Academic journal article International Journal of English Studies

An Attempt to Elaborate a Construct to Measure the Degree of Explicitness and Implicitness in ELT Materials1

Academic journal article International Journal of English Studies

An Attempt to Elaborate a Construct to Measure the Degree of Explicitness and Implicitness in ELT Materials1

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The concepts of explicit and implicit (knowledge) are at the core of SLA studies. We take explicit as conscious and declarative (knowledge); implicit as unconscious, automatic and procedural (knowledge) (DeKeyser, 2003; R. Ellis, 2005a, 2005b, 2009; Hulstjin, 2005; Robinson, 1996; Schmidt, 1990, 1994). The importance of those concepts and components, we believe, must also be acknowledged in language teaching, and consequently in language teaching materials. However, explicitness and implicitness are rather complex constructs; such complexity allows for multiple nuances and perspectives in their analysis, and this fact poses a real challenge for their identification in the learning and teaching process and materials. We focus here on ELT materials and aim at the building of a reliable construct which may help in the identification of their potential for promoting implicit and explicit components. We first determined the features to identify the construct for implicitness and explicitness; next, we validated it and then we applied it to the analysis of the activities included in three sample units of three textbooks. The results were computed along a continuum ranging from 0 to 10 in each activity. The systematization and computation of results will hopefully offer a reliable figure regarding the identification of the degree of explicitness and/or implicitness in the materials analysed.

KEYWORDS:

Explicit/implicit knowledge, declarative/procedural knowledge, SLA, ELT materials.

RESUMEN

Los conceptos de (conocimiento) explícito e implícito constituyen uno de los puntos centrales en los estudios sobre la adquisición de lenguas extranjeras. Por explícito se entiende (conocimiento) consciente o declarativo; por implícito, (conocimiento) no consciente, automático y procedimentalizado (DeKeyser, 2003; R. Ellis, 2005a, 2005b, 2009; Hulstjin, 2005; Robinson, 1996; Schmidt, 1990, 1994). La importancia de ambos conceptos debe trasladarse también al campo de la enseñanza de idiomas y por lo tanto a los materiales docentes. Sin embargo, lo explícito e implícito son constructos complejos, y esta complejidad permite muchos matices y perspectivas en su análisis. Este hecho implica que su identificación en los materiales docentes y discentes constituya un verdadero reto. Este trabajo se centra en materiales para la enseñanza del inglés como lengua extranjera. Se pretende elaborar un constructo fiable que pueda ayudar a identificar el componente explícito e implícito que dichos materiales promueven. A tal fin, se determinaron primero los rasgos definitorios del constructo implícito y explícito, y se procedió a su validación. Posteriormente se analizaron con él las actividades de tres unidades completas en tres manuales diferentes de inglés como lengua extranjera. Los resultados se computan dentro de un continuo entre 0 y 10 para cada actividad. La sistematización y cómputo de los resultados confiamos que nos ofrezcan un índice fiable respecto al potencial de explicitud e implicitud que conllevan los materiales analizados.

PALABRAS CLAVE:

Conocimiento explícito/implícito, conocimiento declarativo / procedimental, adquisición de segundas lenguas, materiales para la enseñanza del inglés como lengua extranjera.

I. INTRODUCTION

SLA research does not necessarily have to have a direct bearing on teaching, but it seems reasonable to expect that SLA research and its principled conclusions could and perhaps should be taken as a sound reference for defining and deciding on methods and techniques in Foreign Language Teaching (FLT). In this sense, we fully agree with Dornyei (2009) when he vindicates the practical and useful side of SLA studies. It seems natural to associate research on learning with research and practice in teaching. After all, the mechanisms governing language learning should not be dissociated from the techniques applied in language teaching. In other words, teaching must be designed and planned in compliance with the processes and paths that condition and channel language learning, be it of a first, second, or third language. …

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