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128 Seiten, Note: 1,0
2. How languages are learned
2.1 First language acquisition in early childhood
2.2 Theories of first language acquisition
2.2.1 The behaviourist perspective
2.2.2 The innatist perspective
2.2.3 Interactionist/ developmental perspectives
2.3 Second language acquisition
2.3.1 Learner characteristics
2.3.2 Learning conditions
2.4. Theories of second language acquisition
2.4.1 The behaviourist perspective
2.4.2 The innatist perspective
2.4.3 The cognitivist/ developmental perspective
3. English as a foreign language – Learning and teaching in the German primary classroom
3.2 Methodology and principles
3.3 Language Skills
3.3.1 Functional communicative skills
184.108.40.206 Communicative skills
220.127.116.11 Linguistic means
3.3.2 Methodological skills
3.3.3 Intercultural skills
4. Speaking as a skill
4.1 Features of speech production
4.1.1 Conceptualisation and formulation
4.1.3 Self-monitoring and repair
4.1.6 Managing talk
4.2 Communication strategies
4.3 Classification of oral production
4.3.1 Oral production
4.3.2 Spoken interaction
4.3.3 Oral mediation
4.4 Types of speaking situation
4.4.1 Transactional speaking situation
4.4.2 Interactional speaking situation
5. Learning and teaching the spoken language in the primary English classroom
5.1 Principles which support language production and interaction
5.2 Roles of the teacher
5.2.1 The teacher as provider of comprehensible input
5.2.2 The teacher as language model
5.2.3 Mime and gesture
5.3 Types of speaking activities
5.3.1 Accuracy-based non-communicative activities
5.3.2 Fluency-based communicative activities
18.104.22.168 Free discussion
22.214.171.124 Role play
126.96.36.199 Information-gap activities
5.3.3 Providing a range and balance of activities
5.4 Types of questions
5.5 How to teach pronunciation
5.5.1 Aspects of pronunciation
5.5.2 The importance of teaching pronunciation
5.5.3 Choosing a model
5.5.4 Different approaches
5.5.5 Techniques and activities
5.6 The use of the L1
5.6.1 Reasons for pupils´ use of the L1 in the classroom
5.6.2 Attitudes to pupils´ use of the L1 in the classroom
5.7 Error treatment
5.7.1 Which errors to correct
5.7.3 Classifications of feedback
188.8.131.52 Feedback during accuracy work
184.108.40.206 Feedback during fluency work
6. Interim conclusion
7. Course book analysis: Playway 4 Rainbow Edition (2001) and Playway 4 (2007)
7.1 Aims and structure
7.2 Activity types
7.2.1 Playway 4 Rainbow Edition (2001)
7.2.2 Playway 4 (2007)
7.3 Playway’s methodological and didactical principles with regard to the principles which encourage oral language production
In the summer of 2004, English as a foreign language was introduced as a core subject to primary schools in all 16 federal states of Germany. This came as a result of many years of research and several years of experience teaching foreign languages at primary level in individual schools all over the country. With the development of different ideas and approaches to primary specific language teaching, the emphasis on the different skills involved and required in language learning has varied. In recent years, the importance of communicative skills has grown and speaking, not only as a productive and reproductive, but also as an interactive skill, has come into the focus of foreign language teaching at primary level. However, classroom observations show that most English lessons do not go beyond teaching the pupils to repeat phrases and little dialogues after the teacher or to recite them, usually under cover of their classmates. The question I want to deal with in this paper, which I have written as part of my final examination, is what aspects oral communication skills are comprised of and how far they can be successfully developed in English as a foreign language (EFL) classrooms at primary level. I will look at the aspects which must be considered in order to enable pupils to actively use the foreign language in the classroom and, resulting from this, in real life situations. In order to do so, I consulted several introductions to EFL learning and teaching both at primary and secondary level and literature dealing with the aspects of speaking and communicative competence, even though they were in most cases designed for secondary schools and adult education, as well as articles taken from primary English magazines, giving insights into the practice of language teaching.
In the first section of my paper I will look at how languages are learned. I will start by describing the acquisition of the first language in early childhood and the theories which deal with the processes involved. This will enable me to then examine how the acquisition of a second language differs from that of the first in terms of learner characteristics, learning conditions and the setting in which the learning takes place. Before I do so I will define the differences between the terms ‘acquisition’ and ‘learning’ and also ‘second’ and ‘foreign’ language learning in order to clarify my usage of them throughout the paper. After this, I will describe the differences between first and second language acquisition by looking at the theories of second language acquisition. While working on these aspects of language acquisition, I will focus on the development of the speaking skills in both the first (L1) and the second (L2) language.
I will subsequently give an overview of EFL learning and teaching in the German primary classroom. In order to do so, I will first of all state the main aims of foreign language teaching at primary level which have given rise to major principles and methodology. Afterwards, I will name the expected skills as they are stated in the curriculum, which forms the basis of language teaching. I do so in order to show how speaking is embedded within the content of English language learning and how the other skills are relevant in order to learn to speak the foreign language.
I will then analyse speaking as a skill in order to discover what knowledge is required to create speech and what pupils need to learn in order to speak in another language. First of all I will look at the features of speech production, i.e. the processes involved in speaking a language successfully. After that, I will look at communication strategies, compare different classifications of oral production and look at how they differ in terms of what they demand from the speaker. At the end of this section, I will differentiate between types of speaking situation and look again at what they ask of the speaker.
In the penultimate section I will then turn towards the classroom setting. Having already outlined the instructional environment for language learning in section 2.3.3 and having looked at the main aims, methodology, principles and content of the primary English language classroom in section 3, I will then go into further detail about the principles which encourage oral language production and interaction in the classroom. I will look at the different roles that the teacher must play to aid the pupils’ foreign language learning, especially their speaking skills. Next I will discuss different types of speaking activities and I will look at activities which help to develop creative language production in pupils. Following this I will discuss ways of encouraging conversation in the classroom by using different types of questions. I will then discuss the importance of teaching pronunciation and whether one has to choose a model to do so. I name several approaches to teaching pronunciation as well as techniques and activities to do so successfully. After that I will look at the role of the L1 in the EFL classroom, different reasons for the pupils´ use of it, teachers´ attitudes towards it and how one should treat the L1 in foreign language teaching. I will then look at different ways of treating errors in the language classroom. I will distinguish between mistakes and errors. I will consider how this determines which errors should be corrected before explaining the term ´interlanguage` and its importance for language learning. Finally, I will name classifications of feedback and look again at which errors need correction in which circumstance in order to give the pupils useful feedback to improve their language without reducing their motivation or self-esteem.
