Rent and save from the world's largest eBookstore. Read His course materials and teacher's guides are used in over 40 countries lingrlichcarocoun.cf The highly acclaimed Practice of English Language Teaching is the essential guide for teachers of English in a wide range of contexts. The fifth edition has been. Pearson Longman, - Foreign Language Study - pages. How to Teach English is an easy-to-read, practical introduction to English Language Teaching, from the noted author and expert Jeremy Harmer. The book is an essential reference work for trainee teachers preparing for exams.

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Jeremy Harmer - The Practice of English Language Teaching He's Not That Complicated™ PDF, eBook by Sabrina Alexis & Eric Charles. 78 Pages·· Jeremy Harmer how to teach english new edition r \I with DVD The vibration of are taught in a c o u rs e b o o k. these cords causes the voice to sound. Get this from a library! The practice of English language teaching. [Jeremy Harmer].

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A by Longman Pub. Longman handbooks for language teachers. New ed View all editions and formats Rating: Subjects English language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers. More like this User lists Similar Items. Allow this favorite library to be seen by others Keep this favorite library private. Find a copy in the library Finding libraries that hold this item Details Additional Physical Format: Print version: Harmer, Jeremy.

Practice of English language teaching. Document, Internet resource Document Type: Jeremy Harmer Find more information about: Jeremy Harmer. Reviews User-contributed reviews Add a review and share your thoughts with other readers. Be the first. We could, of course, respond to indiscipline or awkwardness by being biting in our criticism of the student who has done something we do not approve of. Yet this will be counterproductive. It is the behaviour we want to criticise, not the character of the student in question.

Teachers who respect students do their best to see them in a positive light. They are not negative about their learners or in the way they deal with them in class. They do not react with anger or ridicule when students do unplanned things, but instead use a respectful professionalism to solve the problem.

Being even-handed Most teachers have some students that they like more than others. For example, we all tend to react well to those who take part, are cheerful and cooperative, take responsibility for their own learning, and do what we ask of them w ithout complaint. Sometimes we are less enthusiastic about those who are less forthcoming, and who find learner autonomy, for example, more of a challenge.

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The reasons that some students are not forthcoming may be many and varied, ranging from shyness to their cultural or family backgrounds. Sometimes students are reluctant to take part overtly because of other stronger characters in the group.

And these quiet students will only be negatively affected when they see far more attention being paid to their more robust classmates.

At the same time, giving some students more attention than others may make those students more difficult to deal with later since they will come to expect special treatment, and may take our interest as a licence to become overdominant in the classroom. Treating all students equally not only helps to establish and maintain rapport, but is also a m ark of professionalism.

As professionals we are also asked to perform certain tasks. Part of this preparation resides in the knowledge they have of their subject and the skill of teaching, something we will discuss in detail on pages But another feature of being well-prepared is having thought in advance of what we are going to do in our lessons.

As we walk towards our classroom, in other words, we need to have some idea of what the students are going to achieve in the lesson; we should have some learning outcomes in our head. O f course, what happens in a lesson does not always conform to our plans for it, as we shall discuss on pages , but students always take comfort from the perception that their teacher has thought about what will be appropriate for their particular class on that particular day.

The degree to which we plan our lessons differs from teacher to teacher. It will often depend, among other things, on whether we have taught this lesson or something like it before. We will discuss planning in detail in Chapter Keeping records Many teachers find the administrative features of their job taking the register, filling forms, writing report cards irksome, yet such record keeping is a necessary adjunct to the classroom experience.

There is one particularly good reason for keeping a record of what we have taught. It works as a way of looking back at what we have done in order to decide what to do next. It is im portant for professional teachers to try to evaluate how successful an activity has been in terms of student engagement and learning outcomes. If we do this, we will start to amend our teaching practice in the light of experience, rather than getting stuck in sterile routines.

It is one of the characteristics of good teachers that they are constantly changing and developing their teaching practice as a result of reflecting on their teaching experiences.

Being reliable Professional teachers are reliable about things like timekeeping and homework. It is very difficult to berate students for being late for lessons if we get into the habit for whatever reason of turning up late ourselves.

It is unsatisfactory to insist on the prom pt delivery of homework if it takes us weeks to correct it and give it back. Teacher skills As we have suggested, who we are and the way we interact with our students are vital components in successful teaching, as are the tasks which we are obliged to undertake.

But these will not make us effective teachers unless we possess certain teacher skills. Managing classes Effective teachers see classroom management as a separate aspect of their skill. We will know how to put students into groups, or when to start and finish an activity. We will have worked out what kinds of instructions to give, and what order to do things in.

