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How to Teach Language Skills

A teaching pack on the four basic language skills

College: Programme: Module: Author: Date:

Amsterdam, HvA School of Education Grade 2 English teaching (part-time) Language Learning & Teaching, 2011-2012 Rense Houwing - student number 500651017 28 June 2012

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction Some general remarks on language teaching and skills teaching Listening 3 4 8
Important aspects of listening ...............................................................................8 Implications for listening skills work..................................................................... 10 A listening micro-teaching ................................................................................... 11

Reading

13
Important aspects of reading............................................................................... 13 Implications for reading skills work...................................................................... 13 A plan for a reading micro-teaching..................................................................... 14

Speaking

19
Important aspects of speaking............................................................................. 19 Implications for speaking skills work .................................................................... 20 A plan for a speaking micro-teaching................................................................... 21

Writing

24
Important aspects of writing................................................................................ 24 Implications for writing skills work....................................................................... 24 A writing micro-teaching ..................................................................................... 25

List of works cited

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INTRODUCTION
The module Language Learning & Teaching was taught to my class in the second semester of my first year of the Grade 2 English teaching programme of the Amsterdam HvA School of Education. The first half of the module focused on the historic development of first language acquisition and second language acquisition (SLA) theory and second language teaching practice from about 1940 to the present. This theoretical part was concluded with a written test. In the second half of the module, after a brief recapitulation, the theoretical insights and frameworks were converted into concrete forms of exemplary practicable teaching activities that would be in line with present day theoretical consensus, in so far as this more or less exists. These activities focused exclusively on the teaching of skills, meaning the four macro communicative language skills, namely listening, reading, speaking and writing. Skills refer to what one can do and learn to do, as contrasted to language systems (comprising phonology, lexis, grammar, function and discourse), which are supposed to be what one can know and learn to know up in the head (Scrivener 29). Thus, four exemplary micro-teachings (short lessons) were presented, each one aimed at improving a different skill in particular. Students understanding of the make-up of these exemplary teaching activities against theoretical background was tested by having them write a teaching pack. In this pack, they were to describe the activities they had partaken in concerning three of the skills, and reflect on the appropriateness of elements and aspects of those activities against theory, with ideas for improvement. On top of that, they were to design a lesson plan for a micro-teaching concerning the remaining skill, link its setup to theory, and reflect on how they expected things to work out, possible alternatives, etcetera. The teaching pack you are reading right now deviates from this description in that it contains not one but two self-designed lesson plans and, consequently, only two discussions of experienced activities. The reason for this extra assignment is that I had to compensate for absence during one of the lessons. As 2011-12 was the first time that the module LL&T was taught in year 1, the students lacked a certain amount of background knowledge and experience that students before them already possessed when following the module (having for instance followed the module ABV, general professional skills, and accumulated more teaching experience in internship). This might reflect in a diminished quality level of the teaching packs produced in year 2011-12, for instance in less links to theory in excess of the minimal requirements for reading, which comprised: Saville-Troike, Muriel. Introducing Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: CUP, 2006. Scrivener, Jim. Learning Teaching. 3rd edition. Oxford: Macmillan, 2011. Language Learning Activities File (LLAF) (on BSCW = the school file source safe). Now, before we turn to the individual skills activities, I propose we conduct a small field exploration, to find out what is more or less broadly agreed to be sound language teaching and language skills teaching, and what are important conditions to be met.

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SOME GENERAL REMARKS ON LANGUAGE TEACHING AND SKILLS TEACHING


How to teach a language? This question does not have an obvious answer, like the question how to ride a bicycle has. Complex processes take place inside the learners head (or, more accurate, the learners system) while theyre endeavouring to master a new language. Exactly how a second language is acquired and, consequently, how teachers should present and teach the language to promote and facilitate this acquisition has been subject of intensive study and intense debate for well over sixty years. A lot is still unclear and unknown, yet some tenets and principles have surfaced that have received wider acceptance. For instance, it is generally held that the main purpose of almost anyone trying to learn a second language is to communicate effectively in that language. As obvious as this may seem to us, it is a far cry from the situation some seventy years ago, when commanding a language was effectively equated with knowing the language system and its vocabulary, and teaching was aimed at correctly translating texts and applying grammar rules accurately in writing samples, in much the same way as done with dead languages like Latin and Greek. It follows, then, that teaching should from the start be primarily geared to enhance a learners ability to use a language to communicate, thus also fuelling the motivation to become better at it. Another agreement is that language learners do not generally seem to be able to make use of complex or detailed information from lengthy lectures about how the language works, not in the same way that, say, a physics student might make active use of the understanding gained from a theoretical talk. Ability to use a language seems to be more of a skill you learn by trying to do it (akin to riding a bicycle) than an amount of data that you learn and then try to apply. Explanations, while of some value, seem to be most useful in fairly brief hints, guidelines and corrections. Beyond a certain minimum of explanation, language learners seem to need, amongst other things, to gain exposure to varied comprehensible samples of language, and chances to play with and communicate with the language themselves in relatively safe ways, with a variety of people; they need to do a variety of different languagerelated tasks; and they need feedback on how successful or not their attempts at communication have been. (Scrivener 19, Westhoff 2008 9, 19). Working in this way, students come across many objects of learning many times and in many different ways, and each time they strengthen, widen and deepen the understanding and accessibility of each encountered object of learning (Westhoff 2008 9-10). Naturally, there is more to commanding a language than being able to fluently listen, speak, read and write. Speakers who can produce any and all of the grammatical sentences of a language (which satisfies Chomskys 1965 definition of competence) would be institutionalised if they indiscriminately went about trying to do so (Dell Hynes (1966) quoted by SavilleTroike 100). Hence, the concept of communicative competence became a basic tenet in the field of SLA and language teaching. It is defined simply, and quite inclusively, as what a speaker needs to know to communicate appropriately within a particular language community (Saville-Troike 100). This construct combines knowledge of several interacting domains, namely knowledge of language form and structure, language use (including pragmatic knowledge), content, social context, and culture, as indispensable components for successful communication (Saville-Troike 134, 154, 162). Although there is undoubtedly much truth in this, I think we should see this somewhat in perspective, because what a second language learner has to acquire to become communicatively competent, then, is not all too different from what all humans have to acquaint themselves with within their native culture. And all humans enter into this generic task by immersing themselves in their multidimensional environment, interacting with it and being very attentive to how it reacts to their communications and actions, sniffing out adjoining zones and sometimes diving into a whole new territory, thus finding out how it all

