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Teaching English as a

Second or Foreign



Teaching English
as a Second or
Foreign Language




------------- * - -----------THOMSON LEARNING




Teaching M ethodology


Language Teaching Approaches: An Overview

M arian n e C elce-M urcia
Communicative Language Teaching for the Twenty-First Century
S a n d ra J. Savignon
Guidelines for Language Classroom Instruction
G rah am C rookes a n d C raig C h a u d ro n
English for Specific Purposes (ESP):Tailoring Courses to Students Needs
and to the Outside W orld
A nn M. Johns a n d D o n n a P rice-M achado
Syllabus Design
D avid N 'unan





Language Skills

A. Listening


Aural Comprehension Instruction: Principles and Practices

Joan M orlev
Skills and Strategies for Proficient Listening
P at W ilcox P eterso n

B. Speaking


Teaching Oral Skills

A n n e L azarato n
Teaching Pronunciation
J a n e t G oodw in
Developing Childrens Listening and Speaking in ESL
S abrina Peck

C. Reading

I I7
15 1

Teaching Children Literacy Skills in a Second Language

A rn e E d ig cr
Developing Adult Literacies
Gail W einstein
Reading for Academic Purposes: Guidelines for the ESL/EFL Teacher
W illiam G rabe a n d F red rick a L. S toller

D. Writing

I 53
I7 1


Functional Tasks for Mastering the Mechanics of W riting and Going Just Beyond
Elite O lsh tain
Considerations for Teaching an ESL/EFL W riting Course


B arb ara Kroll

Grammar in W riting

2 I9

J a n F ro d e se n



E. Grammar and Vocabulary

Teaching Grammar
D iane L arsen -F reem an
Cognitive Approaches to Grammar Instruction
S an d ra Fotos
Vocabulary Learning and Teaching
Jea n e tte S. D eC arrico

U N IT III. Integrated A pproaches

25 I

Content-Based and Immersion Models for Second and Foreign Language Teaching
M arg u erite .Ann Snow
Literature as Content for ESL/EFL


S an d ra L ee McKav
Experiential and Negotiated Language Learning
J a n e t L. E rrin g
Bilingual Approaches to Language Learning
M art M cG roartv

3 I9

U N IT IV. Focus on the L e a rn e r


Language Learning Styles and Strategies

R ebecca L. O x fo rd
Supporting Second Language Childrens Content Learning

U N IT V .


and Language Development in K5

B arb ara H aw kins


Teaching Adults
S h a ro n H illes a n d A n d re S utto n


S k ills fo r T e a c h e rs


Planning Lessons
L in d a Je n s e n
Textbooks: Evaluation for Selection and Analysis for Implementation
Patricia Bvrd

4 I5

W hen the Teacher Is a Non-Native Speaker

P e te r M edgves
Building Awareness and Practical Skills to Facilitate Cross-Cultural Communication
Eli H inkel
The Use of Media in Language Teaching
D o n n a M. B rin to n
Computers in Language Teaching
M aggie Sokolik
Action Research,Teacher Research, and Classroom Research in Language Teaching
K athleen M. Bailer
Reflective Teaching in ELT
J o h n M. M u rphy
Second Language Assessment
A ndrew D. C o h en
Keeping Up to Date as an ESL or EFL Professional
Jo A n n (Jodi) C ran d all


5 15

T h e p u rp o se o f this th ird
edition o f Teaching English as
a Second or Foreign Language,
also know n as T he Apple
B ook, rem ains the sam e as
the first (1979) an d second
(1991) editions: to pro d u ce
a com prehensive in tro d u c
tio n to th e p ro fe ssio n of
teach in g English to speakers o f o th e r languages.
T h e goal has b e e n to m a in ta in a b alan ce
betw een theory a n d p rac tic e betw een provid
ing necessary back g ro u n d inform ation a n d rele
vant research, on th e one h a n d , a n d offering
m any classroom suggestions an d resources for
teachers, on the other. This ed ition covers the
areas 1 believe to be critical to successful lan
guage instruction: know ledge of past an d p res
e n t teaching approaches, b ack g ro u n d on and
techniques for teaching the language skills, vari
ous options fo r in teg ratin g the skills, awareness
o f im p o rta n t le a rn e r factors, an d info rm atio n
th a t is useful for the classroom teacher's evervday p e rfo rm a n c e an d professional growth. I
have tried to p ro d u ce an in tro d u c tio n to the
field that would be o f sufficient d e p th and
bread th to be suitable for students with som e p re
vious teaching experience, vet straightforw ard
enough n o t to needlessly bewilder the novice.
This third edition covers m ore topics and has
m ore contributing authors than the precious ones:
First edition (1979): 31 chapters, 27 con
Second edition: 32 chapters, 36 contributors
T hird edition: 36 chapters, 40 contributors
N ineteen of the thirty-six authors who contributed
to the second edition have also contributed to this
volume (often but not always on the same
topic). Sixteen of the chapters appearing in this
edition are rerised a n d u p d a te d versions o f ch ap
ters in the second edition and, in m ost cases, the
revisions have b een substantial. Ten chapters
have been com pletelv rew ritten; the rem ain in g
ten chapters rep re sen t topics th at appear as
Forew ord

chapters for the first time in this edition (the

a u th o rs nam e is in parentheses):
Communicative Language Teaching for the
Twenty-First Century (Savignon)
Syllabus design (N unan)
D ev eloping C h ild re n s L iste n in g a n d
Speaking Skills (Peck)
C ognitive A p p ro a c h es to G ra m m a r
Instruction (Fotos)
Bilingual Approaches to Language Learning
W hen the Teacher Is a Non-Native Speaker
Facilitating Cross-Cultural Com m unication
(Hinkel) "
Action Research, Teacher Research, and
Classroom Research (Bailer )
Reflective Teaching (Murphv)
I am m ost grateful to all forty co n trib u to rs to
this th ird edition for th eir splendid work.
Many o f the new topics in this edition were
originally suggested bv colleagues who anonymouslv reviewed the second edition for H einle &
H einle. I am very grateful for their input, which I
har e used along with mv own ju d g m en t to create
this volume. T he reviewers also helped to com ince
me that a rerised and updated third edition was
necessary, and they encouraged m e to once again
undertake the daunting task o f preparing a com
prehensive textbook for use in m ethods courses
designed to prepare ESL/EFL teachers.
As in both previous editions, each chapter
concludes with discussion questions, suggested
activities, a n d a n u m b er of suggestions for fu rth e r
reading. These supplem entary m aterials show
how the authors feel their ch ap ter can be used in
m ethodology courses to stim ulate critical think
ing, fu rth er reading on a topic, and application
o f knowledge. T he new feature in this edition is
the listing o f useful websites at the en d o f m ost
chapters to m ake teachers in training atvare of
the vast arrav of resources av ailable to them via the
World W ide Web if they have access to a com puter,
even if they are working in rem ote areas.


A lthough designed prim arily as a textbook

for a preservice T E SL /T E FL m ethods course, I
feel th at this volum e will also be a useful refer
ence a n d guide for those who are teaching ESI,
o r EFL w ithout having h ad specific training and
for practicing teachers who received th eir train
ing som e years ago.
In trying to m ake the text com prehensive. I
adm it to having m ade it too long for one course.
T hus I w ould advise instructors who plan to use
this book to be selective an d to focus on the
chapters m ost relevant to the p rep a ra tio n of
th e ir students as teachers. O ne colleague has
w ritten th at he prefers to em phasize Units I, IV,
a n d V in his m ethods course, w hereas a n o th e r
colleague inform s m e th a t she uses Units II and
III as the core o f h e r class. I even know of one
setting w here U nits I, IV, an d V constitute one
course a n d Units II a n d III a second course.
D ifferent instructors an d different training p ro
gram s em phasize different topics a n d organize
courses differentlv. This is un d erstan d ab le.
personally like to give students options when
I assign chapters to read. For example, after evenone has read and discussed the five chapters in
U nit I, students can select the chapter(s) that best
m eet their current or anticipated needs:

Read one of the two chapters on listening

Read two of the three chapters on speaking,
reading, and writing and so on

A nother approach I have used is to ask every

one in a class to skim a particular unit o f the book
(or subsection in U nit II). T hen I ask students to
form pairs or small groups that are responsible for
presenting and leading discussions on individual
chapters. (The instructor m ust of course proride a
m odel and explicit guidelines for what is expected
in such a presentation.) The textbook chapters
that are not covered in a course as a result of
needs analvsis and careful selection then becom e
useful reference m aterials for the teacher in train
ing, whose interests and needs and target students
mav well change after com pletion o f the m ethods
course and the training program . Also, if one goes
to an o th er region or countrv or works in a rem ote
area, it is useful to have a single, com prehensive
reference for language m ethodologv just as it is
useful to have a com prehensive dictionary and a
com prehensive reference grammar. This volume is
mv attem pt to compile and edit such a reference
for language methodologv.
welcome com m ents and feedback on thi
edition. In ou r role as teachers, we all hat e m uch
to learn from one another.
-M a ria n n e (ielce-M nrcia. e d ito r

help and support from Sherrise Roehr, Sarah
Many colleagues, students, and friends have been
Barnicle, and Eunice Yeates-Fogle of H einle 8c
o f invaluable assistance in the preparation of this
volume. My greatest debt is to all the colleagues
H einle in the com pletion of the m anuscript and
once again had the pleasure o f working with
who graciously accepted my invitation to write
chapters for this edition. T he breadth and d epth of
Tuncle A. Dewev of Dewev Publishing in the final
their expertise make this collection tmlv unique.
phase of production. Mv warm and sincere thanks
am especiallv indebted to Brent Green, my to evervone m en tio n ed in this paragraph.
Finallv. I w ould like to note that I have in co r
research assistant, who helped to prepare the cum u
lative list o f references and the index. I could not
p o rate d into this edition m anv suggestions for
have finished this book without his and Jo Flilders
im proving the second edition th at readers, stu
dents. and colleagues have graciously shared
assistance and offer them mv heartfelt thanks.
with me oxer the tears. I offer special thanks to
Many people at H einle 8c Heinle have helped
in the shaping and production of this large volume.
the anonvm ous reviewers who co m pleted H einle
& H einle s q u estio n n aire, designed to elicit
I had my initial discussions with Erik G undersen,
suggestions for revision a n d im provem ent. T he
th en h a d fu rth e r discussions an d signed the con
tract with Eric B redenberg, who th en tu rn e d the
responsibilitv for the choices m ade a n d for am
critical om issions is m ine alone.
pro ject over to Sherrise Roehr. I received m uch

I : T eaching M ethodology

Teaching Methodology
In this first section, Celce-Murcias chapter gives the reader a historical
perspective and outlines the principal approaches to second and foreign
language teaching that -ere used during the twentieth century. Then
Savignon's chapter goes into detail in describing the com ponents of
communicative language teaching, the currently dominant approach. In
their chapter Crookes and Chaudron discuss classroom research and its
implications for developing a principled approach to language teaching.
The following chapter by Johns and Price-Machado introduces the
reader to the English for S p e o fc Purposes movement, which has had a
profound influence on ail English language teaching. Finally, N unans
chapter gives the reader an overview o f the syllabus design process,
bringing us full circle, since tne syllabus ideally goes hand-in-hand with the
materials and approaches used in the language classroom.



Language Teaching Approaches:

An Overview1


In Language Teaching Approaches; An O verview ," Celce-Murcia gives some historical background,
then outlines the principal approaches to second and foreign language teaching that w ere used during
the twentieth century. She previews the book as a w hole and projects some trends for language
instruction in the new millennium.

The field o f second (or foreign) language teach
ing has u n d e rg o n e m any fluctuations and shifts
ver the years. D ifferent from physics or chem i'trv. in which progress is m ore or less steady
until a m ajor discovery causes a radical theoreti:oil revision (K uhn 1970), language teaching is a
held in w hich fads and heroes have com e an d in a m a n n e r fairly consistent with the kinds
ut changes that occur in youth culture. I believe
shat one reason for the frequent swings of the
oendu lum that have been taking place until fairly
recently is the fact that very few language teachers
have a sense of history about their profession and
are thus unaw are o f the historical bases o f the
many m ethodological options they have at their
disposal. It is h o p e d th at this b rie f and neces
sarily oversimplified survey yvill encourage m any
language teachers to learn m ore about the ori
gins o f th eir profession. Such knotvledge yvill
ensure som e perspective w hen teachers evaluate
any so-called innovations or new approaches
to m ethodology, which yvill surelv continue to
em erge from tim e to time.

Pre-twentieth-Century Trends:
A Brief Survey
Prior to the tw entieth century, language teaching
m eth o d o lo g y vacillated betw een two types
of approaches: getting learners to use a language
li.e., to speak an d u n d e rsta n d it) versus getting
learners to analyze a language (i.e., to learn its
gram m atical rules).

Both the classical G reek and m edieval Latin

periods were characterized by an em phasis on
teaching people to use foreign languages. T he
classical languages, first G reek and th en Latin,
were used as lingua francas. H igher learn in g was
con d u cted prim arily th ro u g h these languages all
over E urope. They were used widely in philoso
phy. religion, politics, and business. Thus the
educated elite becam e fluent speakers, readers,
and yvriters of the ap p ro p riate classical language.
We can assum e that the teachers or tutors used
inform al and m ore or less direct approaches to
convey the form a n d m eaning o f the language
thev were teaching and that they used aural-oral
techniques with no language textbooks p er se,
but ra th e r a small stock of hand-copied written
m anuscripts of som e sort, perhaps a feyv texts in
the target language, o r crude dictionaries that
listed equivalent words in two o r m ore languages
side by side.
D uring the R enaissance, the form al study
of the gram m ars o f G reek an d Latin becam e
p o p u lar th ro u g h the mass p ro d u ctio n of books
m ade possible by the invention of the p rin tin g
press. In the case o f Latin, it was discovered that
the g ram m ar of the classical texts was d ifferent
from that o f the Latin bein g used as a lingua
franca the latter subsequently being labeled
vulgate Latin, i.e., Latin o f the com m on people.
M ajor differences had developed betw een the
classical L atin d escribed in th e R enaissance
gram m ars, yvhich becam e the form al object of
in struction in schools, a n d th e Latin b ein g used
for evervdav purposes. This o c cu rred at about
the same tim e that Latin beg an to be a b a n d o n e d

as a lingua franca. (No one was speaking classi

cal Latin anym ore, a n d various E u ro p ean ver
naculars h ad b eg u n to rise in respectability and
popularity.) Thus, in retrospect, strange as it
may seem , the R enaissance p reo c c u p a tio n with
the form al study o f classical Latin m a t hat e con
trib u ted to the dem ise of Latin as a lingua franca
in W estern E urope.
Since the E uropean vernaculars h ad grown
in prestige an d utility, it is n o t surprising that
people in one country or region began to find it
necessary a n d useful to learn the language of
a n o th e r country or region. T hus the focus in lan
guage study shifted back to utility' ra th e r than
analysis d u rin g the seventeenth century. Perhaps
the m ost fam ous language teacher and m eth o d
ologist o f this p eriod is J o h a n n Amos Com enius,
a Czech scholar an d teacher, who published
books ab o u t his teaching techniques betw een
1631 an d 1658. Som e o f the techniques that
C om enius used a n d espoused were the following:

Use im itation instead of rules to teach a

Have your stu d en ts re p e a t after vou.
Use a lim ited vocabulary initially.
H elp your students practice read in g an d
Teach language th ro u g h pictures to m ake it
m eaningful.

T hus C om enius, p erhaps for the first tim e,

m ade explicit an inductive a p p ro ach to learning
a foreign language, the goal o f w hich was to
teach use ra th e r th an analysis o f the language
b ein g taught.
C o m en iu ss views h eld sway for som e time;
however, by the beg in n in g o f the n in e te e n th cen
tury, the systematic study of the gram m ar o f clas
sical Latin an d o f classical texts h a d once again
taken over in schools an d universities th ro u g h
o u t E urope. T he analytical G ram m ar-Translation
A pproach becam e firmly e n tre n ch e d as a m eth o d
for teaching n o t only Latin but, by extension,
m o d ern languages as well. It was perhaps best
codified in the work o f Karl Ploetz, a G erm an
scholar who h ad a trem endous influence on the
language teaching profession during his lifetime
an d afterwards. (He died in 1881.)

However, the swinging o f the p en d u lu m

continued. Bv the e n d of the n in e te e n th centrin',
the D irect M ethod, which once m ore stressed
the abilitv to use ra th e r th an to analyze a
language as the goal o f language instruction,
had begun to function as a viable alternative
to G ram m ar-T ranslation. Frangois G ouin, a
F renchm an, began to publish in 1880 c o n cern
ing his work with the D irect M ethod. H e advo
cated exclusive use o f the target language in
the classroom , having b e e n influenced by an
o ld er friend, the G erm an philosopher-scientist
.Alexander von H um boldt, who had espoused the
n o tio n th at a language c an n o t be taught, that
one can only create conditions for lea rn in g to
take place (Kelly 1969).
T h e D irect M ethod becam e very p o p u lar
in France and G erm an y a n d has enthusiastic
followers am ong language teachers even today
(as does the G ram m ar T ranslation A pproach).
In 1886, d u rin g the same p erio d th at the
D irect M ethod first becam e p o p u lar in E urope,
th e In te rn a tio n a l P h o n e tic A ssociation was
established by scholars such as H enry Sweet,
W ilhelm V iftor, a n d Paul Passy. They developed
the In te rn atio n a l P honetic A lphabet (IPA) a n d
becam e p art of the R eform M ovem ent in lan
guage teach in g in the 1890s. These p honeticians
m ade som e of the first truly scientific c o n trib u
tions to language teaching w hen they advocated
principles such as the following:

the spoken form o f a language is prim ary

a n d sh o u ld be tau g h t first;
the findings of phonetics should be applied
to language teaching;
language teachers m ust have solid train in g
in phonetics;
learners should be given p h o n e tic training
to establish good speech habits.

T h e work o f these p h o n etician s focused on the

te a c h in g o f p ro n u n c ia tio n a n d o ral skills,
which they felt h ad b een ignored in G ram m arT ranslation. Thus, a lth o u g h the R eform Move
m e n t is n o t necessarily considered a full-blown
pedagogical a p p ro ach to language teaching, its
a d h e re n ts did have an in flu en ce on fu tu re
approaches, as we shall see.

Q uite apart from the work o f the Reform

M ovement, the influence of the Direct M ethod
grew; it crossed the Atlantic in the early twentieth
century w hen Emile de Sauze, a disciple of
Gouin, cam e to Cleveland, O hio, in o rd er to see
to it th at all foreign language instruction in the
public schools there im plem ented the Direct
M ethod. De Sauzes endeavor, however, was not
com pletely successful (in C leveland o r else
where) since there were too few foreign language
teachers in the U nited States, who were fluent
speakers of the language thev taught. Later, the
M odern Language Association of Am erica, based
on th e C olem an R ep o rt (C olem an 1929),
endorsed the R eading A pproach to language
teaching, since given the skills and lim itations of
most language teachers, all that one could rea
sonably expect was th at students w ould com e
away from the study o f a foreign language able
to read the target lan g u a g e with em phasis on
some o f th e great works o f literatu re a n d philos
ophy th at h ad b e e n p ro d u ce d in the language.
T h e R eading A pproach, as reflected in the
work o f M ichael West (1941) a n d others, held
sway in the U n ited States until the late 1930s and
early 1940s, w hen W orld War II broke out and
m ade it im perative for the U.S. military to quickly
and efficiently teach foreign language learners
how to speak a n d u n d e rs ta n d a language.
At this tim e, the U.S. governm ent h ired linguists
to help teach languages and develop materials:
the A udiolingual A pproach (Lries 1945), which
drew heavily on structural linguistics (Bloomfield
1933) a n d behavioral psychology (Skinner 1957),
was born. In Britain the same historical pressures
gave rise to the O ral o r Situational A pproach
(e.g., Pittm an 1963), which drew on Firthian
Linguistics (codified in the work o f F irth s bestknown student, M. A. K. Hallidav [1973]) as well
as draw ing on the ex p erien ce of B ritains lan
guage educators with oral ap p ro ach es to foreign
language teaching. .Although som ew hat influ
en ced by, b u t less dogm atic th an , its A m erican
c o u n te rp a rt (the A udiolingual A p p ro ach ), the
O ral o r Situational A pproach advocated o rg an
izing structures a ro u n d situations th at would
provide the lea rn er with m axim um opportunity
to practice the target language, with p ractice

nonetheless often being little m ore than choral

repetition. Some historians o f language teaching
(e.g., Howatt 1984) believe th at the earlier Reform
M ovem ent played a role in the developm ent of
both Audiolingualism in the U nited States and
the Oral-Situational A pproach in Britain.

Nine Twentieth-Century Approaches

to Language Teaching
In addidon to the Grammar-Translation Approach,
the Direct A pproach,2 the Reading Approach, the
Audiolingual Approach, and the Oral-Situadonal
A p proach whose historical developm ent I have
sketched above briefly there are four o th er
d iscernible ap p ro a c h e s to foreign language
teaching that developed and were widely used
d u rin g the final q u arter of the tw entieth century'.
Thus, there are nine approaches altogether th at I
shall be referring to:


G ram m ar-Translation
R eading
A udiolingualism (U nited States)
O ral-Situational (Britain)
Affective-Hum anistic
C om prehension-B ased
C om m unicative

However, before listing the features o f each

app ro ach , I w ould like to digress a m o m e n t to
clarify som e term inology that is crucial to this
discussion. Namely, what do we m ean by the
term s approach, method, a n d technique? Are these
term s synonymous? If not, how do they differ?
A nthony (1963) has provided a useful set of def
initions for o u r purposes. An approach to lan
guage teach in g is so m eth in g th at reflects a
certain m odel o r research p a ra d ig m a theory,
if vou like. This term is the broadest o f the three.
A method, on the o th e r h and, is a set of p ro ce
dures, i.e., a system th at spells out ra th e r precise
ly how to teach a second or foreign language.
It is m ore specific than an ap p ro ach b u t less
specific than a technique. M ethods are typically
c o m p a tib le w ith o n e (o r som etim es two)

approaches. A technique is a classroom device or

activity an d thus represents the narrow est o f the
th re e concepts. Som e techniques are widely
used a n d fo u n d in m any m ethods (e.g., dicta
tion, im itation, an d rep e titio n ); however, some
techniques are specific to o r characteristic of a
given m eth o d (e.g., using cuisinaire rods = the
Silent Way [G attegno 1976]).
T he m ost problem atic o f A nthonys three
term s is method. M ethods proliferated in the
1970s. Thev were typically very specific in term s
o f the procedures a n d m aterials that the teacher,
w ho req u ired special training, was supposed to
use. They were alm ost always developed and
defined by one person. This person, in turn,
train ed practitioners who accepted the m eth o d
as gospel and h elp ed to spread the word. Some
m ethods an d th eir originators follow:

Silent Wav (G attegno 1976)

G om m im itv L anguage L earning (C urran
Total Physical R esponse (Asher 1977)
Suggestologv, Suggestopedia, o r A ccelerated
L earning (Lozanov 1978)

However, the lack o f flexibility in such m ethods

led som e ap p lied linguists (e.g., R ichards 1984)
to seriouslv q u e stio n th e ir usefulness a n d
aroused a healthy skepticism am ong language
educators, who arg u ed that th ere is no such
th in g as the best m e th o d :
the com plex circum stances o f teach
ing a n d le a rn in g lan g u ag es with
d ifferen t kinds o f pupils, teachers,
aim s a n d objectives, a p p ro a c h e s,
m eth o d s, a n d m aterials, classroom
techniques a n d standards of achieve
m e n t m ake it inconceivable that any
single m e th o d could achieve o p ti
m um success in all circum stances.
(Strevens 1977, p. 5).
At this p o in t I will outline each of the nine
ap p ro ach es listed above. In addition, I will note
any special proficiency o r role th a t the tea c h e r is
exp ected (or not expected) to fulfill.
1. Grammar-Translation Approach (an ex ten
sion of the approach used to teach classical
languages to the teaching of m odern languages)

a. Instruction is given in the native language of

the students.
b. T h ere is little use o f the target language for
com m unication.
c. Focus is on gram m atical parsing, i.e., the
form an d inflection o f words.
d. T h ere is early read in g o f difficult texts.
e. A typical exercise is to translate sentences
from the target language into the m o th e r
tongue (or vice versa).
f. T h e result o f this ap p ro ach is usually an
inability on the p a rt o f the student to use the
language for com m unication.
g. T he teach er does n o t have to be able to
speak the target language.
2. Direct Approach (a reaction to the Gramm arTranslation A pproach and its failure to produce
learn ers who could com m unicate in the
foreign language thev had been studying)


No use o f the m o th e r tongue is p e rm itted

(i.e., the teach er does not n e e d to knew the
stu d e n ts native language).
Lessons begin with dialogues a n d anecdotes
in m o d e rn conversational stvle.
A ctions a n d pictu res arc used to m ake
m eanings clear.
G ram m ar is learn ed inductively.
Literary texts are read for pleasure a n d are
n o t analyzed gram m atically.
T he target culture is also tau g h t inductively.
The teacher m ust be a native speaker or have
nativelike proficiency in the target language.

3. Reading Approach (a reaction to the prob

lems experienced in im plem enting the Direct
Approach; reading was viewed as the m ost usable
skill to have in a foreign language since not many
people traveled abroad at that time; also, few
teachers could use their foreign language well
enough to use a direct approach effectively in
Only the gram m ar useful for read in g com
p reh e n sio n is taught.
b. Vocabulary is controlled at first (based on fre
quency and usefulness) an d then expanded.
c. T ranslation is once m ore a respectable class
room pro ced u re.

d. R eading com prehension is the onlv language

skill em phasized.
e. T he tea c h e r does n o t n e e d to have good oral
proficiency in the target language.
4. Audiolingualism (a reaction to the R eading
- oproach an d its lack of em phasis on oral-aural
-sails: this ap p ro ach becam e d o m in an t in the
V nited States d u rin g the 1940s, 1950s, and
zoOs: it draws from the Reform M ovem ent and
me D irect A pproach but adds features from
m u c tu ra l linguistics [B loom field 1933] an d
tehavioral psychology [Skinner 1957] )


Lessons begin with dialogues.

Mimicry a n d m em orization are used, based
on the assum ption that language is habit
form ation.
G ram m atical structures are sequenced and
rules are tau g h t inductively.
Skills are sequenced: listening, speaking
reading, w riting postponed.
Pronunciation is stressed from the beginning.
Vocabulary is severely lim ited in initial stages,
A great effort is m ade to prevent lea rn er
L anguage is o fte n m a n ip u la te d w ith o u t
regard to m ea n in g o r context,
T he teacher m ust be proficient onlv in the
structures, vocabulary, etc. that he or she is
teaching since learning activities and m ateri
als are carefully controlled.

5. Oral-Situational Approach (a reaction to the

T rad in g A pproach an d its lack of em phasis on
ral-aural skills; this ap p ro ach was d o m in a n t in
brttain d u rin g the 1940s, 1950s. a n d 1960s; it
araws from the R eform M ovem ent an d the
Direct A pproach b u t adds features from F irthian
anguishes an d the em erg in g professional field
: language pedagogy)
a. T he spoken language is primary.
b. All language m aterial is practiced orally
b efo re b e in g p re s e n te d in w ritten form
i read in g a n d w riting are tau g h t only after an
oral base in lexical an d gram m atical form s
has b e e n established).
c. Only the target language should be used in
the classroom.

d. Efforts are m ade to ensure that the m ost gen

eral an d useful lexical items are presented.
e. G ram m atical structures are g rad ed from
sim ple to com plex.
f. New item s (lexical an d gram m atical) are
in tro d u c e d a n d practiced situationallv (e.g.,
at the post office, at the bank, at the d in n e r
ta b le ).
6. Cognitive Approach (a reaction to the behaviorist features of the A udiolingual A pproach;
in flu e n ce d bv cognitive psychology [X eisser
1967] a n d C hom skyan linguistics [Chom sky
a. L anguage learn in g is viewed as rule acquisi
tion, not habit form ation.
b. In struction is often individualized; learners
are responsible for th eir own learning.
c. G ram m ar m ust be taught but it can be taught
deductively (rules first, practice later) a n d /
or inductively (rules can either be stated after
practice or left as im plicit inform ation for the
learners to process on their own).
d. P ronunciation is de-em phasized; perfection is
viewed as unrealistic and unattainable.
e. R eading and writing are once again as im por
tant as listening and speaking.
f. Vocabulary instruction is once again im por
tant, especially at interm ediate and advanced
g. E rrors are viewed as inevitable, to be used
constructively in the learning process.
h. T he teacher is expected to have good general
proficiency in the target language as well as
an ability to analyze the target language.
7. Affective-Humanistic3 Approach (a reaction
to the general lack o f affective considerations
in b o th A udiolingualism an d the Cognitive
Approach: e.g., Moskowitz 1978 and C urran 1976).
a. R espect is em phasized for the individual
(each student, the teacher) a n d for his o r
h e r feelings.
b. C om m unication that is m eaningful to the
lea rn er is em phasized.
c. In struction involves m uch work in pairs a n d
small groups.


("lass a tm o sp h ere is viewed as m ore im p o r

tant than m aterials o r m ethods.
e. P eer su p p o rt and in teractio n are viewed as
necessarv for learning.
f. L earn in g a foreign language is viewed as a
self-realization experience.
g. T he teacher is a counselor or facilitator.
h. T he teacher should be proficient in the target
language and the stu d e n ts native language
since translation may be used heavilv in the
initial stages to help students feel at ease; later
it is gradually phased out.
8. Com prehension-Based Approach (an o u t
growth o f research in first language acquisition
that led some language m ethodologists to assume
th at second o r foreign language learn in g is
very' sim ilar to first language acquisition; e.g..
Postovsky 1974; Winitz 1981; K rashen an d Terrell
a. Listening c o m p re h en sio n is very im p o rtan t
and is viewed as the basic skill th at will allow
speaking, reading, an d w riting to develop
spontaneously over tim e, given the right
b. L earners should begin by listening to m ean
ingful speech and bv responding nonverballv
in m eaningful wavs before thev produce anv
language themselves.
c. L earners should not speak until thev feel
ready to do so; this results in b e tte r p ro n u n
ciation th an if the le a rn e r is forced to speak
im m ediately.
d. L earners progress bv being exposed to m ean
ingful in p u t that is just one step beyond th eir
level of com petence.
e. Rule learn in g mav h elp learners m o n ito r (or
becom e aware of) w hat they do, b u t it will
n o t aid th eir acquisition o r sp ontaneous use
o f the target language.
f. E rro r correction is seen as unnecessarv and
p erh ap s even co unterproductive; the im p o r
ta n t th in g is th at the learners can u n d e r
stand a n d can m ake them selves u n d ersto o d .
g. If the teacher is n o t a native (or near-native)
speaker, appropriate m aterials such as audiotapes and \ideotapes m ust be available to pro
vide the appropriate input for the learners.

9. Communicative Approach (an outgrow th of

the work of anthropological linguists [e.g., Hymes
1972] and Firthian linguists [e.g., Hallidav 1973],
who \iew language first and forem ost as a svstem
for com m unication; see Savignons chapter in this
a. It is assum ed that the goal of language teach
ing is le a rn e r abilitv to com m unicate in the
target language.
b. It is assum ed that the co n ten t of a language
course will include sem antic notions and
social functions, n o t just linguistic structures.
c. S tudents regularlv work in groups or pairs to
transfer (and, if necessarv, negotiate) m ean
ing in situations in which one person has
in form ation that the o th er(s) lack.
d. Students often engage in role play o r d ram a
tization to adjust th eir use of the target lan
guage to different social contexts.
e. Classroom m aterials a n d activities are often
au th en tic to reflect real-life situations an d
dem ands.
f. Skills are integrated from the beginning; a
given activity m ight involve reading, speak
ing, listening, and also writing (this assumes
the learners are educated and literate).
g. The teacher's role is primarily to facilitate
com m unication and onlv secondarily to cor
rect errors.
h. T he teach er should be able to use the target
language fluentlv and appropriately.
To sum up, we can see that certain features
o f several o f the first five approaches arose in
reaction to perceived inadequacies or im practicalities in an earlier ap p ro ach o r approaches.
T h e fo u r m ore recentlv developed approaches
also do this to som e extent; however, each one
is g ro u n d e d on a slightlv different theorv or
view o f how p eo p le learn second o r foreign lan
guages o r how people use languages, a n d each
has a central p oint a ro u n d which everything else
Cognitive Approach: Language is rule-governed
cognitive behavior (not habit form ation).
Affective-Humanistic Approach: L e a rn in g a
foreign language is a process of selfrealization and of relating to o ther people.

Comprehension Approach: Language acquisition

occurs if and only if the learner com pre
hends m eaningful input.
Communicative Approach: T he p u rp o se of
language (and thus the goal of language
teaching) is com m unication.
These four m ore recent approaches tire not
necessarily in conflict or totallx incom patible
since it is not difficult to conceive of an inte
grated approach which would include attention
to rule form ation, affect, co m p reh en sio n , and
c o m m u n ic a tio n a n d w hich w ould view the
lea rn er as som eone who thinks, feels, u n d e r
stands, and has som ething to saw In fact, many
teachers would find such an approach, if well con
ceived and well integrated, to be very attractiv e.

A Note on Approach, Method,

and Syllabus Type
We now u n d erstan d that an approach is general
(e.g., C ognitiye), that a m eth o d is a specific set
o f pro ced u res m ore or less com patible with an
approach (e.g., the Silent Way), and that a tech
nique is a y e n specific type of learning activity
used in one o r m ore m ethods (e.g.. using col
ored rods of varying lengths to cue and facilitate
language practice in the Silent Wav). Historically,
an approach o r m eth o d also tends to be used
in conjunction with a syllabus, which is an inv en
tory o f objectives the lea rn er should master: this
inventory is som etim es presented in a recom
m en d ed sequence and is used to design courses
a n d teaching m aterials.
W hat sort of syllabuses have been used with
the approaches discussed above? Most o f them
have used implicitly o r explicitly a structural
syllabus, which consists of a list of gram m atical
inflections an d constructions that the tea c h e r is
expected to teach a n d the lea rn er is expected to
master. T he Gram m ar-Translation A pproach, the
Direct A pproach, the Audiolingual A pproach,
the Cognitive A pproach, and even some m ethods
following the C om prehension A pproach have all
em ployed a structural syllabus. In o th e r words,
teachers and textbook writers following these
a p p ro a c h e s have o rg a n iz e d th e ir lan g u ag e
courses a n d language-teaching m aterials a ro u n d

g ram m ar p o in ts, with A u diolingualism also

specifying p ro n u n cia tio n points a n d the OralSituational A pproach often specifying vocabu
lary objectives in additional to gram m ar.
In contrast to the structural svllabus, the
R eading A pproach is text-based: this kind of
language course is organized aro u n d texts a n d
vocabulary item s with only m in o r consideration
given to gram m ar.
In the Oral-Situational A pproach, th ere is
often a dual-objective svllabus in which various
situations are specified for instruction (e.g., the
post office, a restaurant, a bus, the doctor's
office, etc.), along with some of the structures
and the vocabulary that one m ight n eed to p ro
duce the language n eed ed in these situations.
In the Com m unicative A pproach, one type
of sv llabus is organized around notions (m eanings
such as spatial location, time, degree) and func
tions (social transactions and interactions such as
asking for inform ation or com plim enting som e
one). In this svllabus form at, gram m ar and vocaltularv are secondary, being taught not as ends in
themselves, but only insofar as they help express
the notions and functions that are in focus. Many
adherents of the Com m unicative A pproach, how
ever. reject anv sort of atomistic svllabus, w hether
structural or notional-functional. They advocate
instead a comm unicative svllabus (i.e., a processbased or task-based svllabus) in which real-world
tasks and authentic materials are used to design
language courses (Yalden 1983).
T he .Affective-Humanistic A pp ro ach has
p ro d u ced the most radical svllabus type the
learner-generated svllabus. Thus, in m ethods like
Communitv Language L earning (C urran 1976)
and Project W ork (see Evring's c h ap ter in this
volum e), the learners decide what thev want to
learn and what thev want to be able to do with
the target language. For a fuller discussion o f syl
labus design, see X unan's ch ap ter in this volume.

W hat is the solution for the ESL/EFL teacher,
giv en the abundance of past, cu rren t, an d future
approaches.- T he only wav to m ake wise decisions

is to learn m ore about the various approaches

a n d m ethods available and to find out which
practices have proved successful (see the ch ap ter
by C rookes and C h audron in this volum e). This
c h a p te r has just scratched the surface. F urth er
inform ation is available in the rem a in d e r o f this
volum e a n d in m any o th e r books, in journal
articles, at professional conferences and work
shops, an d on the W orld W ide Web.
T here are also five o th er things the teacher
should do to m ake good decisions concerning the
choice o f an approach, a m ethod (or m ethods),
and finally techniques and materials:
1. Assess student needs: Whv should thev be
learning English? For what purpose? (See
Jo h n s and Price-M achados chapter in this
v olum e).
2. E xam ine in stru ctio n a l constraints: tim e
(hours p er week, davs p er week, weeks per
term ); class size (nature o f enrollm ent): ma
terials (set syllabus and text, or com pletely
open to teacher?); phvsical factors (classroom
size, AV support). T hen decide what can rea
sonably be taught.
3. D eterm ine the attitudes and learning styles
(see O xford's c h ap ter in this volum e) of
individual students to the extent that this is
possible, and develop activities and m aterials
consistent with the findings.
4. Identify the discourse genres, speech activi
ties, a n d text tvpes that the students n e e d to
learn so th at you can in co rp o rate them into
m aterials an d learn in g activities.
5. Specify how the students' language learning
will be assessed (see C ohen's ch ap ter in this
volum e.)
H aving do n e all these, the teach er will be in a
position to select the m ost useful techniques or
principles a n d to design a productive course
o f studv by draw ing from available approaches,
syllabus types, a n d existing research findings.
Clifford Prator, a fo rm e r professor a n d col
league of m ine, sum m ed up the professional
EST te a c h e rs responsibility nicely (personal
c o m m u n ic a tio n ):
Adapt; don 4 adopt.

Teachers are certainly in a b e tte r position to f klow P rator's advice if they are fam iliar with the
history an d the state o f the art o f o u r profession
Som e suggestions for fu rth e r read in g are pr o
vided below to aid the re a d e r in attaining the>r
In fact, all of the chapters in this volurtencl with discussion questions, suggested actruties. suggestions for fu rth e r reading, and. whenu
relevant, useful Web sites. Section 1 o f this y.; tim e discusses topics in language m e th o d o lo r
Section 2 focuses on teaching the individual lan
guage skills. Section 3 presents som e integrate 1
ap p ro ach es to language teaching, Section
focuses on specific groups o f learners, an. a
Section 5 provides language teachers with back
g ro u n d inform ation and skills th a t will heir
them becom e m ore know ledgeable a n d skill: vk

1. W hat has been the attitude tow ard the teach
ing of (a) p ro n u n cia tio n , (b) gram m ar, and
(c) vocabulary in the n in e approaches dis
cussed in this chapter? Has th ere been .swinging of the pendelum ? Why o r whv not?
2. W hat changes have occurred regarding the
position of spoken language a n d w ritten lan
guage in the carious approaches? Why?
3. W hich of these approaches have you person
ally experienced as a language learner? W hat
were vour impressions and what is your assess
m ent of the effectiveness of the approach (es i?
4. W hich a p p ro ach (es) do vou, as a teacher,
feel m ost com fortable with? Whv?

1. Select an in teg rated skills E SL /EFL text that
vou have used o r expect to use. Exam ine its
contents to d eterm in e which ap p ro ach it
seems to follow m ost closelv. S u p p o rt your
decision with exam ples. Discuss any m ixing
of approaches that you observe.

2. Exam ine any English language proficiency

test, standardized or otherw ise. See if you
can d etect a m ethodological bias in the test.
S upport your conclusion (s) with exam ples.
'3. W hat kinds of language learn ers do you
teach (or expect to teach)? Be as specific as
possible. W hich ap proach (es) would s e n e
such a p o p u latio n best? Why?

.reciters interested in the history of the language
reciting profession should consult:
H w att. A. P. R. 1984. A History of English Language
Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Wily. L. G. 1969. Twenty-Five Centuries of Language
Teaching. New York: Newbury Elouse.
Teachers interested in the current state of the art in
_ ; teaching methodology should consult:
Larsen-Frecman, D. 2000b. Techniques and Principles
in Language 'Teaching. 2d ed. New York: Oxford
University Press.

Richards, J. C., and T. S. Rodgers. 1986. Approaches

and Methods in Language Teaching. New York:
Cambridge University Press.
Stern. H. H. 1983. Fundamental Concepts of Language
Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

1 Precursors to this chapter were published in the
Mextesol journal (Celce-Murcia 1980) and Practical
English Teaching (Celce-Murcia 1981). This is a
revised and updated version based on these and
several other sources, notably Kelly (1969), Madsen
(1979). Blair (1991), and Prator with Celce-Murcia
(1979). and Celce-Murcia (1991b).
- The term Direct Method is more widely used than
Direct Approach: however, the former is a misnomer,
since this is reallv an approach, not a method, if we
follow Anthonys (1963) terminology.
The term humanistic has two meanings. One refers
to the humanities (i.e.. literature, history, phi
losophy) . The other refers to that branch of psy
chology concerned with the role of the socioaffective domain in human behavior. It is the latter
sense that I am referring to here. However, see
Stevick (1990) for an even broader perspective on
humanism in language teaching.

Communicative Language Teaching

for the Twenty-First Century
S A N D R A J. S A V I G N O N

In "Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) for the Twenty-First Century" Savignon identifies five
components of a communicative curriculum. She sees the identification of learner communicative
needs and goals as the first step in the development of a teaching program that involves learners as
active participants in the interpretation, expression, and negotiation of meaning.

You may not loiter downtown in ire cream

stores. You may not ride in a carriage or
automobile with any man unless he is your
father or brother. You may not dress in
bright colors. You must wear at least two
petticoats. You must start the fire at 7 ..
so the school room will be warm by 8 ..
Rules for teachers,
G oodland, Kansas (1915)1
W hat d o you th in k of the above 1915 Rules for
Teachers? Do they seem som ew hat strange o r o u t
dated? Do they m ake you smile? If vou had been
a tale n te d new teach er in G oodland, Kansas, in
1915, you m ost likely w ould have fo u n d these
rules to be the m ark o f a school system with high
standards. No d o u b t the standards set for stu
dents were as high as those set for teachers.
Teachers in G oodland could co u n t on students
to be respectful a n d diligent. In tu rn , teachers
w ere expected to set a good exam ple.
Teachers have alwavs been expected to set a
good exam ple for learners, to provide a m odel of
behavior. But as the 1915 rules for teachers so
d early rem in d us, the m odel can an d does
change. W hat seems a good exam ple in one tim e
or place, a given context of situation, may seem
quite strange or in ap p ro p riate in a n o th e r tim e or
place. A nd so it is with language teaching. As this
v o lu m e s in tro d u c to ry c h a p te r by M arian n e
Celce-M urcia shows, teachers have fo u n d m any
ways o r m ethods for teaching languages. All have
b een ad m ired m odels in som e tim e or place,
often to be ridiculed, perhaps, or dism issed as

in ap p ro p riate in yet another. Times change, fash

ions change. W hat may once ap p ear new and
prom ising can subsequently seem strange and
W ithin the last q u a rte r century, com m u
nicative language teaching (CLT) has b een p u t
forth aro u n d the world as the new, or innova
tive," way to teach English as a second o r foreign
language. T eaching m aterials, course descrip
tions, a n d curriculum guidelines proclaim a goal
o f communicative competence. For exam ple, The
Course of Study for Senior High School, guidelines
p u b lish e d by th e J a p a n e s e M inistry o f
E ducation, Science, a n d C ulture (M om busho)
state the objectives o f ELT: To develop stu d e n ts
ability to u n d e rsta n d a n d to express them selves
in a foreign language; to foster stu d e n ts positive
attitu d e towards com m unicating in a foreign
language, and to heighten their interest in lan
guage an d culture, thus d e ep en in g international
u n d e rsta n d in g (Wada 1994, p. 1). M inoru Wada,
a university professor a n d a senior advisor to
M om busho in prom oting ELT reform in Japan,
explains the significance o f these guidelines:
T h e M om busho G uidelines, or course
o f study, is o n e o f the m ost im p o rta n t
legal precepts in the Ja p an e se educa
tional system. It establishes national
standards for elem entary an d second
ary schools. It also regulates co n ten t,
the stan d ard n u m b e r of a n n u al teach
ing hours at lower level secondary
[junior high] schools, subject areas,

subjects, an d the stan d ard n u m b e r of

req u ired credits at u p p e r level second
ary [senior high] schools. T he course
o f study for the teach in g o f English as
a foreign language a n n o u n c e d bv the
M inistry o f E ducation, Science, and
C ulture in 1989 stands as a landm ark
in the history of English ed u cation in
Japan. For the first tim e it in tro d u c ed
in to English ed u catio n at b o th sec
ondary school levels the concept of
communicative competence. In 1989. the
M inistry o f E ducation, Science, and
C ulture revised the course o f study for
prim ary as well as secondary schools
on the basis o f proposals m ade in a
1987 re p o rt by the C ouncil on the
School C urriculum , an advisory g roup
to the M inister of E ducation, Science,
an d C ulture. T he basic goal o f the
revision was to p rep a re students to
co p e with th e rapidly o c c u rrin g
changes toward a m ore global society.
T h e re p o rt u rg e d Jap an ese teachers to
place m uch m ore em phasis on the
developm ent o f com m unicative com
p eten ce in English.
Parallel efforts are underw ay in nearbv Taiwan
for sim ilar reasons. Based on in-depth interviews
o f e x p e rt tea c h e r educators, W ang (in press)
rep o rts on the progress (see also W ang 2000):
M uch has b een d o n e to m eet the
d em an d for co m p eten t English users
a n d effective te a c h in g in Taiwan.
C u rren t im provem ents, according to
th e te a c h e r experts, in clu d e the
change in en tran ce exam inations, the
new curriculum with a goal of teaching
for com m unicative com petence, and
th e island-w ide im p le m e n ta tio n in
2001 o f English education in the ele
m entary schools. However, m ore has to
be d o n e to ensure quality teaching and
learn in g in the classrooms. Based on
the teach er ex p erts accounts, fu rth e r
im provem ents can be stratified into
th re e in te rre la te d levels rela te d to

teachers, school authorities, an d the

governm ent. Each is essential to the
success of the o th ers' efforts.
This c h a p te r looks at the p h e n o m e n o n of
com m unicative language teaching (GET). W hat
is GLT? How and whv did it develop? W hat are
the theoretical u n d e rp in n in g s o f this ap p ro ach
to language teaching? How has GET b een in te r
p re te d an d im p lem en ted in various contexts?
K eeping in m ind the needs a n d goals of learners
a n d the traditions o f classroom teaching, w hat
are som e wavs for teachers to shape a m ore com
m unicative ap proach to ELT in the context o f
th eir own situation?

Xot long ago, w hen A m erican structural linguis
tics and behaviorist psychology were the prevail
ing influences in language teaching m ethods
and m aterials, second 'foreign language teachers
talked about com m unication in term s of four
language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and
w riting. T h ese skill categories w ere widelv
accepted and provided a readv-m ade fram ew ork
for m ethods m anuals, learn er course m aterials,
and teacher education program s. Speaking and
writing were collectively described as active skills,
reading and listening as passive skills.
Todav. listeners and readers no lo n g er are
reg ard ed as passive. Thev are seen as active
particip an ts in the n eg o tiatio n o f m eaning.
Schemata, expectancies, a n d top-down/bottom-up
processing are am ong the term s now used to cap
ture the necessarily com plex, interactive n a tu re
of this negotiation. Yet full and w idespread
u n d e rsta n d in g o f com m unication as negotiation
has been h in d e re d bv the term s th at cam e to
replace the earlier active/passive dichotom y.
T he skills n e e d e d to engage in speaking a n d
w riting activities were described subsequently as
productive, w hereas listening an d reading skills
were said to be receptive.
While certainly an im provem ent over the
earlier active 'passive representation, the term s
productive" and receptive fall short of captur
ing the interactive nature o f com m unication. Lost

in this p ro d u ctiv e,/recep tiv e, m essage sendin g /m e ssa g e receiving re p re se n ta tio n is tlte
collaborative natu re o f m aking m eaning. M eaning
appears fixed, to be sent an d received, not
unlike a football in the bands of a team q u a rte r
back. T he interest of a football gam e lies of
course n o t in the football, but in the m ores and
strategies o f the plavers as tliev punt, pass, and
fake th eir wav along the field. T he interest of
com m unication lies similarlv in the m ores and
strategies of the participants. T he term s that best
represent the collaborative natu re of what goes
on are interpretation, expression, and negotiation
o f m eaning. T he com m unicative com petence
n e e d ed for participation includes not onlv gram
m atical com petence, but pragm atic com petence.
T he inadequacv o f a four-skills m odel of
language use is now recognized. And the short
com ings of audiolingual m ethodologv are wiclelv
acknow ledged. T here is g e n e ra l a ccep tan ce
o f the com plexity and in terrelatedness of skills
in b o th w ritten and oral com m unication and
o f the n e e d for learners to h are the experience
o f com m unication, to participate in the negotia
tion of m eaning. Newer, m ore com prehensive
theories o f language an d language behavior
have replaced those that looked to A m erican
structuralism and behaviorist psvchologv for
support. T he ex p an d ed , interactive view of lan
guage behavior they offer presents a n u m b e r of
ch allen g es for teachers. A m ong th em , how
should form and function be in teg rated in an
instructional sequence? W hat is an ap p ro p riate
norm for learners? Hots is it determ ined? W hat
is an error? A nd what, if anvthing. should be
do n e w hen one occurs? Hots is language lea rn
ing success to be m easured? A cceptance o f com
m unicative criteria entails a c o m m itm en t to
address these adm ittedlv com plex issues.

T h e origins of con tem p o rarv CLT can be traced
to c o n c u rre n t developm ents in b o th E urope a n d
N orth Am erica. In E urope, the language needs
of a rapidlv increasing g ro u p of im m igrants and
guest workers, as well as a rich British linguistic

tradition in cluding social as well as linguistic

context in description of language behavior led
the C ouncil o f E urope to develop a svllabus for
learners based on notional-functional concepts
o f language use. Derived from neo-F irthian sys
temic o r functional linguistics that views language
as meaning potential and m aintains the centrality
of context o f situation in u n d e rsta n d in g lan
guage systems an d how thev work, a T h resh o ld
Level o f language abilitv was described for each
of the m ajor languages o f E urope in term s of
what learners should be able to do with the lan
guage (ban Ek 1975). Functions were based on
assessm ent o f lea rn er needs a n d specified the
e n d result, the goal of an instructional program .
T he term communicative attach ed itself to p ro
gram s that used a functional-notional syllabus
based on needs assessm ent, and the language
fo r specific p u rp o se s (LSP) m o v em en t was
O th e r E uropean developm ents focused on
the process of com m unicative classroom language
learning. In Germanv, for exam ple, against a
backdrop of social dem ocratic concerns for indi
vidual em pow erm ent, articulated in the writings
o f th e c o n te m p o ra rv p h ilo s o p h e r Ju rg en
H aberm as (1970). language teaching m eth o d o l
ogists took the lead in the developm ent o f class
room m aterials that e n co u rag ed le a rn e r choice
(C andlin 1978). T h e ir svstematic collection of
exercise tvpes for com m unicatively o rie n te d
English language teaching were used in teach er
in-service courses a n d workshops to guide cu r
riculum change. Exercises were designed to
exploit the varietv of social m eanings co n tain ed
within p articular gram m atical structures. A sys
tem of "chains" en couraged teachers a n d learn
ers to define their own learning path th ro u g h
p rin c ip le d selection o f relevant exercises
(P iep h o 1974: P iep h o an d B redella 1976).
Similar exploratorv projects were also initiated bv
C an d lin at his th e n academ ic h o m e, the
L'niversitv of Lancaster in England, and bv H olec
(1979) an d his colleagues at the University
o f N aurs in France. S upplem entary tea c h e r
resource m aterials p rom oting classroom CLT
becam e increasinglv p o p u lar d u rin g the 1970s
(e.g.. Males and Duff 1978).

M eanw hile, in the U n ited States. Hemes

(1971) h a d reacted to Chom sky's (1965) ch ar
acterization o f the linguistic com p eten ce of the
ideal native speaker a n d p ro p o sed the term
communicative competence to rep resen t the use of
language in social context, or the observance of
sociolinguistic norm s o f ap p ro p riat e. His concern
with speech com m unities and the integration of
language, com m unication, and culture was not
unlike th at of Halliday in the British linguistic tra
dition (see Hallidav 1978). Hvmes's com m unica
tive com petence mav be seen as the equivalent of
Hallidavs m eaning potential. Similarly, his focus
was n o t language learning, but language as social
behavior. In subsequent interpretations of the sig
nificance o f Hvmes's views for learners, m eth o d
ologists working in the U nited States ten d ed to
focus on native speaker cultural norm s and the
difficulty, if n o t impossibility, of authentically
representing them in a classroom of nonnative
speakers. In light of this difficulty, the ap propri
ateness o f com m unicative com petence as an
instructional goal was questioned (e.g., Paulston
At the same tim e, in a research project at the
University7 o f Illinois, Savignon (1972) used the
term com m unicative com petence to charac
terize the ability of classroom language learners
to interact with o th er speakers, to m ake m eaning,
as distinct from their ability to recite dialogs or
perform on discrete-point tests of gram m atical
knowledge. At a tim e when p attern practice and
erro r avoidance were the rule in language teach
ing, this study of adult classroom acquisition of
F rench looked at the effect o f practice on the use
of coping strategies as part of an instructional pro
gram . By encouraging learners to ask for inform a
tion, to seek clarification, to use circum locution
an d w'hatever o th er linguistic and nonlinguistic
resources thev could m uster to negotiate m eaning
and stick to the com m unicative task at hand,
teachers were invariably leading learners to take
risks and speak in o th er than m em orized patterns.
T he coping strategies identified in this study
becam e the basis for subsequent identification bv
Canale and Swain (1980) of strategic competence
w hich along with gram m atical com petence and
sociolinguistic com petence appeared in their

three co m ponent fram ew ork for com m unicative

com petence. (The original Canale and Swain
fram ew ork with su b seq u en t m odifications is
discussed below.) Test results at the end o f the
instructional p eriod showed conclusively that
learners who had practiced com m unication in
lieu o f lab o ra to ry p a tte rn drills p e rfo rm e d
with no less accuracy on discrete-point tests of
gram m atical structure. O n the o th er h and, their
communicative competence as m easured in term s of
fluency com prehensibility, effort, an d am o u n t of
com m unication in u n reh earsed oral com m u
nicative tasks significantly surpassed th at of
learners who had h ad no such practice. L earner
reactions to the test form ats lent fu rth e r su p p o rt
to the view that even beginners resp o n d well to
activities that let them focus on m eaning as
opposed to form al features.
A collection of role plavs, games, an d o th er
com m unicative classroom activities were subse
quently developed for inclusion in adaptating
the French CREDIF- m aterials, Yoix el Visages de
la France. T he accom panying guide (Savignon
1974) described their purpose as that o f involving
learners in the experience of com m unication.
Teachers were encouraged to provide learners
with the French equivalent of expressions that
would help them to participate in the negotiation
of m eaning such as 'W hat's the word for . . . ?
Please repeat," I d o n 't u n d e rsta n d . Not unlike
the efforts of C andlin and his colleagues w orking
in a E uropean EFT context, the focus here was
on classroom process and lea rn er autonom y.
T he use o f games, role play pair work, and o th er
small-group activ ities has gained acceptance and
is now widely reco m m en d ed for inclusion in
language teaching program s.
CLT thus can be seen to derive from a m ul
tidisciplinary perspective that includes, at a m in
im u m , linguistics, psychology, philosophy,
sociology, and ed ucational research. Its focus
has b een the elab o ratio n a n d im p lem en tatio n
o f program s and m ethodologies th at p ro m o te
the developm ent of functional language ability
th ro u g h lea rn er participation in com m unicative
events. C entral to CLT is the u n d e rsta n d in g of
language learn in g as both an ed ucational a n d a
political isstte. L anguage teaching is inextricably

tied to language police. Viewed from a m ulticul

tural //m national as well as //m iatio n al p er
spective, diverse sociopolitical contexts m andate
n o t only a diverse set of language learn in g goals,
b u t a diverse set of teaching strategies. Program
design a n d im p lem en tatio n d e p e n d on negoti
a tio n b etw een police m akers, linguists, re
search ers, a n d teach ers. A nd evaluation of
p rogram success requires a sim ilar collaborative
effort. T he selection of m ethods an d m aterials
a p p ro p riate to both the goals and context of
tea c h in g begins with an analvsis of sociallv
defined lea rn er needs and stvles o f learning.

not include the abilitv to state rules o f usage. O ne

dem onstrates gram m atical com petence n o t by
staling a rule b u t by using a rule in the in te rp re
tation, expression, or negotiation of m eaning.

T he classroom m odel shows the hvpothetical
integration o f four com ponents that hat e been
advanced as com prising com m unicative com pe
ten ce (Savignon 1972. 1983.1987. in press:
Canale and Swain 1980: Canale 1983a: Bvram
1997). A dapted from the fam iliar "inverted pvram id classroom m odel p roposed bv Savignon
(1983), it shows how. th ro u g h practice and expe
rience in an increasinglv wide range o f com m u
nicative contexts and events, learners graduallv
ex pand th eir com m unicative com petence, con
sisting of grammatical competence, discourse compe
tence, sociocult and competence, a n d strategic
competence. A lthough the relative im portance of
the various com ponents depends on the overall
level of com m unicative com petence, each one is
essential. Me ireover. all com ponents are in te rre
lated. They cannot be developed o r m easured in
isolation an d one cannot go from one com po
n e n t to the o th er as one strings beads to m ake a
necklace. Rather, an increase in one co m p o n en t
interacts with o th er com ponents to pro d u ce a cor
resp o n d in g increase in overall com m unicative
com petence.
Grammatical competence refers to sentencelevel gram m atical forms, the abilitv to recognize
the lexical, m orphological, svntactic, and p h o n o
logical feature o f a language and to m ake use of
these features to in te rp re t and form words a n d
sen ten ces. G ram m atical c o m p e te n c e is n o t
linked to anv single theorv o f gram m ar an d does

Figure 1. Components of Communicative Competence

Discourse competence is con cern ed n o t with

isolated words or phrases b u t with the in terco n
nectedness of a series o f utterances, w ritten
words, and or phrases to form a text, a m eaning
ful whole. The text m ight be a poem , an e-mail
message, a sportscast. a telephone conversation,
or a novel. Identification o f isolated sounds or
words contribute to interp retatio n o f the overall
m eaning of the text. This is known as bottom-up
protessing. On the o th er hand, u n d erstan d in g of
the them e or purpose of the text helps in the
in terp retatio n o f isolated sounds o r words. This is
known as top-down processing. Both are im portant
in com m unicative com petence.
Two o th e r fam iliar co n cep ts in talking
about discourse com petence are text coheimce
and cohesion. Text coherence is the relation of
all sentences or utterances in a text to a single
global proposition. T he establishm ent of a global
meaning, or topic, for a text is an integral p art of

both expression and in terp retatio n and makes

possible the in terp retatio n of the individual sen
tences th at m ake up the text. Local connections
or structural links betw een individual sentences
provide cohesion. Hallidav and H asan (1976)
are well-known for their identification of various
cohesive devices used in English. and their work
has influenced teacher education m aterials for
ESL/EFL. (for illustration, see Celce-M urcia and
L arsen-Freem an 1999).
Sociocultural competence extends well bevond
linguistic form s and is an interdisciplinary field
o f inquiry having to do with the social rules
o f language use. S ociocultural c o m p e ten c e
requires an un d erstan d in g o f the social context
in which language is used: the roles of the partic
ipants, the inform ation thev share, and the func
tion o f the interaction. .Although we have vet to
p ro tid e a satisfactory description of gram m ar, we
are even fu rth er from an adequate description of
sociocultural rules o f appropriateness. And vet we
use them to com m unicate successfully in mamdifferent contexts of situation.
It is of course not feasible for learners to
anticipate the sociocultural aspects for even
context. M oreover, English often se n e s as a lan
guage o f com m unication between speakers o f
different prim arv languages. Participants in m ul
ticultural com m unication are sensitive not onlv
to the cultural m eanings attached to the lan
guage itself, but also to social conventions con
c e rn in g lan g u ag e use, such as tu rn-taking,
appropriacy of content, nonverbal language, and
tone o f voice. These conventions influence how
m essages are in te rp re te d . C ultural awareness
ra th e r than cultural know ledge thus becom es
increasingly im portant. Just knoyving som ething
ab o u t the culture of an English-speaking country
will n ot suffice. W hat m ust be learned is a general
em pathy and openness towards o th er culture'.
Sociocultural com petence therefore in clu d e ' a
willingness to engage in the active negotiation <>f
m eaning along with a willingness to 'in p e n d
ju d g e m e n t and take into consideration the oo>sibilitv o f cultural differences in con v en tio n ' or
use. T ogether these features m ight be 'u b 'u m e d
u n d e r the term cultural flexibility < i Co on/

T he "ideal native speaker." som eone yvho

knows a language perfectly and uses it ap p ro p ri
ately in till social interactions, exists in theory
onh. N one of us knows all there is to know
of English in its many- m anifestations, both
aro u n d the world and in o u r tnvn backyards.
C om m unicative com petence is alwavs relative.
T he coping strategies that we use in unfam iliar
contexts, with co n strain ts d u e to im p e rfe c t
knoyvledge of rules or lim iting factors in thenapplication such as fatigue or distraction, are
rep resen ted as strategic competence. W ith practice
and experience, we gain in gram m atical, dis
course. and sociocultural com petence. T he rela
tive im portance of strategic com petence thus
decreases. Hoyvever. the effective use of coping
strategies is im p o rtan t for com m unicative com
petence in all contexts and distinguishes highly
co m petent com m unicators from those yvho are
less so.
Bv definition. CLT puts the focus on the
learner. L earn er com m unicative needs provide
a fram ew ork for elaborating program goals in
term s of functional com petence. This im plies
global, qualitative evaluation o f le a rn e r achieve
m en t as opposed to quantitative assessm ent of
discrete linguistic features. C ontroversy over
a p p ro p riate language testing m easures persists,
an d m anv a curricu lar innovation has b e e n
u n d o n e by failu re to m ake correspondingchanges in evaluation. C u rren t efforts at ed u ca
tional reform favor essay writing, in-class p rese n
tations, a n d o th e r m ore holistic assessm ents
o f lea rn er com petence. Some program s have
initiated portfolio assessment, the collection and
evaluation o f lea rn er poem s, reports, stories,
videotapes, and similar projects in an effort
to b e tte r re p re s e n t a n d e n c o u ra g e le a rn e r
achievem ent.
A lthough it now has a new nam e and is
enjoving w idespread recognition and research
attention, CLT is not a neyv idea. T h ro u g h o u t the
long history of language teaching, there always
have been advocates of a focus on m eaning, as
opposed to form , and o f developing learn er abil
ity7 to actually use the language for com m unica
tion. T he m ore im m ediate the com m unicative
needs, the m ore readily com m unicative m ethods

seem to be ad o p ted . In h e r book Breaking

Tradition, M usum eci (1997) provides a fascinat
ing account o f language teaching reform efforts
dating back to the M iddle Ages w hen Latin, not
English, was the lingua franca. Breaking Tradition
is a favorite read in g of mv students. Then find it
a refreshing an d reassuring rem in d er that dis
cussions of m ethods and goals to r language
teach in g pred ate the tw entieth cen trin ' bv far.
D e p en d in g u p o n th eir own p rep aratio n
a n d experience, teachers them selves differ in
th eir reactions to CLT. Som e feel u n d e rsta n d
able frustration at the seem ing am biguity in dis
cussions o f com m unicative ability N egotiation
o f m ean in g mav be a lofts goal, but this view of
language behavior lacks precision an d does not
provide a universal scale for assessm ent of indi
vidual learners. Ability is sie v e d as satiable and
highly d e p e n d e n t u p o n context an d purpose as
well as on the roles and attitudes o f all involved.
O th e r teachers who welcom e the o p p o rtu n ity to
select a n d /o r develop th eir osvn m aterials, p ro
sid in g learners with a range o f com m unicative
tasks, are com fortable reiving on m ore global,
integrative judgm ents of le a rn e r progress.
An additional source of frustration for some
teach ers are seco n d lan g u ag e acquisition
research findings that show the route, if not the
rate, o f language acquisition to be largely unaf
fected bv classroom instruction. First language
cross-linguistic studies o f developm ental universals initiated in the 1970s were soon followed bv
sim ilar second language studies. Acquisition,
assessed on the basis of expression in u n re
hearsed, oral com m unicative contexts, appeared
to follow a describable m orphosvntactic sequence
regardless of learn er age or context of learning.
A lthough thev served to bear out teachers infor
m al observations, namelv that textbook presenta
tion and drill do not ensure lea rn er use of taught
structures in learners' spontaneous expression,
th e findings were nonetheless disconcerting.
Thev contradicted both gram m ar-translation and
aucliolingual precepts that placed the b u rd en of
le a rn e r acquisition on teacher explanation of
gram m ar and controlled practice with insistence
on learn er accuracy. They were fu rth e r at odds
with textbooks that prom ise m astery o f "basic

English, Spanish. French, etc. Teacher rejection of

research findings, renervecl insistence on tests of
discrete gram m atical structures, an d even exclu
sive reliance in the classroom on the learners
nativ e or first language, w here possible, to be sure
thev "get the gram m ar. have been in some cases
reactions to the fru stration o f teach in g for
com m unication.

In rec e n t vears. m am innovations in curriculum
p lan n in g have been p ro p o sed th at offer both
novice an d veteran teachers a dizzying array
of alternatives. G am es, voga, juggling, a n d
jazz have been p ro p o sed as aids to language
learning. Rapidiv increasing o p p o rtu n ities for
c o m p u te r-m e d ia te d
c o m m u n ic a tio n ,
b o th
synchronous online chat room s an d asyn
c h ro n o u s the full spectrum of inform ation
an d interactions available on the In te rn e t as well
as specialized bulletin boards an d e-m ail hold
prom ise for fu rth e r integration o f com m unica
tive opp o rtu n ities for learners worldwide.
In attem p tin g to convev the m ean in g of
CLT to both pre-service a n d in-service teachers
o f English as a second o r foreign language in a
wide range of contexts. I have fo u n d it helpful to
think of a com m unicative curriculum as p o te n
tially m ade up of five com ponents. These com
p o nents mav be reg ard ed as them atic clusters of
activities or experiences related to language use
a n d usage, providing a useful wav o f categoriz
ing teaching strategies that pro m o te com m u
nicative language use. Use o f the term component
to categorize these activities seem s particularly
a p p ro p riate in that it avoids am suggestion of
sequence or level. E x p erim en tatio n with com
m unicative teaching m ethods has shown th at all
five co m p o n en ts can be profitably b len d e d at all
stages of instruction. O rganization o f learn in g
activities into the following com p o n en ts serve
n o t to sequence an ELT program , b u t ra th e r to
highlight the range of options available in cu rricu
lum p lan n in g and to suggest wavs in which th eir
very interrelated n ess benefit the learner.

L anguage Arts
L anguage for a P urpose
My Language Is Me: Personal English Language
You Be, 11 Be; T h e a te r Arts
Beyond the Classroom

Language Arts, o r language analysis, is the

first c o m p o n e n t on th e list. L anguage Arts
includes those things th at language teachers
often do best. In fact, it may be all they have been
tau g h t to do. This c o m p o n e n t includes m any
o f the exercises used in m o th e r tongue program s
to focus atten tio n on form al accuracy. In ELT.
L anguage Arts focuses on form s o f English,
including syntax, m orphology, and phonology.
Spelling tests, for exam ple, are im p o rtan t if
w riting is a goal. Fam iliar activities such as trans
lation, dictation, an d rote m em orization can be
helpful in bringing atten tio n to form . Vocabulary
expansion can be e n h a n c e d th ro u g h definition,
synonyms, a n d antonym s as well as attention to
cognates a n d false cognates w hen applicable.
P ro n u n ciatio n exercises an d p a tte rn e d repeti
tion o f verb paradigm s and o th e r structural fea
tures can be useful in focusing on form , along
with the explanation o f regular syntactic features,
rules o f gram m ar. T here are also m any Language
Arts games th at learners o f all ages enjoy for the
variety an d group interaction they provide. So
long as they are n o t overused and are n o t pro
m o ted as the solution to all m an n e r of language
learn in g problem s, these gam es can be a wel
com e addition to a te a c h e rs repertoire.
Language for a Purpose, or language experi
ence, is the second com ponent. In contrast with
language analysis, language experience is the use
o f English for real a n d im m ediate com m unica
tive goals. N ot all learners are learning English
for the same reasons. A ttention to the specific
com m unicative needs of the learners is im p o r
tant in the selection a n d sequencing o f m aterials.
Regardless of how distant or unspecific the com
m unicative needs o f the learners may be. evenprogram with a goal o f com m unicative com pe
tence should give atten tio n to o pportunities for
m eaningful English use, opportunities to focus
on m eaning ra th e r than on form .