We will have decided whether students should work in groups, in pairs or as a whole class. We will have considered whether we want to move them around the class, or move the chairs into a different seating pattern see pages We will discuss classroom management in more detail in Chapter 3.

Successful class management also involves being able to prevent disruptive behaviour and reacting to it effectively when it occurs see pages Matching tasks and groups Students will learn more successfully if they enjoy the activities they are involved in and are interested or stimulated by the topics we or they bring into the classroom. But even in such situations there is a lot we can do to make sure we cater for the range of needs and interests of the students in our classes see pages Many teachers have the unsettling experience of using an activity with, say, two or three groups and having considerable success only to find that it completely fails in the next class.

However, what such experiences clearly suggest is that we need to think carefully about matching activities and topics to the different groups we teach.

Whereas, for example, some groups seem happy to work creatively on their own, others need more help and guidance. Where some students respond well to teacher presentation with the teacher acting as a controller , others are much happier when they investigate language issues on their own. Variety Good teachers vary activities and topics over a period of time. The best activity type will be less motivating the sixth time we ask the students to take part in it than it was when they first came across it.

Much of the value of an activity, in other words, resides in its freshness. But even where we use the same activity types for some reason because the curriculum expects this or because it is a feature of the materials we are using , it is im portant to try to ensure that learner roles are not always the same. Sometimes they might compare answers in pairs; sometimes they might interview each other about the text; sometimes they m ight do all the work on their own.

Variety works within lessons, too. It is not just children who can become bored by doing the same thing all the time. However, we might make a different kind of activity, such as a role-play, last for longer than this. A lot depends on exactly what we are asking students to do.

We will discuss ways of using and adapting coursebooks in more detail in Chapter Destinations W hen we take learning activities into the classroom, we need to persuade our students of their usefulness. Good activities should have some kind of destination or learning outcome, and it is the job of the teacher to make this destination apparent.

Students need to have an idea of where they are going, and more importantly, to recognise when they have got there. Nevertheless, even in such circumstances, it will be helpful if we can make sure that students leave the class with some tangible result.

That is why a summing-up, or feedback session at the end of a discussion, for example, is so valuable. Teacher knowledge Apart from the ability to create and foster good teacher-student rapport and the possession of skills necessary for organising successful lessons, teachers need to know a lot about the subject they are teaching the English language. They will need to know what equipment is available in their school and how to use it.

They need to know what materials are available for teachers and students. They should also do their best to keep abreast of new developments in teaching approaches and techniques by consulting a range of print material, online resources, and by attending, where possible, development sessions and teacher seminars.

The language system Language teachers need to know how the language works. This means having a knowledge of the grammar system and understanding the lexical system: They need to be aware of pronunciation features such as sounds, stress and intonation. These different features of the language system are explained in Chapter 5.

Students have a right to expect that teachers of the English language can explain straightforward gram m ar concepts, including how and when they are used. They expect their teachers to know the difference between the colloquial language that people use in informal conversation and the more formal language required in more formal settings.

They also expect teachers to be able to demonstrate and help them to pronounce words correctly and with appropriate intonation. W hen students have doubts about the language, they frequently ask their teachers to explain things. But at other times the issue is one of great complexity and even the most experienced teacher will have difficulty giving an instant answer.

In other words, our knowledge of the language system may not be adequate for certain kinds of on-the-spot questions about subtleties. Moreover, sometimes the question is not especially relevant - it is a distraction from what is going on in the lesson. But you can find the answer yourself if you go to this book. Students will realise that these answers are perfectly appropriate when the teacher does indeed return for the next lesson with the information that they have promised.

Materials and resources When students ask the kind of complicated questions m entioned above, good teachers know where to find the answers. We need, in other words, to know about books and websites where such technical information is available.

No one expects teachers to be all-knowing in this respect: If teachers are using a coursebook, students expect them, of course, to know how the materials work. Their confidence will be greatly enhanced if they can see that the teacher has looked at the material they are using before the lesson, and has worked out a way of dealing with it.

Classroom equipment Over the last few decades the growth in different types of classroom equipment has been incredible. Once upon a time we only had pens, board and chalk to work with. But then along came the tape recorder, the language laboratory, video machines, the overhead projector, computers, data projectors and interactive whiteboards these are all described in Appendix A on page Some teachers are more comfortable with these various pieces of educational technology than others.

This will always be the case. There is no reason why everyone should be equally proficient at everything. However, students will expect that teachers should know how to use the equipm ent that they have elected to use.

