The Role of the Textbook in the EFL Classroom (7)


by Jürgen Kurtz, Karlsruhe University of Education, Germany

At the 44th Annual IATEFL Conference in Harrogate earlier this year, OUPELTGlobal interviewed a number of prominent ELT authors on the role of the texbook in second/foreign language education. It is quite interesting to listen to what they have to say. Please click to watch.

PS.: There are some more of these three question interviews with other ELT authors available at YouTube. I picked out these three – simply because I personally think they are the most  interesting.

3 responses to “The Role of the Textbook in the EFL Classroom (7)

  1. Thank you so much for sharing Mr. Swan’s video. Amongst many of my colleagues here in the States Krashen is still considered a god–one colleague stops all discussion of any technique other than TPRS (Blaine Ray’s teaching method based on Krashen) by repeating in a very loud voice “comprehensible input.” It is comforting to me to know that there are experts in the FL teaching field that do not worship the man. Thank you.

  2. Dear Pattipeg Harjo,

    Thank you very much for your comment. I must admit that I wasn’t familiar with Blaine Ray’s interpretation of TPR-S (there are many others). So I googled a bit and found the following on blainraytprs.com: “… TPRS is changing the way many teachers go about teaching a foreign language today. Through TPRS teachers are finding they can teach the language holistically without having to teach grammar rules. Grammatical accuracy is taught but not in the traditional way through verb conjugations. Language is learned by understanding messages in the target language. That means language is picked up through comprehensible input. Input is listening and reading that is understood by the learner. We ensure the class is totally comprehensible. Also it must be repetitive and interesting. We teach the class an interesting story that is invented as the teacher asks students repetitive questions. – Before teaching a story or even saying a sentence in the target language we need to establish meaning. We do that by translation or gesture. We mainly use translation since most gestures can have multiple interpretations and therefore the meaning isn’t clear. With translation, the students understand the meaning of the words being taught. Whenever we use a phrase or words students don’t understand, we have to establish meaning again usually by translating on the board. – Now students are ready for storytelling …

    This is irritating. On the one hand: “Language is learned by understanding messages in the target language. That means language is picked up through comprehensible input.” On the other hand: “We do that by translation or gesture. We mainly use translation since most gestures can have multiple interpretations and therefore the meaning isn’t clear. With translation, the students understand the meaning of the words being taught. Whenever we use a phrase or words students don’t understand, we have to establish meaning again usually by translating on the board.”

    In the current scientifc debate, the question of if and how to use the mother tongue in the FL/SL classroom is still hotly debated. The leading expert on this is Wolfgang Butzkanm who has also written on this blog.

    Besides, in research there is considerable evidence indicating that grammar needs to be taught in schools. In institutional contexts, conveiving of grammar as sonething that learners pick-up naturally is highly problematic.

  3. TPRS is based on repetition of targeted structures. Meaning is established either through gesture or translation that is correct, but the repetitive use of the structure in interesting and personalized ways is the foundation of this method of language acquisition. Storytelling is only one part of the current TPRS construct.

    I have used TPRS for 7 years in my classroom and the results have astounded me. The ability of my students to read, write, listen and speak in the L2 has surpassed anything I did previously.

    In fact, even on entrance exams to university, my students score considerably above what they did. And those tests are grammar based and aimed to trick the taker…not to show what they CAN do but what they can’t.

    Maybe I drank the Kool-Aid at the NTPRS conference, but it is the best I know how to facilitate my students’ langauge acquisition.

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