Are these communicative language teaching activities?

Dorpsomroeper / Town-crier from Flickr's The Commons.

Dorpsomroeper / Town-crier from Flickr’s The Commons.

Lately, I’ve been taking a lot of cold medicine.  It makes me feel like someone stuffed a bag of marshmallows into my head…through my ears.  It is not an entirely unpleasant feeling.  But it has given everything around me a strange hue and left me slightly confused.  For example, I recently filled my mug up at the coffee machine and didn’t notice that the coffee bean hopper was empty until after I had taken a few sips of hot water.  Even worse, it has me wondering about the most basic aspects of language teaching.  For example, I seem to have lost my grasp of what communicative language teaching is.  According to Richards and Rogers’s Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching, in the early 70s, British applied linguists, “saw the need to focus in language teaching on communicative proficiency rather than on mere mastery of structures. (p.153)”  So in came Wilkins Notional Syllabuses and the idea that the goal of language teaching should be communicative competence and teaching the four language skills in such a way as acknowledging, “the interdependence of language and communication. (p.155)”  All those words make sense to me.  Mostly.  And I’m even down with the idea that there is a strong and weak version of CLT in which the weak version is merely providing learners with the opportunity to use the L2 to engage in genuine communicative acts while the strong approach is more of a you-learn-language-by-using-it so if you create the right situations for students to engage in communication, they’ll learn the language.

I guess what I’m saying is that the components of CLT are all nicely labeled and taking up the space in my head between the cold medicine marshmallows.  But I’m going over my class notes for the past week and very much unable to decide which (if any) of the warm-up activities I ran in class are actually communicative in nature.  So I’m asking for your help.  I’m going to just give an outline of my first lesson warm-up activities for the week and ask if you would be so kind as to tell me if they are communicative language teaching or not.  Maybe even rate them on a scale of 1 to 5, in which 1 is definitely not communicative and 5 is super-communicative.

Monday, Activity 1, substitution table:  I wrote the following on the board:

  1. When I go to Tokyo, I always go to Disney Land.
  2. When I go to Tokyo, I ____________ go to _____________.
  3. When I go to _______, I ___________ go to _____________.
  4. When I _______ _________, I ___________ _________ _____________.
  5. When I _______ _________, I ___________ _________ _____________.
  6. When ____ ______ _______, _____ ___________ _________ _____________.
  7. When ____ ______ _______, _____ ___________ _________ _____________.

I then had the students turn their chairs around so they were looking not at the board, but at the nice wide windows looking out over Osaka.   I called on the first student.  He turned, looked at the board and started reading.  I asked him not to read from the board.  He memorized the first half of the sentence, turned away from the board and said what he could remember.  Then he turned back to the board, read the rest of the sentence, turned away from the board and said it.  I then said to the students, “Please write what T-Kun just said.”  And they did.  They also asked him to repeat the sentence.  Which he did.  Once everyone seemed finished, I said, “Are you all done?”  I glanced at some of the students notebooks, made a judgment and called on the next student in the row to say sentence 2.  We proceeded in this way until all the sentences had been said and students had written them in their notebooks.  The final sentence, which was said by a student who just came back from a study abroad trip, was, “When I was in New Zealand, I always had to speak English.”  The total activity took 15 minutes to complete.

Tuesday, Activity 2, substitution table, question form: I followed the same procedure as above, only the sentences on the board at the start of the activity were:

  1. When you study English, do you use your electronic dictionary?
  2. When you study ___________, do you use your ____________?
  3. When you _________ ___________, do you use ______  ____________ ?
  4. When you _________ ___________, do you use ______  ____________?
  5. When you _________ ___________, do you ______ ______  ____________?
  6. When you _________ ___________, do you _________ ______ ______?
  7. When _______ _________ ___________, do/does ______ ______  __________?
  8. When _______ _________ ___________, do/does ______ ______  __________?

The only difference was I asked students who created the sentence to ask if their classmates were finished and if they were, to call on any student to complete the next sentence.  If a student made an error in their sentence, I loaded the words onto my fingers to highlight where the mistake was and waited either for the student to self-correct or for another student to help provide the correct grammar.  The activity took 12 minutes to complete.  The student-created sentences were:

② When you study English, do you use a dictionary?
③ When you study Japanese, do you use your class notes?
④ When you listen to music, do you use an iPod?
⑤ When you take a shower, do you use hair rinse?
⑥ When you play basketball, do you use your basketball shoes?
⑦ When Yuki eats a steak, does he use a fork and knife?
⑧ When you are in a place you don’t know, do you say, “Where am I?”