In an ESL classroom w here English is the

language o f instruction, th ere is an im m ediate
an d natu ral n e e d for learners to use English.
W here this h appens, L anguage for a P urpose is
a built-in feature o f the learn in g environm ent.
In an EFL setting w here the teach er may have a
language o th e r th an English in com m on with
learners, special a tte n tio n needs to be given to
providing o p p o rtu n ities for English language
experience. Exclusive use of English in the class
room is an option. In so-called content-based
instruction, the focus is o th e r th an the English
language. T he content, fo r exam ple history,
m usic, or literature, is tau g h t th ro u g h the of
English. Immersion program s at the elem entary,
secondare, o r even university level w here the
en tire curriculum is tau g h t in English offer a
m axim um am o u n t of Language for a P urpose
(see Snow's c h a p te r in this v o lu m e). In addition,
task-based c u rricu la are d esig n ed to provide
lea rn ers with m axim um o p p o rtu n ity to use
L anguage for a Purpose (see chapters by N unan;
Jo h n s a n d Price-M achado; an d C h a u d ro n an d
C rookes in this volum e).
L earners who are accustom ed to being
taught exclusively in th eir m o th e r tongue may at
first be un co m fo rtab le if the teach er speaks to
them in English, expecting them n o t only to
u n d e rsta n d but, perhaps, to respond. V ire n this
h appens, teachers n e e d to take special care to
help learners realize th at they are n o t expected
to u n d e rsta n d ev en word, any m ore th an they
are expected to express them selves in nativelike
English. M aking an effort to get the gist an d
using strategies to in te rp re t, express, an d neg o
tiate m ean in g are im p o rtan t to the d evelopm ent
o f com m unicative co m p eten ce. F or learn ers
who are accustom ed to gram m ar translation
courses tau g h t in th eir m o th e r tongue with an
em phasis on gram m ar an d accuracy, th e tra n
sition will n o t be easy. Kivoko Kusano H ubbell (in
press), a Japanese teacher o f English in Tokyo,
recounts some struggles in h e r determ in ed effort
to teach communicatively:
Jap an ese students have b een
tau g h t th a t they have to really know
evert word in a sentence o r a phrase

in o rd er to u n d e rsta n d a foreign lan

guage. They are n o t taught to use the
strategies th at they already use in their
native Japanese, th at is, to guess the
m eaning from the context. W hen the
blackboard is full o f writing a n d I am
busy in class, I ask a student, Please
erase the blackboard!, h an d in g him
an eraser a n d p o inting to the dirtv
blackboard. If he does n o t move, it is
n o t because he is offended. H e ju st did
n o t recognize the w ord erase, and to
him that m eans he did not u n d erstan d
m e. If he is willing to accept the am bi
guity', he gets up and cleans the board.
W ith en c o u ra g e m e n t an d h elp from their
tea c h e r in developing the strategic com petence
they n e e d to in te rp re t, express, an d negotiate
m eaning, learners express satisfaction and even
surprise. Kusano H ubbell goes on to rep o rt the
positive reactions she receives at the en d of the
term . (All com m ents have b een translated from
Ja p an e se by the author.)
C om pletelv different from anv class
I ve ever h a d !
I have never expressed my own ideas
in English before. W ork was alwavs to
translate this section, to fill in the
blanks o r read. It was all passive.
In my career o f English education
from Jr. H igh to C ram School th ere
was no tea c h e r who spoke English
o th e r th an to read the textbooks.
My Language Is Me: Personal English Language
Use, the third co m p o n en t in a com m unicative
curriculum , relates to the le a rn e rs em erging
identity' in English. L earner attitude is w ithout a
d o u b t the single m ost im portant factor in learn er
success. W hether a le a rn e rs m otivations are inte
grative o r instrum ental, the developm ent o f com
m unicative c o m p e te n c e involves th e w hole
learner. T h e m ost successful teaching program s
are those th at take into account the affective
as well as the cognitive aspects o f language
learning. They seek to involve learn ers psycho
logically as well as intellectually.

In p la n n in g for CLT. tea c h e rs sh o u ld

rem e m b e r th at n o t evervone is com fortable in
the sam e role. W ithin classroom com m unities, as
within society at large, th ere are leaders and
th ere are those who p refer to be followers. Both
are essential to the success of g roup activities. In
group discussions, there are always some who
seem to do the m ost talking. Those who often
rem ain silent in larger groups typically partici
pate m ore easily in pair work. O r they may prefer
to work on an individual project. T he w ider the
variety of com m unicative, or m eaning-based,
activities, the greater the chance for involving
all learners.
Mv L anguage Is Me implies, above all,
respect for learners as thev use English for selfexpression. .Although Language Arts activities
provide an app ro p riate context for atten tio n to
form al accuracy Personal English Language LTse
does not. Most teachers know this and intuitively
focus on m eaning rath er than on form as learners
express their personal feelings o r experiences.
However, repeated em phasis on structural accuracv in textbooks or on tests mav cause teachers
to feel uncom fortable about their in atten tio n
to non-nativelike features that do n o t im pede
m eaning. .An un d erstan d in g of the im portance of
opportunities for the in terpretation, expression,
and negotiation o f m eaning in CLT an d o f the
distin ctio n betw een L anguage Arts a n d My
Language Is Me can help to reassure teachers that
the com m unicative practice thev are providing is
im portant for their learners.
Respect for learners as thev use English for
self-expression re q u ire s m o re th a n sim ply
restrain t in a tten tio n to form al e rro rs th at
do n o t in te rfe re with m eaning. It includes recog
nition that so-called nativelike p erfo rm an ce
mav not, in fact, even be a goal for learners.
L anguage teaching has com e a long way from
aucliolingual davs w hen native p ro n u n cia tio n
a n d use was held up as an ideal. R eference to the
term s "native or "nativelike" in the evaluation
o f com m unicative co m p eten ce is in ap p ro p ria te
in todav's postcolonial, m ulticultural world. As
observed earlier, we notv recognize that native
speakers are never ideal'' and, in fact, varv widely
in range and style of comm unicative abilities.

M oreover, as the English language is increasingly

used as a language of global com m unication, so
called non-native" users of its m am varieties
overw helm ingly o u tn u m b e r so-called "native
speakers. T he decision of what is or is not one's
native language is arbitrary and irrelevant for
ELT a n d is perhaps best left to the individual
concerned. C hennv Lai. a graduate MATESI.
candidate studying in the U nited States, expresses
his views:
As to the definition of "native" or "first"
language we discussed in today's class. I
cam e up with the idea that we have no
say about w hether a person's native lan
guage is this one or that one. It is the
speaker whet has the right to FEEL
which language is his native one. The
native language should be the one in
which the speaker feels most com fort
able or natural w hen m aking dailv
com m unication, or m ore abstractly,
the one in which the speaker does all
his thinking. T here are two m ajor lan
guages spoken in Taiwan: M andarin
an d Taiwanese. I d o n t have any slight
est problem using eith er of them since
I use both even' clav in equal p ro p o r
tion. But w hen I do mv thinking, con
sidering things, or even kind o f talking
to mvself', mv m ental" language is
M andarin. Because of this. I would
say th a t mv native language is
M andarin. . . . we probable can sav that
a person's native language can actually
switch from one to a n o th e r d u ring
stages o f his life.
Since a personality inevitable takes on a
new dim ension th ro u g h expression in a n o th e r
language, th at dim ension needs to be discovered
on its own term s. L earners should not only be
given the o p p o rtu n ity to say w hat thev want to
say in English, thev also should be en co u rag ed
to develop an English language personality with
which they are com fortable. They mav feel m ore
com fortable m aintaining a degree o f form ality
not fo u n d in the in terp erso n al transactions of
native speakers. T he diary entrv of a Jap an ese
le a rn e r o f English offers im p o rtan t insight on
the m atte r of identity:

I just d o n 't know what to do right

now. I m ight have b e e n wrong since I
began to learn English: I always tried
to be b e tte r and w anted to be a good
speaker. It was wrong, absolutely wrong!
W hen I got to California. I started im i
tating A m ericans and picked up the
words that I heard. So mv English
becam e just like -Americans. I c o u ld n 't
help it. I m ust have b een funnv to
them , because I am a Japanese and
hat e mv own culture an d background.
I think I alm ost lost the most im portant
thing I should not have. I got California
English, including intonation, p ro n u n
ciation. the wav thev act, which are not
m ine. I har e to have my own English, be
mvself w hen I speak English (Preston
1981. p. 113).
On the o th e r hand, learners mav discover a
new freed o m o f self-expression in th eir new lan
guage. W hen asked what it is like to write in
E nglish, a lan g u ag e th at is n o t h e r native
tongue, the K orean w riter Mia Ann, a u th o r of
House of the Winds (1998), replied th at it was like
pu ttin g on a new dress." W riting in English
m ade h e r feel fresh, see h erself in a new way,
o ffe red h e r fre e d o m to e x p e rim e n t. W hen
expressing them selves in a new language, writers
are not the onlv ones to experience the feeling
of "putting on a new dress." My L anguage Is
Me calls for recognition a n d respect for the indi
vidual personality o f the learner. (We will re tu rn
to the m atte r of the "native 'non-native dis
tinction with respect to users of English later
when discussing sociolinguistic issues.)
You Be. I'll Be: Theater Arts is the fourth com
p o n e n t of a com m unicative curriculum . .All the
w o rld s a stage." in the fam iliar w ords of
Shakespeare (As You Like It, II, viii; 139). A nd on
this stage we plav manv roles, roles for which we
improvise scripts from the m odels we observe
aro u n d us. Child, parent, sister, brother, em
ployer, em ployee, doctor, or tea c h e r all are
roles that include certain expected ways o f behav
ing and using language. Sociocultural rules of
appropriateness have to do with these expected
wavs. Familiar roles may be plated with little

conscious attention to style. O n the o th er hand,

new and unfam iliar roles req u ire practice, with
an awareness of how the m eanings we in te n d are
being in te rp re te d bv others. Som etim es there
are no m odels. In the last h a lf o f the tw entieth
century, w om en who suddenly found them selves
in w hat had b e e n a "m an's world," w h eth er as
firefighters, professors, o r CEOs, had to adapt
existing m odels to ones with which they could
be com fortable. And the transition is far from
com plete. W ith the exception o f G reat Britain,
no m ajor w orld pow er to date has h ad a wom an
h e a d o f state. Bv the e n d o f the twentv-first cen
tury th ere no d o u b t will be n u m ero u s m odels
from which to choose.
If the world can be thought o f as a stage,
with actors and actresses who plav their parts as
best they can, th eater mav be seen as an o p p o rtu
nity to experim ent with roles, to trv things out.
Fantasy and playacting are a natural and im por
tan t p art of childhood. Make-believe and the "von
be, Ill b e improvisations fam iliar to children the
world over are im portant to self-discoverv and
growth. They allow voting learners to experim ent
a n d to try things out, such as hats and wigs,
m oods and postures, gestures and words. As occa
sions for language use, role-plaving an d the m anv
related activities that constitute T heater Arts are
likewise a natural c o m p o n e n t o f language learn
ing. They allow learners to ex p erim en t with the
roles thev play o r mav be called upon to plav in
real life. T h e a te r Arts can provide learners with
th e tools thev n e e d to act, that is. to in terp ret,
express, a n d negotiate m ean in g in a new lan
guage. Activities can include both scripted and
u n scrip ted role plav, sim ulations, an d even p a n
tom im e. E nsem ble-building activities fam iliar in
th e a te r training have been used very successfully
in EET to create a clim ate o f trust so necessary
for the in co rp o ratio n of T h e a te r Arts activities
(see Savignon 1997). T he role of th e tea c h e r in
T h e a te r Arts is th at o f a coach, providing sup
port, strategies, an d en c o u ra g e m e n t for learners
as they explore new ways of being.
Beyond the Classroom is the fifth an d final
c o m p o n e n t of a com m unicative curriculum .
Regardless o f the variety of com m unicative activ
ities in the E SL /EFL classroom , th eir purpose
rem ains to p rep a re learners to use English in the

w orld beyond. This is the wrorld u p o n which

learners will d e p e n d for the m ain ten an ce and
developm ent o f th eir com m unicative co m p e
tence once classes are over. T he classroom is b u t
a rehearsal. D evelopm ent o f the Beyond the
Classroom c o m p o n e n t in a com m unicative cur
riculum begins with discovery o f lea rn er interests
and needs an d of opportunities to n o t only
respond to but, m ore im portantly, to develop those
interests and needs th rough English language use
bevond the classroom itself.
In an EST setting, opportunities to use
English outside the classroom abound. Systematic
"field experiences" may successfully becom e the
core of the course, which then could becom e a
w orkshop in which learners can com pare notes,
seek clarification, an d e x p an d the range o f
dom ains in which thev learn to function in
English. Classroom visits to a courtroom trial,
a public auction, or a church bazaar provide
introductions to aspects o f the local culture that
learners m ight n o t experience on their own.
C onversation p a rtn e rs, a p p re n tic e sh ip s, an d
activities with host families can be arranged.
Residents of nearbv retirem ent com m unities can
be recruited as valuable resources for a range of
research projects. Senior citizens often welcome
the opportunity to interact with international vis
itors or new arrivals and offer a wealth of knowl
edge and experience. Thev could be interview7ed
about notew orthy historical events, child rearing
in earlier decades, or their views on politics,
health care, or grandparenting.
In an EFT setting, on the o th er h and, the
ch allen g e fo r in c o rp o ra tin g a B eyond the
Classroom c o m p o n e n t may be greater, b u t cer
tainly n o t insurm ountable, a n d is essential for
both teacher a n d learners. As a child, I looked
forw ard to receiving letters from my pen pals.
Thev would arrive bearing colorful stam ps from
France. Wales, Jap an , Taiwan, and Australia. I
had vet to learn a second language, so o u r corre
spondence was all in English. However, this reg
u lar ex c h an g e o f letters p u t a sm all town
m idw estern .American girl in touch with o th er
places aro u n d the globe a n d with o th e r users of
English. Technology has since b ro u g h t the whole
w orld m uch closer. English language radio an d
television program s, videos, an d feature length

films are readilv available in m am F F f settings,

along with new spapers and m agazines. English
speaking residents o r visitors m at be available to
visit the classroom . T he In te rn et now provides
o p p o rtu n ities to in teract with English speaking
peers on a varietv of topics, to develop gram
m atical, discourse, sociocultural, and strategic
com petence. These o p p o rtu n ities for com puterm ediated com m unication (CMC) will increase
dram aticallv in the years ahead. T he following
except from an e-mail exchange betw een classes
of secondary school students in G erm any and the
Lhrited States on the topic of the death penalty
reveals th e p o ten tia l for dev elo p in g socio
cultural and strategic skills in addition to gram
matical and discourse com petence (R oithm eier
and Savignon in press):
Death Penalty an inhuman punishm ent
. . . Finally. I th ink nobodv has the
right to kill o th e r people but to kill a
person because of m erev is inhuman
an d should never be a law in certain
dem ocratic states or countries. . . .
LbSA 2: . . . I can see b o th sides o f the death
penalty. I believe w hen discussing this
inhuman tre a tm e n t vou m ust think
ab o u t the victims o f these people.
USA 4: . . . Basically, I think the d eath penalty
is w rong and inhumane.
USA 6: T he d eath penalty is inhumane . . .

GER 1:
GER 3:

Exam ples such as the above provide strong

su p p o rt for the claim that m em bers of a discus
sion g roup are strongly influenced bv p rio r post
ings an d that the language thee use is influenced
bv what the\ read from participants. In addition
to p rea rra n g e d exchanges, learners can check
W orld W ide Web sites for a range o f inform ation,
schedules, rates, locations, descriptions, and
the like.

Arts, and Be\ ond the Classroom? These questions

must be answ ered bv individual language teach
ers in the context in yvhich they teach. Cultural
expectations, goals, and styles o fle a rn in g are but
some o f the ways in yvhich learners mav differ
from each other. To the complexity o f the learn er
m ust be added the com plexities of teachers and
of the settings in which they teach. Established
routines, or institutional belief about what is
im portant, weigh heavily in a te a c h e rs decisions
as to yvhat and horv to teach and often m akes
innovation difficult (see Sato in press; W ang in
press). Finally, the need for varietv m ust be taken
into account. Learners yvlm are b ored with rule
recitation or sentence translation mav ju st as
easily lose interest in games o r role play, if these
are allowed to becom e routine. Difficult as it
is. the teacher's task is to u n d e rsta n d the many
factors involved and respond to them creatively.
Teachers cannot do this alone, of course.
They n e e d the su p p o rt of adm in istrato rs,
the comm unity, and the learners themselves.
M ethodologists and re a d ie r education program s
have a responsibility as yvell. They should provide
classroom teachers with the perspective and expe
riences they need to respond to the realities
of their world, a changing yvorlcl in yvhich the
old way s of ELT mav not be the best wavs. T he
optim um com bination of the analytical and the
experiential in ESL EFF for a given context is a
focus o f ongoing research. However, a noyv yvellestablished research tradition in second/foreign
language learning teaching has clearly shoyvn the
im portance o f attention to language use, o r expe
rience, in addition to language usage, or analysis.
But the ovenvhelm ing emphasis in most school
program s is on the Fitter, often to the com plete
exclusion of the former.

How do we put it all together? Is there an opti
m um com bination of Language Arts. Personal
Language Use, Language for a Purpose. T heater

Discussions of GET not infrequently lead to

questions of gram m atical or form al accuracy.
T he perceived displacem ent of attention to morphosvntactic features in lea rn er expression in
favor of a focus on m eaning has led in some cases
to the im pression that gram m ar is not im portant,

o r that p ro p o n en ts of CLT favor lea rn er selfexpression w ithout re g a rd to form . W hile

involvem ent in com m unicative events is seen as
central to language developm ent, this involve
m en t necessarilv requires attention to form . T he
natu re o f the co ntribution to language develop
m en t o f both form -focused and m eaning-focused
classroom activitv rem ains a question in ongoing
research. T he optim um com bination of these
activities in any given in stru ctio n al setting
depends no doubt on learner age. nature and
length o f instructional sequence, opportunities
for language contact outside the classroom ,
teacher preparation, and o th er factors. However,
for the developm ent of com m unicative abilitv,
research Findings overw helm inglv su p p o rt the
integration o f form -focused exercises with
m eaning-focused experience. G ram m ar is im
portant, and learners seem to focus best on gram
m ar when it relates to their com m unicative needs
and experiences.
C om m unicative com petence obviouslv does
not m ean the wholesale rejection o f fam iliar
m aterials. T here is n o th in g to prevent com m u
nicatively-based m aterials from being subjected
to gram m ar-translation treatm ent, just as there
may be n o th in g to prevent a teacher with onlv an
old gram m ar-translation book at his or h e r dis
posal from teaching communicativelv. W hat m at
ters is the teacher's conception of what learning
a language is and how it happens. T he basic p rin
ciple involved is an orientation towards collective
participation in a process o f use a n d discovery
achieved bv c o o p e ra tio n betw een individual
learners as well as betw een learners and teachers.

N um erous sociolinguistic issues await attention.
V ariation in the speech com m unity an d its
relationship to language change are central to
sociolinguistic inquire. As we have seen above,
sociolinguistic perspectives on variability and
change highlight the folk of describing native
speaker com petence, let alone non-native speaker
com petence, in terms of "mastery " or com m and
o f a system. .All language systems show instabilitv
and variation. L earner language systems show

even greater instability and variability in terms of

both the am ount and rate o f change. Moreover,
sociolinguistic concerns yvith identity' and accom
m odation help to explain the construction by
bilinguals o f a variation space" that is different
from that o f a native speaker. This mav include
reten tio n of anv n u m b er of features of a previ
ously acquired code or sy stem o f phonology and
syntax as well as features of discourse an d prag
m atics. in c lu d in g c o m m u n ic a tio n strategies.
T he p h e n o m e n o n may be individual or. in those
settings yvhere there is a com m unity o f learners,
general. Differences not only in the code itself
b ut in the sem antic m eanings attrib u ted to these
different encodings contribute to identification
yvith a speech com m unity or culture, the yvav a
speech com m unity views itself and the world.
This o ften in clu d es code m ixing a n d code
switching. the use bv bilinguals o f resources from
m ore than one speech comm unity.
S ociolinguistic perspectives have b e e n
im portant in u n d e rsta n d in g the im plications of
norm , appropriaev, and variability for CLT and
continue to suggest avenues o f inquiry for fu rth er
research and m aterials developm ent. Use of
authentic language data hits u n derscored the
im portance of context, such as setting, roles, and
genre, in in terpreting the m eaning of a text. A
range o f both oral and written texts in context
provides learners yvith a variety of language expe
riences. which they n eed to construct their own
"variation space" and to m ake determ inations of
a p p ro p ria te in their own expression of m eaning.
"C om petent" in this instance is not necessarily
synonym ous with "nativelike." N egotiation in
CLT highlights the n e e d for interlinguistic, that
is. intcrcidturcd, awareness on the part of all
involved (Byram 1997). B etter tm clerstanding of
the strategies used in the negotiation o f m eaning
offers a potential for im proving classroom prac
tice of the n e e d ed skills.

Natives and Foreigners

We m ight begin bv asking ourselves whose lan
guage we teach and for what purpose. W hat is
o u r own relationship with English? Do we con
sider it to be a foreign, second, or native language?

Webster's New International Dictionary. 2nd

edition, published in 1950. a tim e w hen language
te a c h in g in the U n ite d States was on the
th re sh o ld o f a p e rio d of u n p re c e d e n te d scrutiny,
ex p erim en tatio n , an d grow th, p ro tid e s the fol
lowing definitions of these term s we use so often
with respect to language. Foreign derives from
M iddle English forein. forene. O ld French forain
a n d Latin fonts, m ean in g outside. Related words
are foreclose, forest, forfeit. M odern definitions
include situated outside one's own country; born
in, belonging to, derived from, or characteristic
o f some place o th er than the one u n d e r consid
eration; alien in character; not connected or
p e rtin e n t, etc.
Those identified as teaching a foreign lan
guage, p erhaps even in a D ep artm en t of Foreign
Languages, should ask. "Whv?" W hat does the
label foreign" signal to colleagues, learners,
a n d the com m unity at large?- Toclav we are c o n
ce rn e d with global ecology an d global economy.
A nd English has b een describe as a global lan
gu ag e (Crystal 1997). N onetheless, one m ight
object, fo re ig n is still a useful term to use in
distinguishing betw een teaching English in. sat-.
Pattava, T h a ila n d , a n d te a c h in g E nglish in
Youngstown, O hio. In Youngstown. English is
taught as a second language w hereas in Pattava
it is a foreign language. T he contexts of learning
are n o t the same, to be sure. N eith er are the
learners. N o r the teachers. But do these facts
change the n a tu re of the language? A nd what
ab o u t the teaching of Spanish in Chicago, in
B arcelona, in B uenos Aires, in G uatem ala City,
in M iami, o r in M adrid? In what sense can
Spanish in each of these contexts be described
as fo reign or seco n d ? And what are the im pli
cations of the label selected for the learners? For
the teachers?
H aving tau g h t F rench in U rbana, Illinois,
for m an \- years, I can easily identify with the
problem s o f teachers of English in Pattava. M ore
so, p e rh a p s, th an those w ho teach ESL in
U rb an a with easy access to English speaking
com m unities outside the classroom . O n the
o th e r h a n d , teach in g F rench in U rbana or

English in Pattava is no excuse for ig n oring or

avoiding o p p o rtu n ities for com m unication, both
w ritten an d oral. T he potential o f com puterm ed iated negotiation o f m ean in g for language
learn in g and language change in the decades
ah e ad will be increasingly recognized, b o th
inside and outside language classrooms.
W hat mav be a p roblem is the te a c h e rs
com m unicative co m petence. Is he or she a
native speaker? If not. does he o r she consider
him- or herself bilingual? If not. whv not? Is it a
lack o f com m unicative com petence? Or, rather,
a lack of com m unicative confidence? Is he or
she in tim id ated bv native" speakers? Native
Speaker is the title of a m oving first novel by
C hang-rae Tee. an A m erican raised in a K orean
im m igrant family in New Jersey. It docum ents
the struggle and frustration o f know ing two cul
tures an d at the same tim e not com pletely
belonging to e ith e r one. As such, it serves as a
p o ig n an t rem in d er of the challenges o f bilin
gualism a n d b icu ltu ralism . How does o n e
"belong? W hat does it m ean to be bilingual? To
be bicultural? To be a native speaker?
Again, the exam ple o f English is im portant.
Such w idespread a d o p tio n of one language is
u n p re c e d e n te d . English users todav in clu d e
those who live in countries w here English is a pri
mary language the U nited States, the U nited
Kingdom . Canada. Australia, and New Zealand;
those who live in countries w here English is an
additional, m /ranational language o f co m m u n i
c a tio n fo r e x am p le. B an g lad esh , In d ia,
N igeria, Philippines, a n d Tanzania; those who
use English prim arily in //rrnational co n tex ts
countries such as C hina, Indonesia, Ja p a n , Saudi
A rabia, a n d Russia. Bv conservative estim ates the
n u m b e r of non-native speakers of English in the
w orld todav o u tn u m b e rs native speakers by
m ore th an 2 to 1. a n d the ratio is increasing.
M odels of appropriaev vary from c o n tex t to con
text. So m uch, in fact, that som e scholars speak
n o t onlv of varieties of English b u t of World
Englishes, the title of a new journal devoted to
discussion of descriptive, pedagogical, and o th e r
issues in the global sp re a d o f the English

language. As have seen above, d e p e n d in g on

the context as well as le a rn e r needs, "native"
speakers mav or m ar- n o t be a p p ro p riate m odels
(see also K achru 1992).

D isappointm ent with both gram m ar-translation
an d audiolingual m ethods for th eir inabilitv
to prep are learners for the in terpretation, ex
pression, and negotiation of m eaning, along with
enthusiasm for an arrav of alternative m ethods
increasingly labeled communicative, has resulted in
no small am ount of uncertaintv as to what are
and are not essential features of CLT. Thus,
this sum m ary description would be incom plete
w ithout brief m ention of what CLT is not.
CLT is not exclusively co n c ern e d with faceto-face oral c o m m u n ic a tio n . T h e prin cip les
o f CLT apply equally to reading and writing
activities th at involve re a d e rs a n d winters
engaged in the in te rp re ta tio n , expression, and
n e g o tia tio n o f m ean in g : the goals o f CLT
d e p e n d on lea rn er needs in a given context.
CLT does not require sm all-group or p air work:
g ro u p tasks have been found helpful in mans
contexts as a wav of providing increased o p p o r
tu nity a n d m otivation for c o m m u n ic a tio n .
However, classroom g roup or pair work should
not be considered an essential feature an d mav
well be in ap p ro p ria te in som e contexts. Finally.
CLT does not exclude a focus on m etalinguistic
aw areness o r know ledge of rules o f syntax,
discourse, and social appropriateness.
T he essence o f CLT is the en g ag em en t of
learners in com m unication in o rd e r to allow
them to develop th eir com m unicative com pe
tence. Terms som etim es used to refer to features
o f CLT include process oriented, task-based, and
inductive, o r discoi'ery oriented. Inasm uch as strict
a d h e re n c e to a given text is n ot likelv to be true
to its processes and goals, CLT c a n n o t be fo u n d
in any one textbook or set o f cu rricu lar m ateri
als. In keeping with the n o tion of context o f sit
uation, CLT is properly seen as an ap p ro ach or

theory o f in tercu ltu ral com m unicative com pe

ten c e to be used in d ev e lo p in g m aterials
an d m ethods a p p ro p riate to a given co n tex t of
learning. C ontexts change. A w orld o f carriages
an d petticoats evolves into one of genom es and
cyberspace. N o less th an the m eans a n d norm s
of com m unication thev are designed to reflect,
com m unicative teach in g m ethods designed to
e n h a n c e th e in te rp re ta tio n , expression, and
negotiation o f m ean in g will co n tin u e to be
e x p lo red an d adapted.

1. If vou h ad to choose th re e adjectives to
describe CLT, what w ould thev be?
2. W hat m ight be som e obstacles e n c o u n te re d
bv teachers who wish to im p lem en t a com
m unicative ap p ro ach to language teaching?
How m ight these obstacles be overcom e?
3. Do vou feel English to be a foreign, second, or
native language? How m ight vour feelings
influence vour classroom teaching?
4. O f the five described co m p o n en ts o f a com
m unicative curriculum , which are the m ost
fam iliar to vou as a language learner? As a
language teacher?
5. W ho sets the norm for English language use
in vour p articular context o f situation? How?

1. Request perm ission to observe two or th ree
d iffe re n t in tro d u c to ry level ESL or EEL
classes. N ote the interaction betw een the
tea c h e r an d the learners. W ho does m ost of
the talking? How m uch of the talking that
vou h e a r is in English? Whv?
2. Interview som e language learners for their
views on whv thev are learn in g a foreign o r
second language.


Look at the inverted pyram id diagram of

com m unicative com p eten ce on page 17. Do
you agree with the p ro p o rtio n s drawn? Draw
your own diagram to show the relationship
betw een the fo u r co m p o n en ts o f com m u
nicative com petence.
4. Select one of the five co m p o n en ts o f a com
m unicative c u rricu lu m d e scrib ed in this
chapter. Make a list o f co rresp o n d in g lea rn
e r activities or experiences th at vou would
like to use in your teaching.

Breen, M., and C. Candlin. 1980. The essentials of a
communicative curriculum in language teaching.
Applied Linguistics 1(1) :89112.
Byram, M. 1997. Teaching and Assessing Intercultural Communicative Competence. Cleveclon. UK:
Multilingual Matters.

Hollidav. A. 1994. Appropriate Methodology and Social

Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Xunan. D. 1989a. Designing Tasks per the Commu
nicative Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Savignon. S. J. 1997. Communicative Competence: Theory
and Classroom Practice. New York: McGraw Hill.

1 The author copied this passage mam years ago while
visiting the Union School, a country school building
that teas moved to the citv of Goodland, Kansas, bv
the Sherman Countv Historical Society. It is owned
and operated as a school museum bv the Society.
- CRTDIF is the acronym for Centre de Recherche
et d'Etude pour la Diffusion clu Francais. It was
an institution specializing in French as a foreign
language and functioned in association with the
Ecole Xormale Superieur de Saint-Cloud from
1939 to 1996.

Guidelines for Language Classroom

Instruction 1




In "Guidelines for Language Classroom Instruction," Crookes and Chaudron review research and
practice in both second and foreign language contexts. The main areas of classroom instruction
described are: presentational modes and focus on form, types of activities and parameters of tasks
and interaction, classroom organization, teacher control of interaction, and corrective feedback.

W hat goes on in th e lan g u a g e classroom
betw een the tea c h e r a n d students is obviously
the core area o f inform ation p e rta in in g to for
mal second language (SL) teaching a n d lea rn
ing. O ut-of-class' know ledge o f lan g u ag e
teach in g in areas such as needs analysis, curricu
lum design, lesson planning, m aterials design,
a n d evaluation is, o f course, necessary for a truly
professional op eratio n , but so long as th ere is a
teach er w orking with a g roup o f students, the
essence of classroom SL teaching resides in the
n a tu re of instruction an d interaction betw een
teachers an d students.
In this c h a p te r we identify and discuss som e
o f the m ore im p o rta n t characteristics and p rin
ciples o f this in teractio n .- O u r co n ception o f the
tea c h e r is som eone with a great n u m b e r o f deci
sions to m ake at even m o m en t o f classroom
instruction. In som e cases, research findings can
guide those decisions. In others, research can
info rm professional ju d g m e n t, b u t decisions
m ust be based on experience a n d in tu itio n
ra th e r th an know ledge. However, decisions will
be aided bv a know ledge o f the range o f instruc
tional alternatives available, as well as by an
awareness o f the cultural context an d personal
values o f the tea c h e r an d students.
W hen a second language is taught, a num
b e r o f m ajor steps m ust be taken. First, elem ents
of the language o r its use. or skills such as learn
ing strategies, m ust be bro u g h t into the classroom
and presented or highlighted. T he teach er and,

u n d e r certain learn er-cen tered conditions, the

students select elem ents of the SL in this p h ase.3
Second, th at which has b e e n selected a n d p re
sented m ust be learned; the tea c h e r has to
arran g e m atters and events to brin g this about.
T h ird, the tea c h e r m ust provide know ledge
of results, th at is, co rrectio n o r feedback, to the
We should n o t ignore that these processes
take place in a social m ilieu, and that because of
the wav language functions betw een individuals,
these processes c an n o t be totally separated from
the social clim ate which develops am o n g stu
dents a n d betw een teach er an d students, th o u g h
space does not p erm it us to address this im p o r
tant p o in t here. Finally, let us note th a t consci
entious SL teachers usually com e o u t of a class
asking them selves how the class w ent in o th e r
words, engaging in a process o f self-evaluation.
We believe that this is a vital process for profes
sional self-developm ent, a n d one which needs to
be explicitly structured into SL teachers routines.
See M urphvs ch ap ter on reflective teaching in
this volum e, for a full discussion.

2.1 Meta-Planning for Lesson
W hich elem ents of language are u n d e rta k en
d e p en d s on the objectives a tea c h e r has in m ind
for the lesson. Thev are th en the result o f lesson

p lan n in g and the general syllabus for the course

(see the ch ap ters by J e n se n an d N'unan in
this volum e). D espite considerable variation,
generally the first elem en t of a lesson is the first
c o m p o n e n t o f the traditional "present-practiceevaluate seq u en ce, w hich co n stitu tes m any
teachers u n d erstanding of basic lesson structure.
Let us assume for present purposes that a
teach er has selected a particular elem ent of
language, or aspect o f language leanring, to be
focused on as the first m ajor stage o f a class period.
T here are then two types of choices to be made:
those concerning the phvsical characteristics of the
presentation, that is, materials, use o f audiorisual
(AY) equipm ent, etc.; and those concerning the
deductive o r inductive procedures that learners
will be engaging in in o rder to acquire rules, items,
analogies, and other aspects of the target language.
T he fo rm er are considered in the following
section, the latter in section 2.3.

2.2 Modalities (Materials, AV)

W hile n o t espousing anv particular approach in
this chapter, we feel that m anv professionals rec
ognize the im portance o f practice in the acquisi
tion o f anv cognitive skill. T here is increasing
recognition4 of SL learning as a process of skill
acq u isitio n (O 'M allev, C h am o t, a n d W alker
1987), which im plies the im portance of practice,
o r ou tp u t, rath e r than m ere input (cf. Pica et al.
1996; Swain and Lapkin 1995). Teachers thus
n e e d to rem ain aware that thev are not in the
classroom to fill np the tim e with the sound of
th eir own voices, b u t to arrange m atters so that
th eir students do the talking (or writing, o r lis
tening). Particularly in EFL ra th e r th an ESL situ
ations, class tim e is so valuable that we believe the
teacher should move on to practice phases o f a
lesson as soon as possible in a m an n e r consistent
with an adequate p resentation of m aterial and
the giving o f clear instructions for som e practice
Assum ing th at the instructor decides that a
given teaching objective calls for som e su p p o rt in
the wav of m aterials, w hat then? T he m ajor
resource is o f course the textbook. In addition,
o th e r tea c h in g aids fall into two categories

(Celce-M urcia 1979): n o n te c h n ic a l aids a n d

technical aids (not counting the students th em
selves, who can of course plav a stim ulating role
in the p resentation stages of a lesson). T he for
m er include the chalkboard, realia. flashcards,
m agazine pictures, and charts. T he latter include
the overhead projector, audio and video reco rd
ings, CD-ROM. and In tern et. Both types o f aids
are considered elsewhere in this book (see chap
ters bv B rinton and Sokolik in this volum e).
D espite in cre asin g rese a rc h in to som e
m edia, the range o f classroom and cultural con
texts for T E S /F L m eans that deciding w hether
or not to use AY aids is usuallv a m atter for indi
vidual teacher judgm ent, su p ported by general
considerations. Does th eir use in a given circum
stance aid com prehension? Do thev stim ulate
m ore student talk than would have otherwise
occurred? Above all, does their use constitute an
efficient use o f class tim e, particularly taking into
account the teach er tim e req u ired to p ro d u ce
them o r the logistics o f setting up an d rem oving
am nccessarv equipm ent? This is an area in which
careful teacher investigation and rep o rtin g of
successes and failures in practice would benefit
the profession.
P erhaps because o f the com plexitv of the
q u e stio n , a su rprisinglv sm all a m o u n t o f
research inform s teachers of how to use a text
b o o k (b u t see T om linson 1997). F o r the
u n tra in e d teacher, a good textbook can stand in
for a syllabus an d training program , while an
e x p erien ced teach er can use the text as an aid,
a d o p tin g som e parts, ad ap tin g others (Stevick
1971), or can even dispense with it completely.
T he utilitv of the average textbook for a tvpical
present-dav ESL EFL course is norm ally u n q u es
tio n ed (but see Allwright 1981 and O Neill 1982
fo r positions on both sides o f this p o in t).
N onetheless, urge teachers to rem e m b e r th at
m ost textbooks in a given p erio d o f tim e are
often verv m uch alike (Ariew 1982); thev are the
p ro d u ct of the pressures o f the m arket, as im perfectlv in te rp re te d th ro u g h the p u blisher and
m aterials writer, an d can often run c o u n te r to
legitim ate ed ucational pressures. W hat sells mav
n o t be w hat works; w hat works mav n o t necessarilv have a form at which book publishing

com panies can utilize or produce. Above all,

th erefo re, a critical stance is called for (see Bvrd's
c h a p te r in this volum e).
Som e general points can be m ade about
the p resen tatio n stage o f a lesson. First, the
in stru cto r is, in fact, ra th e r free from constraints
despite the various p ro ced u res suggested bv the
teachers' notes tvpicallv accom panying the text.
Texts designed for b eg in n in g an d in term ed iate
learners still com m onlv p rese n t th e m aterial of
each u n it via a dialogue, an d the tea c h e r is often
in structed to have the students work with the
dialogue. In m any traditional classroom settings
(especially EFL settings), this involves having the
class rep eat the dialogue in unison, possible
m oving next to partial m em orization. Yet, an
equally efficient p ro c e d u re for som e classes
w ould be to have students p air off an d read the
dialogue aloud while the teach er circulates and
checks individual p erfo rm an ce. T he p o in t is
th at teachers have the rig h t an d responsibilitv to
utilize the m aterial in w hatever wav seem s a p p ro
priate, hopefully m aking use o f the findings that
SL research suggests.
For exam ple, an increasinglv well-established
line of work has stressed the role of attention and
awareness in SL learning (Schmidt 1990, 1995)
and the im portance of drawing the learner's atten
tion to certain characteristics of the language
which m ight otherwise be missed (referred to as
in p u t e n h a n c e m e n t; see R u th e rfo rd 1987.
Doughty an d Williams 1998a). It follows, th ere
fore, that the teacher should usually present the
text o r illustrative m aterial with an im m ediate
focus on the target points. O n the o th er hand,
research over the last two decades has m ade clear
th at SL learning does n ot take place in a simple
linear fashion with one linguistic elem en t being
ad d ed to the next. In the svntactic dom ain, learn
ers p ro ceed at different speeds th ro u g h fairly reg
ular sequences (P ienem ann a n d Jo h n sto n 1987).
It is unlikely that structural target points will be
internalized by rnanv in a class after one expo
sure.0 C o n seq u en ts, the particular aspect o f lan
guage to be learn ed should alm ost certainly com e
up on o th er occasions, in o th er lessons. T he fact
th at SL learning involves the learning o f a cogni
tive skill im plies th at the first stage o f use (the

cognitive stage) will be erro rfu l a n d difficult

for the learner. M ovem ent Uwvards autom aticity
will req u ire a great deal o f active, realistic prac
tice in the use o f the target language, w'hich may
n o t be susceptible to general e rro r correction.
Finally, at the p resen tatio n stage, it is relevant to
consider w hat little is knowm ab o u t the le a rn e rs
d e v e lo p m en t o f co n tro l over the pragm atic
aspects of the SL. An em phasis on realistic, com
m unicative language use in the classroom from
an early stage is th erefo re justified, as is the
d evelopm ent of the m etalinguistic term s n e e d e d
to talk a b o u t language use (Flenriksen 1988).
As a final com m ent, although we have used
the generallv accepted term textbook th ro u g h o u t
this section, it is clear that sole reliance on a text
book within the classroom is becom ing less com
m on in richer countries or m ore wTell-resourced
schools. D evelopm ents in technology have m ade
the c re a tio n an d alm ost im m ed iate use o f
in-house m aterials increasinglv possible. T he
advantages of personalization and localization of
m aterials are clear. In addition, o f course, the ease
of access to all kinds o f supplem entary resource
m aterials an d stim ulus m aterials via the Web has
helped teachers supplem ent textbooks while at
the same tim e raising students' expectations.

2.3 Rule Presentations

and Explanations
A great deal of research in the 1960s was con
cerned with w hether and when to present explicit
second language g ram m ar rules to students
(L.evin 1972; see rec e n t discussion o f the issue in
Borg 1999). T he upshot o f those studies was that
explicit gram m ar instruction was n o t consistently
superior in the long run to o th er practices. As
a result, the various com m unicatively oriented
language teaching m ethods a n d prescriptions
developed after this tim e de-em phasized the
use o f explicit gram m ar rule p rese n tatio n and
even qu estio n ed the use o f gram m atically based
m aterials.
However, subsequent research on second
language acquisition has increasingly established
the legitimacv of a focus on form (see m ost
recentlv Doughtv and Williams 1998a, 1998b; and

N orris and O rtega 2000), while still questioning

the desirability of a persistent focus on correct
ness at all times in a syllabus o r course of stitch.
(These issues are dealt with in m ore detail in
the chapters by Larsen-Freem an and Fotos in this
Based on the claims o f most theorists that
som e focus on form can be req u ired by learners
o r bv a given classroom sequence, it is reason
able for teachers to be aware of options in how
to m ake a rule explicit or not; w hether or not to
isolate a rule; w h eth er an ex p lanation should
involve a deductive or inductive presentation;
who should give the e x p lan atio n the teacher,
the text, o r a n o th e r student: w h eth er the lan
guage is abstract or not; and w h eth er the expla
natio n is provided orallv or in writing. Teachers
m ust ensure the clarilv and sufficiency of their
explanations bv checking stu d en t c o m p re h e n
sion, preferably n o t m erely bv solicitation o f a
yes o r a nod.
Follow ing th e a p p ro a c h of C h a u d ro n 's
(1982) description o f teachers' vocabulary elab
oration, Yee and W agner (1984) developed a
discourse m odel o f teachers' vocabulary and
gram m ar explanations. T h eir m odel contains
several m ajor segm ents (a fram ing stage, a
focusing stage, the explanation itself, an d a
re s ta te m e n t), w ith several su b c ate g o rie s as
optional features (e.g.. with or w ithout m ention
of the topic item , m etastatem ents, teacher solicits
of students, exam ples, etc.). At each stage, thev
point out that com prehension checks bv the
teacher are optional. .An exam ple of their m odel
in a brief gram m ar explanation follows:
T kach hr: Can we say
these" in a tag?

Focus + solicit

Student : You can 't use

the w ord th ese
in a tag.

Explanation +
explicit rule

T eacher : W hat do we
n e e d to use?

+ solicit

Taking a functional approach to analysis

o f rules a n d explanations, Faerch (198bi found
th at a typical sequence in teacher rule presenta
tio n involved (1) a Pro b lem -fo rm u latio n ":
(2) an Induction" with the teacher eliciting

student opinions: and (8) the te a c h e rs Ruleform ulation": followed optionally bv (4) Exem
plification" bv the teacher or students. Alert
teachers will adapt this typical p attern to their
circum stances, eith er shortening the sequence
if a rule is judged to be quickly learned, o r devel
oping m ore student-generated ideas and interac
tion if the students have difficulty.

T he next m ajor step in executing classroom
lessons involves practice a n d learning" of the
m aterial. In this section we will identify the pri
mary units of classroom teaching and evaluate
the co m p o n en ts of those that m ost influence
learning. To aid discussion an d com m unication
am ong teachers (as well as for the sake o f com
parative research), it is useful to have a set of
term s to describe sim ilar teaching procedures.
O ver several decades o f classroom research,
standard term inology for what ought to be the
basic units for p lan n in g a n d executing lessons
has b een lacking. In the following sections we
will utilize the yvords adroit an d task, a n d
attem pt to show how these can be m ore system
atically classified, described, and analyzed for
their co n trib u tio n to instruction.

3 .1 Subsections of a Lesson
The Activity
Probably the m ost comm only used an d general
term for the parts of a lesson is activity. Most
teachers will use this vot'd in discussing th eir
lesson plans a n d behaviors, although specific
activities often have p articular nam es. In m uch
recent analy sis o f SL. classrooms, m aterials, and
syllabi, the term task has been used to discuss
those less-controlled activities yvhich p ro d u ce
realistic use of the ST (Crookes a n d Gass 1998a,
1993b). This term has also characterized certain
c o m m u n icativ e approaches*1 yvhose u p su rg e
m arks the c u rren t era of ST teaching. In fact,
the yvidespread use o f the label task-based has
in ntanv cases simply replaced the o ld er term
communicative. In discussing both c o n tro lled and
fre e r ty pes of classroom learn in g procedures, yve

will utilize activity as a b ro a d e r term ; task will

apply to a separable elem en t o f a lesson that is
prim arily geared to practicing language p rese n t
ed earlier (or otherw ise lea rn ed ), usually involv
ing students w orking with each other, to achieve
a specific objective.
It is often said that for each specific lea rn
ing point, learners n e e d to develop from m ore
controlled and m echanical to fre e r an d com m u
nicative behaviors. T herefore, a classification of
activity types along such a con tin u u m provides
the options from which the teach er can select a
given sequence w ithin a lesson. Yalcarcel et al.
>1985) have developed a tentative list of activity
types. We have g ro u p ed this list according to
fo u r phases o f in stru c tio n a l se q u e n c in g in
lessons (see E delhoff 1981. p. 57): Inform ation
and M otivation (in which learners' interest,
experience, a n d relevant language knowledge
are aroused); In p u t C ontrol (in which learners
are involved in d e e p en in g their u n d e rsta n d in g
by close atten tio n to detail): Focus W orking (in
which individual linguistic and them atic difficul
ties can be isolated and exam ined in d e p th ): and
T ransfer/A pplication (in which new know ledge
and the learn er's refined com m unicative abili
ties can be put to active use). Teachers should be
fam iliar with each of these activity tvpes and pav
atten tio n to the various discussions in the litera
ture of th eir benefits and disadvantages.

Information and Motivation Phase

Warm-up: m im e, dance, song, jokes, plan etc.:
the purpose is to get the students stim ulated,
relax ed , m otivated, attentive, or otherw ise
engaged and reach- for the classroom lesson; not
necessarily related to the target language.

Story telling: oral presentation bv the teacher of

a story or an event as lcngthv practice, although
not necessarily lesson-based; it implies the use of
extended discourse; it usually aims at m aintaining
attention or m otivation and is often entertaining.
A propos: conversation and o th e r socially ori
e n te d in te ra c tio n /s p e e c h by teacher, students,
or visitors on general real-life topics; typi
cally au th en tic a n d genuine.

Input/Control Phase
Organizational: m anagerial structuring of lesson
or class activities; includes reprim anding of stu
dents an d o th er disciplinary action, organization
of class furniture and seating, general procedures
for class interaction and perform ance, structure
and purpose of lesson, etc.
Content explanation: explanation o flesso n con
tent and gram m ar o r o th e r rules a n d points:
phonology, gram m ar, lexis, sociolinguistics, or
w hatever is being "taught."
Role play demonstration: use of selected stu
dents or teacher to illustrate the procedures (s) to
be applied in the following lesson segm ent; it
includes brief illustration of language or o ther
content to be incorporated.
Recognition: students identify a specific target
form , function, definition, rule, or o th e r lessonrelated item, eith er from oral or visual data, b ut
w ithout pro d u cin g language as a response (e.g.,
checking off items, draw ing symbols, rearranging
pictures, m atch in g u tte ran c e s with pictures,
u n d erlin in g significant inform ation from a text.)

Setting: focus is on lesson topic: either verbal or

nonverbal evocation of the context that is relevant
to the lesson point: teacher directs attention to
the upcom ing topic bv questioning, m im ing, or
picture presentation, or possibly a tape recording.

Language modeling: p resentation o f new lan

guage bv the teacher th rough isolated sentences
with the help of visuals, drawings on blackboard,
realia. m im ing, recorded m aterial, etc.; involves
students' participation in the form of repetition,
question-answer display, translation, etc.; it usually
aims at checking correct pronunciation and syn
tax. or m eaning com prehension.

Brainstorming: free, un d irected contributions by

the students an d teacher on a given topic to gen
erate m ultiple associations w ithout linking them ;
no explicit analysis or in terp retatio n is given by
the teacher.

Dialogue Narrative presentation: reading or lis

tening passage in the form of dialogue, narration,
song. etc., for passive reception (students becom e
fam iliar with the text w ithout being asked to per
form am task related to the con ten t); it usually

implies students listening to a tape o r the teacher

reading aloud while students follow with or with
out the text.

of interaction; distinguished from mechanical

drills in th at students have to m ake a choice with
respect to the m ean in g conveyed.

Question-answer display: c o n tro lle d activity

involving p ro m p tin g of student responses bv
m eans o f display questions (teacher o r questioner
already knows the response o r has a very lim ited
set o f expectations for the appropriate response);
these are distinguished from referential questions bv
m eans of the likelihood of the questioner know
ing the response and the speaker being aware of
the questioner knowing the response.

Preparation: stu d e n ts p la n th e s u b s e q u e n t
activity (in pairs, individually, o r in groups) by
m eans of rehearsing, m aking notes, or simply

Review: teacher-led review of previous w eek /

m o n th or o th er period; a form al sum m ary and
assessm ent o f stu d en ts recall and perform ance.

Foe us/Working Phase

Translation: stu d e n t o r tea c h e r provides L I or
L2 translations o f given text.
Dictation: students write dow n orally p rese n ted
Copying: students w7rite dow n visually p rese n ted
Reading aloud: student(s) read aloud from a
given text distinguished from dialogue presenta
tion in th at the focus is on pro n u n ciatio n and
rhythm .
Drill: typical language activity involving fixed
p attern s o f students a n d tea c h e r resp o n d in g
a n d pro m p tin g , usually with rep etitio n , substitu
tion, a n d o th e r m echanical alterations; typically
with little m ean in g attached.
D ialogue/N arrative recitation: students recite
a passage o r dialogue which they have previously
le a rn e d o r p re p a re d ; e ith e r in u n iso n o r
Cued narrative/dialogue: students b u ild up a
dialogue or a piece of narrative following cues
from m im ing, cue cards, pictures, flow charts, key
functional requests, or o th er stimuli related to
narrative o r dialogue (e.g., filling empty7bubbles,
cued dialogues, com pleting a dialogue or a text,
discourse chains, etc.).
M eaningful drill: lan g u ag e activity involving
exchange o f a lim ited n u m b e r o f fixed patterns

Identification: students pick out and p ro d u c e /

label or otherwise identify' a specific target form ,
function, definition, or o th er lesson-related item.
Game: organized language activity th at has a
particu lar task or objective a n d a set o f rules
w hich involve an e le m e n t o f c o m p e titio n
betw een players (e.g., b o ard games, hangm an,
bingo, etc.); it usually im plies e n te rta in m e n t
an d relaxation.
R eferential
question-answer: activity
th a t
involves p ro m p tin g of responses by m eans o f ref
eren tial questions (the q u e stio n e r does n o t
know b e fo re h a n d the response info rm atio n );
distinguished from information exchange in th at
th e in fo rm a tio n o b ta in e d is n o t m e a n t to
achieve a task o r solve a problem .
Checking: teacher guides the correction of stu
dents' previous activity o r hom ew ork, providing
feedback as an activ ity rath e r than within a n o th e r
Wrap-up: b rie f teacher- o r stu d e n t-p ro d u c ed
sum m ary of points o r item s th at have b e e n prac
ticed o r learned.

Transfer/Application Phase
Inform ation transfer: students extract inform a
tion from a text (oral o r w ritten) w hich they
apply to a n o th e r m ode (e.g., visual
w ritten;
w ritten, etc.); it im plies som e transform a
tion o f the inform ation by filling o u t diagram s,
graphs, answ ering questions, etc., while listening
o r read in g ; d istin g u ish ed from identification
in th a t students are expected to re in te rp re t the
inform ation.
Inform ation exchange: activity th a t involves
one-wav o r two-way co m m u n ic a tio n such as
inform ation gap exercises, in which one o r both
parties m ust obtain inform ation from the o th er

to achieve a goal: distinguished from meaningful

drill in that the pattern o f exchange is not lim ited
to a fixed set or o rd er o f structures; distinguished
from information transfer in th at the inform ation
is not reinterpreted: and distinguished from refer
ential questions in that obtaining the inform ation is
critical for the resolution of the task.
Role play: students act out specified roles and
functions in a relatively free way; distinguished
from cued dialogues bv the cuing being provided
only m inim ally at the beginning, n o t during, the
Report: p rep ared oral exposition of students'
previous work (books or stories read, project
work, etc.) and elaborated on according to stu
d en ts own interpretation: it can also be students'
reports on inform ation obtained from a previous
activity as long as it can be considered as prepar
ation (i.e., students rep o rt back with the help of
data obtained during the activity).
Narration: s tu d e n ts ' lengthv e x p o sitio n of
som ething which thev have seen (film, video
program , event, etc.), read (news, books, etc.),
or ex p erien ced (events, storv. etc.); n a rra te d in
their own words an d w ithout previous p rep a r
ation; distinguished from cued narrative because
of lack o f im m ediate stim ulus.
Discussion: debate or o th e r form of g roup dis
cussion o f specified topic, with o r w ithout speci
fied sid es/p o sitio n s p rearran g ed .
Com position: w ritten d e v e lo p m en t o f ideas,
story, dialogues, o r exposition: akin to report but
in the w ritten m ode.
Problem solving: students work on an activity in
which a problem and som e lim itations on m eans
are established; it requires cooperative action on
the p a rt of participants, in small or large groups,
in o rd er to reach a solution; onlv one outcom e
som etim es am ong o th er possible solutions is
allowed p er group.
Drama: p la n n e d dram atic ren d itio n o f play,
skit, etc.
Simulation: activity that involves com plex in ter
action betw een groups a n d individuals based on
sim ulation of real-life actions a n d experiences.

Borderline Activity
Testing: formal testing procedures to evaluate
students progress; considered borderline because
it could be included in anv phase, dep en d in g on
the content to be tested.

3.2 Task Types and Parameters

A n u m b e r o f the labels from this list o f activities
have e n te re d into the research an d pedagogical
literature on "tasks. C urrently th ere is consider
able ex p erim ental work being c o n d u c te d on
factors that d ifferentiate lea rn in g tasks with
respect to th eir p aram eters an d th eir influence
on lea rn ers' p ro d u ctio n in term s o f fluency,
complexity, a n d accuracy. Som e o f these factors
are sum m arized in this section (see also the
sem inal collection of studies in C rookes and
Gass 1993a, 1993b).
Below are th ree com m only applied defini
tions o f tasks, falling on a continuum from the
n o tio n o f "real-w orld tasks to specifically
focused pedagogical activities:
[a] piece o f work undertaken for one
self or for others, freelv or for some
reward . . . exam ples . . . include paint
ing a fence, dressing a child, buying a
pair of shoes . . . bv "task is m eant the
h u n d re d and one things people do in
evendav life, at work, at plav, and in
between (Long 1985, p. 89).
a task is taken to be an activity in which
m eaning is primary; there is some sort
of relationship to the real world; task
com pletion has some priority; and the
assessment of task perform ance is in
term s of task outcom e (Skehan 1996,
p. 38 ).
the smallest unit o f classroom work
which involves learners in co m p re
h en ding, m anipulating, producing, or
in te rac tin g in th e target language.
M inimally, tasks will c o n ta in som e
form o f data or in p u t (this m ight be
verbal, e.g., a dialogue o r read in g
passage, o r nonverbal, e.g., a picture

sequence). T h e task will also have

(implicitly or explicitly) a goal and
roles for teachers and learners. (Neman
1989a, p. 5).
Almost anything can be used as the basis of a
task, such as dialogues, public announcem ents,
new spaper headlines, telephone directories, or
picture strips (N unan 1989). In many SL teaching
situations, tise of a variety of texts (written and spo
ken) is justified, since part o f developing learners
skill is ensuring that thev becom e familiar with as
wide a range o f text tvpes as possible.
C urrent research is focusing on wavs and
m eans to establish a priori the relative complexity
o f tasks. This will aid task selection as well
as su p p o rt the developm ent o f task-based syl
labuses. R obinson (2000) has recently proposed
a distinction betw een task complexity, task condi
tions, a n d task difficulty, which can be com pared
with schem as for the analysis of task factors and
dim ensions p roposed in earlier work, such as
th at o f N u n an (1989), Pica, Kanagv, an d Falodun
(1993), an d Skehan (1996). Robinson includes
in task complexity only those factors that affect
lea rn ers cognitive resources for atten tio n and
processing of inform ation an d th erefo re affect
th e accuracy, fluency, an d com plexity of their
p ro duction. These characteristics are \iew ed as
continua, with e n d points rep resen ted bv the
presence o r absence () o f features: few ele
m ents, here-and-now1 reference (vs. there-andth e n ), reasoning dem ands, planning, single
task, a n d p rio r knowledge. T h ere are several
studies which have dem onstrated, for exam ple,
th a t allowing for p lan n in g in the perfo rm an ce of
tasks leads to im provem ents in e ith e r accuracy,
fluency, o r complexity7 or com binations o f these
positive outcom es (Crookes 1989; O rtega 1999).
Similarly, less com plex tasks favor the m ore posi
tive e n d o f each c o n tin u u m . As com plexity
increases, fluency a n d accuracy ten d to drop.
W hat Robinson proposes as task conditions
have often b een exam ined in the literature with
respect to their effects on am o u n t of learn er pro
duction, interaction, a n d feedback. Thus, ' partic
ipation variables such as op en and closed tasks,
one-way an d two-way tasks, a n d convergent and

divergent tasks have been shown to have substan

tive effects on interaction. Some of these are dis
cussed briefly below. Tikewise, p a rticip a n t
variables" such as g en d er similarities o r differ
ences, familiarity am ong learners, and powrer rela
tionships can have an influence on task outcom es.
Finally. Robinson makes an im portant dis
tinction between those factors that can be de
scribed for specific tasks and the learner-internal
factors that influence the difficulty that different
learners will have in ability to perform on any
given task. These include learners motivation,
anxiety, confidence, aptitude, level of attained
proficiency in the L2, and intelligence. Skehan
(1996) has also pointed out the im portance of
various pressures on learners (e.g., tim e pres
sures) that can affect how successfully thev per
form on tasks.
It is im p o rta n t to n o te th a t w'hatever
a p p ro ach one takes to the task analysis, it m ust
be em b e d d e d in an analysis o f the effects o f task
sequencing. T hat is. as suggested in the listing of
activities within phases in the previous section,
im p lem en tatio n o f tasks in pedagogicallv ratio
nal sequences can accom plish a g rea t deal
toward en su rin g lea rn er success on a given task.
S k eh an s m odel (1996, p. 57) of task im p lem en
tation, for instance, suggests ways in which p re
tasks help establish target language o r reduce
cognitive load th ro u g h consciousness-raising or
practice, and post-tasks help learners to restruc
tu re a n d in teg rate target form s o r functions,
increasing the in teg ratio n o f learn in g goals as
fu rth e r sim ilar tasks are perfo rm ed .

3.2.1 Relevant Characteristics

Several of the characteristics to be discussed are
am o n g th e task c o n d itio n s p ro p o se d by
Robinson (2000). .Although thev mav n o t affect
complexity p er se, thev have been shown to affect
the nature of the language used in tasks. The
m ain focus of such language has b een on the p ro
vision o f com prehensible in p u t as indicated by
m arkers o f interactional m odification. It has been
argued that language which is com prehensible to
the ST learner a n d is at an ap p ro p riate level will

be o f high utility for learn in g purposes, an d that

indicators o f such discourse are those deviations
from norm al talk which are used to clarify mis
un d erstan d in g s o r problem s in com m unication
(Long 1980). T h e role o f practice in SL devel
o p m en t has also been em phasized, an d Swain
(1985) has refe rre d to this as th e output hypothe
sis. This suggests th at valuable task characteris
tics w ould req u ire learn ers to p ro d u ce m ore
com plex constructions th an they w ould o th e r
wise use (C rookes 1989; D uff 1986; for fu rth e r
discussion see C rookes 1986; Pica, Kanagy, and
Falodun, 1993).
A typical task co ndition which was heavily
investigated was 'in fo rm a tio n structure" (an
aspect of inform ation tran sfer activities see
section 3.1). In fo rm atio n gap tasks m at be
designed so th at each particip an t holds different
inform ation which m ust be shared verbally in
o rd e r for the task to be successfully com pleted.
Such a two-way task can be co m p ared with one
in which verbal inform ation transfer is also nec
essary for task com pletion, but w here the infor
m ation is allocated solely to one participant, who
is req u ired to convey it to the other. Classic work
of this type (Long 1980) showed that two-wav
tasks pro d u ced m ore interactional m odification
(repetitions, expansions, confirm ation checks,
etc.) than did one-wav tasks for native sp eak er'
non-native speaker (XS-XXS) chads.
A second set of task characteristics, in a sense
com plem entary to the one-/two-wav distinction, is
shared assum ptions. Some studies suggest that the
extensive shared background inform ation avail
able in some two-wav tasks mav work against call
ing forth m ore negotiation of m eaning. It mav be.
as Gass and Varonis (1985) argue, that if both par
ticipants in an inform ation-gap task have a veryclear idea of the structure of one a n o th e rs infor
m ation, there will be less likelihood of partial or
co m plete m ean in g breakdow ns. Similarly, as
Gaies (1982) suggests, if both participants are well
acquainted with each other, they will be able to
m anage com m unication difficulties w ithout the
n eed for the extensive negotiation that is probably
useful for language acquisition. This may also
apply to the availability of visual support for a task.
In an investigation o f the degree to which three

d ifferen t tasks p ro d u ce d changes in le a rn e rs

interlanguages (IL), C rookes a n d R ulon (1988)
fo u n d th at o f two problem -solving tasks, the one
in w hich observable IL d ev elopm ent was less evi
dent was the one in which the task provided visual
support to both m em bers of the dyad. Even
th o u g h the pictures used were n o t identical,
thev were versions of the same p icture, differing
only in certain lim ited features (often called
"Spot the D ifference).
A th ird feature which has b e e n posited as
likelv to be relevant is recycling. If the discourse
g e n e ra te d by a task requires the sam e linguistic
m aterial to be used repeatedly, such a conversa
tion w ould be potentially m ore useful to the
XXS th an one in which m any item s o c cu rred
once only (see Gass et al. 1999).
A fou rth possible factor is convergence,
which derives from the work o f D uff (1986).
M am com m unicative tasks available on the ESL
m aterials m arket require participants to reach
a m utually acceptable so lu tio n (D uff 1986,
p. 150). often in solving som e values clarification
problem . .Also quite com m on now are m aterials
which req u ire students to take a stand on one
side o f an issue and argue th eir positions (e.g.,
.Alexander, Kingsbury, an d C hapm an 1978). T he
fo rm er mav be term ed a convergent task type,
the latter a "divergent task type (D uff 1986,
p. 150). D uff fo u n d that convergent tasks lead to
frequent exchange of turns and m ore com m uni
cation units, whereas divergent tasks lead to
longer turns of greater syntactic complexity. If
convergent tasks produce m ore questions and
shorter turns, one mav assume that m ore com pre
hensible input is available in the discourse which
accom panies their perform ance. Alternatively, if
o utput and the role of practice are em phasized,
divergent tasks mav be m ore highly valued,
the ex tended discourse (long turns) in
[divergent tasks] reduces opportunities
for negotiation o f input . . . coupled
with the greater svntactic complexity of
[discussion], this reduces . . . the
am ount o f com prehensible in p u t avail
able (Duff 1986, p. 170).

We hope that bv being aware of the factors

which have been investigated, as well as the factors
for which no evidence can legitimatelv be claimed
(despite publishers' prom otional claims), teachers
will find it easier to m ake the best possible deci
sions when designing or selecting SL tasks.

A m ajor role o f the instructor is to arrange m at
ters so the m aterial p resen ted gets used and
thereby learned. This mav be far m ore critical in
the learning o f a cognitive skill, in which practice
assumes m ajor dim ensions, than in the learning
of most school subjects, in which declarative
know ledge (A nderson 1982; OAlallev, Cham ot,
an d W alker 1987) is being p resen ted and clear
p resentation mav be sufficient in itself to ensure
learning (cf. West 1960). We need, therefore, to
give som e consideration to such m atters as the
overall organization of the classroom , the nature
and dynamics of teacher-student and studentstu d en t interaction, and the interface betw een
these m atters and the selection o f classroom
learning tasks.

4 .1 Class Organization
T he key participants in classroom organization
are the teacher, the tea c h e r aide o r trainee, the
individual stu d e n t an d groupings o f students,
the class as a whole, the language p resen tatio n
m aterials used (e.g., textbook. AY m edia), and
any visitors or outsiders. Com binations of these
result in particular structures in class organization
and effects on language learning processes.
T he d o m in a n t view o f second language
classroom processes toclav favors stu d e n tc e n te re d lea rn in g instead o f the trad itio n al
teacher-dom inated classroom (X unan 1988b).
T h e tea c h e r-d o m in a te d classroom (teacherfro n te d ) is characterized bv the tea c h e r speak
ing m ost o f the tim e, leading activities, a n d
constantly passing jud g m en t on stu d e n t p e rfo r
m ance; in a stu d en t-cen tered classroom , stu
d e n ts typically will be o b serv ed w orking
individually o r in pairs and small groups, each
on distinct tasks an d projects.

L earner-centered instruction has the b e n e

fits of greater individualization of learning objec
tives. increased student opportunities to perfo rm
using the target language (w hether receptivelv or
productivelv), an d increased personal sense of
relevance and achievem ent, thus relieving the
teacher o f the n e e d to constantlv supervise all
students. Students often will pav m ore attention
an d learn b e tte r from one a n o th e r since their
p erform ances and processes of negotiation o f
m eaning are m ore closelv ad apted to one an
oth er's level of abilitv. Teachers should thus be
p rep a re d to develop fewer teacher-dom inated
activities and tasks, while rem aining conscious of
their students' need for guidance in setting objec
tives. for appropriate m odels of and feedback
about the target language, a n d for constructive
and supportive evaluation of their progress.
In general, the m ost a p p ro p riate a n d effec
tive classroom organization is pair an d g roup
work. T raditional teachers still h a rb o r negative
views o f the outcom es of learn er-d o m in ated
activities, b ut a small am o u n t of im p o rta n t class
roo m -cen tered research has d e m o n stra ted that
w hen stu d e n ts h a te m o re o p p o rtu n itie s to
em plov the target language, thev m anage to p e r
form equallv successfullv in term s o f gram m ati
cal accuracv as w hen the teach er is leading the
discussion (D oughtv and Pica 1984; Pica and
D oughtv 1983; cf. discussion in C h au d ro n 1988,
pp. 151-152).
G roup work has been shown to result in many
advantages for SL learners (see, for example, Long
et al. 1976; Pica and Doughtv 1983; Pica et al.
1996): learners speak m ore frequentlv a n d with
longer stretches o f speech; thev p ro d u ce m ore
in te ra c tio n a l m o d ific a tio n s d ire c te d at o n e
an o th er; a n d thev utilize a w ider range o f lan
guage. An especially im p o rta n t effect related to
cultural differences is th a t the observable in hibi
tions to speak in larger classes ten d to disappear
in small g ro u p work.
It should also be recognized that group work
results in diversity of p e rfo rm a n c e betw een
groups. This suggests th at ju st as individuals
contribute to a group, the different groups in a
classroom can be linked through different tasks,
roles, and shared responsibilities to generate
whole-class tasks a n d objectives. A lthough

competitive m odels can be em ployed in this

way (as described in Kagan 1986), m any favor
whole-class cooperative learning projects.

4.2 Aspects of the Teacher-Fronted

A lthough we em phasize the relative productivitv
of the small g ro u p over the teacher-fronted class,
tea c h e rs so m etim es n e e d to o p e ra te in a
"lock-step" m ode. We will discuss two general
characteristics of teac h e r-stu d e n t in te rac tio n
which can fairlv easilv be m an ip u lated u n d e r
these conditions to the advantage of SL learn
ing: question tvpe and wait tim e.

4.2.1 Question Types

Studies (Brock 1986; L ong an d Sato 1983) have
shown that ESI. teachers' classroom questioning
patterns are tvpicallv different from those used
bv native speakers conversing casuallv with adult
non-native speakers. SI. teachers ask m ore displav
questions (those to which the questioner alreaclv
knows the answer) than do orclinarv XSs talking
to NNSs. T he latter usuallv use referential ques
tions (those to which the questioner does not
already know the answ er). This difference mav be
because teachers tend to act as if the SL were
inform ation which they must transm it to students,
testing w hether it has been understood bv using
display questions.
T h e re are reasons to be co n c ern e d about
this. First, it is generallv accepted that the m odel
o f the target language provided bv the teacher
in the classroom should n ot deviate greatlv from
thatlikelv to be e n c o u n te re d in real life. Second,
if teacher-student in teractio n is p redom inantlv
th ro u g h displav questions, relativelv little real
c o m m u n ic a tio n is g o in g on. As L o n g an d
Crookes observe,
Displav questions bv definition p re
clude students attem p tin g to com m u
n icate new, u n k n o w n in fo rm a tio n .
Thev ten d to set the focus o f the entire
exchange thev initiate on accuracy
ra th e r th a n m eaning. T he te a c h e r
(an d usuallv th e stu d e n t) already

knows w hat the o th e r is saving or trving to say, so th ere is no m ean in g left

to negotiate (1987, p. 181).
W ithout negotiation of m eaning it is ques
tionable w hether students addressed by a teacher
are actuallv receiving useful input, in term s
of appropriateness to their c u rren t level of com
p re h e n s io n a n d / o r lan g u a g e d e v e lo p m en t.
F u rth e rm o re , less com plex language is likelv to
be p ro d u ce d bv learners who know th at the
tea c h e r is onlv asking the question to check th eir
know ledge, ra th e r than really w anting a p ro p e r
an d com plete answer to a real question.
A fu rth e r distinction is relevant: closed ref
erential questions versus o p en referential ques
tions. T he fo rm er are questions to w hich the
speaker does not know the answer, b u t to which
th ere is e ith e r onlv one or a very lim ited set o f
possible answers; the latter are questions to
which the speaker does not know the answer and
to which a large varietv o f answers are possible
(see the the distinctions am ong activitv tvpes in
Section 3.1). Long et al. (1984) fo u n d th at open
referential questions p ro d u ce d m ore com plex
student responses than did closed referential
questions, with com plexitv m easured bv n u m b er
of words p er student turn.