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relates and compares and fits together and works, and can work for them. (And even so, no one is ever done learning.) We could summarise this approach as attentive interaction. It seems reasonable, therefore, to assume that all these extra conditions put forward to attain communicative competence in the second language can eventually be met by attentive interaction within the second language domain. In other words, once learners succeed in attaining an adequate minimum level of language skills, they can then start to familiarise themselves with the target culture and circumstances through communication with its representatives, reading its books and newspapers, ingesting its radio, television, music albums and video clips, travelling its countries, meeting its inhabitants and studying their customs. And just like in the native culture, one is never done learning and has never attained full competence, which may actually just be the fun of it. Anyhow, all this points back to the basic importance of enhancing language skills. But which skills, if any, are in this respect more important seems to be up for debate. Scrivener states that listening and speaking work is so essential and those skills also within such close reach that it needs to be at the heart of a course from the start (Scrivener 30). A very different position is taken by Saville-Troike. She holds that, in considering learners very divergent purposes with SLA, we must distinguish two fundamental types of communicative competence: interpersonal competence (involving primarily oral skills: listening and speaking, needed for everyday interactive communication) and academic competence (involving mainly receptive skills: reading and listening, needed for absorbing academic discourse). Furthermore, she claims that attaining competence in either direction is quite feasible while mostly neglecting the skills that are not crucial for that direction. Therefore she maintains that curricula for teaching a second language should be tailored to learners either more interpersonal or more academic needs (Saville-Troike 134-137, 170). Personally, I disagree with this proposition, on several grounds. First, the distinction made leads to the writing skill being demoted either way as non-crucial. However, many occupations require competent use of precisely this skill; think for example of a novelist, a scientist, a journalist, a copy writer, a manual writer or a politician. Also, she ignores the possibility (or probability) that the four skills mutually build upon and reinforce each other in many ways, making each important. Furthermore, she omits the fact that academic register (as any other register) builds upon an understanding that is established with the basic vocabulary that is used in everyday life and thus in interpersonal communication. Finally, and maybe most importantly, she does not take into account recent scientific findings showing that skills improvement in general ensues, or is greatly enhanced, when a person has to directly survive (i.e. hold your own, win the bone)1 through a situation (Doidge). These situations are, in SLA context, most likely to be situations where direct interaction takes place, since these involve rapid online language processing and instant response. Typically, situations of meaningful conversation. Hence, it might well be that task based conversation, i.e. listening and speaking interactively combined in a single meaningful activity, is actually the real battering ram with which to storm the castle of the second language.2 This then also suggests that listening and speaking, being the component skills, should be worked on

This is attributed to a temporary greater plasticity in the brain, caused (or accompanied) by heightened awareness that arises when a more total involvement is required to win through a situation. 2 This could at least partially account for the success of immersion types of education (Westhoff 2008 15).

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consistently, to equip learners for ever more complex conversational activities. In conclusion, I see insufficient ground for the claim that a one-size-fits-all approach, such as a purely communicative approach, may do a serious disservice to learners whose primary need is to develop academic reading, writing, and listening skills 3 (Saville-Troike 170). Nevertheless, there is broad consensus that the curriculum should draw attention to proper grammatical forms and structures, should work on a large vocabulary, and should also incorporate reading and writing skills, and personally, I think that it should certainly strife to promote learners with higher aspirations (be that academic or otherwise) to the next level of complexity once they have mastered the more elementary levels. However, I think those aspects should all be part of a naturally expanding ability that could very well be guided by the principles of CA (the communicative approach), or gathering and sharing information in many natural ways. Indeed, in a sound CA, learners must master four broad domains of skill which make up their communicative competence. First of all, they must attain linguistic competence, skill in manipulating the linguistic system. Secondly, they must distinguish between the linguistic forms and the communicative functions that they perform. Thirdly, they must develop skills and strategies for using language to communicate meanings in concrete situations. And finally, they must become aware of the social meaning of language forms (Littlewood 6). This list certainly contradicts a popular misunderstanding that proper grammar teaching, for one, has been substituted in CA by just talking, even when we speak of the so called strong form of CA, where students learn by doing communication tasks, with a limited role for explicit teaching and traditional practice exercises (Scrivener 38). Westhoffs penta pie model, focusing on different aspects of language in balanced proportion but in no fixed order, seems to be based on fairly undisputed scientific evidence and generally supported hypotheses, and seems to provide a sound guideline on how to acquaint learners with a language. Looking at this model, it becomes instantly clear that practicing skills is expected to play a key role in the approach. Yet, it seems to keep a sane middle ground between focus on skills and focus on system. What is maybe equally important is that it stresses the importance of lifelike, interest drawing qualities of all assigned tasks. That implies, among other things, that what students say or write should have a communicative purpose and should focus more on message than on form, and that there should be a real reason to say something. This presupposes that students have an incentive to express themselves. Such a situation must first be created, the more lifelike the better. The model puts forth the following ingredients (seen from the perspective of the learner): Exposure to abundant input: Functional (leading to something), Lifelike / current, Informative / interesting, Rich in variety and Tempting - i+1, i.e. interlanguage+1; Content-oriented processing: aimed at understanding the content and deriving meaningful information (preferably as a functional product in an assigned realistic task), but without having to produce specific predictable outcomes; Form-oriented processing: aimed at noticing form aspects of the input (thus stimulating raised awareness of form aspects, leading to enrichment of personal form rule systems; also preventing stagnation of and pidginisation in productive skills);

The quote is taken from the summary of chapter 6. The writing skill seems to have been slipped in here, as it does not figure in the argumentation.

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(Pushed) Output production: to enhance fluency, expose deficits (thus increasing motivation to learn and stimulating form-oriented processing) and give others opportunity to give corrective feedback on blind spots Two varieties, - Assembling chunks (unanalysed combinations or formulaic speech) ( 50%); - Rule guided production (creative speech) ( 50%); Developing strategies to compensate for deficiencies, - in receptive competence: inferring unknown elements, using prior knowledge, etc.; - in productive competence: negotiating meaning, avoiding, description, fillers, etc. Westhoff claims that teachers should invent tasks that lead to learning activities in which these five ingredients all appear in some form, preferably integrated into one tasty dish. Personally, I think that ensuring that every ingredient is on a regular basis included in some activity would be perfect enough. Getting back to the consensus that language is learned through activities rather than through lectures and learning by rote, it would be interesting to know if there is a generally applicable outline for activities that would be conducive to learning. According to Scrivener (Scrivener 44), there is. This route-map plan, as he calls it, comprises the following elements: 1. Before the lesson (teacher familiarises himself in many ways with material and activity); 2. Lead-in/Preparation (doing something to raise motivation or to focus on language items); 3. Setting up the activity (instruction, checking instructions, class organisation); 4. Running the activity (students carry out the task, teacher monitors correct execution); 5. Closing the activity and inviting feedback; 6. Post-activity: doing any appropriate follow-on work. Activities may also be positioned as separate sections within a lesson, in which case one would do steps 3, 4 and 5 for each activity. But if activities (i.e. learning by doing) are a key way of learning, it is still important to be clear on what exactly is to be learned at any given moment, what a given lesson is about. Important aspects of a lesson plan are then (Scrivener 109, 119, 124-126, LLAF 40): Teaching point(s): the language skill(s) or system(s) you will work on; Starter situation: provides the clue to what level of planned activities would be i+1; Achievement aims: what you hope students will achieve/be better at, whats the point of doing it (as opposed to Procedure aims: what students will do during the lesson); Evidence / Concrete learning outcomes: how you will know that this has been achieved, what students can do with the material/content and what are the minimum criteria; Activities; Work forms; Materials.

