Teaching methodologies in TESOL: PPP vs. TBL | Learning | English As A Second Or Foreign Language

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This essay is going to look at two pairs of opposing methodological approaches to second language acquisition. TBL and PPP lesson frameworks as well as Inductive and Deductive presentation are going to be defined, compared with one another and finally evaluated through the use of real life teaching material examples.

TBL - task based approach - essentially means that students learn the TL1 through the performing of a task. It is based on the framework demonstrated by Jane WIllis in 1996 ‘A Framework for Task-based Learning’. As Lackman, K. (2008:1) writes in ‘Introduction to Task-based Learning, The Willis model and variations’: ‘The idea behind TBL is that students will learn to communicate in the language by doing tasks in the classroom which approximate those in the outside world. Students do tasks in small groups and practise using language necessary for doing particular task. The focus is completely in the task completion and therefore students are free to use whatever language they have at their disposal to accomplish this’ (Lackman, K. 2008:1).

TBL generally consists of three stages: pre-task phase, during which the teacher is responsible for explaining the task whilst students brainstorm useful lexis. As Ellis, R. (2003:244) writes in ‘The methodology of task-based teaching’: ‘The purpose of the pre-task phase is to prepare students to perform the task in ways that will promote acquisition. Lee (2000) describes the importance of ‘framing’ the task to be performed and suggests that one way of doing this is to provide an advance organizer of what the students will be required to do and the nature of the outcome they will arrive at’. (Ellis, 2003: 244).

An example of this is included in Cunningham and Moor’s (1999:93) coursebook in mini-task entitled ‘Never say never‘ in Language Focus 2, where students are encouraged to think of relevant vocabulary by answering questions such as: ‘Under what circumstances if any would you lie to someone close to you?‘ This example exemplifies how TBL creates opportunities for communication and interaction in the classroom. The second stage concentrates on the task itself – students work in groups and make use of role play to exchange

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TL - denotes target learning 1

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their ideas. Lackman, K. (2008: 3:4) describes the task cycle:

‘The task phase is meant to be completely communicative and student-centered, (...) The focus is on doing the task successfully and the teacher should not be concerned with lexical or grammatical accuracy at all at this point. The task should be real-world related as it is meant to give them practice with language or skills they would need in the real world’. (Lackman, K. 2008: 3:4).

An example of this is also found in Cunningham and Moor’s coursebook ‘Cutting Edge Intermediate’ (1999: 94) in practice task 3, where learners have to ask and answer questions in groups created in the previous task such as: ‘If you could live anywhere in the world where would you live?’ This part is very communicative; it puts an emphasis on fluency as well as meaning negotiation. Moreover, through planning in groups what will be reported in front of their peers and teacher, students are likely to subconsciously acquire language. The teacher’s role is to focus on and elicit fluency and accuracy. There is an emphasis on speaking and listening for details. Students present their report to class while others listen and compare their work. Lackman, K. (2008:4) explains: ‘After the reports have been planned, (...) they need to be shared with the rest of the class (...) the point of the report stage is to focus on accuracy, the teacher may make note of significant errors’ (Lackman, K. 2008: 4).

The last stage is based on language focus and practice of the TL. Lackman, K. (2008:4) claims: ‘the Language Focus stage will have students listening to (or reading) a sample of native speakers doing the same task as they did. They are instructed to listen for language (usually expressions) that they could have used when they did the task (...) The language Focus stage ends with controlled practice which can be any typical practice activity where the students are required to use the target language correctly’. (Lackman, 2008: 4).

The example of such a task is demonstrated in Cunningham and Moor’s (1999:94) coursebook in pronunciation task 1 in Language Focus 2. In this task students have to listen to the speakers and circle the contraction that they hear in the recording and explain what topic is talked about. The teacher clarifies the vocabulary. There is focus on form which comes after meaning. Finally

