Table of Contents
1. State of the art
2. Structuring the language lesson
3. Language materials and pragmatic competence
4. A Suggested lesson plan for the teaching of refusals
1. STATE OF THE ART
The teaching of any particular course implies the elaboration of specific lesson plans in which teachers may reflect the aim of the course, the procedure and the activities, the materials as well as assessment. In relation this, concerning language teaching, Brown (1995) advances some of the major aspects that should be taken into account when developing a language curriculum, specifically, needs analysis, objectives, testing, materials and teaching which are all interrelated and connected to the evaluation.
Yinger (1980) suggests that lesson planning might be elaborated yearly, term, unit, weekly, and daily. As a matter of fact, teachers usually elaborate a sort of lesson plan before entering into the language classroom in order to organise the main ideas about the forthcoming lesson (Richards & Lockhart, 1994; Jensen, 2001; Farrell, 2002). In creating lesson plans, teachers need to decide which are the main objectives and the distribution of time to achieve them. Moreover, as indicated by Richards (1998), the use of lesson plan has several advantages. It helps teachers to have a clear structure of the lesson, and to have a record of the aspects which have been covered. Furthermore, it might also be useful to cope with unexpected situations or difficulties during the flow of the lesson. Additionally, teachers might also prepare lesson plans for both internal and external reasons (McCutcheon, 1980). The former refers to those aspects which are related to the process of learning and teaching, while the latter has to do with the fact of providing information about the lesson plan to a supervisor as well as to a substitute teacher, if needed. Therefore, the main purposes for elaborating a lesson plan can be the following ones:
Teachers’ development of the appropriate materials, sequencing, timing and activities according to the contented aimed to teach (Farrell, 2002).
It might help teachers to overcome certain situations in the language classroom (Farrell, 2002).
It may be seen as a summary of what is taught (Farrell, 2002).
It can provide information to a substitute teacher when needed (Purgason, 1991).
In addition to this, two main type of lesson plan are identified, namely those of macro and micro (Jensen, 2001). Macro plan reflects the content over a whole course, whereas the micro plan revels what happens in an actual session (Jensen, 2001). It, therefore, represents the general overview of the course in which attention is paid to the methodology followed in order to develop language teaching and learning, materials and the particular lessons that might be elaborated. Hence, as suggested by Jensen (2001), in order to prepare appropriate lesson plans all the different aspects which surround the actual teaching practice should be taken into account. The micro plan refers to the lesson plan elaborated on the daily basis, which is based on the principles established in the macro plan. As a result, a well-developed lesson plan should be done combining both types of plans (Jensen, 2001).
Following the recommendations made by Farrell (2002) about how to elaborate appropriately a lesson plan, I present an example of a lesson plan for the teaching of a particular speech act (i.e. refusals). The rationale behind this selection is based on the fact that this specific speech act is seen as one of the most face-threatening acts (Eslami, 2010), and consequently learners need to obtain a particular expertise to outperform them appropriately (Eslami, 2010; Martínez-Flor, 2011; Beltrán-Palanques, 2012a; Martínez-Flor and Beltrán-Palanques, in press). Audiovisual material (i.e. films) will be used for the elaboration of the activities within the lesson plan. I have selected this type of material since its potential for the teaching of speech acts have been valued by many authors as it might provide learners with contextualised examples of speech act realisations (. Taking into account those aspects, the present paper is divided as follows; first, the main components of a lesson plan will be presented, then, an overview of different materials that might be used for the teaching of language classroom will be provided, and finally, a example of a daily lesson plan for the teaching of the speech act of refusals will be suggested.