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LISTENING
Important aspects of listening
Listening is a well-learnt basic skill and a universal communication need for many purposes. Two statements on listening in real life: (1) there is always a clear purpose to listen, and (2) we listen for gist (main idea) or for detail (specific information) (LLAF 46, LP 5, lecture notes). Are both true? Scrivener urges us to decide your own personal theory about how people listen so that you can plan lessons to reflect this (Scrivener 180). Okay, lets try. Lets picture how in some real-life situation our attention is caught by some kind of talk, without having any prior knowledge of what will be the topic under discussion. Before we start to actually listen to the content of whats being said, we very rapidly take in and process details from many aspects of the situation where the talking takes place. These aspects include context (time and location, people present, purpose of assembling), history (what went before, in what order), attributes of the people joining in the conversation (distribution, clothing, posture, gestures, facial expressions), characteristics of the uttered sounds (volume, pitch, emotional temperature), etcetera. All this gathered information is combined in our mind and this then leads to the selection and activation of a number of schemas and/or scripts. Each schema is a result of similar past experiences, and essentially highlights certain circumstances, activities and types of information exchange that can go well together. (Scripts are a similar concept to schemas, but they also include the order in which events are likely to happen and to elicit other events (Yule 150). I mean both concepts when using the term schema here.) Through the activated schemas, we have some idea of what to expect in the present situation. When several alternative schemas have become active, the first thing we will now listen (and look and sniff) for are clues that enable us to quickly refute as many schemas as possible, and ideally retain only one. All this can happen extremely fast, sometimes in less then a second. In other cases it may take a while before we feel we understand whats going on, i.e. we have got the one schema that. for what we know, fits the occasion. Having arrived here, we usually already know a lot about what to expect: wed know the type of conversation or listening text, the usual structure of this type of conversation or text and which topics are suitable or unsuitable in the situation. We will then proceed to listen for the gist (scope, topic under discussion, main idea). This is again a form of gathering minute details, but this time aimed at catching key phrases and other clues that will give this overview away. Again, we might succeed almost instantly, or struggle for a while. We will then come to a point where we have sufficiently unravelled what the talk is about to be able to determine whether it is of interest for us. In other words, we enter a decision moment, where we decide whether it could be worth our while to find out any more. We may want to know what the outcome of the talk or conversation will be, or maybe we expect some specific information to be passed and want to wait for that bit to show up. We might also be curious for clues about the emotional make-up of the speaker, that would explain why they got so agitated by the related events. Or we may just decide its irrelevant altogether

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and stop listening. If we do stay on, we will then, within the adopted framework, scout for the specific bits or for the information in the areas that are of our interest. Apparently, through this whole process, some conscious or subconscious decision as to what we want to know always comes before the actual collection of information and steers what information we collect, even steers, maybe, what we hear and dont hear. So, getting back to the statements at the beginning of this chapter, yes, there is always a clear purpose to listen. As for gist versus detail, however, it looks like this is not at all a matter of doing one or the other. Its more like were constantly doing both: on the one hand we bottom-up gather and process detail and on the other hand we use this information to top-down select and evaluate schemas, keep the ones that best match the situation and the registered aspects of the talk, then gradually add to the appropriate schema (which is relatively broad in scope and coarse) a series of more dedicated and refined schemas that are better suited for the areas of aroused interest, while in this process again constraining and/or shifting what further information we bottom-up gather. In other words, were always looking and listening for detail, but the purpose of this may well narrow down from a general understanding of the situation to a more precise understanding of decided areas of interest. And at the same time it is true at any level, even when listening for some specific single small detail, that we top-down use schemas to help us find out the information. For example, when listening for a telephone number, a schema tells us the allowed sizes and compositions, and in which chunks it is customarily transmitted. I suspect that statement 2 is actually a misrepresentation of Scrivener. In fact, Scrivener merely indicates that catching the gist of a talk and catching specific details are two common needs when listening in everyday life (Scrivener 171). And while that seems quite true, it does not imply that we never do both successively, alternately or even simultaneously (although the latter would not be an easy task). We might in fact even listen for other types of information altogether, e.g. rise and fall of emotional temperature. So in our effort to understand speech, we make use of top-down knowledge as well as bottom-up knowledge (LP 5). According to the LLAF, Top-down strategies are listener based; the listener taps into background knowledge of the topic, the situation or context, the type of text, and the language. This background knowledge activates a set of expectations that help the listener to interpret what is heard and anticipate what will come next. Top-down strategies include: listening for the main idea, predicting, drawing inferences, and summarizing (LLAF 49). Most of this I do agree with. However, as can be deducted from my description of the listening process, Id regard listening for the main idea rather as a phase in the process of deciphering meaning than as a top-down strategy by itself. The LLAF continues: Bottom-up strategies are text based; the listener relies on the language in the message, that is, the combination of sounds, words, and grammar that creates meaning. Bottom-up strategies include: listening for specific details, and recognizing word-order patterns. (LLAF 49) Indeed so, but in accordance with what is described above, Id expand this list with gathering any and all bits of information that can provide clues first about the general situation, then about the gist of the conversation or text, and finally about areas of aroused interest. Some very important aspects to be included in this are, by the way, the mimicry (facial expression and gestures)

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and melody that go together with the used words, as they convey most of the meaning of any message. Also, I would note that bottom-up strategies are always chosen in response to a currently applied schema, and are always the best known ways to collect the particular information predicted by the schema.