Learning how to use various types of equipment is a major part of m odern teacher training. However, we should do everything in our power to avoid being overzealous about the equipm ent itself. It is only worth using if it can do things that other equipment or routines cannot. The essentials of good teaching - i. W hat has changed recently, though, is that students can do things they were unable to do before thanks to technical innovation. Thus m odern podcasts downloadable listening which can be played on individual MP3 players give students many more listening opportunities than ever before.

They can burn CDs with examples of their work and the materials used in class to take home when a course has finished. They can search for a wide range of language and information resources in a way that would have been impossible a few years ago. As teachers, we need to do everything we can to keep abreast of technological change in educational resources. But we should never let technology drive our decisions about teaching and learning.

We should, instead, decide what our learners want to achieve and only then see what kind of techniques and technology will help them to do this. Keeping up-to-date Teachers need to know how to use a variety of activities in the classroom, of course, but they also need to be constantly finding out about new ways of doing things. There is now a wealth of information about teaching on the Internet, too.

Magazines, books and websites often contain good descriptions of new activities and how to use them. In the first place, it is difficult for newly qualified teachers to keep everything in their heads at the same time as they struggle with the demands of a new job. Nevertheless, as they learn their craft, we would expect them to be hungry for as much knowledge in these areas as possible since this will make them better teachers.

Secondly, this kind of knowledge is not static, hence the need to keep up-to-date. Things change almost daily. New books, classroom equipm ent and computer software are being produced all the time, just as teachers keep coming up with wonderful new ways of doing old things such as grammar presentation or discussion activities.

Staying in touch with these developments can seem daunting, of course, because of the pace of change, but it is worth remembering how deadly it would be if things always stayed the same. Art or science? Is teaching language an art, then, or is it a science? As this chapter has shown, there are good grounds for focusing its almost-scientific attributes. Understanding the language system and finding the best ways to explain it is some kind of a scientific endeavour, especially when we continue to research its changes and evolution.

In the same way, some of the technical skills that are required of teachers procedures for how to do things, a constant attention to innovation in educational technology and materials design need to be almost scientific in their rigour. Yet teaching is an art, too. It works when the relationship that is created between teacher and students, and between the students in a group, is at its best. If we have managed to establish a good rapport with a group, almost anything is possible.

We have discussed some of the key requirements in creating such a rapport, yet behind everything we have said lurks the possibility of magic - or a lack of it. Because the way some teachers are able to establish fantastic rapport, or get students really interested in a new activity may be observable, but trying to work out exactly how it was done or why it happened may be more difficult.

For as we have said, good teachers listen and watch, and use both professional and personal skills to respond to what they see and hear. These include how the classroom space is organised, whether the students are working on their own or in groups and how we organise classroom time.

We also need to consider how we appear to the students, and how we use our most valuable asset - our voice. The way we talk to students - and who talks most in the lesson - is another key factor in classroom management.

Successful classroom management also involves being able to deal with difficult situations - an issue we will discuss on pages The teacher in the classroom O ur physical presence can play a large part in our management of the classroom environment. The way we move and stand, and the degree to which we are physically demonstrative can have a clear effect on the management of the class.

Most importantly, the way we are able to respond to what happens in class, the degree to which we are aware of what is going on, often marks the difference between successful teaching and less satisfactory lessons. All teachers, like all people, have their own physical characteristics and habits, and they will take these into the classroom with them. Proximity Teachers need to consider how close they should be to the students they are working with. Some students are uncomfortable if their teacher stands or sits close to them.

Appropriacy Deciding how close to the students you should be when you work with them is a matter of appropriacy.

So is the general way in which teachers sit or stand in classrooms. Many teachers create an extremely friendly atmosphere by crouching down when they work with students in pairs.

In this way, they are at the same level as their seated students. However, some students find this informality worrying. Some teachers are even happy to sit on the floor, and in certain situations this may be appropriate. But in others it may well lead to a situation where students are put off concentrating.

All the positions teachers take - sitting on the edge of tables, standing behind a lectern, standing on a raised dais, etc - make strong statements about the kind of person the teacher is.

It is important, therefore, to consider what kind of effect such physical behaviour has so that we can behave in a way which is appropriate to the students we are teaching and the relationship we wish to create with them. If we want to manage a class effectively, such a relationship is crucial. Movement Some teachers tend to spend most of their class time in one place - at the front of the class, for example, or to the side, or in the middle.

Others spend a great deal of time walking from side to side, or striding up and down the aisles between the chairs. Although this, again, is to some extent a m atter of personal preference, it is worth remembering that motionless teachers can bore students, while teachers who are constantly in m otion can turn their students into tennis spectators, their heads moving from side to side until they become exhausted.