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there is a controlled practice where students practice expressions which they learnt through the listening activity. An example of that is again in Cunningan’s coursebook, pronunciation task 2, where students have to practice and repeat the sentences that they created in pronunciation task 1. Overall language acquisition in TBL is facilitated by cognitive and communicative learning which gives opportunities to acquire language in a natural way through performing a task with an emphasis on meaning and form in order to develop fluency and accuracy gradually. As Foster, P. (1999: 69) writes: ‘The challenge for a task-based pedagogy, therefore, is to choose, sequence, and implement tasks in ways that will combine a focus on meaning and a focus on form. Skehan (1996) has developed a theoretical framework for task-based teaching that claims to balance the development of fluency with accuracy (...) Willis (1996) has produced a detailed practical framework for the task-based classroom in which learners are led through cycles of task planning, performance, repetition, and finally, comparison and native-speaker norms’.(Foster, P. 1999:69)

PPP is a more traditional approach to second language acquisition, where the teacher’s role is to provide knowledge of the TL to the students by using prefabricated examples, and the learners’ role is a passive one. It is a prescriptive approach whereby the main concern is to elicit accuracy. As Foster, P. ( 1999:69) claims in her journal ‘Key Concepts in ELT, Taskbased learning and pedagogy’: ‘The PPP model of language teaching (‘presentation, practice, performance’) is based on the assumption that a language is best presented to learners as a syllabus of structures, and that through controlled practice a fluent and accurate performance of the ‘structure of the day’ can be achieved. Errors are evidence of poor learning requiring more PPP treatment’. (Foster, 1999: 69).

Therefore PPP which focuses on teaching structures consists of three stages of the lesson presentation, practice and production. As Harmer, J. (1998:31) describes: ‘PPP stands for Presentation, Practice and Production (...) In PPP classes or sequences the teacher presents the context and situation for the language (eg. describing a robot), and both explains and demonstrates the meaning and form of the new language’ (Harmer, J.1998 :31)

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It can be used to teach grammar as well as other skills eg. lexis. Firstly, the teacher exhibits the TL to students, then there is the practice stage where students have a chance to practice the language through drilling and other techniques and eventually there is production where learners attempt to produce their own language. The presentation stage consists of two steps: a lead in which is an introduction that is supposed to catch the learner’s interest. An example of the lead in is illustrated in the teaching material taken from Unit 9, ‘Reading the Signs’, coursebook ‘Intermediate Matters’ (1991:64) where the purpose is to teach 1st conditional using PPP through Listening 1 section ‘before listening exercises’. This section is very communicative and puts emphasis on meaning. Secondly, there are visual aids used in the next couple of exercises, which also introduce the learners to the target language as well as helping them convey the meaning of the context. Therefore, not only does the presentation stage capture the student’s interest, but also creates the introduction to the context of the TL. Next there is a practice stage, where students have a chance to practice the language either through drilling such as repetition drills or performing a controlled practice task. The example of such a practice is presented in Language Point 1 in Unit 9 ‘Reading the signs’ of Bell’s and Eower’s coursebook ‘Intermediate matters’ (1991:65) where the task is to make predictions from the given cues. For instance: ‘inside of the nose/ problems follow’. The purpose of this task is to create the sentence using first conditional. The cues are very explicit therefore provide a very mechanical practice, there is an emphasis on noticing the form, students have no communication opportunities to complete the controlled practice they just need to generate proper sentences using the correct form. There is a strong focus on accuracy here, which is designed to make students fluent in the TL. The production is where the learners have a chance to produce their own language. This stage is more communicative and is supposed

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to get learners to practice the TL.

The fundamental difference between TBL and PPP is that PPP is more prescriptive and teacher-centred, whilst TBL focuses on a more spontaneous, organic method of language acquisition by giving students the opportunity to discover the language by themselves through the task and through noticing things in the input. Moreover, in TBL the teacher’s only role is to explain the task and supervise the activity, which allows space for meaning negotiation whereas in PPP the teacher is at the forefront of the activity, presenting the language to students. Focus in TBL goes from fluency to accuracy. The learners have an opportunity to use their own resources to develop accuracy by writing and presenting a report of the task to their peers and the teacher while in PPP they are exposed to form by the teacher and are achieving fluency through being shown accurate form first. Context in TBL is included in the task as students are exposed to imaginary real life scenarios, whereas in PPP context is created through form, in prefabricated sentences or texts.

