, w następującym zakresie: - rozpowszechniania pracy poprzez publiczne udostępnianie pracy w wersji drukowanej i elektronicznej, w taki sposób, aby każdy mógł mieć do niej dostęp w miejscu, w którym praca jest przechowywana tj.: w Archiwum Uniwersytetu Śląskiego lub w Bibliotece Uniwersytetu Śląskiego, - rozpowszechniania pracy poprzez publiczne udostępnianie pracy w wersji elektronicznej w sieci Internet w domenie us.edu.pl oraz w innych serwisach internetowych, tworzonych z udziałem Uniwersytetu Śląskiego.
- 85 -