Most successful teachers move around the classroom to some extent. How m uch we move around in the classroom will depend on our personal style, where we feel most comfortable for the management of the class and whether or not we want to work with smaller groups.

Awareness In order to manage a class successfully, the teacher has to be aware of what students are doing and, where possible, how they are feeling. This means watching and listening just as carefully as teaching.

This will be difficult if we keep too much distance or if we are perceived by the students to be cold and aloof because then we will find it difficult to establish the kind of rapport we m entioned in Chapter 2. Awareness means assessing what students have said and responding appropriately.

This means being able to perceive the success or failure of what is taking place in the classroom, and being flexible enough see page to respond to what is going on. The exact nature of this contact will vary from teacher to teacher and from class to class. Finally, it is not just awareness of the students that is im portant.

We also need to be self-aware, in order to try to gauge the success or otherwise of our behaviour and to gain an understanding of how our students see us.

Using the voice Perhaps our most im portant instrum ent as teachers is our voice. How we speak and what our voice sounds like have a crucial impact on classes. W hen considering the use of the voice in the management of teaching, there are three issues to think about. A udibility Clearly, teachers need to be audible. They must be sure that the students at the back of the class can hear them just as well as those at the front.

But audibility cannot be divorced from voice quality: Teachers do not have to shout to be audible. Good voice projection is more im portant than volume though the two are, of course, connected. Variety It is im portant for teachers to vary the quality of their voices - and the volume they speak at - according to the type of lesson and the type of activity.

The kind of voice we use to give instructions or introduce a new activity will be different from the voice which is most appropriate for conversation or an informal exchange of views or information. In one particular situation, teachers often use very loud voices, and that is when they want students to be quiet or stop doing something see the next section.

However, for teachers who almost never raise their voices, the occasional shouted interjection may have an extremely dramatic effect, and this can sometimes be beneficial. Conservation lust like opera singers, teachers have to take great care of their voices. Breathing properly means being relaxed in the shoulders, for example, and not slumped backwards or forwards , and using the lower abdomen to help expand the rib cage, thus filling the lungs with air.

It is im portant too that teachers vary their voices throughout the day, avoiding shouting wherever possible, so that they can conserve their vocal energy. It does, however, require teachers to empathise with the people they are talking to by establishing a good rapport with them. One group of people who seem to find it fairly natural to adapt their language to their audience are parents when they talk to their young children.

Studies show that they use more exaggerated tones of voice and speak with less complex grammatical structures than they would if they were talking to adults. Their vocabulary is generally more restricted, they make more frequent attempts to establish eye contact and they use other forms of physical contact.

They generally do these things unconsciously. Though the teacher-student relationship is not the same as that between a parent and child, this subconscious ability to rough-tune the language is a skill that teachers and parents have in common.

Rough-tuning is the simplification of language which both parents and teachers make in order to increase the chances of their being understood.

Neither group sets out to get the level of language exactly correct for their audience. They rely, instead, on a general perception of what is being understood and what is not. Because they are constantly aware of the effect that their words are having, they are able to adjust their language use - in terms of grammatical complexity, vocabulary use and voice tone - when their listener shows signs of incomprehension. In order to rough-tune their language, teachers need to be aware of three things.

Firstly, they should consider the kind of language that students are likely to understand. Secondly, they need to think about what they wish to say to the students and how best to do it. And thirdly, they need to consider the m anner in which they will speak in terms of intonation, tone of voice, etc. But these considerations need not be detailed. To be successful at rough- tuning, all we have to do is speak at a level which is more or less appropriate. Experienced teachers rough-tune the way they speak to students as a m atter of course.

Many teachers also use gestures to demonstrate things like the past tense pointing back over their shoulders. They use facial expressions to show emotions such as happiness and sadness, and mime to demonstrate actions such as opening a book or filling a glass and drinking. Gesture, expression and mime should become a natural adjunct to the language we use, especially with students at lower levels. Giving instructions This issue of how to talk to students becomes crucial when we give them instructions.

There are two general rules for giving instructions: Before giving instructions, therefore, teachers must ask themselves the following questions: W hat is the im portant information I am trying to convey?

W hat must the students know if they are to complete this activity successfully? Which should come next? When teachers give instructions, it is im portant for them to check that the students have understood what they are being asked to do. This can be achieved either by asking a student to explain the activity after the teacher has given the instruction or by getting someone to show the other people in the class how the exercise works.

