Discussions in language teaching have most commonly emphasised applied linguistic or educational arguments to explain innovation in teaching materials. This article, however, focuses on the very much bigger picture. Drawing on ideas from social theory, the article takes a wide perspective, and suggests that the evolution of language teaching practices is, in fact, intimately related to the socio-historical context. Taking the development of English language teaching materials as an example, the article first offers a brief social history of the West from the 1950s onwards, and shows how ideas for materials were clearly influenced by changes in the zeitgeist of the time. The article then offers a more detailed analysis of contemporary developments in English language teaching materials and argues that the link to social context has shifted from being one of ‘influence’ to one of ‘imperative.’ The article aims to show how the phenomena of McDonaldization and Neo-liberalism are clearly shaping present-day ELT materials design. The article concludes with a discussion of the significance of this, and argues that language teaching professionals need to be more cognizant of external influences.
This article explores the consequences of four models of language learning and acquisition on textbook design, and the sequencing and distribution of lesson activities. The model developed by Levelt (1989) to explain oral speech production, which was later extended to second language learning by De Bot (1992), points to the importance of lexical knowledge and subconscious, automatic processing. Paul Nation (2001) cited ample evidence for the effectiveness of an equal distribution of meaningful input, language focused instruction, meaningful output and fluency practice in his four strands model. Segalovitz and Gatbonton (2005) proposed the ACCESS-Model, an acronym that stands for automatization in communicative context of essential speech segments. Merrill Swain’s model of output hypothesis, which insists that learners learn not only from input but also from output and thus pushes for learner output at an early stage, has also been the subject of much discussion. As far as I can see, none of these four models have been sufficiently reflected in terms of their consequences for textbook sequences or task and exercise design. Based on practical examples of tasks and exercises, this article will put forward a few ideas and suggestions based on these models and try to come to some general conclusions with regard to a research-based textbook design.
The article aims to present a model of materials design for the development of plurilingual intercultural competence in a secondary school setting where two foreign languages – English and German – are taught. The intended learners are native speakers of Spanish, have acquired an elementary competence in English (A2 level) and are learning German as a second foreign language (A1 level). The plurilingual activities involve the simultaneous use of both languages in the class and simulate situations to communicate about the social practice of barbecues in Argentina, and English and German-speaking settings. Learners act as ethnographers as they find out facts about barbecues in other countries through access to Internet sources and further develop a plurilingual competence as they get information in the two foreign languages they learn. They also get ready to transmit the information to people who do not speak one or the other foreign language, thus acting as mediators across languages and cultures.
This study examines learners’ perceptions about classroom activities called Performative Exerceises and how to enhance the instructional materials for teachers. Performative exercises are role-play based exercises that aim at fostering learners’ communicative competence to use language in a contextually appropriate and socio-culturally meaningful way. Through a completed questionnaire submitted by 122 elementary learners of Japanese, the study reveals the features of the lessons that make learners perceive them to be “useful,” “fun,” and “difficult” as well as the benefits of Class Work and Pair Work. Based on the findings, this paper argues that the conventional way of communicative language teaching, such as facilitating interactions in pairs or groups, and providing feedback on prepared conversation is not enough to achieve educational goals. It suggests that the instructional materials should include a structured sequence of communication tasks that gradually build up learners’ knowledge to construct longer and more complex discourse with ease, and that enhance rapid interaction skills in language use in various contexts as well as acute monitoring skills that would lead to culturally meaningful and socially appropriate use of the language.
In the last decade, a substantial number of Hindi textbooks for non-Hindi speakers have been published. They all are more or less self study materials. There are a very few, if any, teaching specific textbooks for the Hindi language. Hindi language teachers all over the world have to rely on self-study materials, and mold and modify them for classroom teaching purposes. The study investigates the possibilities for the use of self-study materials for classroom teaching. The study also surveyed student opinions regarding the use of a particular textbook and the supplemental material used along with this book.