Implications for listening skills work


What does all this yield with respect to training receptive skills like listening and reading? Assuming that it is sensible to train them in accordance with our natural approach, I think we have found a few important aspects of it, that we need to accommodate, namely: We tend to assess and interpret any new situation or event from broad to narrow, big to small, from type to topic/theme to targets; In this process, we use ever more dedicated and refined schemas to predict the details to be found, thus helping to scout for them while at the same time constraining what details to scout for, so as to achieve maximal result with minimal effort; Our choice of schemas is at any given moment governed by a purpose, i.e. by conscious or subconscious decision(s) on what we want to know. So, when doing activities aimed at improving a receptive skill, we should also work from big to small. We also need to do pre-tasks to draw attention to the subject and generate interest, because the reality level that is inherent in real life, and that is necessary to awaken knowledge on the subject and activate appropriate schemas, is not present in the classroom situation and must therefore be evoked artificially. Furthermore, we should make sure that there is always a specific set task to give a purpose for listening/reading, which in listening is called task before audio, for example by setting questions (Scrivener 172). The idea of drawing attention and working from big to small is also conveyed in the LLAF, where the listening exercise is broken down in three stages: Pre-listening, Extensive listening, Intensive listening (LLAF 49-50). This does not mean that we must give equal amounts of attention to each level, but if we ask listeners to do a particular detail-related task, we will have to do enough top-down background scene-setting first (Scrivener 175). Other things to keep in mind when doing listening skills work: Keep the recording short: two minutes is enough to provide a lot of listening work (Scrivener 176). Listening in the i+1 zone is a very strenuous activity. It may be good to phase it: break it up in pieces and ask some task related question after each piece. This to avoid going beyond their concentration span (lecture notes). Dont mix up understanding and memorisation. If the student deemed something not relevant to the questions listened for, they may well not have remembered it! So dont ask for answers unrelated to the pre-set task (Scrivener 171). Grade the task, not the material. As students during the activity become more familiar with the material used, ever more difficult tasks can be set. Each task must be chosen so that it is difficult but doable eventually. Of course, if it proves really too difficult youd have to downgrade, for you want them to have success, not failure (Scrivener 177). A possible grading of task complexity (adapted from: Penny Ur (1996)) is: 1) no overt response; 2) short response (e.g. ticking off items, true/false statements); 3) longer response (e.g. answering questions, summarising); 4) extended response (e.g. problem solving, interpretation) (LLAF 51). Dont overburden students, e.g. dont combine listening for gist and listening for detail, or listening and making notes, in a single task unless practicing on an elevated level (Scrivener 173).

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Check and repeat exposure to the material (or little bits of it) as long and as often as they need it to accomplish the task. Move on to a next task only when theyre all reasonably successful in doing the set task. This is called the task-feedback circle (Scrivener 174). Dont forget: the goal is not that they have all the right answers; this may just tell you that it is too easy!! The goal is that they have to stretch their powers of listening/reading to the limit (Scrivener 176). Aim to get them to agree together without your help. Give help if theyre completely stuck, but just enough to get them back in the game (Scrivener 176).

A listening micro-teaching
Description The teacher asks which fairy tales we know, and what are the right words to name them. Several titles are being suggested by students, like Cinderella, Snow-white and, of course, Little Red Riding Hood. The teacher proposes to zoom in on the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood. She asks us to write down for ourselves a score of words that we connect to this story. We write down words for a minute or so. I write down: red, hunter, hat, knife, bed, door, wolf, daisies, basket, biscuits, brook, big mouth, big ears, big eyes, cape and hood. The teacher invites us to give her some words. Students volunteer words and she writes them on the board. Now she announces that she is going to play a video recording and she asks us to listen for the words that we have just written down. We start out listening and watching. My focus is on following the familiar story line so as not to miss the expected words where I expect them to be said. However, this listening with a certain expectation is soon replaced at least so it goes with me with amazement and hilarity, for the story is not all told in the familiar way and is actually quite funny. (No wonder, as it is a Monty Python sketch.) I manage to tick a few words (red and wolf), but then the story take a whole wrong turn altogether, and I just become curious where it will end. Although the denouement is pretty bizarre, I have no trouble whatsoever understanding what is said through the whole story. [I dont recall that the teacher ever stopped the recording halfway, but she probably did, several times.]

Analysis By asking about fairy tales, attention is drawn to the theme of the upcoming recording, which is a fairy tale. This should arouse interest and, combined with eliciting connected vocabulary, should activate schemas connected to fairy tales, providing background information. Writing down words related to the specific tale (Red Riding Hood) will have the effect of the Red Riding Hood schema being further activated and these words being given a more

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prominent place in it. This way they become predicted words, which should make it easier to recognise them when they surface in the recording. Writing the words of more students on the board works by the same mechanism: it should raise our awareness of the topic, generate more applicable schemas and put these words on the front row. The fact that there is a set task (to tick our written words when we come across them in listening) should keep us alert and should also make it easier to listen (because it limits what we have to listen for). The fact that the story is interesting (i.e. quite funny, and taking a bizarre turn) also helps to stay concentrated. The recording is slightly less then three minutes long, so rather short, as it should be. Tips As I mentioned, I dont recall that the teacher ever stopped the recording halfway, although she probably did so several times. It would anyway be wise to do so and throw in a taskrelated question when playing the recording for an audience of second graders, so as to stay within their concentration span. The task was actually rather easy for this audience (at least for me), having the effect that no real effort was required to ingest the story at all. It is important to establish this as soon as possible, so as to be able to move on to more complex and difficult tasks. Otherwise, little learning will result from the activity and also interest will easier be lost.

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READING
Important aspects of reading
Reading, like listening, is a receptive skill. As we might suspect, the process and mechanisms that are described in the previous chapter essentially also apply to every day life reading. Differences are as far as I notice primarily in potential bottom-up strategies to collect information, related to the different basic character of spoken versus written text. Spoken text is served out sequentially and disappears right upon receipt. In contrast, written text is received in one piece and is retained. As a consequence, I see three avenues of action open to readers that are closed to listeners, of which I found the last two also mentioned by Scrivener (Scrivener 184). First, whereas the listener has to almost instantly process a surfacing relevant information bit (i.e. adroitly recognize it, separate it from the stream of sound, interpret it, and engage it to help win the rest of the desired information from the ongoing sound stream), the reader, after finding such a bit, can stop, zoom in, and isolate, analyse and assess that bit, to maximise its value for the rest of the process. Secondly, whereas people cannot control the speed at which spoken words come to them, they do have full control of the speed they work at when reading. Finally, whereas a listener has to wait for the expected bits of information to show up in the sound stream, the reader can actively hunt down these expected bits through the whole text, looking at any part in any order at will. (This includes outside appearance; we can instantly infer a different kind of main idea when a text is contained in a thick book with an elaborate content overview and only characters, than when a text is contained in a fullcolour folder with different fonts and photos of buildings and smiling people.) The last two combine to translate into reading-specific bottom-up strategies like skimming, i.e. fast reading for the gist, and scanning, i.e. fast reading for a specific detail (Scrivener 185). Somehow, however, these are not naturally applied by all readers. It may well be that, script and reading being cultural phenomena, these strategies are not ingrained in us by evolution, not like bottom-up listening strategies are (and theyre often not taught at school either). This might explain why many readers, when trying to gain understanding of a written text, tend to approach it only sequentially, as if it were spoken, starting at the first word and attentively reading on at speaking rate, comparable to intensive listening. Seemingly somewhat contradictory, in everyday life people do relatively much fluent, faster reading (called extensive reading), often of longer texts, for pleasure, entertainment and general understanding, usually skipping elements we dont understand. According to Scrivener, there is much evidence that doing much extensive reading has a powerful positive impact on all other aspects of language learning (Scrivener 188).