I then had students circle the three questions they wanted to practice, form pairs, and ask their partner their questions and answer their partner’s questions.  They could use their notes from the previous class if they wanted to help formulate an answer.  But they were not allowed to read directly from their notes.  After 3 minutes of practice, they recorded their conversations on their cell-phones.  For homework they transcribed the conversations and compared them with their notes, making any corrections as necessary.

Wednesday, Activity 3, structured pair work with substitution tables: I wrote the following adjacency pair dialogue substitution table on the board:

  • A: When you go to Tokyo, you go to Disneyland, don’t you?
  • B: I always go to Disneyland when I go to Tokyo.
  • A: When you go to _____, you ____________, don’t you?
  • B: I ___________ _____________ when I go to __________.
  • A: When you ________ _____, you ____________, don’t you?
  • B: I ___________ _____________ when I ______ __________.
  • A: When you ________ _____, you ____________, don’t you?
  • B: I ___________ _____________ when I ______ __________.
  • A: When _______ __________, _______ ____________, don’t/doesn’t _______?
  • B: _______ ___________ _____________ when ______ ______ __________.
  • A: When _______ __________, _______ ____________, don’t/doesn’t _______?
  • B: _______ ___________ _____________ when ______ ______ __________.

I moved the desks from one side of the room to create some free space.  Then I asked for two volunteers to come and stand at the side of the room.  They read the sentences from the board silently, looked at each other, and then said the dialogue.  When they finished, they directed the students to write what they had said.  The verbally checked to make sure that all the students were finished.  Then they picked two students to take their place.  Students produced the following adjacency pair dialogues:

  • A: When you go to the convenience store, you buy fried chicken, don’t you?
  • B: I sometimes buy fried chicken when I go to the convenience store.
  • A: When you go to driving school, you take motorcycle lessons, don’t you?
  • B: I don’t go to driving school yet.
  • A: When you go to the music store, you play the guitar, don’t you?
  • B: I sometimes buy fried chicken when I go to the convenience store.
  • A: When Yuki goes to school, he always talks to Kokolo, doesn’t he?
  • B: He always talks with all his friends when he goes to school.
  • A: When Scott studies Japanese, Kevin always helps him, doesn’t he?
  • B: Kevin sometimes helps Scott when he studies Japanese.

This time I did not correct the students.  On three occasions, other students in the class corrected errors.  I remained near the whiteboard and watched and took notes.  This part of the activity took 17 minutes.  Once again students circled the three conversations they wanted to practice and formed pairs.  The A-role sentences remained the same, but most of the students changed the B-role so it expressed their own situation or opinion.  They recorded after 3 minutes of practice and brought in the corrected transcripts for homework.

Thursday, Activity 4, mini-dialogue writing: I wrote the following dialogue on the board:

  • A: My mother always makes curry when she has to work overtime.
  • B: You’re mother’s curry is delicious, isn’t it?
  • A: Not really.

I directed students to form pairs and write their own dialogue.  The could use their notes from previous classes.  They had seven minutes to write their dialogues.  Then they presented their dialogues in the same style as the previous day, directing students to write, checking that all the students were finished, and picking the next pair of students.  These are some of the dialogues students produced:

1⃣
A: I always study English when I don’t have to work.
B: English is difficult, isn’t it?
A: Yes, it’s difficult.

2⃣
A: I always study through the night when I have to take a test.
B: High school tests are difficult, aren’t they?
A: Yes, they’re really difficult.

3⃣
A: I am always careful not to slip when I have to wash the bathtub.
B: Washing a bathtub is dangerous, isn’t it?
A: Yes, it’s very dangerous.

Once this part of the activity was finished, students formed two lines across the back of the class.  Students in the left line took on the A-role and could say the first line of the dialogue of their chosing.  The B-role responded appropriately.  Once all the students finished, the students in the left-side line all moved one place to the left and practiced again with a new partner.  Both the A-role students and the B-role students made many changes to the dialogues during the practice.  They were not instructed to do so.

Friday, Activity 5, mini-dialogue writing: I wrote the following outline of a dialogue on the board:

Japanese Teenager: When we eat lunch, we _______________________.
Foreign teenager: ________________________________________________.

I asked the class to complete the Japanese Teenager-role sentence.  They completed it with, “When we eat lunch, we eat a lunch box made by ourselves or our mothers.”