Furthermore, while TBL encourages the learner to use a real life experience and language outside the classroom, PPP only allows the students to use the language given by the teacher therefore it lacks exposure to the real world. Lackman, K. (2008:10) argues: ‘The target language tends to be generic because it is explained first and applied later (prescriptive) rather than have it emerge naturally out of an authentic exchange (descriptive). This is why PPP tends to be lacking EXPOSURE’. (Lackman, K. 2008:10).

PPP does not motivate students as it does not give opportunities to use their creativity and ideas. The learners are dependent on the teacher to acquire the form they are not given the opportunity to work out the form by themselves. Finally, while TBL may be a suitable approach

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for the advanced learners, it may not be perfect for the beginners who usually prefer to be given the rules first and understand them before producing the output, in which case PPP may be a better approach. Harmer, J. (1998:31) argues: ‘PPP is extremely effective for teaching simple language at lower levels. It becomes less appropriate when students already know a lot of language and therefore don’t need the same kind of marked presentation’ (Harmer, J. 1998:31)

Therefore, one could argue that TBL is a method suited for specific purposes eg. teaching for academic purpose whereas PPP may be an efficient method for the majority of less advanced learners worldwide where students learn a language without any specific purposes eg. learning a foreign language at school.

Deductive presentation denotes a method of teaching where the first stage is to give out grammatical rules, then present them through relevant examples which exemplify the structure and in the end lead to practice. This type of teaching has been supported by Ausubel and Carroll who claimed that:

‘Since adults are endowed with a cognitive network enabling them to understand abstract concepts, teachers should capitalize on this asset and speed up the language acquisition by giving the learners explicit rules in a deductive learning framework’ ( Shaffer, C. 1989:395)

This approach is still very common and applied to classroom teaching by many teachers worldwide. According to Shaffer, C. (1989) deductive approach implies teaching grammar through passive learning where there is little or none interaction in the classroom between the learners. Students are supposed to memorize the rule and use it during practice of the presented structure. As Thornbury claims:

‘It gets straight to the point, and therefore can be time-saving; it respects the intelligence and the maturity of many - especially adult - students and acknowledges the role of cognitive processes in language acquisition; it confirms many students’ expectations

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about classroom learning’ (Thornbury 1999:30). The example of a deductive presentation is expressed in Language Point 1 in Bell’s and Eower’s (1991) coursebook Itermediate Matters in Unit 9 with the task titled: Open conditionals: making predictions. The task provides an example sentence and a few technical questions regarding the sentence such as: ‘What is the tense after if?’ Can we say: ‘If the itch will be?’

Inductive presentation approach on the other hand is a student centred method, based on a different way of teaching which does not provide the learners with the rule but allows them freedom to figure out the rule by themselves using the examples of the TL. This type of learning has been supported by Krashen, Dulay and Burt who believed that:

‘Since language is acquired naturally by means of innate cognitive process, teachers need only supply comprehensible input without explicitly stating or even focusing on rules’(Shaffer, C. 1989:395).

Usually the teacher supplies the learners with meaningful examples in context, for instance in a form of a text which reveals the grammatical structure in the sentences. The teaching process consists of the presentation stage where students are exposed to the examples that imply the rule although do not reveal it. Therefore it is a discovery version of presenting the language where there is a cognitive effort, thanks to which they are able to store it in their long term memory, producing better output. Moreover, the exploratory techniques which are being used here contribute to more interaction in the classroom putting the emphasis on meaning in the first place and then the form. According to Shaffer the inductive approach is similar to the Audio-Lingual Method which promoted ‘a habit formation learning’. Teaching was based on drilling and memorization of the structure without providing the rules in the first place. (Shaffer, C. 1989:395) The example of inductive framework is illustrated in Bell and

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Eower’s coursebook in Language Point 2 ‘Levels of certainty’ in Bell’s and Eower’s (1991:65) coursebook ‘Itermediate Matters’ in Unit 9 where language is presented in the meaningful context using a text regarding ‘predictions a fortune-teller made for a client’. The task is based on reading for gist and searching for specific information that is being asked in the questions under the task text.