4.2.2 Wait-Time
Wait-time refers to the length of the pause which
follows a teacher's question to an individual stu
dent or to the whole class. This lasts until eith er
a student answers o r the teacher adds a com m ent
or poses a n o th e r question. It can also apply to
the p erio d betw een one stu d en t's answ er to a
question and the response o f the te a c h e r or
a n o th e r student. A n u m b e r o f investigations in
general education have found that wait-times can
be altered bv teachers but tend to be short,
aro u n d one second (e.g., Rowe 1969; for a review
see Tobin 1987). W hen wait-time is increased to
th ree to five seconds, there is im provem ent in
learning and in the qualitv o f classroom dis
course. T he principal SL study o f wait-time (Long
et al. 1984) found that increased wait-time after
teacher questions resulted in longer SL student
utterances. It did not result in m ore u tteran ces

p e r stu d en t turn, however, which mav have been

cine to the low proficiency level of the students
in th e studv o r possiblv to an in te ra c tio n
b etw een cognitive level o f q u e stio n s a n d
w ait-tim e. W hen asking "h ard e r" q u estions,
teachers te n d e d to wait longer, b ut the difficulty
o f such questions was n o t alwavs com pensated
fo r by p r o p o rtio n a te d lo n g er wait-time. We
advance the m atte r o f wail-time h ere as an exam
ple o f a classroom p ro ce d u re which is easv to
m anipulate a n d which w arrants fu rth e r class
room investigation. Teachers m ight want to trv
the effects o f simply waiting lo n g er as thev in te r
act with th eir SI. students, know ing that th eir
findings, if com m unicated, could aid th eir col
leagues a n d fu rth e r substantiate (or perhaps dis
prove) the po ten tial of increased wait-time in SL

5. C O R R E C T IO N
In Section 2.3 we n o ted that a focus on form al
aspects o f the SL has again becom e a c o n cern of
m ethodologists an d practitioners. E rro r correc
tion a n d feedback have tvpicallv been consid
ered to be p art o f such a focus. As C hau d ro n
notes in his review of feedback in language
In any com m unicative exchange,
speakers derive from th eir listeners
inform ation on the reception and com
prehension o f their message. . . . From
the language tea c h e rs p oint of view,
the provision of feedback . . . is a m ajor
m eans bv which to inform learners of
the accuracv o f both their form al target
language prod u ctio n and their o th er
classroom behavior a n d knowledge.
From the learners' p o in t o f view, the
use of feedback in repairing their u tter
ances, and involvem ent in repairing
th e ir in te rlo c u to rs utterances, macconstitute the m ost p o te n t source of
im provem ent in b o th target language
developm ent an d o th e r subject m atter
know ledge (1988, pp. 132-133 ).

W hile th ere is no reason to associate feed

back a n d correction solelv with a form al focus,
approaches to language teaching will vary in the
degree to which the teacher is expected to be the
source of "correcting" behavior. A traditional
notion is that the teacher or m aterials provide a
correction o f everv (im portant) lea rn er error,
while a m ore c u rren t view em phasizes the im por
tance of learners obtaining feedback (and pos
sible correction) onlv w hen the m eanings thev
attem pt to convex are not understood; even then,
the feedback should be a natural outcom e of
the com m unicative interaction, often betw een
learners. Even in the m ost lea rn er-ce n te re d
instruction, learners n e e d feedback in o rd e r to
differentiate betw een acceptable a n d unaccep t
able target language use. (See the chapters bv
L arsen-Freem an and Fotos in this volum e for
fu rth e r discussion.)
T he provision of feedback, or even "correc
tions." does not m ean that the inform ation pro
vided m ust be staled in form alized gram m atical
or o th er descriptive term s. T he teacher has inanv
options available, from simple indicating lack of
com prehension or otherwise signaling the occur
rence o f an e rro r and getting the learn er to
self-correct, to the most elaborate gram m atical
explanation and drill of correct forms.
Teachers frequently m ake the m istake of
th in k in g that bv providing a correct m o d el, bv
rep eatin g stu d en t statem ents with som e slight
change in the grammatical form, learners will per
ceive the correction and incorporate it into their
developing grammars. This is the form of feedback
known as "recasts," which is a relatively implicit
focus on form (see Long, Inagaki, and O rtega
1998). As C haudron (1977) notes, and Lester
(1998a) argues further, such feedback is likelv to
be perceived bv the learner not as a formal change,
but rather as a confirm ation, rephrasing, or clarifi
cation of the functional m eaning. For example:
Student : I can no go back hom e today early.
T etcher : You c a n t go hom e early todav?
Student : \ o .
If th ere is in fact reason to provide form al
feedback in such a case, it helps to focus on the
specific correction by em phasizing a n d isolating

the m o d eled forms (C h au d ro n 1977): I can't go

home, or earlv toda\. But it appears evident from
studies of recasts that thev are in fact effective
20-25 p ercen t o f the tim e. This effectiveness mav
be because th e r occur w hen the le a rn e r has
reached a stage of gram m atical co m p eten ce that
allows him o r h e r to perceive the slight differ
ence in use.
In som e recent research on French lan
guage im m ersion classrooms in C anada, Lvster
and Ranta (1997: see also Lvster 1998a. 1998b)
illustrate a wide varietv o f feedback events,
fre q u e n tlv in the m iddle o f c o n ten t-b ased
exchanges. Thev argue that th eir data illustrate
the positive value of explicit correction and nego
tiated feedback in guiding learners' to the cor
rect use o f target forms, since "uptake" of correct
gram m atical form s occurred m ore frequentlv fol
lowing such corrective mor es. It should Ire noted
that a considerable higher rate of uptake of p ro
nunciation and lexical errors occurred in their
data when the teachers provided onlv implicit
feedback in the form of recasts.
O n the o th e r hand, such practices mar be
less effective th an e n c o u ra g in g le a rn e rs to
self-correct (see Tom asello and H erron 1988) or
having o th e r learners assist in corrections. Peer
correction has the potential advantage of being
at the right level of developm ent in the learn er's
in terlanguage gram m ar.
As we noted in Section 2.3. an im portant
lim itation on the effectiveness of feedback and
correction, especially with respect to gram m atical
developm ent, is the natural o rd e r of acquisition
o f a given structure o r function. Ultimatelv.
teachers m ust rem ain cu rren t with findings of
research in SL acquisition, to b e tte r u n derstand
when it m ight be useful to correct.

of ig n o ran ce w here ideallv th ere should be

knowledge. O n the one hand, teachers should
know w hat relatively firm inform ation does exist,
and w here th ere is room for investigation. This
should aid their decision m aking. As the SL p ro
fession develops, m ore teachers are qualified to
conduct their own research or to collaborate
with researchers.' O n the o th e r h and, teaching
trill alwavs be a series of ju d g m en t calls; its
real-time cognitive complexity m eans it will never
be just a science, and will alwavs rem ain som e
thing of an art (cf. Clark and Lam port 1986;
L einhardt and G reeno 1986). We have tried here
to help the judgm ent calls be educated, inform ed
ones through the teacher's com bined use of
knowledge and educated professional reflection.

6. C O N C L U S IO N


This introductory' review o f SL classroom teach

ing as an area of studv and professional practice
could be extended; indeed, m anv o th e r chapters
of this volum e continue the discussion o f kev
areas for classroom practice. N onetheless, it is
evident that teachers still e n c o u n te r m anv areas

1. Prepare (individuallv) and com pare (as a

group) a mini-lesson. Select a specific point
of language form or function, rule of conver
sation. o r o th e r social use o f English.
Individuallv develop a sequence of activities
that vou m ight use to present, develop, and


Whv should LSL teachers be concerned about

keeping up with the results of classroom
research and second language acquis-ition
2. Do vou agree that teachers should m ake their
lesson objectives clear to their students? Can
t on think of situations in which this would be
inappropriate? Whv?
3. I low m uch place do vou think presentation,
ex p lan atio n , a n d discussion of rules for
language use have in the SL classroom? W hat
underiving view of language and language
learning supports vour view?
4. Discuss the wavs in which one m ight investi
gate the most effective wav of giving feed
back (or correction). W hat data w ould vou
collect, and how would vou identify successful

evaluate this point, a n d then com pare your

suggestions in a group. Develop a jointlv
agreed-upon way of teaching this point and
practice it with one another.
2. A useful alternative wav o f practicing the first
activity is for each person to teach a p o in t in
a language unknow n to the others in the
group. Discuss your feelings on once again
being a second language learner.
3. W orking with a partner, discuss tvays in which
a teacher with a m ulticultural g roup of stu
dents can best m aintain a positive classroom
clim ate, p ro m o tin g s tu d e n t in te re st a n d
m otivation.

Bailey, . M., and D. Xunan, eds. 1996. Voices from the
Language Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
An extensive and accessible collection of recent
classroom SL studies, illustrating the range of
current work of a more qualitative nature.
Burns, A. 1999. Collaborative Action Research for English
Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
A practical introduction to teacher research in
SL contexts based on actual investigations by a
team of SL teachers in Australia.
Chaudron, C. 1988. Second Language Classrooms.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
A comprehensive survey of earlier SL classroom
Crookes, G., and S. M. Gass. eds. 1993. Tasks in a
Pedagogical Context: Integrating Theon and Practice.
Philadelphia, PA: Multilingual Matters.

An illustrative collection of studies of pedago

gical applications of the concept o f task in SL
Lurch. T. 1996. Communication in the Language Class
room. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
A useful introduction to basic processes of class
room interaction and teacher talk, with clear

1 We are grateful to mam people named for their
assistance with the previous version (Crookes and
Chaudron 1991) of this paper, and we wish to
continue acknowledgement of Marisol Valcarcel,
Mercedes Yerclu. and Julio Roca, of the
Universidad de Murcia.
- Our discussion is traditional to the extent that we
will not deal with approaches to SL teaching that
involve going outside the classroom (e.g., Ashworth
1985: Auerbach 1996: Fried Booth 1986).
4 5Vhat "size" the elements are is not at issue here.
That is to saw we are not concerned with whether
the units presented are structural or functional,
or if the language of a given pedagogical task is an
unanalvzed whole.
4 Though the idea is not a new one see, e.g., West
J This is. of course, a problem for the syllabus design
er to be aware of and to resolve bv proper choice of
learning targets (see Long and Crookes 1993).
b We should point out that we deliberately avoid the
word "method" here: we do not accept its general
validity as a term of analysis (cf. Richards 1984).
This is particularly clear in the increased recogni
tion of the importance of action research in the
area of SL teaching (Bums 1999; Crookes 1993;
Freeman 1998).

English for Specific Purposes:

Tailoring Courses to Student Needs
and to the Outside World

M. J O H N S


P R I E -M A C H A D

In "English for Specific Purposes," Johns and Price-Machado argue that all good teaching is specific
purpose in approach. Using Vocational ESL and other examples, this chapter covers key questions such
as " W h o are the stakeholders?" and "W h a t is authenticity in the classroom? which are addressed using
needs and discourse analysis. Various program models demonstrate how ESP values are realized in
different contexts.

English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is a move
m ent based on the proposition that all language
teaching should be tailored to the specific learn
ing an d language use needs of identified groups
of stu d en ts and also sensitise to the sociocul
tural contexts in which these students will be
using English. Most of the m ovem ent's practi
tioners are teachers of adults, those students
whose needs are m ore readilv identified within
academ ic, occupational, or professional settings.
,\n increasing n u m b er of ESP practitioners live
and work in English-speaking countries, teaching
in program s offering vocational ESL (WESL) or
English for O ccupational Purposes (EOP) pro
grams for new im m igrant and refugee popula
tions o r in contexts em phasizing academ ic (LAP)
o r business langu age (English for Business
Purposes). However, ESP continues to be even
m ore com m on in English as a Foreign L anguage
(EFL) contexts, w here an increasing n u m b e r of
a d u lt stu d e n ts are e a g er to le a rn business
English o r academ ic English in o rd e r to pursue
th eir careers o r studv in English-m edium educa
tional institutions. O ne rem arkable exam ple of
the explosion o f ESP program s in EFL contexts
has taken place in C hina, w here foreign trade
has risen from 10 p e rc e n t to 45 p e rc e n t o f the
Gross N ational P ro d u ct over the last thirty years
an d the n e e d to speak English in in te rn atio n a l

trade is u rg en t (H u an g 1999). Many em ployers

an d e d u catio n al institutions th ro u g h o u t the
w orld are searching for E SL /EFL teachers with
solid ESP backgrounds.

ESP Categories
T he m ain interests of the ESP m ovem ent can
be categorized in a n u m b er of ways (see, for
exam ple. Dudley-Evans an d S t.J o h n 1998, p. 6).
For the purposes o f this discussion, we have
created a set of categories as shown in Figure 1
on page 44.
Because of their c u rre n t im portance, a few
of these categories will be h ighlighted in this
chapter: English for O ccupational Purposes, particularlv \ TESL an d English for Business Purposes
(EBP), a n d English fo r A cadem ic Purposes
(EAP). It is im p o rta n t to note, however, th a t this
chart is far from exhaustive; th ere is a rem ark
able arrav o f ESP courses offered th ro u g h o u t the
world. In various cities in Italy, for exam ple,
there are project-oriented curricula for white-col
lar workers in the tourist industry (English for
T ourism ). In M orocco, H asan II U niversity
devotes m any of its EAP courses to specific grad
uate m ajors such as agronom y. In som e nations,
learning English to contribute to the develop
m en t o f a com m unity o r region is a central goal
(Gueve 1990). As the prison p o p u latio n grows

English for Specific Purposes

English for Academic Purposes ()

English for Science

English for Business

English for Medical

English for

and Technology (EST)

and Economics (EBE)

Purposes (EM P)

the Law (ELP)





English for Occupational Purposes (EOP)

English for
Professional Purposes

English for Medical

English for Business




W orkplace

Purposes (EM P)

Purposes (EBP)


Specific V ESL



Figure I . Classification of ESP Categories

in the U n ited States, th ere are ESP courses in

co m p u ter rep air an d o th e r areas of com puter
language an d technology for the incarcerated.
T his rem a rk a b le diversity o f situations a n d
curricula highlights one of the virtues of ESP: the
program s are ad ap ted to the contexts and needs
of particular groups o f students.

* relevant to the lea rn er

successful in im parting learning
m ore cost-effective th an G eneral
E nglish."1
An ESP definition needs to distinguish betw een
four absolute a n d two variable characteristics:

A lthough the m odern ESP m ovem ent has evolved
in m any directions since it was fo u n d ed in the
m id 1960s (see Swales [1988] for an excellent
overview), several com ponents have rem ained
relatively constant th ro u g h o u t its history. In
1988, P eter Strevens provided the following
overview o f ESP a n d its features.
T he claims for ESP are th a t it is
fo cu sed on th e le a r n e r s n e e d a n d
wastes no tim e

A bsolute characteristics: ESP consists o f lan

guage teaching which is
designed to m eet the specified needs of
the lea rn er
related to c o n te n t (i.e., in its them es
a n d topics) to p a rticu la r disciplines,
occupations, o r activities
centered on the language appropriate
to these activities in syntax, lexis, dis
course, semantics, and the analysis of this
in contrast to G eneral E nglish.


Variable characteristics: ESP mav be. b ut is

n o t necessarily
restricted to the language skills to be
learn ed (e.g., read in g only)
not taught according to any preordained

T he absolute characteristics of the m ovem ent,

in particular, have provided guidance in the
design of ESP curricula and teaching over the
vears. Thus, they are im p o rtan t for u n derstand
ing how ESP practitioners distinguish themselves
from o th e r ESL/EFL teachers in professional
organizations, such as TESOL, and elsewhere.
Each characteristic will be discussed later in this
First, however, it is necessary to lat' a fo u n
dation, to consider those issues that ESP practi
tioners m ust address as they plan program s and
develop curricula.

ESP pro g ram s are developed because th ere
is a d e m a n d , because teach ers, supervisors,
gov ern m en t agencies, professionals, students, or
o thers see a n e e d for language courses in which
certain co n ten t, skills, m otivations, processes,
a n d values are id entified a n d in teg rated into
specialized, often short-term , courses. As ESP
p ra c titio n e rs a p p ro a c h course d ev elo p m en t,
they m ust consider a m u ltitu d e o f fa c to rs an d
som e essential q u estio n s before, an d during,
pro ject initiation.
1. Stakeholders in the Class or Project W hat
are the sources o f d em an d for this ESP program ?
W ho are the clients? An employer, an agency, a
governm ent, a m ore traditional educational insti
tution, o r the students themselves? W hat do the
stakeholders view as the essential elem ents of the
ESP program they desire?
These are the first questions posed for a
n u m b er of reasons, one o f which is funding:
Stakeholders generally provide the m oney for
courses and curriculum developm ent. A nother
reason is m andates: G overnm ents and institutions

th ro u g h o u t the world require specialized lan

guage training or education for certain employees
and students.
Som etim es m andates, funding, a n d govern
m en t reco m m en d atio n s create a intricate web
o f re q u ire m e n ts , resp o n ses, a n d oversight.
For exam ple, vocational ESI. (VEST) program s
in the U nited States2 have b een developed as
com plex responses to welfare reform a n d the
needs o f fu n d in g agencies such as th e A dult
E ducation a n d Family Literacy Act.3 Many VEST
program s, in th eir attem p t to m ee t c u rre n t
re q u ire m e n ts , are in fo rm e d by th e U.S.
D ep artm en t o f L a b o rs SCANS R e p o rt1, th o u g h
no fu n d in g for \T.SL com es directly from this
T he SCANS R eport established two levels of
criteria for w orkplace skills (see, for exam ple,
M arshall 1997). At the first level, the F o u n d atio n
Skills include basic components (reading, writing,
active listening, quantitative operations, in te r
p retin g , o rg an izin g in fo rm a tio n a n d ideas),
thinking skills (learning a n d reasoning, thinking
creatively, m aking decisions, solving problem s),
an d personal qualities (responsibility, self-esteem,
sociability, integrity, self-m anagem ent). At the
seco n d level, th e W orkplace C o m p eten cies
include resource management (organizing, plan
ning. etc.), interpersonal skills (working in teams,
teaching others, negotiating, working effectively
within culturally diverse settings, etc.), informa
tion management (acquiring a n d evaluating facts
an d data, using com puters, etc.), systems manage
ment (u n d ersta n d in g social organization and
technological systems), an d technology (selecting
equ ip m en t and tools, applying technology to
tasks, etc.). Becattse of the influence of this report,
m anv \T S L textbook writers and teachers have
used SCANS as the basis for their curricula (see,
for exam ple, Price-M achado 1998).
In o th er contexts, the stakeholders are the
stu d en ts them selves, particularly in private
ESL/EFL schools th ro u g h o u t the world which
professionals attend to upgrade their language
skills. These students are often very precise about
what thev want to learn and achieve. Even if the
students do not, or cannot, initiate o r direct
an ESP project, there has been considerable

attention given to wavs in which thev should be

em pow ered to participate within it. Somerville
(1997, p. 92), working in Australia, argues that we
m ust be asking questions such as the following if
we are to design workplace literacy curricula that
are learner-centered:

W ho are the participants in workplace literacv

How do the workers experience the programs?
How do program s change w orker participa
tion in workplace culture?
(W hat happens to the workplace during and
after w orkers participation in the program ?)

O th e r m ajor stakeholders are educational insti

tu tio n s, p a rticu larlv universities in v o k e d in
academ ic-purposes program s, an d private com
panies that n e e d focused English language an d
skills train in g for th eir professional emplovees.
An exam ple of co m bined governm ent and
institutional stakeholder influence has taken
place in re c e n t years in Tunisia. This countrv's
president, with his en to u rag e, m ade diplom atic
a n d trade-related trips to countries such as
South Africa w here English plavs a central role.
A lthough the p re sid e n ts m ajor advisors and
business peo p le spoke F rench and Arabic, thev
did n o t have sufficient com m and of business
o r diplom atic English to be successful. As a
result., he has req u ired all institutions of h ig h er
learn in g in Tunisia to step up th eir teaching of
the English language.5
2. Available Teachers A central issue to be con
sidered is the natu re of the teachers who will be
involved in an ESP program . W hat content, skills,
a n d literacies will they be expected to teach? How
m uch teacher training have thev com pleted? Are
they linguisticallv sophisticated, i.e., can they dis
cuss how English works and analvze specialized
discourses? W hat tvpes o f cu rricu la a n d
approaches are thev m ost com fortable with? .All
o f these questions are cen tral to design.
Inexperienced or "traditional teachers cannot
work within an experim ental ESP context, for
exam ple. In nianv EFT contexts, the ESP teacher
is n o t a native speaker of English (See M edgvess
ch ap ter in this volum e); this, too, will influence
the type o f ESP curriculum designed.

ESP teachers face challenges that o th e r

instructors rnav be able to circum vent. O ne chal
lenge relates to ESP content: discerning the p ar
ticular vocabularv, discourses, an d processes that
are essential to the ESP training o f students
w ithin a specialized context. W hat does the
teach er have to know about electrical e n g in e e r
ing and its practices to assist students to write a
research p a p e r in that discipline? W hat does a
tea c h e r have to know about the language of
welding, or tourism , to address the needs of stu
dents who have chosen these vocations? Manv
ESP practitioners argue that if thev can analvze
language an d discourses a n d study language
use. thev do n o t n e e d specialist expertise.
O th ers argue that tit least som e fam iliaritv with
the students' discipline or vocation is valuable.
In all cases, the te a c h e r/p ra c titio n e r con
ducts some research in the form of needs assess
m e n t a n d targ e t situ atio n analysis b efore
designing the curricu lu m and often, th ro u g h
out the course. In English for Academ ic Purposes
program s, practitioners often analyze the dis
courses of the stu d en ts discipline, visit classes,
talk to faculty, and study the strategies and lan
guage that students use to succeed. In business
or diplom atic English, as discussed in the
Tunisian exam ple above, the p ractitio n er may
have to accom pany a delegation to an Englishspeaking country in o rd er to u n d erstan d the
required language for that context. In VEST, this
needs analysis research often includes inter
viewing vocational instructors or em ployers and
atten d in g vocational classes. In Fairfax County
(Virginia) Adult EST Program s, for exam ple,
[The \T.SL. teacher attends vocational
classes], taking notes on troublesom e
vocabularv, idiom s, slang, concepts,
cultural differences, an d th en s /h e
addresses these things in the EST class.
This makes up most o f the co n ten t of
the EST class with additional practice
in the developm ent o f reading, listen
ing. speaking, writing and problem
solving skills (Schrage, personal com
m unication, 2 /2 6 /0 0 )
A n o th e r c h a llen g e fo r ESP tea c h e rs
involves a tta in in g th e necessary b re a d th of
u n d e rsta n d in g about successful com m unication

w ithin a context that they, a n d th eir students,

n e e d to develop. How is a good w orking and
com m unicative relationship established am ong
professionals from differen t cultures who are
negotiating o r p resen tin g papers in English?
W hat kinds o f problem s a n d relationships exist
betw een L2 w orkers a n d th eir supervisors? How
should a person use language to be polite, give
orders, or perform o th er English language func
tions within the target context? Or, to give one
very specific purpose area, how does a pilot estab
lish contact with a n d give clear messages to air
traffic controllers? These are subtle and not-sosubtle com m unications issues that can m ake or
break businesses and affect safetv and good work
ing relationships.
3. Authenticity Issues Because ESP involves
special Englishes an d contexts, n o t "G eneral
E nglish, efforts to achieve m axim um linguistic,
strategic, a n d situational authenticitv are m ade
in designing curricula. O n e of the m ost advanta
geous a u th e n tic possibilities is provided bv
courses offered wholly, or in part, on site in the
target location: at a w orkplace, such as a factorv
o r shipyard, or w ithin specific academ ic con
texts, such as an en g in e e rin g or biologv d e p a rt
m ent. On-site ESP provides o p p o rtu n ities for an
accurate a n d rich needs assessm ent a n d o n
going training an d evaluation, as well as for
in p u t from the stakeholders involved. In univer
sities, on-site language training may occur in
ad ju n ct courses o r o th e r tvpes o f content-based
arran g em en ts th at p erm it students to ex p eri
ence language a n d literacies in th eir n atural
contexts (see J o h n s 1997).
If on-site courses c an n o t be offered, practi
tioners search for o th e r wavs to provide students
with authenticitv. T h e re is a long a n d som etim es
contentious historv o f in tro d u c in g in to th e class
room w ritten o r oral discourses th at are central
to, b u t rem oved from , the target situation in
w hich th e students will eventually be using
English. Manv curriculum designers analyze and
segm ent these discourses so th a t they can be
studied w ithin a curriculum . However, som e
experts argue th a t when practitioners im p o rt
into the classroom target situation texts (or
g en res) taken o u t o f th eir original settings,

these texts lose th eir authenticity of context,

audience, an d o th e r factors:
a traditional belief that now appears
problem atic is that genres for use in
one co n tex t historv lessons o r office
w ork can be straightforw ardlv taught
in a differen t co n tex t such as the
English lesson. . . . Producing an exam
ple o f a genre is a m atter n o t ju st of
generating a text with certain form al
characteristics b u t o f using generic
resources to art effectivelv on a situa
tion th rough a [written or spoken text]
(Freedm an and Medway 1994, p. 11).
Supporting this claim, som e practitioners argue
that authenticitv should relate to the transferabili
ty of strategies or activities rath e r than to spoken
or w ritten texts from target contexts. Thus, for
exam ple, if students practice politeness strategies
in the target language, thev may be able to use
these approaches in a variety o f som ew hat u n p re
dictable contexts. In the following quote, which
continues to influence ESP curricula, W iddowson
argues the following:
[a] process-oriented ap p ro ach accepts
from the outset th at the language data
given to the le a rn e r will n o t be p re
served in store intact, b u t will be used
in the m ental mill. H ence the lan
guage c o n te n t of the course is selected
not because it is representative of w hat
the learner will have to deal with after
the course is over b u t because it is
likelv to activate strategies for learning
as the course progresses (1981, p. 5).
Efforts at activating strategies and processes in ESP
classrooms can take m anv forms. For exam ple,
after research in g the targ et EFL situation,
Souillard (1989. p. 24) found certain oral activities
for French students to be relevant and transfer
able to their disciplinary classrooms in which
English was the m edium o f instruction: dictating
calculations, describing a geom etric figure, giving
instructions for a p ro ce d u re , describing a p lan t
site, p rep a rin g a schedule, a n d describing a
g rap h or flowchart.

4. Curricular Decisions O th e r chapters in this

volum e address the issues o f curriculum . (See
especially those bv N unan, Snow, Erring, and
M cGroarty.) All o f those issues m ust also be
addressed in ESP. In m aking curricular decisions.
ESP practitioners have b een influenced over the
years by trends in applied linguistics and general
ESL/EFL teaching, w hen relevant to their stu
d en ts, m oving th ro u g h th e m eth o d o lo g ical
variations, from gram m ar-based to com m unica
tive, to process-based, an d to genre-based curric
ula. But whatever the c u rre n t trends, it is a basic
responsibility' o f an ESP practitio n er to be con
text- a n d student-sensitive. Thus, in several EFL
contexts, only ESP reading is taught, often using
m ethods such as intensive reading that are most
am enable to local student learning. In o th er con
texts, the con cen tratio n is u p o n o ra l/a u ra l skills.
(See L azaratons c h ap ter in this volum e.) T he
purpose of any ESP curriculum , then, is to m eet
the specific linguistic and pragm atic needs of
students as they p rep are for identified Englishm edium contexts. No texts and discourses and
no tasks or activities should be extraneous to
student needs a n d the req u irem en ts of the target
O f course, this makes the selection of o ff
the-shelf textbooks very difficult, as Swales
(1980), am ong others, has noted. Should a text
book be Avide-angled" an d inclusive, such as
m any English for Business texts are. losing some
o f the specificitv of local student needs? Should
textbooks be narrow-angled," addressing some
o f the focused needs of the learner? State-of-theart ESP classes often m ust also include the inte
g ratio n o f c o m p u te r technology. Plow this
technolog)' is used, and which skills are integrat
ed, will again d e p e n d u p o n the specific needs of
the students. K appra (2000), for exam ple, makes
these suggestions for integrating SCANS ATSL
and co m puter technologies:
a. Have students keep co m p u te r records of
th eir progress a n d assess that progress bv
com pleting reports,
b. Assign co m puter-related tasks such as dis
trib u tin g disks an d trouble-shooting.
c. Use problem -solving activities that require
basic c o m p u te r skills (p. 14).

W h eth er practitioners choose p u blished

textbooks or develop th eir own m aterials, revi
sion an d u p d atin g m ust occur constantly in ESP.
In "adjunct" EAP classes in universities, for
exam ple, the ESP teachers m ust consult fre
quently with the c o n te n t instructors to adjust or
ren egotiate th eir assignm ents. In E O P A U S L
program s, job shadow ing can be used to u p d ate
curricula. \T S L program s are also frequently
revised an d new m odules created to reflect the
language and o th e r skills n e e d ed for jobs that
becom e available in the com m unin'.
5. Assessm ent All ESI. EFL teach ers m ust
consider issues of assessm ent, discussed in the
c h a p te r bv C ohen in this volum e. W hat is partic
ularly c h allen g in g in ESP pro g ram s is that
students and th eir sponsors, governm ents, or
academ ic institutions are anxious to see im m e
diate a n d fo cu sed assessm ent results th a t
address specific objectives. Tims, the dem ands
of assessment, both in terms of formative and
summative evaluation, are great. In a work on ESP
testing. Douglas (2000) points out the following:
[a] specific purpose language test is
one in which test c o n te n t a n d m eth
ods are derived from an analysis of the
characteristics of a specific target lan
guage use situation, so that test tasks
and c o n te n t are authentically rep re
sentative of the target situation, allow
ing for an in teractio n betw een the test
taker's language activity a n d specific
pu rp o se c o n te n t know ledge, on the
one h an d , and the test tasks on the
other. Such a test allows us to m ake
inferences about a test taker's capacity
to use language in the specific p u r
pose dom ain (p. 19).
ESP assessment m ust also be appropriate to the
instructional context. In \T S L program s, for
exam ple, interviewing supervisors or the students
themselves about language, content, and task pro
ficiency can be m ore effective than anv traditional
oral exam ination or reading and writing test.
Some ESP experts, particularh- in large YESL and
EAP program s, are now testing students on-line to

encourage the developm ent of com puter skills

and to m ake testing m ore efficient. In EAP pro
grams, th ere is a long history o f attem p tin g to
design discipline-sensitive exam inations at insti
tutions such as the Universitv o f M ichigan.



After this discussion of the questions and topics

th at m ust be addressed before a curriculum is
p rep ared , we notv tu rn to the "absolute charac
teristics m en tio n e d bv Strevens (1988) and
their application to curriculum design. T h ough
ESP shares m uch with "G eneral English" curric
ula a n d overlaps with content-based designs,
there are certain features which distinguish it
from o th e r approaches.
N eeds A ssessm ent In everv g e n u in e ESP
course, needs assessment is obligatorv. and in
m ant' program s, an ongoing needs assessment is
integral to curriculum design and evaluation. In
perform ing an assessment, practitioners attem pt
to determ ine as closelv as possible what students
will need to d o and how thev will need to do
it in English language contexts or with English
language literacies. Over the tears, m ethods of
assessing learner needs have becom e increasinglv
sophisticated a n d process-based. H e re are
a few of those em ploved, often for the same
curricular design:


Q uestionnaires a n d survevs: These can be

given to the students them selves, th eir
em ployers or supervisors, or the audiences
to w hom then will be w riting o r speaking.
Thev can be adm in istered as precourse
questionnaires" (Ducllev-Evans a n d St. John
1998), th ro u g h o u t the course, o r after it is
com pleted.
Interviews o f experts, students, an d o th er
stakeholders: Particularlv useful for aca
dem ic English are som e o f the interviews
about uses and functions of specific linguistic
items in discourses, a practice th at has
becom e increasinglv popular after a land




m ark study o f the uses of the passive p u b

lished in The ESP Journal/ (Tarone et al.
In VESL (Vocational ESI.) a n d Business
English, interview ers ten d to rely u p o n the
supervisors and experts w ithin the target
situation in which the students w ould be
working, as well as the w o rk e rs/stu d e n ts
O bservation, job-shaclowing, a n d analysis:
T hese ap p ro ach es can take place on the
job. in academ ic contexts while students
are reading and writing (i.e., processing)
texts, while individuals are speaking, work
ing in groups, etc. ESP needs assessments
have been greatlv influenced bv recent qual
itative research, specificallv ethnography.
M uch o f the c u rren t work is "thicker in
term s of description than that o f the past, so
careful observation tends to be integrated
with o th er forms o f needs assessment.
Job-shadowing is very valuable to YES I.
teachers, who explore the linguistic, cultural,
and pragm atic experiences of workers as they
experience a tvpical dav on the job.
M ultiple intelligence an d lea rn in g stvle
.survevs of the students: ESP practitioners use
standard instrum ents as well as o th er m eth
ods for d eterm ining stu d en t approaches
to learning and text production such as pro
tocols and interviews (see S t.Jo h n 1987).
M odes o f working: W orking in team s is
a n o th e r aspect o f job p erfo rm a n c e th a t is
com m on in m anv VEST contexts as well as
in som e academ ic classes. A needs assess
m en t may thus include analysis o f how
team s work in the target context, break
downs in negotiation in culturally m ixed
groups, a n d o th e r factors th a t may in hibit
or e n h a n ce success.
Spoken or w ritten reflections by the stu
d e n ts or th eir supervisors before, d u r
ing. o r a fter in stru ctio n : In reflectio n ,
stakeholders are able to look back cm what
thev h a te experienced with an ESP p ro
gram . Reflections can be used to determ ine
how a current program should be revised or
future program s should be designed.

T here is im portant literature distinguishing

between student needs, wants, and larks (see, for
exam ple, H u tc h in so n
a n d W aters
p. 55), and for adults, these are im portant distinc
tions. Readers interested in exploring these issues
are encouraged to consult the considerable litera
ture in both ESP an d jo b training program s on
needs assessment for curriculum design.
From the established needs, specific objec
tives for students are w ritten, an d from these
objectives, the classroom tasks a n d m ethod s
for assessm ent o f th e p ro g ram a n d its students
are d e te rm in e d a n d revised as th e course
Relating to Content (of Occupations, Disciplines,
etc.) Since 1988 w hen Strevens wrote his ESP
overview, th ere has been an explosion of research
and theory on co n ten t (see, for exam ple, Snows
ch ap ter in this volum e), as well as on the wavs in
which values established within com m unities of
workers and practitioners influence the m an n er
in which c o n ten t is ap proached and visually dis
played. B erkenkotter and H uckin (1995, p. 14),
discussing academ ic content, argue that "what
constitutes true . . . knowledge . . . is knowledge of
appropriate topics and relevant details. O ne
exam ple from the litera tu re may show how
u n d erstan d in g the uses of c o n ten t influences stu
d e n ts success in universities. G iltrow a n d
Valiquette (1994) asked teaching assistants from
psychology a n d crim inology to read their stu
d e n ts papers a n d critique their ability to m anage
the knowledge o f their respective disciplines. T he
teaching assistants found that successful student
papers were quite different, d ep en d in g on the
field. In psychology, students were required to
dem onstrate how thev could m anage details in
texts by including some inform ation and exclud
ing o th er topics. In criminology, on the other
hand, the m ost im portant skill involved relating
concepts to exam ples, again m aking the co n ten t
work within a disciplinary framework.
W hat does this m ean about co n ten t selec
tion for curricula? It tells us that in all ESP situa
tions, practitioners m ust continuouslv assess what
types o f c o n te n t are central, how content is used
a n d valued, and the relationships betw een vocab
ulary and central concepts. A nother essential

e le m e n t o f successful c u rric u lu m d esig n is

selecting c o n te n t th at m otivates students: those
topics that these im p o rta n t stakeholders w ant
to address. In a volum e on adult participatory
literacv instruction a n d VESL, A uerbach et al.
(1996) argue the following:
verv o ften , [a d u lt stu d e n ts] are
im m ersed in the struggles o f adjusting
to a new cu ltu re, sep aratio n from
families, p reo ccu p atio n with the polit
ical situation in th eir hom e countries,
trving to find work, a n d so on. R ather
th a n seein g th ese p re o c c u p a tio n s
as obstacles to lea rn in g , a participatorv ap p ro ach allows them to focus
on th em as p art o f learn in g . . . [and
thev are] m ore engaged in c o n te n t
(p. 158).
Identifying and Analyzing Essential Language
and Discourses Since ESP can be co n sid ered a
subdiscipline of applied linguistics, practitioners
have m ade effective use of the trends in this area
to analvze, for curricular purposes, the language
a n d discourses (genres) o f the targ et situations
in which th eir students will be studying, living, or
working. In the 1960s, language analysis te n d e d
to c e n te r on the p articu lar gram m atical o r lexi
cal features (i.e.. registers) of discourses. Thus,
researchers fo u n d th at certain verb form s p re
d o m in a te d in scientific discourses (B arb er
1966), th a t a lim ited g ro u p of cohesive devices
are fo u n d in business letters (Johns 1980) and
th at abbreviations are characteristic o f telexes
(Zak a n d Dudley-Evans 1986). Now, o f course,
m uch business and academ ic com m unication
takes place via e-mail, so p ractitio n ers are
researching the registers of e-mail com m unication
in o rd er to develop m ore authentic curricular
m aterials (see, for exam ple, Gim enez 2000).
.As com m unicative syllabus design (especially
N otional Functional syllabi) becam e popular, the
types o f discourse analyses conducted relied m ore
upon language function th an u p o n counts o f spe
cific linguistic item s. M atsunobu (1983), for
exam ple, fo u n d th at university business profes
sors used th re e m ajor types o f speech acts in
th eir lectures: inform atives, m etastatem ents, and

discourse m arkers: thus, she developed a listen

ing curriculum in which these acts were the
focus. As it has m atu red , research into com m u
nicative functions has drawn increasinglv from
pragm atics, showing, lo r exam ple, that the wavs
in which individuals are polite to each o th er
d e p e n d upon their disciplines an d u p o n their rel
ative status. Hyland (1998) found that when pub
lished authors in the sciences write to their peers,
they ten d to hedge" their conclusions, m aking
com m ents such as, T he data ap p ear to show . .
or Perhaps this indicates . . . "
Nett surprisingly, com puters are now used
to d e te rm in e the gram m atical features shared bv
large num bers o f spoken or w ritten discourses
within certain genres (Biber 1994). A related
app ro ach , m ore tvpical o f the British ESP spe
cialists, is c o n c o rd a n c in g (Jo h n s 1989). a
m eth o d for d e te rm in in g lexical collocations in a
large n u m b e r of spoken and w ritten texts. In
con co rd an cin g , p ractitio n ers d e te rm in e what
language most com m onlv surrounds a word in
authentic discourses. Tliev m ight explore a com
m on word such as take, and through exam ining a
large n u m b er of written and spoken discourses
from particular situations, they can determ ine the
linguistic environm ents in which take appears.
This work is a boon to ESP. of course, since teach
ers organize their curricula according to the most
com m on contexts of central vocabularv.
C on co rd an cin g and corpus linguistics tend
to be m ost co n c ern e d with bottom -up studies of
texts, m easuring the natu re and interactions of
various gram m atical and lexical features. O th e r
ESP practitioners have co n c en tra te d upon the
m acro features o f texts and th eir co n tex ts bv
studving the relationships betw een the structure
an d language o f w ritten texts a n d the situations
in which these texts appear. John Swaless Genre
Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings
(1990) set the tone for ESP research of this type,
an d mans others have followed his lead.
Drawing from earlier u'ork in applied lin
guistics. ESP specialists have studied genres from
a variety of occupational and academ ic com m u
nities such as the law (Bhatia 1993) and business
(Eustace 1996). T hough using curricula in which
genres are central has been characteristic of
EBP for a n u m b er of t ears ( Johns 1987). these

approaches h a te onlv recentlv influenced the

teaching of reading an d waiting in academ ic set
tings, particularly at the graduate level (see Swales
and Feak 1994).

W hat do ESP program s look like? It should be
clear from this discussion th at th ere is a wide
range o f courses an d program s in a wide range
o f locations, always keved to the language needs,
skills, co n ten t, an d processes req u ired . Perhaps
one of the best articulated a n d w idespread sets
o f program m odels in EST contexts falls u n d e r
the \T S E rubric. It includes the following:
Preem ployment VESL This is a m odified ver
sion o f a "general" EST class in that the c o n te n t
is den oted to job readiness and g en eral soft job
skills as ou tlin ed in the SCANS R eport. Students
practice general jo b functions such as resp o n d
ing to com plaints, m aking requests, an d answer
ing the p h o n e. Tliev mav also p rep a re for job
interviews and o th e r initial job skills.
Occupation-Specific VESL H ere, the c o n te n t
is related to a particu lar job such as nu rsin g assis
tant o r electronics assembler. It can be tau g h t
eith e r as p rep a ra tio n for. or con cu rren tly with, a
vocational program . An exam ple m ight be a
th re e -h o u r class, th ree d ais a week, in w hich stu
dents studv vocabularv an d o th e r skills they will
n eed for an electronics assem ble class th at also
enrolls native speakers o f English. .After the VESL
class, thev atten d the regular electronics assembly
class or thev mav attend both concurrently.
T here is freq u en t com m unication betw een the
W S L and vocational instructors.
Cluster VESL These classes include students
from differen t vocations in one classroom .
Students studv all four "skills (listening, speaking,
reading, and writing), often in a them e-based pro
gram (e.g., "The World of W ork). In one class, for
exam ple, students read about how to m eet people
and make small talk in the workplace. T hen, they
m eet in pairs or teams answering jigsawr com pre
hension questions o r com pleting a problem
solring or writing exercise. Later, students work

on individualized m odules devoted to th eir cho

sen professions a n d are assessed on this work.
(Note: Because o f the a tte n d an c e req u irem en ts
in m any ad u lt schools, this is probablv the most
com m on type o f program .)
Workplace VESL This term applies to skills
a n d c o n te n t o f a specific w orkplace. It can be
job-specific, such as for electronics assemble, or
it may have a b ro a d e r em phasis. O ften, the
em ployer pays for som e o r all o f the course, and
em ployees are excused d u rin g th eir workdav to
a tte n d (Thom as, Bird, a n d G rover 1992, p. 108).
English for Business program s are the m ost
p o p u la r in the English as a Foreign Language
world. Businesses, o r individuals, req u ire classes
in negotiation, co rresp o n d en ce, bid and rep o rt
w riting, a n d in su p erv isin g b ilin g u al a n d
E SL /E FL workers. N ot surprisinglv, program
design com es in m any shapes an d sizes d e p e n d
ing u p o n the large variety o f contexts an d stu
d en ts served. (See the special Business English
issue o f English for Specific Purposes, 15(1), 1996.)
English for Academic Purposes also has a
long historv o f program specialization, particularlv
in science and technology areas at advanced levels
(see Swales 1988). Some excellent research and
curricula (see, for exam ple, Swales and Feak
1994) have been developed for graduate students
in the areas o f research p a p e r analysis and
advanced academ ic writing. U nfortunately for
m any ESL contexts, the EAP tradition at the
undergraduate level has been clouded with con
troversy. T here is little agreem ent on how, or what,
EAP should consist of for those students who have
n o t yet advanced into their academ ic majors.
ESP and the Future T here is no question that
ESP is well established, particularly in EFL aca
dem ic an d business contexts and in VESL pro
gram s in English-speaking countries. O u r largest
professional organization, TESOT, has an active
ESP Interest Section whose m em bers represent a
wide variety o f EFL and ESL contexts. T here is
considerable dem an d for ESP teachers who can
p erfo rm a variety o f needs assessment tasks, such
as collecting authentic discources and analyzing
them , m aking appropriate observations, and con

sulting various stakeholders and th en produce

curricula sensitive to the students and context.
T h e re is also a n e e d for discourse analysis
research, particularlv in English for Business
a n d \T.SL contexts. In ad d itio n , th e re is a
grow ing d e m a n d for specialists who can develop
com puter-based curricula and m ore a u th en tic
tests. T eachers with professional tra in in g in
these areas find them selves in great d e m a n d
in tern atio n allv an d often thev are leaders in
adult school sites within th eir ho m e countries.
In the future, ESP mav include m uch m ore
studv o f genres, particularlv the hom ely genres
of the workplace and community. It may lead to
the developm ent of m ore sophisticated, learnercentered or team -oriented curricula, particularly
in \T S L and professional program s. T here may
also be greater involvement of ESP in econom ic
developm ent and nation building.
W hatever its directions, ESP will rem ain
central to ESL and EFL teaching th ro u g h o u t the

1. How can a \T S L teacher (or am - ESP teacher,
for that m atter) integrate the essential areas
o f sociabilitv, teamwork, and self-esteem into
his or h er teaching?
2. Your supervisor has decided th a t you will
initiate a VESL class (an ESP program ) at
your school. W hat are som e of the questions
you n e e d to ask a n d things you n e e d to do to
p rep a re for th at class?
3. W hat areas of ESP appeal to you most? Why?
If you were to teach a class in the m ost appeal
ing area, what would its focus be? Why?
4. How can a perso n effectively assess the
results of an ESP program ? .After consulting
the c h a p te r bv C ohen in this volum e or the
work bv Douglas (2000), discuss som e possi
bilities for assessment.
5. T h ro u g h o u t this chapter, the au th o rs ju x ta
pose "G eneral E nglish a n d ESP. W hat is
G eneral E nglish in vour view? To w hom
should it be taught?

1. D esign a tria n g u la te d needs assessm ent for
a particu lar class, which includes obtaining
the same data in d ifferen t ways. C onsider
questionnaires, observation, interviews, and
discourse analysis.
2. W h ere does c o m m u n ic a tio n b reak d o w n
occur? W here do E SL /EFL students face the
m ost difficulty in using English in target
situations? O bserve a class, a lab, bilingual
workers on-line or at a construction site.
D ecide what th e areas of breakdow n are
(e.g., question-posing skills) and how vou
m ight teach them .
3. LTsing inform ation from needs assessments
o r o th e r sources, develop some g roup activ
ities that relv u p o n e ith e r strategies for
achieving ends (e.g., negotiation) o r essen
tial linguistic features (e.g., hedging). Assign
these activities to a class.
4. W hat are the features o f a p articular genre
th at students will n e e d to read or write?
Classify som e o f these features an d discuss
how you m ight p resen t them to a class.
5. If available, survey the th ree ''wide-angled"
VESL textbooks listed below. Make a list
o f sim ilarities and differences am ong these
volum es that considers:
a. the use a n d w eighing o f the SCANS
com petencies,
b. the te x ts organization.
c. central activities.
Does one textbook seem m ore ap p ro p riate
for certain groups of students? Whv?

Price-Machado, D. (1998). Skills for Success.

New York: C am bridge University Press.

Magv, R. (1998). Working It Out. Boston:

H einle 8c H einle Publishers.

English ASAP (1999). Austin, TX: SteckYaughn.

Douglas, D. 2000. Assessing Languages for Specific
Purposes. New York: Cambridge CYriversitv Press.
This is the first volume devoted exclusively to
assessment, a central issue in ESP and in other
specific purposes languages (ESP). A text that is
accessible to nonexperts, it includes a variety of
actual test tasks taken from a num ber of LSP
Dudlev-Evans, T, and M. f. St. John. 1998. Develop
ments in ESP: A Multi-Disciplinary- Approach.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
This is a verv good text for those new to ESP. It
includes discussions and examples of all the
absolute characteristics of the movement and
provides a variety of examples from EAP and
English for Occupational Purposes (both pro
fessional and \TSL).
English for Specific Purposes: A n International
Journal (formerly The ESP Journal). Founded in
the earlv 1980s, the journal includes articles on
all of the "absolute characteristics of ESP (needs
assessment, discourse analysis, etc.) as well as
discussions of research and the practical issues of
curriculum design. .Also included are metre infor
mal discussions of ESP issues and book reviews.
Gillespie. M. 1996. Learning to Work in a New Land:
A Review and Sourcebook for Vocational and
Workplace ESL. Washington, D.C.: Center for
Applied linguistics.
This text examines the role of immigrants in
the workforce, the status of English language
learning in vocational and workforce educa
tion. and the wavs the educational and govern
mental systems can enhance opportunities and
productivity for the English language learner.
Grognet. A. 1997. Integrating Employment Skills into
Adult ESL Education. (A project in adult immi
grant education. PAIE). Washington, D.C.:
National Clearinghouse for ESL Literacy Educa
tion. [Sponsoring agenev: Office of Educational
Research and Improvement, Washington,
D.C.] (ERIC PRODUCT 071). This question
and answer text discusses how employment
preparation can be integrated into an English as
a Second Language curriculum, whether in a
workplace or general ESL program.
Johns. A. M.. and T. Dudlev-Evans. 1991. English for
specific purposes: International in scope, specific

in purpose. TESOL Quarterh. 26(2): 297-614.

Commissioned for TESOLs twentv-fifth
anniversary, this article provides a short
overview of the ESP movement and its history.

1 General English is enclosed bv quotes throughout
this chapter because the authors do not believe that
such a language exists. All language and language
classes are specific to the learner, the context, and
the content.

- The authors would like to thank Gretchen Bitterlin,

ESL Resource Teacher, San Diego Community
College District: and Brigitte Marshall, Educational
Programs Consultant, Adult Education Office,
California Department of Education, for their assis
tance in the \TiSL discussions found in this chapter.
4 As Title II of the Workforce Investment Act (WTA).
4 Secretary of Labor's Commission on Achieving
Xecessarv Skills.
The authors are indebted to Mohamecl Daoud, one
of Tunisia's foremost ESP experts, for this anecdote.
b Now called English for Specific Purposes: An Inter
national Journal.

Syllabus Design


in SyMabus Design," Nunan describes and evaluates a range of syllabus types including grammatical,
notional-functional, content-based, task-based, and integrated, he also sets out and illustrates key
procedures for developing syllabuses.These include needs analysis, goal and objective setting, and the
development of competencies.

In o rd e r to define svllabus design, we n e e d to
start with the b ro a d e r field o f curriculum devel
o pm ent. Curriculum is a large messy co ncept
which can be looked at in a n u m b e r o f warns. A
very b ro ad definition is that it includes all of the
p la n n e d lea rn in g experiences o f an educational
system. T he field o f curriculum developm ent
was first system atized bv Tr ier in 1949, who artic
ulated fo u r fu n d am en tal questions that m ust be
answ ered bv anv cu rriculum developer:


W hat educational purposes should a school

seek to attain?
W hat educational experiences can be pro
vided that are likelv to attain those purposes?
How can the educational experiences be
effectively organized?
How can we d eterm in e w h eth er these p u r
poses have b een attained?

In the context of language teaching, the first

two questions have to do with syllabus design, the
th ird with language teaching m ethodology, and
the fo u rth with assessm ent an d evaluation.
Syllabus design, then, is the selection, sequencing,
and justification of the content of the curriculum .
In language teaching, c o n te n t selection will
include selecting linguistic features such as items
o f gram m ar, pronunciation, and vocabulary' as
well as experiential content such as topics and
them es. This selection process is guided by needs
analyses o f various kinds. Needs analysis provides
the designer with a basis both for content specifi
cation an d for the setting of goals a n d objectives.

In 1976, David W ilkins p u blished an influential

b o o k called Notional Syllabuses, in w hich he
argued th at the p o in t o f d e p a rtu re for syllabus
design should n o t be lists o f linguistic item s, b u t
a specification of the concepts th at learn ers wish
to express (notions such as tim e a n d space), an d
the things th at learners w ant to do with language
(functions such as co m p lim en tin g o r apologiz
ing). M ore recen tly th ere have b een calls fo r the
ad o p tio n o f a process approach, in which the
point o f d ep a rtu re is n o t lists o f linguistic or
notional-functional content, b u t a specification
of com m unicative and learning processes. This
has resulted in proposals for task-based syllabuses.
A nother significant trend, particularly in second
as opposed to foreign language contexts, has been
the em ergence of content-based syllabuses. Most
recently, an integrated approach has been called
for. In such an approach, all or m ost o f the ele
m ents and processes described above are incorpo
rated into the svllabus.
In this chapter, I wall elaborate o n the con
cepts an d processes described in the p reced in g
p aragraph. W here a p p ro p riate, the concepts
will be illustrated with extracts from syllabuses of
differen t kinds.

Grammatical Syllabuses
T raditionally the p o in t of d e p a rtu re for design
ing a language syllabus has b een to select a n d
sequence lists o f gram m atical item s, a n d th en
in teg rate these with lists o f vocabulary items.
Lists o f phonological item s have som etim es b een
throw n in for good m easure.

G ram m atical syllabuses are still very p o p u

lar today, alth o u g h thev were at th eir most p o p
u la r th ro u g h th e 1960s. w hen virtually all
syllabuses were crafted in gram m atical term s.
T he assum ption underlying these syllabuses is
th a t language consists o f a finite set of rules
which can be co m bined in various wavs to m ake
m eaning. T he task for the language lea rn er is to
m aster each rule in the o rd e r p resen ted bv the
svllabus before m oving on to the next. T he
w hole purp o se o f the gram m atical svllabus teas
to control in p u t to the lea rn er so that onlv one
item teas p resen ted at a tim e. This created a
dilem m a, which becam e m ore and m ore press
ing with the advent of Com m unicative Language
Teaching: How co u ld one co n tro l in p u t at
the same tim e as one is providing learners with
exposure to the kinds o f language thev would
e n c o u n te r outside the classroom?
This problem can be addressed in a n u m b er
o f ways. O n e solution is to ab andon anv attem pt
at structural grading. A nother is to use the list of
graded structures, not to d eterm in e the language
to which learners are exposed, but to d eterm in e
the items that will be the pedagogic focus in
class. In o th e r words, learners are exposed to nat
uralistic samples o f text which are onlv roughly
graded, and which provide a richer context, but
thev are onlv expected form ally to m aster those
items which have been isolated, graded, and set
o u t in the svllabus (X unan 1988a, p. 30).
D uring the 1970s, the gram m atical svllabus
cam e u n d e r attack on two fronts. In the first
place, the linear sequencing entailed in gram
m atical syllabuses did not rep resen t the com
plexity of language. Secondly, evidence from the
field o f second language acquisition showed that
learners did not necessarily acquire language in
the o rd e r specified bv the gram m atical svllabus.
For exam ple, Dulav and Burt (1973) and Bailey,
M adden, and Krashen (1974) showed that cer
tain gram m atical items ap p eared to be acquired
in a p red e term in e d order, and that this o rd er
ap p eared to be im pervious to form al instruction.
This led K rashen (1981. 1989) to argue that we
sh o u ld a b a n d o n gram m atically stru c tu re d
syllabuses com pletely in favor o f a "natural
a p p ro a c h to language learning. In the natural
a p p ro ach , gram m atical g rad in g is eschew ed.

replaced bv com m unicative activities that pro

m ote subconscious acquisition following the
''natural" o rd e r ra th e r than conscious learn in g
based on classroom instruction.
An alternative explanation for the lack of
congruence between the input provided by gram
matical syllabuses and the language actually used
bv learners at different stages of developm ent has
been provided bv P ienem ann a n d Johnston
(1987). These researchers argue that the o rd e r
in which learners acquire a p articular item will
be d eterm in ed , not bv the gram m atical com
plexity of the item , but bv its speech processing
complexity. T h eir hypothesis predicts that the
third person singular verb inflection (present
tense) s. which is grammatically simple but com
plex in term s of speech processing, will be
acquired relatively late in the language acquisition
process, and this is indeed what we find. T hird
person s is one of the first gram m atical m or
phem es to be taught, but for m am learners it is
one oi the last items to be acquired. In fact, some
learners never acquire it.
T he speech processing theory predicts that
the following items will be acquired in the o rd e r
below, and that this is th erefo re the o rd e r in
which thev should be in tro d u ced in the svllabus:
W hat's the tim er W hat's so u r nam e?
How do vou spell X? Are vou tired?
W here are vou from? Do vou like X?
P ienem ann and Johnston (1987) argued
that the structural svllabus should be retained.
However, the o rd erin g of item s in the svllabus
should follow a very different sequence that
established bv th eir research as being learnable." Thus. /equestions with do would not be
taught until learners had m astered tr/equestions
with be.
T he problem with this proposal, particularly
in light o f Com m unicative Language Teaching, is
that m am of the items that are required for com
m unication are "late acq u ired for exam ple,
re/z-questions with do. Teachers w orking with
such a sv llabus w ould be able to use few com m u
nicative tasks in the earlv stages o f learning.
Critics of the P ienem ann an d Johnston proposal
have argued that u n learn ab le structures can be
introduced, but thev should be p resented as

holistic form ulae. In o th e r words, learners would

be taught question forms such as Whal do \ou do ?
and Where does she live? as single chunks for use
in com m unicative tasks such as role plats, infor
m ation gaps, and so on. They would not be
expected to break these down into th eir con
stituent parts immediatelv; this would h appen
gradually over time. In fact, som e second lan
guage acquisition researchers argue that this pro
cess of learning strings o f language as unanalvzed
chunks and then later breaking them down is a
key psycholinguistic m echanism in the acquisi
tion process (Ellis 1994).

U nderiving the traditional linear svllabus is the
notion that learning is a process of m astering
each item perfectly one at a time. In fact, when
the structural svllabus teas at its height of popular
ity, masterv learning was an im portant m ovem ent
within educational psvchologv. In m etaphorical
terms, it teas believed that a language develops in
the same war as a building is constructed one
(linguistic) brick at a time.
However, the complexitv of the acquisition
process revealed bv a growing bodv of second
language acquisition (SLA) research led some
syllabus designers to argue that language develop
m ent is basicallv an organic process. A ccording to
this m etaphor, a new language develops in a wav
that is m ore akin to plants grotring in a garden
ra th e r th an a b u ilding being constructed.
Learners do not acquire each item perfectlv. one
at a time, but num erous items imperfectlv. all
at once.

developed to assist designers a d o p tin g such an

approach. W hile needs analysis was a crucial tool
for those working in the areas of English for
Specific Purposes (ESP) and English for Academic
Purposes (EAP), it was also widely used in General
English svllabus design.
T he appearance of needs analysis in lan
guage education (it had existed in o th er areas of
educational planning for manv years) was thus
stim ulated bv the developm ent of Com m unicative
Language Teaching (CLT). Proponents of CLT
argued that it was neith er necessary n o r possible
to include every aspect o f the target language in
the svllabus. Rather, svllabus c o n te n t should
reflect the com m unicative purposes and needs of
the learners. Language-for-tourism syllabuses will
contain different content from svllabttses designed
for teaching academic English. (See Johns and
Price-Machado's chapter in this volume).
N eeds analysis includes a wide variety of
techniques for collecting and analyzing inform a
tion. both about learners and ab o u t language.
T he kinds o f inform ation that svllabus designers
collect include biographical inform ation such as
age. first language b ack g ro u n d , reasons for
learn in g the language, o th e r languages spoken,
tim e available for learning, an d so on. T he most
so p histicated in stru m e n t for d o in g a needs
analysis was developed bv M unbv (1978). Called
the communicative needs processor, it involved spec
ifying the following:


W ith the advent o f C om m unicative Language
Teaching (CLT) in the 1970s. a very different
ap p ro ach to svllabus design was p ro p o sed by a
n u m b e r o f linguists. This ap p ro ach began, not
with lists o f gram m atical, phonological, a n d lex
ical features, but with an analysis o f the com m u
nicative needs of the learner. A set o f techniques
an d procedures, know n as needs analysis, teas

particip an t (biographical data ab o u t the

le a rn e r):
purposive dom ain (the purposes for which
the language is req u ired );
setting (the environm ents in which the lan
guage trill be u s e d ):
in teractio n (the people that the le a rn e r will
be com m unicating with);
instrum entality (the m edium : spoken versus
written: the m ode: m onologue or dialogue,
face-to-face or indirect):
target level (degree o f m asterv req u ired );
com m unicative event (productive and re
ceptive skills neded);
com m unicative kev (interpersonal attitudes
and tones req u ired ).

Brincllev (1984, 1990) draws a distinction

betw een objective needs and subjective"needs:
Objective needs are those which can
be diagnosed bv teachers on the basis
o f the analysis o f personal data about
learners along with inform ation about
th eir language proficiency and p at
terns o f language use. . . . w hereas the
subjective needs (which are often
w ants, desires, expectations" or
o th e r psychological m anifestations)
c an n o t be diagnosed as easily, or, in
m any cases, even stated bv learners
them selves (Brincllev 1984. p. 31).
Objective needs analyses result in c o n ten t
derived from an analysis o f the target com m u
nicative situations in which learners will engage,
as well as an analysis of the kinds of spoken and
w ritten discourse they will n eed to c o m p re h en d
a n d pro d u ce. Such analyses were fu n d am en tal
to the d evelopm ent o f an im p o rta n t and e n d u r
ing m ovem ent within language tea c h in g that
o f language for specific purposes.
N eeds-based course design, particularly
w hen it results in tightly specified learning out
comes, has been heavily criticized. W'iddowson
(1983), for exam ple, claims that such courses are
exercises in training ra th e r than in education
because learners can only do those things for
which they have been specifically prepared. He
argues th at learners should be to able to do
things for "which they have not been specifically
p rep ared . However, the extent to which learners
are able to transfer learning from one context to
a n o th e r is basically a m ethodological issue rath e r
th an a syllabus design issue. Syllabus designers
can facilitate learning transfer by building into
the svllabus opportunities for recycling.
A n o th er criticism of needs-based course
design is that, "while it m ight be relevant in sec
o n d language contexts, it is often irrelevant in
foreign language contexts, w here learners have
no im m ediate, o r even foreseeable, n eed to com
m unicate orallv. In such contexts, subjective
needs, relating to such things as learning strat
egy preferences, mav be m ore relevant than
objective needs.

Goal and Objective Setting

N eeds analysis provides a basis for specifying
goals and objectives for a learn in g program .
Goals are broad, general purposes for learn in g a
language. At the b roadest level. Halliday (1985)
argues that individuals use language

to obtain goods a n d services,

to socialize with others, and
for e n te rta in m e n t an d enjoym ent.

These t e n broad goals can be elaborated

and refined, as the following goal statem ents
Instruction should enable learners to



participate in conversation related to the

pu rsu it o f com m on activities with others;
obtain goods and services th ro u g h conver
sation or correspondence;
establish and m aintain relationships through
exchanging inform ation, ideas, opinions,
attitudes, feelings, experiences and plans;
m ake social arrangem ents, solve problem s,
an d com e to conclusions together;
discuss topics of interest;
search for specific inform ation for a given
purpose, process it, a n d use it in som e way;
listen to or read inform ation, process it,
an d use it in som e way;
give inform ation in spoken or w ritten form
on the basis of p ersonal experience;
listen to or read, a n d /o r view a story, poem ,
plav, feature, etc., and respond to it person
ally in some wav (Clark 1987, p. 186).

Having established the goals o f a learning

program , the syllabus designer articulates a set
of objectives desig n ed to realize th e goals.
Objectives are th erefo re m uch m ore specific
th an goals, an d n u m ero u s objectives will be
specified for any given goal. Form al p e rfo r
m ance objectives have th ree elem ents: a task
o r p erfo rm a n c e elem ent, a standards elem ent,
an d a conditions elem ent. T he task elem ent
specifies w hat the lea rn er is to do, the standards
elem en t sets out how well the p e rfo rm e r is to
carrv out the task, and the conditions elem ent
establishes the circum stances u n d e r w hich h e or
she is to perform .

T he following exam ples illustrate just how

specific p erfo rm an ce objectives are:

n o rm -referen ced a n d this is the m ajor differ

ence betw een the two approaches.


Exam ple o f a com petence statem ent:


In a classroom role plat' (co n d itio n ), stu

dents will exchange personal inform ation
(p erfo rm an ce). T h ree pieces o f info rm a
tion will be ex ch an g ed (standard).
W hen listening to a taped w eather forecast
(condition), students will extract inform a
tion on m inim um and m axim um tem pera
tures and o th er relevant inform ation such as
the likelihood of rain (perform ance). All key
inform ation will be extracted (standard.)

In the field o f general education, the objec

tives ap p ro ach has been criticized over the years.
O ne criticism th at is relevant to language educa
tion is th at trulv valuable learn in g outcom es
cannot be accuratelv specified in advance. (This
belief is c a p tu red bv the aphorism . "E ducation is
w hats left w hen evervthing th at has been taught
has b e e n forgotten.") In language teaching, our
aim is to help learners develop the abilitv to
com m unicate m eanings, attitudes, and feelings
that can onlv be prespecified in a verv general
sense. Proficiencv requires creativitv. a n d profi
cient language users know m ultiple wavs of
achieving com m unicative ends th ro u g h lan
guage. Identifving objectives a priori m ar th e re
fore be problem atic. A n o th er criticism is that
the prespecification o f precise an d detailed
objectives p rese n ts the tea c h e r from taking
advantage o f instructional opp o rtu n ities occur
ring unexpectedlv in the classroom .

C O M P E T E N C E -B A S E D
A ccording to Richards (in press), com petencvbased training developed as an alternative to the
use o f objectives in program planning, although
th ere are m anv sim ilarities betw een the two
approaches. As with the objectives m ovem ent,
CBLT focuses on what learners should be able to
do at the en d of a course o f instruction. As with
objectives, com petencies are co n c ern e d with the
attain m en t of specified standards ra th e r than
with an individual's achievem ent in relation to a
group. Thev are th erefo re criterion- ra th e r than

T h e le a rn e r can n e g o tia te c o m p le x /
p ro b lem atic spoken exchanges fo r p ersonal
business a n d com m unitv purposes. H e or she

Achieves purpose of exchange and provides

all essential inform ation accurately
Uses a p p ro p ria te staging, for exam ple,
o p e n in g an d closing strategies
Provides and requests information as required
Explains circumstances, causes, consequences,
and proposes solutions as required
Sustains dialogue, for exam ple, using feed
back. tu rn taking
Uses gram m atical form s an d vocabulary
a p p ro p riate to topic an d register; g ram m at
ical errors do not in te rfe re with m eaning
Speaks with pro n u n ciatio n /stress/in to n atio n
that does not im pede intelligibility
Is able to in terpret gestures and o th er paralinguistic features (Adult M igrant Education
Service 1993).

T he com petencv-based a p p ro ach has had

a m ajor influence on svllabuses in p articular
sectors o f th e e d u c atio n a l systems in m ost
English-speaking countries, including Australia,
New Zealand, the U nited K ingdom , and the
U nited States.
CBLT first em erged in the U nited States
in the 1970s and was widely ad o p ted in vocation
ally o riented education and in adult ESL pro
grams. By the en d of the 1980s, CBLT had come
to be accepted as the "state-of-the-art approach
to ESL bv national policvmakers and leaders in
curriculum developm ent (A uerbach 1986).
If we look at the sample com petency state
m ent provided above, we will see that it has several
points of similarity with the objectives described in
a prerious section. It contains a "task" statem ent
and a n u m b er of "how well" or standards state
m ents ("achieves purpose o f ex ch an g e, p ro
vides all essential inform ation accurately, uses
a p p ro p riate staging," "errors do n o t in terfere
with m eaning." "p ro n u n ciatio n does n o t im pede


T h e m ost re c e n t m anifestation o f perform ancebased ap p roaches to syllabus design, in the
U n ited States at least, is the standards move
m ent. T h ro u g h o u t the 1990s, th ere was a con
c e rted push for national ed u catio n standards.
This push was seen at all levels o f governm ent,
a n d it resu lted in legislation m an d atin g the
d evelopm ent an d im p lem en tatio n o f standards.
For exam ple, the A dult E ducation Act an d the
N ational Literacy Act of 1991 req u ire ad u lt basic
ed u cation program s in all states to develop indi
cators of pro g ram quality' a n d to attach p e rfo r
m ance standards to these quality indicators (see
website at the e n d of c h a p te r).
In manv ways, ju st as the com petency move
m en t was a repackaging of concepts from the
objectives m ovem ent, the same is true of the stan
dards m ovem ent. O b jectiv es/co m p eten cies"
are redefined as standards, which can also be used
in work done in o th er areas such as m ath and
language arts. For exam ple, the National Council
of Teachers of English (NCTE 1997) standards
docum ent for English language arts states, By
c o n te n t standards, we m ean statem ents th at
define what students should know and be able to
d o (p.1-2).
In ESL, the TESOL organization has comm issioned several sets o f standards in areas such
as pre-K -12, ad u lt education, a n d w orkplace
education. T he m ost fully developed o f these are
the pre-K -12 standards (S hort et al. 1997).
T hese are fram ed a ro u n d th re e goals an d nine
standards. T h e standards are fleshed o u t in
term s of descriptors, progress indicators, and
classroom vignettes. T he nin e c o n te n t standards
indicate m ore specificallv [than the goals] w hat
students should know an d be able to do as a
result of in stru ctio n (p.15). D escriptors are
b ro a d categories o f discrete, rep resen tativ e
behavior (p.15). Progress indicators list assess
able, observable activities th at students mav p er
fo rm to show p rogress tow ards m ee tin g
designated standards. T hese progress indicators
rep re sen t a varietv o f instructional techniques
th at may be used by teachers to d eterm in e how
well students are d o in g (p. 16).

T h e follow ing e x am p le from th e ESL

Standards illustrates the d ifferent co m p o n en ts of
the standard. It is w ritten for grades pre-K-3.