Implications for reading skills work


As it is, many people are not proficient in skimming and scanning. Teaching procedures should therefore pay special attention to activating and improving these strategies.

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The overall strategy for becoming informed about a situation in everyday life is the same whether we inform ourselves through listening or through reading; therefore, as indicated in the previous chapter and suggested by Scrivener (Scrivener 187), lessons can be built up by: mimicking the same move from big to small; using pre-tasks to draw interest, focus attention, and predict from certain clues; using tasks aimed at catching gist (skimming), catching specific details (scanning), meaning (general and finer points), language items (vocab, grammar items, etc.) (a model proposed by Tricia Hedge (2000) can serve as a handy checklist of working items (including e.g. text organisation: structure and links) (LLAF 54)); bringing each task to a successful conclusion before setting a more difficult one (as portrayed with the task-feedback circle); doing a post-text follow-on task. Apart from lessons, stimulating extensive learning for pleasure in any possible way (without scaring students off by integrating checks and exercises into material for extensive reading) seems a very fruitful and important thing to do.

A plan for a reading micro-teaching


Lesson plan audience: 2 havo/vwo 2 gymnasium topic: Reading: Download deadline (Stepping Stones 2vmbot/hv, chapter 6, pp. 104-105) general aims for this lesson: concepts: students will have acquired vocab concerning downloading artistic products from the internet and legal affairs. specific outcomes: outcome 1: students will be able to accurately answer questions in ex. 23 in the workbook. outcome 2: students will be able to sum up at least 8 arguments (in total) for or against illegal music downloading using the vocab and arguments from the text. geplan- lesdoel de tijd nr. didactische werkvormen Onderwijsactiviteit (wat doe ik?) Leeractiviteit (wat doet de ll.?) skills: students will have improved reading skills.

Lead-in: ask questions like: Have you had your Contribute and shot of music today? Where do you get your music respond to each from? Do you download things from the Internet? others contributions Why (not)? What kind of things do/would you (like to) download? From legal or illegal sites? What do you think about illegally downloading music etc. from the Internet? Structure the responses. Ask for related words. Word-web on board Suggest words

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Instruct: Look at the text on pp 104-105, take a Skim; close book; minute to find out what it is about. Suggest topic(s) Let them close book after 1 minute. Elicit answers. Finalise topic. Instruct: read text; be especially aware of arguments important to: consumers, record companies and artists. Then answer questions in ex. 23 (in dutch). Read text; write down answers to questions ex. 23

14

Invite answers to ex. 23. (If possible, project ex. 23 Suggest answers and on beamer and finalise each answer by respond to colourshifting the answer sentence.) suggestions Ask: How would you now summarize the main message in one sentence? Structure the responses. Suggest answers and respond to suggestions

10

1, 2

Instruct: in pairs, write down arguments In pairs, write down for/against illegal music downloading, indicating in arguments whose interest each argument is and if you think it is really true. Use information from the text, but feel free to add arguments from your own knowlegde and opinions. Attention: there are at least 10 arguments in the text alone!! Ask around: how far did you get? Who has 15, 14, ? Arguments Against, who has 10, 9, ? And For, who has 10, 9, ? Who made up an argument of their own? Lets hear it! In whose interest were most of the arguments? What was the worst argument in the text? Why? And the best argument? Why? Finalise the exercise: designate all arguments in the text. (If possible, project the text on beamer and highlight als arguments.) Ask for problematic language. Word-web on board, (let students) explain. Ask feedback: how did it taste? Suggest arguments en comment to arguments

5 1 53

Suggest items and explain meaning/use Give feedback

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Reading material

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Exercises (My own changes/additions to the text in the workbook are in blue.)
23 Answer the questions Read Download deadline on page 104 and 105 of your Textbook. Then answer the questions in Dutch.

(Teaching tip: answers can (in Word) be made (in)visible by changing the font colour.) 1. Waar wordt het downloaden van muziek mee vergeleken? Opnemen van de radio 2. Wat is copyright? Auteursrecht: het recht om een creatief werk als enige te mogen kopiren of een vergoeding te krijgen van anderen als die het kopiren. 3. Waarom kan het ook goed zijn voor artiesten als hun nummers gratis worden gedownload? Dan worden meer mensen fan en daardoor zijn er dan ook meer kopers voor hun albums en bezoekers van hun concerten. 4. Waarom zijn platenmaatschappijen vooral boos op mensen die peer-to-peer sites gebruiken? Zij maken het gemakkelijk voor iedereen op de wereld om alles illegaal te downloaden. 5. Wat voor richtlijn ultimatum heeft Groot-Brittanni aan internetaanbieders gegeven? Zij moeten binnen een jaar bewijzen dat zij proberen om het illegaal downloaden te verhinderen. 6. Wie van de kinderen in de tekst is vr downloaden, wie is tegen, en wie zit er een beetje tussen in? Darren: vr. Angela (moreel) en Dennis (praktisch): tegen. Ethan: tussen in. Adam: neutraal. 7. Hoe kun je legaal downloaden? Van sites die worden ondersteund door de muziekindustrie, zie: www.pro-music.org. 8. Welke landen zijn minder streng als het gaat om downloaden voor priv-gebruik? Canada en Nederland.

24 A Write down Use the text as you need. Work with a classmate. Together, write down arguments for and against illegal music downloading, indicating in whose interest each argument is and if you think it is really true. Use information from the text, but feel free to add arguments from your own knowlegde and opinions. For Against

____________________________________ ____________________________________ ____________________________________ ____________________________________ ____________________________________

___________________________________ ___________________________________ ___________________________________ ___________________________________ ___________________________________

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Summary of arguments: 1. Against. It is forbidden, because it is copyrighted (in order to protect artists).

2. Against. It robs artists of income. 3. For. Artists benefit from more people knowing their music, it yields them more fans, who then buy their CDs and go to their concerts. 4. Against. It costs record companies billions of dollars. False: its missed income, not costs. And besides: 5. For. Not every download is a lost sale. (record companies) 6. Against. CDs are too expensive for the consumer. 7. Against. It will put record companies out of business. 8. For. It feels good to pay for what you take. (consumer) 9. For. By downloading the consumer can decide whether the album is worth buying. 10. Against. The quality of downloads is much worse than CD-quality. (consumer) 11. Against. It slows down the consumers computer. 12. Against. It exposes the consumers computer to viruses.