Deductive and inductive presentation approaches differ from one another significantly. The main difference is that the deductive learning supports giving out the grammatical rules and structures in the first place to students, whereas the inductive learning accepts more of an exploratory learning where students attempt to figure out the rules by themselves. While deductive learning is very prescriptive, passive and teacher centred, the inductive approach is more of a freer learning type and definitely student centred. Furthermore, whilst the deductive presentation is based on the teacher’s knowledge and presentation, the inductive learning promotes interaction between the students and the teacher which helps to keep their motivation high. Finally, by using exploratory techniques and eliciting the rule, inductive teaching contributes to the cognitive development of the learners and makes them accumulate the rule in their explicit knowledge. Thus, whilst inductive approach leads to selfreliance and progress of the learners the deductive approach does not put an emphasis on students independence or self-development.

Although the inductive presentation is seen as the one that promotes modern, self-discovery , motivating and successful learning it should be used for the adequate purposes while teaching specific grammatical structures as it may not be suitable for more complex grammatical components which are difficult to illustrate in the context. In those cases it may be easier to use the deductive presentation which is straight-forward and leads to fast understanding of

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the grammatical rule. Also, the deductive approach saves time while presenting the grammar. Least but not last, the deductive presentation may be preferred by students who like to be told the rule and perform practice afterwards. Lastly it is considered that while the deductive teaching is more suitable for the learners who are beginners, the inductive approach is purposed for more advanced learners.

The similarities between PPP and Deductive Presentation as well as TBL and Inductive Presentation may be distinguished. As presented above both PPP and deductive presentation are teacher centred, promote less communicative, passive learning, provide grammar rules and controlled practice whereas TBL and inductive framework are student centred, use discovery approach, contribute to interaction and communication in the classroom, elicit rules from the learners and provide freerer practice. The fundamental similarity is that while PPP and deductive presentation do not motivate students and do not lead to their cognitive development, TBL and Inductive Presentation enable students to become independent, help them develop their cognitive skills and create an exposure to real world which also contributes to the organic, more natural process of learning. There is negotiation of meaning as the meaning and fluency come first and then the form whereas in PPP and deductive framework it is the contrary where the form and accuracy come before the meaning and the fluency. Finally, it is similarily argued that PPP and deductive approaches are more suitable for the beginners whereas TBL and inductive presentation for more advanced speakers. Although some sources claim that inductive approach proved to be the most adequate even for less advanced learners, as in Jestor Journal: where they performed an experiment on students who were taught French and Spanish grammatical structures using inductive Presentation. The results remained the same for both the advanced and less advanced students.

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Language Curriculum 1

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Assignment 1

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In my essay different methodological approaches in language teaching including PPP, TBL, Deductive and Inductive Presentation Frameworks have been defined, compared and evaluated using the relevant linguistic journals and authors as well as the genuine teaching materials which exhibited the examples of the described teaching approaches in the classroom. Furthermore, the differences and the similarities between both pairs of the approaches have been addressed and evaluated.

Bibliography Shaffer, C. (1989) The Modern Language Journal, A Comparison of Inductive and Deductive Approaches to Teaching Foreign Languages’, National Federation of Language Teachers Association, 73, (4) Available at: http://www.jstor.org/pss/326874 (accessed: 7/11/2011)

Bell, J. & Eower, R. (1991) Itermediate Matters, Unit 9: Reading the signs, London: Longman

Harmer, J. (1998) How to Teach English, An Introduction to the practice of English Language Teaching, Longman

Foster, P. (1999) Key Concepts in ELT, Task-based learning and pedagogy, 53, (1) Available at: http://moodle.roehampton.ac.uk/file.php/2149/key_concept_TBL_foster.pdf (accessed: 7/11/ 1011)

Cunnigham & Moor (1999) Cutting Edge Intermediate, Language Focus 2, London Longman

Thornbury, S. (1999) How to Teach Grammar,Longman

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Ellis, R. (2003), The methodology of task-based teaching, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Paradowski, M. (2007) Exploring the L1/L2 Interface. A Study of Polish Advanced EFL Learners. Deductive vs. inductive teaching, Institute of English Studies, University of Warsaw

Lackman, K., Ken Lackman and Associates, (2008) Introduction to Task-based Learning, The Willis Model and variations, Educational Consultants, Available at: http://www.kenlackman.com/ files/tblhandout10.pdf ( accessed: 7/11/2011)

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