In the final section of my paper I will pay specific attention to the analysis of the English course book Playway 4 Rainbow Edition (Gerngross/ Puchta), which has been designed to teach pupils in their second year of foreign language learning in primary school. I will analyse both the 2001 and the 2007 edition of the Activity and the Pupil’s Book. I will first of all name the aims, structure and conception of the course book, taking the information given by the Teacher’s Book of the 2001 edition into consideration (Gerngross/ Puchta 2001d). Next, I will give an overview of the speaking activities provided by the Pupil’s and Activity book of the Playway 4 Rainbow Edition (2001b, c), analysing what kinds of speaking activities they are and to what extent they support creative language use. Then I will take a closer look at the revised Playway 4 edition of the two books (2007a, b), again looking at the activity types provided and comparing them to those of the former edition. I will especially focus on how the activities in the new edition have changed and whether the emphasis on certain aspects is different now.
The main aim of this paper is to analyse how English lessons at primary level should be organized in order to encourage pupils´ active language production and how course books such as Playway support this aim.
I will commence my paper with a section on how languages are learned, starting by looking at how children acquire their L1 in early childhood and at several theories that offer explanations for these processes. I will look at the normal processes of development, not considering disorders and delays, as pupils who attend EFL primary classrooms usually do not have any major ones. This knowledge is important as the understanding of L1 acquisition has a great impact on second language research and on second language teaching. When considering the topics of oral production and interaction, it is crucial to have an understanding of how speech is developed in the natural processes of L1 acquisition in order to plan ones lessons, aiming at the development of the pupils´ speaking skill in the L2.
Researchers have found that children all over the world go through very similar developmental sequences when acquiring their L1 (cf. Lightbown/ Spada 2006: 1). Radigk (2006: 58-90) describes the development of speech using the example of a little German boy called Andi. He classifies the development between the ages 0-6 years into four phases: „Die Phase der Kontaktentwicklung und Lautbildung” (ibid.: 59), „Die Phase des vorsprachlichen Sinnverständnisses und des Worterwerbs“ (ibid.: 65), „Die Phase der morphologischen und syntaktischen Entwicklung“ (ibid.: 75), and „Funktionelle und psychische Momente der Sprachentwicklung“ (ibid.: 82).
The first phase begins with “[…] the involuntary crying that babies do when they are hungry or uncomfortable” (ibid.: 1). These early vocalizations cannot be considered as language yet, but children soon discover that they can communicate their feelings by using them. According to Cameron (2005: 38), “[f]rom early childhood, the desire to connect emotionally and communicate with other people seems to drive speaking”. At the age of eight weeks they start to articulate sounds, at six months they are already using the sounds to make and maintain contact with others. By nine months children start to try to reproduce sounds that they hear. At this point of the acquisition process the development of their speech is influenced socially, therefore a distinction between native and foreign sounds takes place and children only imitate those sounds encountered in their environment. Not only do children use their hearing, but they also use their sight in order to learn the language. They look at their parents´ lips and copy the sounds produced. At the age of one most children will have produced at least one word that everyone can recognize (cf. Lightbown/ Spada 2006: 2).
In the second phase children begin to develop a sense for the meaning of language. This process begins with the understanding of the meanings that the voice, mime and gesture carry and then proceeds to the stage where children, because of the “[…] constant exposure to words and by imitating examples heard” (Brewster et. al. 2004: 14) actually associate sounds with meaning, but still in a very general way. At the age of 18 months language becomes increasingly meaningful for them. They can understand a lot more than they are able to say themselves, which is a phenomenon that does not only apply to small children, but to grown-ups just as well. “Das ist ein entwicklungspsychologisches Gesetz. Das Sprachverständnis geht dem Sprechenkönnen voraus.” (Radigk 2006: 76)
In the third phase of the acquisition process children start communicating in simple one or two-word sentences, whose meaning is supported by many paralinguistic features. “These sentences are sometimes called ´telegraphic` because they leave out such things as articles, prepositions, and auxiliary verbs.” (Lightbown/ Spada 2006: 2) According to Lightbown and Spada (ibid.), the children’s sentences already “[…] show signs that they can creatively combine words” (ibid.: 2), rather than just imitate what they have heard. At the age of two years children develop an awareness of the symbol system of language and are curious to learn more and more words, which leads to an enormous growth of their vocabulary. At two and a half years they begin to apply morphological forms, as for example the plural ending. By now they use sentences made up of two or more words, but do not make use of word order or inflection. They use language through transfer, which leads to the occasional misuse of grammatical forms.
In the fourth phase children accompany their actions with speech, which eventually leads to the development of thinking. By the age of three they know around 300 words and use them to construct new words in order to describe impressions whose name they do not know yet (cf. Radigk 2006: 58-88). It is generally agreed that by the age of four “[…] children have mastered the basic structures of the language or language spoken to them in these early years” (Lightbown/ Spada 2006: 7-8). It is in the pre-school years, when many children attend nursery school, that they learn to “[…] use language in a widening social environment” and “[…] in a greater variety of situations” (ibid.: 8). At this stage children also start to think about language, known as metalanguage. They know that certain utterances are silly (´drink the chair`), whereas others (´cake the eat`) are just in the wrong order (examples taken from ibid.).
