Communicative goals have produced profound changes in the three dimensions of a syllabus. In language content, the shift has been marked by an enlargement in the scope of the entire area. The process zone has been emphasized through attention to global, cognitive, and creative practices which we will call “workouts”. The product area has reflected re-emphasized interest in the language skills, particularly reading, and writing. Although the communicative approach may not always create radical changes, it has affected our view of the way in which course outcomes are presented, defined and evaluated.
The intention of this chapter is to show the communicative approach is not a system which replaces older ones, but rather alters and expands the component of the existing ones in terms of language content course products, and learning processes. The most significant contribution of the communicative approach is that it has brought about a more comprehensive view of language teaching and learning.
As indicated in diagram 6, the communicative syllabus has expanded in all of the three areas which comprise the components of a syllabus.
5.1 Expansion of the language content
Communicative goals have brought about more comprehensive view of the language component. Consequently, content in the curriculum has been expanded to include not only structures, situations, and themes or topics, but also concepts (notions) and functions.
The content of an utterance can be considered in terms of two major types of meaning: (a) The propositional or conceptual meaning of utterance, and (b) illocutionary force. The conceptual meaning expresses our perception of events, entities, states, location, time, etc., including grammatical elements such as agents and instruments. In a syllabus, these elements are realized as notions or semantic-grammatical categories. On the other hand, the illocutionary force of an utterance expresses its meanings: whether the particular utterance function in a certain context as a request, an apology, invitation, etc.
According to Wilkins (1976), the notional syllabus which he proposed can incorporate conceptual and functional components into a learning/teaching syllabus. The key question need to be answered in course designing are no longer related to specific units or structural point, as was the case with a structural syllabus. Now, questions relate to the overall goals of the language course. Such goals, when defined in general terms, advocate ‘language use for communicative purposes’. Thus, Wilkins says: ‘In drawing up a notional syllabus instead of asking how speakers of the language express themselves, or when and where they use the language, we ask what it is they communicate through language’. The key questions are:
1. What kind of semantic-grammatical knowledge does a learner need to have in order to communicative effectively?
2. What kinds of skills are needed for communication?
3. What types of learning/teaching activities will contribute to the acquisition of the communicative skills?
In a notional syllabus, the focus on grammar is no longer just the internalization of rules, but rather a view a grammar within a communicative frame work. In other words, once the communicative task is defined we can select structural features necessary to complete it.
A native speaker who is considered fluent in the language might be described by a friend as ‘He’s a person who speaks English very well, his grammar is very good, but sometimes he says things in a funny way’. Thus, a customer in an expansive restaurant who asks for the menu by saying, ‘Waiter, we want a menu,’ has produced a grammatically correct sentence, yet one that does not sound appropriate. Or similarly, a visitor in an American home who answers the offer for a cup of coffee by saying, ‘Yes, of course, why do you ask?’ will probably offend the hostess unintentionally. These examples illustrate the point made by Hymes (1972) that communicative competence consists of both grammatical and socio cultural rules of he target of language.
Speech act theory deals with the description of the functions and uses of language, or the acts we perform through speech, thereby providing information concerning the functional components of a notional syllabus. It provides, therefore, the rules which enable speakers to choose potential linguistic forms which carry illocutionary intent. Thus a speaker of English knows that the utterance ‘can you pass me the salt?’ has the illocutionary intent of a request, although its propositional meaning might relate to questioning the hearer’s ability to pass the salt. Knowledge of these rules enables the speakers to produce and recognize appropriate utterances in socio cultural contexts.
5.1.3 Longer spans of discourse
Discourse refers to coherent language use in particular contexts. In terms of its range, the expression refers to chunks of language which stretch beyond a single sentence. Interest in longer spans of language quite literally has expanded the content area of syllabus development during the recent period. The ask of analyzing discourse entails finding the structure by which it hangs together, or makes it coherent. Just a native speakers ‘know’ that makes sentence sense, so are they able to recognize coherent conversations and text, through quite likely they are unaware of why they are able to do so. Language learners also need to be able to recognize strategies which make discourse coherent.
Written and spoken discourse are distinguished from one another: written is usually planned, while spoken discourse can be planned or unplanned. Conversations, for example, are usually unplanned instance of spoken discourse. In a conversation it is difficult to predict what will be said regarding topics or procedures which keep the conversation going, yet some features of conversations are highly reutilized, as the case with openings and closings.