Analysis / Justification The lead-in is meant to draw attention to the topic and establish their own connection with it. Pre-task (suggest words, word-web): is meant to activate knowledge and schemas. Task (skimming for the topic & main idea): is meant to develop skimming skill. Task (reading to find specific details) to focus on meaning (general points: questions about meaning). Reading the piece while knowing that they are going to answer the questions in ex. 23 and these questions themselves are meant to stimulate intensive reading. Discussing answers to ex. 23 is meant to develop intensive reading skill by providing feedback. Task (express the thesis) to focus on meaning (general points: summary). Task (reading to find specific details: arguments and in whose interest) to focus on meaning (finer points: comprehensive understanding. The invititation to add arguments of their own is meant to stimulate critical reading (evaluate given arguments and search for gaps). The hint (at least 10 arguments!) is meant to strengthen focus by establishing expectation. Discussing answers to ex. 24A is meant to develop intensive reading skill by providing feedback. I gave this lesson in a somewhat altered form during my first year placement. According to my own estimation, there is too much in it for a regular 50 minutes lesson (which allows effectively no more than 45 minutes). Yet I let all the elements stand, as I cannot predict how much time each element will take exactly. I will then have to cross one or two out as I go. Tips A beamer or smartboard makes it easier to discuss the answers. As it is probably too much for one lesson, it may be a better alternative to take out one or two elements beforehand.

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SPEAKING
Important aspects of speaking
Speaking, like listening, is a well-learnt basic skill and a universal communication need for many purposes. But, contrary to listening (and writing), in speaking one most directly exposes and reveals oneself, tying speaking intimately to personal intimacy and social connectedness and status. This can for some people work out to make them eager to talk, but can inhibit others, being to do with personal psychology (e.g. shyness or low self-esteem), or body control (e.g. stutter), or other reasons and causes. These factors are of course also at play and may even bear more strongly when learning a second language; some other factors are exclusively tied to the second language context. Thus, when trying to use the second language to communicate, students may for example fear seeming foolish in front of others, worry about getting things wrong, want to avoid your comments or corrections, be embarrassed by long pauses while trying to figure out how to say what they want to say, or feel hurried by a ticket queue waiting behind to get their turn to say something (Scrivener 147). As observed by Scrivener, we typically communicate when one of us has information (facts, opinions, ideas, instructions, etc.) that another does not have. This is known as an information gap (Scrivener 152). This fact then suggests that the act of speaking cannot be isolated from the listening and feedback of a listener. The speaker only knows in how far they are successfully bridging the gap and getting the message across by registering the listeners response, and constantly adjusts the speaking (wording, tone, speed, emphasis, etc.) to the registered response. The speaker and the listener spoken to thus form an inseparable unity of communication. Therefore, speaking can only exist in the presence of a person addressed, listening and responding. (The converse is not true, as a listener can also overhear a speaker talking to someone else.) Bridging the information gap being the goal of communication, its success is not to be measured by how accurately one uses the language system, but rather by how fluent, confident and effective one is in getting the message across. Accordingly, learners of a second language can greatly benefit from strategies that help them to work around deficits in their language system knowledge (as stipulated in the discussion of Westhoffs strategies to compensate for deficiencies in productive competence above). In this context, it is useful to know the Communication strategies (adapted from Tarone (1977), as quoted in LLAF 61). To take this one step further, what works with one listener clearly does not necessarily work with another. Every listener is their own world and needs to be addressed to some degree in

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their own familiar speech style or genre to be able and willing to receive the message. This also depends on place, context, purpose, channel, etcetera. And beyond this, the genre can even itself be the message (convergently conveying that we match or divergently making clear that I am not like you or I am not like you think I am) (Yule 257-259). Actually, choice of genre is a vital decision that lies at the heart of any speaking act. However, we should not think of genre in terms of a limited number of unambiguous and formalised (or fossilised) types of speech. In fact, we need to vary our style according to type of event, purpose, setting, audience and type of response. In summary, successful speaking involves fluently communicating information or opinions in a clear unambiguous manner in an appropriate way for a particular context (Scrivener 163-166). This makes immediately clear that nobody can be perfect in every situation.

Implications for speaking skills work


Scrivener holds that, for the conversation class, the aim is for students to become more fluent and confident in speaking. (Oddly, in his chapter on speaking he never points at the effectiveness part of the goals of this communication skill.) Considering the abovementioned obstacles to speaking, counteracting factors are then needed to help students overcome those obstacles and activate their stored language knowledge. What helps is: putting them in safe conditions in class where they are inspired and encouraged to try using language from their store. Suitable activities would be those that allow students to try out language that they already understand and have learned, but not yet made part of their personal repertoire, and where they also feel less worried about speaking, less under pressure, less nervous about trying things out, yet enough under pressure to take a risk and use language they have been avoiding using until now (Scrivener 147-148). There are then some things you would want to avoid (Scrivener 146-148, 160): Dont teach any new language when working on speaking skills; Dont draw attention to mistakes (or accuracy in general); Avoid the talk-talk loop (i.e. you keep talking because there is no quick response). On the other hand, these things should enable lively conversation and discussion (Scrivener 146-148, 150, 162: Provide (or exploit) a relevant interesting topic (best by setting a specific problem); Lead in: make sure the students know enough about the topic, or provide information; The students may need some time to think through their thoughts, make a note, etc.; Provide an initial cue (e.g. a newspaper article introduction or a provocative question); Have follow-on cues ready to throw in whenever the discussion starts to drag; Use open questions for your cues; Play devils advocate where appropriate; Monitor participation levels and invite people in; Allow time to think, allow silence, listen more than talk; You can correct the language used while focusing on fluency, if you do it in a way that would help and encourage the speaker to tell their story;