Where students all share the same m other tongue which the teacher also understands , a member of the class can be asked to translate the instructions into their m other tongue as a check that they have understood them. Student talk and teacher talk There is a continuing debate about the am ount of time teachers should spend talking in class. Overuse of TTT is inappropriate because the more a teacher talks, the less chance there is for the students to practise their own speaking - and it is the students who need the practice, not the teacher.

If a teacher talks and talks, the students will have less time for other things, too, such as reading and writing. Good TTT may have beneficial qualities, however. Such comprehensible input - where students receive rough-tuned input in a relaxed and unthreatening way - is an im portant feature in language acquisition. In other words, teachers who just go on and on, using language which is not especially useful or appropriate, are not offering students the right kind of talking, whereas teachers who engage students with their stories and interaction, using appropriate comprehensible input will be helping them to understand and acquire the language.

The best lessons, therefore, are ones where STT is maximised, but where at appropriate m oments during the lesson the teacher is not afraid to summarise what is happening, tell a story or enter into discussion, etc.

Good teachers use their comm on sense and experience to get the balance right. Using the Li All learners of English, whatever their situation, come to the classroom with at least one other language, their m other tongue often called their LI. We need to ask ourselves, therefore, whether it is appropriate for them to use the LI in class when their main object is, after all to learn an L2 in our case English.

The first thing to remember is that, especially at beginner levels, students are going to translate what is happening into their LI whether teachers want them to or not. It is a natural process of learning a foreign language. However, where teacher and students share the same LI it would be foolish to deny its existence and potential value. Once we have given instructions for an activity, for example, we can ask students to repeat the instructions back to us in the LI - and this will tell us whether they have understood what they have to do.

W hen we have complicated instructions to explain, we may want to do this in the LI, and where students need individual help or encouragement, the use of the LI may have very beneficial effects.

Since students translate in their heads anyway, it makes sense to use this translation process in an active way. For example, we can ask students to translate words, phrases or sentences into their LI, and then, perhaps, back into English without looking at the original. This helps them to think carefully about meaning and construction. Teachers may translate particular words, especially those for concepts and abstractions, when other ways of explaining their meaning are ineffective.

At a more advanced level, we can have students read a text, say, in their LI, but get them to ask and answer questions about it, or summarise it, in English. When teaching pronunciation, it is often useful if students can find an equivalent sound in the LI for the English one they are trying to produce.

We may want to explain to them how English has two different sounds where the LI does not make such a distinction e. Some teachers like to use films in the LI with English subtitles; judging whether the subtitles offer an adequate version of the original can offer considerable insight for higher- level students. However, in many classrooms around the world there are students with a variety of different Lis and, as a result, the use of LI becomes more problematic.

In such situations, it is still useful to get students to think of similarities and differences between their LI and the L2, but they will have to explain these differences in English. Although we have seen that the LI can be used as an enabling tool, English should predominate in an English lesson, especially where the teacher is concerned since, as we have seen, he or she is the best provider of comprehensible input that the students have got. Not only that, but English is the language they are learning, not their LI.

However, despite our best efforts, some students find it difficult to use English in the classroom, and we will discuss that issue on pages Creating lesson stages Since, as we said in Chapter 2, teachers needs to provide variety, then clearly we have to include different stages in our lessons. Where possible and appropriate, we will tell the students what they will be doing or, in a different kind of lesson, discuss with them what they can achieve as a result of what they are going to do.

It helps students if they are made clearly aware of the end of something and the beginning of what is coming next. This can sometimes be difficult, especially when teachers try to draw a speaking activity to a conclusion, or when students are working in groups.

Sometimes when teachers speak loudly, the students just speak louder in order not to be bothered by the interruption.

To counter this, some teachers speak quietly in order to force the students to listen to them. Another m ethod is for the teacher to raise his or her hand. When individual students see this, they raise their hands briefly in reply to indicate that they are now going to be quiet and wait for the next stage.

W hen we have brought an activity or a lesson to a finish, it helps if we provide some kind of closure: This is unfortunate because it leaves unfinished business behind and a sense of incompleteness. It is much better to round the lesson off successfully. Ideally, too, we will be able to give the students some idea of what they will be doing next, and create enthusiasm for it so that they come to their next lesson with a positive attitude. The stages of a lesson will be a particular concern when planning lessons see Chapter Different seating arrangements In many classrooms around the world students sit in orderly rows.

Sometimes, their chairs have little wooden palettes on one of the arms to provide a surface to write on. Sometimes, the students will have desks in front of them. At the front of such classrooms, often on a raised platform so that all the students can see them , stands the teacher. In contrast, there are other institutions where you can find students sitting in a large circle around the walls of the classroom. Or you may see small groups of them working in different parts of the room.