To use English to com m unicate in social



Students will use English to participate in

social interactions


Sharing a n d requesting inform ation

Expressing needs, feelings, and ideas

Using nonverbal com m unication in social


G etting personal needs m et

E ngaging in conversations

C o n ducting transactions

Sample Progress Indicators:

Engage listener's a tte n tio n verbally or nonverballv

V olunteer inform ation and

requests about self and family

resp o n d


Elicit in fo rm a tio n a n d ask clarification


Clarifv and restate inform ation as n eeded

D escribe feelings an d em otions after w atch

ing a movie

Indicate interests, opinions, o r preferences

related to class projects

Give a n d ask for perm ission

Offer and respond to greetings, compliments,

imitations, introductions, and farewells

Negotiate solutions to problem s, interper

sonal m isunderstandings, and disputes

R ead a n d w rite in v itations a n d th a n k

you letters

Use the telep h o n e

(Short et al. 1997, p. 31)

The b ro ad er view of language as com m unication
that em erged during the 1970s was taken u p bv syl
labus designers. .As indicated earlier, an im portant
figure here was Wilkins (1976), who argued for
syllabuses based on no tio n s a n d functions.
Notions are general conceptual m eanings such as
time, cause, and duration, while functions are the
com m unicative purposes th a t are achieved
through language such as apologizing, advising,
and expressing preferences.
Like m ost syllabus proposals, n o tionalfunctionalism was n o t im pervious to criticism.
Early versions of notional-functional syllabuses
e n d e d u p n o t being so very different from the
g ram m atical syllabuses th a t thev rep la ce d .
Instead o f units en titled sim ple past,'' we find
units e n title d talking a b o u t the w eek en d .
W iddowson (1983) also p o in te d out that simplv
replacing lists of gram m atical item s with lists of
notional-functional ones n e ith e r re p re se n te d
the n a tu re of language as com m unication n o r
reflected the way languages were lea rn ed anv
m ore th an gram m atical syllabuses did.
W hen syllabus designers began tu rn in g
away from gram m atical criteria as the p o in t of
d e p a rtu re in designing th eir syllabuses, selection
and grading becam e m uch m ore problem atic. .As
soon as one looks beyond linguistic notions of
simplicity7 and difficulty, the n u m b er of criteria
begins to multiply. These criteria include situa
tional, contextual, and extralinguistic factors.
T h ere are no objective m eans for deciding that
one fu n ctio n al item is m ore com plex th an
another. In addition, m ost functions can be
expressed in m any d ifferent ways an d at m any
different levels of complexity. A pologizing, for
exam ple, can range from Sorry to I really must
apologize I do hope you can forgive me.
The relative arbitrariness of selecting and
sequencing can be seen in the following list of func
tional com ponents from a well-known EFL course:

Ask a n d give nam es; say hello; ask a n d tell

w here people are from
Say h ello form ally a n d inform ally; ask
a b o u t an d give personal inform ation


D escribe people; tell the tim e

D escribe places; give com plim ents; express
uncertainty; c o n firm /c o rre c t inform ation
5. D escribe houses a n d apartm ents; m ake a n d
answ er tele p h o n e calls
6. Express likes a n d dislikes; ask ab o u t and
describe habits an d routines
7. Ask a n d tell ab o u t quantity
8. Ask for a n d give directions; ask for a n d tell
a b o u t physical an d em otional states
9. Talk about frequency; express degrees of
10. Describe p e o p le s appearances; write simple
letters; give com plim ents
(Swan a n d W alter 1984)

C O N T E N T -B A S E D
C ontent-based instruction (CBI) com es in m any
d iffe re n t guises (see Snows c h a p te r in this
volum e). However, all variants share o n e charac
teristic language is n ot p rese n ted directly, b ut
is in tro d u c ed via the c o n te n t o f o th e r subjects.
In school settings, this c o n te n t is typically the reg
ular subjects in the curriculum such as science,
geography, and m athem atics. Learners acquire
the target language in the course of doing o th er
things. T he approach draws strongly on the expe
riential view of learning, th at is, th a t active
engagem ent in com m unicating in the language is
the m ost effective m eans of acquiring it.
.As we saw at the beginning o f this chapter, the
three core tasks for the syllabus designer are select
ing, sequencing, and justifying content. In CBI, the
justification comes from the content area itself. For
example, if the content area is general science, the
topic of photosynthesis would be introduced on
the grounds that it is a core topic in the field.
A rec e n t book on content-based in struction
presents teaching suggestions in the following

Information management: H e re learn ers sift

data into different categories, or are given
categories and are required to find examples
to fit these categories.

Critical thinking: Learners go beyond classify

ing to evaluate or analvze data, for example,
by determ ining a point of view or arguing
from a given stance.
Hands-on activities: T hese involve m an ip u
lating data th ro u g h games, experim ents,
a n d o th e r experiential activities.
Data gathering: These tasks involve learners in
scanning fo r specific in fo rm a tio n a n d /
or collecting and assem bling facts, data, and
Analysis and construction: This final category
involves (a) breaking a text into its com
p o n e n t parts, elucidating its rhetorical pat
tern, an d exam ining text flow (cohesion
a n d co h eren ce) o r (b) applying know ledge
o f oral an d w ritten discourse conventions
to create a specifically p a tte rn e d text with
the goal of increasing fluencv, accuracv, or
b o th (M aster an d B rinton 1997, p. vi).

T he following is a fairly com m on exam ple

of a pedagogical task:
In pairs, students com plete an infor
m ation gap task to get instructions on
how to get from o n e s hotel to the
nearest subwav station. S tu d en t A has
a m ap of the town c e n te r with the
hotel m arked. S tudent has the same
m ap with the subwav m arked.
Having specified target and pedagogical
tasks, the syllabus designer analyzes them in o rd er
to identify the knowledge and skills that the
learner m ust have in o rd er to earn- out the tasks.
T he next step is to sequence and integrate the
tasks with enabling exercises designed to develop
the requisite knowledge and skills. O ne kev dis
tinction betw een an exercise and a task is that
exercises will have purely language-related out
comes, while tasks will have nonlanguage-related
outcom es, as well as language-related ones.


Exam ples of exercises:

Task-based syllabuses rep resen t a particular real

ization of Com m unicative Language Teaching
(N unan 1989, see also Crookes an d C h a u d ro n s
c h ap ter in this volum e). Instead o f beginning
the design process with lists of gram m atical,
functional-notional, an d o th er items, the designer
conducts a needs analysis, which yields a list of the
com m unicative tasks that the learners for w hom
the syllabus is in te n d e d will n e e d to carry out.
In syllabus design, a basic distinction is draw n
betw een target tasks an d pedagogical tasks. A
target task is som ething that the learner m ight
conceivably do outside of the classroom. Examples
of target tasks include

Taking p a rt in a jo b interview
C om pleting a credit card application
Finding o n e s way from a hotel to a subway
C hecking into a hotel

Pedagogical tasks are unlikely to be deploved

outside the classroom. They are created in order to
push learners into com m unicating with each
other in the target language, on the assum ption
that this comm unicative interaction will fuel the
acquisition process.

Read the following passage, from which all

prepositions have been deleted, and reinstate
the correct prepositions from the list provided.
Listen to the dialogue a n d answ er the
following tru e /fa lse questions.
Rearrange these questions and answers to form
a conversation, and practice the conversation.

E xam ple of a task:

Listen to the w eather forecast an d decide

what to wear. (Such a target task m ight be
carried out in the classroom by having
students circle pictures o f clothing and
accessories such as jackets, shorts, um brellas,
and sunglasses.)

A n o th e r wav of distinguishing betw een tasks is to
divide them into reproductive an d creative tasks.
A reproductive task is one in which the learn er
is rep ro d u cin g language following a m odel pro
vided bv the teacher, textbook, tape, o r o th er
source. A task is reproductive if the language that
the learner is to use is largely predeterm ined and

predictable. This does not m ean that such tasks

are necessarily noncom m unicative. Many com m u
nicative tasks, such as the following, are o f this type.
Class survey. Find som eone yvho lik es/
d o e sn t like the following:

d o e sn t like

E ating chilis



Playing tennis



W atching
sci-fi movies



D oing homeyvork



This task is reproductive because we know that

if the students are d o in g it right, thev will be
saying, Do vou like eating chilis?" Do y o u like
playing tennis? etc. It is com m unicative in that
the person asking the question does n o t know
w hether the classm ate's answer will be y or no.
Creative language tasks, on the o th e r h and,
are less predictable. L earners m ust assem ble the
words an d structures thev have acq u ired in new
and u n p red ictab le wavs. H ere is an exam ple of a
creative task.
Pair -work. W ho is the best person for the job?
Read the following resum es, and decide who
the best person is for the following jobs:

School building supervisor

R eceptionist

L ibrarian

Bookstore clerk

In this task, the language used bv the students is

m uch less predictable. If we were to eavesdrop
on the task, we m ight p red ict th at we w ould h ear
utterances such as:
I th ink . . .
We should . . . "
This person m ight . . .
However, th ere is no wav o f p red ictin g precisely
the language that will be used.

In this chapter, I have ou tlin ed the m ajor trends
an d developm ents in syllabus design over the
last twenty years. In my own work, I have tried to
em brace an in te g rate d a p p ro ach to syllabus
design in which all of the elem ents and options
discussed above are b rought together into a single
design. T he follofong exam ple illustrates one way
in which this m ight be done.




Identify- the g en eral contexts a n d situations

in w hich the learners will com m unicate.
Specify the com m unicative events th at the
learners will engage in.
M ake a list of the functional goals th at the
learners will n e e d in o rd e r to take p art in
the com m unicative events.
List the kev linguistic elem ents that learners
will need in order to achieve the functional
Sequence and integrate the various skill
elem ents identified in steps 3 a n d 4.

In developing integrated syllabuses, I find

that cross-reference planning grids are very use
ful, because thev enable me to m ap out a n d coor
dinate the different elem ents in the svllabus.
H ere is a cross-reference grid integrating func
tions and structures for the first few units in a syl
labus u n d e rp in n in g a textbook series for yo unger
learners. N ot only does the grid help guide m e in
selecting which items to teach w hen, it also shows
m e w here and w hen recycling is necessary-. I can
also see if there are gaps in the svllabus.

In this chapter. I have provided an in tro d u ctio n
to the field o f svllabus design. I suggest th at syl
labus design is that part o f curriculum develop
m ent which is co n cern ed with selecting, grading,
integrating, and justifying the c o n te n t of the cur
riculum . D ifferent ty pes of syllabuses, from gram
m atical to task-based, are in troduced, described,
a n d critiqued. T he key theoretical a n d em pirical

F u n c tio n s


tense +

W h at

this, that

on, in,
u nd er



tense +


Talk about
where things
Talk about
likes and

W h ere

(Source: Nunan 1999a)

influences on the field are also in troduced. In

th e last p a rt o f the chapter, I argue for an inte
g rated syllabus which draws on a n d incorporates
all o f the key experiential an d linguistic elem ents
discussed in the body o f this chapter.

1. W hat do you see as the role o f the classroom
teach er in syllabus design?
2. W hat do you see as the advantages a n d
disadvantages o f an objectives-based syllabus?
3. W hat do you think that content-based and taskbased syllabuses m ight have in comm on? How
m ight they differ?
4. If you w ere asked to design a syllabus fo r a
new ESL o r EFL course, w hat are som e o f the
first things you w ould do as prep aratio n ?

1. L ook a t th e C ourse Overview in A ppendix
o f J e n s e n s c h a p te r on lesson p la n n in g in
this volum e. Is this a syllabus? E xplain your
2. D esign a needs analysis q u estio n n aire fo r a
specified g ro u p o f learners.
3. C om pare th e selection a n d seq u en cin g o f
fun ctio n al an d gram m atical co m p o n en ts in
several g en eral E SL /E FL textbooks. W hat
sim ilarities a n d differences are there? Is
th ere a com m on c o re o f elem ents across
the textbooks?
4. Identify a target group o f learners a n d carry
o u t the five p lan n in g tasks suggested in the
section on the integrated syllabus on page 64.
Develop a cross-reference grid sim ilar to the
one set o u t in the chapter.
5. Design four three-part perform ance objectives
for the group of learners in Activity 4 above.

Dubin, F.. and E. Olshtain. 1986. Course Design.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
This hook is designed for teachers who have the
planning and development of courses as part
of their duties. It covers what the authors call
the fact-finding" stage establishing realistic
goals, surveving existing programs, realizing
goals through instructional plans, selecting
the shape of the syllabus and the considera
tions involved in constructing communicative
Brown, J. D. 1995. The Elements of Language Curriculum.
Boston. MA: Heinle if- Heinle.
Although it is a book on curriculum, and there
fore deals with issues that go bet ond svllabus
design, it also provides an accessible introduction
to svllabus design issues.
Graves, K.. ed. 1996. Teachers as Course Developers.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
This book contains six interesting case studies
of teachers as course developers and svllabus

designers. The narratives of these teachers, who

work in very different contexts worldwide, illus
trate the process of course development from
the perspective of the teacher.
Nttnan. D. 1988a. S\llabus Design. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
This book explores the principles involved in
selecting, grading, and integrating the carious
components of a language svllabus and demon
strates how teachers can go about analyzing the
syllabuses in use in their own classrooms. It offers
analytical tools and techniques for evaluating,
modifying, and adapting syllabuses.

Both the U.S. National Literacy Act of 1991 and the
U.S. Aclult Education Act of 1991, along with
related police resources, arc available on-line at lines/collections/policy/resource,

: L istening


11 A


Language Skills

Until quite recently, listening comprehension had been neglected with
regard to both its place in second or foreign language teaching
methodology and the development of techniques and materials for

in the

classroom. As


chapter points out. listening

comprehension is now felt to be a prerequisite for oral proficiency as

well as an important skill in its own right. She offers guidelines for
developing activities and materials, including the development of a selfaccess, self-study listening program. In Peterson's chapter the acquisition
of listening skills in a second or foreign language is explained with
reference to a cognitive processing model. She presents a taxonomy of
exercises and activities, showing how at eacn stage of learning, students
can be assisted in developing bottom-up and top-down
strategies and skills.


Aural Comprehension Instruction:

Principles and Practices

In "Aural Comprehension Instruction: Principles and Practices," Morley first traces the changing
patterns of second language listening instruction, outlines four generic instructional models, and
discusses some of the psycho-social dimensions of listening. She then goes on to present suggestions
for developing activities and materials for coursework, including detailed guidelines for developing a
self-access self-study listening program.

D uring the past thirty rears, theory and practice
in language learn in g an d language teaching
have ch anged in som e fu n d am en tal wavs. In
retrospect, the fo u r them es that d o m in ated the
S econd AILA (In te rn a tio n a l A ssociation o f
A pp lied linguistics) C o n fe re n c e in 1969
(C am b rid g e, E n g la n d ) seem to h a te b een
pro p h etic in p o in tin g the wav toward tren d s in
s e c o n d /fo re ig n lan g u a g e (S /F L ) e d u c a tio n
d u rin g the last q u a rte r o f the tw entieth century.
They h e ra ld ed new views on the im portance of
1. individual learners an d the individuality of
2. listening an d read in g as nonpassive a n d very
com plex receptive processes;
3. listening c o m p reh en sio n 's being recognized
as a fu n d am en tal skill;
4. real language used for real com m unication
as a viable classroom m odel.
Every facet of language study has b e e n
influenced bv these trends, b u t n o n e m ore d ra
matically th an listening co m p reh en sio n . In the
1970s, the status o f listening began to change
from one of neglect to one of increasing im p o r
tance. Instructional program s e x p a n d ed their
focus on pragm atic skills to include listening as

well as reading, writing, a n d speaking. D uring

the 1980s special a tte n tio n to listening was in co r
p o ra te d in to new in stru c tio n a l fram ew orks.
P ro m in en t am ong these were form ats th a t fea
tu red functional language a n d com m unicative
approaches. T h ro u g h o u t the 1990s, a tten tio n
to listening in language instruction increased
dram atically. A ural c o m p re h e n sio n in S /F L
acquisition becam e an im p o rta n t area of study.
.Although aural c o m p reh en sio n is notv well
recognized as an im p o rta n t facet o f language
learning, m uch work rem ains to be d o n e in both
theory an d practice. U nfortunately, as Brown
(1987) observed, a significant n u m b e r o f p u b
lished courses on listening co m p reh en sio n a n d
classroom practices in m anv schools in m any
countries continues to d em o n strate th a t listen
ing is still reg a rd e d as the least im p o rta n t skill.
T he first three parts of this ch ap ter discuss
general aspects o f listening and language learn
ing. (See Peterson's ch ap ter in this volum e for
additional inform ation.) T he last three sections
outline principles and guidelines for developing
a n d /o r adapting listening com prehension activi
ties and materials. Lesson suggestions are given
for class, small-group, and pair work a n d for indi
vidualized self-studv using equ ip m en t in the class
room , at hom e, o r in a language laboratory


Emerging Recognition of the

Importance o f Listening in
Second/Foreign Language Study

Today the centrality o f listening in language

lea rn in g is well established. An a p p ro p riate
a u ra l c o m p re h e n s io n p ro g ra m th a t targets
le a rn e r listening at all levels of instruction is an
essential fo r se co n d lan g u a g e c o m p e te n c e .
A ural co m p reh en sio n establishes a base for the
d e v e lo p m e n t o f oral lan g u a g e w ithin the
speech c h a in o f listening a n d speaking (D enes
an d Pinson 1963, p. T). It is im p o rta n t to note
th at m ultiple benefits accrue to the learn er
beyond the obvious im provem ents in listening
skills. In particular, listening com p reh en sio n
lessons are a vehicle for teaching elem ents of
gram m atical structure a n d allow new vocabulary
item s to be contextualized w ithin a bodv of com
m unicative discourse.

It is easy for us to take listening for granted ,

often with little conscious awareness of o u r p e r
form ance as listeners. W eaver c o m m en ted on
the elusiveness o f o u r listening awareness: After
all. listening is n e ith e r so dram atic n o r so noisy
as talking. T he talker is the center of attention for
all listeners. His behavior is overt and vocal, and
he hears and notices his own behavior, whereas
listening activity often seems like m erely b ein g
doing nothing" (1972, pp. 12-13).
Much o f the language teaching field also
has taken listening for gran ted until relath'ely
recent times (but see G ouin 1880; Xida 1953;
Palm er 1917; Sweet 1899). M odern-dav argu
m ents for listening com prehension began to be
voiced in the mid-1960s an d earlv 1970s by Rivers
(1966) and others. Xewmark and Diller u n d e r
scored "the n e e d for the systematic developm ent
of listening com prehension not only ns a founda
tion for speaking, but also as a skill in its own
right . . . " (1964. p. 20). Belasco expressed his
concerns as follows; "I was rudely jo lte d bv the
realization that it is possible to develop so-called
'speaking ability' and vet be so virtually incom pe
tent in u n d e rsta n d in g the spoken language. . . .
[Students] were learning to audio-com prehend
certain specific dialogues and drills, but could
n o t u n d e rs ta n d [the lan g u ag e] o u t o f the
m ouths of native speakers" (1971, pp. 4 -5 ).
Morlev decried the fact that "virtually' no special
ized textbook m aterials exist in the area o f in ter
m ediate an d advanced listening (1972, p. vii).
a n d Blair (1982) observed that special attention
to listening just d id n 't "self until recen t times.

Making the Case: The Importance

o f Listening in Language Learning
It has taken m any vears to bring the language
teach in g profession a ro u n d to realizing the
im portance o f listening in second and foreign
language learning. As observed bv Rivers, long an
advocate for listening com prehension. "Speaking
does n o t of itself co nstitute com m unication
unless what is said is c o m p re h en d e d bv a n o th e r
person. . . . T eaching the com prehension o f spo
ken speech is therefore of prim ary im portance if
the com m unication aim is to be rea c h e d (1966,
pp. 196, 204). T he reasons for the nearly total
neglect of listening are difficult to assess, b u t as
M orley notes, Perhaps an assum ption th at lis
tening is a reflex, a little like b re a th in g listen
ing seldom receives overt teaching atten tio n in
o n e s native language has m asked the im por
tance and complexity o f listening with u n d e r
standing in a non-native language (1972, p. vii).
In reality, listening is used far m ore than
any o th e r single language skill in norm al daily
life. O n average, we can expect to listen tyvice as
m uch as we speak, four tim es m ore th an y\e
read, a n d live times m ore th an we write (Rivers
1981; W eaver 1972).

Four Perspectives Four Models of

Listening and Language Instruction
In the English language teaching program s of
the 1940s. 1950s, an d 1960s, n e ith e r the British
Situational A pproach to language teaching nor
th e A m erican A ucliolingual A p p ro ach paid
m uch a tten tio n to listening bevond its role in

Procedure: Asks students to (a) listen to an

oral text along a co n tin u u m from sentence
length to lecture length a n d (b) answer pri
marily factual questions. Utilizes fam iliar
lo pes of questions ad ap ted from traditional
reading com prehension exercises; has been
called a quiz-show form at of teaching.
Value: Enables students to m an ipulate dis
crete pieces o f in form ation, hopefully with
increasing speed and accuracy o f recall.
Can increase students' stock of vocabulary
units a n d gram m ar constructions. Does n o t
req u ire students to m ake use o f the infor
m ation for am real com m unicative purpose
beyond answ ering the questions; is n o t
interactive two-wav com m unication.

gram m ar a n d p ro n u n cia tio n drills and learners'

im itation o f dialogues. T he language learn in g
theories of those tim es a ttrib u ted little im p o r
tance to listening beyond the sou n d discrim ina
tion associated with p ro n u n cia tio n learning.
Listening, along with reading, was reg ard ed as a
"passive skill a n d was simply taken for granted.
However, slowlv an d steadily, m ore a tte n
tion has b e e n given to listening co m p reh en sio n .
Today, the role o f listening a n d the purp o se of
listen in g c o m p re h e n s io n in stru c tio n in the
S /F L curriculum , can be one of fo u r different
perspectives. A generic instructional m odel for
each perspective that reflects underlying beliefs
about language learn in g theory an d pedagogy is
o utlined below.

Model # I Listening and Repeating

Model # 3 Task Listening

Learner Goals To pattern-m atch: to listen and

im itate: to m em orize.

Learner Goals To process spoken discourse for

functional purposes; to listen an d do som ething
with the inform ation, that is. carry o u t real tasks
using the inform ation received.

Instructional material: Features audiolingual

style exercises a n d or dialogue m em oriza
tion; b ased on a h e a rin g -a n d -p a tte rn m atch in g m odel.
Procedure: .\sks students to (a) listen to a
word, phrase, or sentence pattern; (b ) repeat
it (imitate it); and (c) m em orize it (often, but
not always, a part o f the procedure).
Value: Enables students to do p attern drills,
to repeat dialogues, and to use m em orized
p re fa b ric a te d p a tte rn s in conversation:
enables them to im itate pro n u n ciatio n pat
terns. H igher level cognitive processing and
use o f propositional language structuring
are not necessarily an intentional focus.

Model # 2 Listening and Answering

Comprehension Questions
Learner Goals To process discrete-point infor
m ation; to listen and answer com prehension

Instructional material'. F eatures a stu d e n t

response p a tte rn based on a listening-andquestion-answ ering m odel with occasional
innovative variations on this them e.

Instructional material: Features actisities that

require a student response p attern based on
a listening-and-using (i.e., Listen-and-Do)
model. Students listen, then im m ediately do
som ething with the inform ation received:
follow the directions given, com plete a task,
solve a problem , transm it the gist o f the
inform ation orallv or in writing, listen an d
take lecture notes, etc.
Procedure: Asks students to (a) listen and
process inform ation an d (b) use the orallv
transm itted language in p u t im m ediately to
com plete a task which is m ed iated th ro u g h
language in a context in which success
is judged in term s of w h eth er the task is
p erfo rm ed .
Value: T he focus is on instruction that is
task-oriented, not question-oriented. T he
purp o se is to engage learners in using the
in form ational c o n te n t p re se n te d in the
spoken discourse, n o t just in answ ering
questions about it. Two tvpes o f tasks are
(a) language use tasks, designed to give stu
dents practice in listening to get m eaning
from the in p u t with the express purp o se of

m aking functional use of it im m ediately

a n d (b) language analysis tasks, designed
to h elp learners develop cognitive an d
m etacognitive language learn in g strategies
(i.e., to guide them tow ard personal intel
lectual involvem ent in th eir own learning).
T he latter features consciousness raising
a b o u t language a n d language learning.

Model # 4 Interactive Listening

Learner Goals To develop a u ra l'o ra l skills in
sem iform al interactive academ ic com m unica
tion; to develop critical listening, critical think
ing, an d effective speaking abilities.

Instructional material: Features the real-tim e,'

real-life give-and-take of academ ic com m uni
cation. Protides a variety of student presenta
tion and discussion activities, both individual
and small-group panel reports, that include
follow-up audience participation in question /
answer sessions as an integral part of the
work. Follows an interactive listening-think
ing-speaking m odel with bidirectional (twoway) listening/speaking. Includes attention
to group bonding and classroom discourse
rules (e.g., taking the floor, yielding the
floor, turn taking, interrupting, co m prehen
sion checks, topic shifting, agreeing, ques
tioning, challenging, etc.). (See Morley 1992
and 1995.)
Procedure: Asks students to participate in dis
cussion activities that enable them to devel
op all three phases o f the speech act: speech
d eco d in g , critical thinking, a n d speech
encoding. These phases involve (a) continu
ous on-line decoding of spoken discourse,
(b) sim ultaneous cognitive reactin g /actin g
upon the inform ation received (i.e., critical
analysis a n d synthesis), an d (c) instantresponse encoding (i.e., p roducing personal
propositional language responses ap p ro p ri
ate to the situation).
Value: T he focus here is instruction that is
c o m m u n ic a tiv e /c o m p e te n c e -o rie n te d as
w'ell as task oriented. Learners have o pportu
nities to engage in and develop the com plex
arrav of com m unicative skills in the four

com petency areas: linguistic com petence,

discourse com petence, sociolinguistic com
petence. and strategic com petence (Canale
a n d Swain 19<S0).

The Dynamic Process of
Communicative Listening:
Active, Not Passive
Listening, along with reading, has b een labeled
a "passive" skill. N othing could be fu rth e r from
the truth. A nderson and Lvnch (1988) reject a
conceptualization of listening as a passive act,
calling it a "listener-as-tape-recorder" explana
tion. Thev argue that such a perspective fails to
account for the in te rp re ta tio n s listeners m ake as
thev h e a r the spoken text according to th eir own
purposes for listening an d th eir own store of
b ack ground knowledge.
Implications for Instruction O ne of the obvi
ous im plications for instruction is to brin g stu
dents to an u n d e rsta n d in g that listening is n o t a
passive skill, but an active receptive skill which
needs special a tte n tio n in language study. This
goal can be accom plished gradually as a p art of
listening skill-building activities. I.earners can be
guided to realize that achiev ing skill in listening
requires as m uch work as does becom ing skilled
in reading, writing, and speaking in a second

Listening in Three Modes:

Bidirectional, Unidirectional,
and Autodirectional
If we consider the roles we plav in o u r listening
interactions, we can identify th re e specific com
m unicative listening m odes: bidirectional, u n i
directional. and autodirectional.

Bidirectional Listening M ode T h e obvious

m ode is two-wav or bidirectional com m unicative
listening. H ere the reciprocal speech chain of
' p e a k e r/liste n e r is easilv observed (D enes and
Pinson 1963). Two (or m ore) participants take
turns exchanging speaker role and listener role as
they engage in face-to-face o r tele p h o n e verbal
Unidirectional Listening Mode A second m ode
is one-wav or unidirectional com m unicative listen
ing. Auclitorv input surrounds us as we move
th ro u g h th e dav. T h e in p u t com es from
a varietv of sources: overheard conversations,
nublic address an n o u n cem en ts, recorded mes
sages (including those on telephone answering
m achines), the m edia (e.g.. radio, television,
films), instructional situations of all kinds, and
oublic perform ances (e.g.. lectures, religious
services, plavs. operas, musicals, concerts). As eve
hear speakers but are unable to interact, we often
talk to ourselves in a reactive or self-dialogue
m an n er as we analvze what we hear. We mat sub
vocalize or even vocalize these responses.
Autodirectional Listening M ode T he th ird
com m unicative listening m ode is autodirectional.
We can th ink o f this as self-dialogue communication
in which we mav not be aware o f o u r interned
des as both speaker and listener reacto r in
ur own thought processes. Som etim es we re-create
language internallv and "listen again" as we retell
and relive com m unicative interludes. Som etim es
we simple' a tten d to o u r own internal language
which we pro d u ce as we think th ro u g h alterna
tives, plan strategies, and make decisions all bv
talking to ourselves and listening to ourselves.
In all o f these com m unicative listening
modes, notice that listening is not a passive expe
rience. Each listening m ode is a highlv active,
clearly participators, verbal experience.
Implications for Instruction S FL learners need
to have instruction and practice in both the bi
directional com m unicative listening m ode and in
the unidirectional m ode. In addition, self-dicdogue'm
the autodirectional com m unicative listening m ode
should not be ignored. It is ;m im portant feature of
language behavior which should be discussed
with students. A utodirectional "talk is som ething
which learners should be led to develop as a skill

in its own right, as well as a tool to be used in

connection with bidirectional and unidirectional

Psychosocial Functions of Listening:

Transactional Listening and
Interactional Listening
Brown and Yule (1983) suggest dividing language
functions into two m ajor dirisions: language for
transactional purposes and language for inter
actional purposes. Then note that transactional
language corresponds to Hallidavs notion of
ideational, while interactional language corresponds
to his term interpersonal (Ilallidav 1970. p. 143).
Transactional Language Function Transactional
language is message oriented and can be viewed as
"business-tvpe" talk with the focus on co n ten t and
conveving factual o r propositional inform ation.
Transactional language is used for giving instruc
tions. explaining, describing, giving directions,
ordering, inquiring, requesting, relating, checking
on the correctness of details, and veribdng under
standing. The prem ium is on message clarity and
precision. Speakers often use confirm ation checks
to make sure what thev are sating is clear; they mav
even contradict the listener if he or she appears to
have m isunderstood.
Interactional Language Function T he m ost
im portant difference betw een the two tvpes of
language use is that interactional language is
"social-tvpe" talk; it is person oriented m ore th an
m essage o riented. Its objective is the establish
m ent and m ain ten an ce of cordial social rela
tionships. Brown and Yule co m m en t that a great
deal o f casual conversation contains phrases o r
echoes of phrases which ap p ear to be in te n d e d
m ore as co n tributions to a conversation than as
instances of inform ation giving. Im p o rta n t fea
tures of interactional language are those o fid e n tifving with the o th e r p e rs o n s concerns, being
nice to the o th e r person, a n d m ain tain in g an d
respecting "face."
Implications for Instruction Teachers n eed to
provide practice experiences in both transactional
talk and interactional talk. While the contrast

betw een the two types of talk is usually clear,

som etim es it is n o t so obvious in an interaction
w here the two functions mav be intertw ined.
S tudents n e e d in struction an d listening practice
to h elp th em recognize w hen one of the two
functions is o p e ra tin g and how they can resp o n d

Psychological Processes: Bottom-Up

and Top-Down Listening Schemata
In accounting for the com plex nature of listening
to u n d erstan d spoken language, it is hypothe
sized that two different m odes work together in a
cooperative process. O ne is the externally based
bottom -up m ode while the o th er is the internally
based top-down m ode. (See Peterson's ch ap ter in
this volum e for m ore inform ation.)
Bottom-Up Processing T he bottom -up m ode of
language processing involves the listener plaving
close atten tio n to every detail o f the language
input. Bottom-up refers to th at part o f the aural
co m p reh en sio n process in which the u n d e r
standing o f the heard" language is w orked out
pro ceed in g from sounds to words to gram m atical
relationships to lexical m eanings. T hat is, the
m eaning o f the message is arrived at, bottom to
top, based on the incom ing language data.
Top-Down Processing O n the o th e r h an d , the
top-down facet o f listening involves the listen e rs
ability to b rin g p rio r in form ation to bear on the
task o f u n d e rsta n d in g the h e a rd language.
This in te rn al resource includes a ban k of p rio r
know ledge an d global expectations ab o u t lan
guage a n d the world. It is used by the listener
to m ake predictions ab o u t w hat the incom ing
m essage is expected to be at any point, a n d how
the pieces fit into the whole. C h au d ro n and
R ichards (1986) no te, Top-down processing
involves p red ictio n an d inferen cin g on the basis
o f h ierarchies o f facts, propositions, a n d expec
tations, a n d it enables the listener o r the rea d e r
to bypass som e aspects o f bottom -up processing"
(pp. 114-115).

Implications for Instruction Teachers need to

provide students with practice in both kinds of
language processing. Manv published m aterials
focus heavilv on one or an o th e r of these pro
cesses, w ithout necessarily labeling them as topdown or bottom-up.
T aking dual perspectives in to a cco u n t,
R ichards (1990) proposes a m odel o f m aterials
design for second or foreign language listening
com prehension that com bines language functions
(interactional and transactional) and language
processes (top-down and bottom -up). He observes
that the extent to which one or the o th er process
dom inates is determ ined bv (a) w hether the pur
pose for listening is transactional or interactional,
(b) what kind of background knowledge can be
applied to the task, and (c) what degree of famil
iarity listeners have with the topic. H e concludes:
Too often, listening texts require stu
dents to adopt a single approach in lis
tening. one which dem ands a detailed
u n d erstan d in g of the c o n te n t o f a dis
course and the recognition of ever}'
w ord an d structure th at occurs in a
text. Students should n ot be req u ired
to resp o n d to interactional discourse
as if it were being used for a transac
tional purpose, no r should the}' be
expected to use a bottom -up approach
to an aural text if a top-clown one is
m ore app ro p riate (p. 83).
Richardss Functions/Processes Chart Richards
com bines the functions and the processes into the
following verv useful chart. It provides teachers
with a wav to construct a listening lesson which can
be cross-classified according to the dem ands of
both the listening function involved and the listen
ing process which can be expected to be m ost
prom inently involved.



R ichards gives an exam ple for each o f the

fo u r cells as follows.
In the hottom-up mode:
Cell #1: Listening closely to a jo k e (interac
tional) in o rd e r to know w hen to
Cell #3: L istening closelv to in structions
(transactional) d u rin g a first driv
ing lesson.
In the top-down mode:
Cell #2: L istening casuallv to cocktail partv
talk (interactional).
Cell #4: E xperienced air traveler listening
casually to verbal air safe tv instruc
tions (transactional) w hich have
b een h e a rd m any tim es before.
O th e r exam ples o f transactional uses are
instructions, descriptions, lectures, a n d news
broadcasts. O th e r exam ples o f interactional uses
are greetings, small talk, jokes, and com plim ents.
Richards notes that in m anv situations both inter
actional and transactional purposes are involved
and suggests that effective classroom particip
ation requires both.
1. In teractio n al to in teract with the teacher
a n d o th e r students while accom plishing class
tasks (i.e., classroom " talk).
2. T ransactional to assim ilate new inform a
tion, construct new concepts, and acquire
new skills.

Linguistic and Nonlinguistic Cues

to Affect
As the old saying goes, it's n o t what you say, its
how vou sav it) But how can ESL a n d EFL listen
ers learn to recognize a n d in te rp re t aspects o f
the how as well as the what in two-way a n d onewav oral com m unication? How can they becom e
skilled at processing both nonlinguistic a n d lin
guistic affective inform ation?
In b id ire ctio n a l interactive co m m u n ic a
tion. messages are conveyed in at least three
wavs: linguistic (i.e., the words an d th eir m ean
ings). paralinguistic (i.e.. vocal m eaning) and
extralinguistic (i.e. th e m e a n in g tra n sm itte d
th ro u g h various aspects o f body language). In
unid irectio n al com m unication, the visual cues
o f extralinguistic inform ation may be missing,
an d the listener m ust th en rely on only the lin
guistic an d paralinguistic inform ation
Linguistic M essages (the Words) M eanings
begin in people. But som etim es m eanings d o n t
com e across clearly , and we hear speakers protest,
"But that's not what I meant! In an attem p t to
convev an in te n d e d m eaning, speakers choose
words and arrange them into sentences or partial
sentences, groups o f sentences, and larger pieces
of m onologue o r dialogue discourse.
Both the words chosen, an d th eir intrasentential and in tersen ten tial arrangem ents, m ap
affect (i.e.. feelings) o n to the linguistic inform a
tion. As speakers do this, they may o r may n o t be
conscious of e ith e r the n a tu re o r the stren g th o f
the affective coloring; on the o th e r h an d , they
may use it deliberately, with careful design.


That was an Iinteresting/'excellent/

good/fair,/so-so/terrible) movie.

In developing activities an d m aterials for listening

instruction, it is essential to consider the affective
domain, which includes attitudes, em otions, and
feelings. H ere the focus is on (1) the ways attitudinal and em otional inform ation may be con
veyed, both linguistically and non linguistically, and
(2) som e of the attitudinal language functions
that second language learners need to experi
ence via instructional listening materials.

I like him a lot but . . .

Even though she's my best friend,
I must tell you t h a t . . .
Clearlv. affective interpretation m ust be a
p art of listening com prehension activities. This
m eans that instructional experiences m ust be con
textualized and must reflect real-world situations
an d feelings.

Paralinguistic M essages (Vocally Transmitted

Meaning) T he very way the voice is used in
speaking transm its m eaning. T hat is, the wav
words, sentences, and groups of sentences in
spoken language are program m ed vocally enables
them to ca n y inform ation about how thev are to
be in terp reted . A lthough the speaker mav not
be aware of it, the speaker's attitude toward what
he or she is saying is tra n sm itte d b\ vocal
features. In the im portant realm o f intonation,
the work by Brazil, C oulthard, and Jo h n s (1980)
an d Brown, Currie, and Kenworthv (1980) has
explored a variety o f aspects o f intonational
m eaning in oral discourse. T he vocal elem ents
that m ap affective inform ation onto the linguistic
message are those beyond the neutral patterns of
basic stress, rhvthm , and intonation. N uances of
m eaning can be transm itted by subtle changes in
tone qualitv, rate, rhvthm , stress, and mans- o th er
Extralinguistic M essages (Meaning Transmitted
through Body Language) Speakers also convey
m eaning th rough bodv language. T hat is. simul
taneous physical messages are being transm itted
with the words and vocal inform ation and m ust
be in te rp re te d bv the listener. O nce again, the
speaker mav or may not be fully aware of this
aspect of his or h e r com m unication. Elem ents
involved include body postures, bodv m ovem ents,
bodv and h a n d gestures, facial expressions, facial
gestures, eve contact, and use o f space bv the
com m unicators. It is im p o rtan t to help students
learn the m eanings of specific features o f body
language in the second language; thev also n eed
to recognize that body language differs greatly
betw een languages and betw een cultures.

Intellectual, Emotional,
and Moral Attitudes
As n o ted above, an im p o rta n t p a rt of co m m u n i
cation is the expression and c o m p reh en sio n of
attitudes. Van Ek (1976) lists six basic language
functions, in clu d in g th re e w hich are attitudinal:
intellectual, em otional, an d m oral attitudes.
Intellectual Attitudes These include expression
and com prehension of agreem ent/disagreem ent:

co n firm ing/denying: a ccep tin g /d eclin in g ; for

g e ttin g / rem em bering; possibility/im possibility:
capability/incapabilitv: uncertainty; obligation,
perm ission; and m ore (pp. 45-47).
Emotional Attitudes Included in this area are
expressing pleasure/'displeasure; in te re st/la c k
of interest; surprise: hope; fear; worry; satisfaction,dissatisfaction; disappointm ent; preference; grati
tude: sympathy; intention; wants and desires; and
m ore (pp. 47-48).
Moral Attitudes M oral attitudes are expressed
in the lan g u a g e o f apologizing; expressing
a p p ro v a l/d isa p p ro v a l; a p p re c ia tio n ; in d iffe r
ence; regret; a n d m ore (p. 48). (For additional
inform ation see M unbv 1978; Wilkins 1976).

This second section focuses on instructional
considerations, while keeping in m ind the fol
lowing th re e im p o rtan t points about listening
as a language act.
1. Information Processing Listening com pre
hension is an act o f inform ation processing
in which the listener is involved in bidirectional
com m unication, o r unidirectional com m unica
tion, a n d /o r autodirectional com m unication.
2. Linguistic Functions Broadly speaking, realworld spoken com m unication can be Mewed as
serving two linguistic functions: interactional and
3. Dim ensions o f Cognitive Processing The
cognitive processing o f spoken language appears
to involve sim ultaneous activation o f b o th topdown a n d bottom-up e n g a g em e n t in o rd e r for lis
teners to construct what they believe to be the
in te n d e d m ean in g o f the spoken message.
W ith these features of listening as a lan
guage act in m ind, we begin with a discussion of
th re e im p o rta n t principles o f m aterials develop
m ent. Next, we outline six kinds of com m unica
tive outcom es, with lesson suggestions for each.
In the final section we p rese n t som e suggestions

for creatin g a self-access, self-study listening

center. C entral to th e underlying belief system
reflected in this c h a p te r is a com m unicative lan
guage teaching perspective which values m ea n
ingful tasks a n d com m unicative activities. (See
Savignons c h a p te r in this volum e.)

In o rd e r to get le a rn e rs atten tio n , to keep them
actively an d purposefully engaged in the task
at h an d , an d to m axim ize the effectiveness of
listen in g /lan g u ag e-learn in g experiences, th ree
m aterials d evelopm ent principles are suggested:
relevance, transferability /applicability, an d task orien
tation. These th ree principles are im p o rta n t in
m aking choices ab o u t both language c o n ten t
' i.e., th e info rm atio n p resen ted ) a n d language
outcome(s) (i.e., the way the inform ation is put
to use).

I. Relevance
Both the listening lesson content (i.e., the inform a
tion) and the outcome (i.e., the nature of the use of
the inform ation) need to be as relevant as possible
to the learner. This is essential for getting and
holding learner attention and protides a genuine
motivational incentive. Lessons need to feature
content and outcom es that have "face validity" for
students. T he m ore that lessons focus on things
with real-life relevance, the m ore they appeal to
students, and the better the chance o f hatin g
learners w anting to listen. And if students reallv
want to listen, we have accom plished at least part
of the task which Strevens (1988) calls encouraging
the intention to learn.
Relevance is east- to control in self-created
classroom listening activities. However, tvhen
using pu b lish ed m aterials, it is necessary to
choose those lessons with topics th a t are relevant
to o n e s students. It mav be necessary to modify
both the way the m aterial is p rese n ted a n d the
way students are asked to use the inform ation.
Richards suggests som e ways to ad ap t m aterials,
in c lu d in g m odifying th e objectives; a d d in g
prelistening activities; ch anging the teaching
procedures for class presen tatio n ; a n d devising
postlistening activities (1983, pp. 237-238).

2. Transferability/Applicability
W hatever is relevant is also likelv to have potential
for transferability. Insofar as possible, at eith er the
content level or the outcome level, or both, listening
lessons need to have transferability/applicability
value, internally (i.e., can be used in o th er classes),
externally (i.e., can be used in out-of-school situa
tions), or both. In o rd er to foster transfer of train
ing, the best listening lessons present in-class
activities that m irror real life. For exam ple, the use
of radio or television news broadcasts in adult
classes can provide not only a real experience in
listening com prehension, but such lessons also
contain content that can be applicable outside of
class as a source of conversation topics.

3. Task Orientation
In form al language classes for teenage a n d adult
students a n d in language activity lessons for chil
d ren , it is productive to com bine two d ifferent
kinds o f focus: (1) language use tasks a n d (2)
language analysis activities.
N otions o f task have developed o u t of com
m unicative teaching a n d m aterials p ro duction.
Jo h n so n defines task-oriented teach in g as teach
ing which provides actual m ea n in g by focusing
on tasks to be m ed iated th o u g h language, a n d in
which success is judged in term s o f w h eth er the
tasks are p e rfo rm e d (Brum fit and Jo h n so n 1979,
p. 200). Maley a n d M oulding focus on instruc
tion which is task-oriented n o t question-oriented,
providing learners with tasks wTiich use the infor
mation in the aural text, ra th e r th an asking lea rn
ers to "prove" th eir u n d e rsta n d in g o f the text by
answ e rin g questions (1979, p. 102). C andlin and
M urphv note, "The central process wre are con
ce rn e d with is language learning, an d tasks pres
e n t this in th e fo rm o f a p roblem -solving
negotiation betw een know ledge th at th e lea rn er
holds a n d new know ledge. This activity is con
d u cted th ro u g h language in use, w'hich may,
itself, be seen as a negotiation o f m ea n in g
(1987, p. 1).
3a. Language Use Tasks T he p u rp o se h e re is
to give students practice in listening fo r in fo r
m ation and then im m ediately d o in g som ething

with it. This kind of lesson features specific Listenand-D o com m unicative outcom es such as these:

L istening a n d p e rfo rm in g actions (e.g.,

co m m an d gam es and songs such as Do the
H okey Pokev, \la v I?" Sim on Savs).
Listening an d p e rfo rm in g operations (e.g.,
listening an d constructing a figure, draw ing
a m a p ).
Listening and solving problem s (e.g., riddles,
intellectual o r logic puzzles, real-life num er
ical, spatial, o r chronological problem s).
L istening a n d tran scrib in g (e.g., taking
tele p h o n e messages, w riting notes).
L istening a n d sum m arizing info rm atio n
(e.g., outlining, giving the gist o f a message
e ith e r verballv or in w riting).
Interactive listening a n d n eg o tiatin g of
m ean in g th ro u g h q u estio n in g /an sw erin g
routines (e.g., questions for rep etitio n of
in fo rm a tio n , q u e stio n s fo r verification,
questions for clarification, questions for
e la b o ra tio n ).

learning. (See Peterson's ch ap ter in this vol

um e.) T he goal is consciousness raising about
language, which can be accom plished th rough
what W endin a n d Rubin (1987) term awareness
raising tasks. Some language analysis tasks can be
designed to help students becom e know ledge
able about how language works. Activities can
focus on one or two points at a tim e a n d can
include attention to a variety o f features o f gram
mar. p ro nunciation, vocabularv, an d discourse as
well as sociolinguistic a n d strategic features
(Canale and Swain 1980). Specific activities can

These listening an d language use tasks help

students to build the following two things:

(i) A Base o f Content Experiences This will

help them to develop expectancies, increase their
vocabulary, and build a repertoire o f fam iliar topdown networks of background knowledge in the
second language. This, iir turn, increases predic
tive pow er for future com m unicative situations,
including schemata (i.e., the larger-order m ental
fram ew orks o f know ledge) an d scripts (i.e., the
situation-specific m ental fram ew orks th at allow
us to pred ict actors, events, action sequences,
an d alternative o u tco m es). These include form u
laic speech routines an d assum ed elem ents in the
physical setting.

(ii) A Base o f Operational Experiences This

will h elp learn ers to acquire a rep e rto ire of
fam iliar inform atio n -h an d lin g o p erations in the
second language th a t are applicable to future
com m unicative e n co u n ters in th at language.
3b. Language Analysis Tasks T h e p u rp o se
h e re is to give students opp o rtu n ities to analvze
selected aspects o f b oth language structure i i.e..
form ) an d language use (i.e., function 1 and to
develop som e personal strategies to facilitate

Analvsis o f some features of fast speech;

tasks can help students learn to deal with
the rapid patterns of contextualized speech.
Analvsis o f p h rasin g an d pause points;
a tte n tio n to the wavs the g ro u p in g o f words
into functional units (ones th at follow
gram m ar) can be used to facilitate listen
ing; ''chunking" the in p u t into units for
in terp retatio n .
Analvsis of both m onologues and dialogue
ex ch an g es, with a tte n tio n to discourse
organizational structures.
D escribing an d analvzing sociolinguistic
d im en sio n s, in c lu d in g p a rticip a n ts an d
their roles and relationships, settings, p u r
pose of the com m unicative episodes, and
expected outcom es.
D escribing a n d analvzing com m unicative
strategies used by speakers to deal with misc o m m u n ic a tio n . c o m m u n ic a tio n b re a k
downs. distractions, etc.

R ecordings of real-life conversations, talks,

a n d discussions can be used to in tro d u ce listen
ing analvsis tasks. (See M orlev 1984 a n d 1985.)
Lynch (1983), I T (1984), Davis and Rinvolucri
(1988), an d M endelsohn (1995) all give a variety
o f language analvsis tasks.

Communicative Outcomes:
An Organizing Framework
It is clear bv notv that a Listen-and-Do form at
that is, inform ation gathering and inform ation
using is recom m ended for listening instructional

activities in the ESL or EFL curriculum . Listening

com prehension in todays language curriculum
must go far beyond a 20-minute tape a day or a
paragraph or two read aloud followed by a series of
"test questions about the factual content.
Listen-and-Do in the listening co m p reh en
sion context implies an outcom e objective. The
purpose of oral com m unication in the real world
is to achieve a genuine outcom e; it may be verv
simple (e.g., enjoying sociable conversation) or it
nrav be very com plex (e.g., un d erstan d in g intri
cate instructions), but an outcom e is achieved.
This same attention to outcom e m ust be a part of
any listening com prehension activity p lan n ed for
use in the second language learning context.
M inim um req u irem en ts for two-wav oral
com m unication are two active participants and
an o u tco m e. P a rtic ip a n ts a lte rn a te roles of
speaker-sender a n d listener-receiver. One-wav
com m unication requires one active participant
(a listener-receiver), one long-distance partici
pant (a speaker-sender), either live" or recorded,
and an outcom e.
W hat is an outcome} According to Sinclair
(1984), an outcom e is a realistic task that people
can envision themselves doing and accom plishing
something. An outcom e is an essential com ponent
in both two-wav and one-way com m unication lis
tening com prehension activities.
Six broad categories of outcom e are dis
cussed below. Each, o f course, can be subdivided
into m ore narrowlv focused specific outcom es,
which can be m odified to suit a given student
group. Lesson outcom es can be graded toward
gradual expansion of difficultv, complexity, and
increasing p erform ance expectations for students.
A lesson mav contain m ore than one o ut
com e, a lth o u g h too m am outcom es for a given
activitv mav be overw helm ing. Any outcom e can
be used at any age, as long as it is a part of a task
th at is a p p ro p riate to the age, interests, a n d lan
guage proficiency level of the learners.
T h e re is overlap betw een som e outcom e
categories, a n d no atte m p t is m ade h ere to m ake
them m utually exclusive. They are p rese n ted as
an organizing fram ew ork for co nsideration byteachers in developing class or listening library
m aterials.

This categon- includes responses to things such

as directions, instructions, and descriptions in a
varietv of contexts. Examples include listening and

Drawing a picture, figure, o r design.

Locating routes of specific points on a map.
Selecting a picture of a person, place, or
thing from description.
Identifying a person, place, or th in g from
P erfo rm in g h a n d or bodv m ovem ents as in
songs an d gam es such as Sim on Savs o r
"Do the H okev Pokey.
O p eratin g a piece of e q u ip m e n t such as a
cam era, a recorder, a microwave oven, o r a
pencil sharpener.
C a rn in g out steps in a process such as a
m ath problem , a science experim ent, or a
cooking sequence.

Outcome 2. Listening and

Transferring Information
Two kinds o f inform ation transfer are featured:
spoken-to-written (i.e., h e a rin g inform ation a n d
w riting it) an d spoken-to-spoken (i.e. h ea rin g infor
m ation a n d transm itting it in speech).
Spoken-to-written T he following are some activi
ties for spoken-to-written practice.

Listening an d taking a m essage (in person

or bv telep h o n e) by transcribing the entire
m essage word for word if it is very sh o rt o r
bv w riting down a list of the im p o rta n t
items if it is long; the purpose is to give
an o th e r person a clear sense of the message.
Listening and filling in blanks in a g apped
storv gam e in o rd e r to com plete the story.
L istening a n d com pleting a form o r ch art in
o rd er to use the inform ation for a later p u r
pose. such as m aking a decision o r solving a
problem .
Listening and sum m arizing the gist o f a
short storv, rep o rt, o r talk in o rd e r to re p o rt
it to a th ird person.

Listening to a how to" talk and w riting an

outline o f the steps in the sequence (e.g.,
how to cook som ething, how to use a piece
o f eq u ip m en t, how to pkiv a gam e) in o rd e r
to e a rn o u t the action.
Listening to a talk or lecture a n d taking
notes in o rd e r to use the inform ation later
for som e a purpose.

A p o p u lar activity called jigsaw listening is

suggested by G eddes an d Sturtriclge (1979). In
o n e form o f jigsaw listening, small groups o f stu
dents listen to different parts of a set o f infor
m ation and write down the im p o rta n t points of
th eir portions. T h e n they share th eir inform a
tion with o th e r groups so that a story or a
sequence o f actions can be com pleted, a p ro b
lem solved, or a decision m ade.
Spoken-to-spoken Jigsaw listening also can be
used with a spoken-to-spoken transfer o f infor
m ation. O th e r activities in this m ode are the

Listening to directions, th en passing them

along to a th ird person who m ust use the
info rm atio n to e a rn ' out a task.
Listening to p art of a storv an d rep eatin g it
to others.

(For exam ples see Davis a n d Rinvolucri 1988.

pp. 29-30 a n d M orlev 1984. pp. 68-69.)

M inute m ysteries in which students, listen

ing to the tea c h e r or a tape, read a verv
short mvsterv storv: this can be followed by
small g roup work in which students fo rm u
late solutions.
A jigsaw mvsterv in which each group listens
to a tape which provides one of the clues.
G roups then share inform ation with every
one in o rd er to solve the mvsterv.

M ore d em a n d in g varieties of problem solving

are found in riddles, logic puzzles, and o th e r
intellectual problem -solving activities.
Real-world problem s can include:

C om parison shopping tasks using reco rd ed

conversations for practice (e.g., asking for
prices from several rental car agencies,
llorist shops, or b arb er shops, th en choos
ing the best bargain), followed bv similar
field trips.
Short descriptions of court cases, with listen
ers asked to make a decision and defend it.

Field trips can be assigned in which pairs of stu

dents go out to do com parison sh o pping for
products or services, th en rep o rt back to the
entire class.

Outcome 4. Listening, Evaluating,

and Manipulating Information

Many kinds o f activities for e ith e r groups o r indi

viduals can be developed in this category. O ne is
gam es and puzzles:

These outcom es are intellectually challenging

ones in which the listener evaluates a n d /o r
m anipulates the inform ation received in some
m anner. Lesson activities for individuals, pairs,
o r small gro u p s can take m am d irectio n s,
including the following:

Outcome 3. Listening and

Solving Problems

W ord gam es in which the answers m ust be

derived from verbal clues.
N u m b e r gam es a n d story" a rith m e tic
problem s.
Asking questions in o rd e r to identify som e
thing, as in Twenty Q uestions" o r Anim al,
Vegetable, o r M ineral."
C lassroom
Passw ord,
Jeo p ard y , o r "Twenty Q uestions in which
careful listening is critical to the successful
com pletion of the gam e.

W riting in form ation received a n d review

ing it in o rd e r to answer questions or solve
a problem .
Evaluating inform ation an d reviewing it in
o rd er to m ake a decision o r develop a plan
of action.
Evaluating argum ents in o rd e r to take a
Evaluating cause-and-effect inform ation.
M aking p re d ic tio n s from in fo rm a tio n


Sum m arizing o r giving the gist o f inform a

tion received.
Evaluating and com bining o r condensing
inform ation.
Evaluating and elaborating or extending
inform ation.
O rganizing unorderecl inform ation into a
p a tte rn of orderlv relationships: c h ro n o lo g
ical se q u en c in g , spatial re la tio n sh ip s,
cause-and-effect. or problem -solution.

Field trips are challenging and useful for

interm ediate and advanced learners. Students can
be assigned fact-finding, inform ation-gathering
tasks for panel presentations or use in a project. At
m ore advanced levels, preparing for and e a rn in g
out a debate or discussion assignm ent on cur
ren t local, national, o r in tern atio n al issues can
use b oth aural a n d w ritten inform ation and
involves the student in evaluating and m an ip u
lating inform ati o n .

m ust keep questioning the listener-questioner to

m ake sure of the n a tu re an d in te n t o f the his or
h e r questions. V ideotape o r audio recordings of
these class sessions with subsequent viewing an d
discussion of selected segm ents cjuicklv d em o n
strates the im portance of negotiation o f m eaning
and how m uch tim e a n d energv m ust som etim es
be ex p en d ed in o rd e r to arrive at a consensus on
m eaning.
A wide variety of question types can be used
in this kind o f activitv, b u t for each lesson it is
useful to have onlv a lim ited n u m b e r o f question
tvpes used. Som e exam ples are the following:

R epetition questions asking only for ver

batim repetition o f inform ation (C ould
vou repeat the part about xx?").

Paraphrase q u estio n s asking only for

restatem ent in different words, often words
that tire sim pler and easier to u n d e rsta n d
("C ould vou sav th at again?" I d o n t u n d e r
stand what vou m ean bv xx.").
Verification questions seeking confirm a
tion that the inform ation was u n d e rsto o d
correctlv bv the listener ("Did I u n d e rsta n d
vou to sav that xx?" "In o th e r words, vou
m ean xx." "Do vou m ean xx?).

Outcome 5. Interactive Listeningand-Speaking: Negotiating Meaning

through Questioning/Answering
H ere the focus of the outcom e is on both the
product o f tran sm ittin g in fo rm atio n an d the
nrocess o f negotiating m eaning in interactive
reciprocal listener speaker exchanges. Initiallv.
m small groups, (i.e.. four to ten students), one
student cam give a b rie f p resentation such as a
W ort set of locallv relevant an n o u n cem en ts, a
:ive-minute "how-to" talk, a personal store or
anecdote, o r an explanatorv talk using visual
aids. (See M orlev 1992.)
E ither d u rin g or im m ediatelv after the pres
entation, each listener is req u ired to ask at least
me question in a questioning answ ering ro u
tine. At first listeners can be given a card listing a
question tvpe and assigned the responsibilitv
tor asking that kind of question. T he listenerquestioner m ust continue with follow-up ques
tions as necessarv until both participants are
uttisfied that clear m eaning has b een negotiated.
This m eans that the speaker is also a listener and

Clarification q u estio n s seek in g m o re

details o r an e x p la n a tio n o f an item
("C ould vou tell m e what vou m ean by xx?
"Could vou explain xx?" "Could vou give us
an exam ple of xx?").

Elaboration questions that ask for addi

tional inform ation on a p oint in tro d u c ed
in the p resen tatio n (Could vou tell us
m ore about xx?").

Extension questions th at ask for inform a

tion on a new point, one th at was n o t in tro
du ced in the p resen tatio n (W hat a b o u t
xx?" "How is this related to xx?).

Challenge q u e stio n s
th a t
c h a llen g e
points given or conclusions draw n (W hat
did vou base xx on? "How did vou reach
the conclusion o f xx? "How did vou xx?
"Whv did vou xx?) .

Tasks with this outcom e can include listening to

songs, stories, plays, poem s, jokes, anecdotes, or,
as suggested by Ur, general interesting chat
im provised by the te a c h e r (1984, p. 29). Som e of
the activities in this categorv com e u n d e r the
head in g o f interactional listening, different from
the previous outcom e categories, which bv and
large are focused on transactional outcom es.
For these tasks, U r notes th at setting anv
outcom e o th e r th an enjoving, for instance, macb ecom e superfluous o r even harm ful to the
com pletion o f the outcom e o f just enjoying.
U r makes an especiallv good case for infor
mal teacher-chat as an excellent source of listen
ing m aterial and observes that it se n es as a
relaxing break from m ore intensive work. She sug
gests teacher-talk on personal topics (e.g., vour
favorite hobby, plans for the future, your opinions
on topical or local issues) (pp. 62-63). She notes
that this, in turn, mav lead naturally to studenttalk on similar subjects for loosely structured and
com fortable com m unicative classroom interludes,
ones that afford student practice opportunities
in both listening and speaking.

S E L F -A C C E S S /S E L F -S T U D Y
The purpose o f a self:access/self-study resource is to
provide an inviting listening center within a con
ventional language laboratory or a broader lan
guage resource center. This self-studv facility needs
to offer a wide choice of appealing audio and \ideo
materials on a variety of topics and at a range of pro
ficiency levels. Books to accom pany tapes are use
ful, of course. However, in addition to (or in place
of) commercial books, a library of listening m ateri
als m ight also include carefully designed worksheet
materials that present listening tasks for self-studv.
pair-study, or small-group study, both on the school
premises and for checkout and hom e use.
Materials for free-listening time like freereading time) can be provided and students can be
given a chance to self-select from a Intoning

library th a t includes stories a n d poem s, talks and

lectures, plays a n d literary classics, participatory
gam es, puzzles, riddles, a n d read-along o r singalong stories, songs, an d games. Com m ercial
audio- and videotapes can easily be adapted for lis
tening library use. M ore innovatively, a collection
o f local audio o r video recordings o f conversa
tions, songs, music events, lectures, or panel dis
cussions can be com piled. H om e videos can be an
appealing addition to a listening library Such
locally produced auditory m aterials have a special
relevance and applicability potential that com m ercial
m aterials lack.

Setting Up a Self-Access/Self-Study
Listening Resource Center
A self-access-''self-studv listening resource center
can be started with a m odest listening library of
audio and video rec o rd e d m aterial an d the
teacher-time needed to p u t materials into self-study
packets or modules.
Ideally, listening materials can be m ade avail
able to students in a special language learning cen
ter or m ultipurpose stuck room that also features
reading and writing materials and has a teacher or
m onitor present at all times to guide students in
the selection and ttse of materials and equipm ent.
Alternatively, self-access self-studv materials
can be used in a m ore conventional language lab
oratory setting. W hatever the setting, the most
im portant point is that the individual learner has
com plete personal control over the materials. It is
essential that students be able to control the
source o f input so that thev can pace it stop it,
start it, replav it at will. Such control allows stu
dents to regulate their own schedules o f study,
ra th e r than having a rate and volume of auditor}
in p u t im posed on them . This helps reduce the
anxiety and pressure that m any students, particu
larly beginners, seem to experience when listen
ing in the second or foreign language. Some
m aterials m ight be m ade available for checkout
a n d hom e stud}-. However, a study facility often has
fewer distractions than a hom e or dorm itory envi
ronm ent, and its atm osphere is usually m ore con
ductive to the self-discipline necessary for
concentrated listening in the second or foreign

T he p ro ced u res for using self-access selfstudy m aterials m ight be organized in the fol
lowing wav:
1. S tudents check out a listening packet or
m odule that contains the audio- or video
tap e, p re liste n in g in tro d u c to rv m aterial,
w orksheets (an d p e rh a p s som e visuals),
answer kev (and perhaps a script), instruc
tions, a n d postlistening tasks.
2. Students plav the tape on th eir own schedule
o f starting, stopping, and replacing.
3. S tudents check th eir work them selves for
verification o f co m prehension.
4. Students consult the teacher o r m onitor
w hen necessarv.
Self-access listening m aterials can be o rg an
ized in to self-studv packets or m odules o f m an
ageable lengths. Thev can be cross-referenced
in a variety of wavs to m eet the needs o f individ
ual students or groups of students (i.e.. c o n ten t
or topical groups, no tio n al categories, fun c
tional categories, situational o r activitv categories,
level-of-difficultv groupings, specific listeningtask groupings, English for Specific Purposes
M odules that feature up-to-date, locallv rele
vant, authentic aural texts are especiallv effective
and are recom m ended wherever possible. In addi
tion, segments from selected com m ercial listening
materials can be adapted to fit into this format.

Guidelines for Developing

Self-Access / Self-Study
Listening Materials
In addition to relevance, transferabilitv. task ori
entation, a n d the com m unicative outcom es
tramework, the following guidelines are suggested
m a reference in preparing self-access selfstudv
listening practice materials:

A focus on listening as an active process

with instant or onlv slightlv delaved m an ip
ulation o f the inform ation received.


A focus on purposeful listening (a) in order

to process inform ation and immediately do
som ething with the inform ation, by perform
ing a task o f som e nature, and (b) in o rd er
to analyze particular features of the message
(i.e., linguistic features, sociolinguistic fea
tures, discourse features, strategic features),
a n d (c) in o rd er to build a base o f content
experiences and outcomes experiences.
3. A focus on a variety o f practice m aterials that
includes a mix o f authentic, sem i-authentic,
and sim ulated language activities.
4. A focus on in tern al com m unicative in terac
tion, as the listener receives language in p u t
(aurallv a n d visuallv), restructures it, an d
m akes a response that is e ith e r a refo rm u
lation of som e of the in form ation o r an
analvsis o f som e o f its features.
5. A focus on providing learners with verifica
tion o f c o m p reh en sio n (i.e., im m ediate or
onlv slightlv delaved feedback) with self
check answer kevs or scripts as n eed ed .
6. A focus on enco u rag in g guessing an d fol
lowing hunches" w hen in doubt.
7. A focus on selective listening, ig n o rin g
irrelevant m aterial, an d learn in g to tolerate
less than total un d erstan d in g .
A focus on self-involvement with an emphasis
on selfstudv and taking responsibility for o n es
own work and pride in o n es accomplishments.
9. A focus on providing learners with less
threaten in g listen in g /learn in g experiences;
a self-studs listening m ode w here students
hat e the freedom to regulate their own w?ork
and can stop the tape, rewind, an d replay as
thev wish.
10. A focus on in tegrating auditory a n d visual
language bv com bining listening, reading,
a n d writing, an d observing relationships
betw een spoken form s a n d w ritten forms.
11. A focus on gracluallv increasing expectations
for levels of com prehension (i.e., encourag
ing students to challenge themselves an d to
move themselves along toward increasingly
dem anding expectations).
12. A focus on the fun o f listening!

Since the 1960s, the im p o rtan ce o f listening
c o m p re h en sio n in language learn in g a n d lan
guage teach in g has m oved from a status o f inci
d en tal a n d p e rip h e ra l im p o rtan ce to a status of
significant a n d cen tral im p o rtan ce. W hereas
only a few instructional m aterials were available
in the 1970s, today th ere are m am - texts an d tape
program s to choose from and, in general, m ate
rials are becom ing m ore carefullv principled,
with serious a tte n tio n to theoretical considera
tions. Each year m ore diverse m aterials are devel
oped, an d m any now focus on the narrowly
specified listening needs of particular groups of
learners, including English for Specific Purposes.
Finally, it is im p o rta n t to em phasize that
the S /F L listening curriculum c a n n o t focus onlv
on buying the right books a n d tapes. Skill b uild
ing in listening co m p reh en sio n is n o t som ething
th a t can be accom plished in a half-hour lesson
th re e tim es a week, n o r can a tten tio n to listen
ing be lim ited to language laboratorv tapes.
Listening, th e language skill used m ost in life,
needs to be a central focus all dav, ev en dav
lim ited only by the availability o f the target lan
guage in the school, the com m unin', a n d the
m edia. L istening in struction needs to include
b o th two-way interactive listening activities and
tasks an d one-way reactive Listen-and-Do activi
ties a n d tasks. M aterials developers should pav
careful atten tio n to principles o f design, com
m unicative outcom es, language functions, lan
guage processes, an d affective considerations.


C haracterize each of the three com m uni

cative listening modes: bidirectional, unidirec
tional, and autodirectional. From vour own
personal experience, give examples of each of
these three kinds of com m unicative listening.
2. Discuss why listening has b een called "the
n eglected skill of language teaching.
3. For th re e daws, keep a rec o rd o f how m uch
tim e you spend each day in each of the fo u r
skill areas: listening, speaking, reading, an d
writing. In small groups, m ake a com posite

of the tim es rec o rd e d for each of the four

language skills.
4. Review th e th re e principles o f m aterials
developm ent discussed in this chapter. Give
exam ples o f wavs they can be im p lem en ted
in listening lessons.
5. Discuss the differences betw een interactional
language use and transactional language use.
Give exam ples from vour personal experience
and com pare them with those given by others
in your class.

1. Ask perm ission to observe two o r th re e ESL
or foreign language classes. O bserve the
n atu re o f the interactions in the class. N ote
the am o u n t o f tim e in which students are
engaged in listening a n d the a m o u n t o f tim e
thev are engaged in speaking, reading, or
2. Write a lesson plan that focuses on two or
three wavs to include specific listening o p p o r
tunities in a class where the central focus is on
a n o th e r aspect of language learning.
3. W orking in pairs, use the R ichards m atrix
(Richards 1990) and com e up with two or
th ree exam ples for each of the fo u r cells.

Anderson. A., and T. Lynch. 1988. Listening. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
This book stands back from the surface detail of
comprehension materials and provides an over
all perspective on listening as a communicative
activity and as a language learning activity. It
includes a research design focus.
Brown. G.. and G. Yule. 1983. Teaching the Spoken Lan
guage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Using an approach based on the analysis of con
versational English, this book examines the
nature of spoken language and presents prin
ciples and techniques for teaching spoken pro
duction and listening comprehension.

Nunan, D., and L. Miller. 1995. New in leaching

Listening Comprehension. Alexandria, YA: TF.SOL.
A ven useful compendium of activities for plan
ning language lessons with a listening locus.
Mendelsohn, D., and J. Rubin. 1995. A Guide for
Teaching Second [winguage Listening. San Diego.
CA: Dominie Press.
An excellent collection of diverse topics in teach
ing second language listening. Contains mav
practical examples and suggestions for lesson
Morlev. J. 1999. Current Perspectives on Imploring
Aural Comprehension. LSL Magazine2 (1 ): 15-19.
This is an easv-to-read article for the beginning
TESL/TEFL student. It presents current perspec
tives in the area of ESE EFL aural comprehension

Ur. P. 1984. Teaching Listening Comprehension.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Analyzes real-life listening characteristics and the
problems encountered bv language learners.
Presents a wide range of exercise types, ranging
from elementary to advanced, and appropriate
for both adults and children.
Special periodical issues devoted

to listening

Applied Linguistics 7 (2). Summer 1986.

ELT Documents Special, "The Teaching of Listening
Comprehension." 1981.
foreign Language Annals 17 (4), September 1984.
JALT Newsletter 19 (4). 1982.
TF.SOL News let ter 19 (6). December 1985.

Skills and Strategies for

Proficient Listening



In "Skills and Strategies for Proficient Listening," Peterson offers a developmental view of second
language listeners at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels. She describes the comprehension
processes of proficient listeners as being both top-down and bottom-up in nature, and offers exercises
for building listening skills and strategies at all profic iency levels.

Teachers who want to provide the most effective
classroom experience for their second language
students should consider this: Xo o th er tvpe of
language input is as easv to process as spoken lan
guage, received through listening. At the begin
ning stages of language studv, before students
have learned to read well, it is bv listening that
they can have the most direct connection to
m eaning in the new language. T hrough listening,
learners can build an awareness of the interw ork
ings o f language systems at various lev els and thus
establish a base for m ore fluent productive skills.
At the interm ediate level, w hen students are
refining their understanding of the gram m atical
systems of their second or foreign language, lis
tening can be used to stim ulate awareness of detail
and to prom ote accuracv. At advanced levels,
w hen students are able readers and written lan
guage has becom e a viable source of input, listen
ing should still occupv a central place in their
language use. A regular p rogram of listening can
extend learners' vocabularv and use o f idioms
a n d b u ild th e ir a p p re c ia tio n for cultural
nuances. M oreover, successful academ ic study in
English req u ires a m asterv of the listening
dem ands in form al lectures as well as in the in ter
active exchanges which are com m on to sem inar
settings an d conversational lecture stales.