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This would then be one of many scaffolding techniques, i.e. ways to help a less competent speaker by both encouraging and providing possible elements of the conversation, akin to how a mother would help her child to get his message across. These scaffolding techniques are also a way to stimulate students to develop compensation strategies, as they encourage them to tell their story by any means. The way Scrivener defines communicative activities is in keeping with the given observations on the connectedness of speaking and listening: he calls them classroom activities designed to get learners to speak and listen to one another (Scrivener 152). To serve as communicative activities, there are many options other than just the conversation and discussion classes described above. These also have the advantage over genuine discussion of being less intimately tied to a persons personal appearance and therefore being less scary. Consider for example (Scrivener 152-159): Giving instructions so that the listener(s) can use a particular device or machine; Describing a picture while the listener(s) draw the described picture; In pairs, describing pictures to one another and finding the nine differences; Group planning tasks like planning a trip or planning a way out of some disaster situation; List ranking tasks (Whats the best, most useful, worst, most important, ); Pyramid discussions: first reflect on a problem individually, then discuss in pairs, then in groups of four, eight, sixteen, whole class see if you can reach one class solution; Solving logic puzzles and problems together; Role-play, real-play (i.e. role-playing someones real-life difficult situation), simulation. Because of the decisive impact of genre, a learner of a language needs to learn about appropriate ways of speaking in different situations which may be significantly different in the target language culture compared with their own (Scrivener 165-166). But, clearly, there are too many genres for one person to know them all, let alone command them all, and nonnative speakers are in this respect of course even more limited. So, although as teachers we must think about the range of speaking acts that a learner may be faced with and give them chances to practice selecting appropriate genres and planning the appropriate language needed for a variety of different speaking situations and audiences (Scrivener 166), it is clear that we can accommodate our students needs only to a rather limited degree.

A plan for a speaking micro-teaching


Lesson plan audience: 2 havo/vwo 2 gymnasium topic: Speaking: discussing arguments for and against illegal downloading. (This is a followon to reading text Download deadline see A plan for a reading micro-teaching.) general aims for this lesson: concepts: students will have informed themselves on issues concerning illegally downloading artistic products from the internet and legal affairs. skills: students will have become more fluent and confident in speaking. students will also have improved listening skills

specific outcomes: outcome 1: students have repeatedly articulated their knowledge and understanding of parts of the topic (esp. of parties interests and arguments) outcome 2: students have repeatedly articulated their opinions (esp. on the validity of interests and arguments) in discussion.

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outcome 3: students have at least once defended their opinion against opposition. outcome 4: students have at least once opposed anothers opinion. work form: pyramid discussion. (Note: assumed is a class size of 30 students.) geplan- lesdoel de tijd nr. didactische werkvormen Onderwijsactiviteit (wat doe ik?) Leeractiviteit (wat doet de ll.?)

-3 1

Preparation: Put all instructions given below also -up on the board, smartboard, beamer or flap-over. Lead-in: Recall the reading lesson: three interest groups, having their own arguments for and against illegal downloading. Which was new to you? Which was most striking? Instruct: Well have a plenary discussion between three interest groups (artists, record companies and consumers) and everybody will contribute. Well prepare for it step by step. At any stage, dont worry about saying things properly, just focus on getting your message across. Divide into the interest groups, then into pairs. Instruct: Consider what your own partys and the other parties interests are; then overview the arguments in your interest and in your favour. You can use your notes from the reading lesson. Instruct: Join as half the interest group. Compare and align previous outcomes briefly, then choose arguments that best support your case. Instruct: Join as whole interest group. Compare and align previous outcomes briefly, then discuss counterarguments: arguments to disprove or weaken arguments that support others cases. Instruct: Each group, number your members and position yourself at one side of the triangle. Nrs 1 and 2 speak for the group, the rest stay behind and may help if asked for. On my signal, number 1 drops off and number 3 joins in, and so on. 1, 2 3, 4 Instruct: state your interests and viewpoint and bring arguments that support your cause; listen to the arguments that support other parties causes, and address those to disprove or weaken them. I will maybe intervene sometimes to make sure that all succeed in playing their speaker role. Structure: make sure that each leaving person has had a turn to speak up, then change horses. (Groups of ten persons require eight changes.) Scaffold: if a student is stuck and is not benefitting from peer assistance, offer encouraging help. Contribute and respond to each others contributions Place themselves into one of the interest groups, then pair up.

1, 2

1, 2

Discuss interests, check and compare notes on arguments Rearrange, compare and align, discuss and choose Rearrange, compare and align, discuss counterarguments Number members, rearrange, take position

1, 2

1, 2

18

Articulate their interests and arguments and debate them; Change seats; Support their spokesperson and offer help when asked for.

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1, 2 3, 4

Instruct: Now try to come to an arrangement that would honour all parties justified interests. Close the activity & ask feedback: How did it go, what did you notice, what was your success, what did or didnt you like about this activity?

Suggest and discuss and refute solutions and agree on one Contribute and respond to each others contributions

50 Note: follow-on activities can only be programmed in another lessen because theres not enough time for it in this lesson. Analysis / Justification To keep the pyramid discussion interesting, some new element is added at every stage. To prevent this from leading to an overburdened memory and resulting confusion, the instructions are clearly separated out and have a logical build-up. To help retain clarity, instructions are also written up, and highlighted at the appropriate moment. The elements are chosen so that the student are required to empathise with other parties and try to understand their interests and arguments, which is a prerequisite for real debate. Having students adopt a role makes expressing views less personal and thus less scary. As they know they will eventually have to perform in the whole group, students should feel enough pressure to take the preparation steps seriously. Also, in view of this upcoming greater performance, they will probably regard the preparation discussions as relatively informal yet meaningful, which should again diminish any reluctance to express themselves. The preparation steps themselves warrant that everybody starts to speak, which then should make it easier to continue to speak when things get more difficult. Moreover, each step should make later steps easier because each student gradually talks their way through the important aspects of the central discussion and so becomes more familiar with them. The principle of spokespersons should prevent that too many people try to talk at the same time, while the mechanism of changing horses should warrant that all get to contribute. Scaffolding is integrated in the task, by explicitly announcing that speakers can ask their peer group for help. The teachers contribution becomes only important if that wouldnt work. Again, like with the reading lesson, it all would take a bit too much time according to my own estimations, but I have no experience with such an activity yet so things might turn out better than expected. And if they didnt, I could skip the last two elements without the whole thing crumbling down; feedback could also be postponed until the next lesson. Tips The central discussion might also (from the beginning or if it starts to falter or drag) be done on the fast track, changing horses about every fifteen to thirty seconds. This would presumably provoke some hilarious situations, taking away from the seriousness and maybe evoking more of a game mood and urge to win, which then could improve the level of the discussion.