Lightbown and Spada (2006: 8-9) also describe the development of children’s language beyond the beginning of their school years, where Radigk´s (2006) comments end. Within the school setting language is used in different ways and the children’s metalinguistic awareness broadens, which is, among other things, because they learn to read. What is new to children is the knowledge, “[…] that language has form as well as meaning” (Lightbown/ Spada 2006: 8). The rate at which their vocabulary grows is still as astonishing as in the pre-school years, only that now they are learning to read, they have an additional source for new words. Another new cognition is that of different language registers: “[c]hildren learn how written language differs from spoken language […]” (ibid.: 9).
According to Lightbown and Spada (ibid.: 2), the development of children’s speech follows predictable patterns, which are to some extent related to children’s cognitive development. The acquisition of most of the language features “[…] shows how children’s language develops systematically […]” (ibid.: 4). Lightbown and Spada (ibid.: 3-7) show the stages of the development of grammatical morphemes, negation and questions. Concerning the grammatical morphemes, in the 1960s researchers found out that they are acquired in an outstandingly similar sequence, even though children do not acquire them at the same age or rate. The order in which grammatical morphemes are usually acquired is listed by Lightbown and Spada (ibid.: 3; according to Brown) as follows:
present progressive –ing (Mommy runn ing)
plural –s (Two book s)
irregular past forms (Baby went)
possessive ´s (Daddy ´s hat)
copula (Annie is happy)
articles the and a
regular past –ed (She walk ed)
third person singular simple present –s (she run s)
auxiliary be (He is coming)
Concerning the acquisition of negation, Lightbown and Spada (ibid.: 4) divide it up into four stages. In the first stage children usually express negation with the word ´no` (No. No cookie. No comb hair.). In the second stage their sentences grow longer, the negative word ´no` appears before the verb (Daddy no comb hair.) or in the form of ´don’t` at the beginning of the sentence (Don’t touch that). In the third stage the sentences grow even more complex and the negative element is included into the sentence, following correct English patterns, but children do not vary the forms of negation for different persons or tenses (I can’t do it. He don’t want it). In the fourth stage children begin to add the negative element on to the correct form of auxiliary verbs such as ´do` and ´be` (You didn’t have supper. She doesn’t want it.). Yet, children might still have some difficulty with other features related to negation (examples taken from Lightbown/ Spada 2006: 4-5).
Apart from grammatical morphemes and negation the developmental stages through which children learn to ask questions also follow systematic patterns. The ´wh-words` emerge in a predictable order, ´what` usually being the first wh-question word to be used, before where, who, why, how and when. According to Lightbown and Spada (ibid.: 6), “[t]he ability to use these question words is at least partly tied to children’s cognitive development.” To describe the acquisition of the different types of questions, Lightbown and Spada (ibid.) again list six developmental stages, which describe the children’s development from simple single word questions with rising intonation, to adding auxiliaries, to the formation of complex question types, “including negative and complex embedded questions” (ibid.).
Brewster et. al. (2004: 14-15) use similar categories to describe the processes of acquiring the L1 by dividing them up into six stages: babbling; the first ´word´; two words; phonological, syntactic and lexical norms; syntactic and lexical complexity; and richness and conversational skills. The first four stages equal the developmental processes Radigk (2006) has described in his subdivision. The fifth phase is comprised of the speech development from the ages of six to twelve, where “[…] children continue to expand their reading vocabulary and [to] improve their understanding of words” (Brewster et. al. 2004: 15). In the sixth phase the children’s´ conversational skills are developed and they learn to take another person’s perspective.
In conclusion one can say that there is wide agreement that the development of children’s speech within one language system, as well as between different ones, follows systematic patters. How the processes involved in speech production are acquired, however, has been subject to much research and “[e]xplanations of early L1 and L2 acquisition have changed a great deal in the last fifty years” (ibid.: 16). Next, I will give a brief overview of the three most influential theories that have been developed in order to explain L1 acquisition.
Much research has been done on how children acquire their L1. During the last fifty years several theories have been developed in order to explain the processes involved. In the following paragraphs I will briefly describe the ideas of the behaviourist, the innatist and the interactionist/ developmental perspectives.
Behaviourism, whose best know proponent was B. F. Skinner, arose in the 1940s and 1950s at which time it was very influential, especially in the United States (cf. Lightbown/ Spada 2006: 10). Behaviourists see children’s imitation of language produced by those around them and the practice of these sounds and patterns, encouraged by the positive feedback they receive from their environment, as the “[…] key processes in language development” (Brewster et. al. 2004: 16). The environment plays an important role in this theory, as it is the provider of everything children need to learn (cf. Lightbown/ Spada 2006: 10). A lot of research has been done on the behaviourist perspective and convincing evidence has been found that “[i]mitation and practice alone cannot explain some of the forms created by children” (ibid.: 14). Therefore one can say that behaviourism in fact offers “[…] a reasonable way of understanding how children learn some of the regular and routine aspects of language, especially at the earliest stages” (ibid.), but it does not present an explanation for the acquisition of the more complex grammar that children acquire at later stages of the process or for words or sentences produced creatively by children.
In the 1950s, Noam Chomsky, one of the most influential figures in linguistics (cf. Lightbown/ Spada 2006: 15), took up theories from the 16th and 18th century “[…] that suggested there were innate and therefore universal features of the human mind” (Brewster et. al. 2004: 17). Chomsky adapted these ideas to the acquisition of languages and the central part of his thinking was formed by the belief that “[…] all human languages are fundamentally innate and that the same universal principles underlie all of them” (Lightbown/ Spada 2006: 15). The terms Language Acquisition Device (LAD) and Universal Grammar (UG), which refer to the innate ability of all children “[…] to discover for themselves the underlying rules of a language system on the basis of the samples of a natural language they are exposed to” (ibid.), were formed by Chomsky in order to challenge behaviourist views which do not offer an explanation of how children learn complex grammatical features. The innatist perspective, however, gives some explanation of how children who are not presented with much input and therefore do not get the chance to imitate and practice language as well as other children still acquire their L1 successfully.