T here is such a wide range o f listening tasks

for different purposes and for all proficiency levels
that teachers can find listening activities to pro
m ote learning at every stage. This ch ap ter will
present a brief developm ental view of listening
skills: how people learn to listen and how listening
prom otes learning. Sample exercises will be given
to facilitate listening at beginning, interm ediate,
and advanced stages of language developm ent.

The following ideas about the listening process had
their beginnings m ore than fortv years ago and
have recently gained wide acceptance in the field.

Listening Is the Primary Channel

for Language Input and Acquisition
Proponents o f com prehension approaches recog
nize the primacv of listening in the processes of
co m p re h en sio n , re te n tio n o f in fo rm a tio n in
memory, and acquisition of second language com
petence. X ida (1957) describes the language
learning experience of people in Africa, where
m ultilingualism w ithout form al instruction is a
com m on phen o m en o n . People simply go to a
place to live and work, they listen w ithout attem pt
ing to speak, and quite soon they find that they
can "hear" the language. Only after internalizing
some part of the language do they try to speak.
Xida concludes. "T eam ing to speak a language is
verv largely a task of learning to h e a r it (p. 53).

This emphasis on the primacv of listening

contrasts dramatically with audiolingual practices of
the 1960s and 1970s. which prom oted early intensi\e oral practice. In an essay entitled "Win not start
speaking later?" Postovsky (1977) called for an
extended period of listening with delayed oral pro
duction. Asher's (1969) Total Physical Response
approach featured a long preproduction phase in
which students listened, followed comm ands, and
dem onstrated their com prehension through non
verbal actions. The Natural Approach (krashen
and Terrell 1983) also set a prespeech period for lis
tening only, to be followed bv an early production
phase in which students gate an steers in single
words or short phrases. The prespeech period
could last for a few hours in the case of adult stu
dents, or for up to six m onths with children.
A ccording to N ord (1981). reception should
p recede production because reception enables
production. W hile it is possible to learn to u n d e r
stand without speaking, it is not possible to learn
to speak w ithout understanding. Prem ature pro
duction has several negative effects: Lacking T9
com p etence, students are forced back on LI
p ro d u ctio n habits and m at m ake m any LI trans
fer errors. T he n e e d to p ro d u ce utterances max
in te rfe re with the ability to c o m p re h e n d the lan
guage completely, a n d thus in terfere with learn
ing and m em o ry T he overload of task dem ands
on th e lea rn er produces anxiety, which fu rth e r
inhibits learning.

Listening Comprehension Is
a Multilevel, Interactive Process
o f Meaning Creation
W hen good listeners involve themselves with am
type o f spoken discourse, a n u m b er of processes
work on various lew is sim ultaneously to produce
an u n d erstan d in g of the incom ing speech. The
h ig h er level processes (top-dow n) are driven bv
listeners' expectations and u n d e rsta n d in g ' ot the
context, the topic, the natu re of text, and the
natu re o f the world. T he lower level p a r c h e s
(bottom -up) are triggered by the so u n d ', words,
and phrases which the listener h e a t'
he 1>r 'h e
attem pts to decode speech and a "ig : meaning.

The acoustic signal itself carries few cues to the

meanings that are encoded within it: the listener
must use his or her knowledge of the language to
recognize m eaningful sound units, to determ ine
sellable boundaries, and to identify words. This
phase of com prehension is known as perceptual pro
cessing (Anderson 1983). Next the listener works
with the words and phrases he or she has decoded
to form m eaningful units, which are stored in short
term memory. This is the parsing phase. Finally, the
listener searches long-term m em ory for ideas that
relate to the new information: when a match is
m ade between old and new information, com pre
hension occurs. This is the utilization stage.
With h igher lew is of language proficiency,
the listener works m ore efficiently and is able to
m aintain activity on till levels simultaneously.
At b e g in n in g proficiency levels, p e rc e p tu a l
(bottom -up) operations require great am ounts
of conscious attention, so that little capacity
rem ains for h ig h er level operations. Later, after
lower level skills have been rehearsed m any
times, they can be p erfo rm ed autom atically and
the learner's intention can be freed up for topdown operations (M cLaughlin. Rossman. and
M cLeod 1983).
In proficient listeners, top-down and bottomup processes interact, so that lack of inform ation
at one level can be com pensated for bv checking
against inform ation at the o th e r level. For exam
ple. advanced listeners max use their knowledge
of lexis and topic to in terp ret the confusing
sounds in the speech stream and to aid in xvord
recognition. On the o th e r hand, they max also
use their basic decoding skills to check the
progress o f the argum ent and to determ ine
w h eth er the discourse is going in the direction
thev had predicted. Listening in their natixe lan
guage. people newer hear all the inform ation in a
message, and thex do not n eed to; proficiency in
c o m p reh en sio n is the ability- to fill in the gaps
an d to create an u n d ersta n d in g that m eets one's
purpose for listening.
Rost (1990) credits the contributions oi
second language reading research for pointing to
the im portance o f the student's prior knowledge
in m aking sense of incom ing linguistic data. This
general com prehension m odel has been extended
to listening as well. T here are mans terms for the

m eaning structures in the mind; they have been

called frames (Minskv 1975), scripts (Schank 1975).
and schemata (R um elhart 1980). We will use
Rum elhart's terminology. H e defines a schem a as
"a data structure for representing generic concepts
stored in memory" (p. 34). Carrell and Eisterhold
1 1983) suggest that background inform ation in the
l eader's m ind is of two kinds: content schem ata
and form al schemata. C ontent schem ata include
cultural knowledge, topic familiarity, and previous
experience with a field. Formal schem ata have to
do with people's knowledge of discourse forms:
text types, rhetorical conventions, and the struc
tural organization of prose. Both content and for
mal schem ata can aid the reader (and the listener)
m com prehending text (Flovcl and Carrell 1987).

Models of the Comprehension

One view of listening com prehension describes
com prehension of a speaker's message as the inter
nal reproduction of that message in the listener's
mind, so that successful listening reproduces the
m eaning m uch as the speaker intended (Clark and
Clark 1977). This is the inform ation processing
view of listening. A second view (Rost 1990) places
m ore emphasis on the goals and internal m eaning
'tructures of the listener: in this view, the listener
does not receive m eaning, but rather constructs
m eaning. The constructed message differs some
what from the intended message and is influenced
bv context, purpose for listening, and the listener's
own prior knowledge. Both views acknowledge the
complexity of the listening process and the im por
tance of both top-down and bottom -tip operations.
Nagle and Sanders (1986) offer a m odel of
com prehension that incorporates the distinction
between controlled and autom atic processing as
well as the active role of the listener in attention and
m onitoring. Thev propose an executive decision
m aker that decides how to deal with input, a n d a
feedback loop that allows the listener to m onitor
ongoing com prehension. T heir m odel is specifi
cally in ten d ed to describe com prehension in a
second language. Thev m ake the point that while
com prehension is not exactly the same thing as
learning, successful com prehension makes m ate
rial available for learning.

Principles for Listening

Comprehension in the Classroom
The above findings suggest a set of principles for
teaching listening in the second language classroom.
Increase the amount o f listening time in the second
language class. Make listening the prim ary chan
nel for learning new m aterial in the classroom.
Input must be interesting, comprehen-sible, sup
ported bv extralinguistic materials, and keved to
the language lesson.
Use listening before other activities. At begin
ning and low-interm ediate levels, have students lis
ten to m aterial before thev are required to speak,
read, or write about it.
Include both global and selective listening.
Global listening encourages students to get the
gist, m ain idea, topic, situation, or setting. Selective
listening points student attention to details of form
and encourages accuracy.
Activate top-level skills. Give advance organizers,
script activators, or discussions which call up stu
dents' background knowledge. Do this before stu
dents listen. Encourage top-down processing at
even proficiency level.
Work towards automaticity in processing. Include
exercises which build both recognition and reten
tion of the material. Use familiar m aterial in novel
combinations. Encourage overlearning through
focus on selected formal features. Practice bottomup processing at ev e n proficiency lev el.
Develop conscious listening strategies. Raise stu
dents' awareness of text features and of their own
com prehension processes. Encourage them to
notice how their processing operations interact
with the text. Prom ote flexibility in the m any strate
gies thev can use to understand the language.
Practice interactive listening, so that thev can use
their bottom -up and their top-down processes to
check one against the other.

Skills and Strategies

Before p ro ceed in g with a developm ental de
scription of listening proficiency, it is helpful to
d iffe re n tia te betw een th e follow ing term s:
listening process, listening skill, an d listening
strategy. T he m odels in the p reced in g section

p rese n t a view o f som e sim ultaneous, interactive

op eratio n s w hich are hvpothesizecl to constitute
th e successful c o m p re h e n sio n process. T hese
o p erations are m ade up o f various subprocesses:
chunking input into svllables, recognizing words,
recalling relevant schem ata, and m atching key
words to the sem antic structure of the text. These
subprocesses are the skills of the co m petent lis
tener. If these skills are practiced enough, thev
becom e autom atic and are activated m uch m ore
quickly. W hen things are going well, the listener
is n o t conscious of using skills at all. At the point
w hen the com prehension process breaks down
for some reason, the listener becom es aware of
the need for repair and seeks an appropriate
strategy for com prehension.
A m ajor difference betw een skills and strate
gies is that strategies are u n d e r the learner's con
scious control; thev are operations which the
learner chooses to use to direct or check his or h er
own com prehension. C ham ot explains:

time, and in a m anner appropriate to the learners

proficiency lexel. Strategv train in g does not
replace language practice, but rather is inter
spersed with practice th roughout a course.
In fact, u n tu to re d students use strategies
anyway, b u t thev do n ot alxvaxs choose wisely.
E astm an (1991) points o ut th at students som e
tim es use ineffectixe strategies such as on-line
translation. T ranslation o f single words max- be
the only strategv that beg in n in g listeners th ink
to use, b u t it restricts listeners to the surface fea
tures of the language and uses up all o f th eir
available processing capacity. T he urge to trans
late is so natural at lower proficiencx lexels that
students m ust be explicitly e n co u rag ed to avoid
it. Teachers can help th eir students to practice
m ore productixe strategies such as atte n d in g to
longer chunks o f language a n d relating new
info rm atio n to what thev already know.

WITs d esirab le fo r basic cognitive

skills to becom e autom ated, the same
is not true for strategies, which n eed
to be controlled consciouslv if learners
are to m aintain awareness of different
lea rn in g co n d itio n s turd select the
strategies most appropriate for specific
tasks (1995, p.16).

Taxonom ies of learn in g strategies haxe b een

p ro p o sed for second language use in general
(O xford 1990). Strategies specific to listening
co m p reh en sio n are based on these general lists
and include the categories of metacognitix'e,
cognitive, an d socioaffectixe strategies.
M etacognitixe strategies inxolxe planning,
m o n ito rin g , and evaluating c o m p re h e n sio n .
Cognitive strategies are used to m an ip u late
inform ation. Exam ples of cognitixe strategies
are rehearsal, organization, sum m arization, a n d
elaboration. Socioaffectixe strategies haxe b een
less studied but are th o u g h t to be particularly
im p o rtan t xvhen the listening is two xvay and
m eaning can be n eg otiated betw een speaker
an d listener, as in conversations. Exam ples of
socioaffectixe strategies are cooperatixe lea rn
ing. q u estioning for clarification, a n d m anaging
o ne's em otions in the learning situation. A com
plete list o f strategies w ould be quite lengthy,
since it xvould haxe to describe all the possible
actions that a le a rn e r could take in the face of
xvidelv different texts and tasks.
Strategx' use xaries xvith proficiencx1, a n d so
the relationship betw een strategx' use a n d profi
ciency lexel is an im p o rta n t one. M ore advanced
learners use a g rea ter n u m b e r of strategies th an

C om petent listeners tend to m onitor their

com prehension rath er steadilv and, when necessarv, to select appropriate strategies for the task at
hand. Field (1998) points out the com pensatoiv
nature o f strategies in that thev make up for a lack
of linguistic skill or topic knowledge. As the lis
tener's abilitv improves, strategies mav be used less
frequendv (or mav develop into unconscious skills).
Students mav not im m ediatelv see the bene
fits o f strategy use or thev mav feel that strategy
instruction takes time awav from the practice of
language skills. According to MacIntyre and Noels
(1996), teachers can motivate students bv showing
them how and w hen to use strategies. Teachers
m ust also show students how effective strategy
use can be th ro u g h successful experiences.
M endelsohn (1995) calls for strategy instruction to
be delivered gradually oxer an extended period of

Types o f Strategies

beginners do, a n d they also use th em with m ore

flexibility, choosing strategies to fit a specific sit
uation. O Malley, C ham ot, a n d K upper (1989)
fo u n d th at effectiye learners select strategies
ap p ro p riate to the processing phase. In the p e r
ceptual phase, they use focused, selective a tte n
tion; in parsing, thev p refe r top-dow n strategies:
and in the utilization phase, they draw on p e r
sonal experience an d world knowledge. Several
studies have fo u n d that advanced learners are
able to process larger chunks o f inform ation and
to draw on linguistic a n d w orld know ledge
sim ultaneously in building m ean in g (Rost and
Ross 1991; V andergrift 1998).
In contrast, beginning and low-interm ediate
listeners relv too m uch on inform ation at one
level, either at the top or at the bottom , a n d fail
to check one level against the other. Thev matcome to the listening experience with a fixed idea
of what thev will hear, and be unwilling to change
their idea as the text com es in. Thev are less
able to revise th eir schem ata w hen faced with
contradictory inform ation an d e ith e r ignore the
contradiction or shift their conceptual fram e
works too frequently. Alternately, such learners
may be b o u n d to surface features o f the data,
m aking all th eir inferences at the local level and
lacking anv overall schem a for u n d e rsta n d in g
(V andergrift 1998).

Profile o f the Beginning-Level
Student in Listening
True b eginners in a second language lack ade
quate bottom -up processing skills because thev
have n o t yet developed the linguistic categories
against which the language m ust be heard. They
perceive the new language as und ifferen tiated
noise. They are not vet able to segm ent the
speech stream into w ord units to tell w here
one w ord begins an d a n o th e r ends. T he new
p h onem ic svstem is an u n b ro k en code: Sounds
which native speakers consider sim ilar may be
perceived a n d classified as different; sounds
which native speakers consider d ifferent may be

perceived a n d classified as the sam e. If the stress

p attern s of words differ from those in the L I,
true b eginners may have trouble identifying L2
word boundaries. Thev h a te no idea ab o u t
phonological rules th at change sounds in cer
tain environm ents o r cause reductions of sound.
To decode the sensory data as a native speaker
would, learners m ust first build a linguistic struc
ture of im p o rta n t sou n d distinctions a n d cate
gories. B eginners structural com p eten ce also
places lim itations on th eir bottom -up processing
skills. They are n o t fam iliar with rules for w ord
form ation, inflections, o r w ord order. T h eir
vocabulary store is practically nonexistent.
T h e novice stage is of very sh o rt du ratio n .
Alm ost im m ediately u p o n h e a rin g the new lan
guage, learn ers begin to sift an d sort the acoustic
info rm atio n by form ing categories a n d building
a representation of the L2 svstem. If the teacher
follows principles o f com prehension training,
learners will have m any opportunities to work
with a lim ited am o u n t o f language th at is focused
on dearly illustrated subjects. T he sim plified code
that is used in the classroom at this point helps
learners direct their attention to the im portant
features of the message. .After a few hours of
instruction, the learners know a tiny bit o f the
language very well an d can use th eir em erging
u n d e rsta n d in g o f linguistic categories to decode
new utterances.
Despite its brevity, the notice stage is im por
tant for the developm ent of positive attitudes
toward listening. Learners should be encouraged
to tolerate ambiguity, to venture inform ed guesses,
to use their real-world knowledge and analytical
skills, and to enjov their success in com prehension.
The world outside the classroom asks, Do you speak
English? and ignores the verv form idable accom
plishm ent of skilled com prehension. Rarely does
anyone ask, Do you understand English ?Teachers can
help correct this situation bv attaching value to stu
dents' progress in listening skills.
True beginners are found in beginning classes
for immigrants to English-speaking countries and
in F.FL classes abroad. Many of the teachers in the
second setting are not native speakers themselves,
and some ntav lack the confidence to provide stu
dents with the kind of global listening experiences
thev need (see Medgyess chapter in this volume).

Yet, considering the great value of exposure to spo

ken English, all teachers should attem pt to provide
this im portant input. The following suggestions
are m eant to encourage such teachers.




Global listening selections should be short

one to three m inutes in duration.
The teacher does not have to speak as if he or
she were addressing colleagues tit a professional
meeting. Teachers' m onologues are most effec
tive at beginning levels if thee- are delivered in a
simplified code. Such language involves short,
basic sentences, d e a r pronunciation, repeti
tion o f ideas, limited vocabularv. and risual or
situational support for new words.
It is best to ad d new m aterial (vocabularv
a n d structures) graduallv. E xperience with
recom binations of fam iliar m aterial builds
lea rn ers confidence and lessens the am ount
of totallv new texts the teacher m ust prepare.
Global listening exercises such as short teacher
m onologues can be given to large classes,
which are often found in the EFL setting
w here it is m ore difficult to proride speaking
activities for the same n um ber of students.
Students should be kept active with a task to
perform while listening, so the teacher can be
sure that he or she is using class time wiselv.
Selective listening exercises, which focus on
structures o r sounds in contrast, are relatively
easv to prepare. Most EFT teachers have come
through educational svstems w here gram m ar
was em phasized and are quite com fortable
with this kind o f task. Listening discrim ination
tasks can focus on tenses, singular/plural dif
ferences, w ord order, or new vocabulary; there
are manv possibilities.

Techniques for Global Listening O n e im p o r

tan t use of global listening is the p resen tatio n of
new m aterial. Until students are skilled readers,
it is best to p rese n t new m aterial orallv. T he
teach er may select anv p art o f the lesson for a
global listening experience, o r he or she may
write a text based on the lesson. In tro d u ctio n of
new m aterial th ro u g h global listening is com
m on to m anv o f the new er com p reh en sio n
approaches, vet the tech n iq u e is n ot described
in language textbooks. O nce the teacher has
m astered a few sim ple principles and routines,
he o r she can use the tech n iq u e daiiv

Texts for global listening should be short, and

preceded bv a prelistening actiritv. W herever pos
sible. the them e and situation of the story should
be presented risuallv bv drawing on the chalk
board. overhead projector, or a large poster. If the
new material is a dialogue, draw- the participants
and tell their ages and relationships to each other.
Setting the scene in this wav activates the learners
background knowledge and encourages them to
make predictions about the text. New vocabularv
can be used in short, illustrative sentences before
learners hear it as part of the lesson. If possible, use
new vocabularv in a personal wav, supported by the
context of the classroom, so its m eaning is clear.
Descriptive words, colors, num bers, sizes, shapes,
action verbs, and spatial relations are easv to m odel
and to support with tangible examples.
T he prelistening stage should develop learn
ers' curiositv about how all the phrases and words
thev have heard will fit together in a context. The
new text should be m odeled at norm al speed, b ut
with pauses betw een natural phrase groups.
Teachers should not slow their speech, because
the students' short-term m em orv capacitv is too
lim ited to rem em ber sentences w hen they are
ex tended bv slow speech. T he psvcholinguistic
processing m odel described above indicates that
short phrases can be held in working m em ory
until the next pause: d u ring the pause, the
phrase is anah zed. in terp reted , related to the rest
of the message, and com prehended.
If objects a n d actions are d em o n strated
clearlv an d if the message contains a clear dra
m atic structure, even beginners will soon begin
to perceive p attern s o f sound. Vocabulary from
the prelisten in g phase will stand out especially
clearlv from the rest o f the speech stream , p ro
viding listeners a pleasant experience of recog
n itio n . W orking with a few c o n te n t words,
learners can use top-down processing to fill in
the gaps a n d guess the general m eaning o f the
text. C om prehension of every function word
a n d gram m atical m arker is really n ot necessary
w hen the goal is simple to get the gist.
It should be clear from this description of
global listening that com prehension at the begin
ning stage is not total rath e r real-life com pre
hension does not d e p e n d on u n d erstanding
even- word. Students on the first dav of class will

be able to u n d erstan d some words o f the storv

through use o f these techniques. They will not
rem em ber the words o r be able to produce them ,
but the\will quite likely recognize the words when
they h ear them again in a familiar context. At the
least, they have been exposed to three to five m in
utes o f the new language with its own distinctive
'o u n d svstem, intonation patterns, pause system,
and word order. C om prehension theorists such as
Xida (1957) point out that during this time a great
deal o f active processing has been going on just
below' the students' level of conscious awareness.
Selective Listening Techniques T he o th er half of
the listening plan is to bring some of the new con
trasts a n d p attern s into conscious awareness
through selective listening exercises. H ere are the
listening goals for beginners with exercise types.
T he classification of exercises as bottom -up
or top-down does not indicate that onlv one kind
of cognitive activity can occur during each exer
cise, but rather that some foster predom inantly
bottom-up responses, and some exercises prom ote
predominant!}' top-down processing. An exercise
is classified as bottom -up if focus is on form and
the exercise deals with one of the structural sys
tems of English. Alternately, this designation mav
indicate selection o f specific discrete items from
the listening text such as listening for details. .An
exercise is classified as top-down if the focus is on
m eaning and the listener uses global listening
strategies. Alternately, this designation mav indi
cate a reliance on extralinguistic skills which the
learner brings to the listening task. All listening is
to some degree interactive due to the nature of
the processing m echanism . An exercise is classi
fied as interactive if the listener must use inform a
tion gained by processing at one lev el to check the
accuracy of his or her processing on an o th er level.

Bottom-Up Processing Goals and

Exercise Types, Beginning-Level
Goal: Discriminate between intonation contours in

Listen to sentences with e ith e r rising or

falling in to n a tio n a n d m ark th em with
a p p ro p riate p u n c tu a tio n for statem ents (.),

questions (?), surprise (??), or excitem ent

(!) (Rost a n d U ru n o 1995, p. 54).
Listen to pairs o f sentences spoken by a
driver a n d a policeofficer. In each case the
police officers words are the sam e as the
driv ers. Use the in to n a tio n p a tte rn o f the
policeofficer to d e te rm in e w h eth er he is
rep eatin g o r q u estioning w hat the driver
said (Foley 1994a, p. 83).

Goal: Discriminate between phonemes

Listen to the tea c h e r read pairs o f words.

Each p air differs by one sound. T h en listen
again as the tea c h e r reads onlv one o f the
w'ords in each pair a n d circle the word you
h e a r (Benz a n d Dworak 2000, p. 126).

Listen to th ree words a n d d e te rm in e which

w ord is different from the o th e r two (Rost
an d U ru n o 1995, p. 55).
Goal: Listen for morphological endings

Listen to a num ber of verbs that end in -s or

-es. For each verb, note the pronunciation / s / ,
/ z / . or / 3 Z / (Benz and Dworak 2000, p. 189).

Listen to sentences a n d decide if the verb is

in the p rese n t tense o r the past tense. T h en
listen to a list o f verbs that en d in -ed an d
note the p ro n u n cia tio n / t / , / d / , o r / a d /
(Benz a n d Dworak 2000, p. 226).
Goal: Recognize syllable patterns, number of syllables,
and word stress

Listen to a short radio commercial. In each

word, count and note the num ber of sylla
bles, and underline the stressed syllable.
T hen practice reading the com m ercial aloud
to vour partner, preserving the stress pattern
(Benz and Dworak 2000, pp. 47-48).
Goal: Be aware of sentence fillers in informal speech.

Listen to sentences and identify' sentence

fillers such as: "well," "I m ean," "like, vou
know" (Folev 1994b, p. 82).
Goal: Select details from the text

L isten to a re c o rd e d te le p h o n e m en u
about the movies playing, the theaters, and
th e show times. Circle the n u m b e r th a t you
m ust press at each p o in t to work down the
m enu (Benz and Dworak 2000, p. 69-70).

Listen to som e conversations about sick

ness. R efer to a list o f sym ptom s and check

to the sh o rt dialogues to confirm your

prediction. Analvze features of the speech
(tone, speed, w ord choice) to d eterm in e
w hat m akes an in tro d u c tio n m ore form al
(Benz a n d Dworak 2000, pp. 5 -6).

those symptoms which are m entioned in the

conversation (Benz and Dworak 2000, p. 112).

Top-Down Processing Goals and

Exercise Types, Beginning-Level
Goal: Discriminate between emotional reactions

Listen to a statem en t a b o u t a vacation and

decide w h eth er o r n o t the speaker enjoved
the vacation (Richards 1995, p. 29).
Goal: Get the gist or main idea of a passage

Listen to a dialogue an d decide what tvpe o f

w eather is being described. Find the picture
th at shows the w eather (Benz and Dworak
2000, p. 80).

Listen to a series o f short conversations and

for each one m ark a picture that shows
w here the conversation took place (Rost
a n d U ru n o 1995, p. 49).

Listen to a n u m b er of short biographies and

for each one write a title that expresses the
m ain idea o f the passage (Benz and Dworak
2000, pp. 142-143).
Goal: Recognize the topic

From a list of possible topics predict the

topics that people will discuss when they
d o n t know each other well. Listen to a series
o f short conversations in different settings
and note which topics are actually discussed
(Benz and Dworak 2000, pp. 71-72).

Listen to a series of process descriptions,

telling how to do so m eth in g a n d m ark a
pictu re th a t tells the topic of the descrip
tion (Rost an d U ru n o 1995, p. 78).

Interactive Processing Goals and

Exercise Types, Beginning-Level
Goal: Use speech features to decide if a statement is
formal or informal

Look at five pictures which show people

m eeting each other. Based on extralinguistic
inform ation such as setting, age. and profes
sions of the people, predict w hether the lan
guage will be form al or inform al. Listen

Goal: Recognize a familiar word and relate it to a


Review the nam es of objects th at are sold in

differen t stores. Listen to statem ents that
tell w hat people want to buy and select a
picture of the store thev will visit. T h e n
m ark the picture o f the item thev will buy
(Rost a n d U runo 1995. p. 41).
Goal: Compare information in memor with incom
ing information

Read a sentence and th e n listen to a sen

tence on tape to decide if the m ean in g is
the same or different (Foley 1994a, p. 71).

Listen to a passage that describes a dram atic

event such as a natural disaster. T hen listen
to a sentence from the passage a n d rem em
b er its m eaning. O n a w orksheet, read two
se n te n c e s a n d d e c id e w hich se n te n c e
w ould best follow the sentence you heard
(Foley 1994b. p. 107).
Goal: Compare information that you hear with your
own experience

Listen to statem ents about receding in the

U nited States Com pare them with recycling
in vour countrv. Tell w hether your country' is
the same or different (Foley 1994b, p. 116).

Profile of the IntermediateLevel Learner

Interm ediate-level learners co n tin u e to use lis

ten in g as an im p o rtan t source o f language input
to in crease th e ir vocabularv a n d stru ctu ra.
u n d erstan d in g . A lthough they have internalizec >
the ph o n em ic system o f the language fairly well
they mav have little u n d e rsta n d in g of the com
plexities of phonological rules that govern fast
speech: reductions, elisions, assim ilation, a n d S'
forth. Thev n e e d practice in word recognition
in discrim inating fine differences in w ord orde:
a n d gram m atical form , in registers o f speakinc
an d in em otional overtones.

Interm ed iate-lev el lea rn ers have m oved

beyond the limits of words a n d short phrases:
their m em orv can retain longer phrases a n d sen
tences. Thev can listen to sh o rt conversations or
narratives that are one o r two paragraphs in
length. Thev are able to get the gist, to find the
m ain idea an d som e su p p o rtin g detail (ACTFL
Proficiency G uidelines 1988). Thev are reach to
practice m ore discourse level skills: p redicting
what will h a p p e n next and explaining relations
betw een events an d ideas.
Techniques for Global Listening At the in te r
m ediate level, it is no longer necessary to protid e learners with sim plified codes and m odified
speech. In d eed , learners n eed to h ear authentic
texts with red u c e d form s, fast speech features,
false starts, hesitations, errors, som e n o n stan
dard dialects, and a variety o f different voices.
T here are several definitions of authenticity
in materials. Porter and Roberts (1987) state that
authentic texts are those "instances of spoken lan
guage which were not initiated for the purpose of
teaching . . . not intended for non-native learners"
ip. 176). Rogers and Medlcv (1988) use the term
authentic to refer to till language samples which
"reflect a naturalness of form, and an appropri
ateness of cultural and situational context that
would be found in the language as used bv native
speakers" (p. 468). With this definition, verv good
teacher-m ade or adapted materials mav qnalifv as
Techniques for Selective Listening At the
interm ediate-level, students n e e d a well-organ
ized p rogram of selective listening to focus their
atten tio n on the systematic features of the lan
guage code. Accuracy in discrim inating gram
m atical features is verv im p o rta n t at this level. If
learners c a n n o t h e a r certain unstressed endings,
articles, inflections, and function words, thev are
less likelv to in co rp o rate them into th eir gram
matical com petence. Interm ediate-level students
who were train ed with sim plified codes a n d with
clearly p ro n o u n c e d m odels mav not recognize
the sam e words and phrases in norm al fast
speech. G ilbert (1995) suggests th at som e p ro
nunciation training has an im p o rta n t place in
the listening class to draw stu d e n ts conscious
atten tio n to the features o f natural speech.

Finally, the interm ediate level is an appro

priate tim e to teach explicitly some strategies of
interactive listening: how to use one's knowledge
of form al gram m ar to check the general m eaning
of a speakers statem ent and how to use o n e s
background knowledge to predict and direct the
process of com prehension.

Bottom-Up Processing Goals and

Exercise Types, Intermediate-Level
Goal: Differentiate between content and function
wonts by stress pattern
Read a series of sentences and predict which
words will be stressed (content words) and
which will be reduced (function words.)
Listen to the sentences and confirm vour
predictions (Hagen 2000, p. 8).
Goal: Find the stressed syllable
Listen to a list of multisyllable words. Repeat
each one and check w hether the stress is on
the first, second, or third syllable. Note which
syllables were m ore frequently stressed
(Carlisi and Christie 2000, pp. 153-154).
Goal: Recognise words with reduced vowels or dropped
Listen to a series of statem ents ab o u t sports
activities and use word stress to d eterm in e
w h eth er the speakers are saving "can or
"can't" (Gill and H artm an n 2000, p. 81).
Read a list o f polysyllabic words and predict
which syllabic vow el will be d ro p p ed . Listen
to the words an d confirm vour predictions
(H agen 2000. pp. 6-7).
Goal: Recognise words as they are linked in the speech
Listen to a series o f short sentences with
c o n so n an t vowel linking betw een words.
M ark the linkages on the answ er sheet
(H agen 2000. p M 6 ).
Goal: Recognise pertinent details in the speech stream
Listen to a short dialogue between a boss and
a secretary regarding changes in the daily
schedule. Use an appointm ent calendar. Cross
out appointm ents that are being changed and
write in new ones (Schecter 1984, p. 36).

Listen to a short telephone conversation

between a custom er and a service station m an
ager. Fill in a chart which lists the car repairs
that must be done. Check the part of the car
that needs repair, the reason, and the approx
im ate cost (Schecter 1984, p. 26).

Top-Down Processing Goals and

Exercise Types, Intermediate-Level
Goal: Discriminate between registers of speech and
tones of voice

Listen to sentences with e ith e r flat o r varied

in to n a tio n a n d d e te rm in e w h e th e r the
speaker is enthusiastic, friendly, o r sincere
by the am o u n t o f pitch change an d energy
in the voice (Gill a n d H artm an n 2000.
pp. 120-123).

Interactive Processing Goals and

Exercise Types, Intermediate-Level
Goal: Use word stress to understand the speakers intent

Goal: Recognize missing grammar markers in collo

quial speech and reconstruct the message

Goal: Listen to identify the speaker or the topic

Listen to fo u r short conversations with p e o

ple m aking small talk and m atch each to a
picture o f the speakers an d the setting (Gill
an d H a rtm a n n 2000. pp. 10-11).
Read the headlines for live different news
stories on th e topics o f e n v iro n m e n t,
health, an d lifestvie. Listen to the news
stories an d m atch each one with the a p p ro
priate h eadline (Gill and H a rtm a n n 2000,
pp. 187-189).

Goal: Find main ideas and supporting details

Listen to a short conversation betw een two

friends. O n vottr answer sheet are scenes
from television program s. Find and write the
nam e o f the program and the channel.
Decide which speaker watched the program
(Schecter 1984, p. 22).

Goal: Make inferences

Listen to a wom an an d a m an o rd erin g

d in n e r in a restaurant. Based on the food
choices thev m ake, tell which person is
m ore conscious o f health concerns (Gill
and H artm an n 2000, p. 72).

Listen to a series of statem ents about m onev

problem s. In each statem ent, circle the
words that are em phasized. With a partner,
discuss what is im p o rtan t to the speaker
a n d how the speaker feels about it (Garlisi
and C hristie 2000. p. 116).

Listen to a series of short questions in which

the auxiliary verb and subject have been
deleted. Lse gram m atical knowledge to fill
in the missing words: "(1 lave vou) got some
extra?" (H agen 2000. pp. 9-10).
Listen to a series of questions with assimilated
verb auxiliary and subject, and use gram
matical knowledge to identify the missing
verb (does d/is it). Example: "Zit need m ore
salt?" and "Zit Ok?" (Hagen 2000, p. 17).

Goal: l 'sc context and knowledge of the world to build

listening expectations: listen to confirm expectations

Based on vour know ledge o f o th er cultures,

predict w hether their topics of conversation
in an academ ic setting will be personal or
im personal, direct or indirect. T hen listen to
a new com er describe his experience in that
culture and note what kind of culture shock
actually occurred. After listening, discuss
with a p a rtn e r w hether vour initial idea was
correct and how vou have to revise vour
ideas because of to u r added knowledge
(Garlisi and Christie 2000. pp. 4 0 -4 2 ).

Profile of the Advanced Learner

T h e re is evidence that in the learn in g c o n tin u
um . som ew here betw een high-interm ecliate and
advanced levels, a qualitative shift occurs in the
le a rn e r's p ro cessin g stvle (C um m ins 1981).
C um m ins notes that truly proficient bilinguals
are able to use th eir second language skills fully
to acquire knowledge: Thev h a te cognitive and

academic language proficiency (CALP). Advanced

students are no longer simply learning to listen or
listening to learn the language. They are listening
in the language to learn about the content of other
areas. To build toward this level, curriculum and
program planners have established courses in
English for Specific Purposes (ESP), English for
Academic Purposes (EAP). and adjunct courses in
which m ainstream content classes offer language
support (see chapters bv Jo h n s an d PriceM achado. and Snow in this volume).
The ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines (1988)
list the following com petencies for advanced
listeners: Thev can listen to longer texts such as
radio and television program s and academ ic
lectures. T heir vocabulary includes topics in cur
rent events, history, and culture: thev can deal with
a certain degree of abstraction. The listeners begin
to fill in gaps and can make inferences when the
text is incom plete or their background knowledge
is lacking. How , their understanding of the lan
guage rem ains on a iairlv literal plane, so that thev
may miss jokes, slang, and cultural references.
Academic lectures in English-speaking coun
tries mav employ a m uch less form al delivery style
than the lectures that international students know
from their hom e countries. Instead of the rcadaloud lecture. Am erican lectures tend to be con
versational a n d even interactive (Flowerdew
1994). Professors mar include jokes, cultural ref
erences, asides, and digressions: thev mar allow
interruptions from students who ask questions,
which ther then go on to weave into the inform
ation structure of their lecture. T he non-native lis
ten er needs to determ ine what is relevant and
what is not. Rost (1994) suggests strategies for
learning from lectures, including form ulating
questions to ask the lecturer, searching lecture
notes for logical relationships, and building a list
of'kev term s to form a lexical base.
Manv advanced learners are m ore skilled at
read in g than ther are at listening. This is partic
ularly tru e of students who h are learn ed th eir
English in a foreign language context and whose
trainin g has em phasized gram m ar, vocabulary,
an d reading. Such students mar learn to com
p re h e n d spoken discourse m ore easily if thev
can activate th eir know ledge bv com pleting the
assigned read in g before the lecture (M ason

1994). Som e experts also suggest judicious use

of lecture transcripts in listening classes as a
m eans o f using students' fam iliarity with w ritten
text to m ake an explicit co n nection with the spo
ken form of the language (L ebauer 2000).
For m anv in te rn atio n a l students, red u c
tions in norm al speech p resen t a m ajor co m p re
h e n sio n p ro b le m . L isten in g classes at th e
advanced level mar- n eed to include a systematic
p ro g ra m o f e x p o sin g le a rn e rs to re d u c e d
speech. A review of stress, pause, pitch, a n d into
nation patterns can serve to unlock m vsteries of
discourse structure and p o in t students toward
recognition of organizational m arkers, cohesive
devices, and definitions in context.
For listening to fit the interactive m odel of
the skilled native speaker, both top-down an d
bottom -np processes m ust be learned. T h e fol
lowing reco m m en d atio n s for advanced listeners
assum e an intern atio n al stu d e n t p o p u latio n th at
needs to develop cognitive an d academ ic lan
guage proficiency for effective study in English.

Bottom-Up Processing Goals and

Exercise Types, Advanced-Level
Goal: Use features of sentence stress and intonation to
identify important information for note taking
L isten to a n u m b e r o f se n te n c e s a n d
extract the c o n ten t words, which are read
with g rea ter stress. W rite the c o n te n t words
as notes (Lint an d Sm alzer 1995, p. 50).
Goal: Recognise contractions, reduced forms, and
other characteristics of spoken English that differ from
the -written form

Listen to sentences c o n ta in in g red u c e d

form s an d write the sentences as they would
ap p ear w ithout reduction in form al, w ritten
English (Leshinskv 199.5, pp. 1-6).
Goal: Become aware of common performance slips
that must he reinterpreted or ignored
Listen to and look at sentences that contain
fillers (hesitation p h en o m en a such as u h ,
"er." and "um") and phrases such as I
m ean." "you know," "sort of, and like.
Rewrite the sentences w ithout the fillers;

om it any words that d o n 't add to the infor

m ation (Leshinskv 1995. pp. 6- 8 ).
Goal: Become aware of organizational cues in lecture

Look at a lecture transcript and circle all

the cue words used to e n u m e rate the m ain
points. T h e n listen to the lecture segm ent
an d note the organizational cues (L ebauer
2000, pp. 14-15).
Goal: Become aware of lexical and suprasegmental
markers for definitions

Read a list o f lexical cues that signal a defi

nition; listen to signals o f the speaker's
in te n t such as rhetorical questions: listen to
special in to n atio n pattern s a n d pause pat
terns used with appositives (L ebauer 2000.
pp. 52-54).
Goal: Identify specific points of information

R ead a skeleton outline of an interview

a b o u t s o u th gangs a n d n e ig h b o rh o o d
watch clubs in which the m ain categories
are given but the specific exam ples arc left
blank. Listen to the interview and take
notes on the inform ation which belongs in
the blanks (X um rich 1995. p. 51).

Top-Down Processing Goals and

Exercise Types, Advanced-Level
Goal: Use knowledge of the topic to predict the content
of the text

Before listening to a conversation about

food, write a description about the was that
food is p rep ared and eaten in so u r culture:
share this inform ation with others. Use sour
ideas to write questions that sou think mav
be anssvered in the listening text (Leshinskv
1995, pp. 27-28).
Goal: Use the introduction to the lecture to predict its
focus and direction

Listen to the introductory section of a lec

ture. T hen read a n u m b er of topics on so u r
answer sheet and choose the topic that best
expresses w hat th e lec tu re will discuss
(L ebauer 2000, pp. 49-51).

(dial: Use the lecture transcript to predict the content

of the next section

Read a section of a lecture transcript. Stop

reading at a juncture point and predict what
will com e next. Then read on to confirm
vour prediction (L ebauer 2000. pp. 18-20).
Goal: Find the main idea of a lecture segment

R ead a skeleton outline for a lecture about

A m erican svork habits, noting the n u m b er
o f m ain ideas and digressions. W hile listen
ing to the lecture, fill in the outline and
identify the m ain points and digressions
(Lim an d Sm alzer 1995. pp. 24-25).
Goal: Recognize fwint of view
Take notes on a debate about w hether or not
it is ethical to keep dolphins in captivity.
Afterwards, organize vour notes u n d e r two
headings: the argum ents for keeping dol
phins and the argum ents against keeping
them (Leshinksv 1995. p. 95).

Interactive Processing Goals and

Exercise Types, Advanced-Level
Goal: Use knowledge of phrases and discourse markers
to predict the content in the next segment of the lecture
Identify the lec tu re r's in te n tio n bv his
choice of discourse m arkers and predict the
kind of inform ation that will follow (
1995. pp. 221-224).
Goal: Make inferences about the text.
Listen to a conversation about restaurants,
ethnic cuisine, and good food. Read a num ber
of statements about people's food preferences
and decide if thee are possible inferences
based on the text (Leshinskv 1995, p. 22).

Directions for Future Research

Recent re\iews of research in the field of listening
com prehension have pointed to the need for
additional research in a n u m b er of areas. A com
m on them e is the link betw een proficiency level
and strategy use. We need to know m ore about
what good listeners do and how thev learn th eir
strategies. Introspection, self-report, an d in te r
view m ethods show great prom ise in this elusive

area. Rubin (1994) calls for a prioritization of

the im p o rtan ce o f elem ents in bottom -up and
top-down processing that affect listening at each
proficiency level.
Since the selection of strategies can also be
influenced by factors o th er than proficiency level,
it seems im portant to investigate some of these
variables as well: learning stvle, personality type,
previous educational experience, task constraints,
and text ty pe. M uch o f the research to date has
concentrated on schem a use and top-level pro
cessing. However, given the im portance o f automaticity in perceiving and parsing, it would also be
helpful to know about the effects of m ore inten
sive classroom practice on bottom -up processing.
O ne of the difficulties of comparative studies
with low and high proficiency groups is that there
is no com m only accepted m easure of proficiency
in ESL listening. Thus, it is difficult to com pare
the results of studies; some use TOEFL1*, CELT,1 or
MLA test scores, some use teacher assessment, and
some use the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview
as a global m easure. Rubin (1994) reports that
ACTFL and the Interagency Language R ound
table are working on tests that mav sen e as a stan
dard in future listening com prehension research.
O ther research areas include the effect of
social, cultural, and affective factors on listeners.
Me need to know m ore about the dem ands placed
on students bv formal and informal classroom
styles, interactional teaching styles, and group
work. As m ultim edia resources becom e m ore avail
able, and as we come to value the visual elem ent in
listening com prehension, a studv of the effects of
\ideo and other visual m edia is of growing interest
(Rubin 1995).
Finally, it would be verv instructive to repli
cate a studv do n e bv B erne (1998) in which she
asked practicing foreign language teachers about
their areas o f research interest. T he list from
teachers onlv partly overlaps with the topics given
by academ ic researchers. Teachers w anted guide
lines for setting appropriate goals for different
levels of proficiency; for using the appropriate
am o u n t of repetition; for in co rp o ratin g support
m aterials such as visual aids and physical activities
into listening tasks; for choosing the LI or L2 in
assessing co m p re h en sio n ; fo r re d u c in g the
am oun t o f m ental translation that students do;

for assessing the level of difficulty of a listening

text; for incorporating authentic and culturally
relevant texts; and for com bining listening with
o th er skills. How7 m any o f these issues would
em erge from a similar survey o f ESL/EFL teachers
and what additional issues would the responses of
ESL/EFL teachers raise?

ESL/EFL teachers have several responsibilities
with respect to the listening skill. First, they must
understand the pivotal role that listening plays in
the language learning process in o rd er to utilize lis
tening in wavs that facilitate learning. Second, they
must understand the com plex interactive nature of
the listening process and the different kinds o f lis
tening that learners m ust do in ord er to provide
their students with an appropriate variety7 and
range of listening experiences. Finally, teachers
m ust und erstan d how listening skills typically
develop in second language learners and m ust
be able to assess the stage of listening at which their
students are so that each student can engage in
the most beneficial types of listening activities
given his or h er level of proficiency7.

1. In a group, recall the stages that you went
th rough in listening when vou learned a
second language. W hat elem ents did you
h ear first? MTiat elem ents took a long tim e to
hear? W hat part did m em ory play in your
listening at each stage?
2. In vour o p in io n and based on vour experi
ence, what is the m ost effective relationship
betw een teach er talk an d stu d en t talk in the
L2 classroom?
3. D escribe the differences in texts with sim pli
fied codes an d au th en tic language. MTiat
purp o se does each text type have in the L2
4. T he learner proficiency profiles given in this
ch ap ter are loosely based on the ACTFL
Proficiency Guidelines for listening. T he pro
files assume a certain learning context, one in
which the target language is n o t spoken out
side the classroom (similar to an EFT co n tex t).


Discuss wavs in which context variables m ight

lead to a different learner proficiencv profile at
each level. (Consider class size, age of learners,
am ount of exposure to the language, length of
instruction, and similar factors.)
Review the results of Berne's studv, listed in
the last section o f this chapter. Survev vour
classmates a n d /o r colleagues and find out
w h e th e r these issues are o f in te rest to
ESL/EFL teachers. Do vour classmates and
colleagues have o th er issues to add to the list?

1. Prepare a presentation o f new m aterial from
an ESL/EFL text. Choose a short dialogue or
narrative passage. Plan a prelistening phase in
which you use visual and situational support to
teach the new words and concepts. T hen pres
en t the text orally. Your presentation should
last no longer than three to five m inutes.
2. Prepare a selective listening exercise which
focuses on language form and guides students
to discrim inate between structural features.
3. Choose a listening com prehension text that has
been published in the last five tears. Select a
typical chapter and analvze the cognitive pro
cessing dem ands of its exercises. How many
are top-down? How manv are bottom-up? Inter
active? W hat is the plan for sequencing the
4. R ecord one or two m inutes o f authentic text
from the radio or television. Develop a fram e
work of language support for the text and
show how you could use it in an interm ediatelevel class.
5. W ith a partner, conduct an experim ent to dis
cover your (or vour p a rtn e rs) preferred lis
tening strategies. O ne of you trill act as the
investigator and the o th er trill serve as the
consultant. Choose a language which you both
know but which is not native to the consultant.
T he investigator trill prepare a one- to threem inute tape in that language and transcribe
it, noting junctures w here there are natural
pauses (approximately evert' two or three sen
tences). The investigator will plat the tape,
pausing at the junctures, and ask the consultant
to report what he or she is doing mentally to

com p reh en d the tape. Make note o f all the lis

tening strategies m entioned and classify them
as cognitive, m etacognitive, or socioaffective.
W hat does this tell to n about vour listening
strategies? W hat hat e t on learned about doing
this kind of research?

Blair. R.. ed. 1982. Innovative Approaches to Language
Teaching. New York: Xewburv House.
"Learning to Listen." the third chapter of Nidas
(1957) hook, is reprinted in Blair, pp. 42-53.
Also, this anthologv includes representative
articles bv Asher. Postovskv. Xord, and Krashen.
Xagle. S.. and S. Sanders. 1986. Comprehension
Theorv and Second Language Pedagogy. TESOL
Quarterly 20(1 ):9-26.
Presents the information-processing model of
listening comprehension with suggestions for
classroom applications.
Flowerdew. J.. ed. 1994. Academic Listening: Research
Perspectroes. Cambridge: Cambridge Lniversitv Press.
A collection of chapters bv experts in the field
of English for Academic Purposes, with insights
into the structure of various tvpes of lectures
and information on how students understand.
Joiner, E. 1997. Teaching listening: How technology
can help. In M. D. Bush and R. M. Tern-, eds..
Technology Enhanced Learning (pp. 77-120).
Lincolnwood. 1L: National Textbook Companv.
Describes the kinds of technology that are avail
able for teaching listening (audio, video, radio,
computers, videodisc, multimedia workstations 1
and how to use them.
Mendelsohn. D.. an d j. Rubin., eds. 1995. A Guide for
the Teaching of Second Language Listening. San
Diego. CA: Dominie Press.
.An excellent collection of articles on the full
range of listening issues, with consideration o:
teaching and assessment.
Vandergrift. I.. 1998. Constructing meaning in L2 listen
ing: Eridence from protocols. In S. Lapkin, cd.
French as a Second Language in Canada: Recen:
Empirical Studies. Toronto: Toronto University Press
Presents the methodology" for a study of listen
ing strategies and includes a lengthy taxonomy
of tvpes of listening strategies.

1 CELT is the Comprehensive English Language
Test bv Harris and Palmer (1986).




Language Skills
This section focuses on



ESL/EFL teachers can facilitate their

students' acquisition of oral skills. Lazaraton's chapter draws on current

practice in oral skills pedagogy to show teachers how to develop the
speaking skills of their students through appropriate course design and
materials developm ent The chapter by G ood w in describes a principled
and systematic approach to pronunciation, recognizing that intelligible
pronunciation is critical for effective oral communication. She treats the
skills needed for comprehension, self-expression, and monitoring. Peck's
chapter discusses the teaching of listening and speaking skills to young
learners, emphasizing how' children differ from adults when learning
aural-oral skills in the classroom. According to Peck, these differences
require the use o f special resources and activities.

Teaching Oral Skills



In "Teaching Oral Skills," Lazaraton discusses current practice in o ral skills pedagogy in terms of how
to structure an oral skills class and determine its content, along with implementing a variety of
classroom activities that prom ote skills development, anc understanding issues related to classroom
evaluation of speaking skills and testing via large-scale 'a examinations.

For m ost people, the ability to speak a language
is synonym ous with know ing that language since
speech is the m ost basic m eans ok h u m an com
m unication. N evertheless, "speaking in a second
o r foreign language has often been s iev ed as the
m ost d e m a n d in g of the lo u r skills" (Bailev and
Savage 1994. p. vii). W hat specifically makes
speaking in a second o r foreign language diffi
cult? Brown (1994) m en tio n s a n u m b e r of
features that interact to m ake speaking as chal
lenging a language skill as it is. To start, fluent
speech contains red u ced forms, such as contrac
tions, vowel red uction, a n d elision, so that lea rn
ers who are not exposed to or who do not get
sufficient practice with red u c e d speech will
retain th eir ra th e r form al-sounding full forms.
T he same can be said for the use of slang and
idiom s in speech: W ithout facility in using these
ubiquitous features o f spoken language, learners
are apt tea sou n d bookish. Students m ust also
acquire the stress, rhvthm . a n d in to n atio n of
E nglish, a c o m p lic a ted task for m anv (see
G oodw in's c h a p te r on teaching p ro n u n ciatio n
in this volum e). Perhaps the m ost difficult aspect
o f spoken English is that it is alm ost always
accom plished via interaction with at least one
o th e r speaker. This m eans that a variety of
d em ands are in place at once: m o n ito rin g and
u n d e rsta n d in g the o th e r speaker(s), thinking
ab o u t o n e s own con trib u tio n , p ro d u cin g that
c o n trib u tio n , m o n ito rin g its effect, an d so on.

This is one reason whv m anv o f us were shocked

and disap p o in ted when we used o u r second or
foreign language for the first tim e in real in te r
action: We had not been p rep a re d for sponta
neous com m unication and could not cope with
all of its sim ultaneous dem ands. T hat is. speak
ing is an "activity req u irin g the in teg ratio n of
mans' subsystems. . . . all these factors com bine to
m ake speaking a second or foreign language a
form idable task for language learners. . . . vet for
mans people, speaking is seen as the central
skill" (Bailev and Sasage 1994. p. s is ii).
O ral skills base not alsvass figured so cen
tralis in second and foreign language pedagogy.
In classes th at utilize co m p re h en sio n -b a se d
approaches to language teaching, listening skills
are stressed b efore speaking, if speaking is
stressed at all (see the section on listening skills
in this solum e). Esen in a production-based
approach such as the Silent Was; student speech
is carefully controlled for structure and content.
And while audiolingualism stressed oral skills (evi
d enced bv the am ount of time spent in the
language laboratory practicing drills), speech
production was tightly controlled in o rd er to rein
force correct habit form ation of linguistic rules.
But with the advent of the theory o f com
m unicative com petence (Hvmes 1972) a n d the
practice of com m unicative language teaching
(see Savignon's c h a p te r in this so lu m e), the
teaching o f oral com m unication skills as a con
textualized sociocultural activity has becom e the
focal point in mans' ESL classroom s. Briefly,

C anale a n d Sw ain's (1980) a d a p ta tio n of

Hym cs's theory o f com m unicative com petence
proposes that the ability to com m unicate in a
language com prises four dim en sio n s:1 grammati
cal competence (including rules of phonology,
orthography, vocabulary, w ord form ation, and
sen te n c e fo rm a tio n ), sociolinguistic competence
(rules for the expression an d u n d e rsta n d in g of
a p p ro p riate social m eanings and gram m atical
form s in different contexts), discourse competence
(rules of both cohesion how sentence ele
m ents are tied to g eth e r via reference, repetition,
synonymy, etc. a n d c o h eren ce how texts are
co n stru cted ), and finally, strategic competence, (a
rep e rto ire o f com pensatory strategies that help
with a variety of com m unication difficulties).
T he im pact of com m unicative com petence
theory on second an d foreign language teaching
c a n n o t really be overstated: few ESI. m aterials
published in the last decade or so fail to claim
th at th eir m aterials reflect "the com m unicative
a p p ro a c h . W hat features of this theoretical
ap p ro ach are relevant to teaching oral skills?
P erhaps the m ost obvious wav in which oral skills
pedagogy has evok ed as a result of this theory is
th at it is no longer acceptable to focus on! on
developing the gram m atical com petence of o u r
students, as was the case with a n u m b er o f lan
guage teaching m ethodologies which were p o p
u lar in the past. Todav. teachers are expected to
balance a focus on accuracy with a focus on
fluency as well. A ccording to H edge (1993. pp.
275-276) the term fluency has two m eanings.
T he first, which is the ability to link units of
speech to g eth e r with facility an d w ithout strain
o r in ap p ro p ria te slowness o r u n d u e hesitation."
is w hat is com m only u n d e rsto o d as fluency in
language teaching m aterials and in language
assessm ent procedures. But H edge proposes a
second, m ore holistic sense of fluency that of
natu ral language use," which is likelv to take
place w hen speaking activities focus on m eaning
a n d its negotiation, w hen speaking strategics are
used, a n d w hen overt correction is m inim ized.
This second, b ro a d e r definition is certainly c o n
sistent with the aims of m any ESL classroom s
todav w here the negotiation o f m ean in g is a
m ajor goal.

A second im plication is that m ultiple skills

should be tau g h t w henever possible. In fact,
M urphy (1991) believes that oral skills teachers
should always co nnect speaking, listening, an d
p ro n u n cia tio n teaching although the focus in
an\- one class or activity mav highlight one or
another. M ore broadly oral skills classes m at- use
reading an d writing activities as the basis or follow
up for speaking activities.
T raining learn ers to use strategies a n d
enco u rag in g strategy use is a n o th e r p ro m in e n t
feature o f today's oral skills classroom . Books
such as Language Learning Strategies: What Lxery
Teacher Should Know (O xford 1990) discuss this
topic in detail: while the utility of teaching "com
m unication strategies" is a deb ated theoretical
issue (see Dornvei 1995). it is clear that language
le a rn e rs m ust b eco m e c o m p e te n t at using
strategies, such as circum locution, hesitation
devices, an d appeals for help, and that the oral
skills teach er should at least advocate and m odel
their use.
A final feature which characterizes the cur
ren t ESI. classroom is that students are e n co u r
aged to take responsibility for their own learning.
No longer is learning seen as a one-wav transfer
of know ledge from teacher to student; todav we
u n d erstan d that students learn from teachers,
from classmates, and from the world outside the
classroom , and the m ore the lea rn er seeks these
opportunities, the m ore likelv he or she will learn
to use the language. In the oral skills classroom ,
students should be allowed and en couraged to
initiate com m unication w hen possible, to d e te r
m ine the co n ten t of their responses or co n trib u
tions. and to evaluate their own p roduction and
learning progress.

The Oral Skills Class

In deciding how to structure and what to teach
in an oral skills class, questions such as the fol
lowing should be considered: W ho are the stu
dents? Whv are thev there? W hat do thev expect
to learn? W hat am I expected to teach?
O ne basic consideration is the level o f the
students an d th eir perceived needs. Level mav
be d e te rm in e d bv a p lacem ent test adm inistered

bv the institution o r by a diagnostic test given bv

the teacher. Info rm atio n on lea rn er needs c an
be o b tain ed bv m eans o f a stu d e n t inform ation
sheet on which tliev rep o rt the am o u n t of lim e
they spend speaking English, th eir fu tu re goals,
th eir goals for the course, a n d th eir assessm ent
(p erh ap s a four-point scale from poor" to
excellent") o f th eir overall speaking abilitv. co n
fidence in speaking English, th eir p ro n u n cia
tion, social conversation, and listening abilitv
W ith low level adults, the teach er nun need
to find El speakers to help him or h er get infor
m ation on stu d e n t experiences, ed ucational
background, and needs. It will be especially
im p o rtan t with this student group to build on
th eir experiences, to share expertise, and to use
realia in o rd e r to keep learning as concrete as
possible. M ore often than not. oral skills courses
for n o n a c a d e m ic adults focus on survival
English a n d basic co m m u n icatio n functions
based on a strong struc tural com ponent.
On the o th er hand, academ ic learners will
n eed practice with different sorts of activities.
Based on su n e v responses from university faculty.
Ferris and Tagg (1996a. 1996b) suggest that, in
general, what academ ic ESL students need most
is extensive authentic practice in class participa
tion, such as taking part in discussions, interacting
with peers and professors, and asking and answer
ing questions. In fact, these students mav be facing
some sort of exit exam ination at the conclusion of
the course that will determ ine w hether or not thev
are com petent to teach in English, to take other
academic courses for credit, and so on. As a result,
these learners take their course work seriously and
have high expectations of the teacher. Yet even
these students can probable benefit from (and
mav even ask for) some instruction on the m ore
interpersonal aspects of oral com m unication.
Nowadays, oral skills classes at all levels are
often structured around functional uses of lan
guage. In a nonacadem ic context, these m ight
involve basic greetings, talking on the telephone,
interacting with school personnel, shopping, and
the like. In Xeie \'islas: (ielting Started (Brown
1998), a multiskills book for beginners, students
learn to introduce themselves and greet other
people; give and request personal inform ation,

directions, and prices; talk about family m em bers;

tell time; give and accept invitations; describe
clothing; and give and accept com plim ents.
With academ ic adults, practice in activities
such tts leading a n d taking p art in discussions
and giv ing oral reports is n e e d ed to be done. For
exam ple, in Speaking of Business (E ngland a n d
Crosse 1993). a text for high-advanced learners
in business Helds, students learn to plan and
conduct business m eetings, give speeches, m ake
oral presentations, participate in conferences,
and socialize with colleagues. With (prospective)
in tern atio n al teaching assistants, course activi
ties mav be even m ore specific sim ulations of
teaching a lab section, h o ld in g office hours, or
in teractin g with regular faculty.
In m ore inform al conversation courses, the
c o n ten t can be stru ctu red a ro u n d speech acts,
which are actions such as g reeting an d apologiz
ing that are en co d ed in language in "ro u tin ized
form s (e.g.. "hi" and "hello" for greeting, sorrv
for apologizing). O ne of the stan d ard text
books for this purpose is Speaking Xalurally:
Communication Skills in American English (Tillitt
and Bi n d e r 1983). which has chapters covering
o p e n in g an d closing a conversation, in tro d u cin g
a n d a d d re ssin g p e o p le , giving invitations,
expressing thanks, apologizing, com plim enting,
getting atten tio n and in te rru p tin g , agreeing a n d
disagreeing, controlling the conversation, and
getting inform ation.
Teachers mav. o r mav not, be given text
books or m aterials for teaching the oral skills
class. Buver beware: N ot all m aterials live up to
th eir claims about what thev p ro m o te or teach in
term s of language content, teaching m eth o d
ology. and textual task authenticity. In an analy
sis of a n u m b e r of ESL speaking texts published
betw een 1(176-1993. L azarato n a n d S k u d er
(1997) found that even the m ost recen t texts
fell short on the authenticity criteria used (for
mality. turn taking, quantity o f talk, etc.). For this
reason, teachers need to becom e critical con
sum ers of published m aterials bv asking questions
such as the following: Is the text appropriate for
the level audience being taught? W hat sorts of
c o n te n t topics are used, an d are thev a p p ro p ri
ate for this group of students? Is the focus on

a u th en tic com m unication? Does th e text in te

grate speaking, listening, an d p ro n unciation?
M ore often than not, teachers will decide to pick
a n d choose activities from a variety o f sources
a n d create som e o f th eir own m aterials as well.

T here are m any ways to p rom ote oral skills in the
ESL/EFL classroom. T he discussion below cen
ters on the m ajor types o f speaking activities that
can be im plem ented: discussions, speeches, role
plays, conversations, audiotaped oral dialogue
jo urnals, and o th er accuracy-based activities.

Discussions are probably the m ost connnonlv
used activity in the oral skills class. Tvpicallv. the
students are in tro d u c ed to a topic via a reading,
a listening passage, o r a videotape and are th en
asked to get into pairs or groups to discuss a
related topic in o rd e r to com e up with a solu
tion, a response, o r the like. Teachers m ust take
care in p lan n in g an d setting up a discussion
activity. First, p lan n e d (versus ran d o m ) g ro u p
ing o r p airing of students mav be necessary to
ensure a successful discussion outcom e. W hile
th e re is no one "right way" to g roup students,
considerations such as gender, ethnicitv, back
g ro u n d , talkativeness, etc. mav com e into plav.
Second, students n eed to be rem in d ed that each
p erso n should have a specific responsibility in
the discussion, w h eth er it be to keep tim e, take
notes, or re p o rt results; these decisions can, and
should, be m ade by the g roup m em bers. Finally,
students n e e d to be clear ab o u t what thev are to
discuss, why they are discussing it, an d what out
come is expected. In o th e r words, it is insufficient
to tell students, G et in groups a n d discuss this
to p ic. T h ere should be guidance b e fo re h a n d
a n d follow -up afterw ard. T h in k a b o u t how
success o r completion can be defined for the activ
ity a n d ob serv ed in th e g ro u p s. G reen ,
C hristopher, a n d Earn (1997) believe th a t stu
dents will be m ore involved with and m otivated
to participate in discussions if they are allowed
to select discussion topics an d evaluate th eir

p eers' perfo rm an ce: this idea is in line with the

principle o f students taking responsibility for
th eir own learning.
Books such as T he Son-stop Discussion
Workbook and Let's Start Talking (Rooks 1988,
1994) contain mans' excellent ideas for in terest
ing and provocative discussions that can be m od
ified to suit learners at different ability levels. A
well-known exam ple is the "D esert Island" dis
cussion activity w here students are p resen ted
with the task of choosing five survivors out of a
g ro u p o f ten possible candidates to start a new
civilization after a nuclear war. O nce groups
reach a consensus, thev m ust p rese n t th eir
choices to the o th e r groups and argue for them
if the groups disagree.
A creative s atiatio n on the discussion is the
"Cocktail Parts " activity (Tester 1994), svhere an
actual social occasion is sim ulated. Students are
given nesv identities, which thev com m it to m ent
ors. T hen thes' try to find th eir partner, th ro u g h
in tro d u ctio n s a n d questions, w ithout revealing
th eir osvn identity (for exam ple, Bill and Hillary
C linton; a vegetarian a n d a m an a g e r of
M cD onald's). .After partners are located, the stu
dents can write a dialogue consistent with their

A nother com m on activity in the oral skills class is
the prepared speech. Topics for speeches will sTaiv
d ep en d in g on the level of the student a n d the
focus of the class, but in anv case, students should
be given some leeway in determ ining the content
o f their talks. In o th er words, the teacher can pro
vide the structure for the sp eech its rhetorical
genre (narration, description, etc.) and its time
restrictions while the students select the con
tent. For exam ple, asking students to tell us
about an unforgettable experience you had"
allows them to talk about som ething that is per
sonally m ean in g fu l while at th e sam e time
encourages n arration and description.
Speeches can be frightening for the speaker
and, after a while, b o ring for the listeners, so it is
a good idea to assign the listeners som e responsi
bilities d u rin g the speeches. This is an excellent

tim e to req u ire p e e r evaluation o f a classm ate's

speech. Generally, one o r two students can be
assigned beforehand the responsibility for evaluat
ing a certain speech, using guidelines created bv
the teacher o r with m ore advanced students
by the learners themselves. W ho better to decide
what is or is not im portant w hen listening to a
peer's speech? At the speech's conclusion, the
evaluators can be asked to summarize its content,
note strengths or weaknesses, or relate the speech
topic to a personal experience.
V ideotaping o f speeches allows all evalua
tors (the speaker, peers, and teacher) to do a
m ore in-depth critique at a later tim e with the
videotape. For self-evaluation, students th em
selves can com e up with their own evaluation
guidelines, use teacher-m ade criteria, or a com
bin atio n o f the two. Students are usually sur
prised to see how thev ap p ear and sound on the
tape a n d can often com e up with their own ideas
about how to im prove th eir perform ances. If the
speeches are a u d io tap ed or videotaped, som e of
the language analysis activities described below
can be used to en courage learners to becom e
aware o f th eir individual problem s with p ro n u n
ciation, gram m ar, vocabulary, an d fluency.
T eacher evaluation of speeches can also
benefit from the availability o f videotapes since
thev allots' for m ore sustained a tten tio n to both
the overall speech and to the details o f p e rfo r
m an c e th a n real-tim e ev aluation does. O f
course, the evaluation criteria used should be
consistent with the goals of the class: categories
o f p erfo rm a n c e that ntav he considered include
deliver (Was the volum e loud enough? Was the
speed appropriate? Did the speaker stay within
the tim e lim its?), interaction,/ rapport with audience
(How were the visual aspects of the p rese n ta
tio n eve contact, posture, gestures, nervous
ness?), content and organization (Was it easy to
locate a n d u n d e rsta n d the m ain event o r m ain
p oint of the talk? Was there an ap p ro p riate in tro
duction a n d conclusion?), a n d language shills
(Were there anv particular problem s with gram
mar, fluency, vocabulary, or pronunciation?).
A second tvpe of speech is the impromptu
speech, which can sen e several purposes in an oral
skills class. O f course, this actirity gives students
m ore actual practice with speaking the language.

but it also forces th em to think, an d speak, on

th eir feet w ithout the benefit of notes or m em o
rization. A variation on this activity can be part
o f a lesson on using hesitation m arkers, such as
um. eh. well, sent of, and like. Students are told that
using hesitation m arkers is a speaking strategy
that is an acceptable, if not p refe rre d , alternative
to silence, which can cause em barrassm ent and
confusion and can also perm it o th e r people to
take over a conversation. .After going ewer a list of
hesitation m arkers and letting students practice
their pro n u n ciatio n and intonation, each learn er
is assigned a topic he or she is likelv to know little
about. For exam ple, in university academ ic
English classes, topics such as finding a derivative
in m athem atics or describing the m olecular struc
ture of carbon are likelv to be unfam iliar to at least
some m em bers of the class. With nonacadem ic
learners, describing how a cam era works or
explaining how to p re se n e fruit or to change
spark plugs in a car mav be suitable topics. O nce
students understand the task and are familiar with
the markers, they are given a strip of paper with
the topic on it just before being asked to speak.
Thev are then asked to give a one-m inute, unpre
pared response in which thee should keep talking
using the hesitation m arkers not be silent, and
give as little actual inform ation as possible. This is
actually a quite a hum orous activity that students
enjov: it can be expanded bv basing students who
do know the topics give a short explanation of
their own after each attem pt.

Role Plays
A th ird m ajor speaking activity tvpe is the role
plav. which is particularh suitable for practicing
the sociocultural variations in speech acts, such
as com plim enting, com plaining, a n d the like.
D ep en d in g on student level, role plavs can be
p e rfo rm e d from p rep a re d scripts, created from
a set of prom pts and expressions, or written
using and consolidating know ledge gained from
instruction or discussion of the speech act and
its variations p rio r to the role plavs them selves.
O lshtain and C ohen (1991) reco m m en d several
steps for teaching speech acts. First, a diagnostic
assessm ent is useful fo r d e te rm in in g what
students already know about the act in question.

A m odel dialogue, p resen ted aurallv and or in

writing, serves as language in p u t, after which the
class is e n co u rag ed to evaluate the situation so as
to u n d e rsta n d the factors that affect the linguis
tic choices m ade in the dialogue. Students can
listen to and practice prototvpical phrases used
in the speech act. and th en perform a role plav
(a fter c o n sid e rin g a p p ro p ria te in fo rm a tio n
ab o u t the participants and th eir ages, genders,
relationship, etc.) as a final practice.
Because sociocultural factors are so crucial
in the p ro d u c tio n o f speech acts. Lee a n d
M cChesney (2000) suggest that discourse rating
tasks, in which students rate dialogues or scenar
ios on various co n tin u a of fo rm alin and the like,
can raise awareness about language a n d can
h elp transfer this know ledge to p ro d u ctio n activ
ities such as role plavs. Adclitionallv. requiring
students to observe native speakers interacting
can su p p le m e n t in-class p ro d u ctio n activities
such as role plat s. For exam ple, when teaching a
u n it on com plaints, one assignm ent m ight be to
have students go to places w here com plaints
m ight be com m on (the re tu rn desk at a discount
store, for exam ple). T h ere, thev can listen care
fully for how com plaints are stated and re
sp o n d ed to, perhaps using a checklist that the
students them selves create for observing that
particu lar speech act.