Only in most recent times have teaching materials begun to incorporate content of processes which enable learners to develop conversational skills for different types of spoken discourse in the new language. Recently, research in this area added new insights into cross-cultural elements of oral interaction, thus providing the material writers with new challenges.
5.2 Communicative processes
From the time when grammar-translation courses prevailed, through audio lingual on into the cognitive-code period, practice material has emphasized mechanical and analytical processes. The recent communicative period has expanded this storehouse to include more global, cognitive, and creative activities. Global activities are directed at overall language use rather than at discrete elements; cognitive activities either prepare learners for or stress intellectual aims; creative practises give learner the widest possible opportunity to use language for self-expression. Many of the global, cognitive , and creative activities that have become associated with communicative language courses have been drawn from other fields, particularly the social sciences where group interaction techniques have come in for special attention within the past decade.
The list of practice types or “workouts” presented in 5.2.1 is meant to be open-ended. Course planners and materials writers must develop familiarity with the widest possible range, always on the lookout for ways to extend, combine, and innovate workouts. Further, they must be able to assess the suitability of a particular type for a specific objective. Moving toward establishing criteria for assessing workouts two scales are presented in the section 5.22 and 5.2.3. the first one focuses on communicative potential while the second is concerned with the cognitive area. The scales provide designers with a mechanism for providing systematic in a syllabus through the selection of workout types. For example, a progression of workouts can be arranged in such a way to enable learners to move from less to more communicative tasks and from less to more cognitively demanding activities.
Workouts are language learning and language using activities which enhance the learner’s overall acquisition process, providing planners and teachers with a variety of ways through which to make this process engaging and rewarding. Sample of such workouts are presented here under ten different categories:
1. Operations/ transformations enable learners to focus on semantic grammatical features which are necessary when aiming at accuracy in language use. All learners require such predictable and controlled workouts at times if their goal is to achieve accuracy in languages production and interpretation.
2. Warm-ups/relaxes are motivational workouts which add an element of enjoyment and personal involvement. They can be used at various points during the session, especially when a relief of tension or a change of pace is called for.
3. Information-centered tasks enable learners to use the language naturally will being fully engrossed in fact-gathering activities.
4. Theatre games encompass all activity types which simulate reality within the classroom situation. These workouts are especially important since they enable the language session to broaden its context beyond the four walls of the classroom.
5. Mediation/interventions are workouts which enable learners to experience bridging information gaps will using the target language.
6. Group dynamics and experiential tasks are group activities which create of opportunities for sharing personal feelings and emotions among learners.
7. Group dynamics and experiential tasks are group activities which create of opportunities for sharing personal feelings and emotions among learners.
8. Problem-solving tasks involve learners in making decision about issues will using the target language, enabling them to focus on the features of the activity rather than on language usage. In this type of activity, learners are involved in a ‘whole-task’ process in little wood’s (1981) terms.
9. While similar similarly ‘whole-tasks’ focused, workouts which involve transferring and reconstituting information and emphasize cognitive uses of language.
10. Skill-getting strategic are activities which enable learners to develop specific skill areas in the target language.
Each workouts type focuses on a special aspect of language use yet together they aim at helping the learners become a more effective language user.
1. new information is negotiated
Include expression of, reaction to, and interpretation of new information. for example, most workouts for small groups if the interaction among members of the groups is in the target language.
2. new information is expressed
For example, making up a questionnaire, writing a letter or composition, giving an oral report, leaving a taped telephone message or a written message, providing information to someone else.
For example, writing a letter in response to an advertisement, filling out a form, answering a questionnaire, which requires objective replies, organizing main ideas in a logical sequence, strip-story activities, gathering information outside class or from peers.
For example, filling in a table or chart, completing a graph, putting indicators on a map, copying information.
For example, communicating with a physical response, such as drawing a picture, following a route shown on a map, following instructions to construct something.
For example, mechanical operations such as ordering, combining, adding, deleting, substituting; practicing a dialogue which has been memorized; reading aloud with attention to pronunciation.
7. new information is received (exposure only)
for example, listening to a song, hearing a story read aloud, watching a TV program, or any extended listening period activities that do not require a physical response.