I then asked them to form pairs and write out a dialogue in which a Japanese teenager and a foreign teenager were discussing school life.  Students wrote the following sentences:

JT: When we were junior high school students, we couldn’t get part time jobs.
JT: When we go to school, we always have to wear a uniform.
JT: When we were elementary school students, we had to walk to school in groups.
JT: When we communicate with our friends, we always use LINE or Twitter.

While students were writing these sentences, they asked me for help in writing the foreign teenager role line.  I told them that instead of helping them, I would Tweet and post to FaceBook what they had written and see if we could get some responses from people in other places in the world.

As they were working on more sentences, the following responses, which I wrote up on the board as they were received, came in over FaceBook and Twitter (and a very special thanks to all the teachers who contacted with my class during this activity):

From Sandy Millin, an English language teacher from the UK who works in Sevastopol, Ukraine:

    • I had to wear a school uniform at school in the UK. I wore it until 16. For 16-18, it was office wear.
    • When I was at primary school in the UK, my dad drove me to school every day, but I wish we’d walked!
    • My lunch at secondary school was ‘school dinners’ cooked in the school kitchens. Too many chips!

From Lynn, a school counselor in Michigan, America:

    • Most high school students at our school buy hot lunches from the school cafeteria.
    • The students in most public schools wear mostly what they want, as long as it covers their bodies well enough!
    • Some of our high school students walk to school, if they live close enough to school. Some take the school bus. Many of our students have their own cars and drive themselves, or ride with a friend.
    • The kids usually communicate using Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat.

From Tyson Seburn, a university instructor in Canada:

    • Depending on age, but usually from high school on, we buy lunch in the school cafeteria, though some bring lunches.
    • Unless it’s a private school, usually we wear what we want to school.
    • Most elementary kids are driven to school these days, either by their parents or school bus.
    • I don’t know how kids communicate with each other these days.

From Rose Bard, a junior high school and high school English teacher in Brazil:

    • In Brazil students go to school in the morning from 7:30 a.m. to 11:45 or in the afternoon from 1:15 to 5:30 pm. They study for 4 hours only. They have 1 fifteen-minute break a day. During the break, students can eat a snack.  In a private school, the students have to buy the snack themselves. In a public school, the school gives the students a snack.
    • When we go to school, we have to wear school uniforms, too.
    • When I was in elementary school I remember walking to school in a group. I still see groups of students coming and going home together.
    • When students communicate nowadays, it seems to be through Snapchat. Facebook and Twitter used to be pretty popular among teens. I heard that Whatsapp is also kind of popular, and Instagram too for photos they want to keep online.

From Malu Sciamarelli, a children’s English teacher and Business English trainer in São Paulo

I’m talking about São Paulo, in the southwest part of the country.

  • When we eat lunch, we buy it in the school cafeteria.
  • When we go to school, we have to wear school uniforms.
  • We are always driven to school.
  • When we communicate with our friends, we generally use WhatsApp.

From Marcos Benevides, a language teacher and materials writer who lives in Japan, but grew up in Canada:

I lived in a suburb of Toronto. I went to public schools there.

  • I walked to school with friends.
  • There were no uniforms in my school.
  • We all brought our own lunches until high school. In High School, we would either buy lunch at the school cafeteria, or walk across the street to one of several restaurants and burger shops.

The students read the responses as I wrote them up and checked with one another as to the meaning.  They were very much wrapped up in the excitement of the moment.  Once all the sentences were on the board, I asked them to use the sentences as a base to complete their dialogues.  They then presented their dialogues and practiced them in a similar manner to the previous days.  This days warm-up took a total of 100 minutes and was very much not a warm up.

A very inconclusive conclusion

So there it is, one week of warm-up (and one not so warm-up) activities.  If you managed to stick with me this far, thank you.  At 2538 words, this is the longest and perhaps most self-indulgent post I have ever written.  Still I’m glad to have had a chance to write up these activities and get my cold-medicine addled thoughts in a bit better order.  But even though it is all written out, I still find myself lost as to which activities might be considered communicative language teaching and which not so much.  So I do hope you will take an extra minute and maybe leave a comment about one of the activities, giving it a score of 1 to 5 on it’s communicative-language-teaching-ishness.  Because is would certainly ease my marshmallow-worried mind.

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16 thoughts on “Are these communicative language teaching activities?