O n e of the m ore recent trends in oral skills pedagogv is the em phasis on having students analyze
an d evaluate the language that thev or others
p ro d u ce (see. for exam ple. R iggenbach 1999).
In o th e r words, it is not adeq u ate to have stu
d e n ts p ro d u c e lots of language; thev m ust
b ecom e m ore m etalinguisticallv aware o f the
m any features o f language in o rd e r to becom e
c o m p e te n t speakers a n d in te rlo c u to rs in
English. O ne speaking activitv which is p articu
larly suited to this kind o f analysis is conversa
tio n , th e m ost fu n d a m e n ta l form o f oral
com m unication. Alm ost till ESL/EFL students
can benefit from a unit o n 2 an d practice with
inform al conversation, but few students rep o rt
having e ith e r the o p p o rtu n ity o r the confidence

to engage in u n p la n n e d conversations with

native speakers. A conversation assignm ent car.
be helpful in this regard.
O ne wav to approach this activitv is to
assign students to find a native speaker (or near
native speaker) thev know a friend, room
m ate. or colleague and arrange to taperecord
a 20- to 30-m inute interaction with this person.
O f course, not all of the discourse that results
from this e n c o u n te r will be trulv "natural con
versation" the native speaker mav fall into the
role of "interview er" and ask all the questions
while the non-native speaker m erely responds;
therefore, the instru cto r mav want to encourage
the lea rn er b e fo re h a n d to com e up with a few
questions to ask the native speaker. In anv case,
the resulting interaction will provide a sam ple of
sp ontaneous p roduction from (and for) the
lea rn er to analyze.
The next step is for the students to tran
scribe a p o rtio n of th e ir in te rac tio n . T ran
scription involv es a faithf ul reproduction of what
was said on the tape onto paper and can provide
a genuine awareness of what speech is rcallv like.
O ne can "see" speech the wav one can "see writ
ing. and students mav be surprised to discover
that native speaker speech is far from "perfect.
Students are shown an exam ple o f a tran
script and its no tatio n before starting, an d are
rem in d ed that transcription is tedious an d frus
trating for native speakers, too. T h ere is no need
to require a very detailed transcript although
som e students mav want to use p h o n etic svmbols
for th eir p ro n u n ciatio n . Students should be
w arned not to correct gram m ar o r p ro n u n cia
tion mistakes, an d to include all the hesitation
m arkers, false starts, and pauses.
O nce the transcript is produced, there are
various activities that can be pursued. O ne that
works well is to have students find several instances
of "com m unication difficulties. Thev can be
asked to define and exemplify the ones, on their
own tapes and then ask them to determ ine what
happened, whv. and how the difficulty could have
been avoided or repaired. In a class where stu
dents feel com fortable with each other, tapes can
be switched and critiqued, or the teacher can use
critical incidents from each for a group or wholeclass activitv on com m unication breakdow n and

repair. Additionally, the tea c h e r can highlight

several in terestin g sections in each stu d e n t tra n
script a n d th en ask th e students to analyze the
in te ra c tio n a n d d e te rm in e why th e te a c h e r
p o in te d them o u t as interesting.
In a variation of the conversation assign
m ent, learners are req u ired to tape-record an
interview with native speakers on a topic o f their
choice a n d th en re p o rt the results to the class.
For exam ple, students can b rain sto rm som e c o n
troversial issues (abortion, gun control, illegal
im m igration), choose the topic th at m ost in te r
ests them , a n d th en alone, in pairs, o r in groups,
survey native speakers ab o u t th eir opinions. T he
results o f th e survey can th en be p rese n ted in
the form o f an oral p resen tatio n which in tu rn
can be au d io tap ed a n d /o r videotaped for self-,
peer, an d tea c h e r evaluation.

Audiotaped Oral Dialogue Journals

T he activities discussed so far have em phasized
fluency a n d m ean in g neg o tiatio n ra th e r th an
accuracy. O n e activity that lends itself well to
b o th concerns is the oral dialogue jo u rn a l (Allan
1991; Foley 1993). Like w ritten jo u rn als, which
are used extensively in w riting classes, the oral
dialogue jo u rn a l has m uch to offer both the
tea c h e r a n d the students in the oral skills class
room . O ral dialogue jo u rn a ls are one form at
w here practice with fluencv an d atten tio n to
accuracv can be accom plished at the same tim e.
Ordinarily, the student gives an audiocassette
tape to the teacher, who starts the oral jo u rn a l on
the tape by giving some directions for the assign
m en t an d perhaps suggesting a topic, such as Tell
me about yourfirst day in the United States. Be sure to
rem in d students to speak extem poraneously and
explain why; some students will w ant to write their
entries an d read them , or tu rn the tape recorder
on an d off so that they can sound p e rfe c t.
R em ind th em th at the purp o se o f the activity is
to work on u n p la n n e d speaking; also give them
som e guidance as to the exp ected len g th o f th eir
T h e tape is th en re tu rn e d to the student,
who reacts to the tea c h e r p ro m p t, an d th en
retu rn s the tape to the teacher, who can resp o n d
in various ways. It is always nice to m ake some com

m ents about the co n ten t of the response to rein

force that what is said is as im portant as how it is
said. Nevertheless, these audiotapes are an excel
lent resource for the teacher to provide individual
feedback and instruction on pronunciation or
gram m ar problem s since the student has a record
ing o f speech to which he or she can refer.
In a small class, it is n o t unrealistic for the
teach er to listen to all the tapes on a regular
basis: perhaps five o r six tim es a semester. A
large class, on the o th e r h an d , m akes this u n fea
sible, so several variations are possible. T h e tapes
can be tu rn e d in on a ro tatin g basis, som e one
week, an d som e the next. O r students can switch
tapes with each o th e r a n d provide feedback,
given som e guidance from the instructor. Even
in a small class, this sort of p e e r exchange can be
useful. Lucas-Uvgun (1994) describes an activity
called Secret A udio Pals, in w hich students are
paired anonvm ously a n d exchange tapes for sev
eral weeks before trying to guess who th eir p art
ners are. She suggests th at the activity can be
e x te n d e d to students from o th e r classes, o r to
exchanges o f videotapes. Finally, a grad u ate stu
d e n t may be willing to resp o n d to the stu d e n t
tapes in o rd e r to have access to th e m for
research purposes (M arianne Celce-M urcia, p e r
sonal com m unication, 8/ 1 / 00).

O ther Accuracy-Based Activities

Still o th er classroom activities can be used for
accuracv practice.3 In the past, speaking activities
that focused on accuracy inv ariably involved drills
(com m onlv uncontextualized p a tte rn practice
exercises), which have, for the m ost part, fallen out
of favor in language teaching. Brown (1994) rec
om m ends that if drills are to be used, they should
be short, simple, and snappy, they should be used
sparingly, and they should lead to m ore authentic
co m m u n icatio n activities. In th e activities
described below, a drill using the particular struc
ture may prove useful as the first step towards
m ore com m unicative output.
Activities th at pro m o te stu d e n ts getting
acquainted with each o th e r lend themselves to
practice with specific structures b u t in a realistic
context. For exam ple, W ong (1994) recom m ends
an activitv called Two-Minute Conversations: If I

W ere . . in which students becom e acquainted

with each o th e r by taking on the identity of vari
ous foods, anim als, buildings, etc. using the struc
ture If I were (a /a n ) ____ , I would be (a /a n )
_____ because . . .
M ore advanced students
w ould be expected to produce m ore than just the
structure; lower-level students would probablv
benefit from som e preteaching o f the vocabulary,
a n d all students could benefit from some instruc
tion on the p resent unreal conditional!
A n o th e r early course activity is a stru ctu red
interview in which students talk to th eir class
m ates using an interview form which requires
th e use o f wh- a n d /o r ves-no questions. A varia
tion on this is an activity in which students n eed
to Find som eone who . . . . H ere, thev are given
a sheet of habits or characteristics (smokes a
pipe, runs m arathons, has a tattoo) a n d m ust
find at least o n e o th e r classmate who can answer
yes to th e question Do you . . . ? T h e first stu
d e n t to find som eone who" can answ er each
question wins th e gam e.
Before closing this section, a word about
e rro r correction is in order. In the m eaningcen tered activities discussed here, explicit erro r
correction will probablv be out o f place because it
disrupts the com m unication that is going on.
Teachers may note errors that occur at these
times for som e later instruction to the class as
a whole or to individual students, as necessarv.
During accuracy-based activities, the basic deci
sion to be m ade is w hether to treat anv actual
erro r o r to ignore it, which will d ep en d on several
factors, including the erro r being m ade and the
context in winch it occurs. In the unreal condi
tional activity above, it may be instructive, if not
necessary, to correct errors in the conditional
form , b u t n o t errors in subject-verb agreem ent.
Som e teachers choose to correct onlv those errors
which im pede com m unication (such as incorrect
w ord order) and ignore less serious errors (such
as th ird person singular -s or p h o n em e confu
sion). Teachers m ust determ ine, perhaps in con
sultation with their students, how these errors
sh o u ld be co rre c te d , an d by w hom . Brown
(1994) presents som e useful guidance on the
topic o f e rro r co rrection, b u t he stresses th a t
teachers should strive for optim al feedback,
which shows that learner contributions are valued

in their own right rath er than representing im per

fect native speaker speech that needs rem ediation
(see also Pica 1994 for a sum m ary o f research on
erro r correction and language learn in g ).

Teaching Oral Skills

in an E F L Context
This c h a p te r is prim arilv w ritten with the ESL
teach er in m ind, teaching a h etero g en eo u s (by
native language an d ethnicitv) class of learners
in an English-speaking environm ent. However,
hom o g en eo u s EFL classes, w here all students
speak the sam e first language an d English is not
used outside the classroom , p resent certain addi
tional challenges for the teacher. In a survey of
EFL teachers, X u n an (1993) fo u n d the biggest
challenges in the EFL classroom to be lack of
m otivation, getting students to speak (a cultural
issue for som e w here speaking in class is p ro h ib
ited except w hen called o n ), an d the use o f the
first language. In addition, large classes are often
the n o rm overseas, lim iting b o th stu d en t o p p o r
tunities to talk and teacher o p p o rtu n ities to pro
vide feedback. O th e r problem s may arise if the
curriculum does n o t stress speaking skills or
views them solelv as an avenue to gram m atical
accuracv; fu rth e rm o re , if the tea c h e r is a n o n
native speaker of English, he or she may n o t be
c o m p e ten t o r con fid en t in speaking English.
W hile solutions to these problem s are
bevond the scope of this chapter, some general
suggestions can be m ade. W hen teaching speak
ing skills, EFL teachers need to be particularlv
adept at organizing class activities that are authen
tic, motivating, and varied. T he use of authentic,
engaging materials should be the basis for in-class
activities. If the necessan' technology is available,
showing movies or recorded television program s
and placing audiotapes o f program s can be enjoy
able for students and can provide them with
authentic practice in listening to native speaker
speech. T he teacher can also assign out-of-class
learning activities, such as watching a n d /o r listen
ing to an English-language film, television show, or
radio program . This m aterial then becomes input
for subsequent in-class activities such as oral
reports or discussions. Students can be encouraged

or assigned to go to English-speaking businesses or

em bassies/consulates to find native speakers to
observe or interact with. Thev can also be encour
aged to start an English club or to find a Englishspeaking conversation partner. Finallv, the teacher
can incite native English speakers to the class to
give speeches, talks, or presentations, followed bv
questions from the students: learners can also be
assigned to inteniew or interact with the guest

T he oral skills teach er mac be req u ired to m ake
decisions about two kinds o f oral assessment.
T he first, evaluation of classroom p erform ance,
has b e e n discussed above along with various oral
skills class activities. Brown an d Yule (1983)
m ake several useful reco m m en d atio n s for class
room oral assessment. First, w henever possible,
e x te n d e d chunks of speech that have a purpose
an d that are stru ctu red o r organized should be
elicited. This m eans that isolated sentences,
spontaneous p ro d u ctio n with no p lan n in g time,
and decontextualized tasks do not m ake for the
best p erfo rm an ce. A second im p o rtan t sugges
tion is that the in p u t given to students, w hether
it be visual (e.g., a picture for description), aural
(e.g., a directive to "tell m e about the most excit
ing clay vou have h a d "). or interactive (e.g., ques
tions in an interview ), be consistent for all
exam inees. This can be especially problem atic in
an interview situation w here the interviewer must
respond to the turn-bv-turn interaction taking
place and, in the process, may inadvertently devi
ate from the in te n ie w agenda (see Lazaraton
1996 for m ore on this issue). Finally, the results of
oral assessment should be rep o rted using term s
that are clearlv defined for an d u n d erstan d ab le
to students. For exam ple, term s such as commu
nicative effectiveness d o n 't m ean m uch unless they
are o p erationalized in wavs th at are consistent
with course goals, the student level, a n d the
speaking task itself. N ote the difference in speci
ficity betw een generallv effective com m unica
tion and "can answer questions about hom e,
familv, and work with a range of simple vocabu
lary and accurate linguistic structures with confi
dence and can find o th er wavs o f expressing

m eaning th ro u g h parap h rase. Obviously, learn

ing how to write these operational definitions, to
create assessment procedures which test such
constructs, an d to elicit language which d em o n
strates this com m unicative abilitv takes a great
deal of training (but see C o h e n s chapter on lan
guage testing in this volum e and U n d erh ills
[1987] useful guide to oral testing techniques).
A second assessm ent situation with which
the oral skills teacher mav be c o n fro n ted is
p rep arin g students to tak e in te rp re tin g results
fro m large scale oral exam inations, successful
p erform ance on which has becom e increasingly
com m on as a req u irem e n t for adm ission to u n i
versities. as a m inim um standard for teaching
assistantships. and as a qualification for various
tvpes of em plovm ent. O ral skills exam inations
from fo u r intern atio n al testing organizations
are described here: in terested readers should
consult the websites for m ore inform ation.
T he Universitv of Cam bridge Local Exam
inations Svndicate (UCLES: offers two large-scale speaking tests (which
are in d ep en d en t parts of larger test batteries in
o th er language skills). O ne is the Oral Interaction
test in the Certificate in Communicative Skills in
English (CCSE). in which candidates take p art in
three task-based interactions, lasting about 30
minutes: an in ten iew with the exam iner, a pre
sentation with an o th er candidate, a n d a discussion
with the exam iner and the second candidate. The
test can be taken at one of four levels; at any given
level the test taker is aw arded a Pass or Fail based
on the degree of skill in five areas: accuracy,
appropriacv, range, flexibilitv, a n d size of c o n tri
butions. T he second test is p art o f the Business
Language Testing Service (BULATS), a language
assessm ent p ro ce d u re for businesses an d o rgani
zations to assess the English language skills of
th eir em plovees. jo b applicants, o r trainees. T he
1 2 -m inute face-to-face speaking test, consisting
o f an interview, a presen tatio n , a n d a discussion,
is co n d u c te d bv a tra in ed ex am in er a n d th en
rated bv the ex am in er and a n o th e r assessor.
Results are re p o rte d on a five-point scale of over
all speaking abilitv and are su p p lem en ted with a
detailed abilitv profile which describes w hat the
candidate should be able to do in English in the
w orkplace.

T h e E d u c a tio n a l T esting Service, who

ad m inister the TOEFL* (Test of English as a
Foreign Language;, offers the
Test of Spoken English (TSE). a test of overall
speaking abilitv, whose scores can screen p o te n
tial in te rn atio n a l teaching assistants and health
professionals, am o n g o th e r uses. T he 20-m inute
test is co n d u cted a n d rec o rd e d on audiotape
and is com posed o f 12 speech-act based tasks
th a t are p rese n ted in a p rin te d test booklet and
on the audiotape. C andidates are given some
tim e to plan what to sav. an d th en given 30-90
seconds to resp o n d to each task. T he test answer
tapes are scored in d e p e n d e n th bv two trained
raters using the five-point TSE rating scale of
com m unicative effectiveness; each point c o n
tains descriptions of functional abilitv. response
appropriaev, cohesion and coherence features,
and linguistic accuracv. Results tire reported to
candidates as a single score on a scale of 20 to 00.
T he Educational Testing Service also provides
institutions with the Speaking Proficiency English
Assessment Kit (SPEAK), an ''off-the-shelf version
o f the TSE, that can be adm inistered and scored
bv institutional staff.
A third large-scale oral exam ination, adm in
istered by the .American Council on the Teaching
of Foreign Languages (ACTFL: is
the ACTEL Oral Proficiency Interame. The interv iew
can be used to assess the language com petence of
teachers, workers, and students in a num ber of lan
guages, including English. The 10- to 30-minute
tape-recorded interview is adm inistered (either
over the telephone or face-to-face) bv a trained
Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) tester who care
fully structures the interaction to elicit the best pos
sible perfo rm an ce from the candidate. T he
interviewer and a different tester independenth
rate the tapes bv com paring the speech perfor
m ance with the ACTEE Proficiency Guidelines
Speaking (Revised 1999); (Breiner-Sanders et al.
2000), which define proficiencv at ten lev els, from
S u p e rio r to Novice Low. Each level in the
Guidelines is accom panied bv an extensive descrip
tion of what the speaker can do in various settings
and with various tasks.
Finally, a relativelv new spoken English test is
PhonePass (, which provides
an assessment o f English speaking and listening

ability that can be used to place students in ESL

courses, screen international teaching assistants,
and judge the English language abilitv of (poten
tial i employees in the health care, hospitalitv, and
inform ation technology industries. T he 10-minute
test, which is given over the telephone and graded
bv a com puter svstem. presents the candidates
with a n u m b er of interactiv e tasks, such as reading
aloucl. repeating sentences, producing antonvm s
of cue words, and answering questions. .An overall
sum m ary score on a two- to eight-point scale is
reported, along with subscores in listening vocabularv, repeat accuracv. pronunciation, reading
fluency and repeat fluency

Conclusion/Future Trends
Oral skills are not onlv critical for com m unication
in the ESL classroom, thev are necessarv for com
m unication in, and with, the English-speaking
world. As a result, all ESL EFL teachers will want
to do whatever thev can to prom ote the develop
m en t of speaking, listening, and pronunciation
skills in their students. This chapter has given an
ov erv iew of the theoretical basis for teaching oral
skills com m unicatively described some features
of the oral skills class, detailed a n u m b er of speak
ing activities that prom ote oral skills develop
m ent. and discussed some considerations that go
into oral assessment and some large-scale oral
exam inations that ESL EFL students mav be
required to take at some point in their learning.
While it is difficult to predict with certainly
what the future holds for language teaching in
general, and oral skills pedagogy in particular, it is
reasonable to assume that the focus on the sociolinguistic and sociocultural dim ensions of oral
com m unication will continue. .As we learn m ore
about how people behave in real life and how this
behavior is encoded in speech (bv accum ulating
research on speech acts and different varieties
of English, for exam ple), we will be in a better
position to teach and design materials based on
authentic language and com m unication patterns.
Content- and task-based teaching seem cer
tain to rem ain im portant aspects of oral skills
pedagogy as well. In particular, teaching materials
for specific speaking contexts will likelv becom e
m ote prevalent. For example. Tarone and Kuelm

(2000), in their studv of non-native speaker ( \ \ S )

perfom iance in a social services oral intake inter\ie\v, found that the XXS used little or no backchanneling (uh huh. right) and fewer responses,
suggesting lack of understanding. Thcv point out
that m isunderstandings in this context can have
potentiallv serious consequences, such as the
applicants' failing to receive needed funds, or in
the worse case scenario, inadvertentlv com m itting
welfare fraud. Thev suggest developing teaching
materials for this specific context, which m ight
include a description of the purpose and the
nature of the encounter, actual forms used during
the interview, audiotapes and transcriptions of
sample interactions, and exercises based on these
m aterials. Clearlv. these suggestions can be
applied to o ther special purpose situations as well
and we can expect m ore such teaching materials
and courses to suit the special needs in these inter
actional contexts.
But perhaps the most p ro fo u n d im pact on
language teach in g will com e from the neveren d in g developm ents in technologv. Video tech
nology allowed the Czech a n d G erm an KFI.
learners in Gersten and Tlustv's (1998) studv to
u n d e rta k e stu d en t-g en erated video exchange
projects, which prom oted learning in a num ber
o f areas including practice with self- and peer eval
uation, fluency in using English, and increased
cultural sensitivitv. Various forms of technologv
have also m ade recording and analvzing large cor
pora o f spoken English m ore easilv accom plished.
As a result, we have a m uch better idea of what
spoken gram m ar" is like (see. for exam ple.
McCarthy [ 1998j for a corpus-based account of
spoken English gram m ar). How will we as ESI.
EFI, teachers deal with this spoken grammar?
Should we teach it alongside o u r rules
of written grammar? Will features of written gram
m ar be seen as incorrect in speech as features
o f spoken gram m ar tire in writing toclav?
Furtherm ore, because recorded sound can now be
transm itted over the Internet, it will be possible for
learners to com m unicate with teachers and other
learners w ithout having to use audiotapes.
Distance learning courses alreach' perm it teaching,
learning, and interaction with others who are not
present in the actual classroom. .Aid it is probablv
not too far in the future that speech recognition

software will allow actual oral com m unication

betw een a student and a com puter to take place.
As language educators, we must rem ain open to
these new developm ents in o rd er to provide the
best possible instruction for our students.

1. T h in k about a foreign o r second language
class von have taken. How were oral skills
addressed? How do you ju d g e your speaking
abilitv as a result of the class? How could the
class have been im proved so th at your ulti
m ate a tta in m e n t m ight have been better?
2. W hat are the advantages and disadvantages of
having (a) a native English speaker or (b) a
non-native English speaker as the teacher in
an oral skills class (see Medgves's chapter in
this volume)?
3. W hat role, if anv, should the first language play
in the ESI. oral skills class? Would vour answer
change if the class were in an EFL, context?
4. W hat would vou tell a student who asks you to
correct all of his or her oral language errors
(pronunciation, gram m ar, lexical choice) in
till of his or her oral production work?
5. W hat considerations go into g ro u p in g or
pairing students lo r speaking activ ities?

How would von prepare vour students to take

anv one of the large-scale oral exam inations
m en tio n ed in this chapter?

1. You teach an ESI., oral skills class w here som e
students, perhaps due to th eir personalities
a n d or cultural backgrounds, are the m ost
talkative an d d o m in a te class discussions,
while others never speak up in class and,
even when called on. m erelv agree or claim
thev have no opinion. Develop a set of con
tingencies vou can chaw on to equalize
o p p o rtu n ities for class participation.
2. Imagine that vou hav e access to audiotapes and
transcripts of authentic native speaker/native
speaker and native speaker/'non-native speaker
conversation, such as the excerpts from taped

tele p h o n e closings shown below. W hat sorts

o f activities could be developed based on this
type of m aterial?
(1) B ro th er a n d sister (native speakers of
A m erican English); T elephone


okav Viola. Em g o n n a get going,

see vou this evening.
okay bve bye.
( (clicks))

(2) MATESL stu d e n t (NS) and universitv

ESL course stu d en t (NNS); T elephone
(B argfrede 1996)34


right, right, well it'll com e, d o n 't

2 NNS: okay, th an k vou. (.5) oh alright.
I will (.8)
finish mv conversation.
4 NS:
5 NNS: okav? u h have a good tim e.
6 NS:
7 NNS: bye bve
8 NS:
3. You suspect th at the classroom text that vou
have b een assigned to use in your 1M. I l l
oral skills class presents dialogues containin g
stilted, awkward language. How could vou
test this assum ption? In o th e r words, what
criteria w ould vou use to evaluate dialogue
4. Im agine vou have b een assigned to teach a
university-level oral skills class for in te rn a
tional teaching assistants. You are req u ired
to cover m aterial specificallv tailored to th eir
fu tu re teaching needs, b u t vou find that
nearly all the students n e e d practice with
a n d ask for m aterial on inform al conversa
tion. W hat should vou do in such a situation?

Ask at least two e x p erien ced ESL/EFL teach

ers w hat thev w ould do. Did vou offer sim ilar
5. You have been h ired to tu to r two rank begin
ners, m arried w om en who are highlv educat
ed in th eir native languages but have alm ost
no abilitv in English. Thev w ant to learn how
to m ake travel plans over the telep h o n e for
an anticipated trip to Disney W orld in Florida
with th eir families. How would you go about
teaching oral skills to these learners? P repare
a course outline for this teaching situation.


Bailee, . M., and L. Savage., eds. 1994. Sew Ways in

Teaching Speaking. Alexandria. YA: TESOL.
A useful "how-to" book containing over 100
speaking activities developed bv professional
teachers which focus on fluencv. accuracv. pro
nunciation. and speaking in specific contexts.
\Iurphv. J. M. 1991. Oral communication in TESOL:
Integrating speaking, listening, and pronuncia
tion. TESOL Quarterly 25(1):51-75.
One of the most comprehensive journal articles
on teaching oral communication. The "concep
tual framework" Murphv proposes is accompa
nied bv an extensive list of activities that focus
on accuracv and or fluencv lor beginning- to
advanced-lev el ESL students.
Riggenbach. H. 1999. Discourse Analysis in the Language
Classroom. Volume 1. The Spoken Language. .Ann
Arbor. MI: Universitv of Michigan Press.
This book is designed to assist ESL EFL teach
ers in becoming familiar with discourse analysis
as a both of knowledge and as a language anal
ysis technique. It presents various student activ
ities that focus on many aspects of spoken
Underhill. X. 1987. iTesting Spoken Language: A
Handbook op Oral Testing 'Techniques. Cambridge:
Cambridge Universitv Press.
A practical, teacher-friendlv gttide to the testing
process which covers numerous testing tech
niques and suggests how to elicit and rate spoken
language and how to evaluate tests themselves.

1 Canale and Swain's model did not include dis
course competence until Canale (1983a), and it
has since been modified a n d /o r expanded; see. for
example, Bachman (1990) and Celce-Murcia.
Dornvei, and Thurrell (1995).
2 Of course, students can also benefit from some
explicit instruction about the structure of conversa
tion. Markee (2000) presents a theoretical overview
of the nature of conversation and its relevance to
SLA theon and research; Dornvei and Thurrell

(1994) highlight the basics of conversational struc

ture and suggest some ways these issues can be cov
ered in the ESL/EFL classroom.
-1 A number of useful resources are available for
teaching grammar in contextualized, interesting
wavs; see Rinvolucri and Davis (1995) and the
end-of-chapter Teaching Suggestions in CelceMurcia and Larsen-Freeman (1999); CelceMurcia, Brinton, and Goodwin (1996) contains
m am valuable and innovative techniques for
teaching pronunciation.

Teaching Pronunciation


In "Teaching Pronunciation." the goal of instructor s t - 'e e 'c c: to e^ab'e our (earners to understand
and be understood, to build their confidence in enter rg c c ' - o c i i ,e situations, and to enable them
to m onitor their speech based on input from the e w re-m em . To accomplish these goals, G oodw in
describes the tools we need to teach pronunciat c r

n a s-stemate and pr'rc p ed wav.

/ feel that I am judged hv my way of talk

ing English. In other classes, teachers often
treat me as inferior or academic disability
because of my muttering English."

pairs.] In recent vears. the locus has shifted to

include a b ro ad e r em phasis on suprasegmentalfeatures. such as stress and intonation. How
ever. m am teaching m aterials still do n ot m ake
d e a r that pronunciation is just one piece of
the whole com m unicative com petence puzzle. As
Seidlhofer (lT.fifi) states, 'p ronunciation is newer
an end in itself but a m eans of negotiating m ean
ing in discourse, em bedded in specific sociocul
tural and interpersonal contexts" (p. 12). Indeed,
pronunciation instruction needs to be taught as
com m unicative in teractio n along with o th e r
aspects of spoken discourse, such as pragm atic
m eaning and nonverbal com m unication.

U n d e rg ra d u a te stu d en t in an ESL
p ro n u n ciatio n course
Sometime when I speak to native American.
I guess because of my Chinese a sense or m/spronunciate the word, they ask me wind
did you say. can you repeat, or I beg your
pardon. Sometime my face turn red. and
become so embarrassed in front of them. I
remembered once my tears were in my eycc "
G raduate student in an ESL
p ro n u n ciatio n course

The above quotes highlight whv the teaching of
p ro n u n ciatio n is so crucial to o u r students.
P ro n u n ciatio n is the language feature th at most
readily identifies speakers as non-native. It is a
filtet th ro u g h which others see them a n d often
discrim inate against them . W hen we witness o th
erwise proficient learners who are barely intelli
gible while speaking, we can u n d e rsta n d their
frustration an d the h o p e then place in us.
In the past, p ro n u n ciatio n instruction usu
ally focused on the articulation of consonants
and vowels an d the discrim ination o f minimal

Pronunciation instruction historicallv has em pha

sized masters of individual sounds. With the
advent of Com m unicative Language Teaching
(see Savignon's chapter in this volum e), the focus
shifted to iluencv rather than accuracv, encourag
ing an almost exclusive emphasis on suprasegm entals. However, just as ESL. teachers have
acknow ledged that an emphasis on m eaning and
com m unicative intent alone will not suffice to
achieve gram m atical accuracv pronunciation has
em erged from the segm ental suprasegm ental
debate to a m ore balanced view, which recognizes
that a lack of intelligibilitv can be attributed to
both m icro and m acro features. It is clear that
learners whose com m and of sounds deviates too
I 17

broadiv from standard speech will be h ard to

understand no m atter how targetlike their stress
and intonation m ight be. Thus, it is no longer a
question of choosing between segmentals and
suprasegm entals but of identifying which features
contribute most to kick of intelligibility, and which
will be most useful in the com m unicative situa
tions in which our learners will need to function.

M orley (1999) has ou tlin ed four im p o rta n t goals
for p ro n u n cia tio n instruction: functional intelli
gibility, functional com m unicability, increased
self-confidence, and speech m o n ito rin g abilities.
For o u r purposes, intelligibility is defined as
spoken English in which an accent, if present, is
n o t distracting to the listener. Since learners
rarelv achieye an accent-free pro n u n ciatio n , eve
are setting o u r students up for failure if we striye
for natiyelike accuracy. Eradication of an accent
should not be our goal; in fact, some practi
tioners use the term accent addition as opposed to
accent reduction to acknowledge the indiyiduals
first language (L J) identity w ithout dem an d in g it
be sublim ated in the new second language (L2 ).
Functional com m unicability is the learner's
ability to function successfully within the specific
com m unicatiye situations he or she faces. Be
exam ining the discourse ou r students will need to
use in real life, we can see which features of pro
nunciation m ight be particularly im portant for
them to master. Ideally, this entails obserying
or videotaping the target com m unicatiye situa
t io n ^ ) , be it a bank transaction, a friendly
conversation with neighbors, a patient-doctor
interview, or some o th er situation. At the very
least, it is useful to distribute a survey to students
at the beginning of instruction that elicits their
needs and interests. This inform ation guides us
b oth in the features we choose to em phasize and
in the co n ten t into which the pronunciation prac
tice should be em bedded.
Dalton and Seidlhofer list six com m unicathe
abilities related to pronunciation:

Prom inence: how to wake sat.lent the important

points we make


Topic m anagem ent: how to signal and recog

nize where one topic ends and another begins
Inform ation status: how to mark what we
assume to be shared knowledge as opposed to
something nrw
Turn-taking: when to speak, and when to he
silent, how <not) to yield the floor to somebody else
Social m eanings and roles: how to position
ourselves vis-a-vis our interloeutor(s) in terms
o f status, dominance/authority, politeness,
solida)ity/separa te>iess
D egree o f involvement: how to convey our
attitudes, emotions, etc. (1994, p. 52)

If we teach learners how to em ploy pauses, pitch

m ovem ent, an d stress to achieve the above com
m unicative goals, th en thev will have attain ed a
great deal of "functional com m unicability.
As ou r students gain com m unicative skill,
thev also need to gain confidence in their ability to
speak and be understood. To accom plish this, we
can design ou r materials aro u n d the situations
learners will actually face, move carefully from
controlled to free production in our practice activ
ities. and provide consistent targeted feedback.
Bv teaching learners to pay a tte n tio n to
th eir own speech as well as th at of others, we
help o u r learners m ake b e tte r use o f the in p u t
thev receive. G ood learners "atten d to certain
aspects of the speech thev h e a r and th en try to
im itate it. Speech m on ito rin g activities help to
focus learn ers' atten tio n on such features both
in o u r courses a n d bevond them .

Traditionally, the sound svstem has been described
and taught in a building block fashion:
sounds " syllables
phrases and
thought groups
extended discourse
T hough this mav m ake sense from an analytical
point of view, this is n ot how our learners experi
ence language. As speakers, we d o n 't usually think
about what w e're saying sound bv sound, or even
syllable bv sellable unless com m unication breaks
dow n. So the bottom-up approach of m astering one

sou n d at a tim e a n d eventually stringing them

all to g eth e r is being replaced by a m ore top-down
a p p ro a c h , in w hich th e so u n d system is
addressed as it naturally occurs in the stream
of speech. In this m ore balanced approach, both
suprasegm ental and segm ental features can be
addressed th ro u g h a process akin to that of a
zoom lens. Global aspects are addressed first: vet
w henever the "picture of speech is unclear, we
"zoom in" to exam ine it at a m ore m icro level.
This approach recognizes that all features of the
sound svstem work in tandem .

m em bers o f the clergy, ten d to pause m ore fre

quently in o rd e r to em phasize th eir ideas m ore
strongly a n d m ake them easier to process. In a
speech, a politician m ight u tte r as a conclusion:

Thought Groups


In natural discourse, we use pauses to divide ou r

speech into m anageable chunks called thought
groups.- Ju st as p u n c tu a tio n helps the rea d e r
process w ritten discourse, pausing helps the
listener to process the stream of speech m ore
easily. L earners u n d e rsta n d the co ncept of paus
ing b u t do not alwavs m anage to pause at a p p ro
priate junctures. In fact, the m ost com m on erro r
o f less fluent speakers is pausing too frequently,
thereby overloading the listener with too m am
breaks to process the discourse effectively.
Since th o u g h t groups usually rep resen t a
m ea n in g fu l gram m atical un it, the sen ten ce
helow could be divided up like this:

W ithin each th o u g h t group, th ere is generally

one prominent elem ent, a sellable'5 th at is em p h a
sized. usually bv len g th en in g it and m oving the
pitch up or down:

I was speaking to him /on the phone \este>rla\.

b u t not like this:
I was speaking to/him on the/phone yesterday.
Som etim es utterances can be divided in m ore
th an one way. This is illustrated nicelv bv G ilbert
(1987), who m akes use of am biguous phrases to
show how pausing in different places can cause a
change in m eaning. Read these exam ples aloud
to vourself. Gan von figure out echo is stupid )412
1. Alfred said/the boss is stupid
2. Alfred/said the boss/is stupid
(G ilbert 1987. p. 38)
T h ought group boundaries are also influenced
bv the speaker's sp eed faster speakers pause
less frequently and have fewer but longer tho u g h t
groups. Public speakers, such as politicians and

Ms fellow eilizens/this/is/our/moment.
O r a fru strated p a re n t m ight sav to a recalcitrant
Come/here/ right/ now!
In each case, the speaker has a clear com m unica
tive reason for w anting to em phasize each word.

I was SPFAKing to him/on the PHONE

T he p ro m in en t elem ent depends on context b u t
generally represents inform ation th at is eith er
a. new:
(I got a postcard from Sue.)
She's in MEXieo.
b. in contrast to som e o th e r previous
ly m en tio n ed inform ation:
(Are sou leaving at five thirty?) No,
SIX thirty.
c. o r simplv the m ost m eaningful or
im p o rta n t item in the phrase:
He's studying ecoNOMies.
Keep the following phrase in your m in d for
a m om ent: "I am rea d in g . Now, answ er these
What are you doing?
Who's reading?
Whs aren't sou reading?!!

I am reading.
I am reading.
I am reading.

W hat word did y o u emphasize most in each reply?

It should have been reading, I, and am respectively.
Each question provided a context for the reply.
Since the speaker chooses the p ro m in e n t e le m en t

b ased on th e c o m m u n icativ e c o n te x t, this

feature should be p resen ted and taught only in

Tims far, we have looked at how speech is divided
up into thought groups m arked bv pauses, and
how within each thought group one prom inent
elem ent is usually stressed. Each thought group
also has an o th er distinctive feature, namelv its
intonation the m elodic line or pitch pattern.
T he interplay o f these pronunciation features
becom es evident as we note that the pitch move
m ent within an intonation contour occurs on the
p ro m in en t elem ent:
Going Out
T ed : Are

yo u

/r EAD y vet?

L ee : N o , I n e e d to call/D A \T first.
T ed : Whv's/TElAT?
L ee : B ecause/HE'S [the o n e
w ho's giving tts a/LII
In tonation patterns do vary but certain general
patterns prevail.' G eneral rules about intonation
patterns are not m eant to denv the regional and
individual variation of authentic speech. Still, by
offering o u r learners at least some generalized
patterns for specific contexts, we give them an
appropriate option, if not the sole appropriate
one. Certainly, it is crucial to provide continued
exposure to real speech for listening analysis so
th at students can be aware of the contextual
m eaning o f intonation choices.
A lth o u g h in to n a tio n c e rta in ly c arries
m ean in g , it is d a n g e ro u s to m ake one-to-one
associations betw een a given e m o tio n an d an
in to n a tio n contour. O ften, in to n a tio n is one
facto r am o n g m any th at co m m u n icate an atti
tude. W ord choice, gram m atical structure, the
situational context, facial expressions, and body
m ovem ent all c o n trib u te to infusing an u tte r
ance with em otion.

Just as lo n g er and sh o rter notes m ake tip a m usi
cal m easure, longer and sh o rte r syllables occur
in speech. This altern atin g of longer (stressed)
a n d sh o rte r (unstressed) syllables can be a p p re
ciated in poem s read aloud. Even if not as
noticeable as in poetrv. regular spoken English
has rhvtlnn as well. English speech rhythm is
usually referred to as stress-timed, i.e.. with stiesses
or beats occurring at regular intervals:

She would 've liked to have gone to the movie.

(11 syllables but only 3 beats)
This contrasts with so-called syllable-timed lan
guages. such as fre n c h and Japanese, in which
each syllable receives roughly the same tim ing
and length.
In reality, natural English speech is not p er
fectly stress-tim ed an d the "one syllable, one
beat" explanation for svllable-timed languages is
also an oversim plification. N onetheless, the
highlighting of certain syllables over o thers in
English th ro u g h syllable length, vowel quality,
and pitch is a crucial road m ap for the listener.
How can a learn er of English predict which
words should be stressed and which unstressed:
In general, content words (words that carrv more
m eaning, such as nouns, m ain verbs, adjectives,
and some adverbs) are stressed whereas function
words (structure words, such as articles, pro
nouns. auxiliary verbs. and prepositions) are not.
A point of clarification should be made
here. Rhvthm . or sentence stress, refers to ALL
the syllables that receive stress in a though:
group, typically the c o n ten t words. Prom inence
refers to ONE of those stressed elem ents, the
one which receives the m ost em phasis within
the th o u g h t group:

She attends the University of MARy/and.

(of the th ree stressed syllables, the th ird
is p ro m in en t)
Traditionally, p ro n u n cia tio n m aterials haw
included analytical exercises in which learnerlook at w ritten utterances and carefully analyze
the part o f speech o f each word in o rd e r n
d eterm in e which syllables will be stressed anti

w hich unstressed. A lthough such an exercise can

help an analytical le a rn e r u n d e rsta n d the con
cept of rhythm , th e speaker does n o t have tim e
to do this d u rin g a conversation.
C hela Flores (1998) rec o m m e n d s th at
teachers help learners develop an awareness of
rhythm by highlighting rhythm ic patterns apart
from words and m eaning. To rep resen t rhythm
graphically, she uses written dots and dashes to
em phasize the short and long syllables. To intro
duce a new pattern orallv, she uses spoken n o n
sense syllables, such as ti for unstressed syllables,
for stressed syllables, a n d TAA for the prom i
n e n t elem ent in a th o u g h t group. H ere are two
possible four-syllable patterns a teacher m ight
Teacher writes
on board:

Pattern A


. ___ . .

__ . . ___

While clapping
or stretching a
rubber band, the
teacher says:
ti . ti ti" ti ti TAA"
First, the teacher pronounces one o f the two pat
terns that students distinguish bv pointing to it on
the board. O nce students are able to hear and also
reproduce the selected patterns themselves using
the nonsense syllables, thev can trv to distinguish
actual phrases (adapted from Chela Flores 1998):
Listen and circle the pattern you hear.
Student hears:
1. (A little one)

Student circles:
a. . __ . .

b. __ . . __

2. (Lots to be done) a. . __ . .

b. __ . . __

3. (Its marvelous)8

b. __ . . ___

a. . __ . .

By first divorcing rhythm from its c o n tex t and

co n ten t, we can draw the le a rn e rs a tte n tio n to
it, help th em internalize it, a n d th en , finally,
practice m eaningful phrases with it.

Reduced Speech
W hen we speak in th o u g h t groups in a rhythm ic
way, we find wavs to highlight im p o rtan t syllables
and to de-em phasize others. L earners will have

less difficulty7stressing syllables than they will stressing them . O n e wav to w eaken unstressed
syllables is to sh o rten them . A n o th e r is to relax
the m o u th w hen articulating the vowels a n d to
use less energy or m uscular tension. Because we
are not spreading o u r lips so widely or letting
the jaw d ro p so far, these reduced vowels can be
spoken m ore quickly, help in g us to m aintain a
m ore or less regular interval betw een stressed
T he m ost com m on red u c e d vowel is called
schwa / /. This is the vowel vou m ake w hen your
m outh is com pletely relaxed with no p articular
effort to raise or lower your jaw or to spread o r
ro u n d vour lips. Exam ples include the unstressed
vowels in the words ban an a and police.9
Since m any function words are unstressed,
thev have b o th a citation form (also know n as
full, strong, or stressed) a n d a reduced form
(unstressed o r weak). H ere are two exam ples:
Citation Form

Reduced Form

HAS He has? Inez '

What has he done

now? / /


a ticket to Tucson /

Do vou want to?/tuw,

T he red u c e d form of has exhibits two tvpes o f

reduction: ( 1 ) loss o f full vowel quality (the
vowel fe has been red u c e d to a schwa / / ) an d
(2) loss of a sound, the initial h. In the second
exam ple, to, onlv the vowel ,/u w / has b een

Words that non-native listeners can co m p reh en d
easily in isolation can som etim es be unrecogniz
able to them in connected speech. T he b o u n d
aries betw een words seem to disappear. Linking is
a general term for the adjustm ents speakers m ake
betw een words in connected speech. Say to your
self: Why don 7 you fin d cm/ / ? W hen you say find out,
it probable sounds a lot like fine doubt. In o th er
words, you have linked the syllables to g eth er (and
m ade them easier to p ro n o u n ce ) by shifting the
final c o n so n an t o f fin d to the next syllable,
w hich begins with a vowel. Som e speakers, p ar
ticularly in N orth A m erican English, also p ro
n o u n c e dont you so th at it sounds like don-chew.

In this form of linking, sounds b len d to g eth e r to

form a th ird sound.
M orphological inform ation (plurals, verb
form and tense, possessive, etc.) can be conveyed
bv endings, which are often easier to pro n o u n ce
an d becom e m ore salient to the listener when
She change-dit is easier to p ro n o u n ce
th an She changed-it.
If learners simple leave off an ending, im portant
inform ation can be lost. Instead, we need to focus
learn ers attention on the linked sound, which, in
the exam ples below, provides the listener with the
distinction betw een present and past:
P resen t They live in Miami.
(T he e should be linked clearlv
betw een live an d in)

They live-din Miami.

(T he d should be linked
to the next sellable in)

We n eed to m ake learners aware that all of

these pronunciation features (thought groups,
p ro m in e n c e , in to n a tio n , rhythm , red u c e d
speech, linking) work together to package our
utterances in a wav that can be processed easily by
o u r listeners. So, rath e r than being m ore com
prehensible bv speaking each word separately,
o u r learners actuallv becom e less fluent a n d less

C on so n an t sounds are characterized by place of
articulation (where the sound is m ad e), manner
o f articulation (how the sou n d is m ad e), and
voicing (w hether the vocal cords are vibrating or
not). These three dim ensions are com m only
illustrated in a consonant chart (see A ppendix 1).
T he place of articulation is usually illustrated in
a diagram called a sagittal section diagram , often
refe rre d to as "The O rgans of Speech" (see
A ppendix 2).
To teach consonants, we first n eed to decide
w hether phonetic symbols are necessarv. In m ost
cases, the orthographic letter is the same as the

p h o n etic rep resen tatio n . However, for certain

sounds (this, thum b, shop, decision, b u tch er,
p ageant, lo n g ). a single lette r th a t represents
the m ost com m on spellings is n o t available. T he
In te rn atio n a l P honetic .Alphabet uses the fol
lowing svmbols for these sounds:
this / 5 / . th u m b / 0 / , shop /J 7 ,
decision / 3/ . b u tc h e r / t j / ,
p agean t / d j / . long / 1] /
A com plete p h o n etic alp h ab et for English can
be fo u n d in A ppendix 3.
A second consideration is that the articulation
of a consonant varies, depending on its environ
ment. For example, the sound / / occurs twice in
the word paper, but the first / p / is accom panied bv
a small puff of air called aspiration while the second
p '' is not. This and other examples of positional
variation reflect sound svstem rules that native
speakers have com m and of but rarely any conscious
knowledge of until it is pointed out to them.
Clustering is a third feature of English conso
nants that presents a challenge to our students.
Since mans o ther languages never allow two.
m uch less three or four, consonants in sequence,
learners from such a language background
struggle with words like strengths or texts. Our
learners need to know how consonant clusters
function in English and also that there are accept
able cluster reductions for some forms. For example,
in the phrase: The facts of the case are . . . , mans
speakers would pronounce facts as fax, omitting'
the / t without ans- loss of intelligibility.10
Learners will usuallv have difficulty7 with
sounds that d o n t exist in their LI, such as the twc
th sounds o r the 1and the r sounds. Despite these
isolated difficulties, instruction should alwav
focus on sounds in context. How a particular
sound is articulated in real speech, or how7crucial
it is to intelligibilitv, will becom e evident onh
w hen em b ed d ed in spoken discourse.

W hereas consonant sounds in English occur at the
beginning or end of a syllable, vowel sounds arc
the se llable core, the sound within the syllable that
resonates and can be lengthened or shortened

In fact, a vowel can even constitute a syllable or a

word, as in eye. Unlike consonants, vowels are
articulated with a relatively7 u n o b stru c te d air
flow, i.e., there is usually7 no contact betw een
articulators. As a result, vowels are often defined
in relation to one a n o th e r ra th e r than to some
fixed point. Thev are distinguished bv tongue
position (front c e n tra l/b a c k ), tongue and jaw
height (high 'micf'loyv), degree o f lip ro u n d in g
and the relative tension of the muscles involved
(tense versus lax vowels). Some of this inform a
tion is conveyed in a vowel chart, representing the
space within the oral cavity (see A ppendix 4).
W hat are the challenges in teaching vow
els? First, English has m ore vowels than many
o th e r languages. Japanese has 5 voyvels; English
has 14 (or 15. if you include the /-colored voyvel
sound in bird). Also, there is a great deal of vari
ation in vowels betyveen dialects ( Oh. you pro
nounce the vowel in "doll" and "ball" differently? I
pronounce it the same!). Unlike the "pure" vowels
o f m anv o th er languages, several English voyvels
are accom panied bv a glide m ovem ent. Trysaving eye slowlv. Do you notice lioyv your jaw
glides upward? This glide feature is especially
im p o rta n t for English diphthongs.11
A nother challenge for learners is the fact that
most voyvels can be spelled in many different yvavs.
Learners who are used to a strict sound spelling
correspondence in their El will often be misled byEnglish spelling. For EEL learners, yvlio often
depend m ore on the written text than on what
they- hear, this can cause many pronunciation
errors (see Olshtain's chapter in this volume).
Finally, voyvel sounds are usually- red u c e d in
unstressed sy llables: notice the difference in the
p ro n u n ciatio n of the two a s in madam or the nvo
as in motor. In both cases, the first syllable is
stressed an d the second is not. As a result, the
first vowel has its full voyvel quality, so the first
syllables sound like mad and moat, respectively.
T h e second vowel in each word is red u c e d so the
second sy llables do N O T sound like clam atrd tore
(as they w ould if they yvere stressed) b u t instead
like dumb a n d ter. As m en tio n e d earlier, the
process of re d u c in g o r w eak en in g a vowel
involves a relaxing of the articulators, i.e., usingless effort to raise or lower one's jaw o r to ro u n d
or spread o ne's lips.

T he following phrases from M orlev (1979,

p. 116) help learn ers initially associate each
vowel with a key word ra th e r than a p h o n etic
iy i
1 4

// s

/? //



uyy- //


a y /aw/ h y !
13 14 15




Together, students should rhythmically repeat

these phrases until they can rem em b er them .T he
teacher can also attach a n u m b er to each key
word (as shown above) w ithout introducing anv
phonetic symbols at all. It is easier to tefer to the
"it" vowel or the #2 vowel rath er than the /4 /
vowel, since many listeners will not be able to dis
tinguish iv and : when h eatin g either sound
in isolation.

Word Stress
T he discussion of vowels provides a good fo u n
dation for u n d ersta n d in g word stress. Just as
th o u g h t groups can have m ore than one stressed
syllable but only one p ro m in e n t elem ent, m ulti
syllabic words can also have m ore than one
stressed sy llable, but only one o f those syllables
receives prim ary stress ( ) . T he o th er(s) receive
secondary stress () o r alm ost no stress ():





This can be com pared to the cognate word in

French where the stress is m ore equal, n ot alter
nating. with slightly m ore stress on the final





English w ord stress p attern s are som ew hat com

plex a n d can d e p e n d on several factors: the his
torical origin o f a word, the p a rt of speech, an d
affixation.12 In very general terms:
1. Stress falls m ore often on the root o r base o f
a w ord an d less often on a prefix:

C om pound nouns ten d to take prim ary stress

on the first elem ent and secondary stress on
the second:


p ia x e


sto p,

comPUter d is k

Suffixes can eith e r

a. Have no effect on stress




b. Take the prim ary stress them selves

(m any of these are from French):
picturESQUE, trusTEE, enginEER,

Cause the stress p a tte rn in the stem

to shift to a different sellable:



While our students may still need to look up the

stress of an unfam iliar word in the dictionary', these
basic rules will aid them in understanding how7the
system of word stress can function in English.

Celce-M urcia, B rinton, a n d G oodw in (1996)
p rese n t a fram ew ork for the sequencing of activ
ities within p ro n u n cia tio n instruction. T h eir five
teach in g stages include description an d analysis,
listen in g discrim in atio n , c o n tro lle d practice,
g u id ed practice, an d com m unicative p rac tic e .13

T hese stages are sim ilar to a presen tatio n , prac

tice, an d p ro d u ctio n sequence. K eeping such a
fram ew ork in m ind helps us to plan lessons th at
m ove the students forw ard in a p rin cip led tvay,
b uilding the fo u n d atio n for m ore intelligible
sp o ntaneous pro d u ctio n .

1. Description and Analysis

Initially, the teacher presents a feature showing
w'hen and how it occurs. T he teacher m ight use
charts (consonant, vowel, o r organs o f speech) or
he or she m ight p resen t the rules for occurrence
e ith e r inductively or deductively. For exam ple,
the teacher can e ith e r p resent the rules for -ed
endings o r provide m ultiple exam ples and ask
the learners to figure o u t the rules them selves.14

2. Listening Discrimination
L istening activities include contextualized m ini
m al pair discrim ination exercises such as the fol
lowing from G ilbert (1993, p. 20). T h e speaker
(who mav be the teach er o r a n o th e r student)
p ro n o u n ces e ith e r sentence a or b. T he listener
responds with the a p p ro p riate rejoinder.
a. He wa n Is to b uy
mv boat.

11 ill


b. He wants to buy
my vole.

T hats against
the law!

it ?

In a n o th e r discrim ination activity, the student

listens for e ith e r rising o r falling in to n a tio n in
utterances w here e ith e r is possible.
Instructions: Circle the arrow which corresponds tc
the intonation you hear at the end of the uttercmc,
either rising or falling:


The plane's leaving

Sam finished it

You can 7

L'sing a transcript with a short listening pasage, learners can m ark the pauses a n d /o r circT
the pro m in en t elem ents they hear. In general, tlw

listener's task should be clearly defined and

focused on only one o r two features at a tim e.
At this stage, we want to focus le a rn e rs a tten tio n
directly on a feature that they m ight n o t be rec
ognizing yet.
T he th ree final stages, which involve prac
tice an d p ro d u ctio n , actuallv progress on a co n
tinuum . It is less im p o rta n t to define an exercise
as strictly controlled, guided, o r com m unicative.
Rather, it is im p o rta n t to sequence our oral
p ro d u ctio n activities so th at thev move forw ard

3. Controlled Practice
At the beginning, in m ore co n tro lled activities,
the lea rn er's a tten tio n should be focused alm ost
com pletely on form . Any kind o f choral reading
can work if the learn er's atten tio n is clearly
focused on the target feature. Poems, rhvmes.
dialogues, dram atic m o n o lo g u es all o f these
can be used if the c o n te n t and level engage a
le a rn e rs interest. W hen p e rfo rm e d with student
p artners, contextualized m inim al pair activities
(as m en tio n e d above) are a com bination of con
trolled practice for the speaker an d listening
discrim ination for his or h e r partner.

4. Guided Practice
In guided activities, the learn ers attention is no
longer entirely on form. T he learner now begins
to focus on m eaning, gram m ar, and com m unica
tive intent as well as pronunciation. Teachers need
to develop a continuum of bridging activities,
which shift attention gradually to a new cognitive
task while the learner attem pts to m aintain con
trol of the pronunciation target. As an example,
Hewings and Goldstein (1998. p. 127) m ake use of
a m em ory activity while practicing -s endings.
Students are instructed tea stuch a picture contain
ing a n u m b er of com m on objects for one m inute
(two bridges, three suitcases, four glasses, etc,.).
With the picture hidden, thev then try to recite
the correct n u m b er of each item, while concen
trating on p ronouncing the plural -s correctly.

5. Communicative Practice
In this stage, activities strike a balance betw een
form and m eaning. Exam ples include role plays,
debates, interviews, sim ulations, a n d dram a
scenes. As the activities becom e gradually m ore
com m unicative, the le a rn e rs attention should
still Ire focused on one o r two features at a time. It
is overw helm ing to suddenly m onitor all p ro n u n
ciation features at once. Set an objective, which
can be different for different learners, and let stu
dents know it in advance. For exam ple, W hen
p erform ing this role play, Marco, pay special
attention to linking between words. Feedback
should then be focused on the stated objective.

A wealth of good m aterial has been published
fo r tea c h in g p ro n u n c ia tio n . This is n o t an
exhaustive list o f techniques; instead, ju st a b rie f
overview of possibilities with sources for the
tea c h e r to investigate.

Contextualized Minimal Pair Practice

Bowen (1975) was one o f the first to stress the
im p o rtan ce o f teaching p ro n u n cia tio n in m ean
ingful contexts. R ather than just distinguishing
pen and pan as isolated words, Bowen em b e d d e d
these m inim al pair contrasts into contextualized
sentences and rejo in d ers:1'1
This pen leaks.
This pan leaks.

Then, don't write with it.

Then, dont rook with it.
(p. 17)

C ontextualized m inim al pair drills include m ore

th an individual sou n d contrasts as shown, for
exam ple, in Clear Speech (G ilbert 1993):
Word stress
Is it elementary?
Is it a lemon tree?

o, its advanced.
No, an orange tree.
(p. 69)

Rhymes, Poetry, and Jokes

I didn 7 know
she urns out there.

I thought she
was inside.

I d id n t know
she was out there.

I thought it
was ju st him. (p. 117)

Cartoons and Drawings

C artoons an d drawings can be used to cue p ro
du ctio n o f particu lar sentences or an entire story
as well as for showing language in context.
Rhythm and Role Play (G raham a n d A ragones
1991) uses h u m o ro u s cartoon stories to illustrate
sh o rt plays to practice rhythm in English. In the
description a n d analysis stage o f teaching a p a r
ticular feature, cartoons can be shown on an
overhead for the students to read a n d analyze:
W hats going on here? W hats funny?

Gadgets and Props

To help learners u n d e rsta n d the rhythm ic pat
te rn in g o f stressed an d unstressed syllables,
G ilbert (1994) suggests using a thick ru b b er
b a n d . T h e te a c h e r holds th e ru b b e r b a n d
betw een two thum bs. W hile p ro n o u n c in g words
or phrases, the teach er stretches the ru b b er
ban d widely ap art for the stressed syllables and
lets it relax for the unstressed ones. As kines
thetic rein fo rcem en t, students each ttse a sim ilar
ru b b e r b a n d to stretch while speaking, first at
the word level an d th en with phrases.
G ilb ert (1994) also rec o m m e n d s using
kazoos to highlight in to n a tio n patterns. Since
learners can have difficult} a tten d in g to in to n a
tion, the tea c h e r can speak into a kazoo, which
focuses the le a rn e rs atten tio n on the m elodv o f
speech ra th e r th an the m eaning.
C uisenaire rods, often used in the Silent
Way, can illustrate various p ronunciation features.
These rods (each color is a different length) can
illu strate rh v th m bv u sin g lo n g e r rods for
stressed syllables an d sh o rter rods for unstressed
syllables. L in k in g b etw een syllables can be
shown by m oving the rods nex t to each other.
F or tactile learners, m an ip u latin g objects p ro
vides a pow erful learn in g tool.

Nursery rhymes, lim ericks, a n d mans poem s all

have strong p attern s o f stressed and unstressed
syllables th a t help o u r learners h e a r (and to a
certain ex ten t feel) the rhvthm o f English. O ne
well-known use of rhythm ic chants is G ra h a m s
jazz Chant series. These short, easy to learn
chants have a strong beat an d can be ttsed with
adults as well as c h ild re n .10
Vaughan-Rees (1991) has devised poem s to
illu strate a n d re in fo rc e som e o f th e basic
spelling rules in English. Since English spelling
is usually p rese n ted as com plex, he deliberately
presents exam ples w here p ro n u n cia tio n an d
spelling are predictable so that learners can
begin to internalize these associations:
W hat's the m atter!" said the H atter
to his m ate bv the gate.
"The cat ate mv hat
a n d notv it's m ade m e verv late. (p. 36)
Jokes can also be used in the p ro n u n cia tio n
classroom . Noll (1997) suggests using knockknock jokes to illustrate an d practice linking and
red u ced sp eech :1'
A: Knock Knock.
B: Who's there?
A: Jamaica.
B: Jamaica who?
A: Jamaica mistake?

(=l)id you make a


D ram a is a particularly effective tool for p ro n u n
ciation teaching because various co m p o n en ts o f
com m unicative com petence (discourse in to n a
tion, pragm atic awareness, nonverbal com m uni
cation) can be practiced in an in teg rated wav.
Stern (1980) proposes a m eth o d for using
eight- to ten-m inute scenes, usually involving two
characters. Each pair o f students receives the
script to a different scene. R ather than m em o
rizing the lines, they are sim ple to provide a d ra
m atic re a d in g looking u p frequently at their
p a rtn e r an d read in g with feeling. T he teach er

helps th em p rep are bv m odeling each line and

having students repeat, draw ing a tten tio n to
aspects of p ro n u n ciatio n as they appear. After
rehearsing, the pairs are videotaped p erfo rm in g
the scene. Following this, the pair o f students,
rem ain in g in character, are first interview ed bv
the audience a n d th en perfo rm a sh o rt im provi
sation based on the scene.

P R O N U N C IA T IO N 19

Kinesthetic Activities
We speak with our voral organs, but we converse
with our whole bodies. "
(A bercrom bie 1968. p. 53)
O ne im p o rtan t wav to effect change in p ro n u n
ciation is th ro u g h kinesthetic techniques. In
addition to relaxation and b rea th in g exercises.
C han (1987) m akes use of basic h a n d gestures to
teach p ro n u n c ia tio n .14 Svllables are shown bv
the n u m b e r of fingers one holds up or b\ tap
ping out the n u m b er with o n e s hand. An open
h a n d indicates stress while a closed h an d shows
a lack of stress. Linking th u m b and forefingers
betw een both hands illustrates linking. A sweep
ing h a n d m otion for rising a n d falling pitch illus
trates in tonation. O nce students are fam iliar
with the gestures, the teach er cam use them as
silent correction techniques.
In the film. The Wizard of Uz. Dorothv. the
Tin Man, and the Scarecrow walk arm in arm
down the vellow brick road worriedlv repeating
the phrase. "Lions. Tigers, and BEARS. O h MY!"
G rant (2000) suggests a technique in which
learners stand up and take a step in svnchronv
with each stressed sellable while repeating the
above phrase at least three times. In the next
stage, learners create new phrases in the same
four-beat pattern. For example:

HyEXas and

trving to imitate the both movements, gestures,

and facial expressions of an o th er speaker, w hether
face-to-face or on video. Acton recom m ends this
approach for helping fossilized learners develop
m ore acceptable rhvthm patterns.

CROC.oddes and PYthons

oh M Y

L earners should take steps at regular, natural

intervals regardless o f the n u m b e r o f syllables
betw een beats. In this wav. thev begin to in ter
nalize the rhvthm of English.
A cton (1984) m akes the p o in t that to p ro
n o u n c e like a native one m ust move like a native
as well" (p. 77). T he technique of mirroring involves

D eveloped out of Isaac's (1995) spoken fluenev

ap proach an d Stern's (1980) use of dram a, the
basis of this in teg rated ap proach is spoken in te r
action. W h eth er one is co n trib u tin g to a class
discussion, giving instructions to an em plovee,
o btaining directions to the bank, or simple ch at
ting. the intelligibility of one's p ro n u n ciatio n is
m easured bv the success of the interact ion.
This approach involves using short (60 to 90
second) videotaped interactions as the spring
board for instruction. O ne possibility would be
actual videotaped interactions of communicative
situations vour learners face. Otherwise, clips from
film or television can be used (with copvright
perm ission).
T he class analv/es the video, first shown
silently for general nonv erbal cues an d then with
sound to confirm predictions about the content.
O nce a context has been established, each line is
carefully analvzecl (th ro u g h rep eated listening)
for prosodic features, accom panying gestures,
and pragm atic m eaning. Students m ark pauses,
p ro m in en ce, and in to n atio n on a copy o f the
transcript and note gestures. This intensive lis
tening focus is followed bv intensive speaking
practice in which learners trv to im itate the p ro
n u n ciation as well as the m ovem ents o f each
line. C horal and individual rep etitio n of lines
allows the instru cto r to provide feedback on
errors. Individual practice is particularly effec
tive in a co m p u ter lab using software th at allows
the lea rn er to b oth h e a r each line a n d see a visu
al pitch trace of its in to n atio n p attern . Learners
com pare both the sound of their utterance and the
visual contour of it with the m odel. In the next
stage, learners work in pairs to rehearse the inter
action while the teacher m onitors p erfo rm an ce

a n d provides m ore feedback. T h en , the teach er

videotapes each pair p e rfo rm in g the interaction.
S tudents review th eir p erfo rm a n c e outside of
class (if a video lab is available) a n d fill in a guid
ed self-analysis sheet. T he p erfo rm a n c e is evalu
ated bv the instructor, who m akes decisions
a b o u t w hat p ro n u n cia tio n features to cover in
m ore d ep th . Finally, pairs are given role cards
for a situation sim ilar to the original interaction
a n d asked to p erfo rm it w ithout a script. This
allows the instru cto r to see if learners can trans
fer w hat they have le a rn e d to a new b ut sim ilar
in teraction.

A udio rec o rd in g is the m ost basic way to capture
s o u n d e ith e r a m odel or the student's own
sp e e c h for the le a rn e r to review. Tapes from a
variety o f textbook series can be m ade available
in a language lab o ra to ry e ith e r for use in class
with teach er supervision o r as self-access.
Bevond com m ercial atidio program s, learn
ers should p e rio d ic a ls record th eir hom ew ork
on tape for the instructor to respond to. As a p er
sonal resource, learners can create a p ro n u n cia
tion tape log bv bringing in a blank tape and a
short w ritten list of words and phrases thev find
hard to p ro n o u n ce. T he teacher or a tu to r aide
th en records each student's phrases (the teacher
should em b ed any individual words the student
requests into a phrase) onto the cassette. This
m otivates learners to m ake choices about what
they want to learn and gives the instructor insight
into learners' needs a n d interests.
If vou hold office hours or if learners have
access to p ro n u n c ia tio n tu to rin g , encourage
them to rec o rd the session. T utoring can be very
effective, b u t w ithout a reco rd in g of the advice
a n d corrections it will be nearlv im possible for
th e le a rn e r to co n tin u e w orking with the feed
back on his o r h er own.
Sim ilar to w ritten dialogue jo u rn a ls, stu
dents can reco rd oral entries on an audiocas
sette in an exchange with the teacher. T he
entries can be stru ctu red bv the teach er o r left

com pletely to the student's choice. Such oral

jo u rn a ls can be an effective wav of h elp in g stu
dents to locate e rro r patterns, review the instruc
to r s feedback, direct th eir own learning, an d
note progress over time.

A growing n u m b er of com m ercial videotape pro
gram s focus on p ro n u n c ia tio n -0 an d usuallv
involve the a u th o r teaching pronunciation lessons
o r actors perform ing a scene with exercises. Such
videotape program s serve as additional m odels
that the instructor can bring into class: most les
sons are no m ore than 15-30 m inutes long.
As suggested earlier in this chapter, vou can
videotape local com m unicative situations th at
vour learners m ight face. If vou teach in te rn a
tional teaching assistants (ITAs), tape skilled
teaching assistants in the same disciplines at
vour universitv. If vou are teaching recent im m i
grants. find out what th eir em ploym ent goals are
an d trv to set up a m ock job interview and
reco rd it. If vou are teaching voting adults in an
intensive program , trv to find a g roup of th eir
age-mates" from vou r area an d record a conver
sation. R ecordings can provide m otivating p e e r
target m odels for vour learners.
C om m ercial films a n d off-air television
recordings can be used to teach p ro n u n cia tio n
but are subject to copvright law. T he showing of
short clips from a film to illustrate a p o in t in a
lesson is perm issible if the instructor uses a p u r
chased video and not an illegal copy. Off-air
recordings for educational purposes are subject
to a tim e lim it from the date of recording. For
m ore inform ation on ITS. copv right code, check
the following websites:
http: /
articles pet/nn72.html
http: / topics
A video cam era is a w onderful tool for
reco rd in g stu d en t perform ances. It allows the
lea rn er to see the en tire com m unicative p e r
form ance. not just the sound. T he teach er can
also evaluate the p erfo rm a n c e in m ore d e p th
than would be possible from notes taken d u rin g

the p erfo rm an ce. In a class w here students are

v id eo ta p ed regularly, class m em bers can be
trained to operate the camera.

Computer Software
A n u m b er of CD-ROM program s now exist that
target pro n u n ciatio n . These w in1 in scope, price,
type of hardw are needed, platform (Mac or
W indows), a n d ease o f use. Some program s focus
prim arily on sounds, whereas others visually dis
play the length, pitch, and loudness of an u tter
ance. Some program s have a u th o rin g systems in
which the instructor can upload his or h er own
c o n ten t to the program : others com e with a stock
set of utterances for the lea rn er to practice.
In some cases, the visual feedback that is
provided is hard for students to in terpret or is
inconclusive, i.e., even native speakers cannot
m atch their pitch trace to the m odel. Most teach
ers who use com puterized visual feedback stress
that it is
necessarily useful in and of itself the
learner m ust be trained to make effective use of
these visual representations of speech.
O th e r program s function m uch like a tradi
tional language lab students record their voice
and th en press a button to plav it back but thev
still use their own perception to hear the differ
ence betw een their production and the m odel
An overview of mans' of the software p ro
gram s available for teaching p ro n u n ciatio n has
been com piled bv D eborah Hcalev and can be
found at this website:
h ttp ://o su .o r st.e d u /d e p t/e li/
junel998.htm l
This overview contains a b rie f description of
each program with ap p ro x im ate cost a n d con
tact inform ation.

The In tern et offers a wide array of resources for
both teachers and learners o f pronunciation.
W hile not replacing CD-ROM program s, the
Internet protides a continually expanding num
ber of websites which can be m ined for pronunci
ation instruction. These include articles about

teaching, lesson plans, charts, diagram s, audio

and video listening tasks, dictionaries with p ro
nu n ciatio n features, and so on. B rinton an d
I.aBelle (1997) created an a n n o ta ted list o f p ro
n u n ciatio n websites. It is available at:
http: / /
Using voice-encoding technology, the in
structor can e-mail sound files back an d forth
with students. This type of software com presses
the speech signal into a com pact digital fo rm at.21
For activities such as oral dialogue journals, the
p ro n u n ciatio n log, and oral hom ew ork exercises,
this option elim inates the n eed for exchanging
O ne of the m ain stum bling blocks for ou r
learners is access. Although we may have sophisti
cated com puters and Internet connections where
we teach, m am of the new websites require exten
sive plug-ins. In general, the m ore interactive the
site, the m ore powerful the hardw are and plug-ins
need to be. In addition to a fairlv sophisticated
com puter with Internet capability, m any sites will
require a sound card, headphones, speakers, and a
m icrophone.

In this section we will exam ine three types of pro
n u n ciatio n assessm ent: diagnostic evaluation,
ongoing feedback, and classroom achievem ent
testing. (See C ohen's ch ap ter in this volume.)

Diagnostic Evaluation
T h e m ost com m on form s o f diagnosing a learn
er's p ro d u ctio n are the use o f a diagnostic pas
sage an d a free speech sam ple. In the first,
learners read a passage designed to co n tain a
variety o f features a n d sounds. In the second,
learn ers are p ro m p te d by a topic, a series of
questions, or an illustration. In o rd e r to obtain
the truest sam ple o f speech proficiency, learners
should have tim e to form ulate a th o u g h tfu l
resp o n se however, thev should not write it o u t
a n d read it aloud. A n o th e r possibility includes
an oral interview rec o rd e d for later evaluation.

Ongoing Feedback
Think about the rules we have learned con
cerning -word stress. Listen carefully to your
tape white looking at your transcript. On
the transcript, underline any words that
you think you stressed incorrectly and draw
an arrow to the syllable that you should
have stressed. Here is an example:

Feedback during instruction gives learners a sense

of their progress and indicates where they need to
focus their attention for improvement. With a
growing awareness of progress, learners also gain
confidence in their pronunciation. There are
three main wavs of providing ongoing feedback.

My name is Lee and I study economics.