5.2.3 a scale for assessing the cognitive potential of workouts;
Making a judgement of good or bad, right or wrong, valuable or useless, according to standards designated by learners.
For example, writing a critical review.
Solving a problem that requires original, creative thinking.
For example, working with a group on a large-scale project such as planning and producing a class newsletter, a panel discussion, etc.
Solving a problem in the light of conscious knowledge of the parts and forms of thinking.
For example, playing a board game (dominoes, checker) or a card game in which choice must be made among known possibilities.
Solving a life-like problem that requires the identification of the issues and the selection and use of appropriate generalizations and skills.
For example, taking part in a simulation which the issues to be resolved are known and understood by the participants although the outcome will be determined trough the group interaction itself.
Discovering relationship among fact, generalizations, definitions, values, and skills.
For example, taking notes at a lecture, then using one’s notes to answers evaluative questions about the content of the lecture.
Changing information into a different symbolic from or language.
For example, reading information in a text, then scanning to find specific facts in order to put the correct data in a chart, map or the graphic display.
Recalling or recognizing information.
For example, reading a passage in a text then answering comprehension questions which ask about specific details in the text.
5.3 Expanded product: emphasis on skills, needs.
The communicative approach has enlarged our concern with language skills, moving away from the encoding and decoding level to the use of skills for real communication.
5.3.1 Implementation of language skills
In terms of practical implementation, expansion of language skills means that learning and teaching does not stop with part-skill or contrived practice, but emphasizes instead the whole-task approach.
5.3.2 Individual needs
Now, concern with individual needs, constructing syllabus objectives with two criteria in mind: (a) the needs wants as perceived by the particular audience in question, (b) the resources available and accordingly, the feasibility of achieving the objectives.
5.3.3 Learner autonomy-an added product
Success of the course and level of achievement on the part of the students is not measured by how much the students know at the end of the course or by what they can do with language but rather by how independent they have become as language learners.
5.3.4 Highlighting particular syllabus components
In planning courses, designers need to work with all three expanded areas: language content, process and product. In some instances, however, the product area might take precedence; for example, in a course aimed entirely at reading comprehension, the reading skill would be of primary significance, while the other areas – content and process – would be organized so as to serve the overall reading goals. Systematic of organization would be achieved by planning a progression which facilitates the acquisition and development of good reading strategies.
FOCUSING ON LANGUAGE CONTENT IN A COMMUNICATIVE SYLLABUS
A major difficulty in syllabus design is the fact that learning a language can not be explained as learning single unit of any kind, be they notions, functions, structures, or lexis. It is some combination of all these together, along with the previous experience that the learners brings to the task which accounts for language learning. ESL/ EFL learners already posses a solid knowledge of notions, functions, and lexis which underlie their first language. What seems important to teach, therefore as Refers (1980) points out are the inter lingual contrast between the notions in L1 and the target language.
The idea of gender, for example, maybe understood both by a speaker of English and a speaker of French, yet the way gender is used in these two language is so very different that learners from both backgrounds have difficulties adjusting to the system used in another language. The information about how the new language works is significant and can not be taken lightly in designing the course. This is true even if the students ultimate goal for the course of study is not perfect accuracy in the new language but only interpretive ability.
Similarly, the what time is marked in a language by the tense system maybe different enough o cause difficulty for the learner. In English, for instance, there is a basic, comprehensive distinction between action and even viewed internally as having a beginning, middle, and end (durative or progressive), and events or actions perceived in their totality (non progressive). Speakers of another language who understand the basic notion of time and duration will have difficulty with the English aspect system if their language does not make significant, marked distinction between durative and non-durative. Here, again, this distinction relates not only to expressing one self in language but also to interpreting language to produce by others. As refers (1980:53) claims:…much more attention should be paid in classroom teaching to the comprehensive and through assimilation of these fundamental conceptual differences between language so that students are learning to operate within the total language system, rather than picking up minor skills in its application.
The state of the art seems to be such that there is an immediate necessity ‘find new ways of teaching form and use together’ (Eskey 1983). Course designers need to the following:
- Present linguistic form systematically to enable learners to express the basic notions of language. Furthermore, special emphasis needs to be placed on Interlingua differences relating to the realization of notions.