2. STRUCTURING THE LANGUAGE LESSON
Different approaches might be taken when elaborating lesson planning. The traditional instructional model for lesson planning is provided by Tyler (1949). The author advances a rational-linear framework which is based on four main steps, namely those of: (i) specify the objectives; (ii) select having activities; (iii) organise learning activities; and (iv) specify methods of evaluation. Drawing on Tyler’s ideas, a variety of lesson plans have been elaborated. Those lesson plans contain information about the goals and objectives to be achieved, teachers’ and learners’ role, types of materials to be employed during the lesson, provision of feedback and how to monitor language learning, as well as the assessment of the whole process in order to verify whether the objectives indicated have been accomplished (Freiberg & Driscoll, 2000) and which aspects should be modified in order to better improve the quality of the lesson planning. This model is based on the behavioural paradigm in which teachers should take the control of the language teaching procedure, leaving little room for aspects such as improvisation and readapting the objectives or the sequencing that are sometimes needed to better improve the quality of language teaching practises (Lave & Wenger, 1991). This model has been criticised for not reflecting the actual language teaching sequencing. Moreover, an analysis of the model suggests that a focus on outcome-base education evokes a situation in which the teaching that is based on specific and fixed objectives may not reflect a creative curriculum design and not let teachers to innovate any aspect of language teaching (John, 2006). A different model is proposed by Yinger (1980), who proposes the following phases, namely those of (i) problem conception; (ii) problem formulated and a solution achieved; and (iii) implementation and evaluation. The plan is elaborated according to teachers’ goals, knowledge, and experience. Finally, Jensen (2001: 404) suggests that the process of creating lesson plans encapsulates the following aspects: “(i) learners’ background, (ii) learning objectives, and (iii) the connections between what has been previously taught and what will be done in the future”.
Despite all the efforts to elaborate lesson plans, in some cases, language teachers do not follow them. Bailey (1996: 38) argues that teachers might not follow strictly what is expressed in the lesson plan due to the following: (i) “serve the common good”: teachers can change the topic if a different issue that may result as interesting for the language session; (ii) “teach to the moment”: it implies that teachers may decide to change the topic to tackled another one which is more relevant in that particular moment; (iii) “further the lesson”: teachers change the procedure of the lesson in order to continue with the flow of the lesson more efficiently; (iv) “accommodate students’ learning styles”: teachers may, when needed, deviate from the original plan so as to better assist learners depending on their learning styles; (v) “promote students’ involvement”: in some cases teachers need to alter the structure of the sequencing of the activities in order to have more students involved in the activities; (vi) “distribute the wealth”: teachers should encourage shy students to participate more actively in the language session and reduce somehow the prominent role of those who are more active. As a result, it seems that teaching practices does not involve a static process but rather a dynamic process.
In order to develop a lesson plan, the objectives that are aimed at obtaining after the instruction should be expressed and properly described. The objectives as suggested by Farrell (2002) provide teachers with the opportunity to state what learners should learn, select the appropriate activities that may be beneficial for reaching that end as well as provide a general overview of the lesson plan and how it should be followed in order to obtain the expected results. Moreover, it serves teachers to evaluate learners’ process of learning. With reference to this, it has been argued that in order to better describe effective objectives in the case of English language, teachers should focus on observable objective (Shrum & Glisan, 1994). In other words, the objectives should identify learners’ behaviour and they should be stated by action verbs. To do so, it is usually employed the Taxonomy of Thinking Process proposed by Bloom (1956). Accordingly, Bloom provides the classification of the goals of education system. The taxonomy is classified according to three main categories: (i) cognitive; (ii) affective; and (iii) psychomotor. Following the taxonomy, certain verbs such as those of understand, learn or enjoy should not be taken into account when elaborating on the behavioural objectives as they might not possibly reflect learners’ behaviour. On the contrary, teachers should rely on action verbs such as identify, present, contrast or debate as they can account for the purposes of the behavioural objectives. Moreover, the use of this type of verbs can help learners to understand what is expected from them. In addition to this, Gagné (1985) also provides some insights as regards the elaboration of lesson planning. More specifically, the author, unlike Tyler (1949) and Bloom (1956), focuses on the internal learning process rather than on the behavioural aspects. In so doing, Gagné (1985) considers that the instructional event should be done accordingly to mental and cognitive process. Hence, the aim if the author is to focus on the internal cognitive factors that are taken from granted by Tyler (1949) and Bloom (1956). Nevertheless, the aspects highlighted by Gagné (1985) might not be suitable when elaborating a whole course but when focusing on specific language lessons.