    • Hi Ika,

      Thanks for the reblog. And glad to hear that there was something new and useful for you in this post. I didn’t mention it in the post, but this was the first time I ever used a substitution tabling activity in my class and was shocked by how much my students enjoyed it. I did a number of feedback surveys with the students as we passed through the week and they felt that this kind of practice was, “something I can use today in conversations.” I was pretty surprised by just how communicative they found the activities to be. I do hope you give them a try and let me know how they go down.

      Kevin

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  1. A fantastic post, Kevin. I love all your substitution table activities! I’m sure I would have loved them as a student as well. There’s no doubt that they ARE communicative and it’s due to their information gap nature. What’s more, by including technology and asking real people to come up with real sentences on Twitter and Facebook, you made one of the tasks more authentic and thus more communicative. But that’s not all – the methodology you describe is very useful because it draws Ss’ attention on chunks of language, rather than separate words. You actually combine lexis and grammar in a very elegant way. Also, the fact that the students have to produce the sentences with a ‘delay’ helps them memorize the chunks better. I dare say the activities could be classified as communicative ‘drill’ activities, but here the word ‘drill’ should not be taken as having a bad connotation. On the contrary, I believe we need more drilling exercises in ELT nowadays, especially because they used to be, unjustly, looked at with despise and mockery by the proponents of ‘pure’ communicative teaching. Well done and thanks for more tips for my lessons.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Hana,

      Thanks for the comment. I’m still not sure just what makes a communicative activity, but I’m glad to hear that you feel these fall under the umbrella. And also thanks for reminding me of one of my favourite Rachael Roberts posts on drilling based activities:

      http://elt-resourceful.com/2012/07/17/drilling-based-activities-preparation-light-student-generated-ways-to-build-fluency-whats-not-to-like/

      Some of her activities are slightly more creative in nature than the ones in this post, but I wonder if all of them would be considered communicative in nature. I ask because I really do believe that when students are working to actually communicate, there is probably a better chance that they are invested in what they are doing. And at the same time, meeting with success in getting across something you want to say, and understanding something someone else wants to say is certainly more satisfying that just saying something that has been memorised from a text (not that there is anything wrong with wrote memorisation from time to time either).

      I did feel that there was that special charged kind of anticipation, and the kind of back and forth that comes with conversation, when the students were writing about their school life and getting responses from all over the world. But that charge didn’t dissipate just because they took the sentences from teachers and plugged them into dialogues and practiced the dialogue. That sense of connecting with people outside of class led to a greater sense of connecting within the class as well. At the end of the activity, even though they were just practising lines from a dialogue, I think they were mentally/psychologically in a place which very much could have been seen as “about communication.”

      So maybe, in some respect, a communicative activity isn’t only about what they students are doing, but how they are feeling about it and how they are conceptualising it.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment and helping me to come to a better understanding myself.

      Kevin

      Liked by 1 person

  2. hi kev, hope you are recovering well from your cold, i wonder about the spread of the virus globally as my wife and son have colds at the mo and some people in UK i know too. hmmm oh hang on yes your post,

    i would say your last “task”is closest to a “communicative” activity, as Hana mentions, it is an information gap thang (though only one way?) and the rest are more form focused exercises though there is some communication as yr students needed to listen and write down what their classmates have said.

    thanks for raising the question as to what communicative means it’s a tough one.

    ta
    mura

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    • Hi Mura,

      Thanks for the comment and your concern. I am much better than I was, although still a bit fuzzy. Think I might try and lay off the cold pills for a while.

      I agree that the first 4 tasks are rather more towards the form focused side of things. I was running them because I noticed my students had kind of reverted to discreet, simple sentences and wanted to kind of usher them back around the bend of their “u” shaped language development towards something a bit more complex, but not beyond their ability. I was pretty hesitant to use substitution tables at all, seeing as how they are so restrictive, but thought it would be the quickest way to give them a lot of practice in a short amount of time.

      But the students, especially from the second day on, were very creative about their sentences. And even more surprisingly, the students who were listening and writing were very interested in what was being said. They weren’t just writing down what the other students said for the sake of accuracy, they were trying very hard to understand what was being said. At least that’s something they brought up when we did student feedback. So there was a real desire to give and receive information/to communicate during the 2nd and 3rd tasks. I wonder if, as I kind of alluded to above, this isn’t enough to make the activity communicative in nature? Or does the actual style of communication have to be somehow more authentic, something closer to what we would find in the “real world”?