The exponents of the cognitive and developmental perspective see language acquisition as part of general cognitive growth and “[…] they see no need to assume that there are specific brain structures devoted to language acquisition” (Lightbown/ Spada 2006: 19). What is known as the social-interactionist view, which is the most current one, builds upon the cognitive-developmental beliefs and “focuse[s] on the interplay between the innate learning ability of children and the environment in which they develop” (ibid.). The emphasis of this perspective therefore lies on human social interactions “[…] and the role of adult and child relationships in learning” (Brewster et. al. 2004: 18). An important element in this perspective is how language is modified to meet the level of the learner (cf. ibid.). The help given to the child by other speakers, especially adults, in the process of language acquisition is called Language Acquisition Support System (LASS) without which the LAD or UG cannot work. The speaker “[…] with whom the child interacts provides a structure or framework” (ibid.: 19), the so called “scaffolding” (Bruner in Brewster et. al. 2004: 19). The term “zone of proximal development” (ZPD) was formed by Vygotsky “[…] to explain the fact that children can do much more with the help of someone more knowledgeable or skilled than themselves than they can do alone” (Brewster et. al. 2004: 19). This idea emphasizes the importance of the children’s interlocutors even more and shows how different input can influence the child’s speech development substantially.
Before I look at how the acquisition of a second language differs from that of the first language in terms of learner characteristics, learning conditions and the setting in which the language is learned, I first of all want to distinguish between the terms ‘second’ and ‘foreign’ language, as well as ‘acquisition’ and ‘learning’.
To define the terms acquisition and learning Johnson (2001: 76) cites Krashen (1982), who argues in several of his publications, “[…] that there are two distinct ways of mastering an FL […]”. The acquisition of a language is a natural process with “[…] no ´conscious focus on linguistic forms`”. Johnson calls this process informally “[…] the process of ´picking up` a language” (ibid.), which takes place automatically when you are exposed to the language within the environment where it is spoken. Learning, on the other hand, is a rather conscious process, which usually takes place within an institutional setting, for example a language classroom, whose characteristics differ to a great extent from those of a natural setting (cf. Johnson 2001: 77). I am going to have a further look at those characteristics in section 2.3.3, when I distinguish between the natural and the institutional setting. Krashen`s distinction of acquisition and learning has been widely criticized, as many writers argue, “[…] that it is not a very clear cut one” (Johnson 2001: 77). The only difference concerns the environments in which the two processes take place, but even this difference can be called into question, as you might support your language acquisition by ´learning` grammar whilst spending time in a country of the target language or equally ´pick up` bits and pieces of language in the classroom. As a result one can say that there most certainly is a difference between the two processes and the distinction of the terms acquisition and learning is therefore a useful one. Still, “[…] when we attempt to master a language (in whatever environment) we are doing a bit of learning and a bit of acquisition” (ibid.).
The terms ´second` and ´foreign` language acquisition are often used interchangeably. When looking at them more closely, second language acquisition refers to the acquisition of a language within the environment of the target language, whereas foreign language acquisition, or learning, usually takes place in the native country of the learner (cf. Weskamp 2001: 32-33). As I am dealing with English learning in German primary schools I will from now on use the term ´foreign language learning`.
Much research has been done on whether the first and second language are acquired in the same way. In terms of the factors that influence language learning one can differentiate between learner characteristics, learning conditions and the setting in which the learning takes place.
It is generally agreed that L1 and L2 learners are different in what they bring into the language learning situation. L2 learners all have acquired at least one language and they already have some knowledge of how languages work. In this section I want to have a closer look at the differences between L1 and L2 learners. Before I do so, I would like to state what they have in common. Brewster et. al. (2004: 19) believe L1 and L2 learners to be similar in their ability to acquire language. Much research has been done on to what extent the processes involved in acquiring the L1 are similar to those in learning an L2. As the processes are so complex and depend on so many factors, as for example the view of language you have, this is not an easy question to answer. The behaviourist view sees the processes of L1 and L2 acquisition as very similar, as they both involve practice and imitation. The innatist view sees the similarity of the two processes in the fact that they “[…] are both activities which require the child to use past experience to structure new experience” (ibid.). The cognitive-developmental view leads us to the first difference between L1 and L2 learners, which one can certainly agree on: L2 learners, especially when starting to learn English in year three (i.e. 3. Klasse, 8-9 year old children) in German primary schools, are by far more cognitively developed than babies or young children learning their L1 and already have some metalinguistic awareness (cf. ibid.). The social-interactionist view claims that the social context in which languages are learned varies greatly between L1 and L2 acquisition, which I am going to look at further in sections 2.3.2 and 2.3.3.
According to Johnson (2001: 82), L1 and L2 learners have several characteristics in common. The learners are “[…] engaged in a ´creative construction` process”, their “[…] language appears in a fixed, natural order” (cf. Krashen´s ´natural order hypothesis` 1982) (ibid.) and “[…] they go through a ´silent period`” (ibid.: 83), a time at the beginning of the language acquisition process where the learners only take in the language without actually producing any themselves. At some point both L1 and L2 learners also “[…] inevitably have to operate with only partial understanding of much of the language that they hear every day” (Cameron 2005: 38), which does not stop L1 learners from interacting. With L2 learners it depends on their personality and on the classroom atmosphere whether they use the L2 confidently, even though their knowledge is still limited. In the process of acquisition/ learning both L1 and L2 learners use a simplified version of the target language (cf. 5.7.2).
Unlike L1 acquisition L2 learning is not linked to the process of socialisation. L2 learners are older, more mature and further developed in the process of L1 acquisition than L1 learners. There is no elemental drive to master the L2, for in the foreign language classroom there is always the possibility of conversing in the L1, as the teacher and the pupils usually come from the same L1 background (cf. Timm 1998: 11; Sarter 2006: 89). The prior knowledge that L2 learners bring into the language classroom can have advantages for the learning of a second language, as they for example already know something about the structures of languages and about how languages work. Also it will help them to “[…] understand the foreign language as a means of communication […]” (Cameron 2005: 39). When put in a situation “[…] where they want to share understanding with other people through the foreign language, they will search their previous language-using experience for ways to act in the foreign language” (ibid.). On the other hand “[…] knowledge of other languages can lead learners to make incorrect guesses about how the second language works, and this may result in errors that first language learners would not make” (Lightbown/ Spada 2006: 30).