Sometimes, they are arranged in a horseshoe shape around the teacher. Sometimes, in a class of adults, it is not immediately obvious who the teacher is. Are schools which use a variety of seating plans progressive or merely modish, for example? Is there something intrinsically superior about rigid seating arrangements - or are such classrooms the product of a particular methodological orthodoxy?

Is one kind of seating arrangement better than another? W hat are the advantages of each? We will look at the advantages and disadvantages of various seating arrangements. Orderly rows Having the students sit in rows can appear somewhat restrictive, but there are advantages to this arrangement.

The teacher has a clear view of all the students and the students can all see the teacher - in whose direction they are facing. It makes lecturing easier, enabling the teacher to maintain eye contact with the people he or she is talking to. If there are aisles in the classroom, the teacher can easily walk up and down making more personal contact with individual students and watching what they are doing. Orderly rows imply teachers working with the whole class.

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It is also useful when students are involved in certain kinds of language practice as we shall see in Chapter 6. If all the students are focused on a task at the same time, the whole class gets the same messages. W hen we are teaching a whole class of students who are sitting in orderly rows, it is vitally im portant to make sure that we keep everyone involved in what we are doing.

One trick that many teachers use is to keep their students guessing. Especially where teachers need to ask individual students questions, it is im portant that they do not do so in a predictable sequence, student after student, line by line. That way, the procedure becomes very tedious and each student knows when they are going to be asked and, once this has happened, that they are not going to be asked again.

It is much better to talk to students from all parts of the room in random order. It keeps everyone on their toes! In many classrooms around the world, teachers are faced with classes of anywhere between 40 and students at a time. In such circumstances, orderly rows may well be the best or only solution. Pairwork and groupwork see page 43 are possible even when the class is seated in orderly rows; students can work with people next to them or in front of them or behind them. Circles and horseshoes In smaller classes, many teachers and students prefer circles or horseshoes.

Classes which are arranged in a circle make quite a strong statement about what the teacher and the students believe in.

The Round Table in the British and French legends about King Arthur was specially designed so that there would not be arguments about who was more im portant than who - and that included the king himself when they were in a meeting. So it is in classrooms.

With all the people in the room sitting in a circle, there is a far greater feeling of equality than when the teacher stays out at the front. This may not be quite so true of the horseshoe shape where the teacher is often located in a commanding position but, even here, the rigidity that comes with orderly rows, for example, is lessened. If, therefore, teachers believe in lowering the barriers between themselves and their students, this kind of seating arrangement will help.

There are other advantages too, chief among which is the fact that all the students can see each other. In a circle or a horseshoe, no such disruption is necessary.

The classroom is thus a more intimate place and the potential for students to share feelings and information through talking, eye contact or expressive body movements eyebrow-raising, shoulder-shrugging, etc is far greater. Separate tables Even circles and horseshoes seem rather formal compared to classes where students are seated in small groups at individual tables.

W hen students sit in small groups at individual tables, it is much easier for the teacher to work at one table while the others get on with their own work. Separate table seating is also appropriate if students are working around a computer screen, for example where students are engaged in collaborative writing see Chapter 8 or where they are listening to different audio tracks in a jigsaw listening exercise see Chapter However, this arrangement is not without its own problems.

In the first place, students may not always want to be with the same colleagues; indeed, their preferences may change over time. Different student groupings Whatever the seating arrangements in a classroom, students can be organised in different ways: Whole class There are many occasions when the best type of classroom organisation is a teacher working with the class as a whole group.

However, this does not always mean the class sitting in orderly rows; whatever the seating arrangement, we can have the students focus on us and the task in hand. This is useful for presenting information and for controlled practice such as repetition and drilling which is often used, especially at lower levels see Chapter 6, pages Whole-class teaching can be dynamic and motivating and, by treating everyone as part of the same group, we can build a great sense of belonging - of being part of a team.

However, when a class is working as a whole group, it is necessarily the case that individual students get fewer individual opportunities either to speak or to reflect. Groupwork and pairwork Groupwork and pairwork have been popular in language teaching for many years and have many advantages. They both foster cooperative activity in that the students involved work together to complete a task. They may be discussing a topic, doing a role-play or working at a computer in order to find information from a website for a webquest see page or they may be writing up a report.

In pairs and groups, students tend to participate more actively, and they also have more chance to experiment with the language than is possible in a whole-class arrangement. Both pairwork and groupwork give the students chances for greater independence. Because the students are working together w ithout the teacher controlling every move, they take some of their own learning decisions see page 21 , they decide what language to use to complete a certain task and they can work without the pressure of the whole class listening to what they are doing.

