Learning to Teach Modern Foreign Languages in the Secondary School: Acompanion to School Experience

Learning to Teach Modern Foreign Languages in the Secondary School: Acompanion to School Experience

Learning to Teach Modern Foreign Languages in the Secondary School: Acompanion to School Experience

Learning to Teach Modern Foreign Languages in the Secondary School: Acompanion to School Experience

Synopsis

This is the second edition of our best-selling title, in turn one the extremely successful Learning to Teach series , The teaching of Modern Foreign Languages has both grown in importance in the secondary school and has been subject to recent legislative change. It is essential therefore, that both Newly Qualified Teachers and student teachers have a comprehensive key text book for the study of this subject. This book therefore focuses on the key skills of teaching modern foreign languages. A practical focus is underpinned by theoretical perspective and account is taken of national statutory frameworks. The book assists student-teachers and also provides support for mentors and tutors working with modern foreign language students.

Excerpt

The currently prevailing perspective on modern foreign languages (mfl) teaching, communicative language teaching (CLT), can be seen as an eclectic assortment of traditional and novel approaches based on the tenet of the development in pupils of an ability to communicate in the target language (TL) rather than as a prescriptive method of how to teach mfl (see Mitchell 1994:33).

Traditional about clt is the adherence to the model of presentation-practice-production (PPP). This common, but not universally accepted, framework for mfl teaching (see Pachler 2000a) presupposes the need to provide pupils with essential language forms, followed by work on exercises, activities and tasks to enable them to develop effective language habits. the process can be said to be complete when the pupils are able to use and manipulate these language forms to satisfy perceived needs. According to Nunan and Lamb (1996:46), the ppp model is based on a view of learning as a linear process of understanding, internalising and activating knowledge and that the three stages are characterised by ‘a gradual movement from high- to relative low-structure interactions (although many production tasks give the illusion of student control)’. At the different stages of the model, the teacher and learners have different roles (e.g. model, facilitator, monitor; listener, performer, interactor) and they feature different activity types (e.g. exposition, information gap, role play) and interaction modes (e.g. whole-class, pair, small group). Nunan and Lamb (1996:46-7) conclude that the ppp model, whilst simple, is effective and useful for meeting discrete language objectives. For more contextualised and integrated objectives, however, more sophisticated models are required. Given the prevailing emphasis on narrowly transactional skills and memorisation of lexical items in the current interpretation of clt in Britain, the ppp model can be said to possess fitness for purpose (see also Pachler 2000a).

The change in syllabus design away from a focus on the structural aspects of the tl to topics supposedly relevant to pupils is novel about clt. These topics tend to centre, on the one hand, around the communicative needs of visitors to a country where the tl is spoken. On the other hand, specifications (formerly syllabuses) are constructed around so-called functions and speech acts, such as telling the time, how to express

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