In addition to this, teachers should also decide which type of activities can be included in order to achieve the objectives established. In so doing, teachers should know about the typology of instructional activities that can be employed in the language classroom which turn into a key factor in the process of preparing appropriately the lessons. A lesson plan is typically divided as follows: (i) perspective or opening: teachers recapitulate what has been previously taught by posing learners various questions and describes the objectives of the new lesson; (ii) stimulation: teachers make learners questions about the activities in order to make them think about them and see how they might be related to their lives, and teachers also use attention grabber in the form of anecdote, showing pictures or any other type of material in order to make learners start with the activity; (iii) instruction/ participation: teachers present the activity and tries to make learners to get involved in the activity; (iv) closure: teachers check what learners have learned and previous the forthcoming lessons; and (v) follow-up: teachers present a new set of activities that might be useful for reinforce what has been learnt during that lesson (Farrell, 2002: 33, and adapted version from Shrum & Glisan, 1994). Moreover, teachers can provide learners with opportunities for interaction. Similarly, Richards and Lockhart (1994) also advance the main structure that a lesson plan should have. More specifically, it should include: (i) opening: teachers try to get learners attention in order to relate the new lesson the previous one and anticipate what will be tackled in that lesson; (ii) sequencing: it refers to how the lesson is divided (i.e. lesson format), which reveals the type of methodology followed in the language classroom. For instance, when following a communicative approach, a lesson based on the development of the reading skill might include pre- while- and post-reading activities (Usó-Juan, 2007a, 2011); (iii) pacing: it refers to the flow of the lesson in which the teacher should monitor learners; and (iv) closure: in this phase teachers should summarise the lesson as well as to revise the key elements and predicts what will be tackled in the following lesson.
The implementation of the lesson plan seems to be the most complex as well as most important part of the whole process of language planning. In some cases, teachers do not know how to properly implement either due to the lack of knowledge or experience in the field of teaching or due to other constrains that can be found in the language classroom such as lack of interest of the students as well as discipline problems. In addition to this, teachers should try to elaborate lesson plans based on the type of learners according to their level of proficiency and needs (Farrell, 2002). Hence, they are expected to follow it during the whole lesson although certain modifications can be done, if needed. Farrell (2002) suggests that teachers need to deviate from the original when the lesson plan seems not to be effective or when there is a situation in which improvisation is required.
In addition to this, Farrell (2002) suggests that two main aspects should be taken into account when implementing a lesson plan, namely (i) lesson variety and (ii) lesson pacing. In order to vary the lesson the author considers that teachers should modify the tempo of the activities as well as the organisation of the activities in terms of individual work, pair work, group work, and whole-class discussion. Moreover, the level of the activities should be appropriately graded as some should be easier whereas other should be more challenging. In relation to this, Richards and Lockhart (1994) make a distinction of the different type of activities that can be presented in the language classroom as follows: (i) presentation: teachers presents a new topic (ii) practice: in which learners need to outperform what has been tackled in the language classroom (iii) memorisation: this type of activities serve to consolidate the new aspects of language as well as prepare learners for a forthcoming activity (iv) comprehension: learners are expected to show their comprehension on reading and listening activities; (v) application: learners may integrate what has been learnt to a new type of activities (vi) strategy: teachers should help learners to develop learning strategies that might facilitate their process of learning; (vii) affective: this type of activities are not expected to work on any specific aspect of language but on learners’ affective, motivational and social factors; (viii) feedback: learners are supposed to received feedback on their performance and when possible discuss the different difficulties; and (ix) assessment: this type of activities are designed for testing learners’ knowledge. As regards the type of complexity of the activities, Richards and Lockhart (1994) point out four main categories which might be considered when providing learners with certain activities. More specifically, (i) risk: it deals with low-risk activities which are those in which learners understand what it is expected from them; (ii) ambiguity: it refers to activities which accept different interpretations; (iii) knowledge: it has to do with the cognitive level of demand which could be either low or high depending on the type of activity presented; (iv) procedure: it may involve activities which require either low-level or high-level procedural demand.
Finally, the pacing refers to the sense of movement which is achieved within the lesson (Richards & Lockhart, 1994; Farrell, 2002). With reference to this, Brown (1995) suggests some of the major aspects that should be considered in this particular phase in which the author points out that (i) the length of the activities should be appropriate; (ii) a sense of flow among the different activities; and (iii) the transitions among the activities should be properly done. In relation to this, Richards and Lockhart (1994) suggest some strategies for pacing: (i) avoid unnecessary and too long explanations; (ii) use a variety of activities; (iii) avoid predictable and repetitive activities; (iv) select activities that are appropriately graded; (v) established both a goal and a specific time for the activities; and (vi) monitor learners.
- Quote paper
- Ph.D. Student Vicente Beltrán-Palanques (Author), 2013, A suggested lesson plan for the teaching of refusal strategies in the language classroom, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/214173