      Thanks for keeping me thinking,
      Kevin

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  3. If we think of ‘communicativeness’ as being a continuum, then, yes, it’s possible to say that all these activities are communicative, but some are more communicative than others.

    On the other hand, to me it seems important to distinguish ‘communicative’ from related but not synonymous terms, such as ‘interactive’ (an activity may be interactive but may not require learners to process what their interlocutor is saying) and ‘personalized’ (an activity may be personalized but it may be motivated more by the need to practice a structure than the need to convey meaning).

    For what it’s worth, here are my criteria for ‘communicativeness’ (as outlined in Big Questions of ELT). A communicative task is:

    • purposeful: Speakers are motivated by a communicative goal (such as getting information, making a request, giving instructions) and not simply by the need to display the correct use of language for its own sake.
    • reciprocal: To achieve this purpose, speakers need to interact, and there is as much need to listen as to speak.
    • negotiated: Following from the above, they may need to check and repair the communication in order to be understood by each other.
    • synchronous: The exchange – especially if it is spoken – usually takes place in real time.
    • unpredictable: Neither the process, nor the outcome, nor the language used in the exchange, is entirely predictable.
    • heterogeneous: Participants can use any communicative means at their disposal. In other words, they are not restricted to the use of a pre-specified grammar item.
    • contingent: The speakers’ utterances are connected, both to one another, and to the context (physical, social, cultural, etc.) in which they are uttered.
    • engaging: The speakers have a personal commitment to the communication and are invested in making it work.

    (Re-reading these, the ‘synchronicity’ criterion would disqualify your last activity, which (as Mura points out) in fact is possibly the most communicative of all. I might have to re-consider synchronicity!).

    By the way, the last activity is SO language-rich that I wonder if, in future, you might not consider *starting* the lesson sequence with it – and using the language that comes out of the twitter feed as the content of the lesson?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Scott,

      Thank you for a blueprint which helps me make a bit more sense of what is (and is potentially not) a communicative activity. Like most of my posts about basic ELT terminology, when I think about the bigger picture, the idea of a communicative approach makes sense to me. And even at the task/activity level I can see that most of these are relatively communicative “light.” But when I start looking at class notes and transcripts, especially transcripts, there are all kinds of discreet communicative acts going on which fit almost all of the criteria you outline in your comment. I was especially surprised when, during the second day of these activities, the following exchange started showing up:

      A: When I go to Beppu, I usually go to a hot spring resort.
      B: When you go to where?
      A: Beppu.

      This negotiation of meaning started with two higher-level students and soon spread to the rest of the class (albeit lower level students substituted “what” for all other relative pronouns). In a way, this negotiation of meaning also shows that the students, at least in this moment, are engaged in a reciprocal communicative act. And while some students stuck close to the sample sentences, other students took some pretty big risks and used forms which I wouldn’t have expected to pop out, especial the sentence, “When you are in a place you don’t know, do you say, ‘Where am I.’” Not surprisingly, this sentence led to a pretty interesting responses when the students were practicing. The student answered, “No, because I am shy.” Which, at least in this one moment of class, points to a heterogeneous, contingent, and engaging interaction.
      I don’t want to belabor a point, and I do think that when planning an activity, or even giving space for students to engage with one another, your 9 criteria can help a teacher try and organize things so as to increase the chances that students will take part in tasks/activities closer to the communicative side of things, but I’m also feeling more and more that the only way to judge if students are engaged in communicative activities is to do some hard core monitoring or record and transcribe the class. On the other hand, it’s probably a stretch to say that the activities were purposeful in the way you define it. The only reason it became purposeful is the classroom dynamics which, during this particular week, seemed to make even the most basic drilling activity a worthwhile communicative act.

      If I someone gave me a do-over for this week, I would be very happy to start with the last activity first and then see where the language took us. Perhaps that’s my homework for next semester, finding a way to bring that higher level of purpose to classroom activities from the very start.

      Thanks again for helping to bring a level of clarity to the often muddy waters of ELT terminology. Through the whole messy process of learning to teach, you’ve been the most steady and enlightening of resources.

      Kevin

      Like

      • Hi Kevin,

        My list wasn’t meant to be prescriptive, in the sense that activities SHOULD meet these criteria – but more an attempt to distinguish communicative activities from other sorts of classroom activity, if only because many teachers subscribe to ‘a communicative approach’ without necessarily understanding how this might be realized in practice.