This paper describes a materials development project to create interactive online reading lessons for Indonesian. The objectives of these lessons are two-fold: to teach reading strategies and to improve Indonesian reading proficiency. The lessons are developed based primarily on schema theory using authentic texts found in the Indonesian mass media and other public domains. Each lesson consists of three major stages: i) the pre-reading stage where the tasks are designed to activate student’s schemata about the topic and genre of the texts and to anticipate new information in the text; ii) the during-reading stage where students are guided to develop comprehension by processing information from general to specific, and to develop skills to utilize context to interpret key linguistic aspects; iii) the post-reading stage where the activities necessitate students to incorporate other skill domains, i.e. speaking, listening, writing, while performing real world tasks related to the topic. The reading materials incorporate online, interactive exercises for the first and second year Indonesian language instruction at the tertiary level and will be accessible on the Internet at no charge.
Curriculum development is an integral element in determining the success of language learning. The selection and preparation of teaching materials is one element that needs to be considered in curriculum planning. It is important to have materials tailored to students’ needs in order to facilitate better learning and to enhance their learning experiences (Richards, 2001; Tomlinson, 2001). This article discusses the pedagogical considerations, design and development of the student-centered “Communicative Practical Indonesian Grammar” materials and the “Pelangi Bahasa Indonesia” podcasts for beginners at the National University of Singapore. The grammar materials were developed in accordance with communicative language teaching principles. Grammatical structures are presented in the materials in accordance with the inductive approach through which students learn the use of the structure through practice of the language in context and formulate the rules from practical examples. They discover and generate the rules from their experience of using the target language (Brumfit & Johnston, 1979; Ellis, 2001; Richards, 2006). Research has shown that podcasting has many advantages. They are portable, convenient, attractive and motivating (Chan, Chen, & Döpel, 2011). The “Pelangi Bahasa Indonesia” podcast materials were produced as a supplement to the “Communicative Practical Indonesian Grammar” materials to reinforce grammar knowledge, and encourage learning beyond the classroom.
The application of podcasting technologies to language teaching is attracting increasing attention among language teachers. While research on the use of podcasting in language teaching is still lacking, it has seen an increase in the past 2 years (e.g. Abdous, Camaraena, & Facer, 2009; Chan, Chen, & Döpel, 2011; Chi & Chan, 2009, 2011; Chin & Lin, 2011). Nevertheless, Chinese podcasting remains nearly unexplored. The Centre for Language Studies of the National University of Singapore inaugurated Chinese podcasting in 2009, creating audio podcasts in the initial phase, followed by video podcasts subsequently. The Chinese podcasting project spans three years. Surveys are conducted at the end of each phase to collect qualitative and quantitative feedback from students for the modification and revision of podcast units for the following semesters.
The Chinese podcasting project was introduced in Chinese courses with five objectives: to (1) complement classroom teaching; (2) provide a more relaxed learning environment; (3) promote mobile learning; (4) update the learning materials in a timely fashion; and (5) provide local Singaporean cultural and social information not available in the adopted textbooks imported from China.
This article describes the phases of development for the Chinese podcast units from 2009 to 2012. Firstly, it documents the structure, designs and contents of podcast units produced during that period of time, and proposes a workable formula for the production of Chinese podcast units. Secondly, this article examines and reframes the five objectives of the project. It was ascertained that the five objectives are achievable. Indeed, students agreed that podcasting did provide them with a relatively more relaxed learning environment. Teachers were able to create and update units whenever the need arises. This timeliness makes podcasting a useful tool in creating supplementary materials to make up for the lack of certain specific information in the existing textbooks. The study reported in this article has also uncovered that Chinese language students are most motivated by utilitarian objectives, such as their course grades, and that certain conditions need to be met in order to effectively promote mobile learning. Finally, this article discuses some pedagogical applications of Chinese language podcasts in and beyond the classroom, and points out feasible directions for future developments.
Centre For Language Studies,
Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences,
National University of Singapore,
9 Arts Link, AS4/02-52 Singapore 117570
Copyright © 2004-2012 by the Centre for Language Studies
Date of Publication: 2 April 2013
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