O n e wav to guide learners to self-correct is to
point out their errors silentlv (rather than sim
ply p r o n o u n c in g it correctly for them ). We can
use various means to cue correction:


As m entioned earlier, hand ges

tures can represent different aspects of pro
nu n c ia tio n (e.g.. n u m b e r o f syllables,
linking, rising or falling intonation, etc.).
P ronunciation co rrection signs Signs can be
placed around the room, displacing the fea
tures that you have taught. Once learners
understand what is meant bv each sign, it
becomes shorthand for error correction. O ne
sign might sac -ed. which cues a learner to
think about past tense endings in his speech
(which he might have either omitted or pro
nounced incorrectly). O ther signs might sac:
G estu res



Ifvou have introduced a vowel chart

(see Appendix 4) and have a lai ge version of
it hanging in the classroom, t on can point to
the vowel con hear the learners making and
guide them toward the correct one. An
understanding of the vowel chart can guide
learners toward raising or lowering their jaw,
gliding, or spreading or rounding their lips
to better approximate a particular vowel.


A second way to encourage self-monitoring

is to record student speech, in either audio or
video format. Learners can m onitor their own
perform ance with the guidance of a self-analvsis
sheet. This is particularly effective if the learners
first task is to transcribe their speech (not ph o n et
ically, just regular orthography). Working with
their transcript while listening to their tape, learn
ers can monitor for a specific feature. For example:

Peer Feedback
During a traditional minimal pair activity, rather
than Inning students onlv work in pairs (one
speaker and one listener who responds with the
appropriate rejoinder), students can be placed in
groups of four. In this scenario, the first speaker
reads one of the two minimal pair options and
the three o ther group m em bers each mark what
thev hear. If onlv one listener is giving the feed
back. it is less reliable a n d convincing to the
speaker since that listener might have difficulty
hearing that particular distinction.
If a role pla\ betw een two students is recorded
on tape, then the two can transcribe it together and
also fill in the analysis form together. In this case, it
would be good to pair students together who don':
necessarily share the same pronunciation difficul
ties. Learning from someone who is onlv a little fur
ther along than vou can be an effective alternative
to instructor feedback alone.

Teacher Feedback
During class, the teacher can use gestures or pr< nunciation correction signs to provide feedback
silently. Out-of-class feedback can be provided
th ro u g h audiocassettes or c o m p u te r sound filein an e-mail exchange.
Which errors should we correct? Rathe:
than overwhelming the student with feedback or.
even' possible error, follow the guidelines below:


Errors which cause a breakdown in commu

Errors which occur as a pattern, n o t aisolated mistakes
Errors which relate to the pronunciatior.
points we are teaching

This last point is not to be viewed as the least

important; it is related to the first two in an inte
gral wav It is the errors that learners make that
guides ns toward what to teach. Thus, what we
a ttend to in o u r lea rn ers speech is the feedback
we m ust have in o rd e r to navigate o u r teaching
in a targeted wav.

Classroom Achievement Tests

Classroom achievem ent tests evaluate learners'
progress according to what has been taught and
are consequentlv m ore focused than diagnostic
assessment. T he testing tasks should resemble
the classroom teaching tasks in o rd e r to reduce
the effect of an unfamiliar format on learner
perform ance.
Am oral p erform ance to be evaluated for a
grade should be recorded on tape. This is not
only to m ake the teacher's evaluation of it easier
(although this is the case); it also allows the
learner to review and revise the tape before tu rn
ing it in. In fact, since one of ou r goals is to help
learners m o n ito r their own speech, this step is
crucial. A lthough our ultimate goal is intclligibilitv du rin g spontaneous speech, for assessment
purposes it is also critical to know w hether learn
ers can control their p ro n u nciation du rin g a
communicative task when thev are m onitoring
for specific features. This abilitv to determ ine
what m ight have gone wrong in their p ro n u n c i
ation allows learners to recover from a c o m m u
nication breakdown in real life. In o th e r words,
w hen thev notice the puzzled look or blank
stare, thev can mentallv run through what thev
just said and in all likelihood, reform ulate the
same utterance intelligible.

The discussion of assessment brings us full circle
back to the goals we have set lor ourselves an d our
learners. These goals are realistic the ability of
our learners to understand and be understood in
the communicative situations they face, the confi
dence to enter these communicative situations
with ease, and the abilitv to m onitor their speech
in ord er to make adjustments and improvements

based on input from the environment. If we con

sider the frustration expressed by the learners
quoted at the beginning of this chapter, we now
have tools to respond to their pronunciation
needs in a systematic and principled way.

1. T hink about a foreign language vou have
learned. How good is vour accent? W hat fac
tors have contributed to how well you p ro
nounce this language?
2. T hink of one communicative situation vou
engage in even day. W hat kinds of language
do vou use? What aspects o f p ro n unciation
do you n e e d to know to function well in this
3. W ho is better eq u ip p e d to teach p ro n u n c ia
tio n a non-native who speaks the LI of her
learners or a native English teacher who
does not? U pon which factors m ight vour
answer depend?
4. W hich aspect of p ro n u nciation is the hardest
to teach? Whv?


Consult one o f the references listed below

that contain contrastive analyses a n d sum
marize the inform ation for a language that
vou know well (other than English). W hat
are the predicted pro n u n cia tio n errors for
learners from that language w hen learning
English? How does this com pare with your
knowledge of the sound svstems o f the two
Averv. P., and S. Ehrlich. 1992. Teaching
American English Pronunciation. Oxford:
Oxford Lhiiversitv Press. (Chapter 8)
Deterding, D. H., and G. R. Poedjosoedarmo.
1998. The Sounds of English: Phonetics and
Phonology for English Teachers in Southeast
Asia. Singapore; Prentice Hall.
Swan, M.. and B. Smith, eds. 2001. Eearner
English. 2d ed. Cambridge: Cambridge
Lhiiversitv Press.


Choose one pronunciation teaching point

(e.g., word stress in c o m pound nouns, / 1/ ver
sus / / , one rhythm pattern). Develop one or
two activities for each of the five stages of the
communicative framework to teach this point.
3. Interview a non-native speaker of English
who has a good accent. How did this person
achieve good pronunciation?
4. Exam ine a textbook for teaching p ro n u n c i
ation a n d evaluate it in terms of

Layout: Is it user-friendly? Are the diagrams,

charts, and explanations clear?
Use of phonetic symbols
Focus: segmentals, suprasegmentals, or both?
Exercises: logical progression from con
trolled to communicative? .Are the instruc
tions clear? Is the language authentic?
(See Byrds chapter in this volume as you
do this activitv.)

Teacher References
Avery, P., and S. Erlich. 1992. Teaching American English
Pronunciation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Celce-Murcia, M., D. Brinton, and J. Goodwin. 1996.
Teaching Pronunciation: .4 Reference for Teachers of
English to Speakers of Other Languages. Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press.

Dalton, C., and B. Seidlhofer. 1994. Pronunciation.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Morlev, J., ed. 1987. Current Perspectives on Pronun
ciation. Washington, DC: TESOL.
---------, ed. 1994. Pronunciation Pedagogy and Theory.
Washington, DC: TESOI..
Student Texts
Dauer, R. 1993. Accurate English: A Complete Course in
Pronunciation. Engleyvood Cliffs, X }: Prentice Hall
Gilbert, J. 1993. Clear Speech. 2d ed. Neyv York:
Cambridge University Press.
---------, 2001. Clear Speech from the Start. Neyv York:
Cambridge University Press.
Grant, I.. 2001. Well Said: Pronunciation for Clear
Communication. 2d ed. Boston, NLA. Heinle & Heinle.
Heyvings, M. and S. Goldstein. 1998. Pronunciation Plus:
Practice through Interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.

Miller, S. 2000. Targeting Pronunciation. Boston, MA:

Houghton Mifflin.
Collections o f Pronunciation Activities
Boyven, T., and J. Marks. 1992. The Pronunciation Book:
Student-Centered Activities for Pronunciation Work.

London: Longman.
Hancock, M. 1995. Pronunciation . Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.

TESOL Speech and Pronunciation Interest Section

Contains information about pronunciation
issues, resources, activities, articles, and links to
relevant sites.
http: / / / SPRIS

LATEFL Pronunciation Special Interest Group

.At international site for teachers of English.
Contains links, articles, bibliography, and infor
mation about SPEAK. OUT! (the neyvsletter for
this group).
http: / / m em /pronunciationsig/

John Murphv's list of sites related to phonology
and teaching pronunciation. Includes Murphv's
annotated list of resource books, journal articles
classroom texts, etc.
http: / /www. m /ss / prolinks.htm

The Internet TESL Journal's pronunciation links

This site includes a variety of links for botf.
learners and teachers.
http: / / w w w .a itech .a c .j p / - ite s lj /lin k s /E S L

Dave's ESL Cafe Web Guide for Pronunciation

Dave Sperling's source of annotated pronuncia
tion links. search Pronunciation

A nice selection of lesson ideas and links T
both British and American English.
h ttp:/ / /pronunciation/

Information and resources covering British ..
yvell as American resources. Well organized :
learners and teachers.
http: / / /hom ew ork / esl / msuh

1 A minimal pair is a set of two words that are alike
except for one sound, e.g., bet and bat, or great and
- The term segmentals refers to the actual consonant
and vowel sounds. The term suprasegmentals refers
to the features which occur above the segments."
e.g., the stress, rhvthrn, and intonation.
3 Other terms for this include tone units, breath
groups, and intonation units.
4 1. Alfred said, "The boss is stupid. 2. Allred."
said the boss, "is stupid."
Other common terms for this include nuclear
stress, tonic syllable, focus word, emphasis, and primary
phrase stress.
8 When words of metre than one sellable are promi
nent, it is onlv the sellable receiving primarv stress
that is prominent (e.g.. SPEAKing. ecoXOMics).
' See Bolinger (1986); Brazil. Coulthard. and fohns
(1980); Celce-Murcia, Brinton, and Goodwin
(1996) for descriptions of intonation patterns.
8 The correct answers are a, b, a.
9 In many North American learner textbooks, the
schwa / / svmbol also represents the full stressed
vowel / / , as in "bus." This pedagogical simplifi
cation thus describes the two vowels in the word
above" as being similar in quality if not in length.
10 See Celce-Murcia. Brinton. and Goodwin (1996).
for further explanation of cluster reduction.
11 A diphthong is a sound that combines two vowel
sounds in one vowel nucleus.
12 See Dickerson (1989). (1994) or Celce-Murcia.
Brinton, and Goodwin (1996) for further expla
nation of word stress rules.
13 These stages are not necessarily meant to occur in
one 50-minute lesson. They simply represent a
pedagogical sequence which could take place
over several lessons.

14 The -ed ending has three realizations in English,

depending on the sound preceding the ending.
Following any voiceless sound except / X/ , the
ending is pronounced / X/ . Following am voiced
sound except / d / , the ending is pronounced / d /
and following the sounds /X/ or / d / , the ending
is an extra syllable: / / or /id /.
l j Good sources for minimal pair contrasts include
Bowen (1975), Grate (1987), Henrichsen et al.
(1999), and Xilsen and Nilsen (1987). A very
thorough list of minimal pairs for British
Received Pronunciation can be found at
http :/ ents/hum an
sciences / ce lt/sta ff/h ig d o x / w ordlist/index.htm

1,1 The series includes: fritz Chants (1978), Jazz Chants

for Children (1979), Crammarrhants (1993), Small
Talk (1986). Mother Goose Jazz Chants (1994).
1' Noll has many more examples in her book,
American Accent Skills: Intonation, Reductions and
Word Connections, available at
http: / / www.anieri-talk.coin /books.htm l

18 Videos bv Marsha Chan include Using your

hands to teach pronunciation and Phrase by
Phrase." both available from Sunburst Media:
http: / /

19 I am indebted to Anne Isaac for a workshop she

gate at UCLA in 1998. Her presentation, An inte
grated approach to teaching spoken fluency and
the video "The rhythm of language (1995)
inspired mv version of the approach described
2n These include Phrase by Phrase by Chan,
Pronunciation for Success bv Mevers and Holt, and
Breaking the Accent Banierhs Stern.
21 One such technology is "PureYoice, available for
download at
http:/ /purevoice

P la c e
Manner of
A rticulation *





A r t ic u la t io n












N o te:


the voiceless sounds are in the top p a rt o f each box, voiced sounds are in the lower half.

Ma n n e r o f A r t ic u l a t io n *
W h at happens to the air stream as the sound is articulated

How the Sound Is Pronounced


A ir stream is blocked completely before it is released



A ir stream is compressed and passes through a small

opening, creating friction


Combination of a stop followed by a fricative



A ir passes through the nose instead of the mouth.



A ir stream moves around the tongue in a relatively

unobstructed manner


Sound is close to a vowel




A P P E N D IX 2
Organs of Speech

A. nasal passage
B. alveolar (tooth) ridge
C. hard palate
D. velum/soft palate
E. lips and teeth

F. tongue
1. tip
2. blade
3 . body
4 . root

G. uvula
H. jaw

I. pharynx

J- trachea
K. larynx and vocal cords

P o in t s o f A r t ic u l a t io n
(from the front of the mouth to the back)
E x a m p le

N am e

W h e r e th e Sound Is P ro n o u n ced


Two lips together

Lab io d e n tal

Lower lip and upper teeth


D e n ta l

Tongue tip and inner edge of upper teeth

A lv e o la r

Tongue tip on tooth ridge



Body of tongue on hard palate

V e la r

Back of tongue on soft palate

G lo tta l

Throat passage


A P P E N D IX 3
The Phonetic Alphabet for English
The Consonants of North American English



pat, clap


/JV shy, dish


/ boy, cab


/3/ leisure, beige


/t/ tan, sit


/h/ his, ahead



dog, bed




// cry, side


3/ just, bridge


// go, beg


/m/ me, trim


/f/ fine, safe


in/ not, van


/v/ vein, glove


// sing(er), long


/0/ thumb, bath


/1/ last, ball


/5/ this, bathe


// rib, tar

1 1.

/s/ sun, class


/w/ win, away


/z/ zoo, does


// yes, soya

cheek, match

The Vowels of North American English


/iy/ bee, seat


/ow/ code, low


/i/ gr|n, fix


// put, book


// train, gate



// set, then

1 1. // line, fight


// fan, mad

12. /aw/ pound, foul



hot, doll


// noise, boy


/0/ taught, walk


// gun, but


// bird, curtain

/uw/ boot, threw

g Pronunciation

1 37

Developing Childrens
Listening and Speaking in ESL


In "Developing Children's Listening and Speaking in E SL .1 Peck addresses teachers of adult ESLVEFL

who are beginning to work with children. She ouhmes how children differ from adults as classroom
learners of oral language. She also discusses how maire use of resources such as songs, chants,
drama, and storytelling.

Perhaps you have taught ESL or EFL before, but
never to children. You mav have some hunches
about how child second language learners could
differ from adults. In manv wavs, children who
are learning ESL are different from adult stu
dents. Consider these anecdotes:
1. An ESL teacher instructs a group of 7 children
even- dav for 45 minutes. Thev sing "I'm a
Little Teapot" over and over again. Standing,
they use on e arm as the spout of the teapot.
Bending, they use the o th er arm to show the
tea p o u rin g out. It feels like an eternitv to
the teacher: I m a little teapot, short and
stout, he re is mv handle, he re is mv spout.
W hen I get all steam ed up, he a r me shout,
just tip m e over an d p o u r me out." And then
the g roup starts again.
2. A kindergarten child, alreadv in school for six
months, still declines to speak in English. She
hides u n d e r the table during group lessons.
She speaks u n d e r her breath in Japanese to
the other children, who speak English a n d / o r
3. In visiting the class o f a n o te d a n d successful
ESL teacher, you are struck that each activity
lasts no m ore than ten minutes, that chil
d r e n are usually in m o v e m e n t m aking
s o m e th in g , h o ld in g s o m e th in g , m oving
their h ands or walking somewhere. T he class
looks like an art class.

There are a few major contrasts that we can

make between child and adult ESL learners.
Children are m ore likely to play with language
than adults are. Children can be m ore effectively
engaged through stories and games. Younger
children are less likely to notice errors or correct
them. In general, children are m ore holistic
learners who need to use language for authentic
com m unication in ESL classes. In this chapter, I
explain some wavs in which children often differ
from adults as developing listeners and speakers
of a second language. I suggest listening and
speaking activities and ways to focus on gram m ar
within the authentic and communicative language
of a children's ESL class.

In an ESL class for adults, the materials are books,
papers, the blackboard, an overhead projector,
and little else. In a childrens class, all sorts of
materials are used magnets, hamsters, stuffed
animals, art supplies, costumes, and so on.
Activities n e e d to be child c e n te re d a n d
c o m m u n ic a tio n sh o u ld be a u th e n tic . This
m eans that children are listening or speaking
about som ething that interests them , for their
own reasons, and n o t merely because a teacher
has asked them to. Many authors (e.g., E nright

1991; Enright a n d Rigg 1986; Genesee 1994:

Phillips 1993; Rigg a n d Allen 1989; McKeon and
Samwav 1993; Scott an d Ytreberg 1990: Mile
1995) advise teachers to teach ESL holistically
a n d to focus on the whole child. Several themes
repeatedlv com e up:

the characters and read aloud a version of

the storv written on word cards an d sentence
strips. Eventuallv, some will copy their own
version of the storv and make a small book
to take home.

T reat learn ers ap p ro p riately in light o f

their age and interests. At the e n d of an

Focus on m eaning, not correctness. Eight-

vear-olds, in groups, decide on themes for a

class partv: cowbovs. dancing, or dinosaurs.
Each group makes a poster and presents an
argum ent for their theme. Children speak,
write, listen, or draw according to their abil
ity. T he teacher does not correct errors.

Focu s on collaboration and social develop

ment. Twelve-vear-olds form groups in which

thev compare maps of North America that

were drawn in different centuries. Thev dis
cuss the comparison as a group, prepare an
oral report, and do a written report. Each
child has a role in the group.

T reat language as a tool fo r children to use

fo r their own social and acad em ic ends.

Eight-vear-olds enjov being part of a group

as thev sing an d chant the same pieces in
ESL class. Tiles' enjov activities that allow
them to work with friends in the class.

F o cu s on the valu e o f the activity', not the

value o f the lan guage. Advanced beginners

each receive a potato. Each child has to

nam e his or h e r potato, p rep are an oral
introduction (e.g., "This is mv potato. H er
nam e is Patricia."), a n d make a poster with
an image of the potato that could be used if
the p o ta to were to get lost. (Activitv
described bv Perros 1993.)

ESL co n te n t unit on volcanoes, eleven-yearolds plav bingo using vocabulary a n d pic

tures from the unit.

U se language fo r authentic com m unication,

not as an o bject o f analysis. Eleven-vear-olds

in one class do not know the term modal

verb, but enjov making up role plays in
which characters are polite to each other.
(Activitv from Ur 1988, p. 178).
Thus, the principles that underlie childrens
ESL classes are those of progressive education:
that teachers adjust to the child's developmental
level, use materials and techniques that appeal to
children, and stress com m unication a n d the
expression of authentic meaning. This progressive
stance is not alwavs carried out in schools.

Provide a rich context, including m ove

m ent, the senses, objects and pictures, and
a variety o f activities. Six-vear-olds learn

terms for c om m unin' occupations such as

doctor, teacher, and police officer. Thev
wear appropriate hats, line up in order, fol
low directions bv the teacher, act out brief
scenes, an d sing a song while moving and
pointing. Note that in this wav teachers
accom m odate the kinesthetic and visual
learning slvles favored bv most children
(Keefe 1979).

T each E S L holistically, integrating the fo u r

skills. Seven-vear-olds listen to the storv of

Tittle Red Riding H ood. Later, thev repeat

a refrain in the storv a n d supplv some miss
ing words. Thev help the teacher retell the
storv, and discuss the qualities of each char
acter. Thev label cards with the names of

In some wavs, children approach oral language
differentlv than adults do. T h e role of language
plav within language learning is e xam ined bv
Cook (2000). C hildren a ppear m ore likely than
adults to plav with language (Peck 1978) and
mav learn th ro u g h language plav (Peck 1980;
Tarone 2000). Thev enjov rhythmic a n d repeti
tive language m ore than adults do. Thev plav
with the intonation of a sentence, an d m ost are
willing to sing. Thev enjov repeating a word or
an utterance in a plav situation. With less aware
ness of the wavs in which languages can differ,
children are m ore likelv to laugh at the sounds

of a second language, or to be rem inded of a

word in the first language. Young children such as
kindergartners mac comfortably talk to them
selves, perhaps as part of a fantasy role plav.

Using Songs, Poems, and Chants
Given c h ild re n s greater ability to plav with lan
guage, teachers n e e d to use songs, poems, and
chants m ore than thev would with adults. Mamchildren do n o t tire of practicing a repetitive
and rhythmic text several times a dav, manv davs
a week. They build up a repertoire of songs or
chants an d delight in reciting them , or plavfullv
altering them . O ften thev incorporate gestures
and m ovem ent into their songs an d chants.
Some suggested poem s are M other Goose
rhymes. Anthologies of children's poem s from
language arts anthologies for children are also
useful (e.g., dePaola 1988). A guiding principle
in choosing poems, chants, a n d songs is to pick
the ones that you like, both as a teacher an d as
an individual. This is im portant because vou will
find yourself listening to them again and again!
Sometimes the line between poems and
chants can be thin. In general, chants have a
strong a n d catchv rhythm. Manv are written for
two parts, with a call an d a response, such as for
two groups or an individual an d a group. Manv
reflect jazz or rap rhythms. Carolyn G raham
originated the term jazz chants an d has p u b
lished several books of chants for children and
for adults (am ong them , G raham 1978; 1979;
1993). Mans- c urrent EST materials for children,
such as Into English! (Tinajero a n d Schifmi
1997) include a chant (and a song an d poem ) in
each them atic unit. In the following example,
note the two voices or parts and how simple past
forms o f irregular verbs are practiced.
Y o u D id It A gain !

You did
W hat
You did
W hat

it again!
did I do?
it again!
did I do?

I told you n o t to do it, an d you did it again!

I m sorry. Im sorry.
You broke it!
W hat did I break?
You took it!
W hat did 1 take?
You lost it!
W hat did I lose!
You chose it!
W hat did I choose?
I told vou not to do it, a n d you did it again!
I m sorrv. I'm sorrv.
You score it!
W hat did I wear?
You tore it!
W hat did I tear?
I told vou not to do it, a n d you did it again!
I'm sony. Im sorrv
(Graham , Jazz Chants
for Children , 1978, p. 25)
Written collections of childrens folklore
(for example, Opie and Opie 1959) are an o th er
source of chants. You will need to make sure that
the values conveved in a folk chant fit with your
own values and the overall requirem ents of your
school. Much of this folklore conveys rebellion
against authority, put-downs of various ethnic
groups, and joking about body parts and sexuality.
Still, as vou read Opie and Opie, you may rem em
ber less offensive rhvmes from your own child
h o o d that sou s\ ill be able to use. Chants and
ju m p rope rhvmes overheard on vour own school
plavground might also be used in EST lessons.
Printed versions of these chants mav exist, but
children usuallv learn them from their class
mates. In the process, ESL students become
familiar with the culture of their English-speaking
classmates. H ere are some examples from my
childhood and from a child in the year 2000:
Made vou look,
You clirtv crook,
Stole vour m o th e r s pocketbook.
(Massachusetts, LTSA, 1950s)
Down bv the banks o f the hanky panky
W here the bullfrogs j u m p from bank
to bankv

With an eeps, opps, soda pops,

Down by the lilies and 1 got vou.
(California, USA, 2000)
G randm a, G randm a, sick in bed,
Called the doctor an d the d octor said,
L e ts get the rhvthm of the head:
ding-dong [touch head],
L e ts get the rhythm of the hands:
L e ts get the rhvthm of the feet:
L e ts get the rhvthm of the H O T DOG
[move hips].
Put em all together an d what've vou got?
Ding-dong, clap-clap, stomp-stomp.
Put it all backwards and what've vou got?
H O T DOG, stomp-stomp. clap-clap,
(California, LSA. 2000)

T h e re are several issues to consider when

you choose songs for children's ESL instruction.
First, vou n e e d to like the song vourself. For
exam ple, I could happilv sing T h e Eensv
Weensv Spider'' (also known as T he Itsv Bitsy
Spider) or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star almost
every day for an entire school t ear. Those songs
speak to m e of persistence an d ho p e an d of
looking u p to see beautv. But I quickly tire of
O ld M acDonald H ad a Farm an d have seldom
taught this song to ESL learners. Your feelings
ab o u t a song will c a n y over to the children, so it
is im p o rta n t to consider vour own likes a n d dis
likes. After all, there are manv songs available.
You could also choose to set some new and
appropriate words to a familiar tune.
You might choose songs because they fit with
your ESL or interdisciplinary thematic focus. For
instance, if vour class is stitching water, t on may
want to teach them songs featuring rivers, oceans,
or the rain.
Rivers i "Shenandoah")

C hants b uild c h ild re n 's proficiencv in

English in manv wavs. Thev build vocabularv.
Learners he a r pronunciation m odeled and then
they practice the same sounds repeatedlv. Often
the rhythm, intonation, and stress patterns of the
chant exaggerate a tvpical pattern in English.
Learners h e a r and produce the same gram m ar
structures again and again. In addition, thee are
exposed to culture. For instance, in "You Did it
Again, cited earlier, learners pick up the u n d e
sirability' of breaking, tearing, or losing objects.
They learn to apologize as well: "I'm sorrv. I'm
A five- or ten-minute session of chanting or
singing for an ESL class with varied levels can be
fun and effective. T he beginners mav mostly lis
ten. They will get the gist of the chant if you intro
duce the vocabularv and context clearly. Providing
visuals and objects, and having other students
role-plav the chant will all help. The beginners will
probably enjoy the rhvthm of the language, and
enjoy being part of a larger group. Intermediate
a n d advanced children can participate fully if thev
desire. Many will take part in the chanting and
singing, thus memorizing the text. Students that
choose only to listen can still benefit.

O h. S henandoah. I long to he a r vou

Awav. vou rolling river
Oh. S henandoah. I long to he a r vou
Awav. I'm b o u n d awav.
'Gross the wide Missouri.
(Boni 1947)
Oceans ( "Sk\e Boat Song)
Speed, bonnv boat like a bird on the wing,
Onward, the sailors civ.
Carry the lad who's bo rn to be king,
Over the sea to Skve.
(Boni 1947)
Rain ( "It's Raining. It's Pouring'')
It's raining, it's pouring
T he old m an is snoring,
Went to bed with a cold in his head
And he c ouldn't get up in the m orning.
(source unknown)
In the U nited States, a good source of folk
songs is the Wee Sing series edited bv Beall and
Xipp. Each title includes a book a n d cassette
tape. Some o f the titles are Wee Sing Children's
Songs and Fingerplays (1979), Wee Sing Sing-alongs

(1990), Sing Silly Songs (1982), Wee Sing Fun

n Folk (1989), and Wee Sing and Play: Musical
Games and Rhymes for Children (1981). A British
source is Jingle Bells (Byrne a n d W augh 1982),
which includes a book of songs for children and
an accom panving cassette.
Sometimes the language o f a song or poem
seems archaic or unusual (the lad, I m b o u n d
away.) Some teachers do not teach songs witli
lines such as "Meat n o r drink n o r m oney have I
n o n e , a n d some teachers trv to m odernize the
language, substituting "food for m e a t, for
instance. O th e r teachers (and I am one) go
ahead and teach songs with archaic language.
In singing an u n altered folk song, children can
pick up language, vocabulary, an d culture in
combination. Students usually sense that the
archaic vocabulary is not appropriate in their
own speech. For example, voting children learn
the nursery rhvme "Jack and Jill." but I have
never h e a rd a child complain that som eone has
broken his or h e r "crown." Children realize that
the language of songs and nurserv rhvmes is not
the language o f evervdav life. It is a n o th e r regis
ter a n d not for use with family or classmates.
Choose songs with bodv m ovem ent and
h a n d motions. Mans' children are kinesthetic
learners: They learn best th ro u g h lessons that
involve m ovem ent. Just as Asher proposes with
his Total Physical Response A pproach (1969).
they- seem to learn language quicklv and thor
oughly w hen the brain an d the bods svork
together. You can find songs, particularly for
soung children, that base m ovem ents set to
them (Beall a n d Xipp 1979), or sou can make
up the m ovem ents sourself.
O n e way of teaching a poem , chant, or
song is to start with the context and vocabulary,
and gradually move the students from listening
to r e p e a tin g to i n d e p e n d e n t rec ita tio n or
singing. This m e th o d is similar to traditional
m eth o d s for in tr o d u c in g a u d io lin g u a l dia
logues. H ere is a suggested sequence of steps:
1. Familiarize the children svith the vocabulary
a n d co n te n t by using pictures and objects.
For instance, in teaching "The F arm er in the
Dell, sou could start svith a picture of a
farm , s o u r osvn drawings, o r dolls a n d

stuffed animals representing the characters

in the song. You m ight also ask children to
svear hats or masks that correspond to the
characters. Your goal here is for the children
to understand the socabularv while you use
the visuals.
Recite the poem or chant. Sing or play a
tape of the song. You mas point to a poster
or oserheacl transparencs as you sing. The
children listen.
Recite (sing, plav) about o n e line at a time,
an d hase the class repeat after you.
Recite the whole text svith the class.
If the text has tsvo parts, you now take one
part, an d the class takes the other.
Dis ide the class in tsvo groups an d have the
children pe rfo rm both parts on their own.
Practice the chants (poems, songs) for
about fise m inutes a dav.
Make costumes an d props.
Hase the class present the chants, poems,
or songs to o th er children.
In sum m ars. EST teachers w ho have
svorked svith adults n e e d to keep in m in d that
mans' children enjoy playing with language an d
svelcome the repeated a n d rhythmic language of
songs an d chants. Teachers n e e d to choose texts
svith care a n d be p re p a re d to work with them
repeatedly ewer a long period of time.

Dramatic Activities
Children can be engaged in a lesson th ro u g h
dram a m ore easily than th ro u g h explanations or
instructions. Som e shv c h ild re n will speak
th rough a p u p p e t but are reluctant to speak on
their osvn. Dramatic actisities can be beneficial
for children svhether tiles' has'e a big or small
part in the production. Even if a child has a n o n
speaking role, he or she mav listen intently while
silently playing the part of a tree or a river. All in
all, children are m ore willing to take p a rt in
dram a actisities than are adults.
Commercially published skits an d plays are
available in magazines for children. W ithin the
U n ited States, a children's magazine called Plays
an d others such as Cricket a n d Ladybug are good

Role plavs can grow out of a story read or

told in class. Alter the children are familiar with
the story, assign them parts. C hildren m ight act
out the story itself, or react in character to a sit
uation that you describe for them.
G raham 's Jazz Chant Fairy 1'alrs (Graham
1988) are dramatic retellings of favorite fairy
tales bv a chorus and individual parts. Then are
suitable both for a mixed-level or a h o m o g e
neous class. Mane' are appropriate for younger
children (e.g., "Little Red Riding Hood") and
two (Rumpelstiltskin, "The Fisherman and His
Wife) have them es that appeal to children up to
eleven or twelve years old. Before introducing
the jazz chant fairv tale, the teacher needs to tell
or read the traditional version so that everyone
in the class is familiar with the tale.
C hildren enjov the rhvthmic language, the
repetition, a n d the call an d response structure
of the dialogue. Many adults enjov the jokes and
productions. Graham has e m b ro id ere d the fairv
tales with h e r sense of rhvtlnn. For instance, in
Goldilocks an d the T h re e Bears." this chant
details preparations for breakfast before the
bears go for a walk:
Papa Bear:
Mama Bear:
Babv Bear:

I'll make the porridge.

I'll p o u r the milk.
I'll set the table.
I'll set the table.
And thev did (clap clap).
A nd thev did (clap clap).
Babv set the table.
M ama p o u re d the milk.
Papa m ade the porridge.
And thev all sat down.


W ho set the table?


Babv set the table.

W ho p o u re d the milk?
M ama p o u re d the milk,
(Graham 1988. p. 4i

Rehearsals of jazz chant fain tale' could

take place over several weeks or month.', mj that
the children can easily perforin with notes or
without. T h e class should make costum e', props,
an d perhaps a backdrop for the final pn Auction.

Reader's theater takes m uch less time and

preparation. In reader's theater, children read
aloud a store- (usually from a children's book)
that has been rewritten in plav form. You can
write vour own reader's theater script by basing it
on a children's book that is interesting to your
students a n d at a suitable level for them. Your
script can be almost the same as the book, except
that eon will have several narrators (for example,
narrators 1 . 2 . and 3) to spread out the parts and
give each child enough to read. A m ore difficult
task is to use a store such as a Greek nrvth, a folk
tale familiar to vour students, or an event that
h a p p e n e d in the c h ild ren s neighborhood. T h e n
eon will need to write out the store at the chil
dren's level, making sure to divide the narration
a m o n g several children.
You m ight want to read the original story
first with the class a n d then, if necessary, to read
the script aloud to them. To include the whole
class, groups of children can be assigned to each
part. As a culm ination, children can make cos
tumes and p e rform the reader's theater for
a n o th e r class. You can purchase reader's theater
scripts from Reader's T h e a tre Script Service
(PO Box 178333. San Diego. GA 92177). Scripts
are also available on some of the websites listed
at the e n d of this chapter. Ghilclren can also
make up their own skits orallv or in writing.
Some teachers assign groups to m ake up skits at
the e n d of a unit. For instance, after the class has
studied recycling, groups are asked to dramatize
( 1 ) an a rg u m e n t between people who want to
recycle a n d those who don't, or (2 ) a ne ig h b o r
h o o d that learns about recycling.

Stories are a powerf ul m eans o f language teach
ing. A skillful teacher can use stories to develop
m ore efficient listening, m ore fluent speaking
and the ability to read and write easily an d com
petently" (Garvie 1990, p. 161). Ghilclren usual!'
enjov hearing the same store mans' times. The
teacher cam easily vary the presentation. Fo:
instance, sou can tell the story using a picture
book, or a flannel board and movable character'
You can tell or read the store while children

move puppets or dolls, or as they wear masks and

act out the store. You can tell the story while chil
dren draw it. You can tell a version of a familiar
store such as "Bille Goats G ru ff by a different
a u th o r and illustrator. Children may listen to a
tape-recorded store to g e th e r o r inclieidualle.
using earphones. Mane follow-up activities are
possible. When thee have he a rd a store' several
times, children can retell it. act it out, or write a
script for the store.
As described be D onna Brinton (personal
com m unication) and others, store activities can
also be games. For example, the teacher chooses
a brief store, such as a fable be' Aesop, and
rewrites it so that there is one sentence for each
student to memorize. After the teacher checks
each student's abilitv to recite his or h e r sen
tence, the students must first decide how to line
up in order, and then recite the entire store. In
an o th er activitv. three students leave the room,
and the teacher tells a short anecdote or store to
the rem aining students. When m em bers of the
class are able to tell the store themselves. student
X (who eras in the hall) comes back to the class
room, and the o th er students tell him or her the
story. Next, student Y rejoins the class a n d stu
dent X tells the store, and so on. Afterwards, the
class can discuss how the store changed in the
Wright (1995) provides activities to use
before, during, and after a store as well as stories
and lesson plans for children of different ages.
Ur a n d Wright (1992) describe brief activities
that include stories, such as a chain store : O ne
student begins a store and others take turns
adding sentences, w hether orallv or in writing.

Gesture and Movement

C hildren n e e d to move a r o u n d m ore than
adults do. As m en tio n e d above, e c u can com
bine gesture and m ovem ent evith songs, poems,
or chants, with dram a, a n d with stories. You cam
ask children to answer a question th ro u g h move
ment: for instance, to sav yev bv raising one h a n d
and no by looking at the floor. With voting chil
dren, some teachers break up the lesson even
five or ten m inutes for a m inute or two of phvsical exercise or dancing.

Total Physical Response (TPR)

T he best known F.SL a pproach involving move
m en t is Total Phvsical Response (Asher 1969). In
TPR. the teacher gives com m ands, models them,
an d gradually weans the student from watching
the teacher's model. Soon students are able to
carrv out a variety of com m ands. Thev u n d e r
stand most of what is said, a n d in the process
acquire receptive language, especially vocabu
lary and grammar. A lesson m ight start like this:

Stand up. (pauses, then

stands up)
Touch vour shoulder, (pauses,
then touches shoulder)
Sit down, (pauses, then sits
Stand up. (continues modeling)

I.ater. some students und e rsta n d an d follow the

teacher's c o m m a n d s :

Touch vour head.

Erika. Jose.
M ahmoud: (Touch heads)
Most o ther
(follow others an d touch

Good! Great job, Erika and

Jose a n d M ahmoud!

TPR fits within comprehension-based approaches

such as the Natural Approach (Krashen and
Terrell 1983). G ram m ar is not overtlv taught, the
locus is on com prehension, and the input is sup
posed to be comprehensible.
While books of TPR com m ands are avail
able. manv teachers write their own com m ands,
perhaps relating them to the topic of study. For
instance, if children art' studying the water cycle,
com m ands such as Touch/Poirl to/Pirh up the
Cloud/Paver/Raindrop can be carried out using
pictures or word cards. With a series of com
mands. teachers can ask students to e a rn out a
simple process such as making a terrarium in
which water will evaporate and condense: lake
the glass terrarium. Put mater in the pool. Sprax water
on the sides Put plastie wrap on lop. Pul the terrarium
h the window.

Total Physical Response (TPR)

TPR storytelling (Rav an d Seelv 1998; Seely and
Romijn 1998) is a m e th o d o f second o r foreign
language teaching that includes actions, p a n
tom im e, an d o th er techniques. Much is taught
th ro u g h stories. T he instructor begins by teach
ing the words of a store th ro u g h associated ges
tures. Each word has its own gesture, perhaps a
sign in Am erican Sign Language (the language
of the de a f in the U nited States) or perhaps a
gesture that the teacher invents. Students then
practice the vocabulary in pairs: O n e speaks and
the o th e r makes the gesture. After the vocabu
lary has b e e n covered, the teacher tells a m ini
story to the students, trving to incorporate the
students' nam es and characteristics. .After about
a m o n th o f instruction, a teacher m ight tell a
mini-story, such as the one below, m uch of which
students would u n d e rs ta n d because o f the previ
ous stories, gestures, and pantomimes:
Tamm}' has a cat in the chair. T he cat
runs away. Tammy looks everywhere for
the cat. She comes back and sits down.
Oh! T he cat is asleep in the chair.

grammatical errors. How are vou to respond? In

EFL situations, where time is short an d class is
perhaps the onlv place where the child speaks
English, manv teachers are careful ab o u t noting
errors, a n d plan lessons a n d h o m ew o rk in
response. Some of the strategies an d materials
that Celce-Murcia an d Hilles (1988) present for
g ram m ar lessons could be used with children.
U r s g ra m m a r practice activities (1988) are
a rranged bv grammatical category (adjectives,
negative sentences) a n d manv can be used as is or
In the U nited States, where manv teachers
favor the Natural Approach, errors are often
seen as indicators of the childs knowledge, but
n o t as invitations to correct. Teachers of younger
children (ages 510) often ignore errors. These
teachers respond to the child's ideas, perhaps
rephrasing the incorrect language in correct
All in all, w hen teachers notice errors in
grammar, vocabulary, an d pronunciation, they
can choose from a range of strategies: ignore the
error, m ake a m ental note, rephrase the sen
tence. rephrase a n d expand, or present a lesson
to a gro u p or the whole class later on.

(Seelv a n d Romijn 1998. p. 42)

Later on, students are able to tell the storv th em
selves, while others act it out. In the next step,
the teacher tells a m ain storv which students
later retell a n d revise. Last, students create their
own stories an d tell them. Tests focus on vocab
ulary. In the second or third vear, g ram m ar is
tau g h t by telling the stories from a n o th e r point
o f view, thus requiring the lea rn er to change
tenses, pro n o u n s, and so on.

Teaching Grammar
Younger children are less likely to focus on the
vocabulary or pro n u n cia tio n errors of others, or
to correct them . As children grow older, their
metalinguistic awareness (ability to analyze lan
guage) grows, an d thev do te n d to notice errors
m uch the same as adults do.
As you work with children who are devel
oping their oral language, you will notice many

I have focused here on activities that are usually
associated with ESL or EFL children's instruc
tion: songs, poems, chants, dram a, stories, ges
ture. m ovem ent. TPR. a n d TPR storytelling. At
the same time, manv activities associated with
co n te n t classes can also give children oral lan
guage practice. Some examples are class discus
sions. pairwork. cooperative group work, oral
reports, interviews an d lectures.
The main point of this chapter is that chil
dren's ESL instruction needs to parallel their
developmental levels. Since plav is a child's suc
cessful work, the programs allow for m am kinds
of plan with talk built in. Since children learn
from each other and crave interaction with peers,
group activities are provided. Since children
often enjov language plav, am ple time is given

for rhvmes, chants, and jokes. Since children are

restless a n d n e e d to learn th ro u g h m ovem ent,
gestures a n d m ovem ent are inco rp o rate d into
songs and games. In addition, TPR along with
TPR storvtelling are used. C hildren also move
a ro u n d as they work on experim ents an d art
projects, a n d as thev h andle objects that relate to
their topic of study. Stories, told with various
kinds of visuals and sometimes supplem ented
with dram atic activities, provide children with a
context for the language thev are learning.
These are examples for just some of the princi
ples given at the beginning of this chapter. In
addition, ESL materials published for children
often reflect sensitivity to different learning stvles
(Peck 1995).
Since the 1960s. oral language has been
emphasized m ore than written language in chil
d re n 's ESL. In the U n ited States, children
would often take part in listening and speaking
activities in ESL classes, but would get most of
their reading a n d writing instruction in English
in a m ainstream class.
Currently, in the schools of test-driven
states such as California, reading seems to be the
skill most taught and tested. G overnm ent agen
cies test children's reading a n d publicize scores.
Publishers m a rk e t "teacher-proof" m aterials
such as Success for All and Open Court, asserting
their usefulness with all children, including
English-language learners. It is likely that pub
lishers will decide that m ore work on oral lan
guage needs to go along with reading and
writing activities. At the same time, materials
such as Into English! mav start to incorporate
m ore written language. In all, the pen d u lu m
mav swing back to oral language a n d then to an
u n d e rsta n d in g of how all four skills can be
taught so that thev nourish each other.
O f curre n t ESL m ethods, TPR storytelling
seems ripe for further developm ent a n d dissem
ination. W hen additional materials are p ro
duced and m arketed teachers guides, student
books, tra in in g videos m o re tea c h e rs can
learn to use this a pproach on their own, as well
as t h ro u g h the existing tra in in g program s.
Research mav fu rth e r d o c u m e n t the success of
an a pproach that relies on gesture, movement.

h u m o r an d stories. Perhaps o th e r techniques

will em erge in which students learn stories, act
them out. retell, and v a n them.
Teachers who move from ESL instruction
for adults to ESL for children mav find that their
focus on the structure of English changes to a
focus on the interests and characteristics of chil
dren. Teachers' knowledge of English grammar,
of the children's native languages, of lesson plan
ning. and of the contrasts between their own cul
ture and the children's native cultures will stand
them in good stead. Thev also mav need to spend
time observing some children, w hether language
learners or not. to become sensitive to ch ild ren s
classroom behavior and preferences. In a way,
their task is to adapt tasks that children already
enjov (such as guessing games or ju m p rope
rhvmes) to the language classroom. They also can
take advantage of some excellent published
materials, as well as books and materials written
for child native speakers of English.
So. if vou are starting a new position as a
teacher of ESL or EFT to children, vou bring at
least th re e resources: your know ledge of
English, vour experience with language teaching
techniques, and vour intuitions about children.
As vou learn m ore about children, you will see
them m ore cleavlv as language students. You will
note their learning stvles, their n e e d for work in
listening and speaking, and their openness to
language plav: in the process, vour work as a lan
guage teacher of children can be increasingly
successful a n d enjoyable.

1. T hink of an incident when the oral language
of a child surprised vou. Write down, as far as
vou can rem em ber, what the child said. Was
there language plav? How can you describe
the unusual qualities of the c h ild s language?
2. Are there other wavs that vou can think of in
which children's oral language (both listening
and speaking) differs from adults language?
3. Games, such as jum p rope rhvmes a n d guess
ing games, can be used with children who are
learning a language. In one game, children

line up according to the m onth and year in

which they were born. T hen each is invited to
tell about his or her birthday. The teacher
accepts correct responses and understandable
ones: I was born on March 23 is accepted as
well as Me, September." What oral language
games did vent enjoy as a child? Which ones
could you use or adapt with child EST learners?
4. Consider an oral language game such as
Simon Savs or Mr. Wolf." How would you
adapt it to a class, for instance, with beginners
and intermediate learners?
5. W hat three stories would y o u most like to
learn to tell to a class of ESL children? The
stories could come from children's literature
or be your own experiences. What visuals
would you use?

1. Talk with some children between six and ten
years old. Ask them to teach y o u their favorite
b oard games. Examples m ight be "Clue."
Candvland, M onopolvjr." (United States),
o r P a rch e e si a n d Snakes, C hutes an d
L adders (worldwide). Tape record the play
ers language during one of these games.
Write a paragraph or two explaining what
ESL level (s) m ight plav this game a n d why.
2. Choose a storv, a poem , or song that tells a
story. O btain or m ake three sets o f objects
which you could use in presenting the storv
Types of objects or visuals could include p u p
pets, masks, dolls, pictures, posters, over
h e a d transparencies, props, craft activities,
art activities, an d so on. Tell the story to vour
classmates, using each set of objects in turn.
3. Observe an intermediate- or advanced-level
ESL class for children. Take special note of the
grammatical errors in writing and in speaking.
List them. Write a brief report listing the most
frequent errors. Suggest two communicative
activities that would be worthwhile to use in
addressing the most com m on error.
4. Write a brief p a p e r (one or two pages) about
an adult's m em ory o f studying a second or
foreign language as a child. You may inter
view som eone else or write about your own


memories. What feelings are rem em bered?

How do you think learning occurred? In addi
tion, how m ight a person's past experience
influence his or her approach as a teacher?
Choose a storv to teach to a group of chil
dren. Draw a picture or make a collage, using
pictures from magazines and newspapers,
that will help children to learn the story.

Each book can be adapted to an EFL/ESL context.
Claire, E. 1998. ESL Teachers Activities Kit. EnglewoodCliffs. XJ: Prentice Hall.
Experienced or inexperienced teachers can draw
from this variety of games and activities.
Directions and materials are clearly spelled out.
Some unusual categories are Total Physical
Response activities and activities in which stu
dents build social contacts.
Law. B.. and M. Eckes. 2001. The More-Than-JustSurviving Handbook: ESL for Even Classroom
'Teacher. 2d ed. Winnipeg, Canada: Peguis
This comprehensive guide covers all four skills
and is useful for teachers who have two or three
ESL students, or a whole class. The book is prac
tical, concise, and filled with examples. The
authors discuss how child ESL learners feel and
how their language proficiency grows. Their dis
cussion of assessment is practical and realistic.
Phillips. S. 1993. Young Learners. Oxford: Oxford
L'niversitv Press.
Phillips provides children's EFL activities in sev
eral categories: listening, speaking, reading,
writing, vocabulary and grammar, games, songs
and chants, creative activities, and videos. The
last chapter. "Putting It All Together, deals with
the content and planning of lessons as well as
with classroom management.
Scott. W. A., and L. H. Ytreberg. 1990. Teaching
English to Children. London: Longman.
A concise, practical and easv-to-read book about
children's EFL. The authors also provide a help
ful discussion of how voting children differ
from older people as language learners.
Ur. P. 1998. Grammar Practice Activities: A Practical Guide
for 'Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University

Communicative activities are provided to remedv

grammatical errors in areas such as adjectives,
interrogatives, and tag questions. Thirtv-four
areas are given, and Ur provides several activities
for each one. While written with the needs of
secondare and adult students in mind, mam of
the activities can be adapted to children.

TPRS (Total Phvsical Response Stomelling)

http: / /www.

This page is sponsored bv Education World and shares

a site with pages on foreign language resources.
http: / /
foreign lang/classroom/esl.shtml

Aarmi Shepard's Reader's Theater site.


Young Learners: Web Resources (Young Learners
Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign
Language) (LATEFI.)
This organization is based in the United King
dom. The site contains more than 150 links to
sites in several countries relating to ESI- and
EFL for voting learners. This is the most
detailed and complete site that I have seen
relating to children's ESI..
http: / /
ylresources.htm rt indcx.html

An index of websites dealing with reader's theater,

drama, stomelling. etc.

E-mail Discussion Group

TESI.K-12 (Teachers of English as a second language
to children) is an e-mail discussion group
(newsgroup) for teachers of children ages 5-18
(kindergarten through 12th grade).
To subscribe send a message to

Or on BIT NET to LIST SER V ta CU N YV M with

message consisting of one line:
Subscribe TESLK-12 vour name

Language Skills
Teaching reading skills to non-native speakers of English involves unique
problems and challenges at all conceivable levels of instruction. ESLTEFL
teachers working with young children will be greatly assisted by Ediger's
chapter, which provides background and review of issues and standards
while also recommending many helpful teaching activities and
techniques.The chapter by Weinstein is addressed to teachers of adult
ESL learners; such teachers must start by understanding the special
contexts in which adult literacy is taught. Weinstein synthesizes current
curricula and pedagogical approaches, including a number of promising
practices. In the final chapter of this section, Grabe and Stoller cover
theory and practice as they apply to reading for academic purposes. After
a discussion of curriculum-related issues, they recommend specific
practices for facilitating effective academic reading.

R eading
II C :




Teaching Children Literacy Skills

in a Second Language


Teaching Children Literacy Skills in a Second Language" describes the background factors and issues
influencing children's literacy development in a second language, Ediger brings together unique needs
of child L2 learners, contributions of various instructional methods and recent ESL and English
Language Arts literacy standards. She recommends a wide range of specialized approaches and
techniques for teaching ESL/EFL reading and writing.

In recent rears, there has been increased focus
on the teaching of reading an d o th er literacy
skills to c h ild ren (Pre-K-6 ). both in N orth
.America an d abroad. Part of this mav relate to
the recognition that reading is probable the
most im p o rta n t skill for second language (L2 )
learners in academ ic contexts (Grabe 1991).
and part of it mas come from tin increase in the
num bers of children worldwide who are learning
English as a second or foreign language (here
after ESI. or EFL). It m ar also be a result of the
recent im plem entation of standards in m uch of
public education in North America, a movement
built upon the belief that basic literacy instruction
should be a fundam ental c o m ponent of public
education. In the last few years, m any states and
provinces in the U nited States and Canada have
established literacy standards and im plem ented
large-scale standardized testing of literacy skills.
.Another possible factor contributing to an
increased focus on literacy instruction to chil
d ren in EFL contexts mav be the growing n u m
bers of countries that are moving toward m aking
English language instruction m andatory from a
younger age. For example, in Korea an d Taiwan,
English is now a required subject, beginning in
the third grade. Given the portability o f books
and o th e r reading materials (as well as the
increasing availability of reading material over the
Internet), reading is gradually being recognized

as a valuable source of language input, particu

larly for students in learning environm ents (as
in some EFL contexts) in which fluent speakers
of English are generally not available to provide
o th e r kinds of language input.
Notions of literacy are exp a n d in g as well.
Although many different definitions of literacy
can be fo u n d in the literature on the subject,
and reading still seems to be prim ary to most
of them (see U rq u h a rt a n d Weir 1998 for a dis
cussion of this), the teaching of writing and oral
skills is increasingly being integrated with rea d
ing instruction for both native English speakers
(NFS) a n d English language learners (ELLs).
Manx of the new standards, both for EI.Ls and
NFS children, also integrate expectations for the
development of all four language skills reading,
writing, listening, and speaking (see examples of
standards provided later in this chapter). In fact,
increasingly, the large-scale standardized tests
ask students to bring together all of these skills,
requiring students to dem onstrate com petence
in synthesizing in fo r m a tio n fro m m u ltip le
sources, or b ringing in form ation they have
he a rd or read into written responses (see Board
of Education of the Gits of New York 1997 for
examples). This chapter, then, takes a similar
approach: It investigates the developm ent o f L2
reading, addressing writing and oral skills to the
extent that thev are also involved in literacy
developm ent.

Various theories exist to explain what is involved
w hen we read, an d m u ch of what we know about
reading an d literacy comes from research on
first language (LI) learners. However, c u rre n t
research generally views reading as an interac
tive, sociocognitive process (B ernhardt 1991),
involving a text, a reader, an d a sorted context "with
in which the activity of reading takes place. In
reading, an individual constructs m e a n in g
th ro u g h a transaction with written text that has
been created bv symbols that represent lan
guage. T h e transaction involves the reader's act
ing on o r i n te r p r e tin g the text, a n d the
interpretation is influenced bv the reader's past
experiences, language background, a n d cultural
framework, as well as the reader's purpose for
reading" (H udelson 1994, p. 130). However, our
expectation an d intent when we read is to make
m eaning, to c o m p re h e n d what we read (Grabe
1991; Rigg 1986).
W ithin the com plex process of reading, six
general c o m p o n e n t skills an d knowledge areas
have been identified (Grabe 1991. p. 379):





Autom atic recognition skills a virtually

unconscious ability, ideally requiring little
m ental processing to recognize text, espe
cially for word identification
Vocabulary and structural know ledge a
sound u n d e rsta n d in g of language structure
an d a large recognition vocabulary
Formal discourse structure knowledge an
un d e rsta n d in g of how texts are organized
and how information is put together into
various genres of text (e.g.. a report, a letter,
a narrative)
Content/w orlcl background knowledge
prior knowledge of text-related inform a
tion an d a shared u n d e rsta n d in g of the
cultural inform ation involved in text
Synthesis an d evaluation skills strategies
the ability to read and compare information
from multiple sources, to think critically
about what one reads, and to decide what
information is relevant or useful for one's


Metacognitive knowledge and skills m oni

to rin g an awareness of o n e s m ental
processes and the ability to reflect on what
one is doing and the strategies on e is
employing while reading

W h e n flu e n t rea d e rs read, they b rin g

to g eth e r all of these c o m ponents into a com plex
process. Exactly how thev do this is som ething
that is still the subject of great discussion an d
research; however, we know that all of these sys
tems play a part in the process. Fluent readers
recognize a n d get m eaning from words they see
in print, an d use their knowledge of the struc
ture of the language to begin form ing a m ental
notion of the topic. Thev use the semantic an d
syntactic inform ation from the text together
with what thev know from personal experience
a n d knowledge of the topic to form hypotheses
or predictions about what thev are reading and
what thev are about to read. As they continue
reading, thev trv to confirm or reject these pre
dictions. asking. Does this make sense? Does what
I'm seeing on the page fit the ideas in my head?
If thev are able to confirm their predictions, they
read on. If not. thev mat- reread the text, paying
closer attention to the print, and reformulating
their predictions. .And thus the process of sam
pling text, making hypotheses, a n d confirming
them continues. W hen some part of the process
breaks down, and begins not to make sense, the
reader often must re-examine the process being
used, and must call upon strategies to trv to repair
the process and facilitate com prehension again.
Some of the strategies mav involve compensating
for a lack of content or language knowledge by
making m ore use of the print or of o n e s back
ground knowledge: others mav involve changing
one's wav of leading: slowing down, rereading
part of the text, or looking for key words.
T hese are things flu e n t rea d e rs do.
Similarly, for ELLs to read fluently, they m ust
develop the ability to bring all of these elem ents
together simultaneously a n d rapidly. However,
sometimes there arc gaps in their knowledge of
the language o r culture. Thus, it is the task o f an
effective reading program to provide inform a
tion and practice in all of the systems which con
tribute to m aking the process work.

There are many similarities in the process of
learning to read for ELL a n d NES children, and
as will be seen later in this chapter, similar
approaches are often used in classes o f both
native an d non-native readers; however, there
are also some im p o rtan t differences (H udelson
1994; Aebersold a n d Lield 1997). Thus, while
some researchers argue that 1.2 learners should
not be segregated from L.1 learners (Laltis and
Hudelson 1994: Van den Branden 2000), teach
ers of ESL students need to be specially p re
pared an d may need to adjust their instructional
strategies in certain wavs in o rd e r to teach 1.2 lit
eracy skills effectively.

Oral Language Skills

and Academic Literacy Skills
First of all, NFS an d ELL children often differ in
terms of the language background thev bring to
the task o f acquiring literacy. Children learning
to read in their LI generalh are already faith
fluent in speaking and u n d e rstanding the target
language when thev begin school, and can build
on the oral language thee already have. Often,
words that they are learning to read are already
present in their oral language vocabularies.
ELLs, on the o th er hand, do not necessarily
have oral ability in the L2 vet and generalh can
not fall back on an oral knowledge of what thee
are learning to read o r write. Thus, the language
or vocabulary thee e n c o u n te r in reading is often
completely new to them. At the same time,
research shows that ELLs' informal oral lan
guage skills usually develop m ore quickly than
their academic language and reading writing
abilities (Collier 1989). While teachers can build
on this growing oral language ability thev need
to keep in m ind that some aspects of it are still
developing. Furthermore, when initially assessing
students' com petence in reading and writing,
particularly with children who are a little older,
teachers must be careful not to assume that oral
language proficiency is necessarily an indicator of
reading and writing abilities. In o th e r words, it is

im portant to assess b o th oral an d "written lan

guage abilities in d ep endently in o rd e r to obtain
a true u n d e rsta n d in g of a child's overall lan
guage proficiency level.
Research suggests, however, th at even
though ELLs are at a beginning level in their L2
developm ent, thev ma\ not n e e d to wait until
thev are orallv fluent to begin learning to read
and write. First of all. children living in Englishspeaking environm ents have been shown to be
able to acquire a substantial am ount of English
from dealing with the English thev are exposed to
in their dailv lives; thev are often able to begin
reading what thev see in the environment around
them. For example, children have been able to
identify the meanings of words on packaged prod
ucts. signs, and in comic books thev h ate seen
(Hudelson 1984). Also, children have shown that
thev are able to develop L2 knowledge from writ
ten language input, in addition to oral input
(Eller and Mangubhai 1983), suggesting that
[t]he relationships am o n g listening,
speaking, reading and writing during
developm ent, then, are com plex rela
tionships of m utual support. Practice
in anv one process contributes to the
overall reservoir of L2 knowledge,
which is then available for o th er acts
of listening, speaking, reading, or writ
ing. For this reason, it is im p o rta n t to
provide a b u n d a n t exposure to func
tional. m eaningful uses of both oral
and written language for all learners
( P e re g o v a n d Bovle 1997. p. 102).

The Role of the First Language

in Literacy Development
Just as XES children bring valuable oral lan
guage knowledge to learning to read and write,
the LI and literacy b a c kground that ELLs may
bring with them is a valuable asset to their L2
an d literacy learning. Even if teachers cannot
speak the 1.1 (s) of their students, their accept
ance of the child's LI and support of its use can
greatly benefit students learning the L2 (Lucas
an d Katz 1994; Fallis and H u delson 1994).

F urtherm ore, although the research presents

mixed findings on the transferability of specific
LI reading skills to L2 l eading (Bernhardt 1991),
there is clear evidence of a strong relationship
between children's prior native language literacy
and their developm ent of English literacy (Lucas
an d Katz 1994: Cum m ins 1991). If children
already understand the symbolic role of charac
ters or letters or are familiar with some of the
functions of print in society, this awareness
can help them move to the next stages in their
1iteracy developm ent.

Varied Experiences,
Background Knowledge,
and Cultures o f E S L Students
In ESL learning contexts, teachers must be cau
tious about m aking a m assumptions about the
cultural or language backgrounds of F.LLs. In a
single ESL class, students mat have widely dif
fe r e n t LI b a c k g ro u n d s, e d u c atio n a l back
grounds, language proficiency levels, cultures, or
prior experiences with literacy. This has several
implications for teachers of ESL literacy. First of
all, this mav mean that ELLs bring differing world
and background knowledge, as well as different
degrees of topic familiarity, to the task of reading
and writing, something that is likely to iniluence
their c o m p re h en sio n of what tliev read
(Steffensen andjoag-dev 1984). This variability of
background in the classroom also suggests several
things. First, teachers need to incorporate
responsive teaching" (Faltisand Huclelson 1994).
bv being prepared to employ a variety of teaching
approaches and techniques with ELLs. It also sug
gests the importance of learning as much as pos
sible about the students' cultural backgrounds
and experiences. Furthermore, it means using var
ious m ethods to activate the students' schemata.
i.e., their knowledge of and beliefs about events,
situations, and actions, based upon their experi
ences (Rumelhart 1980). through such activities
as prereading discussions, pictures, diagrams,
drawings, videos, or role-playing. Finally, it also
suggests choosing (or haying the children choose)
reading material on topics that are familiar, which

they can identify with because they relate to

their own cultures, backgrounds a n d present
lives, or which are of high general interest
(Faltis a n d Huclelson 1994; Dav and Bamford
1998). (See Opitz 1998 for a list of m ulticultural
c h ild r e n s b o o k s.)

First Language Literacy

ESL learners often com e with very different
prior experiences with literacy in their native
cultures, an d tliev mav have experienced differ
ent values and functions ascribed to literacy. O r
they may even have had y e n little exposure to
literacy in the LI and may be learning to read
and write for the first time in their L2, English.
Some mav have had their formal schooling
inte rru p ted bv yvar or the econom ic or political
situation in their country, with the result that
they first e n c o u n te r learning to read and yvrite
as somewhat older students. Children yvho arrive
at a voting age mav have an easier time fitting
into a neyv environm ent than older children.
T here are several reasons for this. First, yvith
younger ESL children, their NFS peers are also
developing literacy skills for the first time, and
they have less far to go to "catch up" to their
peers' level of academic language an d literacy
developm ent in English (Hamavan 1994). Also,
classes for younger children are usually oriented
toward facilitating the natural em ergence of lit
eracy. whereas classes for older XES children
tend to assume that some literacy background
already exists and treat the learning of language
m ore abstractly and m ore th rough the p rinted
text th a n orally (Lucas an d Katz 1994).
However, older first-time literacy learners may
bring greater cognitive developm ent, m ore reallife experience, or even m ore maturity to the
task of learning to read and write. For older
beginning ELLs. then, it is im portant to provide
reading materials that appeal to their age level
and interests, even if they are at beginning levels
of reading and writing ability. For this, it will be
helpful to find reading materials at lower levels of
difficulty, but which are not overly- childish in
their content. (See Huclelson 1993 for lists of lowlevel. high interest materials that are appropriate

for these students.) Teachers n e e d to be careful,

though, not to assume that children with lowliteracy backgrounds will com e with the same
understandings about literacy or p rin t as thev
do. Children learning to read a n d write for the
first time (including some beginning NES read
ers) may n e e d assistance with developing an
un d e rsta n d in g of notions such as the following:
So m e A ssu m p tio n s We M ake about Print

Pictures go with text.

We read from left to right, from to back, top
to bottom.
Words are written separated from each other.
Quotation marks m ean that someone is
Punctuation marks separate notions or ideas
from each other.
Written language has different rules and
cont entions from oral language.

A phonics approach generallv emphasizes

teaching children to match individual letters of
the alphabet with their specific English p r o n u n
ciations, with the idea that if children can
"sound out" or "decode" new words, they will be
able to re a d inclependentlv. In a p h o n ics
approach, children are explicitlv taught soundsymbol patterns, and often the conscious learn
ing of rules. T he belief underiving this approach
is that if children first learn individual sounds,
thev will be able to put them together into com
binations. and then into words. .Although phonics
approaches varv. most teach the following basic
concepts in approxim ated this order:
C onsonants (C)


Over the vears. num erous approaches to teaching
beginning reading have appeared. Wear er (1994)
divides these approaches into two larger cate
gories: part-centered (also called code-emphasis or
bottom-up) approaches, which view reading instruc
tion as moving from learning the "parts"
and building u p to the "whole": an d .sociobsycholinguistic (also called meaning-emphasis or
top-down) ap p ro a c h e s, which em phasize the
overall construction of m eaning from connected
or whole texts, and draw on the rea d e rs and
writers schem ata and personal experiences.
Several of the more com m on approaches in each
group are reviewed here.
Part-C en tered


Part-centered a p p ro a c h e s include phonics aporoaches, so-called linguistic approaches, a sight
word approach, and a basal reader approach.

for which there is a single sound

b. d. f. j. , 1. nr. n, p. r. s, t, v, /
for which there is m ore than one sound
c. g. h. w, v
which occur in two-letter combinations,
or "blends"
with /: bl. cl. fl, gl, pi, si
with n br. cr, dr, fr. gr. pr, tr
with v: sc. sk. sm, sn. sp. st. sw
which occur in three-letter blends
scr. spr. sir. squ
which com bine to form a new sound,
or digraph
ch. sh. th. wh. gh. -nk. -ng

Vow els (V)

long vowels

short vowels
d ip h th o n g




ate, like, rote

\ < or


paid, boat
it, hot

Yr or CAT

art. car, her


saw, book;
boil, out

Phonics, then, generallv involves teaching

students the sound-letter relationships used in
reading and writing. A related tvpe of knowledge,
phonemic awareness, invokes a student's u n d e r
standing that speech is m ade tip of individual
sounds, including such things as the ability to tell

if two words begin or en d with the same sound,

and the ability to focus on the form of speech
apart from focusing on its m eaning or content
(Strickland 1998). Although there is some dis
agreem ent over which of these two kinds of
awareness children really need, phonemic aware
ness is also considered im portant for literacy
developm ent and frequently taught with phonics.
A linguistic approach utilizes a scientific
knowledge of language a n d exposes children to
certain carefully selected words containing teg
ular spelling patterns so that they can infer the
letter-sound relationships in those words. For
example, similar looking word groups such as
take-bake-lake-cake or went-cent-tent-bent an d com
m on rhvme or word-ending patterns such as -ate.
-ell, or -ight are used to teach the sound patterns.
O n e linguistic approach uses a special alphabet
(the i.t.a., or initial teaching alphabet") con
tain in g 44 u n iq u e letters to re p r e s e n t the
approxim ately 44 individual p h o n e m e s of the
English language. It was believed that if children
could be taught using a m ore regular soundsymbol system (with exactly one svmbol for each
sound), they could learn to read m ore easily
Books were prin te d using the i.t.a.. a n d mam '
children learned to read using this system.
A sight word or look-sas m eth o d teaches chil
d ren to recognize whole words, comm only using
flash cards or o th er techniques to help children
quickly identify such c om m on words as op, and,
an d the. It is based u p o n the notion that if chil
d ren can recognize about 100 of the most fre
quently occurring words, they will be able to
read about half o f the words thev e n c o u n te r in
most texts. Teachers who use this m e th o d often
do so because thev believe that knowing the
most fre q u e n t words will help students learn to
read m ore efficiently. T he sight word approach is
often included with phonics approaches, with
many p ro p o n en ts emphasizing rapid recogni
tion or decoding"; however, notions of co m p re
hension are generally not addressed, possibly
because it is assumed that once children can rec
ognize words, com prehension takes care of itself.
A basal reader approach is based upon the
notion that children should be taught to read
through careful control and sequencing of the
language a nd the sounds that they are exposed to.

As a result, basal readers are carefully graded,

sequenced to present sounds, vocabulary, and
individual skills at increasing levels of difficulty,
and also to provide carefully controlled practice,
recycling, a n d testing of the language an d skills.
In many cases, the reading texts are specifically
written to have exactly the right com bination of
vocabulary structures, a n d skill practice de te r
m in e d necessary for optimal learning at each
level of ability Present-dav basal readers g e n e r
ally com e in com plete series which seek to pro
vide a total reading a pproach from beginning to
adv a n ce d levels. Thev are often "eclectic,
including phonics, regularly p a tte rn e d words,
an d basic sight words, a n d view reading as the
masters of individual reading skills.