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WRITING
Important aspects of writing
In real life writing is done for a purpose and meant for a certain audience. Its success is measured by whether it had the intended effect (Scrivener 201). Some uses (lecture notes): It is a way to communicate with others who are not by any means here now present. It is a way to purify, organise and formulate thought and give this construct permanence. This then enables it to be tied it in with other thought by reference, which turns writing into a suitable tool to convey information to other students of the subject, making it a required academic skill. It is a creative outlet, very suitable to tell a complex story. The writing product being successful has to do with: language system aspects, layout & organisation, relevance to task, regard for reader, clarity. The writing process entails in a nutshell: analyse task/title; check, take notes; select and reject, formulate answers; order & organise; draft; evaluate & edit; finalise; send/submit. Both getting better at the product and getting better at the process are important aims of writing work (WP 7, lecture notes). In class, it was stated that whereas reading and listening go from big picture to small detail, writing goes from small to big (lecture notes). Meaning: writing about a topic starts by having loose thoughts and ideas about it, which then have to be organised and construed into larger building blocks and those again into one fluent and round piece. A critical observation with regard to this: writing also often starts from a central idea, a thesis or opinion, held by the writer. In such cases, working down from this big picture, the underlying arguments and other details are clarified, dusted off, or even construed, all in all resulting in more of a dialectic process with both big to small and small to big progressions and iterations. Apart from being an important and powerful communication skill in its own right, writing as an activity is also a powerful vehicle for language learning (see the discussion of Westhoffs pushed output above). Its slow and contemplative nature, as opposed to speaking, makes it very suited for uncovering particular shortcomings in ones language command, reflecting on them and generating motivation to improve them on the spot (e.g. by consulting a dictionary), or in complementary or follow-on activities (e.g. corrective feedback, grammar clarification). The other way round is also true: a better command of the language system leads to better writing, because it enables the writer to fluently and quickly retrieve the words and phrases that represent the ideas to be communicated, thus allowing to concentrate on the flow of thought.

Implications for writing skills work


A writing assignment, to be relevant, needs to reflect a real life purpose and audience. Writing lessons should focus on understanding and executing the elements of the writing process and on executing the process as a whole in orderly steps. Although there does not seem to be one clearly correct order it would still be important to make students aware of the logical cohesion of the elements. A build-up of classroom work

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(spread over more lessons) on writing could then involve some or all of the following steps (free after Scrivener): 1. Introduce (or have students together decide on) the topic; 2. Introduce (or have students together decide on) genre, purpose and audience 3. Generate ideas (whole class brainstorm, resource material, fast-writing) 4. Select and reject ideas 5. Sort and order ideas 6. Decide on specific requirements connected to e.g. genre, purpose, audience; 7. Study useful models, focusing on content, structure, message, grammar, phrases, etc. 8. Plan the text 9. Prepare one or more drafts 10. Edit 11. Prepare the final text. Since writing is essentially done to communicate some message to some audience, it is very useful to have others (teacher, students, student groups) read the developing (sub)product at various points and make helpful comments and suggestions. To satisfy their communicative purpose, it would be great to bundle the finished products in a reader, rather than simply marking them (Scrivener 194-195).

A writing micro-teaching
Description The teachers hands out postcards to all rows of students. They all have different beautiful, intriguing or funny pictures, and she is commenting on that and making little jokes. We all pick one of our liking. She tells us were having holiday in some particular resort and asks us to write a postcard message home, describing the place without naming it, and not making it too easy. We all write our cards. It takes some five minutes. She asks us to form groups of about five students and find out the described resort on the cards of the other students. We all figure out each others cards resorts. The teacher asks to determine which is the best card of the group. We make some effort, but we feel theres no real winner. She asks every group to read the best card out loud. We all do (groups who had not yet chosen a card now pick one) and enjoy the texts. The teacher asks us to take the card of one of the group members en check for mistakes and problematic language. We all check a card. The teacher asks us to supply problems. Students volunteer items. She writes them on the board and elicits discussion and suggestions for improvement. Improvements are suggested and agreed upon.

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Analysis The postcards by themselves and the pictures on them are a perfect lead-in by themselves. They generate curiosity and hilarity. It is a very effective way to draw attention and generate willingness to get to work. The task provides topic, purpose, audience and genre, arguably the most important aspects. Understandably given the small space equivalent to a post-it note and short time span, there is no explicit attention given to any of the other writing process steps. Yet, the given condition forces all students to generate and select and reject ideas about the holiday resort and features that give it away but not too easily, find the best wordings, and organise the text so as to make the features stand out just enough. Having the students guess each others cards rewards the writing effort, celebrates success (in that readers almost invariably have guessed the resort) and also manifests degree of success (in attaining the goal that readers would guess it with some effort). Success, fun and feedback are in general important motivating and consolidating aspects of learning activities. Having the students pick a winner was probably meant as an intermediary step towards having a number of entertaining examples read out loud. As such, it was okay, but since this information was withheld from the instructions, the task was received by many students as a rather pointless exercise as there were no pre-set criteria and text were all just very different. The reading out loud is again a way of celebrating successes and fun together. It also gears attention to another aspect of the writing, namely (problematic) uses of language. This then serves to lead-in the follow-on activity. The follow-on activity focuses on problematic uses of language. This means the writings are being used to contribute to form-orientation and to give corrective feedback (see discussion of Westhoffs pushed output above). Having students check each others cards and then propose items to the teacher is clever, because in this way the issues are raised without the students judging and criticising each others work. Discussing the issues in class and together arriving at improvements makes for an active and instructive experience for all. Tips When using terms like best, winner etcetera while intending to effect a selection, make sure to clearly refer to either a pre-set purpose, a certain highlight feature or a new purpose connected to a next step or a follow-on activity.

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LIST OF WORKS CITED


Note: HvA BSCW is the file source safe in use at the Amsterdam, HvA School of Education. [author unknown.] Language Learning & Teaching activities & hand-outs. [place of publication unknown]: [publisher unknown (published on HvA BSCW in folder Language Learning & Teaching)], [year of publication unknown]. A.k.a. Language Learning Activities File. Referenced as: LLAF. [author unknown.] [No title. (filename: Presentation listening.ppt.)] [PowerPointpresentation] [place of publication unknown]: [publisher unknown (published on HvA BSCW in folder Language Learning & Teaching)], [year of publication unknown]. Referenced as: LP. [author unknown.] [No title. (filename: Writing Presentation.ppt.)] [PowerPointpresentation] [place of publication unknown]: [publisher unknown (published on HvA BSCW)], [year of publication unknown]. Referenced as: WP. Doidge, Norman. The brain that changes itself. London: Penguin, 2008 Littlewood, William. Communicative language teaching. Cambridge: CUP, 1981. Saville-Troike, Muriel. Introducing second language acquisition. Cambridge: CUP, 2006. Scrivener, Jim. Learning Teaching. 2nd edition. Oxford: Macmillan, 2005. Westhoff, Gerard. The Art of Playing a Pinball Machine: Characteristics of effective SLAtasks. Babylonia 3/04 (2004): 58-62 Westhoff, Gerard. Een 'schijf van vijf'voor het vreemdetalenonderwijs (revisited). Deventer: [publisher unknown], 2008 Yule, George. The study of language. 3rd edition. Cambridge: CUP, 2011.

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