Another important factor that influences how well L2 learners precede is the aspect of age. The Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH), which can be applied to both L1 and L2 acquisition, suggests that there is a specific time for language acquisition. It has been questioned by many researchers, however, “[…] who have often found that there are many important factors to consider aside from age, such as motivation and learning conditions” (Brewster et. al. 2004: 18). Several studies have shown that children may do better at pronunciation when learning an L2, but that adolescents and adults are by far the better learners (cf. ibid.). The advantage that most children have is that they “[…] are willing to try to use the language – even when their proficiency is quite limited” (Lightbown/ Spada 2006: 31), whereas adolescents and adults “[…] find it stressful when they are unable to express themselves clearly and correctly” (ibid.). Children enjoy imitating sounds and are good at memorizing them (cf. Hamm 2006: 6). Of course both adults and children vary individually in their ability to learn a new language and in their approach to do so. Concerning the teaching of speaking at primary level, teachers have to take into consideration that pupils do not fully develop conversational skills in their L1 before the age of twelve (cf. 2.1). Therefore they have to design speaking tasks according to the pupils´ knowledge (cf. 5.3). Brewster et. al. (2004: 27-28) list a set of characteristics of young children which also have to be taken into consideration when choosing the appropriate methodology for EFL teaching. Most striking are children’s physical and emotional, conceptual, educational and linguistic differences. Children become more easily frustrated than adults and they are more physically restless, which is why activities need to be varied and short and they should allow them to burn off energy from time to time.
Brewster et. al. (2004: 20) name several learning conditions which differ between the L1 and the L2 learning situation. First of all L2 learners do not have as much time to learn the foreign language as they have learning their L1. In his study on how much children speak, Wagner (2003: 4) worked out the total amount of time that children are exposed to both the L1 and the L2 a day. Assuming that children are exposed to their L1 twelve hours a day, this makes a total amount of 720 minutes daily. Two lessons of English a week bringing children into contact with the L2, each lasting 45 minutes, equal 13 minutes daily (cf. ibid.). These data show the great difference of time that the children are exposed to each their L1 and L2. The time factor also has some impact on several other aspects of language learning. Only being in contact with the L2 twice a week, 90 minutes in total, children receive very limited language input and even less opportunity to actually produce the language themselves, i.e. speak it. How much time and how many opportunities the pupils are given to practice their speaking skills, depends on the approach and methods teachers choose for their lessons and can therefore not be specified at this point. Yet, this shows the importance for teachers to make sure that they create their lessons giving pupils plenty of chances to speak. Apart from the amount of time available for L2 learning, the input the children receive in the language classroom differs in terms of both quality (the teacher might not be a native speaker) and quantity (the teacher might be the only source of input) (cf. Brewster et. al. 2004: 20) from the input they receive in the L1 acquisition environment. Another factor, which has great impact on the learning conditions, is the setting, which I am going to look at in the next paragraph.
Lightbown and Spada (2006: 109-114) differentiate between natural and instructional settings for language learning and look at how those different environments influence the learning of a language. Natural acquisition contexts can be assigned to what I have described as language acquisition at the beginning of section 2.3. The term describes the setting in which learners are “[…] exposed to the language at work or in social interaction or, if the learner is a child, in a school situation where most of the other children are native speakers of the target language […]” (ibid.: 109). Lightbown and Spada (ibid.: 110-111) describe several characteristics of natural acquisition settings. The language, to which the learners are exposed many hours a day by several different speakers, is not introduced gradually, but they are immersed into “[…] a wide variety of vocabulary and structures” (ibid.: 110). Another characteristic is the fact that learners´ errors are usually only corrected if they cause a misunderstanding. Modified language input is provided in many one-to-one conversations, but there are also plenty of situations where the learners are exposed to native speaker input which they have problems understanding. Not only are the learners exposed to a variety of language situations, but they also come across the written language.
In contrast to a natural setting, in structure-based instructional environments “[…] the language is taught to a group of second or foreign language learners” (ibid.: 109) and the focus is often on forms of the language, rather than on the meaning it carries. Those instructional environments are institutionalized, which has an impact on the quality of learning and teaching (cf. Müller-Hartmann/ Schocker-von Ditfurthh 2004: 61). There is a curriculum which prescribes what contents to teach and what aims to reach. The characteristics of this setting depend to a great extend on the approach used for language teaching and also on the learner characteristics and learning conditions mentioned in sections 2.3.1 and 2.3.2. Krashen (1982 in Johnson 2001: 77) states error correction and rule isolation, i.e. the fact that “[…] language points are dealt with one by one” (ibid.), as the two most particular characteristics of the instructional environment of a language classroom. Lightbown and Spada (2001: 112-114) distinguish between structure-based and communicative instructional settings to which they each assign a different set of characteristics. Structure-based instructional settings are characterized by a “bottom-up approach” (Nunan 1989: 32), where “[l]inguistic items are presented and practised in isolation […]” (Lightbown/ Spada 2001: 112), in a sequence from simple to complex. Learners´ errors are corrected at most times, as priority is given to accuracy rather than to meaningful interaction. The time in which the learners are exposed to the target language is usually very limited and in situations of foreign language learning “[t]he teacher is often the only native or proficient speaker the student comes in contact with […]” (ibid.). The language input is frequently modified and the learners´ native language is used in its supportive function in order to make certain instructions, given in the target language, clearer or to manage classroom events.