While groups A and C are doing one task, the teacher can spend some time with group B who need special help.

Neither groupwork or pairwork are without their problems. Some students are ill-at-ease with the idea of working without constant teacher supervision, and may be unconvinced by the student-centred nature of these groupings. In such situations we may want to discuss the advantages of pair- and groupwork with the class, but we should not insist on endless pairwork where students are seriously opposed to it.

Here the teacher asks the groups to num ber themselves from 1 to 5 if there are five-student groups. In difficult classes, groupwork can sometimes encourage students to be more disruptive than they would be in a whole-class setting, and, especially in a class where students share the same first language, they may revert to that language, rather than English, when the teacher is not working with them.

Ways of dealing with this are discussed on pages — Apart from groupwork and pairwork, the other alternative to whole-class teaching is solo or individual work.

Solowork This can have many advantages: It often provides welcome relief from the group-centred nature of much language teaching.

For the time that solowork takes place, students can relax their public faces and go back to considering their own individual needs and progress. Class-to-class One last grouping should be m entioned, and that is when we are able to join two classes so that they can interact with each other. Where different-level classes are concerned, higher- level students often feel positive about being able to help students from other classes, just as lower-level students can feel motivated by being able to engage with people whose language is better than theirs.

Class-to-class interactions are good for surveys where students can work with students they do not normally interact with in the English lesson , discussions and lectures and presentations. They can be time-consuming to organise, but, at their best, can often give students a huge sense of satisfaction.

But it also depends to a large extent on what kind of learning task is involved. Good teachers are able to be flexible, using different class groupings for different activities. As they do this, they can assess which ones are the most successful for which types of activity, so that they can always seek to use the most effective grouping for the task in hand.

Conclusions I In this chapter we have: We have said that rough-tuning is an inexact process. We have suggested that the quality of what teachers say may be more important than whether or not TTT predominates. In many parts of the world, children grow up speaking two or more languages. Language acquisition seems to be almost guaranteed for children up to about the age of six.

They seem to be able to learn languages with incredible facility. They are also capable of forgetting a language just as easily. It is almost as if they can put on and take off different languages like items of clothing! However, this ease of acquisition becomes gradually less noticeable as children move towards puberty, and after that, language acquisition is much more difficult. When children start vocalising their m other tongue at around the age of two, we do not expect them to study it; we expect to just watch it emerge, first at the level of one-word utterances, then two-word utterances, until the phrases and sentences they use become gradually more complex as they grow older.

In order for acquisition to take place, certain conditions need to be met. In the first place, the children need to hear a lot of language.

Such exposure is absolutely vital. Secondly, it is clear that the nature of the language they hear matters, too. W hen parents talk to their children, they simplify what they say, both consciously and unconsciously. They often exaggerate the intonation they use so that their voices sound higher and more enthusiastic than they would if they were talking to friend, colleague or partner.

Furthermore, most of the language we hear - especially from our parents - is given to us in typical social and emotional interactions so that as we hear language, we also hear the ways in which that language is used. Finally, children have a strong motivational urge to communicate in order to be fed and understood. Together with their parents and later other adults they make language together. And then they try it out and use it. But in the end it is their desire to communicate needs, wants and feelings that seems to m atter most.

And throughout childhood and beyond, most people have a great many opportunities and inducements to use the language they have been acquiring. It sounds, then, as if three features need to be present in order for children to acquire a language: Acquisition and learning If, as we have said, children acquire language subconsciously, what does this tell us about how students should get a second language?

Some theorists, notably the American applied linguist Stephen Krashen in the s, have suggested that we can make a distinction between acquisition and learning. Whereas the former is subconscious and anxiety free, learning is a conscious process where separate items from the language are studied and practised in turn. Krashen, among others, suggested that teachers should concentrate on acquisition rather than learning and that the role of the language teacher should be to provide the right kind of language exposure, namely comprehensible input that is, language that the students understand more or less, even if it is a bit above their own level of production.

Provided that students experience such language in an anxiety-free atmosphere, the argum ent goes, they will acquire it just as children do, and, more importantly, when they want to say something, they will be able to retrieve the language they need from their acquired-language store. Language which has been learnt, on the other hand, is not available for use in the same way, according to this argument, because the learner has to think much more consciously about what they want to say.

The principal function of learnt language is to monitor what is coming from our acquired store to check that it is OK. This apparently convoluted discussion becomes relevant when we consider what we should do with students in class.