        Also, I agree with you that many activities that meet at least some of these criteria happen incidentally, even accidentally, emerging out of tasks that are much more form-focused, and hence less communicative in their design. This is often a result of the teacher ‘giving learners permission’ to be communicative when the occasion arises – such as when a learner comments on (or even subverts) a sentence in a grammar exercise by, for example, personalizing it, thereby initiating some kind of contingent talk. You might even go so far as to say that these are the best kind of communicative activities in that they are learner-initiated.

        But the classroom dynamic must be conducive to such initiatives, and a classroom dynamic that is predicated on control, accuracy, conformity and the transmission of ‘teaching points’ is unlikely to foster this kind of communication.

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        • Hi Scott,

          Thanks for the clarification. Hana and I were talking about your criteria over on her blog and she highlighted it’s usefulness for making changes to an activity, not because any one activity needs to have all of the components of the list, but because a small change might lead to a disproportionately greater level of “authentic” communication.

          You also mention that when it comes to form-focused activities organically becoming communicative that, “the classroom dynamic must be conducive to such initiatives, and a classroom dynamic that is predicated on control, accuracy, conformity and the transmission of ‘teaching points’ is unlikely to foster this kind of communication.”
          This I think is a whole other blog post, a perhaps a theme for a blog in an of itself. Josette LeBlanc touches on it in one of her latest blog posts (http://throwingbacktokens.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/reflective-practice-challenge-2-grammar-tech-feelings-and-needs/) and routinely explores this territory on Throwing Back Tokens. The longer I teach, the more I realize that knowing what to teach and even knowing how (methodology) to teach is sometimes much less important than just creating a safe space for learning to happen.

          Thanks again for taking the time to comment and clarify.

          Kevin

          Like

  4. I don’t see anything wrong with those as a form of controlled practice, as long as they’re relevant (no hens pecking philosophers’ chins!) and can be personalised. CLT is a really broad and nebulous term which means many things to many people.. besides, we’re now living in the ‘post-method’ age, aren’t we? ;-)

    There’s also no clear cut dividing line between Weak CLT and Strong CLT. You’ve given one definition but I’ve seen others, such as that in Weak CLT the communicative output is often tied to the teaching of some structural aspect of the language (e.g lesson about Past Continuous) whereas in Strong CLT the structural aspect is never a guiding principle (thought it might result in some focus on form, as in TBLT).

    On a slightly related note, perhaps you should look at Miles Craven’s webinars book on using Scripted Conversations in the classroom. This would seem to a big no-no for many (especially Dogme adherents) but he argues his case here:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Tim,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and for the link. I think that Craven makes some excellent points when it comes to occasionally using scripted conversations. Freeing the students from the pressure of producing language, letting them play with the rhythm and stress, giving them a sense of confidence. I also like how he emphasizes that these kinds of activities are a means to an end and not an end in and of themselves. In reply to Scott, I mentioned that when I look at discreet moments in the classroom, I always seem to find glimmers of truly communicative interactions within what at first seems like a highly controlled activity. In a similar way, I can also take a step back and look through the other end of the lens. From this perspective, it seems odd (and slightly artificial) to separate the very controlled series of tabling activities from the more purely communicative activity that they helped make possible. You mentioned post-method, and I think maybe, as I get more adept at looking through both sides of the lens, I’ll be able to free myself up a bit more from the idea of “method.” Maybe then I will be able to develop the kind of fluid post-method pedagogies which Kumaravadivelu believes, “are sensitive to various learning and teaching needs, wants, and situations.”

      Kevin

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  5. Reblogged this on Teaching English: Ins & Outs and commented:
    I have been using substitutional drills for quite a while to see their real-life value but it has never bothered me to question whether they are communicative and to what extent. They clearly boost students’ confidence in using the language as well as promptly improve their speaking skills. Admittedly, I have never tried such finely structured drills and I am already thinking about where/how to use them with my students even though they are likely to eat up much of the lesson time.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    • Hi Esgaleth,

      thanks for the reblog and taking the time to comment. I agree that these kind of tabling activities can take up large swaths of class time. I think playing with time constraints is part of the fun (sic) of tabling activities. Asking the students how long tabling should last (10 minutes, 7 minutes, 20 minutes), how long students have to produce a sentence (1 minutes, 10 seconds, no limit), how long students have to pick the next students (3 seconds) can all help move the activity along. It also provides another piece of data to see what works and doesn’t work.

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment and I hope to hear how some “finely structured drills” play out in your class.

      Kevin

      Like

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