- Use communicative context to allow learners to interact within a wide range of communicative language function. Here again, emphasis must be placed on socialcultural language specific features in order to produced utterances which are appreciate to the cultural setting among the many possible choice available for expressing functions material must begin with those which are highly frequent in native speech and only gradually expanded to include the less frequent once (Canale and Swain 1980)
- Use a variety of text types both in the oral and written form in order to develop communicative proficiency in all language skills, unless a specific calls for emphasis on one or two language skills rather than on all.
6.1.1 Developing Inventories
Ideally, what is needed for course development is to combine forms, notions, functions, lexis and language skills. At first glance this seems rather impossible task, but if we develop this school inventories for a particular audience in each of these areas, than it should become feasible.
1. INVENTORY A: NOTIONS AND GRAMMER
Inventory a consist of two separate list: (a) all the grammatical topic to be taught during the course, organized in a sequence suitable for systematic learning and for generalization that can be develop along the way. (b) list of notional categories to be taught during the course. These to separate list are than combined into units comprising notions and structures in a way that allows us to saw how notional categories and grammatical categories interact. Careful preparatory work has to be done by the course planers themselves. They can, of course, use examples such as the Threshold level (Van Ek 1977) for the notional lists and any good grammar for good grammatical categories. The combination however, will have to be developed for the particular course and will require a number of planning and conceptualization before worthwhile list can be produced.
As an example of a combined teaching unit of notion and grammar, consider the notion time and its interaction with the tense aspect system in English. This unit has to broken down into teachable portions which may have to spread throughout the course, creating a type of spiraling plan where the unit of time and tense aspect recourse with expanded topics every view weeks or so. Thus, the planners might decide that the most logical placed to begin this unit is with the durative aspect which in English is probably different from all other language requiring special focus in the materials.
Alternatively, planners may decide to begin a description of timeless, static statements such as factual information, routine activities and the like which are venom-durative, the decisions on sequence will based on both linguistic generalizations, similarity, difference for L1, and other deductive variables such as the teachers’ abilities to provide examples and context for the particular topic’ availability of such relevance context in the immediate environment, and other similar consideration. The important point is that by working with combine unit of notions in structures, designers should be able to and sure the inclusion of both types of categories throughout the syllabus. Furthermore, the spiraling approach will enable teachers and learners to tackle in difficult areas again and again, to be continue at different level of sophistication and within different contextual situations.
Inventory A provide the skeleton of the program, the backbone around which other elements will have developed using inventories B and C (discussed below). Moreover, basic consideration of sequencing in course planning cant be thrown out entirely, despite what some curriculum designers believed in the early days of the communicative approach. As Brumfit (1981) states’…a syllabus implies movement, it must contain a starting point as well as an end point’.
2. INVENTORY B: THEMES AND TOPICS
Inventory B is a list of themes and topics. Its mind purpose is two fold: (a) to provide appropriate cultural contextualization for the language material in asyllabus, and (b) to motivate interest by using topics that are relevan and appealing to a particular groupof learners. This inventory is of vital importance and may ultimate make or break the course in terms of its success in the classroom. The topic to be included may come from questionnaires administered to potencial students of similar age groups and interentes as well as from open discussion with students at a similar level.
Another strategy for topic selection is to integrate content from other subject mater areas in the course curriculum. For example, major topic that appear in history, geography, social students, or science can be integrated with the english language course by using them in the specification of themes and topic. In the language pedagogy literature, this approach has been called ‘ language in the content aresa’. A related suggestion in ESL in higher education is the ‘ sheltered course’ in which no native students learn the english language through special classes in subject content areas: for example history and Economic.
3. INVENTORY C: SOCIOCULTURAL FUNCTIONS
Inventory C is a list of communicative, sociocultural function which the planners decide to include in the course of study. However, planners are faced with seriour difficulities cince there is no reference teks that provide a comprehensive description of speech act behaviour in english much less for the first language of the learners. What designers would need to know from such a preference teks would be the following information about each speech act that they decide to include in the course plan:
· The typical situation in which each speech act is used by native speakers. For example, what are some typical situation in which native speaker of english tend to apologize, complain, or complimente the hearer?
· The extent to which the speech act change in form or selection of the patticular uuterence according to the participants taking part.