T he socio-psschohnguistic m ethods included here
are the Language Experience Approach (LEA), a
literature-based approach, an d the Whole Language
T he Language Experience Approach (LEA)
builds upon the notion that if children are given
material to read that thev are already familiar
with, it will help them learn to read. This
m eth o d is based on two related ideas; that learn
ing should move from the familiar to the
unknown, and that readers whose world knowl
edge or schemata are similar to that underlying
the text thev are reading will be more able to
make sense of the text. In fact, this approach goes
one step further, proposing that if the actual lan
guage and content of the stories is familiar to
readers, thev should be able to learn to read it
even m ore easily The LEA accomplishes this bv
having students generate their own stories; tran
scripts of these stories then becom e their read
ing material. Typically a class would follow a
series of steps like this:
1. The student or class dictates a "story" usually
based upon an experience thev have had. that
the teacher writes down on a large sheet of
paper. The teacher tries to maintain the exact
wording and expressions that the children

have dictated (if it contains errors, the chil

dren can correct them later as their profi
ciency increases).
2. T he teacher then either reads the store to
the class (if the children are beginning read
ers), or has the class read back the store thee
h a te com posed, proeiding any help thee
n e e d along the xvax to figure out indieidual
words. This "reading" may be re p e a te d
seeeral times, be different people o r the
whole class, until the children are familiar
with what thee hat e written. Eventually, the
children should be able to read the store
3. D e p e n d in g on their level of ability and
needs, the class will then engage in various
e x te n d e d activities based u p o n the original
store, in c lu d in g focusing on indieidual
words, letters (e.g.. those at the beginnings
o f words or rhem ing endings), or meanings
of various noteworthy parts. The children
mat also select some of the words to write on
cards to practice later individually. In each
case, the material comes out of. and is dis
cussed within, the b ro a d e r context of the
original store. Additional exercises mat also
be constructed from the original reading,
such as cutting the store up into sentence
strips, or even into individual words, and
having the children put them back in order.
4. Ultimately, the children are expected to
move from the stories thee have dictated
toward being able to read those written be
others. (See Dixon an d Xessel 1983 for m ore
about the LEA).
The LEA can be used with re beginning
readers and writers because thee onlv need to dic
tate the stories oralle. and even this can be done
collaboratieele. bringing together the combined
abilities of the entire class. Because it involves sto
ries that are first dictated, the LEA allows children
to see a direct link between oral and written lan
guage. In essence, it involves "writing to read."
Because the children hat e "composed" the stories
themselves, there is a close match between their
knowledge or experience and the texts thee read.
A litem I re-based approach is one that uses
children's literature with the intention of focusing

on m eaning, interest, and enjoym ent, while

addressing indieidual children's needs in teach
ing them to read. In this approach, children
often select their own books (generally, regularly
published books) an d read them on their own
or with others. If the children are b e g inning or
nonreaders, the teacher or a metre proficient
p e e r mae read the book to them . Alternately, if
the reading is done individually, the teacher may
follow up be holding an indieidual conference
with the child, asking the child questions about
what he or she und e rsto o d from the store or
how he or she felt about the store. Children may
also be asked to read portions of their stories
aloud, and the teacher mae take notes on the
tepes of miseries thee make as thee read (as one
m eth o d of diagnosing areas to address in the
future). Some p ro p o n e n ts o f this ap p ro a c h
maintain that individual skills should not be
taught the\ will em erge as the child reads. In
am case, the overall focus is on the child's
u n d e rsta n d in g of the store. Latter, the same
books mae be used as springboards for writing,
dram a, or discussion activities, such as writing
alternate endings to the store, role-plaeing parts
of it. or describing one of the characters in m ore
detail. Sometimes m ore than one book on the
same them e or genre or multiple books be the
same a u th o r (an "author study") may be read
and com pared. Use of this approach generally
requires that students have access to a collection
of books on a range of topics a n d at varying lexels of difficultx (either in the classroom or in a
libraiw). Teachers xvho use a literature-based
approach can greatle facilitate their stu dents
success and skill dexelopm ent bx helping them
find books which best fit their interests an d are
either at or just slightly abox e their reading level.
T he idea is that if children find that thex can be
successful at reading, an d their interest is held
bx the books thee hax e selected, thex will want to
continue reading.
The Whole Language approach is a philoso
phy of learning. Proponents o fW h o le Language
believe that thex are not just teaching reading;
rather, thex are guiding and assisting learners to
develop as in d e p e n d e n t readers, writers, and
learners. Thex- beliexe that language s e n e s per
sonal. social, and academ ic aspects of c h ild re n s

lives, an d that children becom e literate as they

grapple with the m eaning an d uses of print in
their environm ents. T h ro u g h such activities as
storvbook reading (being read to or reading the
same stories multiple times) an d writing their
own texts, children become aware of storvbook
structure, a n d can identify (and use) the specific
language tvpicallv used to tell stories. In fact,
researchers have found that children go through
a variety of developm ental stages as thev create
th eir own written texts: ( 1 ) scribbling, and
ascribing m eaning to it (as if it were writing): (2 )
seeing print an d drawing as the same: (3) using
letters of the alphabet, often in continuous
strings, without realizing that letters have a rela
tionship to sounds; (4) using one or two letters
(usually consonants), each representing a whole
word (but still not segm ented into words); (5)
using letters to represent one or two of the
sounds in a word, including vowels, and often
applying a strategy of using names of letters
instead of the sounds the letters make: (6 ) usingtransitional spelling, in which some words use
conventional spellings a n d some do not: and
using conventional
(Hudelson 1994; G underson 1991). LEA activi
ties a n d literature, though described as separate
approaches above, are often used along with
o th er activities and content within the Whole
Language approach. Whole Language incorpo
rates all of the language skills, based on the belief
that as stories are read to children, as children
recount what they have heard (and he a r others
do so), and as thev e xperim ent with putting their
ideas in writing, thev wrestle with sound-letter
correspondences and with the structure of writ
ten material. T h ro u g h these activities, children
figure out how written language works a nd how it
relates to oral language; through these attempts
at written language, in fact, they also learn how
reading works. In W hole Language, the use of
au th e n tic texts from various genres is vital. This
comes from the belief that only th rough e n c o u n
tering a n d attem pting to deal with ''real" texts
an d functions of literacy can children learn effec
tive strategies and techniques for understanding
an d using them themselves. (See Heald-Tavlor
1991 for m ore about Whole Language for ELLs.)

The Phonics/Whole Language Debate

N u m erous studies have a ttem pted to d eterm in e
the relative effectiveness of manv of these m e th
ods. U nfortunately, results have often b e e n
inconclusive or even contradictory. How does
each approach work for ELLs? Phonics approaches
presuppose that learners already know the sounds
of the language, and that once a word is sounded
out, thev onlv need to match it up with a word they
know. But ELLs don't vet know mane of the words,
even if thev can sound a word out. thev will still
probably not understand what it means. Even
m ore difficult, if thev can't hear the difference
between two sounds, for example. / 1/ in hit and
i in heal, thev niav have a hard time learning the
letters that represent or distinguish these sounds.
Phonics approaches have also been criticized
because thev don't address issues of com prehen
sion. Rigg (1986) found that the children in her
studv who were most concerned about pronounc
ing words "right" showed less comprehension of
what thee had read. Another reason a pure p h o n
ics approach mac cause difficulty for ELLs is that
mans of the most comm on -words in English con
tain sounds and patterns which do not follow basic
sound-svmbol correspondences that the children
niav have been taught, e.g.. come, or through.
A sight word approach to reading, like pho
nics, gives little focus to getting m eaning from a
text. As eve can see from Grade's (1991) six com
ponents of leading that were identified earlier,
vocabulary recognition is but one small piece o:
what it takes to be able to read. Also, common
words encountered in a sight word approach,
e.g.. have. of. or do d o n 't provide learners muck,
assistance, either with recognizing or with sound
ing out less frequently encountered words.
Criticisms of an id. a. approach include the
finding that children who learned with thiapproach had difficulty making the transition tr
conventional spelling (Bond and Dvkstra 1997), awell as the lack of sufficient material written in thi'
alphabet (Gunderson 1991). Basal leadershcwe pri
marily been criticized because in the process o:
sequencing all the language, vocabulary, and skillso carefully, m am end up with boring and artificial
readings; thev contain stilted sentences, pieces o:
stories, and literature p resented out of context

F u rth e rm o re , thev take a one-size-fits-all"

approach to the teaching of reading. As for indi
vidual skiUs-lxised teaching approaches, Strickland
(1998) reports that teachers have found that their
students have difficultv transferring skills learned
in isolation to real reading and writing activities.
Some of the findings concerning these initial
teaching approaches are promising, however. In
the 1960s. the large-scale Cooperative Research
Program in First-Grade R eading Instruction,
comprising 27 studies comparing manv of the
m ethods and materials described above, was con
ducted. Among the conclusions Bond and Dvkstra
(1997) t eached from their review of these studies




Regardless of what re a d in g instruction

a pproach is used, svstematic emphasis and
teaching of word studv skills is necessarv.
Eclectic program s p ro duced better results
than did o rth o d o x approaches.
Not all reading programs work equallv well
in all situations. Within particular programs,
factors such as teacher and learning situation
characteristics rather than m ethod mar- be
m ore important to students' ultimate success
in reading.
Children are able to learn to read bv various
methods and materials. With each approach,
some students were successful, but others
experienced difficultv. \ o single approach
was so clcarlv better than the others that it
should be used exclusivelv.
A writing co m p o n e n t is likelv to be an effec
tive addition to a reading program .
"The relative success of the Xonbasal pro
grams com pared to the basal programs
indicates that reading instruction can be
improved. It is likelv that improvements
would result from adopting certain elements
from each of the approaches used in this
studv" (p. 416).

In recent times, the debate over m ethods

has con c en tra te d mostly on the choice between
the n e e d for phonics instruction a n d / o r p h o n e
mic awareness on one side and Whole Language
on the other. Part of the difficultv in this debate
lies in the fact that p ro p o n en ts of each side cite
different kinds of research to support their

m ethod: Phonics supporters cite experimental

studies assessing perform ance on standardized
tests: W hole L anguage supporters cite basic
research on how children learn to read and write,
as well as classroom-based studies looking at long
term effects (Weaver 1994). Strickland (1998)
concludes that "the debates about phonics and
phonem ic awareness have less to do with their
value than with the am ount and type of instruc
tion thev require" and suggests that even in this
controversv. there are points of agreement. She
Educators on both sides of the phonics
debate agree that, ultimatelv, reading
and writing for m eaning is param ount.
Both sides are keenlv aware of the
im portance of good literature in the
lives of children and the n e e d for
responsive adults who support chil
d re n 's na tu ra l inclinations toward
making sense of print. Needless to say,
both sides recognize the im portance of
the alphabetic code in learning to read
and write (p. 8 ).
Increasinglv. the evidence seems to support
addressing such a complex process as literacy with
less simplistic solutions. Hamavan (1994) argues
that because ESL students represent a very diverse
g ro u p of learners, thev require a range of
approaches. Faltis and Hudelson (1994) sat- that
teachers need to be flexible, taking their cues
from students and adapting their pedagogies to
meet students' needs. O ther reading researchers
(e.g.. Weaver 1994: Strickland 1998) are increas
ingly advocating a more "balanced a pproach or
"whole-to-part-to-whole" a pproach one that is
engaging and rich with meaning, but focuses sys
tematically on specific textual features so that chil
d ren can draw their own conclusions about
language and applv them to their reading and
writing. Strickland provides the following instruc
tional guidelines for such an approach:

Skills and m eaning should alwavs be kept

together. Children need instruction focusing
on the alphabetic code to be taught together
with that which stresses com prehending,
thoughtful responses to literature, and the
creation of m eaning in writing.




Instead of rigid, systematically predeterm ined

instruction that is identical for all learners,
such acti\ities as word recognition skills and
phonics, as well as invented spelling, can be
systematically integrated into programs that
take learner variability into account.
Intensity instruction on individual skills or
strategies should only be provided to those
children who dem onstrate clear need for
Regular doc u m e n tatio n and assessment of
students' learning are still the best war to
dete rm in e how skills should be addressed
and to what degree.
Language arts instruction must be integrated
with a school's or district's standards and the
specific curricular objectiyes of the target
grade lcyel, as well as of the grades below and
aboye it.

In recent years, as a m easure designed to ensure
accountability for learning and to set up uni
formly high expectations for all learners, many
states, proyinces. school districts, and profes
sional organizations have established standards
for their students to attain. In setting up these
standards, m uch has been accom plished simply
th ro u g h the yen difficult process of bringing
together stakeholders in the educational system
to sit down and come to some agreem ent about
what reasonable expectations m ight be. For
m anv teachers, finally seeing a list of standards in
writing has greatly helped to clarify the objectiyes
toward which they should guide their students.
At the same lime, while the establishment
of these standards represents a ye n yaluable first
step in improying the overall quality of educa
tion for many students, they hare also d e m o n
strated that they are not the end point in the
process of proyicling an equitable a n d uniform
quality of education for everyone. First of all.
manv of the standards dealing with the various

c o n te n t areas covered in public edu c atio n ,

including language arts, social studies, m ath,
an d science, have been developed with the
assum ption that students are able to u n d e rsta n d
a n d use English well e n ough to engage yvith
their respective content. In fact, while some of
th e m recognize that th e ir stu d e n ts have
extremely diverse cultural, ethnic, an d linguistic
backgrounds, m am do not address the kev role
of language in the acquisition of content. T he
large-scale standardized tests that are often
based on these standards a n d that d o c u m e n t
their achievem ent (or lack of it), m ake it diffi
cult to obtain a true picture of the academic
achievement of many FLLs because the tests do
not take into account the interaction between
c ontent knowledge and language proficiency. In
o th er words, if ELLs are not able to read, u n d e r
stand. yvrite. or respond to tire test questions and
content, the test results will very likely not pres
ent an accurate picture of their true abilities. An
incorrect answer on a test, for example, cannot
distinguish yvhether the student did not know
that concept, or yvhether he or she simply did not
hav e the necessary language ability or test-taking
strategies to answer correctly. As such, the cur
rent plethora of standards that now exist, while
providing useful goals to aim for, may also lead to
the unfair assessment or treatm ent of ELLs.
Second, although there tire finally some
standards to teach to. the task of designing cur
riculum and instruc tion to meet them is still a
complex task. This is partly because, depending
on where one is. there are multiple standards
that one may be expected to meet simultaneously.
For example, teachers of ELLs in New York City
schools who wish to apply the Pre-K-12 ESL stan
dards developed bv the professional organiza
tion. Teachers o f English to Speakers of O th e r
Languages (TESOL), must synthesize three
different sets of standards because they must
also teach to the standards of Xcw York state and
those of Neyv York City as well (see Charts 1 and 2
(pp. 164165) for the TESOL Standards an d the
English Language Arts Standards used in Neyv
York City schools).
O ne o ther issue relevant to the im plem enta
tion of literacy standards for ELLs is the fact that
many of the standards, because of their likely

application to a wide variety of types a n d levels

of students, do not specify in detail the level of
com petency n e e d ed for m ee tin g the standard.
This means that teachers who attem pt to teach
to them must still apply a great deal o f judgm ent
in identifying exactly to what degree o f sophisti
cation or accuracy a child must, for example.
[ d e m o n s tr a te a basic u n d e rsta n d in g o f rules of
the English language in written a n d oral work"
(see Chart 2. English Language Arts Standards
Used in \ e w York City Schools, Standard E4a on
p. 165). This is not to sat' that having the stan
dards is not worthwhile: simply knowing the range
of types of competence a child should be able to
demonstrate is immensely useful. However, this
raises serious questions about the degree to which
assessments of the achievement of the standards
are reliable (see Stotskv 1997 for a critical evalua
tion of 28 current standards documents).
Nevertheless, given the variety of standards
relevant to the teaching of literacy skills to EI.L.s
which are now available, a look at a few of these
may be helpful here. O ne docum ent which specif
ically addresses the needs of ETI.s is the TESOL
Standards for Pre-K-12 Students (TESOL 1997).
These standards recognize the special needs of
ETI.s. providing a continuum of descriptors for
docum enting the developm ent of all of the skills
for students at beginning, intermediate, and
advanced levels lor each grade range (Pre-K-3.
4 - 8 , and 9-12), as well as for those with limited
formal schooling. T he TESOL Standards are
designed to p ro tid e educators with directions
and strategies to assist ESL learners to attain the
language thev need for learning content. In
o th er words, thev are in te n d e d to be used as a
bridge" to o th e r general education standards
(See Chart 1 [p. 164] and TESOL 1997 for m ore
information about the c ontent a n d im p lem e n ta
tion of these standards). A n u m b e r of states and
districts also h a te established their own special
standards for ELLs (see California D e partm ent
of Education 1999 for an exam ple of this). T he
use of special standards for ETI.s varies: Some
states and school districts use TESOLs stan
dards, some have designed their own, building
u p o n those fro m TESOL, a n d som e have
designed their own apart from TESOI.'s (see
Short 2000 for m ore inform ation on wars in

which standards have been a d o p te d bv various

states an d school districts).
It is also helpful for ESL teachers to be famil
iar with the standards designed for NES learners,
given the fact that m am districts and states, at least
for the time being, have opted to hold ELLs to the
same English Language Arts standards expected
of NES. .Although many of these standards do not
take into account the unique developmental
needs of ELLs, ESL teachers nevertheless can b e n
efit from knowing the kinds of expectations their
ELLs will eventually be required to meet. O ne
exam ple is the New Standards Perform ance
Standards English Language Arts (Elementary),
presently being implem ented in New York City
school districts (Board of Education of the City
of New York 1997).

T he following strategies can help ELLs develop
their literacy abilities as well as provide practice in
some of the areas required bv literacy standards.

Expose Students to the Many Uses

o f Print around Them

Label items in the room. Hat e students (with or

without help) make the labels themselves, in
multiple languages, each in a different color.
Foe us attention on the print around the class
room, school, or neighborhood.
Manage aspects of classroom business in writing.
Include attendance lists, classroom chores,
or charts showing the n u m b er of books read.
Establish a regular place to post announcements
or messages.
Record class discussions on chart paper; keep
these posted as long as a theme is being studied.
Create areas in the room for specific literacy pur
poses. A reading, listening, or writing corner.

T E S O L s P re-K -12 E S O L Standards
Goals for E S O L Learners
Goal I : To Use English to Communicate in Social Settings
Standards for Goal I
Students will:
1. use English to participate in social interaction
2. interact in, through, and with spoken and written English for personal expression
and enjoyment
3. use learning strategies to extend their communicative competence

Goal 2: To Use English to Achieve Academically in All Content Areas

Standards for Goal 2
Students will:
1. use English to interact in the classroom
2. use English to obtain, process, construct, and provide subject matter
information in spoken and written form
3. use appropriate learning strategies to construct and apply
academic knowledge

Goal 3: To Use English in Socially and Culturally Appropriate Ways

Standards for Goal 3
Students will:
1. use the appropriate language variety, register, and genre according to audience,
purpose, and setting
2. use nonverbal communication appropriate to audience,
purpose, and setting
3. use appropriate learning strategies to extend their sociolinguistic
and sociocultural competence
(So u rce:

T ESO L 1997, pp. 9-10)

Display different genres of reading and writing

material or books. C h ild re n s books, newspa
pers, magazines, dow nloaded messages or

printed-out inform ation from the Internet,

and students' own writing display every
one's work, not just the best papers.

English Language Arts Standards Used in New York City Schools
New Standards Performance Standards English Language Arts (Elementary)
E I . Reading
EI a Read at least twenty-five books of the quality and complexity illustrated
in the sample reading list,

Read and comprehend at least four books on the same subject,

or by the same author, or in the same genre.

E lc

Read and comprehend informational materials.

EI d Read aloud fluently.

E2. W riting
E2a Produce a report of information.
E2b Produce a response to literature.
E2c Produce a narrative account (fictional or autobiographical).
E2d Produce a narrative procedure.

E3. Speaking, Listening, and Viewing

E3a Participate in one-to-one conferences with the teacher.
E3b Participate in group meetings.
E3c Prepare and deliver an individual presentation.
E3d Make informed judgments about TV, radio, and film.

E4. Conventions, Grammar, and Usage of the English Language

E4a Demonstrate a basic understanding of rules of the English language in written
and oral work.
E4b Analyze and subsequently revise work to improve its clarity and effectiveness.

E5. Literature
E5a Respond to non-fiction, fiction, poetry, and drama using interpretive
and critical processes,
E5b Produce work in at least one literary genre that follows the conventions
of the genre.
J:_ rc e :

B o ard of Education in the C it y o f N e w York 1997, p. 23)

Use c ontent study as the context tor literacy

developm ent; have students investigate topics of
interest related to the co n te n t or them e being
studied, writing up their findings or presenting
them orallv to the class. Extensive reading can
also be very effective for increasing reading skills
of children in EFL contexts (Mee and Moi
1999). In te rn e t research an d projects are excel
lent sources of extensive reading material.

whole class discussion with facilitation bv the

teacher or with a peer of a different level of lan
guage proficiency thev were able to c o m p re h en d
what they read better than if the text had been
simplified for th e m to rea d on th eir own.
Encourage cooperative groups of mixed-level stu
dents to work together to read or write various
texts. Also, har e students first explain orally what
thev will later be asked to write. Or, after working
together in groups on a task, have students from
each group report back to the class what their
group discovered or accomplished. T h e n have
them put the same information into written form.

Provide Authentic Purposes

for Reading and Writing

Focus Students Attention

on Reading and Writing Strategies

Use stu d e n ts natural urge to com m unicate

w hen they n e e d inform ation for authentic p u r
poses; set up g enuine com m unication contexts
involving e-mail messages, dialogue journals, or
research projects, or develop class-to-class infor
m ation exchanges th ro u g h the In te rn e t (see
Ediger a n d Pavlik 2000 for m ore on this).

First, call attention to anv strategies students are

alreadv using, e.g., ( 1 ) thinking about what thev
alreadv know about a topic; (2) asking, Arc there
anv o th er words I know which are similar to this
word in some wav?; (3) looking backward and
forward from a word or phrase thev d o n t u n d e r
stand (using the context) to see if that can give
them m ore inform ation for c o m p re h en d in g
what thev are reading; (4) m onitoring whether
thev understand what thev are reading and, if
not, changing how thev are reading. Then, mode!
some of these strategies for students bv thinking
aloud the thoughts going through vour m ind avou use them.

Provide Opportunities for Children

to Read More Extensively
on a Subject

Provide Scaffolding for Learning

Scaffolding involves the setting up of tem porary
supports, provided bv capable people, that p e r
mit learners to participate in the com plex
process before thcv at e able to do so unassisted
(Peregov an d Bovle 1997, p. 81). As students
becom e able to do m ore com plex language
tasks, supports can be decreased or removed.
Use predictable books; have children write their
own stories using the same structure as one they
have read in a book; provide sentences that stu
dents then com plete or elaborate on (e.g.. "I
think (character from book) is (adjective). T he parts
of the book that make me think this a r e _____ .")

Use Oral Skills to Support Reading

and Writing Development
Van den Branden (2000) found that when chil
d ren were allowed to negotiate the meaning" of
an original text thev were reading, either through

This has been just a brief introduction to teach
ing literaev skills to ELTs. It has described three
elements involved in reading: the text, the reader
and the context that the reading activity takeplace in. It has also presented the various com
p o n e n t knowledge areas which readers use, anc
which children learning to read in their L2 ah
need to master, as well as c om m on characteritics of L2 readers a n d writers. In addition t
u n d e rs ta n d in g the reading process and com
m o n characteristics of their students, teacher-

n e e d to be familiar with various approaches to

teaching reading so that thev can m ake wise
choices about how to teach. It is ultimately the
te a c h e rs challenge to p u t to g ether this inform a
tion a n d what has b e e n lea rn ed from research
on literacy developm ent with a knowledge of lit
eracy standards and effective teaching strategies
in ways that will allow the teacher to address the
various needs of individual ESL students.

Whv ? Look at the two examples of standards

in this chapter. What kinds of special instruc
tion or adaptations might a teacher use to
help ELLs achieve these standards?


1. As p art of your assessment process for vour
second grade class, vou have asked one child
if she can read you a book she has chosen.
W hen vou sit down with her, she reads it verv
carefully a n d deliberately; vou notice that
she is able to read almost all of the words
accurately. However, when vou later ask her
what the store was about, she has trouble
explaining it to vou. How would vou account
for this? How would vou describe her overall
reading ability? What are some other reading
activities vou might ask h e r to do in order to
assess her ability m ore thoroughly?
2. If children who are taught to read using the
Language Experience A pproach are able to
dictate the c ontent of the storv. have the
teacher write it down for them, and assist
them with reading it back, are thev really
reading and writing? Whv? What is the real
value of this m ethod? W hat o th er learning
concepts from this c hapter does the LEA
illustrate or m ake use of? If vou were to use
the LEA to write a n d then read som ething in
a language vou d o n 't know verv well, what do
you think vou would learn?
3. If teachers do activities to elicit students' back
ground knowledge before thev read a text,
isnt the teacher merely helping them handle
the particular text thev are working on? Will
this help students be able to read or handle
the next text thev encounter any m ore easily?
W hat else could a teacher do to help students
better handle future reading tasks?
4. Do vou think having literacy standards can
help teachers improve instruction in literacy?

O ne wav to familiarize children with different

tvpes of print is to show them that literacy
sen es a variety of functions in society (adapted
from Hallidav 197o). including:



Providing wavs people learn ab o u t the

world and share these experiences with
Accomplishing various tasks of living
Establishing an d m aintaining communic-ation with others
Expressing differences an d similarities
a m o n g people
Reflecting and acting u p o n personal and
social problem s
C hanging conditions in p e o p le s lives
Enjoving the beautv of language
Recognizing different people's cultural
U n d e rs ta n d in g what it m eans to be
hum an

For each function, identify an activity or reading/

writing task which vour students might be able to
perform to learn more about that literacy function.
For example, in order to teach students that liter
acy "provides ways people learn about the world and
share these experiences with others, vou could have
them read and discuss a news story, or have them
write a report about a Field trip thev took recently.
Can vou think of some others?

For one or m ore of the following, select a

book or storv that vou think would be partic
ularly suitable for it, and which would allow
vou to develop a teaching lesson to illustrate
that particular concept to vour students.
T h e n design the actual lesson. Explain whv
vou think vour chosen b o o k /sto rv is suitable,
a n d whv vou designed the lesson in the m a n
n e r that vou did.




Eliciting students' world knowledge


Identifying qualities that characterize a

particular genre of text (Some possible
genres: a letter, an invitation, a report, a
description of a process, a film review, etc.)

d. Identifying the way a text is organized

A storv (narrative)
A piece of non-fiction
3. Ask two beginning-level ESL/EFL children to
write a story ab o u t an e x p e rie n c e they
recently had together. If thev have difficulty
writing, have th em draw a picture to illus
trate their experience, then have them dic
tate the story to yon while you help them write
it, using the Language Experience Approach.
W hen they/you are finished, either ask them
to read the story or read it for them, d e p e n d
ing on their abilitv. W hat did vou learn from
this activity?
4. Read aloud a story to some children learning
ESL, stopping at several points along the wav
to ask them to predict what will happen next.
Do their predictions give you anv eridence
about w hether they have understood the storv
so far? T hen read further and ask them to tell
you when thev hear something in the story
that confirms or disconfirms one of their pre
dictions. T hen discuss with them how well they
were able to predict what would happen. Were
the children able to make reasonable predic
tions? Were they able to identify information
later in the reading which dealt with their pre
diction? W hy or why not?

Provides tremendously practical information

about elementary ESI. curriculum development
and literacy teaching, lists of books, and an
actual sample curriculum.
Crotchett, K. 1997. .4 'teacher's Project Guide to the Internet.
Portsmouth. XH: Heinemann.
Prorides manv useful ideas for developing literacy
projects using the Internet.
Fulwiler, T.. ed. 1987. The Journal Booh. Portsmouth,
XH: Heinemann.
Explains wavs to incorporate journals into literacy
O'Malley J. M., and E. Valdez Pierce. 1996. Authentic
Assessment for English Language Learners.
Reading. : Addison-Weslev.
Describes classroom-based assessment of all skill
areas: provides numerous samples of authentic
assessment rubrics and methods of document
ing literate development.

On-line Reading and Whiting Opportunities

Intercultural E-Mail Classroom Connections

E-Pals (electronic penpals)

Global SchoolXefs Internet Projects Registry

Listing of collaborative Internet projects. Leant
about ongoing projects or post vour own idea'
and invite collaboration.
http: / /
Childrens Literature

The Children's Literature Web Guide

http: ~dkbrown/

Internet Public Library

Day, R., and }. Bamford. 1998. Extensive Rending in the
Second Language Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Discusses die value of extensive reading and pro
vides many ideas on incorporating such activities
into literacy instruction.
Hudelson, S., ed. 1993. Teacher Resource (,uirh for ESL.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

http: //

Multicultural Book Review Homepage,
Teacher Resources

Teaching with technology

h ttp ://ilt.colum

International Reading Association

http:/ /

Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators

A wonderful Internet site for teachers, with
manv project ideas and ways to use them in the

Website providing a downloadable (.pdf) version of

the 1999 California ELD (ESL) and Language
.Arts standards.

h ttp :// /

Language Arts/Literacy Standards

Information about ESL literacy and teaching:

links to other related websites.

I.istserv for communicating with others about ESL

standards. To subscribe, send an e-mail message to
the above address. In the subject of the message,
ripe ''subscribe": lease the remainder blank.

1 thank Evelvn Hatch and Barbara Hawkins for the
ideas used here which originally appeared in their
chapters in earlier editions of this book.

Developing Adult Literacies1



In "Developing Adult Literac es," W einstein invres e?.ders no examine the role of language and

literacies in learners' lives, examines critical contexts Am ESL Itemc-/ instruction, and provides a
synthesis of orientations to cummuium and teaching. See concludes with fve "promising practices"
that challenge both new anc ex p eo e rcec eeacners to --efect individual's and collectively on their
potentially life-transforming woi'k.

Profiles in Diversity and Strength
Socorro Tinajerowas born in Mexico and is raising
h e r c h ild ren in the "borderlands" betw een
Mexico and the U nited States. Described as tin
energetic an d efficient woman, she works long
hours in the family restaurant u n d e r difficult
conditions. H e r fatalism is quickly revealed: "A
cada quien lo que toca" [Everyone has their lot
in life]. Researcher Valdes tells us that this is a
fairlv c o m m o n belief a m o n g those in S ocorros
com m unity that life simply deals different luck
to different people.
Socorro rem em bers with some nostalgia
h e r davs in Juarez, where neighbors were able to
watch out for each other. Given h e r h a rd work
and determ ination, one thing to which Socorro
will not resign herself is that h e r children are
being held back in school and are getting into
trouble. She did not have an opportunity to go
to school in Mexico. She wants to develop the
language and literacy she needs to be able to
intervene m ore successfully with their teachers
(Valdes 1996, p. 91).
Pao Joua Lo was a retired soldier an d was
considered a war hero in his own community.
Like 70,000 o th e r H m o n g refugees who reset
tled in the U nited States in the 1970s, he lied the
hills of Laos in the throes of the wars of
Southeast Asia. In his Philadelphia hom e. Pao
Jo u a was often s u rro u n d e d bv his many g ran d

children and guests, and until his d eath in 1998,

was considered both an elder an d a leader bv
many H m o n g th ro u g h o u t the U nited States.
Pao Jo u a ha d atte n d ed classes at the local
com m unity college but d ro p p e d out after only
one semester. His English literacy skills, while
minimal, allowed him to scan the newspapers for
articles about Southeast Asia, which he then
passed along to m ore literate m en in the com
munity. Besides keeping cu rre n t on events in his
hom eland. Pao J o u a was also interested in devel
oping literacy skills to be able to record tradi
tional H m o n g courtship songs so that first his
sons and later his grandsons could find desirable
brides (Weinstein 1997).
Michel a Stone works as an accountant at a
comm unity center serving immigrants from her
native Byelorussia, as well as from the Ukraine
a n d Lithuania. Many who frequent the center
are university professors, businesspeople, doc
tors. or scientists who hope to be able to resume
their professional lives when they have acquired
the language nee d ed in their new hom e. Michela
teaches Russian on the side, both for some extra
m oney and also for the chance to interact with
Americans. She likes soap operas an d reads
People magazine. Bv reading up on movie stars,
Michela figures she can start conversations with
A m erican friends an d practice h e r English.
Although she has little time to study between her
two jobs an d caring for her aging father, she
hop e s to p r e p a r e for A m erican citizenship
(Nesbit 1997).

Adults like these have different histories, cir

cumstances. and purposes for wanting to develop
and improve language and literaev skills. To
understand the possibilities for language and lit
eraev instruction, it is necessarv to know some
thing about learners, their resources, their needs,
and their goals for learning English.

What is English as a Second

Language (ESL) Literacy?
f h e learners described above bring different
needs and resources to their desire to learn
Knglish language a n d literaev. Soccoro. who teas
born in .Mexico, tom es from a societv with a rich
litcrarv tradition, but she herself has had little
access to the formal education or native language
literaev that others in her countrv mat enjov.
Learners in this situation have been described in
the literature as iioulilerate. Pao Joua Lo. on the
o th e r hand, comes from a farm ing societv where
subsistence living posed verv little need for print.
In fact, the H m o n g language did not have a writ
ten form until just a few decades ago. when mis
sionaries created a writing svsteni to teach the
Bible. Learners in this situation are often called
preliterate, because then come from a society that
does not have a tradition with prim. Michela illu
minates vet an o th er dimension of a complex lin
guistic picture, since she has higlilv developed
literaev skills in her native language, but has not
h a d prior experience with the Roman alphabet.
She has m am strategies for learning in formal set
tings, and is comfortable with the format and dis
course of formal teaching situations. As she adds
English to her repertoire. Michela will become
biliterate, or proficient with prim in two languages.
Until fairlv recentlv, little attention teas
given to the role of native language literaev in
lea rn er acquisition of English. Research on sec
o n d language learners either assumed native
language literact or did n o t investigate native
language literaev as a factor in learner needs and
strategies. In the 1970s. w hen a huge inllux of
Southeast Asian refugees found their wan to our
classrooms, teachers knew that this go mo wets
different. Rural Vietnamese, Khmer. Lam. and
H m o n g learners who were not literate in. their

native languages were not m anaging as well as

their literate counterparts in the language class
room. Techniques that had been used in the past
were no longer effective. In the 1980s, with the
passage o f the Immigration Reform and Control
Act (IRCA). a second wave of u n d o c u m e n te d
learners flocked to our classrooms to qualifv for
"amnestv." These students had limited literacy in
their native languages and could not access infor
mation the wav we provided it, without first
acquiring literaev ESL classroom teachers were
a m o n g the first to raise to national conscious
ness the unique characteristics of this g roup of
Those of us who worked closelv with these
two groups of newcomers were struck bv their
resourcefulness. We learned that the Southeast
Asian refugees had escaped through jungles, run
th rough minefields, e n d u re d starvation, and
crossed lit ers on ru b b er tires at night with their
children. In short, thev were extraordinary sur
vivors. Me saw that most u n d o c u m e n te d amnestv
applicants had been living on the margins, m an
aging to take care of their families while staving
invisible from authorities who could deport
them. Me began to see the kinship a nd social net
works that people relied on for solving problem '
and for helping one a n o th e r navigate a new set
ting. While eve became aware of these enorm ous
resources, it was also clear that som ething critical
was lacking literaev skills that would provide
these adults with access to the English language,
and through English, to o th er information and

Many Learners, Many Literacies

While teachers of ESL were grappling with liter
aev issues face-to-face in their dailv work, mam
changes were gating on in the field of adult liter
aev (also called Adult Basic Education, or ABE
as well. Am ong these were attempts to movt
bevond the problem atic notion of ''grade level
in o rd e r to define a n d m easure literacy in waw
that were m ore informative and accurate fo:
adults. T he most com prehensive a ttem p t ir
recent historv to survev the literacy levels o:
adults in the United States was the Xationai

Adult Literacy Survey (NALS). This instrument

was designed to measure three areas of knowledge
or skill:

prose literacy (u n d ersta n d in g texts such as

news stories, poems, etc.),
document literary (locating and using infor
mation found in docum ents like job appli
cations, transportation schedules, etc.), and
ejuantitative literary (applying arithm etic
operations using n um bers fo u n d in printed
materials like o rd e r forms, etc. (Kirsch et
al. 1993, p. 3).

T he problem for English language educators was

that this assessment tool could only measure
English literacy the results do not distinguish
between the Cam bodian peasant farm er who
had never held a pencil and the Russian engi
n e e r with a Ph.D. who had not ret added the
Roman to the Cyrillic alphabet in h e r repertoire
of symbol systems.
T he portraits of Socorro. Pao Joua. and
Michela are the result of e thnographic studies in
which the researcher seeks to m ake explicit how
an individual or group makes sense of the
w orld in this case, with a focus on functions
and uses of language and literacy in learners'
lives. Ethnographic research can illuminate many
forms of diversity am ong learners regarding their
language and literacy resources. Mans Asian for
eign students in the United States, for example,
are highly literate in their native language and
have facility with written academic English, but
have trouble com m unicating orally. In contrast,
many Latino learners with fluent spoken English
struggle with writing, particularly in academic
genres. A new set of issues has begun to emerge
with a growing population of immigrants who
came to the U nited States as older children.
Many of these voting m en and wom en do not
speak targetlike" (standard) English, ret are
n e ith e r literate n o r are thev any longer orally
proficient in the language of their parents. We
do not yet have labels to neatlv nam e what we
see. Learners v a n - along dimensions of profi
ciency in English versus a n o th e r language, spo
ken versus written proficiency, an d academic
versus social language, a m o n g o th e r dimensions
of literacy

While there is not vet a universally accepted

definition of literacy, there is a growing consensus
that to be literate entails different things in dif
ferent situations. .All of us, including those of us
who consider ourselves to be fairly literate,
e n c o u n te r situations in which we m ust master a
new literacy genre, such as learning HTM L for
Web design, writing for a particular journal for
the first time, or reading a p a p e r from a differ
ent discipline. While there is no a g re e m e n t on
one definition of literacy, there is growing recog
nition that there are many literacies, a n d in the
case of im m igrant learners, there are potentially
biliteracies with many dimensions.

Literacy for What?
In 1991 the United States Congress created a set of
educational goals for the nation, including Goal 6
for Literacy and Lifelong Learning: By the year
2000. even adult American will be literate and will
possess the knowledge and skills necessary to com
pete in a global economy and exercise the rights
and responsibilities of citizenship." To explore
what this would entail, members of the Equipped
for the Future Initiative asked adult learners what
thee hoped to gain from formal learning opportu
nities. From the responses of more than fifteen
h undred adults, four themes or purposes for lan
guage and literacy learning emerged:

Access: to inform ation [as well as jobs and

resources] so adults can orient themselves
in the world:
Voice: to be able to express ideas a n d o p in
ions with the confidence thev will be he a rd
a n d taken into account;
Independent Action: to be able to solve p ro b
lems a n d m ake decisions on o n e s own, act
ing independently, without having to rely
on others;
Bridge to the Future: learning how to learn so
adults can keep up with the tvorlfi as it
changes (Stein 1997, p. 7).

A National Literacy Sum m it followed by m eet

ings th ro u g h o u t the U nited States resulted in
the following Call to Action:
Bv 2010, a system of high quality adult
literacy, language and lifelong learn
ing services will help aclidts in every
com m unity make m easurable gains
toward achieving their goals as family
members, workers, citizens and lifelong
learners (National Literacy Summit
2000, p. 1 ).
This section briefly provides models for instruc
tion that currently speak to those roles and raises
issues specific to each context that must be con
sidered if this vision is to be achieved.

Basic Adult ESL/Literacy

and Lifelong Learning
Adults have pursu e d their desire to improve
language an d literacy skills for personal, profes
sional, or academ ic reasons th rough a wide
range o f venues such as adult schools, co m m u
nity colleges, communitv-based organizations,
libraries, workplaces, or in their own hom es
th ro u g h one-on-one volunteer program s. Nearly
50 pe rc e n t of the learners enrolled in federally
fu n d e d adult education program s are English
language learners, a n d most adult education
program s (70%) offer some ESL instruction
(TESOL 2000).
Trends in imm igration, attitudes toward
immigrants, a n d educational a n d labor policies
all have an impact on ESL/literacy instruction,
no m atter the context in which it occurs. In the
1990s, for example, the U.S. Congress began a
series of efforts to cut, com bine, an d streamline
federal program s. O n e result was a bill that com
bined literacy efforts with workforce training.
Literacy initiatives for the first time were linked
directly to adult employment, j o b training, and
retraining. This bill has been followed bv several
legislative initiatives that place a he aw emphasis
on jo b preparation. T he cluster of initiatives pop
ularly known as welfare reform, for example,
places enorm ous pressure on families t<> get off
welfare a n d find jobs. T he result' are telt not
only in workplace program s, but abo m General

ESL, family literacy and o th er program s that are

pushed to incorporate em ploym ent preparation
into their curriculum and provide evidence of
job outcom es to m aintain their funding.

Family or Intergenerational Literacy

T he terms family literacy and intergenerational lit
eracy have been used to describe how literacy is
\a lu e d and used in the lives of children and
adults. These terms h a te also been used to
describe e d u c atio n a l pro g ra m s de sig n e d to
strengthen literacy resources bv involving at
least two generations for a variety of stated goals
(Weinstein 1998). In the U nited States, the term
family literacy has gained recognition through
the growth o f private initiatives such as the
Barbara Bush Family Literacy Foundation and
Tovota Families for Learning, as well as federal
program s such as H ead Start and Even Start.

Family Literacy Program Goals

and Models
Many initiatives state that their goal is to support
parents in prom oting children's school achieve
m ent. with an emphasis on parental involvement
with schools. Promising programs resist a model
that is unilinear that is, they recognize that it is
not onlv that parents must understand and sup
port schools, but also that school personnel have
an obligation to understand and better respond
to patents and families. With greater reciprocal
connection as a goal, while parents learn about
schools, teachers learn a b out families, anc.
schools respond to the realities of the com m uni
ties they serve (McCaleb 1994).
A second goal often found in family literacy
program s is to foster a love of reading amonc
both adults and children, or m ore specifically, tc
help adults transmit a love of reading to thei:
children. In the case of immigrants, experience
shows that parents are rarclv in a position tc
know m ore English than their children, o r thin
to read comfortably to them in their newlv devel
oping language. Innovative program s may use a
variety of wavs to encourage reading and foster
love of literature while minimizing the stresse'
on adults. T h e re is evidence, for example, tha:

older children learn as m uch by reading aloud to

their parents as bv listening to their parents read.
This allows adults to support their children's
development without losing face. In other pro
grams, Latino adults practice reading Spanish
children's literature in order to read to their chil
dren, thus fostering native language literacy along
with pride in the heritage language.
A third goal put forth for some programs is
to provide literacy to support adults in addressing
family concerns. These programs attend to the
role of hom e language and culture, and include
activities to enable adults to develop a critical
understanding of schooling to "evaluate and
rehearse appropriate responses and develop net
works for individual or g ro u p advocacy"
(Auerbach 1992. p. 35). Learners are supported
in reflecting collectively on parenting, developing
a voice in the education of their children, and in
advocating for their families (Nash et al. 1992).
Finally, some programs aim specifically to
rec o n n e c t the generations in positive wavs.
Children of immigrant families who have more
exposure to English are often placed in a position
of translating and solving other problems for par
ents, reversing traditional roles and creating addi
tional stresses for all involved (Weinstein 1998).
W hen the goal of imergenerational work is to
restore channels for transmission of culture and
values, children and adults can be resources for
one another. In one family literacy class, for
example, participants create a family Web page:
adults proside stories of their past which children
illustrate a n d input into the c o m p u te r
(Hovanesian 1999). Projects like these draw on
the resources of children (for English and com
puter facility), while tapping the memories and
knowledge of adults.

Issues and Agendas

in Family Literacy
While the goal of mans family program s is to
improve c h ild re n s school achievements, th ere is
clearly m ore to famih' life th an school success.
T he work o f Valdes, cited at the beginning of this
chapter, is o ne of mans ethnographic studies that
illustrate tensions when the culture of schooling
violates the norm s of family salues. O th e r studies

illustrate the ways in which teachers a n d o th er

school personnel can inadvertently u n d e rm in e
parental authority by valuing certain kinds of
knosvledge. svhile discounting the knosvledge of
the hom e culture.
Second, a majority of family literacy p ro
grams are designed in a was- that seems to foster
participation primarily of children an d their
mothers, to the exclusion of fathers or o th e r sig
nificant caretakers who mat be equally critical in
children's lives. Elders continue to be an u n d e r
tapped resource with a wealth o f knowledge that
can help to a n c h o r children in their own culture
an d history at a time of en o rm o u s change and
poten tia l disc o n n e c tio n . Such g r o u n d in g is
especially critical at a time w hen children long
for connection an d belonging so that they do
not n e e d to seek it in o th er forms such as gang
m em bership.
Finally, famih literacy programs often grow
from sources in earls childhood education. If pro
grams grew directly from the needs of adults and
their own priorities as parents, how would thev be
different? When adults are asked about the family
issues that concern them most, thev rarelv m en
tion their toddlers the targeted participants of
most federally funded family literacy programs.
Rather, uprooted adults tend to be most con
cerned about their older children who face the
perils of adolescence, such as drugs, gangs, and
other dangers associated with coming of age in
m odern times.
As fu n ding and support c ontinue to grow
for famih literacy programs, there will be many
challenges a h e a d to e n s u re that p ro g ra m s
strengthen families, h o n o r the authorin' of par
ents. recogni/e and celebrate the wisdom o f eld
ers. an d address the needs that adults themselves
see in the challenging work thev have to raise a
famih' in a complex world.

In the 1970s. the influx of guest workers in west
E uropean countries caused British educators to
reevaluate the efficacy of grammar-based and
audiolingtial m e th o d s an d tu rn th eir focus

instead to the linguistic tasks required on the

job. At the same time, the U nited States was cop
ing with an influx of almost 1100.000 refugees
who n e e d e d language and literacy for work
m ore urgently than they n e e d e d bookish accu
racy in pro d u cin g carefully sequenced gram m ar
This laid the groundwork for a growing shift
toward employment-related ESI., which mat be
woven into a general ESL course or offered in
pre-workplace classes on the job. by a union, or bv
a consortium of several partners. Programs gen
erally entail a needs analysis of participants, an
analysis of tasks entailed in a giv en job or setting,
a plan for instruction, and an evaluation proce
dure (see chapter bv Johns and Price-Machado in
this volume).

Goals of Pre-employment
and Workplace Programs
It has been suggested that there are goals for
learners that cut across settings. Bv synthesizing
literature from across the manufacturing, techni
cal, service, and agricultural domains. Grognet
(1997) proposed a set of competencies that are
useful in ant workplace setting. Below are exam
ples of language functions associated with each of
three goals.
To get a job:

read want ads and com plete application

give personal information
answer an d ask questions (etc.)

To survive on a job:

follow oral and written directions

u n d e rs ta n d a n d use safety language
ask for clarification (etc.)

To thrive on a job (and h a te job mobility):

participate in group discussions

give as well as follow directions
state a position (etc.)

O th e r goals identified grow from research

on skills required for the workplace. In 1992. the
Secretary of Labor's Commission on Achieving

Necessary Skills (SCANS) issued a report based

on the collaborative work of business and educa
tion leaders. The Commission identified five
competencies and three foundation skills needed
for success in the workplace, which have been
ada p te d to adult workplace curriculum in many
settings. This framework is one that is supported
and e x p anded upon bv the E quipped for the
Future initiative, which identifies skills n eed ed
bv adults in their roles as workers, as well as
those underlying areas of knowledge and skill
that cut across roles a n d contexts (Stein 1997).

Issues and Agendas in Literacy

for Workers: Workplace
or Workforce Education?
In the two decades when workplace instruction
was developing, the techniques used for needs
assessment primarily involved surveys and inter
views with employers, managers, and supervi
sors. Inform ation from workers generally was
gathered from the most successful employees to
break down the functional and linguistic com
ponents of a given task or job in o rd e r to teach
it m ore effectively to new workers. This implicit
goal is to make employees m ore productive and
efficient in meeting the needs of their employers
(McGroartv and Scott 1993).
However, the agendas of workers may be
different from that of their employers. Many
workers want to improve their language and lit
eracy skills to get out of low-paving or dead-end
jobs, to get better jobs within an organization, or
to better support their roles in family life. In
addition, workers may n e e d skills to cope with
dow nsizing, layoffs, an d o th er jolt dislocations in
o r d e r to find new em p lo y m en t (Macias in
press). T he recognition o f the needs of learners
themselves has fostered a distinction between
workplace education, to improve productivity in a
given job, an d workforce education, which is more
oriented toward education of the whole person in
his or her roles as a parent, community member,
and even as a union member. This approach
assumes that the workplace may be a good venue
lor addressing literacy needs, but that curriculum
should be driven bv the needs of the learner,

w hether for a particular job, for upward mobility,

or for o th er personal goals as a lea rn er and as a
h u m a n being.
Clearly, those programs that prove most suc
cessful will be the ones that take into account the
agendas of all constituencies a n d that create
opportunities for those agendas to be negotiated.
Employers need to see the value of program s to
be willing to fund and support worker participa
tion in them: workers need to feel that their own
needs will be met if the\ are to participate and
benefit from language and literacy instruction.

organizations. The classes m ar constitute distinct

"citizenship classes or thev may be woven into
the general ESL curriculum. Citizenship classes
are sometimes taught bilinguallv, especially in
community-based organizations.
Classes focusing on naturalization test prepa
ration. according to Nixon and Keenan (1997), are
most effective when thee use a variety of materials,
when thev provide as much context for learners as
possible, and when thee use authentic materials
and Usual aids, especially for low-literacv learners.
Classes m a t include traditional EST activities
geared to naturalization test preparation, such as:

Civic ESL/Literacy Education

Civic education lor newcomers is almost as old as
immigration. Earlv in the twentieth e e ntun. for
example, "settlement houses" were created to
assist immigrants in assimilating to life in the
United States and to prepare them for citizenship.
What does it m ean for am adult to be a "good cit
izen"? What skills, knowledge, or values should a
person demonstrate to be accepted as a nets citi
zen? These are questions that have been around
as long as there have been neighbors and as long
as there h ate been newcomers.
While it has long been required that new cit
izens be able to speak some English, it is a recent
development that literacy was added to the list of
requirements. In 1930. a reading and writing com
ponent teas added to screening procedures for
prospective nets citizens. Today, the Immigration
and Naturalization Service (INS) administers an
examination that evaluates the applicant's knowl
edge of U.S. history and government bv quizzing
applicants from a list of 100 questions, as well as
testing basic knowledge of spoken and written
English (Becker 2000).

Goals of Civic ESL/Literacy

O n e goal of citizenship classes is simply to assist
learners in prep a rin g to take the naturalization
exam. Public monies, as well as private support
from sources such as the Soros F oundation's
Em m a Lazarus Fund, have m ade it possible to
provide assistance to immigrants through educa
tion program s and com m unity or social service

Question Division learners arrange the

100 INS questions according to them e
Inform ation gap activities learners match
questions with answers
Flash cards learners create their own flash
cards with questions on one side, answers on
other to facilitate hom e studv. etc. (Nixon
and Keenan 1997. p. 2).
A second goal related to civic and citizen
ship education is to encourage learners who have
been naturalized to exercise their newlv earned
franchise with the vote. no Citizens Vote, for
example, is a voter education kit developed
"to increase the skills and self-confidence of
participants regarding voting a n d o th e r local
decision-making processes" (Northern California
( .ra in m a k e rs 1998). T h e kit. available in
English. Chinese. Vietnamese, or Spanish from contains interactive exercises
including, a m o n g others

a mock election to illustrate the importance

of each individual's vote:
voting basics: eligibility requirem ents, regis
tration. and voting procedures:
how and where to find inform ation about
political parties, issues, a n d candidates.

third goal focuses more broadly on many

forms of civic participation. In Civic Participation
and Communis Action Sourcebook (Nash 1999), for
example, a group consisting primarily of teachers
share activities that move learners into action
bevond voting. With this expanded notion of civic
engagement, the sourcebook presents a range of
tools that are aimed at helping readers

exam ine their beliefs about community,

citizenship, democracy, etc;
identify and analyze issues that concern
them; and
build skills an d strategies to take inform ed
action (Nash 1999. p. ix).

These materials provide accounts bv teach

ers o f projects they have done, such as a group of
formerly homeless women studying the history
of welfare policy a nd th e n teaching others about
the issue, or an ESL class that rallies to help a
family that has been b u r n e d out of their hom e.
T h e teacher-authors discuss the challenges of
trying to incorporate com m unity action into the
culture of adult education.

Issues in Civic E S L Literacy

There are some poignant ironies that em erge in
the conflict between preparing learners to be
active, engaged citizens in their communities and
the stresses of preparing learners for the INS nat
uralization test. This conflict is exemplified in
SHINE, Students Helping in the Naturalization of
Elders, a project I codirect in San Francisco.
T h ro u g h SHINE, we train a n d place volunteer
university student coaches in citizenship classes
to support older learners who are preparing for
naturalization, as well as in o ther ESL literacy
classes (Weinstein et al. in press).
We aim to incorporate learner-centered
them atic units into o u r coaching curriculum
th ro u g h the First A m e n d m e n t Project." for
which we collect narratives from learners and
teachers ab o u t their personal experiences with
freedom of expression. O u r personal stories of
standing up (or not) to parents, bosses, and
o th e r authority figures, participating in d e m o n
strations, a n d suffering censorship cut to the
core of civic engagem ent. We find enthusiasm
for this initiative from participants across the
ESL literacy an d academ ic spectrum. o\rqM for
participants in citizenship classes, whose overrid
ing c oncern is to cram, as quickie and efficiently
as possible, for the naturalization test. Given the
high stakes, this comes as no surprise.

This schism illuminates the irons' that the

citizenship exam, as it is currently conceived and
administered, does little to prom ote engagem ent
for learners in the life of their communities. It
continues to be a challenge for c o n c ern e d ESI,
teachers to p rep a re learners for a test that has
grave consequences for their lives, while also
e n c o u ra g in g th e m to develop a voice and
becom e inform ed and active m em bers of their

T here are a wide variety of approaches to ESL
instruction, each with underlying assumptions
about teaching and learning, as well as associated
techniques and procedures. While it is problem
atic when a program pursues one approach with
such rigidity that it precludes responding to
lea rn er styles or changing learner needs, Wrigles
a n d Guth (2000) caution that there is equal
cause for c oncern when program s becom e so
eclectic" that tliev have no philosophical coher
ence or unifying vision.
This section briefly examines two general
orientations to ESL literacy instruction, as well as
a variety of approaches a n d activities consistent
with those orientations. A set of questions to
investigate "what works" is provided, along with
a set of dichotomies (or continua) for observing
characteristics of E S L T iteracv classrooms.
Finally, the section concludes with a discussion ol
assessing learner success, an d some of the chal
lenges that face the field in terms of accountal>
ility in the decade ahead.

Mastery or Transmission
o f Knowledge
Most program s aim to help students learn facts,
concepts, a n d skills (procedural knowledge
through guided a n d sequenced practice. In adult
ESL, a M asteiy-based orientation is exemplified
bv focus on linguistic structures, language skills,
specific content, a n d / o r competencies.

T h e teaching of language structures is as old

as language teaching itself. From earlv tech
niques such as g ram m ar translation to c o n te m
porary textbooks organized bv verb tense and
language form, mastery of language structures
appears in most curricula to a greater or lesser
extent. A glance at the table o f contents of am
ESL textbook will reveal the degree of prom i
nence that language structures h a te in the
organization of material that is taught.
Language skills are also featured in most cur
ricula, with varying degrees of attention to the
tour skills of listening, speaking, reading, and
writing. Focus on listening and speaking activi
ties, a c c o rd in g to the W hat Works" study
Pelavin R esearch C e n te r an d A m erican
Institutes for Research 1999). constitute an ESL
Acquisition Model, and mav include vocabulary,
oronunciation. language functions, and strate
gies to engage in oral com m unication with native
speakers. In contrast, an ESL Lileraes Model.
according to this study, is constituted bv reading
and writing skills development. This mas email
providing ESI. literacy learners with op p o rtu n i
ties to engage with print, skills and strategies for
fluency in reading, and the goal of automaticitv
in decoding. Fluency skills include practicing let
ters o f the alphabet, letter and word recognition,
recognizing sound svmbol relationships, and
blending sounds. Activities frequently associated
with developing these skills include supported
or choral reading and using "environmental"
print (signs that su rro u n d us in daily life).
Content-based approaches to F.ST literacy
instruction are those in which the language and
literacy curriculum is woven a round specific sub
ject matter. While this approach was initially
developed to prepare refugee children for school
subjects, there are many applications to adult con
texts. Workplace literacy programs have long
incorporated the specific vocabulary and lan
guage functions needed for a given job or profes
sion into their curricula. Family literacy programs
often provide language for teaching childhood
development or an orientation to the structure of
schools in the United States. Citizenship classes
may provide English language vocabulary and
skills in the context of the citizenship exam, such
as the H7/-construction needed to understand the

"]00 questions. Even the alphabet mav be taught

and practiced through kev words in U.S. history
(e.g.. "/us for Flag). (For m ore on content-based
approaches, see Snows chapter in this volume.)
Competency-based education (CBE) em e rg ed
in the late 1970s in a shift awav from grammarbased curriculum w hen nevvlv arriving refugees
n e e d e d English for im m ediate application in
their new lives. A com petency is an instructional
objective described in task-based terms such as
"Students will be able to . . . e n d in g with a verb
phrase describing a dem onstrable skill such as
"find information in a bus schedule. During the
p eriod of intense refugee resettlem ent, this
approach was aimed at helping learners use pub
lic transportation, shop, interact with a doctor, etc.
The goal was not only to teach learners about lan
guage and grammar, but also to enable them to
use language to accomplish a nonlinguistic end
(Crandall and Pevton 1999). Competencies for
earlv literacy might include items such as can rec
ognize letters of the alphabet" or can write tipper
and lower case English letters."

Meaning-Making or Constructivism
A constructivist orientation to teaching and
learning is one in which it is assumed that knowl
edge is not only transm itted to learners from
teachers or books, but also that both m eaning
and knowledge can be created collectively by
learners or bv learners an d teachers. A variety of
approaches, m ethods, and techniques mav1 be
associated with this orientation. This section
m entions a few. including participatory and
whole language approaches. Learners' Lives as
Curriculum (LLC). an d project-based learning.
These approaches have significant overlap, dif
fering primarily in emphasis.
A participators, or "Ereirian approach, to adult
literacy education revolves a ro u n d the tenet that
education and knowledge have value insofar as
thev help people recognize and liberate them
selves from the social conditions that oppress
them. Paolo Freire was a Brazilian educator who
helped initiate, develop, and im plem ent national
literacy campaigns in a n u m b e r of developing
countries. In his classic Pedagogy oj the Oppressed,

Freire (1972) outlines an approach to teaching lit

eracy in which researchers studv the conditions in
a community and identify generative words to
describe situations familiar to learners, and then
literacy teachers develop materials using these gen
erative words to help learners decode the syllables
as well as deconstruct their social conditions.
Most ESL educators who relv on a Freirian
ap p ro a c h do not have the luxury of reiving on
social scientists to study learners' communities,
n o r do they focus on the analysis of syllables as
the only wav to attack the m echanics of lan
guage. However, those who ascribe to the pri
m ary tenets of participatory education (see
A uerbach 1992), tend to agree on

Use of generative words and them es draw n

from learners' experiences
T h e notion o f teachers as facilitators rather
titan transmitters of knowledge
Use of problem-posing," a technique in
which learners look at pictures or objects to
discuss their situation and explore solutions
to problems encoded in those situations,
(see Auerbach 1992).

T he whole language approach, a movement

bo rn in U.S. elementary classrooms, grows from a
perspectiye on language learning and teaching in
which language is seen as social, and is learned in
interaction with other speakers, readers, and writ
ers. In whole-language o rie n te d classrooms,
learners work together to read and write for and
with each o ther and evaluate products together.
While phonics or o ther bottom-up m ethods that
break down language are not precluded, they are
used in service of larger communicative events.
As my colleague Carole Eclelskv once explained
to me, You teach the sound 'IT not because it is
H tveek, but rather, because som eone wants
to write instructions for how to take care o f the
hamster. The Language Experience Approach, or
LEA, a technique related to the whole language
tradition, enables adult ESL literacy learners to
engage with print from the outset by drawing on
stories that they dictate to a teacher or m ore able
classmate, either in the native language or in
English. These stories becom e the basis for a lan
guage or literacy lesson (see Ediger's chapter in
this volum e).

An extension of the principles behind these

techniques is found in a m odel called Learners
Lives as Curriculum (Weinstein 1999), in which
learner texts (e.g.. language experience, dicta
tion, poem, storv, folktale, or interview) are used
as catalysts for discussing them es of interest or
concern to learners. A thematic unit, according to
this model, provides learners with personal sto
ries of others like themselves, along with an
opportunity to respond to those stories, generate
their own narratives, and prepare for a collective
project while learning specific language skills
and structures. In a predesigned thematic unit
on neighborhoods, for example, Tekola Beyene
com pares his new ho m e in Virginia, where
"houses are verv far apart" and people are afraid
of me because I am a Black m a n with his neigh
b o rh o o d in Ethiopia, where mv sons played in
neighbors' houses every day. . . . if vou n e e d ed
help, som eone was alwavs there!" This narrative
is used to invite discussion about the learners
own neighbors and neighborhoods, with a focus
on the them e of giving and getting help. The
unit leads toward a project in which learners
compile a local c o m m u n in resource directory,
incite a guest speaker from a sendee that is of
interest to the group, and then create a classroom
trading post to swap skills and sendees within
their classroom community. According to LLC,
thematic units include four main components:

Narratives with a contextualized focus on

themes and "hot topics" of interest to learners
Language skills, structures, and competencies
O pportunities to d o c u m e n t cu rre n t lan
guage use an d m o n ito r progress towards
learner-selected goals
O pportunities to build a classroom com
munity in which learners get acquainted,
solve problem s together, and engage in
authentic projects (Weinstein 1999)

C ertain projects f u r t h e r illustrate the

potential w hen learners are invited to collec
tively construct knowledge th rough telling sto
ries for real readers or listeners outside the class
room. Mien hill tribe women work in groups to
describe photos of village life in Laos. With help
from a bilingual aide, they create a book that will
be given to their children born in the United

States. Newly arrived immigrants at the cite college

develop a handbook for new(er)c.omers on how t<>
survive the first semester in the United States,
complete with a campus resource guide and tips
for handling homesickness (Weinstein 1999).
Students at El Barrio Popular investigate neigh
borhood problems that thev themselves hav e iden
tified, and compile their research for collective
advocacv (Rivera 1999). In an Internet project
that draws many "hits." English language learners
from across the countrv contribute to a Web page
lor folk remedies, thus pooling their knowledge to
the benefit of all. (Gaer. http:
webfann/emailproject re m .h tm ).
These activities illustrate project-based learn
ing, in which learners investigate a question,
solve a problem , plan an event, or develop a
product (Moss an d Van Duxer 1998). Learners
not onlv receive knowledge from a teacher or
book, but also, thev collectiv elv share and create
knowledge. A m ong the potential benefits are
effective advocacv. support for problem-solving,
and intergenerational transmission of culture.
In addition, materials created bv learners are
often m ore powerful and compelling tor future
learners than anvthing the most dedic ated m ate
rials writer can dream up.

What Works? Continua for

Observation and Inquiry
English as a Second Language program s are the
fastest growing c o m p o n e n t in federallv funded
adult education efforts. Notwithstanding a gen
eral sense of "prom ising practices" (Wriglev
1993), there is a dearth of empirical research
about what works for whom and nuclei' what cir
cumstances. T he National ( for
ESL Titeracv Education (1998) proposed an
agenda for adult ESL literacv. including research
on the efficacv of different approaches in differ
ent circumstances. T he "What Works stuclv,
m en tio n e d earlier, svstematicallv explores one
set o f contrasts within a Masters orientation, that
is, the efficacv of focusing on oral com m unica
tion versus reading writing skills in ESL literacv
instruction. O th e r variables which the stuclv
seeks to investigate pose useful questions for

observation of ESL/liieracv classes an d food for

thought for ESL literacv teachers both within
and across orientations.
What is the relative emphasis on reading,
writing, listening, and speaking?
How m uch emphasis is given to linguistic
versus nonlinguistic outcomes?
What is the extent of focus on structure
versus m eaning-m aking (i.e.. on activities
associated with masterv versus constructivist
o rie n ta tio n s )?
What is the extent of "language practice"
versus authentic com m unication?
f o r how m uch time in the class do learners
actuallv use language and literacv?
Is curriculum p re d e te rm in e d or does it
reflect evolving learner interests?
To what extent do learners know the objec
tives of the lesson and have an opportunitv
for input?
Teachers (and teacher trainees) do not
have the luxurv of waiting for federal studies to
come in with answers. With observation and
reflective practice, these questions can guide
our own inquirv. as we observe "what works" for
different learners in different situations.

Setting Goals, Monitoring Progress

In am language or literacv program , there are
several sets of "stakeholders." each of which want
to know certain things about how things are
going. Learners want to know how well thev are
doing vis-a-vis o ther students and if thev are mov
ing toward their own learning goals. Teachers
want to know which m ethods work (and which
ones don't) with various learners. Program staff
need inform ation in o rd e r to place learners in
appropriate levels or classes, decide course offer
ings. plan the curriculum , and generallv find out
if thev are m e e tin g th eir p ro g ra m goals.
Funders as well its taxpavers are interested in the
retu rn on investment of literacv dollars and mav
be interested in com paring learner achievement
across programs. Policvmakers want to know
which practices are successful e n o u g h to repli
cate as guidelines for allocating future funds.

Stakeholders from the learner's c o m m u n ity

family, a n d / o r workplace mat also want to know
if the time spent bv the learner is paving off. and
if so, in what wav (Van Duzer a n d Berdan 2000).
Assessing success has been verv problematic
in the fields of both ESL and adult literacy, partly
because of the different inform ation needs of
the different stakeholders, a n d partly because of
an absence of a coherent, com parable system.
Such a system would require ag re e m e n t on the
nature of language a n d literacy, the goals of
instruction, an d a resulting a greem ent on a
com parable way to m easure progress toward
those goals. N one of these agreem ents is yet in
place, which creates e n orm ous challenges to
programs lor d ocum enting progress in a way that
is specific to the needs of stakeholders within
their program s while providing information for
funders that is comparable with other programs.
The Equipped for the Future Initiative (EFF) has
worked to build consensus a ro u n d these areas in
o ld e r to create a perform ance-based system
which aligns student, program , and policymaker
goals within one framework. With a growing
emphasis on accountability, this is going to be a
kev area for the future of the field in the decade
to come.
In general, there are two broad categories
of assessment general a n d program -based.
General assessments are those that allow com pari
son across programs. Standardized tests such as
CASAS or BEST- are com m only used, a n d have
several advantages an d limitations. Some advan
tages of standardized general assessments are
that they

Have construct validity and scoring reliability

Are cost effective and relatively east to
adm inister
Are a c c e p te d bv fu n d e rs for p ro g ra m
Allow for comparisons of learner progress
within an d across program s

Some disadvantages are that they

D on't reflect what has been taught, or cap

ture what has been learned
D on't capture changes in language use and
literacy practices beyond the classroom

D o n t discriminate well at the lower e n d of

literacy achievement
May be inappropriately used for "gatekeep
ing purposes, especially in the workplace
(Wriglev and G uth 2000, p. 135)

Program-based assessments, on th e o th e r
hand, reflect the a pproach of the program and
the co n te n t of the curriculum . They may be
based on comm ercial materials used in the p ro
gram (e.g.. Heinle 8c Heinle's Collaborations
Assessment Package); or they mav be developed
bv teachers th ro u g h checklists o f skills an d com
petencies, surveys, teacher observation forms, as
well as th ro u g h learner writing, reading, and
speaking logs. Some advantages of well designed
program -based assessments are that thev


Reflect a program 's underlying philosophy

of instruction
Are learner centered, reflecting strength'
a n d goals of individual learners
Are done "with not "to learners, who par
ticipate in setting goals, discussing interest'
and reflecting on their accomplishments
Involve a variety o f tools, giving a m ore com
plete picture of each learner a n d his or he:
needs and progress (Van Duzer and Berdar.
2 0 0 0 . p. 2 2 1 ) .

Unfortunately, without guidelines a n d rigo:ous procedures, until a system is agreed upon

alternative assessments do not vet produce rehable hard data and are difficult to compare aero"
programs. This is a serious drawback for funders
who are extremely im portant stakeholders.

Anyone who goes into adult ESL literacy instrtution for the m oney o r prestige is tragically m;guidecl. Those who are adventurous, curiom
able to tolerate ambiguity, anxious to m ake a d e
ference. a n d willing to learn about the won:
from others' eves, however, are in for an extr. ordinarily rich experience. For those who wis:

to take on the adventure, there are several

prom ising directions for effective practice that
can su p p o rt if not transform all involved.

1. Take an Inquiring Stance

Practitioners who learn about learners are in the
best position to help th em address their evolving
needs. If teachers do not have the luxurv of
m eeting with learners on their h o m e tu rf (bv
doing eth n o g ra p h ic research, visiting learners at
hom e, a tte n d in g com m unitv events, etc.), there
are many tools for bringing inquire into the
classroom. Learners can talk about their prac
tices, concerns, a n d needs (and successes!)
using a variety of tools associated with anv of the
orientations an d approaches outlined in this
chapter. By identifying needs as learners th em
selves define them , practitioners can work to
address those needs, either th ro u g h the curricu
lum or, if necessarv, between the cracks when
institutional constraints m ake it impossible to do
so directly. Those who m ake it a practice to learn
about learners bv observing a n d listening may
be in for some inspiring surprises.

2. Balance Skills and Structures

with Meaning-Making and
Knowledge Creation
Those who were trained in structural linguistics
or in competency-based approaches tend to be
good at teaching language structures a n d func
tions b u t less practiced at starting conversations
with students about things that they care about
deeply. O n the o th er hand, experienced partici
patory educators an d com m unity advocates tend
to know how to engage learners in exploring
h o t issues, but may be less skilled in presenting
the mechanics of language a n d literacy in a sys
tematic way. To gain proficiency with language
a n d literacy, it is necessary to have both the build
ing blocks as well as the opportunity to use them
for a d e e p e r purpose. T he linguists would do
well to learn how to invite heart-felt conversation
a n d collective problem-solving; the advocates
a n d organizers n e e d tools to help learners mas
ter the m echanics of language an d literacy as an

integral p a rt o f th e ir project-based work.

Practitioners can also learn from an d collaborate
with peers who have com plem entary strengths in
skill-building an d m eaning-m aking b o th essen
tial parts of the language a n d literacy learning

3. Develop Vision-Making Muscles

As we learn new techniques, follow new trends,
or react to changing pressures, it is easy to forget
what m oved us to becom e teachers. We may set
tle into a m o d e of only reacting to outside m a n
dates, losing track of the m an d a te th at comes
from ou r own vision. W hat is o u r purpose? W hat
are ^ve ho p in g to m ake h a p p e n for learners who
e n te r o u r classrooms w hen they com e in and
after theyve left? Articulating a n d p u rsuing a
vision is, in my view, work that m ust be d o n e on
several levels. This happens in the daily fabric of
lesson p lanning (What is the p urpose o f this les
son?); in providing in p u t to the program s we
work for (How should ou r curricula change?);
in advocating for policies that s u p p o rt effective
learning a n d effective teaching (What are the
conditions that we a n d ou r learners n e e d to p u r
sue this vision?); as well as in how we assess the
degree to which we are moving toward o u r
vision. With too few full-time jobs a n d difficult
working conditions, it can be challenging to
re m e m b e r an d pursue such a vision an d to be
proactive rath e r than reactive to the days cir
cumstances. I believe that, as educators, we all
n e e d m ore practice a n d su p p o rt in flexing ou r
vision-making muscles.

4. Demand Mutual Accountability

With a growing emphasis on accountability, it
will becom e increasingly im p o rta n t for practi
tioners to have their own vision o f what they are
trying to accomplish th ro u g h their literacy work
a n d to seek wavs of assessing the degree to which
they are succeeding. Merrifield (1998) talks
ab o u t a svstem of mutually accountable rela
tionships in which evert player would be both
accountable to o th e r players a n d held account
able by th em . Learners would hold teachers

accountable for m eeting their learning needs,

but teachers would hold learners accountable
for a ttending an d doing their work, while also
holding p rogram directors an d funders account
able for providing them with a dequate resources
such as materials, space, or training.
While Merrifield's vision is far from the cur
rent reality, it is crucial for practitioners to know
an d articulate what thev are trving to achieve,
and to advocate for conditions thev need to