If we believe that acquisition is superior to learning, we will spend all our time providing comprehensible input. W hat we will not do is to ask the students to focus on how the language works.

Yet there are problems with this approach. In the first place, the ability to acquire language easily tends to deteriorate with age. Secondly, as we saw in Chapter 1, teenagers and adults have perfectly good reasoning powers and may want to think consciously about how language works.

To suggest that they should not think about language if they want to that is, learn it consciously , would seem absurd. And we should remember that for many language learners, one of the biggest differences between them and children acquiring their first language is the am ount of exposure they get in terms of hours , and the situation in which this language is used.

Learners in foreign language classrooms are in a very different situation from that of children of loving parents. We can go further and say that a rich classroom environment would not only expose students to language of course , but also give them opportunities to activate their language knowledge.

Furthermore, we should offer them chances to study language and the way it works too, since for some learners this will be the key to their success, and for all others apart from young children it will be an added bonus to the other activities which we take into the classroom. In other words, both acquisition and learning have their part to play in language getting for students after childhood.

Different times, different methods The acquisition-versus-learning debate may seem to be a relatively recent argument, yet for as long as languages have been taught people have argued about the best way of doing it, and how to help students to learn more effectively.

The great linguist Harold Palmer made a similar distinction between spontaneous and studial capacities in a book published in And this was just one of many writings before and since which have tried to pin down what makes a good language lesson or an effective method. Current teaching practice is the direct result of such argum ent and discussion, and not only on the subject of acquisition and learning.


Both abstract theory and practical techniques have been debated, have gone in and out of fashion, and have influenced what was and is included in classrooms and teaching materials. In the s, for example, there was considerable discussion about the Lexical Approach, where it was suggested that we should structure our curriculum around language chunks.

These are the various phrases of two or more words which we use as units of meaning to communicate with see page 76 for a fuller explanation. In the s, methods such as the Silent Way where teachers do little talking and the onus is put on the students , or Community Language Learning where bilingual teachers help students to translate what they want to say from their first language into the language they are learning were advocated, and although they may not be used m uch any more - certainly not as they were originally envisaged - still some of the techniques they included have been incorporated into m odern teaching practice.

Amongst the plethora of ideas and techniques which have been offered over the years, some trends have had - and continue to have - a significant impact on how languages are taught today. Grammar-translation The G ram m ar-translation m ethod which was first named as such in Germany in the s introduced the idea of presenting students with short gram m ar rules and word lists, and then translation exercises in which they had to make use of the same rules and words.

It was introduced in a reform of the German secondary school system and soon, with changes and expansions, spread much further afield. But most language learners translate in their heads at various stages anyway, and they and we can learn a lot about a foreign language by comparing parts of it with parts of our own mother tongue. However, a total concentration on gram m ar- translation stops students from getting the kind of natural language input that will help them acquire language since they are always looking at LI equivalents , and it fails to give them opportunities to activate their language knowledge.

If they are always translating the language, they are not using the L2 for communication. Audio-lingualism The audio-lingual m ethod originated in army education in the s. It was then developed in the s and enhanced by the arrival of the language laboratory in the s. It capitalised on the suggestion that if we describe the grammatical patterns of English, we can have students repeat and learn them.

In such structural-situational teaching, grammatical structures were presented in simple situations which exemplified their usage. Crucially, too, the structures were carefully graded so that students learnt the easy ones first before moving onto things that were more complex. Audio-lingualism marries this emphasis on grammatical patterns with behaviourist theories of learning. These theories suggested that much learning is the result of habit- formation, where performing the correct response to a stimulus means that a reward is given; constant repetition of this reward makes the response automatic.

This procedure is referred to as conditioning. In effect, audio-lingual classes made extensive use of drilling, in which students produced the same grammatical pattern but were prom pted to use different words within the pattern, in the hope that they would acquire good language habits.

By rewarding correct production during these repetition phases, students could be conditioned into learning the language.Before giving instructions, therefore, teachers must ask themselves the following questions: These theories suggested that much learning is the result of habit- formation, where performing the correct response to a stimulus means that a reward is given; constant repetition of this reward makes the response automatic. W hat is im portant is that teachers should choose the right kind of task for the students.

HathiTrust Digital Library, Limited view search only. W hat must the students know if they are to complete this activity successfully? Beginners need to be exposed to fairly simple gram m ar and vocabulary which they can understand. We will know how to put students into groups, or when to start and finish an activity. At other times, we may need to act as feedback providers helping students to evaluate their performance or as assessors telling students how well they have done or giving them grades, etc.