· The most frequent uttereances that the native speaker used to carry out this speech act in formal and informal settings.
4. COMBINING THE THREE INVENTORY
The most difficult task in focus selection in combaining the three inventories. The goal is create course plan s which will consist of a theme (including related sub-topics), a list of notion s and gramatical structuresand a selection functions. The first concren is: which inventory should be basic one? Here the answer depends entirely on course goal: the linguistic inventory has traditionally been organized in a certain sequence so its fit everyone’s cultural expectations. Like reciting the alphabet in customary order, it seems natural and basic.
Assumed the designers decide to focus on verb phrases that express habitual, regular events ( non-durative present) under the general notions time with special focus on frequency, information which comes from inventory A. Picking up inventory B, they now look for theme or topic that could provide this notional-grammatical unit with suitable contextual background. There are various possibilities, depending on the age and background of students, issues of reccurent relevance, etc.
The planners working with this unit may relize the need to add adjactives and modals based on their experience with a particular learner audience. Or they may decide to add them to encourage learners to use these structure. What is important is that these srtuctural element should not occure in isolation, devoid of meaning. Rather, all structute foccused actifities should be used to provide additioanl communicative practice around the theme of transportations-travel. The planner would, however, start with inventory B as the vocal sceleton. Diong so would suit a thematic organizational design. Assume thet one of the general themes is’food and drink’. A nimber of sub-theme or topics would be listed within this general theme such as: shopping for food and drink. Of course many other possible topics could be added to the list to suit a particular learners audience for which the course is being planned.
Each sub-theme would then be expanded to relate to certain function: in the unit of shopping, the learners would need to ask for information concerning prices, quantities, brands, sizes, etc. when discussing exports, they may want to interview an expert on the topic which would lead to the inclusion the functions such s introductions, invitations, requestes, suggestions, expressions of argument, etc. thse function would than make up inventory C for these thematic unit. Finally, the planners would come back to inventory A and select various grammaticala teachers needed in order to deal with the various-themes and functions. Thus, for example, for the shopping sub-theme they may need quantifiers for the different types of foods and drink and mastery of the quaestion mechanism in order to ask for information.
Whether the planners chhose to begin with inventory A,B , And C as the pivotal core of the course will depend entirely on the goals and the audiences they have in mind. An example of such an interaction of different inventories is found in the planning’map’ for Swan and Walter’s(1984).
6.1.2 The choice of lexis
In merging inventories A and B, an issue arises that has not been discussed so far, namely the choice of lexis or the stock of vocabulary items. This merger is a crucial step since from it decisions are made within the thematic unit corcerning the lexical items to be included. These lexical decisions must override other considerations, giving lexis the proper emphasis and suitable focus it rixhly deserves wthin the thematic unit, otherwis learners may not be able to take full advantage of the elements of the them.
In course designing, lexis is derived in part from the notional-grammaticalinventory (time expressions, prepositions, verb that vit the patterns which have been included etc.), but more sinificantly it is drawn from the thematic content. Lexis has failed to receive enough attention either.
In constructing inventories with which to integrate the various components of language content, cours planners come to grips with a dilemma which has the broadest possible ramifications. For it is paradoxical that alhough language is experinced comprehensively, in order to specify what goes into our syllabuses and course outlines, we have had to rely on analyses which dissect it into bits and pieces. The cause for this is a practical one. Planners need to work with maps of language content which are compatible with the chronological constrains of the instructional setting, so grmmars which segments language into decrete elements have great appeal. However, when the goals of the course are deemed to be communicative competence, or any aspect of it, then opposite ends seem to be pulling at each other. The realization of this dilmma brings into focus teo separate ways of looking at human language : the discrete and the holistic.
The holistic view has been in the limelight in the recent, communicative period wtih three distinct strands contributing to its upturn. First, it has gained prominence throigh the influence of a humanistically- oriented philosophy of education in which the development of the whole person is stresssed. This view emphasizes the total individual and his/her needs for using language as the basic goal to be met by the curriculum. Second, the unit of anlysis of language inself has come to be viewed by linguistic scholars and those in related disciplones not as a single sentence, but rather as longer spans of language or discourse. As widdowson (1978:22) explains: we must move away from only considering facts about single sentences or words (language usage) to considering how language works in a communicative sense (language use) this requires us to go beyond the sentence and to look at longer stretches of language.