Communicative language programmes have been developed, taking the knowledge of natural acquisition settings into consideration, in order to give pupils the opportunity to learn a foreign language in a setting which puts more emphasis on the communication of meaning, rather than on grammatical forms. Therefore, “[…] some of the characteristics of structure-based instruction […]” have been replaced by “[…] those more typical of natural acquisition contexts” (ibid.). The language input “[…] is simplified and made comprehensible by the use of contextual cues, props and gestures, rather than through structural grading” (ibid.: 113). As pupils are given more time to work in pairs or groups, there are more opportunities to produce and respond to a greater amount and variety of language, the time for learning is therefore expanded and the teacher is not the only provider of language, which the learners are to understand and respond to. Learners´ errors are only corrected when the conversation is threatened to break down. Requests for the clarification of meaning in a teacher – learner, or a learner – learner interaction “[…] may serve as implicit feedback” (ibid.). As errors are only rarely corrected, there is less pressure on the pupils to perform language at high levels of accuracy. Especially in the beginning of language learning, the emphasis is on comprehension rather than on production, which stresses the importance of the listening skills. By using different methods, such as storytelling and pair and group-work and authentic materials, a variety of discourse is introduced to the pupils.
The last three paragraphs show that second and especially foreign language learning takes place under very different conditions, concerning the learner characteristics, the overall influential factors, as well as the setting, to L1 acquisition. Foreign language teaching needs to compensate for these differences and provide other learning opportunities (cf. Cameron 2005: 60), which is what the approach last named has already tried to consider. In section 5 I will further look at how this can be achieved.
In the next sections I am going to look at the explanations offered by the three major theories (cf. 2.2) in order to explain L2 learning. As not all L2 learning takes place under the same conditions, the theories need “[…] to explain the aspects of language acquisition that are common to all second language learners and contexts” (Lightbown/ Spada 2006: 33).
The powerful influence of the behaviourist perspective in the 1940s and 1950s (cf. 2.2.1) was seen directly in the development of the audio-lingual approach to second language teaching. This approach “[…] emphasizes repetition in the form of drills, accuracy and the avoidance of errors” (Brewster et. al. 2004: 16). As behaviourism sees language acquisition as the formation of habits, “[…] it was assumed that a person learning a second language would start off with the habits formed in the first language and that these habits would interfere with the new ones needed for the second language” (Lightbown/ Spada 2006: 34). This view has proven false, as research has shown that even though language learners draw on what they already know, the errors they make in the L2 “[…] are not predictable on the basis of their first language” (ibid.).
The audio-lingual approach divides learning up into three stages: presentation, practice and production (PPP). The aim of this three-step process is to develop “[…] automatic habits largely through classroom processes of modelling, repetition, and controlled practice” (Thornbury 2005: 38). This approach, based on instructivist learning perspectives (cf. Weskamp 2001: 20-21), was at first only applied to the teaching of grammar, but later it also found utilization in the teaching of the language skills, including speaking. A typical lesson based on the audio-lingual approach might consist of listening to a teacher talk or a taped dialogue and then imitating it, before repeating several features of it and performing it in class (cf. Thornbury 2005: 38). As with behaviourism itself, instructivism is outdated, as research has shown that not all that is taught is as well learned. However, aspects of the audio-lingual approach are still applied to EFL teaching today (cf. 5.3; 5.5).
As I have shown in paragraph 2.2.2, the innatist perspective was formed as a reaction to behaviourism, which did not offer any satisfactory explanation for children’s development of complex grammar. Chomsky created the term Universal Grammar (UG), referring to innate knowledge all children have and which enables them to acquire their L1 successfully. Lydia White and others (cf. Lightbown/ Spada 2006: 35) adapted this idea to second language learning and “[…] argued that Universal Grammar offers the best perspective from which to understand second language acquisition” (ibid.). This view, however, is not held by Robert Bley-Vroman and Jacquelyn Schachter, who do not believe UG to be “[…] a good explanation for the acquisition of a second language […]” (ibid.). Yet other theorists attribute UG some role in the process of second language learning, as learners usually learn beyond the input they receive in the classroom (cf. ibid.). Nevertheless, learners need to be informed explicitly about what is and what is not grammatical in the L2, as they might otherwise wrongly apply grammatical structures of their L1 to the L2.
When in the 1970s dissatisfaction grew with language teaching methods based on behaviourism, Stephen Krashen (cf. 1982) developed his monitor model, which was influenced by Chomsky´s theory of first language acquisition. The model consists of five hypotheses, which describe processes involved in second language learning. First, there is the acquisition-learning hypothesis in which Krashen contrasts these two terms (cf. 2.2). Then comes the monitor-hypothesis which suggests that “[a]cquisition is more ´important` than learning. The main role of learning is a secondary one: to monitor what we say and write in the FL.” (Johnson 2001: 89) The third is the natural order hypothesis, suggesting that language is acquired in a natural order, followed by the input hypothesis (cf. 5.2.1) and the affective filter hypothesis (cf. Lightbown/ Spada 2006: 36-37), which I am going to explain in further detail at a later stage when dealing with the teaching of the spoken language.
As in first language acquisition, the cognitivist/ developmental perspective argues that “[…] general theories of learning can account for the gradual development of complex syntax and for learners´ inability to spontaneously use everything they know about a language at a given time” (Lightbown/ Spada 2006: 38). UG is not believed to provide a satisfactory explanation for second language acquisition, which is why cognitive psychologists who have been working on “[…] an information-processing model of human learning and performance see second language acquisition as the building up of knowledge that can eventually be called on automatically for speaking and understanding” (ibid.: 39).
Concerning teaching, the cognitivist theory has developed a model in order to replace the PPP of audio-lingualism. The cognitivist model comprises the stages awareness-raising, proceduralization and autonomy. Comparing the two models, only the first stage is remarkably different in terms of classroom practice. The stage of awareness-raising at the beginning of a lesson “[…] implies an explicit focus on the rules of the system, whereas strict audio-lingual practice insisted on simply imitating models without any explicit attention being given to the rules that generated them” (Thornbury 2005: 38). The cognitivist theory puts the greatest emphasis on mental functions, whereas the socio-cultural theory “[…] situates the learning process firmly in its social context” (ibid.: 38). Learning is thought to be arranged through shared activity of the learner and a “better other” (ibid.), as for example a peer, a parent or a teacher who assists the learner in his language performance or creates a supportive framework/ scaffold “[…] within which the learners can extend their present competence” (ibid.). This way learners are being led from other-regulation to self-regulation. In terms of classroom learning and teaching this approach would include both activity and interactivity, i.e. partner or group work, “[…] during which the teacher intervenes when necessary to provide suggestions or even to model the targeted behaviour” (ibid.: 39).