A third influence which has brought holistic practices into wide acceptance can be traced to the influence of mother-tongue intruction, or the language arts field typified by practices which foster language development in young children : reading aloud to children by adults ; learning center activities ; language experience activities ; child-authored stories ; individual reading and re-telling ; simulating real-life through activities such as letter writing, making stationery, writing lists, taking messages, designing greeting cards, writing notes to friends, etc. These practices seem 'right' to teachers because they come closer to real communication. However, they go againts specialists ideas of what is exact or precise becausse they fail to include discrete analyses of language.
In contrast, second and foreign language instruction has to a great extent, incorporated the discrete elements view of language, particularly in audiolingual and cognitive-code approach. Even in the recent period, whether the content has been grammatical sructures or semantic concepts expressed as notions, we have relied on analyses of language in constructing inventories which depend for their discovery procedures on processes of issecting and segmenting into elements : IN linguistic science these discrete entities are given names such as phonemes, morphemes and sentence. When we work with illocutionary meaning, speeech acts, or functions in language, we tend to seek ways of putting such elements into similiar categories. Moreover, the fact that we lack refernce texts which describe language functions leaves us feeling dissatisfied. It may turn out, however, that our quests for 'grammars' of social interaction based on building-bolck untis tend to reflect our deeply imbued western cultural tradition which has been based on discovering particles since the seventeenth century when a conceptual framework for science – bulit around the modeel procliamed for physics – was developed based on the mathematical theory of Isaac Newton, the philosophy of Rene' Descartes, and the scientific methodolgy advocated by Francis Bacon.
6.2.3 Evidence Of The Discrete vs. holistic paradox in language contetnt, process and product.
3. ANALYSIS AND USE
The holistic vs. discrete dichotomy appears in the domain of product/ outcomes as the fluctuation between course which have emphasized analysis and those which have emphasized use, particularly when viewed historically (see chapter2, section 2.1.4 ). Or, as the concept has been personified recently (Rivers 1981), the dichotomy which exist between the views of ‘formalists’, those who stress knowing the formal properties of language of course, and activist, those who stress using language actively.
Faced with the dilemma of integrating discrete elements or analyses of language content with holistic, comprehensive use of it, various sequential plans have been proposed for course designs:
- A holistic approach is adopted with emphasis on thematic, meaningful interaction which it self-motivating. In addition to holistic language experiences for the whole group, there are workbooks for use by individuals which concentrate on grammatical points and specific skills.
- A more structural/notional approach is adopted in the syllabus with emphasis on the skills that have been selected as most important for the course. To meet individual needs, other materials are in use in a learning center or a language laboratory in which there is emphasis on thematic and communicative use of language.
- The early phase of the course is structural. Later, as learners progress in their basic acquisition of grammatical competence, they move on to a more holistic approach, utilizing global language in communicative workouts.
- the course follow a thematic, communicative tone, similar to a language arts course for native-speaker children. At a later stage, more attention is given to accuracy and form. In this instance, Gestalt learning comes first and discrete-point element are added later.
Are there additional ways to analyze language that advance the discussion beyond the issue of the discrete vs. the holistic? Are there other glasses we might try on through which to perceive things from another perspective? Materials writers who want to shed the constraints of desecrate point analyses, yet who realize that language content for course design purpose must be based on some kind of orderly presentation, would do well to look to other fields that study human language as a communication process. What are the complex system of language which other social sciences have determined? An interesting tip of the iceberg is mentioned by Morrow (1981:62) regarding information gaps, a concept that comes from the communication theory. From this source we realize that our materials might incorporate, through workouts, ways which get learners to use language holistically by seeking withheld information with which to successfully accomplish a given task.
Other suggestion have been made for the utilization of language content based on analyses that are less tied to discreteness since they draw on systemic characteristic.
From the field of ethno methodology have come significant insights into how users employ language to carry out their everyday, mundane business.
Capra goes on to point out that ‘in the twentieth century…..the universe is no longer seen as a machine, made up of a multitude of separate objects, but appears as a harmonious indivisible whole. A network of dynamic relationship that include the human observer and his or her consciousness in a essential way’.