Having already described two approaches to EFL teaching based on behaviourist and cognitivist theories of L2 learning, I will give an overview of EFL teaching in the next section, naming the aims as well as the methodology and principles specific for primary schools. Also I will look at the different skills pupils are to learn during the two year course of EFL learning in primary school. This I do in order to integrate speaking into the context of the other skills and to emphasise its´ special position.
Because of Europe growing together and increasing international cooperation and globalisation, English as a lingua franca is becoming more and more important. This is why it is essential for pupils to acquire an extensive knowledge of the language (cf. Niedersächsisches Kultusministerium 2006: 7; Timm 1998: 8; Zydatiß 1998: 15). German schools are therefore asked to prepare pupils for the linguistic challenges awaiting them in the future, whether it be at university, at work or in society in general. Kieweg (2000: 4) refers to oral language being the central characteristic of every day communication, which is why the ability to communicate orally makes up the key qualification. According to the Niedersächsisches Kultusministerium (2006: 7), pupils are to acquire communicative and intercultural as well as methodological skills concerning the subject of English, which I look at in more detail in section 3.3. These aims require a great amount of practical application of the content taught in the classroom. As English is the first foreign language to be learned by most German children, English lessons bear a great responsibility as they lay the foundations for pupils´ future foreign language learning (cf. Schmid-Schönbein 2001: 33). Concerning oral communication skills Hedge (2000: 44) points out that “[t]he ability to communicate effectively in English is now a well-established goal in ELT” (cf. 3.3.1; 220.127.116.11; 18.104.22.168.2).
When English as a foreign language was introduced as a core subject to German primary schools there was wide agreement among the experts about the need for primary specific methodology and principles. The lessons need to take pupils´ different learning dispositions into account, make individual learning processes possible and encourage pupils to take linguistic action. As for the order of the learning processes, pupils are at first asked to imitate before they are expected to reproduce and finally produce language themselves (cf. Niedersächsisches Kultusministerium 2006: 8).
The Niedersächsisches Kultusministerium (ibid.: 9) names three main principles that control English language teaching. The lessons are to be held in the target language, i.e. in English (Prinzip der funktionalen Einsprachigkeit). They are to be content and skill-oriented and go on from pupils´ prior knowledge by applying as authentic, meaningful and challenging situations as possible (Prinzip der Authentizität). The learning atmosphere is to encourage pupils to experiment with the language without having to fear making mistakes. In the production of language meaning is rated higher than linguistic accuracy (Prinzip der funktionalen Fehlertoleranz). Roos (2006: 27) also names das Prinzip der Mündlichkeit which puts the emphasis on the listening and speaking skills, rather than on reading and writing and das Prinzip der Handlungsorientierung und der Ganzheitlichkeit. Butzkamm (1998: 45-52) lists ten principles for foreign language learning and teaching altogether, being das Prinzip der Mündlichkeit (cf. Roos 2006: 27), das Prinzip der Kommunikation (cf. ibid.) , das Prinzip der funktionalen Fremdsprachigkeit, replacing das Prinzip der funktionalen Einsprachigkeit (cf. Niedersächsisches Kultusministerium 2006: 9), das Prinzip des Übens (in addition to meaningful communication) , das generative Prinzip (structures need to be transferable) , das Prinzip der muttersprachlichen Vorleistung (L2 learning builds up on L1 acquisition) , das Prinzip der Individualisierung oder Lernerorientierung, das Prinzip der Selbsttätigkeit (parents and teachers gradually need to withdraw their help and let the children/ pupils do things on their own) , das Prinzip der Relevanz (cf. ibid.) and das Prinzip der emotionalen Sicherheit (cf. ibid.). Some of these principles will again be taken up in section 5 when I look at the principles which support speaking in particular.
As I have shown in sections 2.2 and 2.4, throughout the last fifty years different theories have been applied in order to explain L1 acquisition as well as L2 learning. Based on the prevailing theory, various approaches to EFL teaching have been developed, each of them emphasising different aspects of the language and therefore offering a different set of methodology. I have already mentioned the audio-lingual methodology based on behaviourism and the one arisen from cognitivist theory. Harmer (2005: 79-92), as well as Brewster et. al. (2004: 43-47) offer a clear overview of the most common approaches, these being among others audio-lingualism, total physical response, the communicative approach, which emphasises the social nature of language learning and interaction, task-based learning, story-based and cross-curricular methodology, which I will not discuss in detail at this point. What is important to state, however, is that “[m]ost approaches to language teaching ´exploited` oral production to practise correct pronunciation, and pronunciation had to be correct ´before` coherent production of text was encouraged” (Müller-Hartmann/ Schocker-von Ditfurthh 2004: 60). Thornbury (2005: 1) also states that “[f]or a long time it was assumed that the ability to speak fluently followed naturally from the teaching of grammar and vocabulary, with a bit of pronunciation thrown in”. It was not until the development of the communicative approach in the 1970s that the social nature of language learning and interaction and the importance of learners producing output was emphasised (cf. Brewster et. al. 2004: 44). Pupils were not only to “[…] practise speaking in a controlled way in order to produce features of pronunciation, vocabulary and structure accurately, but also practise using these features more freely in purposeful communication” (Hedge 2000: 261). Following from the application of the communicative approach was therefore the application of both accuracy and fluency-based activities (cf. ibid.), which I will discuss in section 5.3. According to Hedge (2000: 263), it is the greatest challenge of the communicative classroom “[…] to find activities and procedures for speaking which will prepare pupils for spontaneous interaction […]”. Today a mixture of the different approaches and the methodology followed from these can be found in most classrooms. I will come back to EFL methodology when I look at what kinds of activities are useful when encouraging pupils to speak.
All institutionalized language teaching takes place under certain restrictions defined in the curriculum. The higher aim of teaching English in school is to enable pupils to increase their linguistic actionability which comprises receptive, interactive and productive skills. The Niedersächsisches Kultusministerium (2006: 9) divides those competences into functional communicative, methodological and interactional skills, which all have impact on one another and have to be seen as part of an integral whole. For each skill/ set of skills the Niedersächsisches Kultusministerium (ibid.: 11-16) describes the levels pupils are to reach until the end of year four following the Common European Framework of Reference.
As for the functional communicative skills, these are comprised of communicative skills and linguistic means. The communicative skills take priority over the linguistic means, which serve to realize them.
The communicative skills are composed of listening, speaking, reading and writing, whereby pupils are expected to achieve a higher level of knowledge in listening and speaking than in reading and writing (cf. Niedersächsisches Kultusministerium 2006: 9). According to Johnson (2001: 269), “[t]here are two conventional ways of dividing the four skills up”. The first distinction splits skills into different mediums “[…] with listening and speaking occurring in the spoken medium, reading and writing in the written medium” (ibid.). The second distinction refers to “[…] the receptive skills of listening and reading, and the productive skills of speaking and writing” (ibid.). Johnson (ibid.), as well as Sarter (2006: 89), who applies the same subdivisions of the four skills, emphasize the importance of taking the similarities and interconnections of the four skills into account when teaching, even though treating them separately in the classroom can be advantageous at times too. Sarter (2006: 89) also points out that language reception precedes language production both in the processes of L1 acquisition and L2 learning. This emphasizes the importance of the receptive skills, especially listening. A further communicative skill is Sprachmittlung, which refers to the ability to make a meaningful transfer between the L1 and the L2 in order to master communicative situations.
Listening is said to be the most important of the four skills (Sarter 2006: 89). Brewster et. al. (2004: 98) emphasize that listening to a foreign language is not a passive activity, but hard work. The first hurdle for the pupils to overcome is to learn to recognize the phonetic and phonological features of the English language in order to understand the meaning of the sounds. Brewster et. al. (2004: 98-101) list a set of guidelines to help teachers plan their lessons aiming at the development of pupils´ listening skills. The teacher has to give the pupils confidence, explain to them why they have to listen and help them to develop specific strategies for listening. He also has to set specific listening tasks and organize listening by providing different language sources for the pupils to listen to. Considering the time spent on it in the classroom, listening is the most important activity (cf. Sarter 2006: 96). Nunan (1999: 237) points out that “[…] being a listener gives learners models to deploy when acting as a speaker”. In order to enable the pupils to speak the language, they need to be given time to take it in. Therefore, listening lays the most important foundations for speaking (cf. Bleyhl 2005: 6; cf. L1 acquisition, 2.1).
According to the Niedersächsisches Kultusministerium (2006: 12), pupils are expected, by the end of year four, to recognize and understand familiar words and chunks of language if they are spoken to slowly and clearly. They must also distinguish the English language from other languages in authentic situations; recognize keywords concerning themselves and their environment; understand simple instructions, questions and statements again concerning themselves or their environment, as well as the action of simple dialogues and stories; and take the essential information from listening texts, given that keywords and structures are known.
Speaking is seen by many authors as the central skill of language learning (cf. Bailey/ Savage 1998: vii; Gerngross 2003: 12). Most people equate the learning of a foreign language with learning to speak it. It is also the skill by which people are judged while first impressions of linguistic ability are being formed (cf. Bygate 1989: vii; Hedge 2000: 261; Nunan 1999: 225). According to Kieweg (2000: 7), Bailey and Savage (1998: vii) and others, however, speaking also is the most demanding of the four skills. Gerngross (2003: 12) emphasises that as English is only taught two hours a week, pupils can only achieve very low levels of competence. Apart from speaking being one of the four skills for pupils to learn in the EFL classroom, “[i]t is also a medium through which much language is learnt, and which for many is particularly conducive for learning” (Bygate 1989: vii).
The Niedersächsisches Kultusministerium (2006: 12-13) divides speaking up into Zusammenhängendes Sprechen and An Gesprächen teilnehmen. In section 4.2 I will take a closer look at the different types of oral production and emphasize what they are comprised of and what they ask of the speaker.
Concerning oral production (cf. Zusammenhängendes Sprechen), pupils are expected to reproduce short practised texts, to speak about themselves and their environment using introduced and consolidated chunks of language, to name and describe familiar objects and activities and to use simple and familiar chunks of language used in everyday school life. As for spoken interaction (cf. An Gesprächen teilnehmen) pupils should be able to introduce themselves and others, to use simple greetings, to start and end conversations, to ask for something and to ask and answer short questions concerning topics about themselves as well as their environment. The named skills can be expected on condition that the pupils´ interlocutors are willing to repeat and paraphrase utterances more slowly and to help them formulate their own ones (cf. Niedersächsisches Kultusministerium 2006: 12-13). Whether and how these expectations can actually be met, I will investigate fully in the main part of my paper.
The Niedersächsisches Kultusministerium (2006: 13-14) assigns reading and writing a subordinate role to listening and speaking, as children’s L1 literacy development is still in progress “[…] and L2 reading and writing might interfere with it” (Müller-Hartmann/ Schocker-von Ditfurth 2004: 168). By the end of year four children are expected to recognize familiar written words, short phrases and texts and to understand their meaning. The children are not actually expected to ´read` the English words, but rather to recognize them holistically. According to Cameron (2005: 66), the usefulness of the written language to support the learning of the spoken language in the primary classroom is limited. Young learners are still learning to read and write in their L1 and therefore “find it easier to learn new language through listening and speaking than from written text”. Schmid-Schönbein (1998: 112), however, argues that the pupils are permanently surrounded by English writing and that one should not be afraid of possible interferences between German and English writing. She is of the opinion that the children already have a certain awareness of the discrepancy between the English sounds and their realisation in writing.
 There are differences between British and American punctuation. I will stick to the British rules in this paper, whereas some authors I directly quote use the American punctuation.
Examensarbeit, 93 Seiten
Doktorarbeit / Dissertation, 279 Seiten
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Examensarbeit, 93 Seiten
Doktorarbeit / Dissertation, 279 Seiten
Examensarbeit, 144 Seiten
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